When Kevin Rudolf’s “Let It Rock” first hit the airwaves last summer, almost everyone who heard it wondered just who this Kevin Rudolf guy was. The song was an instant success from what many believed to be a relative newcomer, and while it’s true “Let It Rock” was the musician’s first single off his debut album, In the City, Rudolf was far from being the new kid in town.
Having previously worked with some of the industry’s biggest names--Justin Timberlake, LL Cool J, the Black Eyed Peas--Rudolf was already an accomplished producer/guitarist way before “Let It Rock” hit the charts. He contributed the trademark riffs to such smash hits as Lil’ Kim’s “The Jump Off” and Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right,” all the while working on his own material. But when “Let It Rock” was released to radio stations last July, even Rudolf was surprised at how quickly he was thrust into the spotlight.
“It just sort of happened,” Rudolf told SoCal.com. “I had always been working on my own music, it was just being in the right place at the right time--sort of like life.”
Adding to the mystery surrounding Rudolf was the fact that “Let It Rock” was on the radio months before In the City even hit store shelves, and when the CD finally did come out in November, Rudolf’s picture was nowhere to be found on its cover--just a silhouette of the artist with his guitar in front of an ink blot urban landscape. While some people simply chalked up the CD’s cover art to marketing--adding a mysterious allure to the native New Yorker in hopes of getting more people talking about the emerging artist--Rudolf insisted there was no great marketing gimmick to get his name out there by keeping him in the shadows (a statement that was recently proven with his performance on “Dancing with the Stars”).
“There was no mystery,” he said. “The song just blew up faster than we could catch up with it. But it was great that the music was given a chance to speak for itself. People truly felt it--it wasn’t anything fake. And with me, music always comes first. Unlike some artists, I don’t want the attention to be put on myself as much as my music.”
Currently on his first headlining tour with Hyper Crush, Cash Cash, The Audition and Go Crash Audio, Rudolf said he’s looking forward to playing “Let It Rock” for his fans during his “30- to 45-minute set” when the tour stops by the House of Blues in Los Angeles April 17 and the House of Blues in Anaheim April 18. However, Rudolf admitted he’s looking forward to playing his CD’s title track, “In the City,” more than the song he’s become known for, as it’s a “screamin’ song that’s 100% attitude.”
“I often open with it,” Rudolf said. “But ‘Let It Rock’ is fun, too, because it’s a crowd favorite and an easy fallback.”
When asked if he knew “Let It Rock” would become the success it has--besides reaching the No. 5 position on the Billboard Hot 100, the song has also been used at a number of sporting events, including WWE’s 2009 “Royal Rumble” pay-per-view--Rudolf replied that he didn’t know it would become the track that would momentarily define him as an artist, but that he had a feeling it would become something special.
“Its hook is just so universal, I knew it could become the anthem that is has, but I’m confident about all the records that I’ve worked on,” he said. “I don’t record a song just to record it; I have to feel great about it. And with ‘Let It Rock,’ it just sounded different than anything else that’s out there. It has a huge hook, and it’s very synthetic, so you can play it in a club. Plus, with [Lil] Wayne on it, I knew I could get it on the radio faster.”
Now, even though Rudolf admitted that his favorite guilty pleasures are “’80s music and one-hit wonders” (although he quickly added that he doesn’t feel guilty about anything he enjoys), he’s working hard to make sure he doesn’t fall into that latter category. Luckily for him, he has a rich past working with some of the industry’s greats to help him along during his journey.
“Working with Timbaland, I was amazed by his work ethic and just how much he would work on something until he got the results he wanted,” Rudolf stated. “And working with Lil Wayne, I was just inspired by his attitude and how natural he was. With Justin and Nelly, it was their energy…basically, working with these artists, I’ve really learned how to project myself and how to sonically make something sound great.”
While ticket holders can judge for themselves if Rudolf’s channeled Timberlake and Furtado’s energy onstage, there’s no doubt he’s picked up Timbaland’s work ethic already; Rudolf said that he’s bringing “a whole other bus with its own studio” along for the ride while he’s on tour so that he can work on his sophomore album.
“I have a million ideas,” Rudolf replied when asked what fans could expect from his next CD. “One of them is doing a double CD where one disc is all live organic stuff and the other disc is radio-ready. Or I may do something that’s a continuation of this album. Or, who knows, I may do something that’s completely different just to fuck with people [laughs].”
And as fans wait to see just what Kevin Rudolf has in store for them next, Rudolf admitted he’s waiting for something, too--his first big check.
“I haven’t gotten it yet,” he stated. “But I’m sure it’s in the mail.”
Kevin Rudolf’s In the City is now available in stores.
The Let It Rock Tour stops by the House of Blues Sunset Strip Fri., April 17 at 7:15 p.m. and the House of Blues Anaheim Sat., April 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $14 to $16.50. Concert is all ages. Visit Ticketmaster for tickets.