KELLY KEELING: A rolling stone gathers no moss!
Kelly was born June 25 in Lafayette, Louisiana and at the age of 14 he formed his first professional band called Warlock. In 1986 Kelly joined a group that would put him in the public eye, namely Baton Rouge. During a soundcheck with that band Kelly’s vocal talent was discovered and he ended up as the lead singer for that band. The BR sound was very listener friendly rock and their debut album “Shake Your Soul” was released in 1990. Already a year later Kelly decided to leave the band because John Sykes asked him to join Blue Murder as lead vocalist. Blue Murder was a so-called supergroup, with Tony Franklin, Carmine Appice and John Sykes. But when Kelly joined the band, he found out that Carmine and Tony had already quit the band. Kelly spent two and a half years on the album “Nothing But Trouble”, but Sykes reworked almost all the tracks and the day before the band was scheduled to shoot the video for “We All Fall Down”, Kelly quit and he spent some time doing vocals for John Norum. Later he moves on to his guitar Zeus projects and in 1998 he wrote (along with Michael Schenker), recorded and mixed the album “The Unforgiven” for the MSG. Two years later Kelly was asked to join the band Heaven And Earth and in 2001 he was recruited by Don Dokken to step in as assistant songwriter and producer for the new Dokken album. Now, finally KK releases his first real solo album (for review see www.rockunited.com, ofcourse) and I have a talk with guitar player, singer and workaholic KK about this solo project.
As you can read this guy has quite a history, so my first question is maybe obvious... Kelly, why did it take so long for you to make a solo album?
KK: I guess this is an official solo album, but I have been writing for myself for the purpose of a solo album or solo band album for many years under the moniker of others. For example the Guitar Zeus albums. Many of those songs were actually recorded for my solo album. There were times I did not feel like pushing forward with writing and recording where I just used those tracks. I recorded many of John Norums songs before we re-corded them. Although there were other offers previously I had not had time before. It wasn’t until lately that Mascot Records gave me an offer while I was very unhappy with a band situation where I accepted a solo deal.
Martien: Why did you decide to do the production all by yourself?
KK: In the past, some of the albums I was involved in were just slightly wrong in some ways that were very obvious to me. During my own album I got very meticulous and perfectionist, so in some ways this helped, some ways it burnt me out. I spent more time perfecting performances than in the song department. I hope the song selection is ok though. I have some more I would choose at this point, but an album must be done at some point.
Martien: You once stated that you do not like solo albums, why is that?
KK: In my observation solo albums have not done as well as many band albums, for instance Mick Jagger will always do well with the Rolling Stones and not as well solo, Scott Weiland, Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver.. I am content with a band situation. I’ve done solo; I hope it goes well. But, still there are many situations where it works also obviously, so…
Martien: Your guitar playing on “Giving Sight To The Eye” is really awesome, did you practise a lot, maybe…?
KK: Not really, I just kind of practice while tracking the song and when I get it close to right; move on. I still think it could be better… and is at this point today. I like the solo I did on “Believe”. I was going to have Michael Schenker play on that song, so I put a scratch down of how I heard it should go, then I thought….., ahhh, just keep it. When you pretend, you are there.
Martien: So, what do you prefer, singing or playing the guitar?
KK: Singing with a band comes naturally since I have had so much time at it. But I was a guitarist/keyboardist in my first bands and projects. I would occasionally do a lead vocal because I felt I could sing like certain people who were influencing me early on. So I enjoy tearing it upon the guitar. But I like the freedom to have someone take the whole music duty away from me and just sing and enjoy the crowd. I must say guitar playing is a bit more laborious though.
Martien: You also said that this album shows the softer side of you, I think that most of the songs are rather heavy, which one is your harder side then according to you?
KK: Well, there is another collection of songs that you have not heard. Mascot Records is a heavy label, so we choose the heavy ones for this album.
Martien: What are you working on at this moment, seeing that you are a workaholic…
KK: Michael Schenker Tour. I also just finished recording songs for a new MSG album. I am also writing songs that just come up lately. I’ll have to do some demos soon of those. The MSG album is an album of the 25 th anniversary of MSG where all the MSG singers participate in.
Martien: How did the George Lynch go and how did you become a part of that particular tour?
KK: I was working with Don Dokken a lot and I just became curious. How would it be, me singing in this band. I had worked with so many great guitar players. So I called Mike Varney and in a few days we were recording what became “Furious George”.
I am not sure what is happening with George at this point. I really enjoyed the tours. They were a lot of work and the most fun I have ever had on tour. The first one we did 6 weeks or so with only forced breaks when the bus broke down, and someone got food poisoning and couldn’t get out of the hospital. We filled every day on that tour. I didn’t think I would make it, but found it to be better to just keep going. There comes a time when I can’t accept everything that comes your way. I was getting burnt out and had to just stop as I have now, I mean MSG will be a month away, so I am basically taking this time to recharge. George is currently writing and wanted me there. I just had to get away for a while. Los Angeles and that whole area. We will see what happens next….
Martien: Are you perhaps planning a tour in Europe and what are your further future plans?
KK: Yes, I am planning a tour in Europe, but when and how is not known yet… For the rest I just want to record more albums that are close to my heart, write music that makes people able to take life a little easier, spread some light of what I know and have experienced. Become more realised as a spiritual being having a human experience.
Martien: Last question, what is you favourite song of the album?
KK: I like many for different rasons. I like “Perfect Day”, “Believe” and “Snake”. If I had to choose one I’d have to say “Perfect Day”. It was a favourite of mine when I wrote it and recorded it. But now it seems everyone gravitates towards that one. Radio stations I have visited and each band situation I join gravitate towards that song. My label chose it as well. So “Perfect Day” I would say is a favourite. It was written when I live in San Diego. A time of renewal, I feel one of those perfect days soon where I am inspired again as I was then….
Martien: Kelly, thanks for your time and your answers.
KK: Thank you Very much!