Xavier Rudd

Xavier Rudd is a tough guy to pin down. Catching a few spare minutes to chat on the phone in between a Denver gig and a mountain bike ride, or defining the Australian’s music, can be a challenge – but well worth the effort. The term “world music” could apply to Rudd’s wide ranging style and he can mesmerize an audience with an array of instruments including didgeridoo, Weissenborn slide guitars, stomp boxes, djembes, harmonica, and a bunch of different percussion and drums. But that categorization still falls short – his style runs the gamut from folk, rock and reggae, as well as aboriginal music from his beloved outback.

“He really is his own organic genre,” co-agent Jackie Nalpant told Pollstar. Nalpant and Chip Hooper of Monterey Peninsula Artists / Paradigm began working with Rudd a couple of years ago at about the same time he made a new label deal with Anti- / Epitaph.

“He is really worldwide, but it’s starting to take a different shape and form now with the Anti- alliance. He’s making his mark now and, hopefully with this record, it will be a whole different thing.”

“It” is a music career that has evolved from learning instruments and traditional music from aboriginal people in the Australian outback, where Rudd has been known to spend weeks at a time on “walkabout” as well as taking stages at some of the world’s largest festivals, including three times at Bonnaroo.

He’s been popular for years on what could be called the “surfer’s circuit” of Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. West Coast, where he’s toured with fellow boarder Jack Johnson.

But with his new team and new album, White Moth, Rudd is poised for international stardom, with successful European and national U.S. outings under his belt.

“Xavier already had strong touring markets,” manager Christi Thompson told Pollstar. “The base for his career jump was Australia into the Canadian and North American markets.

“Since then, we’ve brought Europe into the touring mix. Xavier’s been touring Europe now for the last year and a half, two years. He’s definitely moved into that international artists’ scope,” the longtime manager said. Thompson’s company, Thompson Management, has offices in Australia and Vancouver, B.C.

While the career breakout is exciting for Rudd, the softspoken artist admits to having to adapt to a touring lifestyle that takes him far from the land and sea that he feels a strong connection to.

Xavier Rudd

“It’s different since I started touring, because my whole world revolves around being in the bush and being outdoors, surfing, and it’s what fuels me as a person,” Rudd told Pollstar. “To come on the road and tour is different, going to cities all the time, being around lots of people all the time. I’m trying to set up a way of getting a handle on that stuff by just finding a place to go in each place.

“Having the mountain bike along is really handy, because within an hour or so you can be out in the middle of nowhere. There seems to be trails in most cities. I do lots of yoga too, and that helps keep me grounded on the road. I tend to lose my mind a bit.” It helps on his current tour to have his wife, Marcy, on the road with him. A Canadian native, her parents are taking care of the couple’s two children on their British Columbia farm during a West Coast swing. The family is environmentally conscious, though Rudd worries about the footprint the music industry, and touring in particular, leaves behind.

“At home, the wife and I are building a fully sustainable house in the bush using straw bales. It’s fully solar, and we’re doing that as a family. Then to come out on tour is a reality check because, wow, everything’s so excessive.

“But we’ve got people that are helping us. For example, the people at Music Matters arranged this green program and are helping us to go as eco-friendly as they can on the road,” Rudd continued. “We use biodiesel for the tour bus, do recycling, making sure our rider doesn’t get wasted and includes organic merchandise, making sure there’s recycling in each town, because a lot of places you can’t recycle.

“Coming from Australia, it’s hard to know where to begin in the United States, so having an organization that knows the place and can help us with this is great. We’re making progress.”

Rudd’s going to have plenty of opportunities to fine tune his system in the coming year. He’s currently wrapping up a headlining North American tour before going out on a leg opening for the Dave Matthews Band at eastern U.S. sheds. Then it’s off for another European tour, and back to Australia after that. Nalpant hopes to bring Rudd back to tour the States again by February.

“He’s had a lot of changes in the last couple of years – changing record companies, agency changes,” Thompson noted. “The team and the whole flow that we’ve got right now is really strong and White Moth, the album, is so well received. The reviews coming through are strong and positive and people are really, really getting this album. It’s a great time right now.”