NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Fagen, one-half the hit-writing duo behind rock perfectionists Steely Dan, says he will release his fourth solo record in 2011 with an album largely recorded on computers away from conventional studios.
Fagen, who with Walter Becker wrote the seminal 1970s hits “Reeling’ in the Years” and “Do It Again” told Reuters he is recording in New York at the home of Steely Dan trumpet player Michael Leonhart, who is co-producing the album.
Fagen, 62, was prolific in the 1970s with Steely Dan, which was named after a sex toy featured in William Burroughs’ book “Naked Lunch.” But solo, his critically-acclaimed output has been roughly one album per decade — “The Nightfly” in 1982, “Kamakiriad” in 1993 and “Morph The Cat” in 2006.
“Those albums were a trilogy,” Fagen said, noting his first solo record was themed around the 1950s, the second about the current day and his third was futuristic.
“This one does not have a theme but they are good stories — most of my songs have a plot,” he said. “The album, or CD, or whatever they call it these days should be out next year.”
Fagen said the as-yet untitled album is being recorded on computer using Pro Tools software. Some overdubs have been done at New York’s Stratosphere Sound studio. He said the album will be released by Warner Bros Records as the final obligation under his contract with the recording giant.
Asked why he took so long between solo records, Fagen said he hated the 1980s and then was distracted by Steely Dan reunions. “I didn’t feel like doing too much in the 1980s because they were so depressing,” he said.
And, he said, he suffered from depression.
“I went to a shrink for a while in those days. I went for seven years during the ‘80s,” he said. “I had various neurotic problems since I was a little kid.”
“When you’re young you have a youthful energy that allows you to ram your way through bad times...but when I got to my mid-30s I ran out of that energy and had to grow up,” he said.
Fagen currently is promoting his upcoming tour with Michael McDonald, formerly of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, and Boz Scaggs known for the hits “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle,” playing together as “The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue.”
“The Dukes,” backed by a band and horn section, begin a nationwide tour on August 19 in Danbury, Connecticut and stay on the road through October 2, when they play Las Vegas.
Fagen said the show will be evocative of the tours the threesome did with a large cast of collaborators from 1989 to 1993 called the New York Rock and Soul Review, which released the record “Live at the Beacon” in 1991.
The concerts will feature several hits each from Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs and then focus on the type of classic songs that drew the trio to music in the first place — hits by the likes of Ray Charles, Chuck Berry and Wilson Pickett.
Tour promoters plan to announce the lineup of venues and dates for the concerts on Monday.
Like Fagen, McDonald is also trying out something new — releasing some unusual songs he has recorded, one at a time on iTunes along with live videos of the songs on YouTube.
“These songs are so odd for me — a lot of them are songs I wrote on guitar that I don’t think record companies would be interested in,” McDonald told Reuters. “My experience is record companies want you to be who they perceive you to be.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte