Kingdom Come has a new album out called “Outlier”, it’s everything you would suspect and nothing you’d imagine all at the same time. Lenny Wolf’s signature vocals remain a focus but the music is solidly rooted in the here and now with a nod to what made fans fall for the band back in ’89. I recently had the chance to interview lead singer and founder Lenny Wolf about the new music, the old music, touring and the band’s love/hate relationship with the press and media, read on…..
LRI: Thanks for talking with us Lenny….”Outlier” is yet another step for you and Kingdom Come and the fanbase. You and your new lineup have released several albums this past decade and they have all been unique in their own way. Do you think that your fans have embraced the many changes over the years?
Lenny Wolf: You are right that some people may have a problem with “progress”, but that is part of me which I will and cannot change. Doing the same thing over and over again would bore me stiff. Imagine the Beatles having written “She loves you” for the rest of their career. That would have been pretty boring. Taking a risk is something I was never afraid of. There are enough bands out there doing the “expected”. Not my cup of tea. Even if I would focus on our “traditional old sound”, that would not mean KC would be more exciting or more successful. It is what it is. Another reflection of what I felt at “that time”.
LRI: Some of this material like “Don’t Want You To Wait” and “Let the Silence Talk” have much of the same charm as your early work so in some respects there is a tradition that lives on. Is that important to you as an artist?
Lenny: I’m glad you brought up the fact that some tunes actually could have been written in the eighties as well. I think it’s mainly how I packaged audio frequencies today. I just like going on an unpredictable journey once I entered the endless audio cosmos. And since I got two hearts beating in me, there is a constant battle when it comes to building a bridge between now and then.
LRI: The American fans warmed up to Kingdom Come very, very quickly but the press was prone to backstabbing the band and brainwashing the population. As a fan it almost felt like as soon as we got very excited about the music there was some crazy need to defend enjoying it. Did any of that experience HELP you in any way in terms of your career?
Lenny: I like the way you summed up the introduction of your question! That is exactly what happened. Simply growing up and having dealt with the industry for years has made me see things differently. Today I’m more at peace within myself than I ever was, and after having done so many records I don’t have to prove anything anymore. People who really listened to the last 14 records, should know by now what Kingdom Come is all about. I’m a very grateful guy living his dream by doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. So who am I to complain? I could be living in Afghanistan riding a donkey. But then again I could have many wives…… so how could we determine happiness?
LRI: I think it is amazing that you admit that you sometimes have alternate periods of euphoria and doubt when working through your material. Has it always been that way dating back to your debut and does that doubt drive you?
Lenny: I think every serious creative person is going through ups and downs including doubting their work. I don’t think that will ever change. The cross we have to carry I guess, but “Outlier” became a very solid achievement despite the different song characters on the record. It just feels right. Now I can only hope for the universal language -called music- to reach lots of people with the same wave length. The drive, as you call it, is still pushing hard in me. I’m not running a “business”, I’m more a creative loony once I entered the left lane.
LRI: You have a band for live performances but produced, recorded and performed much of “Outlier” on your own. Is that as fulfilling as it is challenging?
Lenny: It is always a challenge, especially when you do it all on your own. Reflecting through another person can be a good thing if it is the ”right” person but as long as I got my visions I just gotta do what I gotta do. On the other hand I think I’m getting ready to join a “gang project” again, in which I’d be playing my part as a singer and writer from a more relaxed point of view. To carry the weight of having to do it all on my own, has sometimes been a pain in the butt!
LRI: You have performed many of the classic Kingdom Come favorites acoustically and there are videos of the often beautiful results. Is there a possibility that you might tour in an intimate, acoustic style like this?
Lenny: There has been some thinking about that possibility, but we have not pursuit it. I don’t know what’s awaiting me around the next corner. Everything is possible.
LRI: What is the most heartfelt story a fan has told you over the years about how your music or a particular song affected them or became “their” song?
Lenny: I once received a letter from someone in a hospital saying a song of mine has helped him to wake up again. I don’t really have proof of such reports, but I’m always thrilled if anybody’s soul or heart is being touched by what I’ve done. It’s very rewarding and another good reason to get out of bed continuing my mission. It’s not all about the damned money.
LRI: You have your own recording studio and can work on your own schedule these days. Do you find that to be a better thing for the most part than the pressures of dealing with corporate labels and radio and that type of thing?
Lenny: That has been the only way it worked for me over the last years. Writing songs like “Let the Silence Talk” can be done in any room with a band rocking out the riffs but once I dive into the endless audio cosmos looking for new elements, it can take weeks and weeks before I get to a point where I get that “hey yes yippi yippi yeah” feeling. Building my own sound elements like for example in “Rough Ride Ralley” or “When Colors Break the Grey” are very time consuming periods. Inspiring myself while I’m at work….. Throwing it away and keep digging again until it feels right.
LRI: There is a great bootleg video of Kingdom Come playing a gig many years ago in front of a very excited Japanese audience. What are some of your favorite places you’ve played on this earth and why?
Lenny: To sum it up shortly. The USA and Russia. The US because I lived there and love the vibe of the people. Russia because they seem to have a very particular connection to Kingdom Comes “emotional output”. It’s not so much about “Cherry pie and lets party”. It’s more an intimate gathering with lots of heartfelt energy exchange. I love that.
LRI: Last question…thanks again for taking time for us! You have a voice and catalog that many young artists would like to aspire to. If you could somehow give the 25 year old Lenny Wolf one piece of advice from his future self what would it be????
Be a bit less distrusting.
Be a bit more patient when people don’t understand your visions right away.
Don’t be so hard on others even though they may slow you down once in a while.
Be a control freak but with a smile on the face.
Don’t hit on a women from the record company guy.
etc etc etc….
Don’t believe what they are saying. I’m worse.