TOM KEIFER Talks Debut Solo Effort, Will CINDERELLA Release New Album? - "We Would Certainly Love To And It Would Just Have To Be The Right Place At The Right Time"
May 10, 2013, 3 years ago
Special report by Greg Prato
Although it didn't take as long as Chinese Democracy to complete, TOM KEIFER's first-ever solo album, The Way Life Goes, has been in the making for nearly a full decade. And with CINDERELLA not having issued a new studio album since 1994's Still Climbing, longtime fans of one of hair metal's most successful bands can certainly find relief in some new, rocking Keifer compositions, specifically the album's latest single, Solid Ground.
Currently on the road supporting the new release (which the singer/guitarist produced alongside his wife, Savannah Keifer, as well as Chuck Turner), Keifer recently gave BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato the lowdown on his solo debut and tour, as well as his thoughts on the rock genre that ended the glam metal party, and memories of Cinderella's late producer, Andy Johns.
BraveWords: Let's start by talking about the new album, The Way Life Goes.
Tom Keifer: "It came about over quite a few years. I first started thinking about recording a solo record in the mid '90s, when Cinderella had parted ways with our record company, Mercury. I think we all know that the music scene was changing at that time, and we didn't really have an outlet for our music. So I started writing for a solo record at that point, and I was working with people in Nashville. I eventually moved to Nashville, and found that to be a very inspiring town. But for one reason or another, the idea of actually getting into the studio and recording the record kept getting put on the back burner. And back burner, back burner, back burner - until about 2003, is when I started actually recording the tracks for the record. I decided to produce the record independently of a label, because it was on the heels of a record deal that had gone bad with Cinderella. That deal actually got pretty ugly and we ended up in courts, and we were on "re-record restrictions" as a band, so we couldn't record together as a band. That's when I started recording my record. As I said, it was independent of a label, because I didn't want to fucking deal with a label after all that shit - either did anyone else in the band. Everyone else was kind of doing independent projects too at that point. We really were not in the mood for lawyers or labels or contracts or any of that shit. So that's when the actual production of the record began. And most of the writing had taken place prior to that. So I had tons of songs I had written between '95 and when I started recording. So I picked a bunch of songs I thought made a balanced record, and started recording. It was a double-edged sword or a catch-22 not having a label involved, because the good news is you don't have someone telling you when it's finished…and the bad news is you don't have someone telling you when it's finished. [Laughs] So that's whey it took nearly ten years to produce the record. But in a way, that's OK, because the way I look at it was no release date, no deadlines, no budget restrictions - it doesn’t really matter when the record comes out. My attitude was, 'Unless it's really great and I really love the record and I'm proud of it, I don't want to release it anyway.' So we kept pushing it around and working on it over the years off and on - taking breaks from it. Until it got to the point where I really thought it was what I was hearing in my head and something I wanted to release."
BraveWords: What are some of your favorite songs on the album?
Tom Keifer: "I really like the single that we have out now, Solid Ground. It's just a good, straight-ahead hard driving tune, and lyrically, I like the message of it - to me, that song is about that old saying, about life not being a destination but more of a journey. And that's what the song's about to me - what I've learned over the years is life is something that keeps changing and keeps throwing curveballs at you. It's more something that you never sit back and say, 'Hey, I've arrived now.' Life is something that you need to keep up with, or it's going to eat you alive. That's kind of cool about life, is that it keeps you on your toes. I also like 'A Different Light'. It has probably the most different feel or vibe to it than anything on the record for me, and that's the one that probably stretches the furthest in terms of the production and the sound. Just the style of the song is not as much coming from the blues."
BraveWords: What can fans expect from your solo tour?
Tom Keifer: "It's a good mix of the new stuff off the solo record and I'm also doing a lot of the old Cinderella favorites. In terms of performance, very similar to what I think people would be used to seeing when I perform live - a lot of high energy rock. There's also one section in the show where we're doing some acoustic stuff, and I’m doing some 'storytellers,' about how some of these songs came about and how they were written. In that section, there's a couple of the new songs and a couple of old Cinderella songs. That's a little bit different, because I haven't really been known over the years for being someone who talks a lot on stage. So the reception for that aspect of the show has been very good."
BraveWords: I remember once reading an interview with you, where you said that AEROSMITH's Toys in the Attic and Rocks were your two favorite albums. What was it about those albums that are so special to you?
Tom Keifer: "Oh man, those records were so great…I don't even know where to start. The production of them was just so raw and the songwriting was very unique. The guitar riffs, if you think of a song like 'Walk This Way', how unique that drum pattern and the guitar riffs and vocals and everything about it - when you listen to Toys in the Attic or Rocks today, they sound as hip and new today as they did then. It's just very inventive rock albums to me."
BraveWords: I notice that there's never been a Behind The Music episode on Cinderella. Has the band ever been contacted to do one?
Tom Keifer: "I guess we would. I don't remember if we were contacted or not. I'm not one that's quick to jump at those kinds of shows, because a lot of it is just a bunch of dirty laundry, and we've never been a band that's been really known for airing that. We always just wanted to let the music be the forefront, and whatever we do behind the scenes is our business."
BraveWords: What was your opinion on grunge? I've come across some interviews where metal acts of the '80s admired it, while others didn't.
Tom Keifer: To me, it was rock. I thought the biggest difference is the way they looked. It was this total changing of the guard in the sense of fashion. But I loved NIRVANA. God, great songs. And I loved SOUNDGARDEN. But to me, when I listen to those records, it's a kick ass rhythm section with loud guitars and a screaming singer. Maybe the lyrics were a little bit darker. But it just sounded like rock music to me and I loved that stuff. It really seemed to be more of a fashion statement than anything, to me. That always disappointed me, that the industry in general was unable to listen to music with their eyes closed. There seemed to be a blanket dismissal of anything prior to the grunge movement, which seemed pretty ridiculous. Like this attitude that the two couldn't exist on the same plain or something, which is kind of weird. But the funny thing to me was that the change in the fashion was really obviously in rebellion of the glam thing, because it was a 'dress down look.' It was flannel shirts and Doc Martens and jeans. And it was hilarious because that became more mainstream than anything that we were doing! (Laughs) You could walk into Macy's and buy your Doc Martens and your flannel shirt, and it was almost marketed that way. That became as big of a pose as the pose that they were rebelling against I guess, which I always found kind of comical. But at the end of the day, I always say, "Listen to music with your ears and not your eyes." Because there were a lot of great bands in the '80s, and there were some that weren't so great. And there were a lot of great bands in the '90s, and there were some bands in the '90s that weren't so great either. You let the fans and the public decide."
BraveWords: Producer Andy Johns (LED ZEPPELIN, THE ROLLING STONES) recently passed away. What are some memories of working with him on the first two Cinderella albums?
Tom Keifer: "We were so green when we went into the studio. He taught us everything about how to make records. He did a great job on our first two records and produced two big hits for us, so he was definitely doing something right. He took a bunch of kids from Philadelphia and made those records, which I'm very proud of. Andy was just a really unique person. He was quite a character. And lived life - as they say in This is Spinal Tap - on eleven. And had a good time all the time and all that stuff. He was just a very unique person and I loved him dearly. We remained friends over the years. I actually just spoke with him in January - shortly before he passed away (Johns died on April 7th). He will be greatly missed and we certainly owe much to him and learned everything from him."
BraveWords: Lastly, will there ever be a fifth studio album from Cinderella?
Tom Keifer: "Well, we'll see. The record deal that I described to you that had gone south on us, that tends to leave you a little bit gun shy, because it's twice now that we've been burnt - Mercury dropped us in the mid '90s after making I don't know how much fucking money for them, just to get booted out the door. And then the deal that came after that, that went south and ended up in the courts. It's not for a lack of desire on our part. We're just waiting for the right situation with a label that's serious about wanting to produce a quality record, and giving it a real shot. So we would certainly love to, and it would just have to be the right place at the right time."
The video for ‘Solid Ground’ can be seen below:
Catch Tom Keifer live at the following shows:
May9 - Trees - Dallas, TX
10 - Concert Pub North - Houston, TX
11 - Backstage Live - San Antonio, TX
13 - KXDG Spring Fling - Joplin, MO
14 - Kansas City, MO - Knuckleheads
16 - Revolution Music Room - Little Rock, AR
17 - Live Oaks Bar & Ballroom - Monroe, LA
18 - The Station - Broussard, LA
20 - New Orleans, LA - Southport Hall
22 - Buford, GA - 37 Main
30 - Raleigh, NC - The Lincoln Theatre
31 - Asbury Park, NJ - The Stone Pony
June1 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance
2 - Luzerne, PA - Brews Brothers West
5 - Lancaster, PA - Chameleon Club
6 - Patchogue, NY - The Emporium
7 - Stafford Springs, CT - Palace Theater