By Jeb Wright
Carl Canedy made a name for himself over the decades, mostly as the drummer of The Rods, a cult band he formed with David "Rock" Feinstein (formerly of Elf and Ronnie James Dio’s cousin!) Aside from The Rods, Canedy is a highly sought after producer, sitting behind the board for such bands as Anthrax, Overkill, Exciter and TT Quick amongst others. There was a time, however, when Carl was not known at all. He was also in a band that coulda, shudda made it, but didn’t.
I suppose nearly every musician who has had any sort of success has tales of earlier bands that never got their shot. Everyone has to start somewhere! Not everyone, however, releases a long, lost album of that band. That’s what makes this story so interesting. The band was called Kelakos… and now, nearly four decades after having recorded their first album, it has finally been released.
Kelakos recorded and worked from Ithaca, New York. The band was made up of Canedy on drums, singer/guitarist George Michael Kelakos Haberstroh, guitarist Mark Sisson, and bassist Lincoln Bloomfield. Their album was originally recorded in September of 1978.
In the interview that follows, Canedy tells the tale of the band that simply refused to be lost to the winds of time. We learn how this project came to be, how Bruce Springsteen ruined one of their club gigs in Asbury Park and if a reunion show is a possibility. At the end of the interview, Canedy shares how Ronnie James Dio came to sing a song he wrote as well.
Read on to discover Kelakos!
Jeb: I am fan of The Rods, so I know your work. This band pre-dates that. The band is Kelakos. Tell me how this long lost project came to be.
Carl: We had the tracks. I saved the original masters. Linc Bloomfield, who was in the band, has a great studio and we decided just to do this. It was our first album. The three of us wrote the album and we each produced our own material. We were a touring band that came from being a club band. We looked back and saw that this material was really great. We were able to take our time and make it sound the best it can be. Linc really did a great job.
Jeb: These are songs written in the mid-1970s. Did you do any overdubs?
Carl: These were written around ’75 or ’76. These are the original tracks and we didn’t punch anything up. These were the tracks we had and Linc just brought them out. I had the two-inch masters. I am like the archivist of the bands I have been in, and the bands I have produced. I went to Sound Investment Studios and they baked the tapes and transferred them to digital. They are all original tracks bounced down from the original recordings. There was one song where I wanted a bigger chorus and I tried to get Linc to do it, but he said that we had to keep it the same, and he was right.
Jeb: Had you been in touch with the other guys all of these years?
Carl: We actually lost touch. Linc had a very illustrious career in politics. He is super talented, but he had other pursuits. George is a singer and songwriter. He has continued on. He has done a lot of things over the years. He is super talented, but he never looked for commercial success and he has stayed true to that all of these years. I have kept playing and I have produced other artists. I was trying to count how many albums I have produced and I think it is around 35 to 40 albums over the years. I, of course, have stayed in music.
Jeb: Was it hard to be objective listening back to these songs?
Carl: It was easy for me to be objective, as Linc was handling all of the engineering and the remixing. I would listen, but I was overall able to be very objective as I was not so hands on.
Jeb: Your name is associated with much heavier music.
Carl: It is. Over the years I have done many projects. This is a great display of the diversity of music I can play. It’s for people who didn’t think I could do anything other than bashing heavy metal drums. There is another side of me.
Jeb: Was this your first band?
Carl: It was not my first band, but it was my first band that I recorded with. This was the first band where we went to record and release an album. “Funky Day” was going to be the first single. We got jukebox labels for it and stuff. The jukebox label was like a Gold Record to me. It was like The Jerk where Steve Martin gets the phonebook and finds his name!
Jeb: This was a band that had a lot of different styles.
Carl: It was very diverse. Linc and George and I came from a different place. We were really tight as we were surviving by playing live. When it came time to record these, we didn’t get to cut and paste things. We just said, “On your mark, get set, go!” It is diverse, but I love that it is so diverse. There are so many influences in our songs. You can tell we all loved music.
Jeb: Who were your influences?
Carl: I know George was into Neil Young. Linc was into Hall and Oates. He was like me; he was into a lot of things. He was into singer/songwriters as well as bands. Linc was the guy who really knew harmony and chord structure. His material is the most musically complex. George has a lot of energy and raw passion. Mine was just hacking out songs. I’d go home and pick up the guitar when it was too late to play drums and write a crappy song and present it to the guys. They would be kind enough to work on it while they were gritting their teeth.
Jeb: In bits and pieces this is like a funky Foghat with less blues.
Carl: Foghat was an influence. They were a band that was charting big time then. A year and a half after this band broke up The Rods started up. The first major show I ever played was at Boom County Arena, sold out, over ten thousand people, opening for Foghat.
Jeb: How close did Kelakos come to making it?
Carl: We moved to New Jersey for a good year so we played all over that area. Here is a good story: We were playing when Bruce Springsteen had just broken. We played Asbury Park. We were playing Asbury Park on a Tuesday or Wednesday. We were across from The Stone Pony.
The first night we played, there were not a lot of people in the club. I don’t know that they really cared that we were there. They were polite and whatever. All of a sudden we see them all whispering to each other and they literally start running out of the club. Linc leans over to me and says, “I didn’t think we smelled that badly.” What happened was that Bruce Springsteen was sitting in with Southside Johnny across the street. We thought they were running out because we sucked. So, we felt a little bit better when we found out why they were leaving. It still was not a good feeling to see people running out the door when you’re trying to give it your all. In hindsight, I should have jumped off offstage and ran over there as well!
Jeb: Did you leave the region?
Carl: We moved to Upstate New York. We played Buffalo and Rochester and all of that area. We still traveled across four states and we played Boston a lot. We were surviving playing six nights a week and traveling.
Jeb: When did you give up?
Carl: I think after a while we just kind of knew. Linc wanted to go to Grad school. We gave it our shot and we knew it was time to move on. We released the album and we tried to shop it, but it never really got a chance to be given a fair listen. It wound down from there, and there was no real big break up. We just went on our own way.
I thank Linc all of the time for doing this. It is part of my legacy; even though it was part of my legacy, no one knew about it. We sold whatever copies we had pressed. There was no way to add this to anything as there was nothing to show them. Now we have something to show people and to have them listen to it. It would have been lost to history. Linc, Mark and George were best friends. They were in a band called The Criminals when I joined them. They were all childhood friends when I joined them. There were never any issues. Everybody just went off on their own little journey.
Jeb: The Rods were a cool band. I think you should have had more success.
Carl: In hindsight, I would have to agree with that. The Encyclopedia of Metal says we achieved cult status and I agree with that. A lot of people know of us. We’ve been surprised that there are so many fans around the world.
It was the same as with a million bands. It was down to decisions made. We had some great opportunities and our managers at the time made some decisions that were not in our best interest. I take responsibility for a portion of it myself. It is not a story that is not the same as a million bands at the time. It is still fun when we fire up The Rods. We still approach it like we are 18 years old and we have nothing to lose.
Jeb: Will there be a reunion gig for Kelakos?
Carl: From day one when Linc started this, I thought we should have a reunion show. We all live in different places, so logistically it may not be able to happen. I would love to do a reunion show as that would be great.
Jeb: What’s up with The Rods?
Carl: I have my solo album, Canedy- Headbanger out now and I am thrilled about that. The Rods have some shows coming up. We are doing some club dates and then we are going to Belgium. We will be out there. We have DIO day coming up in June, so that will be fun.
Jeb: Last one: I am huge Ronnie James Dio fan. Any good stories about working with him?
Carl: On my solo album I added a song called “The Code” that Ronnie sang. It was one of the last couple of songs Ronnie ever sang. He came in and did two songs with us. We did my song, and he did “Metal will Never Die” that David had written.
Ronnie came in and, for me, I put it on as a bonus track. I had known those guys since I was 19 years old as that is how David and I started The Rods. Ronnie came in and he sang those two songs, and it was the highlight of my career. He was the sweetest guy. David had told me all of the stories from working with him in Elf and how Ronnie was a one-take guy… and Ronnie really was. He nailed it. He was humble on top of that. It was such an honor and a thrill for him to sing a song I had written.
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