Hair Metal Mansion correspondent JOE SCHAEFFER checks in with the following:
Joe w/ Tom Keifer (Photo: Tammy Vega)
We were invited to a short press conference style setting backstage at M3 to ask Tom Keifer a few questions…here are some highlights.
When can we expect the Deluxe edition of The Way Life Goes? (Question from Joe)
We are hoping to have it out by Mid-Summer. All the art work is done. It been completely repackaged by an artist David Calcano (creator of the Fantoons comic strip series). Actually a gift from my tour managerGene Aldridge inspired me into doing the deluxe set. He knows the artist (David) real well and commissioned him to collage of illustrations for me and he gave it to me on the tour bus. The illustrations were kind of caricatures of the new band and had illustrations that depicted some of the lyrics and song titles. It was almost like an “Exile on Main Street’ (Rolling Stones LP) type of feel but more illustrated. I was looking at it and realized a lot of really cool things have happened since the release of this record and a lot of cool people have come into my life including the band that are now depicted in this picture. I thought this is what the album cover would look like if it were released today. So my wheels started turning and there have been a lot of things I wanted to do in the course of the couple of years that we have been touring. One was to record with the new band, there were a couple songs that we have wanted to record and two was a documentary on the band. Tammy Vega who travels with us a lot was sitting right next to me when I opened this gift and I thought now we can do that documentary because she has so much great footage of us. So we decided to do a commemorative special deluxe edition including all those elements. He (David) has done a 20 page book, completely different than the original package with unique illustrations to bring each song to life. We hired Vance Powell (who has worked with Jack White andChris Stapleton) who is very versatile producer about a month ago into Nashville and went into Southern Ground Studio and recorded some tracks with the new band. We also brought Tammy into the studio so part of the documentary is going to be about a very inside look at the creation of those tracks as we were recording them. Literally, like Tammy is in the vocal booth with me so it will be really cool. So the package will include the new artwork, the new tracks recorded with the new band and the documentary. That documentary will also include all the music videos and a bunch of extra footage that Tammy has shot. She is considered the eight member of our band because she is with us so much on the road. We feel it been a very special couple of years that this group has come together. The songs we recorded, we are not announcing yet but are kind of the same way the release of the record brought the band into our world, brought Tammy into our world, brought David Calcano into our world. The songs are kind of the same thing, things that have been inspired by the release of ‘The Way Life Goes’ so we will be announcing what those are soon. The original record is included in this set and was re-mastered by Richard Dodd.
How is the experience being in the studio with this band as opposed to the session musicians?
The difference was the original record was made over a very long period of time and was kind of like not being started out as a record. There was no label involved and was no time frame. Savannah (Tom’s wife) and I were just writing some songs and kind of just recording some tracks with some friends of ours in Nashville who all happened to be big session players. Savannah introduced me to these amazing musicians who actually played on the record. That record was actually done more piecemeal. There was no timetable and no schedule. We’d come in do a track, get away from it, and then do an overdub. It was a very kind of however we felt like working. Take six months off and over a ten year period we had enough songs that it started to feel like a record. This was we actually went into record these songs so it was not like they were songs that didn’t make the record the first time around. A lot of times that’s what deluxe records are all about. The difference in the experience was, these were done much quicker and the band has been on the road for a couple of year now and has a chemistry that we wanted to capture that feeling in the studio. When I talked to Vance Powell I said everyone in this band sings, we have been playing for three years now on the road and we want to go in and set up live and capture this live can you do that and he said yes. It was done different in that sense that it was the whole band in the room set up live everything had been baffled off so we can get a separation and all that stuff. Apparently he does that type of recording a lot, especially with Jack White. So very much what you here on the final track is straight off the floor, even the vocals. Obviously we came back and did some overdubs to enhance it. For the most part it’s straight off the floor. So it’s a little bit different than the way we made the original record. It was probably one of the easiest recording sessions that I have had in my life.
What do you think is the current state of Rock music today?
I get asked that from time to time. I don’t think rock will ever be dead as long as there are kids in a garage playing rock and roll. You know rock is a spirit; it’s a rebellion you can’t stop people from wanting to play or listen to. I think sadly from an industry standpoint you don’t hear a lot of diversity in rock. I think the rock formats are very narrow in their sonic and dynamics. I remember when we put our records out in the 80’s with Cinderella you could take a song like ‘Coming Home’ to rock radio. You could take a ballad or a screaming rock song like ‘Falling Apart at the Seams’. It was more diverse, now it seems more like it has to be this sound. I think that it’s narrow. I grew up in the 70’s and the rock stations in Philadelphia we would listen to you could hear everything like country rock with Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles and Black Sabbath and everything in between on the same station. I think that’s a healthier place for music and radio formats to be. People can get more diversity and you get turned on to things. As a result of that I had a lot of ingredients to put into my soup when I became a writer and an artist because of everything from like I said Linda Ronstadt to Black Sabbath because I was exposed to all of it. I love all the bands from the 70’s like Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart and all of them. It was an incredible time for the progressive bands too like Kansas and Rush and Yes. You would hear all of that on the same station. I don’t think it’s a healthy state right now in Rock. I listen to top 40. I don’t like everything I hear on Top 40, but I like the diversity. You go from Mumford and Sons to Taylor Swift to Bruno Mars so you’ll hear more of a variety. To me it’s more inspiring. Then you’ll hear a band like Imagine Dragons who I really love. I like diversity. I don’t think rock is dead. I think that some of the formats and some of the components of the industry with rock are trying real hard to kill it. I don’t think you’ll ever stop people from writing it and playing it and wanting to listen to it.
How do you feel about being back here at the M3 Rock Festival?
I love it. We had such a great time last year. I hear the place was packed last night and I think it’s going to be a great time tonight. We’re looking forward to it.
Thanks for your time Tom and have a great show tonight.
All Images © Joe Schaeffer Photography
For more, check out Joe's coverage of the performances at this year's M3 Rock Fest here.
Courtesy of Hair Metal Mansion, www.hairbangersradio.ning.com