Written by Kat Stevenson
Multi-platinum artists TESLA invited BAM to join them at their studio during the recording of their long awaited upcoming CD, Simplicity, due to be released in June 2014. Some offers just can’t be refused…
One thing can be said for TESLA: their resiliency is unheard of in the music world! Coming together as a five-piece, Sacramento-based hard rock band in 1986, TESLA has endured its share of ups and downs. Guitarist Tom Skeoch departed in 1995. The band then played as a four-piece before finally breaking up in 1996. In 2000, they reunited with Tom until 2006, when Dave Rude stepped in as a permanent member.
In June 2012 , I interviewed guitarist Frank Hannon at Shoreline Amphitheatre, while TESLA was supporting The Scorpions on their “Final Sting” farewell tour. While the Scorpions were there to bid goodbye for good to their beloved fans, TESLA announced they would be taking a break from the stage as well–but where that would end up, no one knew. Even after interviewing Frank, I was no closer to the answer. The future seemed ambiguous as to how things would play out. Would time away reinvigorate the band, allowing music fans to see TESLA play another day, or would the voracious nature of the music industry swallow them up in exchange for the next fly-by-night viralist on YouTube?
TESLA’s hiatus was not taken in vain, however. The members used that time to pursue solo and side projects, and as a result, some mighty fine music was made. Guitarist Frank Hannon, along with guitarist Mike Araiza (whom Frank had met while judging a guitar competition in Albuquerque two years previouly), singer Jeff Sandoval, bassist Dan McNay, and drummers Cortney DeAugustine, Robbie Furiosi, and Steve Brown, released the CD Six String Soldiers, which featured performances by guitar icons Pat Travers, Dickey Betts, Dave Meniketti, and Rick Derringer. Drummer Troy Luccketta joined forces with maestro Terje Mikkelson and the Radio Munich Orchestra, keyboardist Keith Emerson, guitarist Mark Bonia, and bassist Travis Davis to create Three Fates Project. Dave Rude’s side project, the Dave Rude Band, is a trio featuring Dave on vocals and guitar, bassist Marco Guzman, and drummer Josh Schmidt. During the hiatus, they released their second CD, The Key, a hard-hitting, riff-driven example of good ole American hard rock.
TESLA fans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief and start sending in those pre-orders for the Simplicity CD! Here we were, two years later, at TESLA’s recording studio, with Frank giving us a sneak preview of some of the new material. Every track was prefaced by the involuntary words every artist feels compelled to say: “Now remember, these are just ‘rough tracks.'” If I hadn’t known that “rough tracks” was industry lingo for music that hasn’t yet been mixed or mastered, I probably would have thought the man had bumped his head. Besides the mandatory edginess and “ballsy tone” that defines the hard rock genre, there was nothing “rough” about the new material! The tracks that we heard–“MP3,” “Ricochet,” and one unnamed at the time–were signature TESLA at its best.
Months prior, in preparation for the writing of the album, the band decided that they needed to get away as a band to regroup. They credit the trip for the ease in which the material for this album came together, as Frank and singer Jeff Keith describe in the following segment…
There is one thing that all aspiring musicians share: a quest for the “holy grail,” the discovery of the definitive formulation of key ingredients, connections, performances, demos, managers, funding, and image that will catapult them from square one to platinum touring artists. But the holy grail doesn’t exist. If you were to ask TESLA, undoubtedly they would say something like, “No man, forget all of that stuff, it’s all about the songs, don’t write for a genre, just write a good song!” TESLA learned that lesson early on from those whom they refer to as their “elders,” folks like the legendary Ronnie Montrose, whose guidance and words of wisdom they took to heart–and to the bank, too!
Now “elders” themselves to the next generation of musicians, TESLA is paying it forward. Brian Wheat’s label, J Street Music Group, and Frank’s Redhawk Records are signing and mentoring deserving next-gen artists. I met one of these artists, Alex Vincent, who just signed his self-titled band with Frank’s label; Redhawk Records will be releasing his debut album.
Original Source Article: http://bammagazine.com/TESLA-getting-back-to-simplicity/