In the 24 years that Whatzup has been in publication, many Fort Wayne musicians have demonstrated real staying power, the ability to continue to offer the area their remarkable talents.
Among those who have been high profile over those years is David Todoran.
While working as a high school teacher, Todoran has provided musical delights as a solo act and with Zig Zag Railroad and the Mobile Homewreckers. Todoran’s songwriting and performance have kept him at the top of his game for decades.
Proof is his new EP, Ceremony of Innocence, which tackles many of the weighty topics which have dominated 2020, a year which for many will be remembered for its turmoil and division.
This was not the release Todoran was anticipating a year ago as he headed into the studio with his Homewreckers, longtime bandmates Brad Kuhns and Kevin Jackson.
Having recorded enough music for a series of EPs — both with his own band and also in collaboration with members of Secret Mezzanine — Todoran was ready to release another EP when the disruption of the quarantine hit.
“In spring 2019, Brad, Ken, and I had recorded a dozen songs that we planned to release on three EPs,” Todoran said in an interview with Whatzup.
“We were ready to do that this spring and start with an EP called Middle of Nowhere and had booked some shows when suddenly all of that had to be put on hold. With the quarantine it was hard to go in and put the finishing touches in the studio.”
With that slowdown in his musical and personal life, Todoran began writing an entirely new set of songs based on what he was seeing on the streets of America, songs which explored our social responsibility in a time of racial strife.
“In June we started to have all of the upheaval with the George Floyd protests, and I ended up writing five songs in two weeks,” he said. “I pushed all of that other stuff aside and recorded them, and I had hoped to get them out in August or September. But the quarantine meant everyone had stuff to record and getting into the studio and then getting the music distributed was hard. You just had to get into the queue and wait your turn.”
Hooks and Melody
Ceremony of Innocence has finally made its way to the front of that queue, and while tackling some heavy-duty topics, the music provides the same hooks, haunting melodies, and riveting vocals that have been Todoran’s calling card for his entire career.
The first song, “Do You See Me Now,” is a hard-hitting opener.
“‘Do You See Me Now’ was inspired by what I was seeing on the news,” Todoran said. “I saw a photo of people taken at a protest, and it was a photo of people of all colors. They were holding up signs that said ‘I Can’t Breathe’ and ‘Do You See Me.’ Sometimes I wondered if I should speak about it because I didn’t want to appropriate someone else’s experience that has not been my experience. But I wanted it to reflect all of the voices of the protests.
“I’m a child of the ’60s and came of age in the ’70s, and I saw stuff. There were racial tensions and issues of desegregation, but not like now, not with so many people finally speaking up about racial injustice.”
The next songs, the evocative “Hellhounds” and the catchy “Celebrity,” also dig into what has been happening socially and politically in the last several months.
“I was writing about what I was seeing at Lafayette Square over the summer, and ‘Hellhounds’ addresses that,” Todoran said. “But I also feel like we’ve been living in some weird reality show for the last four years, and that’s what ‘Celebrity’ is about.”
“Tear It Down” addresses the issues of Confederate statues and commemoration while the final song, “These Two Hands,” comes back to the issue of what role each of us can and should play in the matter of racial and social justice.
“Again, I didn’t want to co-opt anyone else’s story,” he said. “What can a 61-year-old, aging white man bring to this situation? What am I supposed to do? That’s what I’m asking in ‘These Two Hands,’ and there are no answers. Only questions.”
Lost in Middle of Nowhere
With Ceremony of Innocence finally out, Todoran can turn his attention to the music he made last year, long before he imagined any of these events unfolding before his eyes.
But again COVID takes its toll. The queue continues to be long, so Todoran is waiting for Middle of Nowhere to finally see the light of day. He is also working on the other releases which he hopes will follow in the months ahead.
Plans to perform are on hold once again, as well, but he has another good reason for holding off on performing even as Todoran himself keeps generating new material.
“I’m having the most prolific writing spasms of my life,” he said. “It just happens that circumstances keep pushing these projects back a bit. In the meantime, Kevin Jackson has retired and moved, so that’s another reason we aren’t ready to do a lot of dates yet.
“But when we can, Brad and I will start working in a new drummer. In the meantime, I’m just waiting.”
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