Brian Wheat: "...we didn’t want to put up with any more bullshit."
2008 has been a pretty good year for TESLA. They have released a new DVD, “Comin’ At Ya Live” and a new CD, “Forever More“. When the opportunity came up to interview Brian Wheat from TESLA, I couldn’t pass it up. TESLA has been one of my favorite bands for a very long time now. Brian and I talked about Forever More, the current TESLA tour and more. Check out the interview below. Enjoy!
HRH: I have seen TESLA live a couple of times in the last year on the Real to Reel Tour. Dave Rude is fitting in well with the band. How did you guys find Dave ?
BW: Frank found Dave on mySpace. It is pretty well documented that we were having problems with Tommy Skeoch. When it came to start looking for someone to replace him, Frank started looking at myspace, and people in the Sacramento area. Dave is from Oakland, California so he was pretty close by.
HRH: Do you still keep in touch with Tommy Skeoch?
BW: No, I don’t keep in touch with Tommy at all.
HRH: Forever More is the first album with new studio material with Dave Rude. What musical influences does he bring to TESLA?
BW: Dave likes Guns ‘N Roses, TESLA and Motley Crue. A Lot of the new stuff out there he listens to as well. He is 30 years old. Frank is 42 years old, I am 44. He brings a younger spark, and a lot of positivity to the band. He is a great guitar player. We all wrote the songs together on this album. He has a positive attitude and money can’t buy that.
HRH: What are some of the circumstances the band was going through that inspired the songs on “Forever More”?
BW: There was a lot going on. People coming to life changing decisions. The general gist is that we didn’t want to put up with any more bullshit. We just wanted to move forward. Just like the song “I Wanna Live”. I wanna live before I die and I don’t want the world to pass me buy. “Breaking Free” is we are done with the negativity, lets get on with positivity.
HRH: When TESLA prepares to record a new album how many songs do you usually go into the studio with and what happens to the songs that do not make the albums?
BW: We go in with ideas for songs with bits and pieces. We brought in Terry Thomas for this record. Even with the ideas that we had, he stripped them down to their basic form and we rewrote them all. In the end it came out great. While we were doing it there were some growing pains. When it was all said and done the results came out brilliantly. The songs that didn’t make it on the album were ideas that we didn’t finish.
HRH: What songs are you current favorites on the new record?
BW: I like “Falling Apart”, “I Wanna Live”, “Breaking Free”, “First Time”, and “Forever More“.
HRH: Who came up with the art work for the album? Are there any stories behind it?
BW: We have a guy that works with us Duane Serfass. Frank(Hannon) had this idea that he wanted to call the album Eternity, and none of us are eternal and none of us were too keen on that. We had a song on the album called 'Forever More' which much means the same thing. Once we agreed on the theme, Duane found this photo of these two bodies buried in Pompeii that was 4000 years old. They were buried together embracing each other. The photo is called the “eternal embrace”. That is where the skeletons come from. It is a well noted photo.
HRH: What songs from Forever More will you be performing on tour?
BW: We are playing six songs. We will probably play each of them at one point in time. I can’t tell you which ones. We have only been on tour for a week.
HRH: How long will you be out on the Forever More tour?
BW: The better part of this year and see what evolves with this record. We will probably do 4 or 5 legs in America. We will hit Europe, Japan and Australia and see what is left. We want to play everywhere we can. We usually do a month on and 3 weeks off, that way we don’t burn ourselves out.
HRH: TESLA played in a couple of big rock festivals in the U.S. this year, The South Texas Rock Festival and Rocklahoma. What was your Rocklahoma experience like?
BW: That was great. Those guys do a really good job on that. They keep expanding and keep coming up with new ideas. It was a really nice festival that was reminiscent of the festivals we have played in Europe. There are a lot of festivals in the summer there. It was good.
HRH: Will you be playing in any U.S. Music Festivals in 2009?
BW: In America? I don’t know. The question is do we do Rocklahoma two years in a row or do we wait a year. That is kind of the question that has been posed. There may be a Texas Jam next summer.
HRH: There is a new festival called Rock Gone Wild that will be in Iowa next summer, that has 5 or 6 bands lined up to play so far.
BW: That will probably be something that may end up playing.
HRH: Your new video for” I Wanna Live” came out really cool. Do you have plans to do any more videos for Forever More?
BW: Yes, absolutely. We are doing a lot more stuff in house. We have our art department, we have our own recording studio, we have our video department. We are pretty self sufficient. If we want to do something we can do it. If we were in a situation where we were on a major label, that might not have always happened.
HRH: You are current on the road with Pop Evil. How has the tour been going so far? How did you meet those guys?
BW: A guy that works radio manages them. George Capalini, he sent us a disc, and we liked it, and we put them on the tour. They are out there promoting their record, trying to bring in new fans and young fans. They are good guys.
HRH: What is the status of the TESLA box set?
BW: The TESLA box set is currently on hold. Until we and Universal can come to a mutual agreement and understanding of the box set, it is on hold. We wanted to get it out by our 20th anniversary, maybe it will be the 25th anniversary. We just don’t know.
HRH: Is there any unreleased or cover material in the box set?
BW: There is some stuff. I just don’t know if we are going release more cover stuff. We did two records of covers. The box set will be material with Tommy Skeoch. We did release some additional cover songs on iTunes on “A Peace of Time”. There were two or three covers. The version of “I Love You” and the Bread song (“Everything I Own”), those two came out really good. Lets hope that we all see the box set. It is kind of in Universal’s court right now.
HRH: Is it easier to get music out to the fans since TESLA now has their own label?
BW: Yes and no. It is young. How does your music get out there? Is out on iTunes yet? You have to look for it. The way most people find out about music is the radio. Some stations still think TESLA is really relevant and some stations don’t. It is hard because you have to convince them that band still is relevant. I don’t think that wouldn’t matter with a large label, or our a label of our own. You can’t buy radio time, its against the law. You just have to go out and swing the bat you have.
HRH: Do you have plans to signing additional bands to your label?
BW: No, TESLA Electric Company is just for TESLA.
HRH: A lot of bands are releasing their music as downloadable content for sale in the video games Guitar Hero and Rockband. Any chance the TESLA catalog will be made available this way?
BW: Absolutely, yes.
HRH: In closing, do you have anything you would like to tell your fans?
BW: Go out and buy the new record, I think you will enjoy it. Come out and see us this year on the Forever More tour, if we play in your city or a city near you.
Hard Rock Hideout (Octoer 13, 2008). Brian Wheat (TESLA). In Hard Rock Hideout.
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