by Liza Mitchell
Rick Springfield can save the world. As a master of his own reinvention, Springfield slips so seamlessly between the dimensions of his career, that global preservationist doesn’t feel like much of a stretch. It helps that his studio is outfitted with enough hardware to stave off Armageddon. “I am a big steampunk fan, so my whole recording studio is steampunk with weapons all over it,” he says. “If we are ever attacked by aliens, I’m your guy.”
Springfield will perform September 26 at the Florida Theatre in support of his most recent release Songs for the End of the World. The aptly titled album is a darker turn for Springfield, interspersing hard rock elements with familiar pop hooks, soaring melodies and deeply personal lyrics.
“It’s an album about relationships, as all my songs are. But it’s about relationships in the world we are living in now, which, to me, is getting scarier and scarier. We’re getting close to a tipping point that we won’t be able to come back from unless we start to make some serious moves about changing the way we treat the earth and treat each other.”
Fans have always played an integral part in Springfield’s storied career whether as a rock star, author, film star or soap opera actor. As a token of appreciation, Springfield will host Rick Springfield & Friends Club Med November 14-18 in Port St. Lucie, an all-inclusive vacation package with Q&A sessions, acoustic poolside jams and more. “It’s a really unique trip, very different from a tour. It’s like going on vacation with me,” he says. “I put myself out there for five days and try to give something back.”
Springfield will also read excerpts from his first novel, Magnificent Vibration, which will debut in the spring of 2014. As a songwriter, Springfield learned when to push the creative envelope and when to step aside and let the stories tell themselves. The characters in Magnificent Vibration were a particularly demanding bunch. “The characters just formed themselves. They just kind of appear, and you just get out of the way and let them do their thing,” he says.
Springfield was among the elite collection of artists handpicked by Dave Grohl to participate in his documentary Sound City. All of the chosen artists had recorded their most famous material on the old Neve sound board at Sound City, a hole-in-the-wall studio in Van Nuys, CA, with an enviable history.
In 1975, Fleetwood Mac made history with their album Rumors. After the studio fell into a slump, a little-known Seattle band breathed new life into Sound City in 1991 with the album Nevermind, forever altering rock music. Grohl was inspired to make the documentary after he purchased the analog mixing console when the studio closed in 2011.
Springfield said he wasn’t certain what to expect when Grohl reached out, but he agreed without hesitation. “He approached it from the perspective that he bought the old board console from this great studio where Nirvana did Nevermind,” Springfield says. “He was aware of what had been recorded through that board before Nirvana got there.”
The ambassadors of rock history including Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, the surviving members of Nirvana and even Sir Paul McCartney came together to create a new chapter in history through a shared experience. The result was the soundtrack Sound City: Real to Reel and features new music from some of the most unlikely pairings. “It started out as just interviews, then he got different people together to write and record through this old console that we’d all recorded all of our hits through,” Springfield says.
In 2014, Springfield will be honored for his body of work with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is humbled to receive such a distinction. “I’ve done a lot of the things that I’ve wanted to do but there’s always more,” he says. “I don’t really have a plan. I just kind of do what I do and hope that it lands somewhere.” In the end, Springfield doesn’t have to save the world to be part of it. Even if it was all coming to a close tomorrow, he would still be making songs for the end of the world.