Urban interviewed hard rock veteran Ken Tamplin!
U- "Ken Tamplin And Friends" is the issue this time. Can you name some of your friends for us? Who is contributing with what, on your new CD?
KT- Absolutely. I have a killer cast of some of the best guitarists and performers on the planet
Glen Sobel (Beautiful Creature/Impelliteri)
It was a lot of fun to hear each interpretation.
U- "Wake The Nations" is the title, do we need to be awaken and for/to what?
KT- "Wake The Nations" has several meanings for me. The greatest has to do with what we saw on 9/11. Some of those that know me, knew I was invloved in a project called "Make Me Your Voice" (almost 2 years BEFORE 9/11) that did quite well on EMI in the States. The reason for the CD was to expose the wholesale slaughter of the black Africans in the South of the country of Sudan. (the largest country in Africa) by a Muslim extremist government. The murdered over two million people (that's one World Trade Center per week for 13 years!) and displaced over five million and hardly anyone knows about it.
Well we raised a ton of money and even got president George Bush to sign a 3 hundred million dollar peace act to help stop the Islamic agression. (you can go to my website www.kentamplin.com ) and check out the photos I recently took with George Bush during the signing). So when 9/11 happened, I had been telling people that it was coming and no body believed me or would listen. Well after 9/11 people now believe the unthinkable is possible, however, the political lobbying of Islamic extremist groups in America have been able to paint a picture like the Muslims are the poor victems in our country. That is total nonsense! The world is being lulled back to sleep and before you know it, THEY WILL STRIKE AGAIN! Count on it. This isn't a hate campaign it's about being vigilant. There is an old saying, once, shame on you, but twice, shame on me.
One of the other meanings it has for me has to do with music. The world (for the most part) has embraced homogenized crap. Boy bands, girl bands, packaged bullshit! It's all big business and big corporation with no care for artistry or creativity. I think it's time we wake up to the fact that we are being manipulated to buy spoonfed musical nonsense. I feel like the little boy who shouted "but the emperor has no clothes" (taken from the story The Emporer's New Clothes).
U- How was it like meeting the President? Did he make any funny remarks about your long hair? :-) [no hippies in the white house!]
KT- He was very cordial. You felt like you were the only one in the room when talking with him. He seems like a kind caring individual. Being in the WhiteHouse was very cool simply because of all the history there. It was one of the bigger experinces of my life.
U- Any favorite tracks from "Wake The Nations" that you could name for us? Please do also let us know the "story" behind the song(s).
KT- Wow, since there are 18 tracks and two videos which feature Jeff Scott Soto, Howie Simon (Jeff's band), Glen Sobel (Beautiful Creatures) and Derrill Roberts (from Blacky Lawless) it will be tough to pick a favorite but I'll try. I guess songs like "God In Heaven" because I've always been a big fan of melodic power blues and big killer guitar solos. Another song would be a song I wrore with Howie Simon called "Falling Houses" which is a song about broken homes and families. It's well written with a good lyric. Every single guitar solo on the CD is great, I am very proud of that and all the musicianship is top notch. I hate buying records with great players on the album but with lousy songs. This was an area I really tried to focus on to set a standard for myself.
U- How do you usally write your material anyway? Does the chorus/melody pop up inside of your head and you work it from there? Or since you're a great guitarist, maybe you come up with the riff(s) at first?
KT- It happens all different ways. Sometimes it's a guitar riff, sometimes it's a melody. There are a couple of tracks that actually started out with an idea for the lyric which inspired the instrumentation. It's all different.
U- The record buyers can also find a couple of videos on your new CD. Are you pleased with the outcome? And how many times did you have to re-shoot due to "too much hair", infront of the camera :-)
KT- I am very pleased with the videos. As a matter of fact, initially I thought that that would just turn out ok, good enough to encourage people not to download the whole album but to go out and buy it so we can keep making quality records. So the videos were originally kind of an afterthought. But now, the videos are right up there withe the quality of the music, which for me is saying a lot. We shot them down at the Ivar Theater in Hollwood and the old Opium Den in Hollwood. Truly good stuff.
U- Will Ken Tamplin and his friends be able to take this album on tour?
KT- We sure hope so, it will be a very high energy record to tour. The last time I was able to tour Europe was about 3 years ago. I think it's about time.
U- Do you (still) find it difficult for your kind of music, to be heard in the states?
KT- Actually, I think that it's opening back up a bit again because people are tired of hearing talentless bands with no stage presence and canned drum loops. Live music is on the up swing again.
U- You first came to fame with Joshua in the mid-80's. Before you and the rest of all the musicians from Joshua (except Josh himself), formed the band Shout. What do you think and feel about those days today?
KT- It's kind of funny, Joshua was the very first band (and the only band I might add) to play the Eindhoven Open Air Festival. It was fun living in Dusseldorf Germany touring Europe. Shout was just an extension of that. Since basically all the members were ex Joshua members, we almost called the band U/A. (in the States those letters stand for United Artists but why it's funny is UA is Joshua without Josh (his nickname was Josh).
U- Shout released a comeback album at Z Records in 1999. Will there be yet another CD in the future?
KT- I doubt it, the other players (except the drummer Joey) have basically stopped playing their instruments. I need to move forward, not backward.
U- What ever happened to all the great, christian, hardrock bands anyway? There used to be tons of them in the late 80's/early 90's.
KT- I think the exact same thing that happened to all the great rock bands of the 80's/90's when the floor fell out of commercial hard rock (or melodic rock as we now call it), they all got day jobs or moved to Nash Vegas (uh I mean Nashville) and started playing country.
U- I know that Stryper talked about having some problems, with "normal" hardrock bands in the past. Only due to the fact that they were/are Christians. Did you ever experiance bad behavior from other musicians?
KT- Are you kidding, one of my best friends and long time standing guitar players is Howie Simon and he can be a total asshole but you know what, I don't prejudice people because they don't believe "like me". I would venture to wager that if I was in trouble and called Howie at 3:00am and needed help, he'd be there. A LOT more than I can say (unfortunately) for most of the Christians I know. In addition to that, I've worked very hard at being great at what I do and so has Howie. So at a professional level, we have great respect for each other as musicians. So, because that's my viewpoint, most of the people I associate and or perform with are not Christians and I have developed that same mutual respect.
Plus that, most of the non Christians are the best players anyway. That's what I need, talented people. I do hope that my witness as a christian and the way I treat others will inspire people to take a realistic and honest look at Christ/Christianity and that my faith will not be viewed like TV evangelism. For me it's about real people (not perfect people) trying to live a life that best represents the love of our creator and the free gift of eternal life he has given all of us.
U- I did a interview with Mick Rowe, from the band Tempest at Pure Metal Records (if you remember them?). I asked him why there was no mention about his old 80's band at his site. Do you think musicians are in general ashamed about their past as hardrocker in the 80's? Have you ever been ashamed for your 80's music?
KT- Good question. The only thing I am ashamed of is records I've made that I'm not proud of like "In The Witness Box". I was strongly coerced by the record label I was signed to at the time to make an album I didn't want to make. So it's not the "era" I'm ashamed of, it's when I do something poorly. If you do something with excellence, there is never anything to be ashamed of.
U- What do you know about rockacts from Sweden? Did you hang anything with Jerusalem, Leviticus etc, back in the days?
KT- You know, as I mentioned before, at that time I was hanging out with bands like Accept, and Diter Dierks/Scorpions, MSG, Def Leppard, Ozzy, etc. etc. I hate to admit that I really wasn't much into that scene even though people loved to call Joshua and Shout a "white metal" band.
U- Are you totally into all those Nu-Breed Rock/Metal bands or do you still play the classics?
KT- I have respect for some of the bands in that genre but it's not my music of choice to listen to.
U- What's your opinion about the world-wide-web and all the rock zine's, that you can find online?
KT- I actually think that is VERY cool because we no longer have this stupid monopoly of the "big" magazines only writing about the "big" artists. This levels the playing field a bit for up and coming groups to not get as smothered in the wake of being ignored by major labels and media, thanks to the internet.
U- A co-worker of mine here thinks that "Radio Bikini" from the Magdallan album, is a great song (and I agree indeed!). However, he finds it to be very similar to the work of Desmond Child (famous songwriter). Do you find any truth in this or is he way off target?
KT- I don't know. I've never been a big Desmond Child fan. I do agree it was like early Bon Jovi. Desmond would never have picked a subject about nuclear testing on the Bikini Islands in micronesia before WWII as a subject for songwriting. Plus that, the verses are a little too sinister sounding for Desmond as well. I do have to admit, I did like Desmond's "Livin' La Vita Loca".
U- You worked with Gene Simmons (Ki$$) in the early 90's, on your solo album etc. What ever happened between the two of you? There were some problems regarding royaltys or?
KT- Gene is a business man and like any good business man, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. That's all part of life. Hey, I got to write and hang out with one of the greatest rock bands in the world. Another great feather in the cap of life.
U- If there's anything you'd like to say, add, or promote. Please do:
KT- I would just like to encourage any guitar fan /melodic rock fan to pick up a copy of "Wake The Nations". I promise, it will be well worth your money spent. I also would like to say a public thank you for all the people that worked on the CD and belived in it like Niki Baldrian, Mark Ashton, Dane Spencer, Lori Easter and especially all the musicians. (I'd better stop there as it's starting to sound like an acceptance speach for one of those lame award shows!)
by: Urban "Wally" Wallström,