Tom Keifer Interview
Tom Keifer, the voice and guitarist behind Cinderella is back with a new solo album titled Rise. The singer has been through a lot over the past twenty years or so including, vocal cord paralysis, multiple surgeries and several other issues. However, those things have not kept him down.
The Goodyear Theater will host Tom Kiefer and special guests Enuff Z Nuff on October 19th. We had the chance to speak with Tom about his career, his new album and his upcoming appearance in Akron.
Greg Drugan: Hey Tom, thanks for taking some time with me today. How has the fall tour been going so far?
Tom Kiefer: Thanks for having me. It’s been great! We did a six week leg that we just wrapped up prior to the release of the record. We’ve taken a few weeks off and we’re headed back on the road.
GD: Yeah, you’ll be playing here in Akron in a couple of weeks and we are looking forward to it.
TK: Yes, we are looking forward to it too! We’ve heard good things about that theater. It’s supposed to be a fun place.
GD: It absolutely is. It’s a great venue! You mentioned the new record that you recently released titled Rise and I think you and the band sound great. How long did it take to make this record?
TK: The actual recording process was about five to six months. We were burning the candle at both ends. That’s usually what it takes to make a record in my experience. It started at the end of September of last year and wrapped it up in early spring.
GD: Do you have a favorite track on the new album?
TK: I like them all for different reasons. The song we all felt the same about because we wanted it to be the single is “The Death Of Me.” I think we all felt pretty strongly about that one. It was a favorite amongst the band and one of my favs. It i had to pick one, I’d say that one but it’s hard to pick a favorite. They are all different from each other and I like them for different reasons.
GD: I agree, that’s probably my favorite track on the album as well. How many songs are you playing live from the new record?
TK: The first leg, the record wasn’t even released yet and we were doing three. We were doing “Touch Of The Divine,” “Rise” and “The Death Of Me.” I think now that the record is out and we are touring more, I’m sure we’ll be adding some more.
GD: Great! I’m always looking to hear new music played live.
TK: We love playing the new stuff live and we still have some stuff from The Way Life Goes and of course the stuff from Cinderella that everyone wants to hear.
GD: Looking back on your career, when did you decide to become a musician?
TK: I think it was seeing The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. That really got my attention. I was just a kid. The Monkees had that TV show and I really liked that show and their music. It was the first rock, or pop rock music that I heard and it made me want to pick up a guitar. I started taking lessons when I was eight years old. My mom had a teacher come to the house and we would play guitar and play Beatles songs. A few years later, I heard what would be hard rock, The Stones and The Who and that was a game changer. That’s where the gears shifted and I was pretty sure that’s what the music I was gonna play for the rest of me life!
GD: Do you remember the first record you bought with your own money?
TK: Yeah, it was The Monkees record. It was $4.00 at Woolworth! (laughs) I saved a long time for that record because I was little!
GD: Who was the first artist you saw in concert and how did that impact you?
TK: Man, that’s going way back. It was when I was in high school, but I can’t think what the first one was. I know one of the first ones I saw was Van Halen at The Tower. I saw UFO at The Tower. I saw Styx on The Grand Illusion. It was all around the same time in my high school years. I saw Fleetwood Mac on Rumors and The Stones on Some Girls. I saw some amazing shows. That’s a good question because I don’t remember who the first on was! (laughs) I saw Skynyrd and Frampton in the same time period when they were both blowing up with those live albums and they toured together. I saw them at JFK stadium. It was an amazing time for music.
GD: Do you still see live acts today?
TK: I do, but it’s harder to keep up with because I have a son who plays soccer and his schedule is crazier than ours. Then keeping up with the touring and then doing the writing and recording, there just hasn’t been much time for that. If someone’s coming around that we love, we will go and check them out.
GD: When did realize that you “made it”?
TK: We stayed in Philly and did our thing and got our demo’s out there. In terms of feeling when you made it, I always feel that you are riding on the fence on that one. A lot of things happened very quickly in the ‘80s that catapulted us to a whole new situation. I feel fortunate that I had a manager that made me aware of the sophomore jinx. You have your whole life to write your first record and you maybe have two years to write the next one. I was trying to stay ahead of the curve and not worry about if we had made it. He put that fear in me and that stays with me today! (laughs) It was an amazing time.
GD: You had amazing success right out of the gate with Night Songs. The album went triple platinum. Did you make an extravagant purchase?
TK: I got on a plane and went to the Dallas Vintage Guitar Show and picked up a ‘59 Les Paul and a ‘59 Strat and an early ‘50s Telecaster. Those were my first extravagant purchases I guess. Then I got into guitar collecting.
GD: You can’t go wrong with that. Was the Les Paul a Gold Top?
TK: It was a Sunburst.
GD: Very good. I saw you open up for Bon Jovi here in Cleveland in ‘87 and then Judas Priest the next year. What was it like touring with those guys?
TK: It was an honor. We felt like we were picked up by a tornado. We were just playing small clubs in Jersey and Philly so that was really cool.
GD: The following year you guys were headlining your own arena shows. How were you able to handle that success so quickly?
TK: I was focusing on writing on the road and I made that a priority. The whole Night Songs tour I was writing for Long Cold Winter and the whole Long Cold Winter Tour I was writing for Heartbreak Station. It all starts with a song, really. I tried to make that a priority.
GD: You were pretty prophetic when you wrote “Shelter Me” almost 30 years ago. Change the names and it could be re-released as a single today.
TK: Thank you! I like that song and I really enjoy playing it live. I really like how the video came out. It was great to have Little Richard in it. It was one of my star-stuck moments having him on the set. It was really fun.
GD: You had some vocal cord issues in the early ‘90s, How many surgeries did you end up having?
TK: I’ve had seven total. But none of them had to do with the actual problem. They were there to repair collateral damage. The condition left my left vocal cord partially paralyzed. I was told I’d never sing again so I had to retrain my voice. There was no medical cure. It took me decades to get it back. Because it was so difficult to sing, I damaged the cord and hemorrhaged it multiple times and had to have surgeries to repair that damage.
When you get told that you’re never gonna sing again, to be able to work with some amazing vocal teachers and voice coaches and to figure out a way to get it back, it’s been amazing. Knock on wood, it’s been very strong and I’m grateful for that.
GD: When you were told that you may not be able to sing again, were there any thoughts of just becoming a guitarist?
TK: Not really. I’ve been playing and singing as one thing since I was a kid. The idea of not being able to sing didn’t feel right so that’s what drove me to find a way around it.
GD: What do you do to keep your voice in shape today?
TK: The thing that helped me the most was that I started working with a coach that worked in the opera house. They teach those singers a technique that uses the core of your body. It’s kinda complex but that’s what really started getting my voice to work properly again. I’ve been using that technique ever since. It’s really helped to bring my voice back. Day to day, I do those exercises and it’s about an hour warm-up before each show.
GD: I’m glad you are doing well. I think your music is under appreciated and I’m glad your back out there playing it live. How long has the Tom Keifer Band been together?
TK: We’ve been together seven years and we’ve been touring for the last six years. We’ve got a pretty strong bond and chemistry between us and that came through on the record.
GD: So, you are going to be in Akron pretty soon. What can fans expect from your show?
TK: With the new band, it’s not much different from what you’ve seen from me in the past. It’s a big, loud rock n’ roll show. There’s a lot of sweat, pounding drums and screamin’ guitars! We have a seven piece band and they are incredible musicians and singers. We play the songs from my past as well as some songs from my solo career. It’s a hybrid of my past and the new stuff and it’s a kick-ass band.
GD: Tom, I really appreciate your time. I’m looking forward to seeing you, we hope to pack the place and we’ll have a rockin’ good time!
TK: Thank you so much. We’re looking forward to the show for sure. We’re hoping everyone comes out and will put on a big rock n’ roll show for everybody.
Be sure to catch Tom Keifer at The Goodyear Theater on October 19th with special guests Enuff Z' Nuff.
Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by clicking here.