Tesla is known for their brand of rock ‘n roll blues. They reached noteriety with the 1989’s release, “The Great Radio Controversy” and the single “Love Song.” They were there in the 90’s with Nirvana and Clapton doing their set for MTV’s show “Unplugged.” “Signs” was covered and recorded live by Tesla for their Five Man Acoustical Jam album in 1990, peaking at number 8 on the Pop charts. Band members are lead vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat, and drummer Troy Luccketta. Four platinum albums and thirty years later, they are still making music and have hit the road again with long time friends Def Leppard.
I had the pleasure of getting to sit down and have a chat with Jeff Keith.
Marissa: First off, I just wanted to thank you for taking your time out to talk to me today. I will try to keep this as quick as I possibly can.
Jeff: Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
Marissa: The first thing I want to know right off the bat is, you’re on tour right now. With Def Leppard and REO Speedwagon, right?
Jeff: Right. Well, actually we’re playing a couple, just two shows in Wendover on Friday night and in our hometown on Saturday night. And in the following week, we’ll hook back up at Def Leppard and REO.
Marissa: I know that you’re going to be here in Houston on August 22nd, so I’m really looking forward to trying to catch the show that night.
Jeff: It’s gonna be great. Last time we were supposed to perform in Tampa, we didn’t even get to play because of that thunderstorm. It was Crazy weather.
Marissa: It’s been coming down like crazy. I’m gonna just dive right in to it. Tell me again about some of your upcoming projects with Tesla.
Jeff: Well, we recorded…the last show on our tour with Def Leppard and Styx, we recorded our first record, Mechanical Resonance and we’re recording it live every night. And I believe that’s going to be released very soon.
Marissa: June 1st
Jeff: Yeah. So we’re supposed to be releasing Mechanical Resonance Live, which we’re really excited about. And it came out great.
Marissa: I heard it through the grapevine that this project was Phil Collen’s idea?
Jeff: Yeah, and he’s going to produce a record for us, we’re gonna work with him making a brand new record. And so far, things are going great. And he’s a great guy and really helping us put some direction behind it.
Marissa: Well, I’ve enjoyed watching the footage of all of your shows up until this point. I’ve been on YouTube and been watching videos and you look like you’re having the best time together.
Jeff: Oh, it’s great to be back. They’re the best, you know? Because we did the whole indoor-outdoor thing for 14 months in ’87 and ’88, and being back playing with them again is just awesome. Playing in the arenas again, it’s just a great deal. Now, we’ve got REO Speedwagon with us this year and we’ve already done a leg. Better than ever, man, it’s just great.
Marissa: Cool, that’s cool. What have you personally been listening to lately other than Tesla? For your pleasure?
Jeff: Oh, man, I’m old school, I tend to listen to just the old songs. I’m not exactly up on all the new, new stuff.
Marissa: I find myself going back to what I listened to, when I was a teenager. I still listen to that quite a lot.
Jeff: Yeah, me too. Me too. I’m a little…I’m just so inspired by that stuff.
Jeff: So for me, I’m the least hip guy in the video, as far as the music of today, I’ll be quite honest with you, but sometimes the band will play stuff and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I like that,’ but sometimes I don’t know any of the names or anything. But like I said, most of the time when I’m at home or driving around, I’m just banging out those new Tesla songs. Trying to bang out new stuff. Yeah.
Marissa: I dig it. I was listening to a lot of Tesla over the last couple of days in order to prepare myself. And you know, it was just one after another, ‘I remember I loved that song when it came out.’ I remember because I was about twenty when ya’ll started really exploding.
Jeff: We’re one of those bands that, throughout the years, you go to a concert and you go, ‘Oh, I forgot they did this song,’ ‘Oh, I forgot they did that song.’
Marissa: That’s a lot of fun, because you start singing along to a song you haven’t heard in quite a little while.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. You go, ‘Oh man, I really love that song. I didn’t know them guys did that.’ Then all of a sudden, you hear another one, and you go, ‘Oh wow, that one, too.’ We have been very fortunate with our songs. That they all have a timeless feel to them. So they are dated, but they still are fresh.
Marissa: There is a whole new generation listening.
Jeff: That’s right. And there are a lot of younger kids in the audience and, man, that’s great. I just love seeing younger kids in the audience and they are just singing along to all the words and they know them by heart.
Marissa: Absolutely. My 16-year-old was listening to some of your tracks and she was enjoying it that made me smile.
Jeff: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And like you’re saying, we’re still able to get the people to come out and line up and come in and fill up the building. The pattern comes full circle, playing songs from way back and then some of the newer ones from our later records. They’re just loving it and we’re loving it, too.
Marissa: It sounds like you’ve been having the best time. Are you going to continue touring with Def Leppard for the next foreseeable future or are there other plans?
Jeff: Yeah, I know throughout the rest of this year to the end of October, we’re going to be out with them. And things went so well with Styx and Def Leppard last year, they said, “Hey, let’s go out this year. We’ll have REO Speedwagon playing in the middle spot.” People are just packing the places up, just loving it and just enjoying the overall show.
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