Interview : Fabrizio Tasso
Transcription : Daniela Patanè
Sometimes dreams come true! As a kid I would never have believed one day I could interview a renowned artist likeTom Keifer, lead singer and songwriter of Cinderella. On the occasion of the release of his first solo album, after an absence that lasted nearly 20 years, we could not miss the opportunity to exchange a few words with a most affable Tom. Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy our interview with Tom Keifer!
RRM: Hello Tom, thank you so much for this interview! How are you?
TK: I'm very well, thank you!
RRM: Let’s start from your solo album “The way life goes”, it’s been 20 years since the release of “Still climbing” and we’re really enthusiastic of your return. What’s the main difference between then and now, in terms of making music?
TK: The writing of a song is very similar to what I've always done, you just wait for an inspiration on something you want to write about, I've always approached songwriting that way, for me the inspirations comes from life, that as always been my approach to writing. Moreover I cooperate with a lot of people whom I respect and who are a great inspiration to me, people I've always wanted to work with, but the emotional idea always comes from the same source.
RRM: Of course the cd sounds a lot like Cinderella, mostly because of your unique vocals, but we also found many references to classic rock artists like the Rolling Stones, and a lot of blues as well. Is that correct?
TK: Thank you very much! The fact that I was lead singer and had done a lot of guitar work with Cinderella naturally reflected on my solo work. Yes, I've always tried to stay true to the music that I love.
RRM: In our opinion the album is awesome, what was your main inspiration in writing the songs? Your wife Savannah co-produced the album right?
TK: She's a huge inspiration to me and she's a very talented song writer, producer and singer and she wrote a lot of songs with me. Yes she's incredibly talented!
RRM: You’ve got a unique taste for ballads, that remained unchanged over the years, how do you actually start composing ballads? and how can you make them so touching?
TK: As I said the inspiration just hits you. When you feel something it's never because you're trying to write a love song. Sometimes I get inspiration while driving on the road, or on a plain. You get this inspiration and then music starts from a lyric, like the title of a book when you don't know exactly what you've got, but you have this feeling you're going to write about it. All my songs have always started from a lyric. Even some of the harder, heavier songs, which are very riff oriented and guitar oriented, always started with a lyric. To me the lyric and the melody are the basic elements of songs, whether they' re ballads or heavy songs, which then I try to transform into something real.
RRM: There are also more hard rock songs where your voice sounds really great. We hope you eventually solved those vocal problems that forced you to stop for a while. Can you tell us what happened?
TK: It's a very long story, I'll try to make it short. I was diagnosed with a partially paralyzed left vocal chord, a condition for which there's no medical cure for. There's a number of things which can cause that but singing had nothing to do with it, other things had caused it. I was supposed never to sing again. It was in the nineties and I was told I was done, I would never sing again. The only chance would be to attempt to retrain with speech pathologists, vocal coaches. It's taking me years to overcome this and make my voice stable again. Over the years I've had a lot of ups and downs but in the last four years I'd say it's probably stronger than ever, so I thank God every day I was able to figure out how to get around the problem.
RRM: Is there any chance for an European tour supporting this album, maybe an acoustic one?
TK: We did tour in the States, after the album's release. I put together my solo band, we did half and half: Cinderella favorites and songs from the new record. We do some acoustic but the most part is very similar to what people see with Cinderella. Some dynamic, some acoustic and ballads, we really want to come to Europe, most probably in the early spring.
RRM: You spent much time touring in your career, Cinderella also participated in an epic event like the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989. I suppose you’ve been asked to tell stories about it like a billion time, can you do it once more?!
TK: Yes that show was really special to me, a really special event to be a part of. I think anyone who was on that bill would tell you the same thing. At the time when we went over there it was all very cool, but as years have passed the memory of that concert still remains, all over youtube and the internet you can find the videos of the performances. It's kind of a landmark gig, it is very special looking back and know you have been a part of it.
RRM: You started playing very early, when you were 8 right? what are your fondest memories of that period?
TK: Music has always been my first love since I was seven or eight. I remember my mom, when I got interested in music and I wanted to learn to play guitar cause I saw the Beatles on tv, she got a teacher that would come to the house every tuesday at four o clock, I remember it as it was yesterday! I had an acoustic guitar and he would teach me songs, he taught me the basic chords on the guitar but he also would make me sing the songs, Beatles songs, american folk songs. I'm glad that the teacher that she selected had that approach, cause it helped developing my voice and having the sense of songs.
RRM: Can you tell us something about the night Jon Bon Jovi first saw you play and was so impressed by your performance?
TK: You know all those movies about the X Factor? I think Jon was a kind of X Factor for us when he walked into that club. He was in town making his second record, 7800° Fahrenheit, which still wasn't out or even made. He came into the dressing room, we were just a bunch of kids and he was the guy who sang Runaway on MTV, so it was pretty cool. He was very complimentary, he said he enjoyed the performance and that was it. Our manager was trying to get us a record deal and gave a demo tape to someone of Jon's label, unfortunately our demo wasn't very good but Jon said to the label people "forget about the demo, I saw them live and they're really great!"
RRM: A little curiosity: Who had the idea for the video of Somebody save me, where Jon and Richie appear?
TK: It wasn't actually scheduled, we had a commedian who was supposed to guest star in the video but just an hour before the shooting he said that he was unable to make it. We were on tour with Bon Jovi at the time and Jon and Richie were very gracious and stepped in to do a guest appereance for us.
RRM: Many Italian fans are waiting for your return, old and new ones. Fancy that in our city a Cinderella tribute band just formed, and the band members are all under 20! you’ve got a whole new generation to seduce!
TK: Oh that's great news, I'm really happy to hear that!
RRM: A last one Tom, have you got any particular memories of your last Italian show in Bologna? It’s been a dream for us!
TK: It was awesome, I really really enjoyed that show, I truly love Italy, it's a beautiful country, we really enjoyed that, I really hope we'll get back there soon.
RRM: Thank you so much for your time Tom! Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Rock Rebel Magazine?
TK: Thank you very much for your support, it's been a pleasure to talk to you!