January 2011 (live broadcast via phone, Roman Midnight Music Podcast Episode #11)
Classically-trained prog-rock pianist Doug Rausch released his self-titled Rausch in 2010 drawing on the music of Dream Theater, Queen & a mix of traditional & contemporary music styles. It's a cornucopia of styles in Rausch's grand vision of where music should go, that's everything but, quoting Rausch, "garage band chunka chunka bland-o-rama rock".
Doug was my first guest of 2011 on a live episode of my 'Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews Podcast' in what would become one of the most listened to interviews of the 40 episodes. When I asked before we aired if there was anything he particularly wanted to discuss he said nobody had ever asked him for his "favorite chords". That's not a question one is going to probably get asked, either, but I was willing, though I didn't realize just how complicated the answer was & which would, in a roundabout way, include a history of music going from Bela Bartok to Queen & Bon Jovi.
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DOUG: It is an honor to be here, my friend. I’ve waited a long time for this.
AJ: Well, we’ve been talking about this for awhile. Actually, since I first heard ... when I first heard your music through Ariel Publicity I literally loved it & knew that I wanted you on this show sooner than later.
DOUG: That is the correct answer.
AJ: Absolutely! We’re gonna talk a little about your music & get to your new album, but we’re also going to delve into a lot of a sort of the bigger picture tonight because I know you’ve been doing the, well, I won’t say the talk show circuit, you have been getting around, you’ve been doing heavy promoting & I’m sure you’re exhausted when it comes to telling about the ups & downs of the 2 years about making this album, am I right?
DOUG: I am, but I’m still ready to go for Conan [O’Brien] if he calls me up at a moment’s notice, I’ve still got a little bit left so ...
AJ: Okay, well, before we go anywhere let’s make sure we share with the listeners how they can find out more about you, your online presence, etc. Can you fill me in there?
DOUG: I can. Hello world, my name is Doug Rausch. For those of you who would like to socially network with me in one way or the other it’s a very straightforward thing. My myspace, facebook & twitter are now all synced up to yield the same URL. Very nice & simple, it’s myspace, facebook &/or twitter dot com slash Rauschofficial. So everyone jump on there & say hello. I try to be as hands on as time permits. & for those of you who, after hearing the things that are about to be said, are still listening, not asleep & intrigued enough to maybe, just maybe, go ahead & think about making that purchase & committing yourself to surrendering to the noble deed of one more 9.99 purchase & contributing towards saving music history, that being the album to save music history ... ah, Aaron this is actually your job, I’m feeling a little ...
AJ: Nah, you go man, it’s your show. This is for you tonight.
DOUG: Amazon.com & itunes gets the job done & you’ve earned yourself a little bit, just a little slice of saving music history. 9.99 & iTunes & Amazon gets the deed done. I understand that I have yet to earn your noble deed, dear listener, but I had a little talk with Aaron before we began & strategically we agreed that a preliminary laundry list of these things should be done & we’ll revisit it at the end, so, without further adieu I’ll get off my promotional high horse & let’s get talking about music, shall we?
AJ: Well, it costs money to make music. That’s a sad fact & people don’t buy music as much as they should nowadays, so I always endorse on my shows, Doug, that people go out & support the artists they like, you know.
DOUG: You are the man.
AJ: Even if people download, it’s better than nothing, just support the music. But, for 9.99 they’re gonna save music. Can you explain what exactly you meant by that little statement?
DOUG: I can. That is the purpose of our one hour discussion, so maybe if you have a few more questions?
AJ: Well, let’s just jump right in. Why wait?
DOUG: Let’s do it.
AJ: Why? What’s going to be saved. Tell me more, Doug.
DOUG: Wow, okay, I’ll do it, but I’ll pretty much take up the entire hour answering one single question.
AJ: How bout in chunks? We’ll bounce it around. Let’s get the ... how about the Cliff Notes version?
DOUG: Alright. As I am the king of not nut shelling, so I will do my best but I’m the king of making a short story long, why say it in one word when you can say it in 10 as the famous Joe Elliott [of DEF LEPPARD] once said in an episode of Storytellers on VH1, I think it was about nine years ago he made that comment. In any event, here we go, so here’s the deal, right ... music is dying & everyone finds that to be such a controversial statement because "Oh my god, there’s so much more music out there than there ever was before & it’s the era of the artist & so many people can get their stuff out there & there’s such opportunity that did not exist before because before you had a needle in a haystack opportunity of getting noticed by a label & if you won the lottery you got to be marketed & if you didn’t you ended up going on & being a landscaper & a music was simply a shadow of your 19 year old past" but, with every ... I don’t want to sound too cliche ...
AJ: That’s alright.
DOUG: But, with every rose comes its thorn, right? With every blessing comes its curse. Not to be a glass half empty kind of guy, but, let me go back to the beginning. Music was chugging along just fine 300 years ago. You had your Bach, you had your Beethoven, you had your romantic era, you had your Franz Liszt, my personal favorite, incidentally, you had your Debussy, Impression crept its way. You had your 20th century beginnings of really alienating the listener with 12-tone serialism & atonal & ...
AJ: Thank you John Cage & Schoenberg.
DOUG: You know, there’s a wonderful quote about Bartok. My professor, the legendary Hars Demaris from Greece, also known as the greatest man of all time in my book, my piano professor, who, by the way I’m the great grand-student of Bartok ... see, I’m making a short story long.
AJ: I know, I know that Doug, that’s why you’re here.
DOUG: I am the great grand-student of Bela Bartok, something I have held for exclusive revelation in your & only your podcast, my friend. The great grand-student of Bela Bartok, ironically, has played depressingly little Bartok in my own repertoire experience, however my professor Hars Demaris, who studied with Szandor Julliard was a pupil of the late great wonderful Bela Bartok & there’s a wonderful quote about Mr. Bartok himself, that, well, I’ll paraphrase because I don’t have the quote in front of me, but something along the lines of, & this really captures the essence of all we’re going to be speaking about tonight.
AJ: Go ahead.
DOUG: Mr. Bartok himself said something like, & you out there can research the exact quote, but something like, just that he thought his music was 'completely normal & there was nothing & there was nothing not simple about it' & in his own lovely genius slash twisted, cause remember there’s a fine line between walking the fine line between genius versus insanity. Mr. Bartok thought, he himself, his music was just normal, it’s nothing special, it’s just, it is what it is. &, of course the great majority of earth looks in upon Bartok’s music, for those of you who have ever heard of Bela Bartok, I know we’re catering to a diversified audience.
AJ: Everyone knows him though.
DOUG: & in the end I’m a rock & roller, so not to alienate any of you listener & to bore you to tears if I haven’t already, but there is a genius pianist & composer named Bela Bartok, he lived in the early 1900’s & he was nuts & his music is incredibly difficult for the average to comprehend, let alone begin to learn & regiment & incorporate into their motor memory of performing & understand the emotional aesthetic of what he was going at. But, he himself thought his music was just normal & there was nothing super complex about it. In any event, you went from him to, as you yourself just said, you’ve got your Berg, Shoenberg & all these crazy guys. But, in the end event you landed on Gershwin, another one of my favorites. Gershwin did the wonderful job of assimilating & being sort of a hybrid of taking all your classical ... & I hate to use that word, its such a cliché word. But, you’re taking the word to mean a world of this serious composed ... this timeless music of the past few hundred years & you’re incorporating that into a forward thinking ideology. You’re using jazz. You’re using contemporary current flavors & envelope pushings, along with your color pallette & you’re throwing it all into a pot. You’re mixing it around & you’re coming out with something called "Rhapsody In Blue." & it’s this wonderful piece of music, incidentally which I took to my own cencerto competition in college & became finalist, & this is & completely an aside, but lost, Aaron, lost. I beat all the performance majors. I myself was not a performance major. I was a recording/engineering with piano combo major just a few years back. Lost. Beat all the performance majors, took "Rhapsody In Blue" to the finals & lost to a percussion major.
AJ: Life sucks don’t it?
DOUG: I don’t know why they chose this crazy xylophone piece to go ahead & play a night with the orchestra, as opposed to the tried & true, but in any event I lost a bitter defeat in the hands of the finals. In any event, as I continue to tangent, let me come back to the main pipeline of the conversation.
AJ: Leaving music ...
DOUG: "Rhapsody In Blue", George Gershwin. This was music a couple hundred years after Bach. Now this was music that continued what I believe Chris Robinson of the BLACK CROWES once quoted as 'We’re all part of. We’re all part of the great song, the big song.' That quote it took a while to grow on me, but here we are 10 years later after his Behind The Music rantings & that quote has sort of crept under my subconscience over the years & it has really stuck with me & I know embrace wholeheartedly & champion that philosophy that we are all part of the big song or the grand song. Because, its just a big evolution of music history. It picks off from your influences then you have your own personality & you evolve into something wonderfully new. Gershwin understood that & he did that. Moving along, you’ve got the BEATLES. For better or for worse, whatever you think of the BEATLES. There’s those of you, of course, who worship the BEATLES, & there’s those of you who just think 'they’re, ah, they’re okay.’
AJ: Those are ROLLING STONES fans.
DOUG: & everyone in between. I myself, I get asked this all the time. It’s one of the top questions I get asked ‘Doug, what do you think about the BEATLES?’ I don’t know if I want to reveal that, because I could hide behind a lovely mystique & do a nice little PR thing & that could accumulate for a long long time.
AJ: We don’t want to get too much in trouble here.
DOUG: I respect immensely, & I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade by copping out with the 'r' word, but I have an immense amount of respect for the BEATLES from the innovation standpoint. Without the BEATLES ... indeed, indeed, sure enough, I will, I will submit to you, there would not be much of which I call, much closer to home, much more emotionally responsible for my own musical genetic make-up in more recent times, so perhaps I owe more to the BEATLES than, as I stand here before you right now, than I even now. But in any event ...
AJ: Fair enough.
DOUG: Yes, absolutely. The BEATLES did their job. They took a form ...
AJ: Fair enough. They changed music for the better.
DOUG: Okay, alright, sure enough, they took what came before them, & as my thesis statement is, pushed music history forward. The big thesis statement out of the sky. Is there a point a to the point b, is there a point b from the point a? With the BEATLES the answer is yes. Then came along QUEEN, my personal heroes. QUEEN took everything that came before them, & in my opinion, I get a little emotional about it so forgive me if I’m emotionally biased when I talk about QUEEN, but they took what the BEATLES did & they kicked in the ass, if I may say that on national television here?
AJ: That’s fine, go ahead.
DOUG: They took all of that music in a bottle from Bach to Gershwin. I’m nut shelling. It doesn’t sound like I’m nut shelling. You asked me one question ...
AJ: You’re good.
DOUG: & if we’re lucky 5 minutes from now I will have answered it.
AJ: We’re getting there, we’re getting to saving the music. We’re closer.
DOUG: & we’re getting there.
AJ: We’re getting there. It’ll add up in the end.
DOUG: It will, I promise you, for those of you that hang in there, this will reward the repeat listener, as will the almighty album of Rausch. So, you’ve got QUEEN, who really understood that fine line, that balance of musicianship, artistic integrity, music for music’s sake, when injected into a commercial vehicle, that being music that does not alienate or exclude the general public, but understand that music helps people. Ah, here we go. Now we’re closing in on the inner sanctum of the conversation. It helps people. There is ... I remember an Eric Clapton quote "there is a healing element, a healing aspect of what music does that nothing else on this earth can offer." & I’ll never forget that, I’ll never forget that little snippet, that little TV clip I saw. God knows how old I was, maybe I was 9, I don’t even know. But, all these things, like PINK FLOYD says, "all we are is all we are is all we’ll ever be is everything that’s ever happened to us." & all these little snippets add up to be what I am right here talking with you right now. So, you have QUEEN that took everything that came before. Now, granted, is QUEEN Franz Liszt? Is QUEEN Bach? No, no, no, I don’t mean to sound too pretentious when I speak of these things, but the point is QUEEN rocks. They understood that which very few people understand. Wagner understood this. When music is at its most effective it combines in the perfect blend, in the perfect recipe proportion: the emotional aesthetic, the heart, with the intellectual aesthetic, the brain. The brain & the heart combine. So tragically few people understand this. & I know that my fans out there understand this or you wouldn’t be my fans, so God bless you guys. The non-asshole demographic, as I refer to you & will continue to refer to you until the day that I die. But, you’ve got music that speaks on an emotional level that gut-wrenching, heart string tugging, makes you cry type of music, that sounds, that ... I really am at a loss for words & speechless, even though I know you don’t believe me. I truly am speechless when I think about these things. & I think about the emotional, because when you take away that you really have nothing. That said, when you apply a little bit of intellectual stimulation, a little bit of boundary pushing, a little bit of ‘What if I try this? What if I explore a little bit?’ you know, music ... here’s what music is, as we’re taught all of you music majors out there. Music is nothing but the following: it’s melody, harmony, pitch, rhythm, timbre, which is the color or character of sound, spatial placement, where is the sound coming from, where is it hitting you from in a 3 dimensional room. You know it’s just these different elements & then what music is we explore & we play & its like a big lump of clay. That’s all it is. & we just play with it & we have fun & we see what new things we can come up with. The reason, so back to the very first question, which I never really veered away from, the reason that music history is in danger, the reason it needs to be saved. Again, music has a healing aspect to it that nothing else can provide. Music is going to, music has before & will continue to, save lives. Music saves people & I truly believe that & I know I’m not alone when I say that, however, chunka-chunka-chunk bland-o-rama 3 chord garage crap rock, people don’t understand this, people may not know this, but, it’s gotta stop. There will be a point where enough’s enough & hey man, there’s value in simple music, yeah there’s value in simple music. I don’t deny this. Hey, I’m one of the biggest Tom Petty fans in the world. I love all these. But, what people don’t understand is that if all you have is [the chords] C-F-G, if all you have is E-A-B, if all you have is G-C-D in what you do ... I can’t say if in even our lifetimes we’re gonna see it, so I don’t mean to sound, again, pompously pretentiously prophetic about this, but, look, I care about earth, & we care about the future generations & so forth, & if we don’t do something right now, I feel, I almost feel like I’m getting on a high horse about global warming, but that’s not my fight, music is my fight, I just ... there’s an eerie parallel in how I feel like I’m sounding, I’m a little self-conscience about what I’m saying right now.
AJ: That’s alright.
DOUG: But, if we dont' do something to make sure that the music that comes ahead of us is not confined to G-C-D. & I say that apart from quote unquote serious music, because now we don't even call it classical music anymore. We call it serious music because we're so stuck up in the classical world & the battle lines have been drawn & the camps have been so separated, classical or serious or what have you versus rock, pop, modern, contemporary, blah blah blah. To me, & I know I sound a little flowers & stardust & hippie like when I say this, but music is just music, man. & we all have to kinda band together & understand that. Like I started out by saying, there's more music, more great. I'll even go out on a limb & say there's more great music happening right now than there ever has been before. But, people are not making a living off of it. The labels are collapsing. Musicians cower at the word money & they don't want to have anything to do with the word business. & music & business, as Donald Passman pointed out one time has been perpetually locked into this Vulcan death grip with one another.
AJ: Very true.
DOUG: As I said, it's gotta stop, it's gotta come to an end. Music must pick up the pieces as one of my songs begins by telling you. & it must go to a better place, a new place. It must explore. I believe it was Bernstein who said that 'all the combinations of everything that can be done have been done & there's nothing new that can arise.' With technology, which is a blessing & a curse, we have now defied that saying. We have the potential to arrive at new sounds, new things. You know Ravel, just imagine what sort of music Ravel could have come up with if he had ProTools. He could have come up with all the amazing sonic combinations that he had but yet it would be coming in surround sound going in totally different directions.
AJ: But, Doug, imagine where we'd be all these years & decades & centuries later, having seen him do ProTools the music would have self-imploded by now.
DOUG: Maybe, maybe not.
AJ: It's almost like if we played C-G-F for the next 300 years it doesn't go anywhere, you know, or maybe it does, but ...
DOUG: Right, right. So, we're talking about things being watered down, things potentially run their course. First of all, I'm not telling you that I can sign in blood on this day on this year ahead of us music is going to die & earth is going to explode because music has died. I don't want to sound too too crazy. I'm perfectly fine sounding a little crazy. But, in any event, to make a short story long, & I'm wrapping this first question up if anyone is still listening. We gotta do something. We've gotta push some boundaries. There's some bands out there right now doing a heck of a job at at, but balancing music & business, having artistic substance injected into a commercial vehicle, not by any means selling out or doing anything that's trying to surrender to pop or what the masses want to hear. I look at it, & I come at this at a completely different perspective, what about, gasp, redefining what commercially marketable can be? Ooh, what a novel concept! & this is what pissed me off, if I may be so, so much over the past, you know, 10 15 years now, nothing pisses me off on this earth anything more than the closed minded & non-creativeness of so many people that dwell alongside us. What about that nice novel concept of redefining? I heard, & I'll remain in anonymity & the name shall remain nameless, but I myself sometimes do a few interviews like you do, I interview some people. I've done one for Jordan Rudess ...
AJ: DREAM THEATER.
DOUG: Which is a very very solid one & I think you yourself listened to it. I thought that was a good ... Jordan Rudess of DREAM THEATER ... that was a good interview. There was another interview I did for a name that shall remain nameless because I don't want to get into any trouble or get anyone else in any trouble, but there's an interview I did for someone else whose, I'll say well-known, you know, a fairly established figure out there, who said 'I'm not going to do this', I'm paraphrasing, 'I'm not going to do this anymore because there's just not enough of a market for it, there's just not that many people who are going to buy this.'
AJ: Yeah, you hear that. It really shows the dedication to the music, man, & the dedication to the art with a statement like that.
DOUG: It's all about frame of reference, if you ask me. I'm not even saying he's wrong. It may be a stated fact, an absolute factual statement to say 'there are not more x amount of people who will buy this right now.'
AJ: Which is tough from a business sense & it's a fact from a business point of view.
DOUG: I am not calling that into question. What I am calling into question is the attitude that's lurking behind that. I don't look at it that way. I don't look at it that only x amount of people have purchased this music up to this very moment. I don't look at it that way. I look at the bigger picture. I also look at the trees for the forests, but the bark & the atoms & the molecules on the tree. So I've a foot in both camps, as I always say. But the moral of the story is its all about your headspace & how you look at things, perspective, frame of reference. I look at it is it the chicken or the egg, the catch-22. It's a tough thing, but I still believe its possible. Why don't we take a stab at redefining what, quote unquote, "commercially marketable" can be in the first place. QUEEN did it. They did it. It was a different time, a different era, granted ... & my soulmate guitarist on my record, which maybe we'll get into a little bit later, Mr. Sir Gary Wehrkamp, another greatest man of all time, if I may say so. One thing that he once said, is "yeah, but, Doug, what if QUEEN were to be coming out in this day & age? What if they were to be coming out right now?" I don't know if they would be able to have the same impact & do the same thing when they first came out. That's fair. I'm not arguing that. The fact, however, still remains after all this stuff's cleared, that they did do it. & they did come out & they did prove that it is possible to have artistic substance injected into a commercial vehicle & have bazillions of people singing along in a stadium to a song that has half-diminished chords & minor 6 chords, actually, that's just an inversion of the aforementioned. But, in any event, to have a little more than [chords] 1-4-5 & to have a bazillion people singing along, even if they don't know they're singing along to a half-diminished chord. & I know that's one of the conversations that I've sort of planted in you that I want to get to is talking about why are chords gonna save music history,
AJ: We will.
DOUG: But, I'm making my way there anyway.
AJ: We're gonna hit that in a second.
DOUG: Alright. So, I think I'm gonna wrap up question number one as we're already halfway out of time.
AJ: I think you have & I'm gonna let you take a breathe right now. You wrapped it up. You hit a bunch of territories. & actually, you can breathe now. One of the things, though, that you did say which is really good & I'll just briefly add to it, is 'getting your head around it' or point of view. One thing I kinda don't want to do to you is to label you so much as 'he's this type of music or he's that type of music.' Like QUEEN, maybe some of their stuff was kinda proggy, some of it was hard rock, some of it was ballady. But, you've definitely followed your heroes here in making an album that's quite diverse & quite full of stuff & if anything we can say you're like QUEEN. I don't want to ... cause definitely point of view is an important thing here in how people will relate to things, how music is marketed & how we even listen to the music that could or could not be marketed. Anyways, let's turn to a song, Doug, my favorite song.
DOUG: What is your favorite song off the Rausch album?
AJ: This is my favorite song off of your album.
DOUG: I don't know the answer to that question.
AJ: I know. I'm holding off. I'm keeping you in suspense.
DOUG: I really must say, you've been successful. Very good.
AJ: Ironically, it's probably the first time where my favorite song was like one of the last on the album. Usually its like people put the best first, but I thought the album just got better & better & better as we went through the nine songs. Funny. Often something starts strong & people just end it really weak, but I thought you ended on a climax, which is what you should do.
DOUG: That means a lot to me. That means a lot to me, absolutely.
AJ: & the song in question is "Survival Instincts".
DOUG: Hay! Excellent choice!
AJ: Is that a good choice? Now, Doug, on your album you have a lot of songs that are much, for a lack of a better term, heavier or they're a little bit faster, then you have some which are much slower & much more emotive in some ways. But, I thought this song, in many ways, really represented an overall quality to the album, which is this sense of unpredictability. Every song has ... you kinda don't know what's going to come next. It's not one big A section-B section-A section-chorus. You know, there's changes, there's moods, there's ups & downs, there's little breathes in the song, you know, little spaces in it. You're definitely a guy that likes to play around with your music, probably for both your listeners sake & also your own listening interests too. Which leads me to my question, Doug, & that is ... will you do something for me? Will you tell me about your favorite chords?
DOUG: I thought you'd never ask.
AJ: Before you answer that though, I should say to the listeners I had listened to some interviews that you did with other people & you had mentioned your favorite chords & chord progressions & then the questions just went off. & I made a note of things I wanted to see that you talked about that you didn't get a chance to talk about before. & I made a note: favorite chords. 'I think he's into chords. This guy likes chords. I don't know what it is, but he likes them.' & I've never heard of that before. & I asked my spouse, who is a piano player also, "What's your favorite chord" & I just got this funny look back. & then, I asked you what you wanted to talk about & you said chords. So, we're both on the same page. So, Doug, let's talk about some chords, baby!
DOUG: One of the things that pisses me off the most about all interviews I've seen, heard or read about my heroes &/or any other musicians, especially in the rock era of the past couple decades, is when artists are interviewed. You know, I started piano at a very early age, there's too much to get to with the minutes that we have left here, but suffice to say one of the biggest let downs that I've ever experienced in my life was when I was about 12 years old, getting that next album from one of the bands I called my own. Call it irrational or call it crazy but this is the brain of Rausch at the age of 12. I just assumed, you may laugh now as this may sound silly, but I just assumed the next album would have the major 9 sharp 11 chord, it would have the seven sharp 9 flat 13. I assumed that what music was supposed to be, & this is when I'm a kid at this point ...
AJ: Yeah, yeah.
DOUG: Going years back here. I'm just assuming that the evolution of an artist & the meaning of putting a next album out is so your next album has the next level of advancement of chord progressions. I just thought that's what it was. & then when I heard, you know this isn't my generation's music but it's music that I happen to call my own & then get chastised for calling my own, but a good example would be DEF LEPPARD when they put their fourth album out that sounded just like the same exact album.
AJ: That's actually my generation, Doug.
DOUG: Right, right. So, I'm a generation younger. I like the music I'm not supposed to. I'm not allowed to like the music I like. I'm in the wrong generation. Music of my generation is absolute bullshit & I'm sorry if I get a little bit passionate about that but my generation is just crap.
AJ: But, anyway...
DOUG: But that's why music is dying & we need to bring it back. & it's not just a nostalgia trip, it's about pushing it forward too. There's a lot of younger newer bands in my own generation that I absolutely love so it's not just a bitter old man talking. You know, I'm still a younger guy, I think. But, what happened was the next DEF LEPPARD album, or the next whatever album, whatever generation you're talking about, it didn't have more advanced chord progressions. It was the same damn album or it was the same damn formula.
AJ: That's right.
DOUG: & whereas everyone else just sort of looked at it from a superficial standpoint young Doug heard some of these new albums & just had this amazing expression of bewilderment on his face & in his brain. & you probably think that that's the silliest thing looking back at 12 year old Doug being so confused that the new DEF LEPPARD album & the new BON JOVI album did not have the major 9 flat 13 chord.
AJ: Where the hell is your mind, boy? Where the hell is your mind?
DOUG: I don't understand! It doesn't make any sense! This doesn't make any sense. You know, I bought the album so Richie Sambora would step out in the limelight & feature the minor major 7 chord in all its painful glory. But, he didn't do that. You know he didn't do that! & I was really confused. I didn't get it. I didn't get it! It was just the same song. Again! I'll never forget one of the biggest most vivid emotional memories in my life, & I'm not tangenting, but this is ... if you want a real emotional story from Doug Rausch here this is it. I'll never forget I'm 14 years old. I go into Sam Goody, because Sam Goody still existed & I'll never forget seeing this little single sitting on the shelf, this brand new single & it had the word "Always" on it. & here's 14 year old Doug standing face to face with this new thing called "Always" that he never heard of & he didn't know what it was & it was brand new. It's sort of like a gunslinger standing, & you think this is silly but this is how seriously I take this shit. I'm standing face to face with my arch nemesis. I'm like a parent with this hostility towards this child just slapping him 'Why can't you do better? You're no good. You've never been anything but no good to me.' & I'm standing at this thing, at this new single called "Always" & I'm thinking & saying to myself "Well, this is it. I'm gonna take you home. I'm gonna put you in the player & then we're gonna know where we stand. The dust is gonna clear & we're gonna know." Well, I took that single home. Put it in the player. I heard an E chord. Then I heard an A chord. Then I heard a C sharp minor chord. & then it eventually came along the dominant B chord. & I sat down & I cried. & while that song went to number one & it was really big & a romantic power ballad everyone fell in love to, meanwhile young Doug the musician-piano player because all I cared about was music not silly stupid school dances or anything, I sat down & I cried & said "How could you do this to me? How could you f'ing do this to me? How could you put out the same exact song that was already released on your album called Keep The Faith 2 years prior, incidentally one of my desert island discs to this day & one of the greatest albums of all time in my book, called "I Want You". There's a song on Keep The Faith called "I Want You" filled with emotion, filled with soul, filled with intellect, filled with taste, filled with everything music should be. Well, after "Bed Of Roses" they did not release "I Want You" as a single. They took a little break & they released the Cross Roads compilation-best of. & they put out the new song, the obligatory new song called "Always" & decided to promote the entire album based upon the new song.
AJ: & for those who don't know who you're talking about: BON JOVI. Just to fill that in. They should. Everyone should know "Keep The Faith" & "Like A Prayer", etc. etc. But, just in case they don't know will tell them its BON JOVI.
DOUG: "Like A Prayer" that's a Madonna song. We're splitting hairs a little bit.
AJ: I'm sorry, not "Like A Prayer", "Living On A Prayer".
DOUG: I don't mean to be an asshole, but we got, for the record, we got to set it straight while we're getting there. We're hitting a nerve. The nerve of Rausch. The inner sanctum has been breached. So, there's no turning back now. & the "I Want You" song was, & to this day I've heard a million songs since that song was released on November 3rd, 1992, but to this day the "I Want You" song & especially "Dry County", one of my all-time inner sanctum Bible songs from that desert island disc called Keep The Faith. That was a really special album. & to echo Aaron, for those of you who don't know ... BON JOVI. I used to be very insecure & very in the closet, quote unquote, as a BON JOVI fan because you were chastised to be in my generation & like that band, but, Aaron & I had a little talk before the podcast ...
AJ: Yes we did.
DOUG: & I agreed & I made a little pinky swear with Aaron that this podcast was going to be no holds bar. & it was going to be warts & all & I was going to pull no punches.
AJ: I said you could talk about BON JOVI.
DOUG: So here I am baring my soul. I'm being vulnerable & for those of you who will never forgive me, well, I'm prepared to live with that. But, here we are having this conversation.
AJ: But, that's why I welcomed you here, Doug. That's why I asked you to be here.
DOUG: Alright. Alright.
AJ: I knew you would give me that. But, go ahead, tell me about your favorite chords.
DOUG: By the way, this is how, I'm still answering the chord question.
AJ: I know you are. I know you are.
DOUG: Okay, this is how I work. You know those Russian dolls that are like little layers, in & in & in.
AJ: Inside & inside.
DOUG: That's how my brain works. & that's how music is. I'm ten levels in but I never lose sight. I'm like a boomerang, a rubber band, I always come back to where I began. So, fear not, this is not a scattered conversation, this as simple as it will probably be.
AJ: I know, I know. I talk to you enough, I know. My listeners may not but I know.
DOUG: Alright, so in any event, the BON JOVI conversation comes back to the chord conversation, but let me do the transition, if I may. So, the Keep The Faith album was a moment of musical genius. For those of you who don't know BON JOVI used to be a band that actually played music. They used to actually be intellectual & soulful & play this most amazing stuff & they saved my life & I just can't say enough about it. From then on, from 1992 music went underground. Music history got destroyed. I'm finishing the very first question you asked me at the top of the hour is why does music need to be saved after BON JOVI became embarrassing to say you like & then crap took over.
AJ: Yeah, I know.
DOUG: By the way, I'm in a generation that's supposed to like the crap. So, I'm not saying this as a bitter old grizzled old man. I'm saying this as a guy whose supposed to be in love with the very music that is bullshit because bullshit is the music of my generation. For the past 28 years we've de-evolved from it's trendy to play your instrument shittily to now it's trendy to not play an instrument at all. You stand in front of your computer, you press a bunch of buttons & you make a million dollars. & that's it! Musicians can't make a living anymore. Anyway, back to the point at hand ...
AJ: BON JOVI.
DOUG: BON JOVI used to be a band that played incredible music. I'm a career, long-term minded individual. I'm a committed oriented guy. I treat all relationships that way. It is no exception with BON JOVI. I'm with that band for the long haul no matter what they put out. I will till death do us part be behind them. However, when I was 12 years old & I saw what happened I learned a lesson.
DOUG: I learned a lesson. Commercial music is not all about coming up with that next, new, fresh, innovative, advanced, complicated chord voicing. & your next album is gonna do a lot of things, but one of the things it won't do is be all about new chords. Now why am I so hot on the chords & why am I saying this about chords? What's the point about chords specifically, as opposed to, let's say, melodic amazement, or any of the other elements of music. Remember, at the top of the hour we discussed the various elements of music & either one of them you can go run off & have a field day with. Well, this is where I have a little bit of a heart. & I come back & I tell you "I get it." We all like different things. Even Doug Rausch, the most crazy narcissistic individual of all time, arguably, understands that there is a subjective element of music. There is not all black & white. There's not 'this is the correct music to like, this is the incorrect music to like.' As much as you may not agree with me I actually do get that. So, chords & harmonic content & I love food, by the way. Food is the other greatest thing of all time. Right next to music.
AJ: That's for another show.
DOUG: & spices & there's wonder recipes. So, harmonic content to me is the real meat & food & just the feast of music is chords. & for those of you who just are my fans & you like my music, but maybe I'm running on out at this point & I've just completely lost you, hang in there. I ask you one favor for me. Just hang in there a little longer because I think I can piece this all together in a way in a way that's palatable for even the person whose never so much as looked at a piano in their life, because that's the purpose of Rausch. That's the purpose of QUEEN. To bring everyone together so the world could all hold hands & the world could be safe. How are chord progressions going to lead to the world being saved? Remember, Eric Clapton said, 'there's a healing component in music.' According to me chord progressions harmonic content are the greatest feast, the greatest musical sustenance that can be allotted to you when you sit down, put the head phones on & zone out. Therefore, by transitive property of A equal B, B equals C, therefore A equals C, you get into a situation where you look at music & you go 'this music moves me, this music moves me emotionally, I don't know why.' This is why I don't like to be called prog. Prog music, progressive music for those of you who aren't pigeon-holed into that genre, in my mind, is a genre in & of itself where quality music ... yes that's a subjective term, I surrender to that. Quality music, in & of itself, has been chastised, cast off on an island & referred to as prog. It's got its branding of the scarlet letter A. For there it's supposed to live & wander off & just kinda die. & no one will ever know it existed. & prog music, or music that is released within the context of what is called progressive rock or progressive music, that's just music that is, in my mind, most of those albums, every one of those is a quote unquote next quote unquote greatest album of all time. Many many, not every one but a lot of albums that are released under the brand of prog or progressive rock, these are some of the greatest music in existence. & this is what, back to what I was talking about, redefining what commercial music can be. That's in a lot of ways what commercial music should be, or a lot of people know about & a lot of people listen to. At the moment it is not. It had its heyday. But, then it went underground & music has been on this downward spiral for the last, give or take, 20 years. Okay, where do we go from here?
AJ: Which brings you back to what you were talking about at the beginning of the hour.
DOUG: Okay, see how it all comes around? The Russian dolls never lie. You always come back to where you need. So, here we go. Music moves you, dear fan of Rausch or person whose never heard of Rausch but is listening to this podcast anyway. It stays with you, it saves your life, you love it. It hits an emotional chord. You don't quite know why that is. Let me speak to the whole common denominator of the audience here. Music moves you & you don't know why. You've never looked at a piano. You've never dabbled in music theory. You don't know the first thing about a guitar chord or anything or a scale. But, you know that music has saved your life. At one point or another music was there for you & nothing else was. Why is that? Why was that? You don't have to get into that & you don't have to investigate, because musicians such as myself or the others out there we're going to do it for you. But, why are chords going to save the world? Not only save the music but save the world. Again, by transitive property of saving music, therefore music is life, therefore music will save the world, therefore all I have to prove this theorum here is that the chord progressions of choice will save music, therefore music will save life, therefore the world will all hold hands & we'll all ride off into the sunset & be happy forever & ever, amen. Music has saved you. Music has been there for you when nothing else ever has been. Why is that? Again, I don't know why I'm saying Eric Clapton so much, I never talk about him, he's not one of my personal favorite heroes, but that quote of his really stuck with me & I never really talk about this, but its something you sit in front of a shrink & things come up for the first time you never knew was there & this quote coming up right now in this hour, I don't know. In any event music heals you. It has a healing power. & it does something that which nothing else can do. Why is that? Dear listener, you don't know why that is, that's okay & that's not your job to know. But, I'm telling you I was one of those guys who was curious. I was one of those guys who was intrigued. I was one of those people who wouldn't just sit down & accept it & not question it. I was twelve years old & I said "why am I being so affected?" I had a hunger. It's like people who love food so much they go into the culinary arts & they start making recipes & creating & experimenting on their own. That's all this is! This whole thing is nothing more than that very principal. It's music saves your life. I want to know why that is. I'm curious. I want to ask some questions. So, in my piano study I'd already been playing for 4/5 years at this point. But, this is when lightning strikes. I woke up one day I realized this is why I've been put on this planet. I've been put on this planet to do my music. Music comes out of me. Like Tom Waits said "you wake up at 3 am & the song just comes out of you & you have no idea why." You're at the mercy of the song. I don't mean to sound pretentious about this. At the end of the day all that I'm talking about, philosophically speaking, is just of lovely fortuitous coincidence, because the music that pours out of my soul just happens to line up with the theories with which I speak of. & as to why, mathematically speaking, I'm right with the transitive property of chord progressions are going to save music, therefore music will save mankind. In any event, back to the point, I wondered why I was so moved by this music. started getting into & tried to learn on piano every single song I could, everything I loved at the time, it was BON JOVI. It was embarrassing. You were made fun of to like BON JOVI in my generation, but that didn't stop me. I learned every single BON JOVI song I could & to this day I can play every B side, rarity, unreleased, vault track, what have you, that they ever ever so much as coughed up or thought up. & while David Bryan himself, you may not know this, he was accepted at Julliard. BON JOVI is a group of musicians who can actually play music. I'm not getting into, we're almost out of time right now.
AJ: You're alright. You're alright.
DOUG: I'm not getting into the whole ... you know that's for another time. The next time. This isn't, this hour isn't for me to stand up for that band. It's to talk about the music of Rausch & promote myself, but that is what gave impetus to me & what led me to discover quote unquote progressive rock & to get into more complicated or, I hate saying the word complicated, but just exploring & getting into other music.
DOUG: There's an emotional catharsis that I got from that music. I wanted to know what was about it. I explored. & whoops, I happened to stumble upon the seven sharp nine chord, I happen to stumble upon the minor major 7 chord. I happen to stumble & experiment & play. Just like jazz guys did. It's no different than what the jazz guys in the 40's, 50's, 60's & bop. What if I add this blue note? What if I add that. All of this culminates, my friend, in the sad but true factual statement, that while all of the lovely sprinkles of chord progressions & harmonic innovation that is so so tasty & you consume & it saves you & you love it & you savor it & you don't know why, but it does. That's been there in classical music, or quote unquote serious music. It's been there in jazz music. & Bernstein said "it's all been done before", but he wasn't speaking about rock music. Rock music has done so little in terms of harmonic & so forth, especially within commercial. Okay, there's extreme music, there's progressive, niche, pigeon-hole music. But, in terms of music, like QUEEN, or music that's ... RUSH maybe or other music that's really been popular, if I may dare use that word, that's been very done, the tip of the iceberg, the surface has barely been scratched & I want to do it. & I want to do what I can do to push an envelope. To take what music that is not pigeon-hole music, but music that people might be able to appreciate & relate to on a grander scale & attach a little more intellect to & show people, again, that music that is at its most appealing, touching, marketable & emotional when the music meet with the intellect & that is the music of Rausch.
AJ: & that is how we're going to end our show, Doug, cause we're out of time.
AJ: & you ended it right perfectly. I wish I had another hour or a tape recorder we could put this into a book, but we can't ...
DOUG: If you are not asleep & still listening to this, go support Rausch, but more importantly go support music history. Go support mankind by purchasing the album of Rausch. Music history thanks you. As do I.
AJ: Hey, Doug, thanks for being on my show tonight. We're out of time, man.
DOUG: Thank you so much for having me. It's a true honor. Perhaps we'll do it again sometime. Thank you so much.
AJ: We will. Rausch number 2!
DOUG: Don't let it die.