Tesla Guitarist Dave Rude On Future Solo Work, Tesla, Satriani and Vai as an Instrumental Guitar Influence and Much More….
This past fall Tesla released a new single “Taste My Pain” (on both iTunes and Amazon) and the guys are currently working on a new album and will be playing a few select gigs this upcoming new year (including Monsters Of Rock Cruise). Guitarist Dave Rude (despite dealing with a theft of some of his guitars this fall) also had a great 2013, having seen the release of his own album “The Key” and a new partnership with Rat Pak Records. I had a chance to talk to Dave about his former group, Dave Rude Band, his new, upcoming solo work and of course, Tesla; read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: I’ve talked to (Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon) Frank before about his band and also know that Brian (Wheat, bassist) and Troy (Lucketta, drums) have had their own projects. Your album has been out for a while now but it was recorded some time ago, correct?
Dave Rude: Yes, it was, the band’s actually no longer together but I’m really proud of the album and the songs on it and wanted to get it out there. It’s serious, straight ahead rock and roll. I did the Dave Rude band for about five years, we had released a couple of things but this album on Rat Rak is the first full-length and first album on a label too, so it’s really nice to get it out there for people who’ve been asking about it. Like I said, the band isn’t active anymore but I still had these recordings and especially, having this relationship with Rat Pak, who have a great reach with rock fans and guitar fans, I wanted to get this out so people could actually hear it. It’s got a lot of modern style to it but I grew up on classic rock and kind of mixed the two with my music. I love the classic stuff, love the solos, big riffs and sing-along choruses but at the same time I love a lot of modern and kinda weirder stuff too so I definitely put a modern twist on my songs as opposed to just being a retro-type thing.
LRI: The track “Charlie Manson” is one that definitely stands out both musically and lyrically. How did that come together?
Dave: Yeah man that’s an older track for sure. I’ve had that song in various different versions in a couple of different bands I’ve been in. I’d recorded the song a few different times and it came to where it is today just through that process, I’d record it and listen back to the vocal track and think “Ok, I think that chorus could be stronger, let’s switch this around”, that type of thing. There’s a bit of something said there lyrically about sticking to what you believe in and about the sort of grittier side to the rock and roll business.
LRI: Does this deal with RatPak leave the door open to future solo stuff or projects from you or are you strictly focusing on live gigs and recordings with Tesla from now on?
Dave: No, I can definitely do more stuff in the future, absolutely. People have responded very well to “The Key” and everything so I can definitely do more of my own stuff looking ahead. I’m definitely busy with Tesla but the thing about Tesla is we always have time for other stuff outside of the band as well. I’m definitely going to be releasing some more material on RatPak. I’ve already got a lot of new songs that I’ve worked on so the plan is to have something out again next year and possibly even getting back to doing some gigs on my own too so yeah, yeah. It’ll definitely be a new project as opposed to Dave Rude Band but it’ll still sound like me. I’m really looking forward to it.
LRI: Frank has released a couple different styles or themes of his stuff from guitar-focused, more instrumental stuff to his last record which was definitely song-focused and collaboration-based. Do you ever see yourself putting out an instrumental type thing at some point?
Dave: Well, I don’t know….I think it’s really cool that Frank has put out a couple different styles of his solo stuff and I might but what I really wanna do right now is actually an instrumental record, like a full-blown guitar rock instrumental but of course a little but tweaked by my own interpretation of that which would be different than your average instrumental rock record just cause I kind of feel like it’s sort of reached the plateau so to speak at this point. I’d love to release a really interesting guitar instrumental album and I’ve been working on some stuff that I’m pretty excited about and that’s kind of where my head’s at. I’d really like to do something different in that style.
LRI: Do you remember when Satriani set everyone’s ear on end with “Surfing With The Alien”? That was a pretty exciting and sort of novel thing at that point….
Dave: Dude, that’s my inspiration right there. Of course, it’s become the standard but in it’s time it was totally weird and different. To me, Joe is still the best. I mean, I love Vai and all of those guys but a lot of the other players that attempt that kind of stuff are kind of flashy and impressive for a few minutes but at the end of it all there’s no songs. After a while, when I listen to some of that stuff I get really bored because they weren’t focused on songs the way that Joe does. I don’t really get into it when it’s about playing the best or the fastest, I kind of appreciate more of the interesting style of playing where it’s more about saying something with the notes. Satriani and Vai have consistently done that through their careers and I’d like to do something like that as well, something where the melodies mean more than the sweep arpeggios and all that type of stuff (laughs).
LRI: Your playing and writing style can definitely border on heavy, heavy riffing but there’s always some underlying sense of melody, is that fair to say?
Dave: Definitely, I mean I love all kinds of music including heavy stuff like Pantera, Metallica, Machine Head but all of those bands still have melody. The bands that don’t, the ones who are really super heavy, I can appreciate the guitar riffing and stuff but I don’t generally listen to those records or seek them out because, for me, there’s nothing to hold onto. So yeah, even the heavier stuff that I write I always like to have some sort of melody that you can hold on to, some type of melody that you could transpose to the piano if you had to, you know what I mean? That’s what’s catchy to me and that melody is what I like about any kind of song from any kind of genre.
LRI: I asked Frank about his comfort level working with you in the band and I wanted to ask you, how long did it take you to feel comfortable within Tesla?
Dave: You know, I’ve felt comfortable with it really since the beginning and it’s only improved since then. We’ve gotten more comfortable as musicians but also just as people, which has really been something great I can say about Tesla since day one. Everyone in the band has been really cool and very welcoming to me, there was never any ego or games like “Oh, you’re the new guy” or anything like that. It’s been like being in a band with friends except it’s a legendary band with this rich history. I knew they were great musicians but that was just a great, pleasant surprise that I didn’t expect going into it. It’s cool that I was really welcomed by the fans and the guys even before we had done any writing or recording and like I said, it’s only gotten better with time. The more we do, the better it gets. We did the covers albums Real to Reel right after I joined the band and that was a cool way to get introduced to being in the studio with the band being new to the situation. Then, a couple years later we wrote and recorded “Forever More” and that record was totally cool and did well and now we’re working on songs for the new record and it’s once again been a pretty enjoyable experience.
LRI: I saw Tesla on the David Lee Roth “Eat Em And Smile” tour and Jeff had his back to the crowd the entire first half of the set and they were amazing, I saw the band a summer or so ago with you in the band and the live show was STILL every bit as amazing. Is there some kind of unspoken credo that TESLA, above all else, pledges to go on stage and KILL every single night?
Dave: Yeah, I guess there is. I mean, that’s the attitude we have and I’m sure that was something those guys have always had, even going back to their club days. That’s the way I’ve always treated every gig with every band I’ve ever been in and that’s really the only way you can do it and call yourself legit. When I got to actually playing to really big crowds with Tesla it almost felt familiar because I had always pictured it like that in my mind, even if I was playing to five people (laughs). When I looked out to a really big crowd with Tesla it was like “Oh, cool so this isn’t just always in my mind” (laughs) and then when there really are big crowds you become aware that you can’t let em down, number one because it’s just the right thing to do but also because god damn, they paid a lot of money to be there and took a lot of time out of their day to come to the show and have a good time. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a bad day or not, you’ve gotta get up there and rock and make sure they have a great day. With Tesla, we’ve got fans that fly out to gigs or drive from place to place so we definitely have to get out there each and every time and make sure they get the absolute best show for their trouble. I think that’s part of the reason the fans are so loyal, they know they’re going to get a great show so we sure as hell can’t let em down. There’s certain bands that I like a lot that are kinda hit and miss live. You might see them and they’re one of the best shows you’ve ever seen and then six months later catch them and think “Who the hell is this, they’re awful”. There’s some bands like that where you never know exactly what they’re gonna be like on a given night but Tesla just isn’t like that. That also goes for well before I joined the band because I saw them like 3 or 4 times prior to joining the band and EVERY single time it was just great. It was clear they were on a higher level of consistency as far as putting on great shows. I think that’s why the band has such loyal, repeat business from year to year, people will see us live and then mark it on their calendar the next time we come anywhere near their area. They love the songs, they know it’s gonna be a great show as opposed to like “Well, I don’t know, I saw them last time around and thought they were just kinda okay, I’m not gonna go again”. It’s more like “Well, they were great last time and they were great the time before so hell yeah I’m gonna go again”.
TESLA DATES 2014
01/24/2014 St. Paul, MN Myth Live
01/25/2014 Riverside, IA Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
03/29/2014 – 04/02/2014 Monsters of Rock Cruise