Kate Rhudy’s “I Don’t Like You or Your Band” from “Rock N’ Roll Ain’t For Me” is most likely to bring a smile to faces of listeners. The Raleigh-based singer-songwriter’s sweet folksy vocals and quick strings wield quips with surgical precision. She cuts straight through the bullshit of some guy we have all met at some point or another.
“Your cigarettes, your leather shoes, you, your friends and your middle-class white boy blues / you’ve become someone I can’t stand.”
“I wrote that song to get it out of my system,” she tells encore, “and [I] didn’t think I’d record it. It’s just a hard burn on my college boyfriend. A lot of songs on the album describe that relationship.”
“Rock N’ Roll Ain’t for Me,” released in June 2017, has many a clever lyrics to sift through; 10 tracks were pared down from mounds of notes from the prolific writer. A recurring theme is softening harsh truths or sharp edges in the stories she shares. The album’s title is from the ending lines of “Cheap Thrills”: “Cocaine ain’t for me, I decided / rock n’ roll ain’t for me, I decided.”
“It’s also a bit of a joke because in those lines, and in the song, I’m decidedly renouncing a lifestyle I know I’m not done with,” Rhudy explains. “A lot of the songs on the album are about making the same choices again and again. I’m certainly not done with rock ‘n’ roll.”
Autobiographical lyrics come to light again in “The Only Pretty Thing in Texas,” about a cross-country tour with an Americana trio she joined in college. Rhudy and two guys hit 20 states in 30 days; she almost killed one of them in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“It’s funny, it was really beautiful but it was hard to enjoy it,” she remembers. “I had some help writing that one from the bass player, and the lead singer text me when the song came out, saying he hopes I don’t still want to kill him. I don’t.”
Rhudy has new songs in the works, a few of which she’ll play at her forthcoming “Smooch Tour” show with fellow femme musician Libby Rodenbough. Their Smooch Tour is a short run—three dates altogether. Yet, the female artists wanted to hit the road as a duo, wherein they sing each other’s tunes and tackle some of their favorite covers.
Theirs is a longstanding professional and personal friendship. The photo on their Smooch Tour poster is from their days in a cover band together. It looks like Rodenbough is giving Rhudy a kiss on her head, which is where the tour’s name is derived.
“I run most of my songs by [Libby] at different stages anyways,” Rhudy details. “It’s so great to sing with her because it feels like she’s a part of some of them. I’ve known Libby for a while now—she’s been a friend since I started playing music in the triangle and I feel very lucky to have someone like her in my life.”
It’s quite different from Rhudy’s normal touring schedule. She is used to being surrounded by males in the music industry in general—whether on tour or while in the studio. The industry overall seems to make up more men than women.
“My band is all boys,” Rhudy iterates. “Most times I’ve recorded, it’s been me and a room of boys. I love them all and they’re insanely talented—I’m very lucky to know some good ones. But it’s important to name it. I’m working on it. I want to share more bills with women, I want to sing with more women, I want to make more music with women. Women are the best. We’re the best!”
Rhudy and Rodenbough will take over Castle Street’s Gravity Records on Saturday.