One man, three didgeridoos, a couple guitars and an assortment of musical gadgetry-this is Xavier Rudd, Jambands' New Groove of the Month for August. Offering much more than meets the eye, the native Aussie has burst upon the American jam scene of late, and for good reason. He's both multi-talented and multi-dimensional, a storyteller and a musical whiz-kid.
I caught up with Rudd while in the midst of an extensive Summer Tour that sees him performing his impressive solo act everywhere from Washington D.C. to San Diego.
Growing up in the quaint seaside village of Torquay in the South Victoria province of Australia, Rudd has never been a stranger to music. The 27 year-old Aussie (who actually splits his residential time between Australia and our neighbors to the north) has been immersed in music ever since his early childhood. Over the years he's developed an uncanny knack for playing just about every instrument he's touched, further fueling his development as a premier multi-instrumentalist.
"I've always played music," explained Rudd while sampling a variety of instruments in a Nashville music story. "I just started picking things up and fiddling with them and started teaching myself how to play."
Fiddling with various instruments has brought Rudd to now being able to more than competently play over a dozen instruments. His impressive musical resume includes guitars, three didgeridoos (all different), Weissenborn slide guitar, Tongue drums, stomp bones, Djembes, harmonica and slide banjo, to name a few. What results is a colorful collaboration of organic instruments mashed together and produced by one single man.
"It's such a gift, I feel so lucky. It's a gift of life really. I like playing with a lot of sound, at this point, I just like playing solo. It's a real challenge," said Rudd.
To say Rudd is merely a musician would be an understatement. Through his years living in the "white man's world" Rudd's become a cognoscente of life. His affinity towards nature and his fellow man far transcends that of a typical musician. More specifically, he's become an outspoken and insightful glance into the plight of the Aboriginal people of his native land.
"There's a huge amount of oppression of the Aboriginal people in Australia," he maintained. "White people pretty much have slaughtered a lot of Aboriginals. I try to keep a conscious effort to learn their culture. If we connected with the Aboriginal people, we would be a lot better off as a society. We'd be a lot kinder to our country's environment."
Centering much of his music and mentality on his passion for nature and his fellow Man, Rudd is a captivating and energetic individual with an enormous heart. He's one of those guys in the music world whose ego doesn't far precede him, but instead he lets the message of his music portray just who he is.
Rudd explained rather simply. "When I write songs I express what I feel. I draw a huge amount of inspiration from the people I meet. There's so many wonderful people in the world, I just feel so lucky to be a part of it (and have) the opportunity to travel the world and connect with so many people and spirits. I gain so much energy and inspiration from this earth."
Having just released Solace, his sophomore effort on Foundations/Universal Records in June, Rudd is further expanding on the success he's built during the last few years. Possessing an eclectic sound with deep surf-rock foundations, Solace offers a mural of organic and nature-induced sound. Already certified platinum-yes platinum-in his native Australia, the album is a glimpse into the burgeoning musical career of one of today's brightest up-and-comers. As one ponders just how this guy can simultaneously play guitar, didgeridoo and percussion, the musical moments keep your ears in check, never escaping the album's tight grip.
"It's a collaboration of interesting tunes, it's organic and I do it all live," Rudd said of Solace. "When I record, I record live. (The album) is a fusion of a bunch of different instruments played by the human body."
As for which instrument is Rudd's go-to guy, the distinction is difficult to come by. "I don't have a favorite. I enjoy them all; they've all got their own spirit and sound."
Rudd is currently embarking on a cross-country tour of the States before taking some time off the road. Maybe he'll hit the ocean with fellow surfer and friend Jack Johnson; maybe he'll be spotted in Vancouver enjoying the fruits of his dual citizenship. Who knows what the future will hold, but look out for Xavier to be joined by a Tabla player in the impending months.
"I live in a white man's world and travel around, play music and get paid to do it. I just feel so lucky right now. I'm so spoiled to even be here. My favorite part, for me, is the connection to the spirit world," Rudd concluded.