This post is one in a series of interviews about Aldo Leopardi and his music. This time, we talk with Curt Sautter, independent record producer and the founder of indie label Delirium Records.
Curt, do you think pop and new wave still have a place in modern rock?
Absolutely. I think it’s easy to argue that bands influenced by classic rock in the 60s and 70s were also bands influenced by The Cars and Billy Idol in the 80s. It’s history, it’s culture, and so if you’re a musician growing up on that sound, you’re likely going to carry it with you into the modern era.
And these are distinct sounds from classic rock?
New wave and pop, which came after classic rock, simplified music and brought back some of the repetition and catchy choruses that had come before. These were great tunes that you could just enjoy without getting lost in complexity.
New wave and pop also distinguished themselves because the late 70s and the 80s were the era where synthesizers made their impact. Bands used keyboards and electric pianos before that, but the development of the microchip helped you go from huge instruments to something that was much more portable and affordable.
You saw genres grow out of these changes, like synth pop. There was also high-energy punk rock, which was less abrasive and more pop-oriented than other punk rock. Each was different from classic rock.
What do you hear in Aldo Leopardi’s music that makes you think, “Yeah, power pop and new wave are getting represented here”?
On Aldo’s initial self-titled record, you notice these influences. For example, some of his songs make use of a synth intro, and the music has a little “jump” to it. It’s uplifting, put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of music in the pop style.
In that album, Aldo sounds like one of those bands influenced by The Cars and others from the 80s because the songs have an energetic rhythm, keep a solid tempo, and don’t become erratic or noisy. Take a listen to “You’re All I Got Tonight” by The Cars and compare it to Aldo’s “Nowhere To Run” and “Everyone’s Talking But Nothing’s Been Said” and you can see this similarity.
It’s interesting that Aldo’s got these American influences since his career started in Australia. What about Australian influences?
Aldo sounds like one of the modern bands influenced by Icehouse and other great Australian rockers from the 80s. His vocal melody is in the style of Iva Davies, something you hear when you listen to “Charles Sky” or “Touch the Fire.” Compare those Icehouse songs to Aldo’s “Kings and Queens” and you’ll recognize that while they’re artists with distinct identities, they’ve got these similar sounds.
So you think Aldo’s modern music retains those 1980s sensibilities?
Definitely, but the modern rock sound in his more recent albums show how Aldo’s band has grown. You get all of these influences of the pop and new wave era, and you also get to follow his progression as the band discovers its identity. It’s great to experience.
Listen to Aldo Leopardi’s music through Spotify and Jango.