Eldridge Rodriguez is the solo project from Cameron Keiber, frontman for the Beatings. He steps away from the group setting in order to display a personal style that explores themes atypical in pop music; the carefully crafted lyrics examine man vs. nature, religion and race, entitlement vs. theft, and forgiveness and redemption. “I’m not a huge fan of pop or disposable culture,” he explains. “I have plenty of pop culture things that I love, but in terms of writing, pop themes or references don’t interest me. I find themes in music such as puppy love, sexin’ ladies or ‘how great I am’ really boring and tired.”
Keiber names Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Sonic Youth, the Smiths and Bob Dylan as just a few of his many influences. And although he does stay true to his finely crafted sound, he clearly channels his inner-Morrissey when singing. In fact, if Eldridge Rodriguez could co-headline with any band, living or dead, it would be at a Bob Dylan/Morrissey show, “if for no other reason than to personally apologize for heckling their shows when I was young and stupid and desperately seeking attention,” he says. “They don’t remember it, I’m sure … but I’m repentant.” Regardless of his behavior back then, he obviously took away the most important aspect of those live shows (the music) and has let his own music grow, earning himself a nomination for the 2011 Best Male Vocalist in the Boston Phoenix‘s Best Music Poll.
On tracks such as “The Shame Of The Scene” and “Miss Me When I’m Gone (Feat. Sarah Borges),” the story is just as important as the melody. These songs definitely reflect the dark tone and personal influences that Keiber holds on to: “I write a lot about things I couldn’t help or should have moved on from. I have a really good memory, can’t let things go very easily, so times where I may have felt wronged in, say, high school still influence my writing today.” Even if these songs hold tight to the personal experiences of the writer, there is room for the listener to connect as well.
It is important for Keiber to remember that when recording with the band, the writing and performing comes from four other people as opposed to all the responsibility on one man. Eldridge Rodriguez gives Keiber the opportunity to branch away from other musicians’ influences and do his own thing: “I can play and say what I want. I love that freedom. I also write more frequently than the rest of the band, so a solo endeavor was always going to happen. Solo, I can be a bit more experimental or noisier and then drop back and be softer on the same album. I don’t know that I could do that with the Beatings.”
Eldridge Rodriguez’s newest release, You Are Released, is Keiber’s 10th studio album (six with the Beatings, four solo). He has no plans to join back up in a band form at the moment and will continue pursuing music as a one-man project. “I have a larger output as a solo artist, and I’m enjoying it right now,” he says. “So I’m going to see how long I can run with this before I get sick of myself.”
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