|Tesla. Rogue Scientist. Rogue Band. Both doing it their way and never conforming. |
Formed in 1984 in Sacramento as City Kidd, and renamed Tesla during the recording of their first album, 1986's Mechanical Resonance, the band's original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat, and drummer Troy Luccketta.
Now with Skeoch moving on and Dave Rude entering onto the stage, Tesla has put out the first live dvd in over 17 years, which is also the first electric dvd and is set to release their new cd "Forever More" in October...and as some, would observe, the band is in one of their most creative states ever in their career.
It took two months to finally catch up with legendary guitarist Frank Hannon, but it was well worth the wait as we got to talk about the band's past , present and future and the exciting new direction they are taking artistically. So sit back, and prepare to get caught in a dream...that is TESLA.
|We now have a very intense "dream camp" of a band without any personal problems—-everyone is 100% into the band|
So thank you for your time—you've been busy touring Europe, putting out the first DVD in over 17 years, and putting together a new cd Forever More for an October release—tell our readers what the last year has been like for the band ?
F-This has definitely been the most intense year for us ever. If you take the last 10 years and combine them, that's what it has been like for us--we've filmed the DVD, toured America, and Europe and put together a new cd. We now have a very intense "dream camp" of a band without any personal problems—-everyone is 100% into the band.
Has it been the new line up or something else that has created this new energy?
F-Our biggest change has been that we manage ourselves now. Brian and I cover all of the details and it's made all the difference in the world. Before we had to deal with how an album cover was dictated—and for example I just worked with a graphic designer to design the new album cover for "Forever More" and a week later it was done. We've had dishonest managers and we probably went through 6 in the past decade or so and now that we have more artistic control, it really shows.
Word on the street is that you started playing guitar at the age of 10...what inspired you to become a six string slayer?
F- When I was 10 it was 1976 and there was so much great music on the radio- Boston, Frampton, Derringer and I listened to it all ..around the age of 12 I was in a motorcycle accident, broke my leg and ended up spending my summer in bed. My Step Dad had an old acoustic guitar and my mom had a great album collection so I started tooling round with the guitar with my headphones while I was recuperating and by the end of the summer I was hooked.
What is your axe of choice? **laughing**
F- Well, for a long time it's been Gibson, Gibson, Gibson. I like flying V's, SG3's, pretty much any Gibson guitar.
Why no Frank Hannon signature model products?
F- Well not yet, but Gibson has been talking to me about it—I guess part of the reason is Tesla has never been a household name, we've been the underdogs, and honestly? I never really took charge of my career- I was 20 when we started and very young and naïve. But I have a great relationship with Gibson so perhaps in a couple of years we'll partner.
One last equipment ?...where did you get the Kawai Moonsault guitar and do you still have it??
F-Wow! Yeah, I do still have it. I had a friend who owned a yellow one and I got to play it so when Tesla performed in Tokyo in '89 I found one and I still have it till this day.
If there was to be a five-man tag team wrestling match between your old band Moon Dog Mane and Brian's old band Soulmotor, who would win?
F- Without a doubt Moon Dog Mane although Brian can be a bit feisty.
You have recorded and performed with many musicians over the last 20 years...from Lynyrd Skynyrd, to Def Leppard, to Pat Travers..if you had to pick one to go in your "sonic scrapbook" page beside your work with Tesla- who would it be and why?
F-Umm..sonic scrapbook? One of my all time fave bands is Lynard Skynard and when we were playing with them in Atlanta, Ga they invited me to jam on "Call Me the Breeze" and it was such an awesome experience and a great memory. Gary Rossington is one my favorite guitar players..he's kind of like the Ghostwriter guitar player, you know? A lot of people think the best part of Freebird is the solo part at the end but I think the crying slide guitar at the beginning is the most memorable, melodic and soulful.
Let's talk about the new DVD that just came out— Comin' Atcha Live 2008 it is the first Tesla has released in almost 2 decades—why now? And what can fans expect to see and hear?
F- Well we've wanted to do it forever—but we feel better now musically than ever. Fans can expect a full live electric dvd, with some acoustic parts thrown in, and the great part is the bonus features showing the band on the road, interviewing fans. Be sure and check that part out.
The new cd...how does it compare to your anthology? And what can fans old and new expect from Forever More?
F-If you think of "Into The Now" it's like that cd but better. We have always tried to stay competitive and current—we could do basic riffs, and record the same stuff we have before or retool it ,etc but we want to keep it as punchy as possible. It's so easy for an ‘80's band to rely on nostalgia..and we try to keep what we put out to be really current and fresh.
With Tesla's penchant for Frampton and the Southern kind of thing, how have they not tapped into the current Jam band scene, and could you see yourselves doing that in the future?
F- As a group, we are more metal–kind of like a mix between Aerosmith and Iron Maiden—the music is more stylized, refined and modern— a Three Doors Down if I were to compare to another band today..but personally? I'm an old hippie freak from way back, and I grew up on Santana, the Grateful Dead and as a solo artist I love the Blues and I've sat in with Mo, Warren Haynes and Dickie Betts...so while I love it, it's probably not the scene that Tesla fits best in to.
F We're just grateful to all of the fans for their support over the years and their loyalty, it really means something to us... "Forever More" is more than just the new cd title, it's what Tesla thinks about the music and the love..at the end of the day...it's what lasts forever.