Cinderella's Tom Keifer
By Jay Oakley
It's been about a year and a half to two years since your solo record, The Way Life Goes, came out. How do you feel about it's reaction during the time it's been out?
It's just been one of the best times of my life. We worked really hard and it took the better part of nine years making this record and I got to make it with my wife who co-produced it and wrote a lot of the songs with me.
Then once the record was released we put together a band to go touring and we've been touring for the last year and a half or so and got really lucky with that coming together with not only some incredible musicians but some people who are just really great people and have turned out to be like family to us so the touring aspect has just been amazing and we're just having a blast out there supporting the record. We're going to be touring pretty heavy all throughout 2015 behind the record as well.
With all the people that contributed to the record including Savannah, how did it feel having your wife be such a big part of the writing and performing on that kind of level?
She and I work really well together. She's one of the best song writers I've ever heard and a pretty amazing talent in her own right. It's hard to describe but it happens so naturally when we write and there's some stuff that we do together in the show acoustically where we sing together and it just feels very natural and easy and that's always the best way for music to happen. I think that's the best way for me to put it so there's always been a chemistry there that has a natural kind of flow to it and that's the best. [Laughs] and then you put on top of that she's my best friend in the world and we're riding on a tour bus together with a bunch of other people that we love and having a great time.
I wanted to talk a little about the history of the record because you did start a majority of the writing in the mid 90s after the Cinderella split. Were any of those songs originally going to be Cinderella songs or were they just a fresh start for you?
We had a couple of years where we were working on a Cinderella record for a label and that record never got recorded. We did a few demos for that record and it ended up in a lawsuit and it never happened. Most of the songs on this album were not things that were demoed for that deal with Cinderella. There's a couple that were and I don't remember which ones they were off the top of my head but there were a few that were demoed with Cinderella and then obviously everything was re-cut because they were all my songs that I wrote so any of the songs that I did carry over were all re-recorded and done with my band here. But I had a pile of songs from the mid 90s through even a couple of years into recording and producing this record that I'd been writing and writing and writing so there's a lot of songs that these fourteen were chosen from.
When you first started touring how did it feel finally getting the material out on the road and in front of fans?
That was a feeling I hadn't felt in a long time. Getting to play new material, not since the Still Climbing record (1994) with Cinderella back in the mid 90s. Leading up to it I think there was an anticipation about being nervous about it and how it would be received and how's it going to feel alongside the Cinderella songs because I do all those in the set too.
Also what came along with the solo idea and the idea of going live with it was I'd have to put together a band and that was a big step because I'd been with Cinderella for so long and that was something I stressed about the whole time I was making the record because I knew when it was released I was going to have to put together a band that not only have to play this new material but also cover the Cinderella stuff and as I mentioned earlier I got very lucky in that department. It was like the first people that walked into the room were just amazing on every level from personally to musicianship.
So all that said I guess what I'm saying is there was a lot of stress and anxiety about it leading up to it and then when we hit the stage the first night it was like "Wow, this is really working!" and it just felt good. The new stuff live it just goes down just as good as the Cinderella material and the fans have been very receptive of the newer material and it's fun.
I don't know if you remember those gigs in particular because it's been a while now but you played a show in White Marsh, Maryland at a little place called House of Rock and I was at that show.
Yeah, I do remember that one. I think that was the last show of our very first leg with the new band it was like February or March of 2013. That's when we had put the band together and we were out on the road in front of the release of the record, the record hadn't even been released yet but nothing makes you a band quicker then getting out on the road and doing a show. Living on a tour bus together and doing a show together and all that stuff so I'm pretty sure that was the last show of our first leg which was about three or four weeks long and we were all sick as dogs.
We all had the flu, I had pneumonia and the flu on top of it, I remember the show well because I still from time to time see photographs from that show and you can see how sick we all are. I'm like yellow in these picture because I was really pretty sick and that actually was the year I didn't make it on the MOR cruise (Monsters of Rock) due to being hospitalized. That's how sick I was because I caught that flu and pneumonia about halfway through that first leg and by the time we had gotten to that gig you were talking about in Baltimore I was barely standing. I got home and that was a few weeks before we were supposed to go on the Monsters of Rock cruise with Cinderella and I ended up being hospitalized and couldn't make the cruise. So I do remember that show well.
But, with that said, there's that thing that happens when you hit the stage and the adrenaline hits, it all kicks in and I thought we did a lot of shows on that leg where we were all barely able to stand before we went out and you hit the stage and it's just time to kick ass and you do and I had a good time that night.
You had said that you have a lot going on in 2015, is it mostly going to be club touring because I know you also have some festivals like M3 here in Maryland.
We're doing Monsters of Rock cruise with the solo band this year so we'll do two shows with that and M3. I don't have it in front of me but I know we are doing some other festivals but everything we're doing that has been confirmed is on TomKeifer.com. There's some clubs and some festival things and there's a lot more to come.
Are there any plans for a second album? Are you working on it currently or are you trying to promote the first one still and get to the second one when the time permits?
Yeah, I take things one day at a time. I didn't know the length of touring last year for this record because when you release a record you just don't know what kind of commitment it's going to be from the record label or where your energy's going to lead and everybody's really committed to it from the label, to us, to the new band and my management and everyone just wants to keep going with it.
In today's world the life of a record is like you blink and I'm not used to that because the last time I released a record people still spent some time to work the record and get it out there and tour behind it so the world I come from it's nothing to tour for a couple of years behind a record so I'm still in that mentality. We're having fun with it and the label's committed which is rare these days so we're very fortunate to have that.
And so here we are, but I'm sure at some point I'll start thinking about another record. I kind of get into modes and right now I'm in the performing live mode and going out there and rocking and eventually I'll probably shift back into creative mode.
All-in-all how are you feeling physically? Over the last few years before you got out to really tour with this record your throat was giving you a couple of issues but are you feeling fit?
My voice has been really strong. It took many years for me to retrain it from that neurological condition that I had which was like a partial paralysis on the vocal chord. It took me years to retrain that and I had to work with a lot of different voice teachers and speech pathologists and stuff it's not something that people usually are able to overcome and I was told I would never sing again but I've worked with some of the best people and teachers and I've found a way to bring it back and train it to do the right thing and it's feeling great. It's been great the last years, not only the last couple years touring solo but even a couple Cinderella tours prior to that, it was really starting to get strong and it's just getting stronger every year.
With everything that's been going on with your solo work and Eric (Brittingham) doing Devil City Angels and Jeff (LaBar) putting out his solo disc do you all have Cinderella kind of on the back burner and doing you're own individual things?
Yeah, we've been on hiatus and it keeps getting extended. 2012 marked the end of a three year run for us touring and I had just signed a deal for my record and I knew I was going to have to go out on tour. We felt we had been around the block quite a bit, we'd done the States three times, we'd been to Europe twice and been to South America over those three years and just felt it was time to take a break. The timing was lined up because I had to go out to support my record anyway so I started doing that and it's just taken on it's own life and it's just continuing and been growing in particular the live end of it every time we go out.
When you look back over all of your accomplishments and experiences is there anything you would change or do differently if you could?
I don't know. I'm a person who likes to look forward and I think that everything you go through in life whether it's challenges or success or mistakes or smart moves it all comes together and brings you to where you're supposed to be currently and hopefully you learn from the things in your past and hopefully that forms where you're heading in the future so I try not to look back and have regrets about things. I've been very fortunate in my career and my life and I don't look at life that way.
Tom, thank you so much for taking some time to talk with me and let all your fans know more about you and what you have going on.
Thank you and we'd love to see everyone come out.