By Lethbridge Herald on May 2, 2017.
New album has a rock edge
Rodney DeCroo is back! The acclaimed B.C. songwriter, poet and musician will be releasing his seventh album on Friday, a day he returns to Lethbridge for a show at The Slice.
DeCroo, whose tortured life is the stuff movies are made of, is taking a new direction on “Old Tenemant Man,” produced by Calgary’s Lorrie Matheson at Arch Audio studio.
Decroo, who is candid about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, is known for his roots and Americana recordings but on his latest album, he takes a turn in the direction of rock ’n roll.
DeCroo, the bastard son of a 19-year-old Vietnam veteran who came home to rural Pennsylvania and a fiancee carrying another man’s child, didn’t take up guitar until the age of 33 after a failed marriage. Since then he has forged a career of music and poetry — his second collection is coming out this month — and has mounted a highly regarded one-man show entitled “Stupid Boy in an Ugly Town.”
Two years ago, he returned to music with the album “Campfires on the Moon” which he produced with Mark Haney.
But for the latest recording, DeCroo just handed the reins to Matheson and let him run the show.
“It’s every different, I just handed the reins to Lorrie and said ‘you produce this.’’ Matheson also plays guitar, keyboards and bass on the record.
“For most of my career I worked with Jon Wood and it was a back-and-forth process but with Lorrie, he’s the producer with a capital P.”
“This is more of a rock record, a more accessible record,” says DeCroo, who has a long association with Lethbridge where he’s played numerous times over the years.
“It’s not a roots record or an alt record or an Americana record — the genre I’ve played to.”
“The lyrics aren’t written as Americana songs or country songs and I’m really happy with it.”
The new music has made fans out of friends who otherwise weren’t that into his rootsy material, he said in a phone interview Friday.
“My hope is it will open more doors for me but I can’t make a record I don’t believe in.”
At his show here, DeCroo may throw in some poetry recital if he gauges the audience will be willing listeners. His new book of poetry “Next Door to the Butcher’s Shop” is published by the same company that did his first collection called “Allegheny BC,” which drew from his childhood in Pennsylvania.
Over the years, DeCroo has found through therapy a new lease on life. He’s managed to control his temper and speaks regrettably about burning professional and personal bridges.
At 15, DeCroo had an alcohol problem and spent time living on the streets of Pittsburgh and a station wagon in B.C. where his adopted father moved the family after his wife threatened to leave if he did a second tour of Vietnam.
At one point, he was left alone in Cranbrook after his stepdad decided to pack up and leave town — without Rodney.
Several years ago, he took up the marshal art of jiu jitsu and “it really helped me with the PTSD which almost destroyed my ability to have a career. The jiu jitsu has allowed DeCroo to “engage fighting in a controlled environment.”
He spent four years in therapy and credits it for helping to turn his life around.
He recalls firing his entire band partway through a tour following the release of his album “Queen Mary Trash.”
“We finished the tour but we didn’t talk anymore. I burned those bridges because I had no way to cope.”
In a 2010 interview with The Herald, he described life before therapy this way:
“I solved things in a different way, I think it was the kind of coping skills I brought to life. …If I didn’t know how to deal with something, I’d get drunk and go commit a crime. Don’t feel good? Get wasted.”
His new tour starts Thursday in Kimberley, B.C. and also includes a May 18 stop at The General Store in Twin Butte.
He’ll be touring with a full band and is looking forward to coming back to Lethbridge.
“I have a special affinity for The Slice” where former owners once let him play even after a DeCroo blowout. “I’ve made a lot of friends in Lethbridge.”
DeCroo’s recording career started in 2004 with “Rodney DeCroo And The Killers” which was followed in 2005 by the roots classic “War Torn Man” which was recorded live at the Sidetrack Cafe in Edmonton.
In 2006, he collaborated with Rae Spoon — who has also worked with Matheson — on “Truckers’ Memorial” before releasing “Queen Mary Trash” in 2010 and his spoken word album “Allegheny” in 2012. Follow albeebHerald on Twitter.
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