Andy Waldeck's status as a local rock hero was finally cemented about a year ago with the buzz surrounding last summer's Egypt reunion tour. It was impressive enough on its own, but it was downright remarkable when you consider that the band broke up ten years ago.
"We played 300-plus dates a year for eight years. It was over a million miles, when I started adding it up," says Waldeck, obviously still somewhat incredulous.
"Egypt broke up in 1995, and I wasted no time," he says. "I hit the ground running. I switched from bass to guitar and decided I wanted to be the lead singer."
The resulting project was EarthtoAndy, a hard rock outfit whose tour diary reads like a Who's Who of modern rock: Stone Temple Pilots, Sevendust, Live, Fuel, Staind, Vertical Horizon, Dope, even Eminem.
Waldeck had no idea that "Still After You," the energetic song he wrote for the film Heavy Metal 2000 would spell disaster. Label representatives liked it so much they slated it as the band's first single– complete with a video– despite the fact that it didn't reflect the band's relatively accessible character.
"They were looking for a band to fill their market," laments Waldeck. "Everyone was interested in Korn, Limp Bizkit, drop-D, Doberman Pinscher bands.
Around the turn of the century, EarthtoAndy began to suspect that their more mainstream modern rock tendencies were being pushed aside by the marketing department, which seemed to be hell bent on classifying them as "active rock."
"Our suspicions were absolutely confirmed," he says, "when our album wasn't working out the way they wanted, and they went and signed Disturbed," which became one of the best-selling heavy rock acts of the past few years.
"The demographic that listens to that sort of radio is not really interested in new music," says Waldeck. "They're interested in their old classics and new renditions of the same-old same-old."
EarthtoAndy eventually fizzled, but Waldeck promptly zipped off in a direction nobody was expecting.
Offering, a six-song acoustic EP, swaps his trademark high-octane hard rock for a previously unexpected sensitivity.
"That was a great success for me," he says. "I wanted to do something that was the total opposite of what I had done my entire career."
He stops to ponder that for a moment. "My singing has become less screaming and more singing," he laughs.
These days, Waldeck makes the rounds– well, in just about every mode imaginable. Acoustic solo projects, rock with the C-Villians, funk in the form of the X-Porn Stars, stints as a mercenary session bassist, and as a popular instructor.
"I can shift gears really quickly," he says. "I can be on stage rocking and then be sensitive acoustic guy at home."
He can be sensitive acoustic guy on the road, too– last fall, he covered 10,000 miles in under two months for his solo acoustic tour. "It's weird traveling alone," Waldeck says. "It's pretty much just me, my two guitars, and a bag of CDs."
Nine hundred ninety thousand miles from now, the tour diary for Waldeck's solo project might start to measure up to Egypt's. He's in no hurry, though.
"I learned from Egypt and EarthtoAndy that you can wait and wait, and just when you give up, something happens," he says.
Anybody else get the feeling he still has something up his sleeve?
Why here? I moved here for the great mix of art, culture, and laid-back Blue Ridge country-boy vibe.
Worst about living here? That damn Bodo's on the Corner that refuses to open.
Favorite hangout? Starr Hill, Outback Lodge, Atomic burrito, Gravity Lounge. Anywhere there's good food, beer, and music happening.
Most overrated virtue? You mean my most overrated virtue, or mankind's most overrated virtue? Either way, it's arrogance.
People would be surprised to know? I'm a really good skier.
What would you change about yourself? I would like to look inside myself more often, to know myself better.
Proudest accomplishment? My choice to live life my way, the road less traveled
People find most annoying about you? Too scattered, too busy
Whom do you admire? My wife, Jenny
Favorite book? Naked by David Sedaris, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Subject that causes you to rant? The music "business"
Biggest 21st century thrill and biggest 21st century creep-out? The Internet and all its trappings
What do you drive? Subaru
In your car CD player right now? Wayne Hancock, Erin James, Niki Barr
Next journey? Out to L.A. with Niki Barr
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? My lawyer has recommended that I not talk about it... next?
Regret? I wish I had started surfing when I was younger. I know that's lame.
Favorite comfort food? Chicken Marsala
Always in your refrigerator? Half and Half
Must-see TV? TV sucks, but I really like The Sopranos.
Favorite cartoon? South Park
Describe a perfect day: Get up late, make love, hike with the wife and the dogs, hook up with friends for eats, and then get on stage and act like a rock star for a few hours
Walter Mitty fantasy? Greek shipping tycoon, huge luxury motor yacht, private islands, tan face and navy blazer, cruising and taking in the sea.
Who'd play you in the movie? Art Alexakis
Most embarrassing moment? There's nothing worse than a brain fart on stage. You can't remember the next lyric, so you have to make a split-second decision. Do you sing the line you just sang and sound like a record skipping, or do you try to make one up on the spot? (Very rarely does this work out in your favor.)
Or the worst: you try to slur your words in an attempt to sound emotional and interpretive. This happens a lot. That's why its always my most embarrassing moment.
Best advice you ever got? Finish every song you start writing.
Favorite bumper sticker? Don't Fairfax my Albemarle.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO