Veteran rapper Richard Terfry has two, two new records for you
by Gregory Beatty
When we spoke on the phone, Buck 65 (a.k.a. Richard Terfry) was in Victoria preparing to start the Canadian leg of a tour that had already seen him play five shows in Australia, along with gigs in Paris, Edinburgh, Leeds and London. “All of Australia was amazing, not just the shows, but summer was kicking in and I got to do some really fun things,” he says. “I had some days off in Paris too, so I was able to absorb a lot of culture and see some old friends. And in the UK, Edinburgh was a real stand-out.”
As a rap artist, Buck 65 has over 20 years under his belt, but this tour has a few twists to it. The first is the show’s structure. In the run-up to the tour, Terfry released not just one but two albums: his major label effort Neverlove dropped Sept. 30, while Laundromat Boogie came out on Bandcamp Sept. 29.
“Every time you release new material your set list is potentially going to grow because there’s the core older songs that you feel you pretty much have to do, but you have to get the new stuff in there as well,” he says. “A few weeks before I left on tour I made a list of all the songs I was considering doing. There were 50 and I thought, ‘My God, that’s too long. I have to figure out a way to narrow it down.’
“But then I thought, ‘Wait a minute, what if there’s a way I can cram everything in?’ So I loaded all the songs into some software and started to figure out ways songs could be combined — maybe do a quick medley at some point.”
He hasn’t performed some of the songs for years, he says. “It took a few nights for me to get a handle on it and make sure I wasn’t missing any cues. But it’s been good. I feel I hit the mark I was hoping to hit, so there’s something for everyone, whether they just discovered me through the new album or they’ve been listening to me for 15 years.”
Vocalist Tiger Rosa is featured prominently during the show. She did guest vocals on three tunes on Neverlove, and handles those as well as sitting in on older material.
There’s another factor that distinguishes this tour from others Buck 65 has done. The primary album he’s touring, Neverlove, chronicles his painful separation and eventual divorce from his wife.
“There’s been other albums with themes,” Terfry says. “With Situation in 2007, for example, almost the whole album was inspired by events from 1957. Neverlove was a heavier theme than ever before, and of course a very personal one. I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything quite like this.”
While Buck 65 eventually found the process of writing and recording the album cathartic, that wasn’t his intention when he started, he says.
“I was acting more on instinct as a way of helping myself through the situation. I was seeking help in other ways, and definitely getting some great help from some good friends. But it wasn’t always easy to get the help I felt I needed, especially professional help, because there were times when it was a real struggle and my anxiety seemed to be out of control and there was only so much friends could do.”
After spending some time in the studio with some musician pals, Terfry shared the material he’d produced with his manager.
He also sent it to his ex-wife to listen to.
“It was important for me to get her take on things. It was really only after that that I began to think about offering it up for public consumption. And that was hard, because it’s so personal and I feel pretty vulnerable on some of the songs.”