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Kelly Keeling interview 

Kelly Keeling
Submitted by Juha Harjula on 2005-04-28
You might not know his name but you may have heard him sing on one of your albums in your collection coz he?s featured on albums with John Norum,Don Dokken,Blue Murder,Alice Cooper,Michael Schenker,King Kobra and Baton Rogue. Ladies and gents - here?s Kelly Keeling!
You have just released your first solo album called Giving Sight To The Eye. Are you happy with the final result?
Kelly: I am happy with 70 % I guess. It can always be better. I don;?t know of anyone I?ve worked with who is completely happy with an album. This is why we keep doing it. To get it right

Why has it taken such a long time to record a solo album?
Kelly: It didn?t take that long to record it, But I have been writing for myself giving to others for a while. I intended to do a solo album right after I left Blue Murder. Some of this became Guitar Zues songs etc.

The album has been recorded in various places. Has this album taken you a long time to record?
Kelly: Well, Some people I went to rather than them coming to me. So this is how this happened.. and I moved a lot due to me working on so many projects as a songwriter, singer, producer, bassist, whatever. So there is that.

Well, lets talk about the sound of the album. It?s very far from what you did with Baton Rouge, this is more 70s hardrock with lots of soul and grooves in the bottom. I don?t know but it sounds like a very personal album, do you feel the same?
Kelly: At the time I recorded some of these tracks I had just left the band Heaven And Earth. We had a Hammond organ and I really liked that a lot. I was influenced by a lot of that music when I was a kid, It is personal, but I kin d of used it as a goal album, a dream come true,,styles, and people I worked with. Next album will be more cohesive and a bit simpler. A reflection of my life these days

You must be very proud of your vocals on the album because I haven?t heard you sound this good before. I think their is lots of feeling and passion in your voice. Has that something to do with that you have sang on many various albums in your career?
Kelly: Not sure why that is but thank you. I just do my best. Another reason I think is because I was able to produce, and say well,, that IS nOT the best I can do,, lets try it another time or another day. When others have produced me they may say after the first take, YOUR DONE,, much to my dismay. Rising OF the snake was done pretty quickly., IT was actually the scratch track. So you never can tell. Still I think a ,lot of it could be better. Sykes is never happy. HE takes it too far, or at least used to

One song that hooked me right away was the Kerry Livgren written Ground Zero. Fantastic AOR song a?la Kansas and reminds most of your former band Baton Rouge. Are you a Kansas fan and how did you found this classic song?
Kelly: I wish Baton Rouge sounded like that. I don?t see the similarity. But I have been a very big Kansas fan. I learned a lot from Kerry. Learning Kansas parts for bands I was in when early on in Louisiana. When I was a kid growing we would ride around listening to all their albums. That was a very big learning period for me. So when I was able to do a solo album. I was told, Do what you want. So, I drew from my inspirations. I wanted a song somewhat like Magnum Opus on the album, which I was trying to be in the process of writing, that wasn?t finished, I called Kerry for help, why not go to the source, and we arrived to that song and his wonderful piano piece. I did the vocals guitars bass & keyboards. IT took me a while but I was determined. I would like to have put real horns and cello on it and still may.

The variation of the album is very wide I must say. What?s your favourite song on the album and why?
Kelly: I believe, The radio stations are picking it without suggesting. I like the guitar solo, the bass part, the drums are great (Carmine)I like the song.

Are you gonna go out and play live with this album and who?s in your live-band?
Kelly: I am talking to Donnie Vie and Jeff Martin. Not sure if Donnie will make it. But I am working on him. I like his abilities. He?s a great songwriter, singer, musician, And need someone to do what I do. Guitar, piano, vocals. Jeff Martin ( drums) Sings so well and is such a great drummer, writer, . This is the lineup so far. I?m also working on George Lynch for some dates.. We?ll see. I gotta get it together quickly. Or do another album, Or move to Tibet. lol

Let?s go back to the days with Baton Rouge. You had your videos played on MTV and had your way to the big leauge but what happened?
Kelly: We switched labels right at the peak. To a label who had Marky mark, Jerardo , AC/DC and KIX. I?d get into trouble if I said the real reasons.

What happened after the 2nd album because it went silent around the band almost right after the release?
Kelly: Green Label, bad mixes, unfocused band and songs. I wasn?t a fan of what we were doing. Left to Join John Sykes & co.

Do you have any contact with Lance Bulen, Corky McClellan, Scott Bender or David Cremin?
Kelly: I talked to lance via e mail recently. He has a band called King Baby that I just missed in San Diego. I heard some of the songs. Sounds like lance. It?s pretty cool. I hope he does well. I talked to Corky around the time I was with Don and Michael Wagener mixing Long Way Home in Tennessee.. I had heard he moved there so I called his parents to find him,, He had moved. But he has a nice family, and sounds really happy. Havn?t spoken to cremin in years. Would like to. Not sure how to. We wrote some cood songs that were never released

Then back in 1997 you and Jack Ponti returned with the 3rd Baton Rouge album on MTM Music. Why did you come back with the Baton Rouge name and did you think that was the right move to make at that point?
Kelly: Jack called and asked If I knew of a singer to do a Jack Ponti album, an album of older songs, re recorded, I said I would do it. IF I got this, that N the other, never got paid, etc. Went recorded the songs and the label and others, possibly Ponti said, BR reunion, I didn?t say much. Didn?t agree or disagree, Next thing we know It?s BATON ROUGe?there were a few good Ponti songs on there. But it wasn?t Baton Rouge. As was suggested Jack and ME were not the band. Vic was missing, and Lance. They were a big part of what we did.

Are you in contact with Jack Ponti, Vic Pepe, Joey Sinopoli these days??
Kelly: I talked to Vic not too long ago , never knew sinoplili. Don?t talk to Jack. He knows how to reach me. I wish we were better friends. I miss him actually. Brilliant mind. I don?t think he?s into making music anymore.

Are there any plans for a 4th album with Baton Rouge?
Kelly: NO!

Do you have any great tour memories from the Baton Rouge period you would want to share with us?
Kelly: Hmm,,not really., I remember it being very hard work, and not being able to sleep on the tour bus. I had just had my tonsils out so it was very difficult and my throat hurt a lot. It wasn?t till the second tour that I started enjoying it. It was the early Ninedies lots of partying, I couldn?t participate a lot because Without my voice we were done. So I had to be very careful, I wasn?t that much fun because I had to rest for my voice.sleep.. I rememeber the others & crew having loads of fun though. Especially scott (bassist)and lance.

You sang on two John Norum albums. What do think about those albums and how is John to work with?
Kelly: John Is very pleasant to work with. Very nice person. I think the first album is a sign of the times. John was in Don Dokken?s band which shows Lynch?s influence on the Riff for ?Resurrection time?. Worlds away is a good guitar album. Some really good songs there. Jeff Gixman who had worked with Kansas produced this album. An example of a reason that producing my own vocals may work better. I never was able to show Jeff what I was capable of. We were In a very expensive studio and the clock and money was running.That album cost a Lot of money

What do you think about the Europe reunion and their new album Start From The Dark?
Kelly: I like it. I like Joey?s songs & voice. I would have liked a few more Tempest songs

Then you have worked with Don Dokken. How did you get in contact with him and have you only helped him out on the latest Dokken album?
Kelly: I helped with the previous album Long Way Home. 7 songs actually. Did some vocals, wrote, produced a bit. And was able to spend a little time on Hell To Pay. I produced the vocals on a few of the songs. Care For you, Haunted, I can?t remember the others right off. Prozac Nation. I was surprised he used my idea for that song. I recorded the vocal and harmonies and left to go on tour with George Lynch. Which was a trip. A good trip. Don and I have been friends for years. Through Norum I think at first

In 2001 you recorded the King Kobra album that did not do bigger buzz in the hardrock world. What did you think about that album and were you satisfied with that one?
Kelly: I was asked to participate with the reunion of the members of that band. No one showed up after they agreed to do it. Excpet Carmine. We had started on pre production, written a few songs, and were in the studio when we found that Johnny couldn?t do it. Then if Johnny couldn?t do it, then the others would not. We were already half way through,, I had too much of a workload, had to play everything but drums and a few solos that Mick Sweda did. It was a lot of work. The mixes were horrible. We didn?t have the budget to use who we were used to. I became difficult from all the strain and little sleep, but did my best. The fans were right IT was not a King Kobra album. Not Carmine or My best work. But there are some good songs there Angels is really good and a song that did not appear called Subway with Cc Deville on Ryhthm guitar. Now that is one funny person. HE should do a comedy album

You have worked with so many different artist throughout the years. What album are you most proud of and why?
Kelly: My solo album featuring bonus tracks and extras that were omitted. Basically My version Of Giving Sight To the Eye. Why? It represents more of my capabilities. What I do, what I?m about. Not embarrassed to hear the vocals. I can?t listen to Baton Rouge with people around

What do you think about todays musicbusiness??
Kelly: Never liked the music business and always considered myself an outsider. I like many of the indie bands and indie label. Actually I like that the music in many ways has been given back to the people. Less music business.

Do you listen to the new stuff like 3 Doors Down, Nickelback and Evanescence to name 3?
Kelly: Not those in particular but I like Muse, even though they aren?t so new. Kasabian, Queens of the Stoneage, Taking back Sunday, Green day blink 182, Libertines, Killers, Keane, The Music, Gavin Degraw, (awesome live), Interpol, Velvet Revolver, STP, Thursday, Rufus Wainwright, ?Want One? Album is brilliant, Judas Priests Angel of Retribution album. I don?t know , I like a lot of old music mainly. Which is why Gavins music appeals to me, And Rufus? music. They?ve derived and mastered the old school.

What are your music influences??
Kelly: Beatles, Stones, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Assault Attack MSG, Kansas, Beethoven, Mozart, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Clapton, Many of the guitarists I have spent time with. The Phil Spector Years with George Harrisson were great. I love those huge bands they put together for some of those songs. Massive. McCartney was / is a positive influence on me always. Elton John has done some great work of course. Purple, All the singers that went through that band, Guitarists as well,,Jon lord, Keith Emerson, some of the metal bands. Some Sabbath albums are amazing, Dehumanizer , The Song ?I? comes to mind, Racer X had an impact on me. My tech , Clint Letoulier who I brought from Louisiana became Paul Gilbert?s guitar tech during the last 5 mos or so of the band around the early 90 or end of the 80s. I was able to witness some furious energy first hand with that band. Clint became Scott Travis?s Drums tech eventually, Those were some great shows. What a band they were. AMAZING. It?s all had an influence on me. Fight, Priest. Beethoven, Mozart, Massive Attack. a lot of Marius?s Devries work.

What?s your plans for the near future?
Kelly: Surf, Write, Enjoy my life, Prepare for a tour to support and promote my album. Do another album with a great band this time instead of me playing all the instruments. Find home and plant some roots. Get some animals, home, Be good to my family. Get a life basically. lol

Can you mention 5 CDs that is spinning in your CD-player at the moment?
Kelly: Gavin Degraw Chatriot and bootleg live performances, Jeff Martin, Paul Gilbert?s new album, Michael Schenker Assault Attack, Muse, Rufus Wainwright ?Want One? Chip & Donnie

Thanks for taking your time to answer these questions for Is there something you would like to add or say to your readers??
Kelly: My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Hope to see you out there on the road. Thanks for listening and supporting live music. Keep it alive in the schools. The kids need music before it becomes all tribal, God Bless