Ryder’s Wheels keep on turnin’
A new CD is set for U.S. release; his memoirs are out now
Published: January 4, 2012
MT: Tell us about The Promise?
Ryder: Don wanted to give me the chance to create something that we could put out in America. He took me to one of the best studios with one of the best engineers and with some of the best musicians. He let me in to the candy store and I got to pick the candy. He’s a great producer and he’s got a lot of good credits to his name. I would describe the session as being magical. We recorded it last November and the caliber of musicians was such that there was no need to show them something a second time. I don’t believe there were any second takes or anything. A couple of years ago, The New York Times said that I still have my voice and deliver, but it noted that I was starting to address in my music my chronological age. I don’t know if they viewed that as a positive or a negative, because of the way it was worded. At my age, you can’t pretend to be something you’re not. I won’t make another "Devil with a Blue Dress On" just to prove I still can. The fact that I get on stage and do it proves that I can still do it. In terms of my music, I think you need to be able to talk about age-relevant things. So in [the title track] I talk about having good schools for my children and medicine for my wife, good tools for my work. These are things that we should be able to expect as American citizens. I think we have a right to those basic things — medicine, education and good tools to work with. It’s a sociopolitical comment, but done in a tasty way. It has an R&B feel.
MT: I saw you play in Don Was’ revue during the Concert of Colors with Jim McCarty. Does that suggest that some Detroit Wheels bridges have been rebuilt?
Ryder: I don’t think there were any bridges ever torn between the two of us. McCarty was the only one out of all of us to get a major recording contract. He was the first, with Cactus. He has enjoyed tremendous success. The only thing that bothers him is my use of the band name "The Detroit Wheels." As I explained to him, I looked on the Internet and it was waiting for somebody to grab it. If Jimmy or Johnny had wanted it, needed it or had to use it, then they should have gotten it. It’s a brand name, and what I did is grab it to protect it. In my contracts to appear, I state clearly that the artist prefers that he be billed as Mitch Ryder, period. If the promoter chooses for whatever reason to use "and the Detroit Wheels," he can. I wasn’t about to let that brand name get picked up by some kid in New Jersey. That’s the only difference we’ve had really. At this point in their lives and careers, if that was their biggest accomplishment then I feel bad because I don’t look at it that way.
MT: Isn’t a lot of the affection for your old music related to the feeling of magic surrounding that whole late ’60s, early ’70s Grande Ballroom period?
Ryder: It’s a part of the history and we do need to hold onto it, but we don’t need to do a revisionist history while we do it. Anyway, I’m going to be putting out my back catalog, the albums previously available in Europe. To my fellow citizens. My fellow Americans. That sounds very presidential, doesn’t it?
Mitch Ryder’s The Promise is out now. He plays a record and book release party on Jan. 14 at Callahan’s; 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills; 248-858-9508.
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