Todd Underwood is a veteran singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist. In 2017 he began producing a string of thought-provoking and musically exhilarating albums of genre-defying alternative pop, rock and progressive jams. His record “Panic” was one of the first to ever be featured on The Static Dive.
Extraordinary is the brand new album from Todd Underwood, released worldwide via all major streaming services on July 30, 2022. Once again, the vastly talented musician delivers a genre-defying collection of smart songs and soulful virtuosity.
From the funky indie-pop of “You’re My Everything” to the retro groove of “Wayback Man ” and modern alternative rockers like “If I Could Just” and the title track, Todd Underwood takes us on a stylistic ride. However, a progressive rock pulse beats at the heart of every song. A consummate musician, Todd Underwood layers his compositions with nuanced musical sophistication.
Lyrically, Todd Underwood’s songs chronicle life in this difficult world, as seen from one man’s eyes. Considering the events of recent years, he’s had a lot to write about. Records like last year’s Upside Down held a mirror to a terrible year. On Extraordinary the mood has shifted to the positive. We are hopeful the rest of the world soon follows suit.
We had the opportunity to chat with Todd Underwood about the new album, the past and the future. Check out his answers to our 11 questions below. Listen to Extraordinary in its entirety below, or listen on your favorite streaming service. You can also hear the title track and “You’re My Everything” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Todd Underwood. Get on his profiles and dig into a deep catalog of excellent rock, pop and more.
11 Questions with Todd Underwood
We know you were in LA. Where are you from originally?
Todd Underwood: I actually live in Winter Springs, Florida right now. I was originally from Los Angeles though and have lived all over SoCal and also in Arizona.
How long have you been making music? Tell us a bit about your musical journey so far.
Todd Underwood: I started when I was very young. My parents bought a classical guitar for me and made me take lessons. I did it for a few years but didn’t like the lessons so I quit but I still loved the guitar. My neighbor had an electric guitar and wanted to sell it for $30 so I bought it and have never stopped playing since.
I was in a band for a few years during junior high and actually played shows. By 15 I was recording at home (that’s when the Fostex X-15 4 track cassette recorder came out). From there I continued to play with a lot of different bands and actually operated a small recording studio for my income. My best friend in high school, Travis McNabb, is a drummer and we did so much together, even had a band with the bass player from Sly and the Family Stone.
He is now the drummer for Sugarland among other big country acts. At some point we parted ways as I wanted to finish college and he made music his career starting with being the drummer for Greg Sage and the Wipers. I continued in various bands, did some touring, landed a lot of music for sports television gigs for about 20 years. I owned a music store and always had a recording studio at home. I essentially have never stopped.
On your previous releases you wrote, performed and recorded everything yourself. Is that the case with “Extraordinary” as well?
Todd Underwood: Yes that’s still the case, although I did have my wife sing with me on the chorus on one of the songs. I also have a few friends that have studios and I bounce some ideas off them. But in the end it’s definitely all me doing everything.
Your music is a cool mix of modern pop/rock with nods to classic, progressive and even punk rock. What artists helped shape your sound?
Todd Underwood: I grew up with what my parents listened to – the Beatles, Jim Croce, The Doors and then all the popular music at the time but as I grew older and started to listen to things myself I remember The Police, Blondie, Talking Heads, AC/DC, ELO, Klark Kent. In High school I continued to listen to The Police a lot but added U2, Chili Peppers, Fishbone, 24/7 Spyz, KingsX, Crazy 8’s.
I did have a punk phase, Black Flag, 7 Seconds, JFA. The past 20 years or so I’ve been all over the place such as Saosin, Edison Glass, Jimmy Eat World, Knuckle Puck etc…
What non-musical influences have impacted your art?
Todd Underwood: Life lol! Whatever Im going through. I decided a long time ago not to censor what I write about even though I might think years down the road that I might not want to sing something like that. It doesn’t matter. So relationships, my faith, my struggles, my ups and downs, things that are exciting new and different and things that suck – it’s all in there.
Thematically the new record takes a significant turn to the positive from earlier angsty work like “Upside Down.” Tell us about the change in attitude.
Todd Underwood: I went through a few years of hell but the suffering made me stronger and definitely gave me a new outlook on life. One thing I learned is that we can choose whether we want to be happy or not in the midst of our circumstances so I purposefully chose to take this album in a new direction.
I was tired of the angst and chose to speak positivity and new life into things rather than being negative. And on top of that my circumstances have changed for the better but I believe a lot of that has to do with having the faith that they will change, and speaking positively about things.
There’s a great Prince/P-Funk vibe running through tracks like “Wayback Man,” “We’re Alright”. Was that intentional or just a happy accident?
Todd Underwood: That was not intentional however my friend Travis and I used to listen to a lot of P-Funk and Prince. Once we got into the Chili Peppers back in the beginning we couldn’t get our hands on enough funk. I admire and respect Prince on so many levels. He was one of the world’s best musicians, singers, songwriters etc.
However, I never once consciously thought about Prince with these songs. In my mind I actually was getting worried I was sounding too much like Lenny Kravitz! On “Grace in the Grey” I actually did 4 octaves of vocals with no processing – one my kids called the chorus my “space funk” thing and all I could think of is Kravitz.
I think I just have a lot of funk influence from my early years and I love anything that grooves and with this album wanted to get back to sound more than I had in the past. “We’re all Right” and “WayBack Man” come from my archives but they were unfinished.
Tell us about your process. Where/how do you write and record?
Todd Underwood: I have a full recording studio and still do work for other people so of course I use that to do my own recording. I have archives that go way back so sometimes I pull unfinished things out and finish them, sometimes I have new ideas and do something from scratch.
Since I play all the instruments I dont always start with just guitar for example. Sometimes I’ll start with a vocal melody, or words, or even just a groove on the drums or a loop. Sometimes it’s the electric guitar, sometimes the acoustic and occasionally even the bass starts the song. I build from there.
Although sometimes I do have an idea of an entire song and concept from the start, I also enjoy just starting with something and seeing where it goes. Like a painter I just start painting without knowing what the end result is going to look like. I really like that part of the process because then it’s all new to me too. I let the music do the steering. I think I heard Sting say if you listen, the music will write itself. I think that’s true.
You seem to average one new album each year. Is that by design?
Todd Underwood: Yes, that’s my goal. Sometimes if we don’t have goals we don’t do anything so yes I do have a goal of finishing an album of solo work each year.
What are your plans for the future (musically)?
Todd Underwood: Really at this point I like what I’m doing. I don’t do the music for television anymore as most of that is now generated by shall we say non-musicians just constructing things with loops.
I would like to do more collaborations, whether I just sing with another artist on their song, help with the production or collaborate with songwriting. Sometimes doing solo work can get stale so it definitely helps to do as much collaboration as possible.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Todd Underwood: I think what you are doing with The Static Dive is awesome. I love how you support independent artists and just want to say thanks for the work you do. Before the internet as we know it, it was very difficult to be an independent artist and have anything released. Now we can do this without having to have a record company and there’s an entire community of people that are supporting this movement like you. So thank you for all you do!