FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 9, 2007
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081
Helen Caddes Rocks On With or Without a Backup Band and a Backup Business
(MURFREESBORO)—The slogan “Politics + Music = Love” is posted on Helen Caddes’ MySpace Web site. The song posted there under the name Reactor Charge, “Before It’s Too Late,” explains that philosophy.
“You’re leading us down/A road straight to hell/With nuclear dreams/And hints of Orwell,” Caddes sings in a sly, “I-know-what-you’re-up-to” tone.
This is not to say that Caddes has the impending apocalypse on her mind 24/7. Anytime she starts to take herself too seriously, all she has to do is remind herself of her first big composing credit—a catchy little number titled “My Blankie,” written at the age of three.
However, this December 2006 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science comes by her combustible combination of music and politics honestly. Her parents were southern California English teachers and novelists who paid frequent visits to their neighbor down the street, David Lindley, a guitarist and electric violinist with Jackson Browne’s band.
“My parents would go over there and the adults would go in the back area of the house,” Caddes recalls. “I would sit up in the front with the kids. There was a stand-up piano in there. I was three years old, and I would climb up on the bench.”
Lindley had jammed with Browne and Linda Ronstadt on that piano. But Caddes spent so much time pounding on it that the veteran rocker gave it to her. Although Mom eventually had to sell the piano for rent money, Grandma helped Caddes continue her interest in music by giving her a guitar.
Through church choir, music camp, and vocal training, Caddes mastered her style on guitar, keyboards, bass, synthesizer and voice. Along the way, her influences changed considerably. Not surprisingly, they include John Lennon, Patti Smith, and former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra.
“My favorite thing is to take what I know and take it into a new realm,” Caddes says. “It’s very hard to get something together that’s really from the heart and not contrived … I’ve never really tried to sound like anyone else.”
While some say that formal musical training causes artists to lose touch with their style, Caddes insists that the only music class she took at MTSU taught her patience, confidence and dedication to the art. She credits adjunct professor Roger Hudson with showing her the way.
“Roger Hudson takes his students to a new level of understanding about music, music theory, notation, and just how to play guitar,” Caddes says.
To those who just want to pick up their instruments and hit the road straight out of high school, Caddes warns that trying to sing about life before actually experiencing it can lead to quick sellouts.
“If you look at Avril Lavigne’s little pre-fab pseudo-career, you’ve got a girl who is trying to be a rebel through corporatism,” Caddes says. “How do you do that? You can’t do that! What rock was about originally was learning the conventions so you can break them!”
Since the need to pay the bills remains a reality, Caddes runs a Web design business. Even so, her worldview remains a fundamental part of her work.
“To be able to give people a place to showcase themselves and their work is always exciting,” Caddes says. “I would say the most thrilling thing is being able to work with independent businesses—not on a corporate scale, but on a person-to-person level.”
She also keeps a watchful eye on the Nevada case of Kirstin Blaise Lobato, a woman appealing her conviction for the 2001 murder of a homeless man. Lobato’s advocates point to a lack of physical evidence from the crime scene and an alibi that places her 160 miles from the scene at the time of the killing. Caddes has written a song, “For Blaise,” in support of Lobato.
In the meantime, Caddes prides herself on playing benefits for groups like Special Kids and Planned Parenthood. But can today’s artists really make a widespread political difference as they did in the 1960s? Caddes says the potential to strike out in one’s own way and make it mean something still exists.
“When you remember what an influence it had before music was corporatized, you see new possibilities and new potential for it in the now,” Caddes says. “The way that you get popular these days is underground because there is no ‘above ground’ anymore. There’s no way to break into the music business other than by going at it yourself independently.”
ATTENTION, MEDIA: To arrange an interview with Helen Caddes, contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or email@example.com.