Maine Music News recently conducted an interview with CINDERELLA frontman Tom Keifer. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Maine Music News: Was there any fear in going out solo or was there huge excitement in getting to go out and do your own thing?
Keifer: It’s both. Excitement, because it was something we worked on for so long. It’s always exciting and a little bit stressful and scary whenever you are going out on tour with new material. The first reason being that you spend all this time in the studio creating these tracks and making them sound exactly how you want them to sound coming out of the speakers. A lot times, the guitars are stacked and there’s a lot of overdubs and stuff and there is always that, “How are we going to make it sound like this live?” You always find a way. CINDERELLA always managed to. Some of those tracks on the CINDERELLA records on “Long Cold Winter”, some of those we were running three two-inch tape machines in the back of the room with, like, 70 tracks of production and overdubs. But you always find in the mix, there is always these elements that poke out, and they are the ones that you have to learn and take with you. Some of that stuff and other overdubs just sit in the background and aren’t as important. So you grab the important bits, and you figure it out. That’s always the first stressful thing about going out with new material. It’s a little bit of a trick sometimes. Other than that, it’s just fun. We really had a great time on that first leg in February, and we are getting ready to go out and do another one in May.
Maine Music News: What do you want your fans to know about this new album?
Keifer: It was a long time in the making, and it was made purely for the love of making music. It was produced independently of a label. I just didn’t want the pressure of someone telling me when it was finished, or you are on this budget, this time frame, and this deadline. I just wanted to make a record that I really loved at the end of the day, and it was just about the music. Don’t get me wrong — the CINDERELLA records were that way. We always went in and made the best music that we could. That is how we always approached it, and we were able to do that within time constraints and budgets back then. This record, I decided to do it differently, because I didn’t feel that having a label involved at that point in time was going to really allow enough time to do it the way I wanted to. It was made purely for the love of music, not chasing any trends or anything. Probably 5 or 6 different trends came and went during the years we made this record.
Maine Music News: Now that we have over 25 years to look back at the ’80’s, and we have an objective point of view, what was CINDERELLA doing to create that signature sound?
Keifer: I can only speak personally. To me, the elements that I brought as the writer and singer and someone who did a lot of the guitar work, I always tried to stay true to what I grew up on and what I loved as a kid when I first heard rock music. And not only that, but going back and listening to the things that inspired those people, like what inspired the [THE ROLLING] STONES and LED ZEPPELIN. One day I realized, “Wow, it was the blues, and it was country, and it was RB and gospel and this great American roots music.” I really started digging back and listening to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Johnny Winter, BB King and James Brown. I think it’s a good thing to go beyond the things that initially inspired you and listen to what inspired them. That gives you an opportunity to interpret the music yourself, maybe in your own way. I think maybe what was unique in our sound was that the roots were pretty prevalent. You could hear country roots in “Coming Home” and “One For Rock And Roll” and “Heartbreak Station” You could hear the blues roots in a lot of stuff and could hear the straight up rock roots and harder driving stuff that was inspired by AEROSMITH and DEEP PURPLE. There was just a mix of a lot of different sounds. There was not just one flavor in the soup. I think we stayed true to the music that we grew up on. Everyone in the band grew up on all the great bands of the ’70s, and all those bands had so many different colors and flavors in their soup. I think keeping your ears open, listening to a lot of different kinds of music, and trying to bring those elements into it is usually when you can come up with something unique.
Maine Music News: In thinking back to ’80s metal and comparing it to today’s music, it had a distinct sound. What made that genre what it was?
Keifer: I think it’s the same formula that every decade goes through. When that starts to happen, they all start to sound the same, and the sound becomes stagnant. It wasn’t just the ’80s when that happened or just the 80s rock genre, it happens a lot in the music industry. I think it is twofold — first ,when artists are not digging back beyond what is currently on the charts, and second, labels only wanting to sign people that sound like what is currently on the charts. That is when music can become stagnant. I think that you always need to be true to who you are and what you do. And believe me, we caught flak from our record company when I brought in the song “Long Cold Winter” and “Coming Home”. There were people at the label that thought that was a little bit of a stretch, and there were people that were trying to push us to sound more like everything else that was the hard rock sound of the day. You’ve got to be true to what you love. That is when people create something really unique or different.
Read the entire interview from Maine Music News.