Cinderella’s Tom Keifer discusses 2015 solo tour plans, a possible Blues album, Cinderella hiatus and Still Climbing!
Tom Keifer is best known as the primary songwriter, guitarist and singer of the legendary 80’s band, Cinderella. They are still a semi-active touring entity but haven’t released a new album since 1994’s extremely under appreciated “Still Climbing.” He has battled vocal cord issues and record labels since that time but Tom’s priority these past few years has been the release of and touring in support of his debut solo album, “The Way Life Goes.”
Released on April 30, 2013, “The Way Life Goes” was ten years in the making. Both fan and critical reception of the album continue to be very positive. That reception landed Tom some mainstream TV exposure for the album on VH-1 Classic’s That Metal Show & The Late Show with David Letterman. Legendary Rock Interviews had the pleasure of catching up with Tom to look back over the past two years, Tom shared some Cinderella & Andy Johns stories, his plans for Cinderella and his solo career in the future.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Good morning Mr. Keifer! How are you today?
Tom Keifer: Good, good, good!
LRI: Did you get to spend Thanksgiving at home in Nashville?
TK: Yes and I am in Nashville, currently.
LRI: When you are not on tour or out promoting “The Way Life Goes”, how does a typical Tom Keifer day go?
TK: Every day is really different. Some days I do press, some days I am very focused on writing, some days it is just family, and some days are just for relaxing! Every day is from the next. That is a big part of what I like about what I do is there is no set routine. There is more routine when you are on the road. When I am off the road, it is a little more loose in terms of routine. I will say one thing that is a ritual every morning is coffee! (Laughs) ….and LOTS of it!
LRI: I think that is a lot of people’s start-their-day ritual! Good time to invest in coffee it seems!
TK: Then, after that, it is kind of wherever the day takes me from creativity to email, business kind of stuff or one day I focus more on working out or that kind of thing. So, it is different all the time.
LRI: Do you have a home studio?
TK: Yes, I do! It is not a real big studio but it is great for….the control room is pretty big so it is good for mixing and editing. I have got a couple of cutting rooms that are good for guitar overdubs and vocals. We don’t really track in the room though.
LRI: Are you currently working on any new music?
TK: You know, I have been writing off-and-on. I actually started writing again this year. I have got a few songs in the works. The creative bug is starting to hit me again. Usually, after you complete a record, especially one that took as long as “The Way Life Goes” did, you take a breather from that.
It is not intentional or on purpose but you have got to re-charge the batteries and experience life for a while to have those experiences to write about.
LRI: Do you think you will ever do just a straight-ahead down n’ dirty Blues album, just you and a Dobro, maybe some percussion to thicken up the vibe?
TK: Maybe! I have done things close to that. The acoustic version of “Shake Me” that I did was very Robert Johnson style, just me in front of a mic with an acoustic guitar. The version of “Blue Christmas” that I did a couple years back was pretty much straight-up live off the floor with a bunch of my friends here in Nashville, some really great players. That was very Chicago-style and that was pretty much, a live track.
I have touched on that and I love that. I like the purity of that and I think that is something I will probably do at some point. I have thought about it A LOT, for sure!
LRI: I could definitely hear you doing an album like that! That would be awesome! I’m not sure if you are familiar with him but something in the vein of what Eric Sardinas does but completely unplugged.
TK: Yes! Yes! Actually, I believe, this is going back a few years but I believe he was on a bill with Cinderella at a House Of Blues show a few years back. He is very cool!
LRI: Any chance or doing any writing or recording with John Corabi for his upcoming solo album?
TK: I don’t know. I have known John for years so I’ll have to see if he asks me!
LRI: I’ll have to send John a message and tell him “Hey, Tom Keifer is bored and wants to write with you!” (Laughs)
TK: (Laughs) I’m never bored, my friend. I’ve got lots of stuff going on!
LRI: I think that’d be a cool collaboration!
TK: Yeah, John is awesome!
LRI: I know that fans response and critical reception doesn’t always equate to sales but, looking back, are you satisfied with the sales of “The Way Life Goes” album and tours since the album was released in April 2013?
TK: Well, you know, sales are quite different these days from the last time I put an album out prior to this one. I knew that going in to the release of “The Way Life Goes.” So, to be honest, I am really not watching it & I know we are not triple platinum but it is a different world and we are still in the middle of working this record, too. So, I am not really going to think about that until we are finished with the journey of it.
LRI: So, 2015 will see more Tom Keifer solo tours, singles and videos?
TK: Yes! We are going to tour all of next year behind it. The label is going to radio with more singles in 2015. The label has a real long term plan for this album. They do not have the in-and-out mentality with this album.
LRI: That is refreshing to see in this day-and-age!
TK: I am lucky in that sense. We will see. I am happy to see how well it has been received by the fans and the people who have heard it seem to really like it. That obviously feels good after having spent so much time on the record. We will see where we are at the end of 2015 with sales, etc.
LRI: I’ve always wanted to get your take on Cinderella’s underappreciated 1994 release “Still Climbing”. What are your thoughts on the album twenty years later?
TK: I think it is a good record! It was a difficult record for me to make because it was the one we made after I had the paresis of my vocal cords. Starting with the writing, I was writing songs for a voice that I wasn’t really sure what my voice was. I had lost it completely & was in the process of re-training it and trying to get the thing to work.
I was actually told that I would probably never sing again & at the same time I am going through that process and dealing with all that, I had pressure from the label to make a record. So, I am writing for the record & I don’t know what voice I am writing for because I don’t know if I am going to have a voice. If I do re-train it & get it to work, I don’t know what it is going to sound like or what my range is going to be. It was a strange predicament to be in.
I really didn’t ever get to the point where my voice was fully re-trained, back and functioning properly even while we were recording that record. I’ve only really, in recent years, feel that I have gotten a grasp on my voice again.
Going in to making that record, I had to record the vocals very different from what I was used to on the first three records. The first three records, I would go in & sing it down on a few tracks and Andy & I would comp from a couple of tracks. Pretty standard procedure. Just sing the song from top to bottom a few times then go in and edit from the best stuff.
On “Still Climbing”, I was going in & singing one line over-and-over-and over & trying to get my pipes to work right and get the sounds that I wanted. It was just a weird record to make. It was not an easy record to make but a lot of the songs I really like and you know, it is what it is!
LRI: I have always wondered about that album as it is my favorite Cinderella album but like with most Rock records that came out from 1993-1995, there wasn’t much press about it because of the change in the industry so I was always curious about it.
A lot of the bands that got popular in the 1980’s released their best albums in that time frame, in my opinion. From Cinderella, to Poison (“Native Tongue”), Motley Crue with John Corabi, Dokken (“Dysfunctional”), Warrant “Dog Eat Dog” & Ultraphobic”) and Skid Row (“Subhuman Race”) and just recently with the resurgence of those bands, fans are just now discovering those albums.
TK: I don’t think there was for a lot of records at that time. The whole scene was changing due to grunge or whatever. I think a lot of great records at that time in the early 1990’s that were from artists of that genre probably just went under the radar. That was just a sign of the times. It is what it is!
LRI: Was Andy Johns ever considered to be the producer?
TK: He actually started off producing that record. We had some challenges and difficulties in the studio where we weren’t really getting what we wanted. So, we switched producers in the middle of the record. We actually started over. We didn’t end up keeping any of the stuff we had done with Andy.
LRI: What was it like to work with drummer Kenny Aronoff?
TK: Kenny is just absolutely awesome to work with! He is one of the most musical and talented drummers I have worked with. He never says no to another take. Actually, he always wants to do another take. (Laughs)
He always thinks he can do it better! He is always trying to improve the track so I loved working with him. I think his passion for music is just amazing! His energy behind the kit, he just kills it, he is great!
LRI: I have seen him live with John Fogerty and he is just insane!
TK: He is badass, just straight-up! I loved him with John Mellencamp & that is why when we were going through some drummers on the “Still Climbing” thing and we weren’t finding what we wanted, I suggested bringing him in. He was everything I thought he would be!
He is great! He really has a lot of drive, he pushes the beat, and he knows how to play Rock N’ Roll! He is great!
LRI: Back to the future….Did you film or record any of “The Way Life Goes” shows & is there a chance of a live CD or DVD of it?
TK: Nothing filmed that I know of or remember. (Laughs) Because sometimes there is stuff filmed by the venues & you don’t know about it until two months later and you get a DVD in the mail from a production company. Sometimes that is going on and you don’t even know about it! Something could pop up. Obviously, there is a lot of fan footage.
We recorded a few things, just audio, right at the end of the tour this year. Honestly, I haven’t even listened to it so I don’t know if it would ever be released or what we would do with it but we did capture a few shows.
LRI: Is that something you would consider after the album & tour cycle is over, putting a live DVD and/or CD out if everything looked and sounded great?
TK: Yeah! I’d love to! I love this band & I think this band has a lot of chemistry on stage and the shows have really been a lot of fun! Hopefully, next year we can delve in to that & really record and capture it properly!
LRI: You’ve put out an amazing solo album, Fred’s been busy with his studio work, Jeff recently put out a killer solo EP & Eric has been out touring and in the studio with Devil City Angels. The response to everyone’s projects have been good, do you think now would be a good time for a new Cinderella studio album with as much publicity as every has received over the past few years with the myriad of solo projects?
TK: I don’t know when is going to be a good time for that! We have had a few failed attempts at it so we tend to step pretty cautiously. It is not for a lack of desire on our part. We would love to make a record but it has to be the right situation, the right label and someone who really wants to do it right in terms of the label so we will see!
LRI: I didn’t know if you would consider doing it like how you did your solo record being you recorded it independently then pitched it to a label?
TK: No, I don’t think that we would self-produce a record. We need a producer in the studio with us so we’d have to have a label involved. We will see what opportunities present themselves….
LRI: Have you ever considered penning and releasing your memoirs?
TK: I haven’t thought about writing something like that myself. I’ve been approached about writing books. People wanting me to write books. I’m not really feeling that right now.
I feel like there is more to the story and now just doesn’t feel like the right time for a book, yet! It is not something I really think about. I mean, maybe someday. Every time I have been approached about it, it is something that doesn’t really interest me at the time.
LRI: We’ve hit on this a bit already but what are your plans for 2015?
TK: More touring, my friend! Doing some more shows & getting out there with this band and playing music! That IS the plan!
LRI: Anything you’d like to announce or say to your fans?
TK: I’d love to say THANK YOU for all the support for, you know, years and years! It is just an amazing feeling to have the support we have had in Cinderella throughout the years with the records & tours and now for it to be continuing on with the solo project….I am just very grateful for that & would just like to say THANK YOU!
LRI: Thank you so much for your time! Best of health and happiness to you & your family over this holiday season and in the future…..
TK: You too, my friend! Good talking to you & have a great holiday!
Tom Keifer “It’s Not Enough” Lyric Video
Tom Keifer “Solid Ground” Music Video
Tom Keifer “The Flower Song” Music Video
Official Tom Keifer Website
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