by Erinn Fortson
Edward Rogers keeps himself busy more often than not. When I spoke to the musician last fall, I reached him on a Tuesday, his only day of rest during the week. Based on this hectic schedule and our conversation, it was easy to pick up that Rogers really enjoys what he does for a living. It’s been a little over a decade since he released his first solo album and the inspiration continues pour out. It’s one of the reasons Rogers recorded his latest album in only three days.
The pressure to get in and out of the studio was already on before Rogers and his team were able to lay down any tracks for Kaye. His fifth solo record is dedicated to the late Kevin Ayers, the legendary psychedelic pioneer who has been a big influence on Rogers over the years.
The recording space used to create Kaye was only booked for four days, so there wasn’t time to waste. Despite this limitation, though, Rogers and his team didn’t have problems creating the record.
“We did rehearsals prior [to going into the studio], we knew what material was, I worked out the songs we were going to work on, and two of the people [recording on the album] had previous experience working with Kevin Ayers,” explains Rogers.
“So, there was some background information [that] I think everyone communicated the same way and we knew where we were going [with the album]. And so we went in the first day and got like five tracks done. I think it’s a combination of having people who think musically like you do. So, if you turn around and say, oh I kind of love this song, versus, a chord sequence, if you don’t speak musical terms. People can refer to that and go, oh, so you’re looking at this type of feel.”
“That’s one of the little secrets as well,” continues Rogers. “And people went [into the studio] being prepared and we’re all friends, and we just did what we normally do. It was an incredibly short amount of time [to record the album], but I think that motivated everyone to work just a little bit harder.”
Before it was recorded, Kaye started as a 16-track album and paying homage to Kevin Ayers wasn’t necessarily the main idea behind the concept for the record. When Ayers passed away in February of 2013, one last quote was found by the musician’s bedside. When he discovered that Ayers had died and came across these final words, Rogers became immediately inspired.
“When Ayers passed away, he left one note in his bed and it said, ‘You don’t shine if you don’t burn.’ And I took those words and was just like, wow, I got to do something with these words,” says Rogers.
“I wrote the song that [same] night and turned it around to Don Piper, who’s the producer of the record and said, we’ve got to include this. When the band heard it, everybody was like, oh wow, this is really great. And it all of a sudden seemed to all fit in. We were [already] doing a Kevin Ayers song that we worked out. [Making a Kevin Ayers inspired record] was not an intended situation at all. But it just seemed to flow very [naturally]. Then it seemed like we weren’t imitating Kevin Ayers but we were paying a little bit of a dedication to him.”
Rogers had an array of talent helping to bring Kaye together. The list includes musicians such as Pete Kennedy (The Kennedys, Nanci Griffith), Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs), and Dennis Diken (The Smithereens). Also, Rogers once again paired up with Don Piper for production. The two have worked together for several albums and Rogers finds Piper very nurturing and influential.
Kaye still doesn’t have Rogers completely turning over the reigns in the studio, though. Rogers still plays a major part in the production of his album, which is something that’s really important to him. The experience he gained and many roles he has played throughout his career continue to guide Rogers in the direction he wants his music to take.
“I’ve always had a say in [production] because when I’m writing, I always have an influence in where I’m going with [a] song,” says Rogers. “And sometimes where I start is not where I end. It’s kind of like when you write a certain set of lyrics and apply some music to it. And when you apply the music to it, it can take you to a total different place than where you started. And that’s the great thing.”