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JEFF KEITH Explains Why TESLA Decided To Perform New Single 'Time To Rock' Live Before Song's Official Release

In a new interview with the “Metal From The Inside” podcast, TESLA vocalist Jeff Keith discussed the band’s decision to debut its new single, “Time To Rock” during a live performance in early June — weeks before the song’s official release. “We wanted to play it live for our hometown crowd,” he explained. “We played Thunder Valley [Casino], which is right down the street from our houses in Sacramento; it’s actually in Lincoln, California. But we wanted to play it for our hometown crowd first, because it isn’t being released until August. So we thought we’d play it for our hometown crowd, and we’re having so much fun with it, we’re playing it for every crowd — some new material — and we’re excited about that.
“You know, TESLA, we’re old dogs but we still like to write new stuff,” Jeff continued. “Because sometimes, being as far back as we are, you can just go out and play your catalog from ’86 to whatever it may be, but we like to throw new stuff in there; we just like to write songs. So it’s fun to have a new single. Actually, we have another single that was put out — gosh — last August or whatever, and it was ‘Cold Blue Steel’, and it’s actually still doing something on the classic rock charts or something. But yeah, so it’s good to have stuff that we’re writing, and it’s actually doing a little something.”
As for whether TESLA fans can eventually expect to see a new full-length album from the group, Jeff said: “Right now, the way things work — the guys were explaining to me — ’cause usually that’s all you did was made a record, since I’ve been in the band. And they go, now, with social media or whatever you call it — Spotify, whatever the names are; I don’t go on the Internet, but it’s a wonderful tool to have these iPhones and you can release a single without making a [full] record. So so far we’ve just put out some singles. But probably in the next year — no more than two years — we’re gonna go and say, ‘Let’s make a whole record again.’ But right now, it’s very convenient because you can just download a single. And the guys were explaining to me, they go, ‘Jeff, it’s just like back when THE BEATLES, and before that when people would put out a single on a 45 record. Like Hank Williams, he’d do something live and just put it out as a single. Back in the day, they used to just put out singles, and then, of course, they would records too. So we’re kind of in that mode. And now, instead of it being on a 45 record, it’s on a digital form that you can have people download. I don’t know — it’s the best I can understand it.”
Fan-filmed video of TESLA performing “Time To Rock” on June 26 at Des Plaines Theater in Des Plaines, Illinois can be seen below.
TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon spoke about “Time To Rock” last month in an interview with Robert Cavuoto of Sonic Perspectives. Asked if DEF LEPPARD‘s Phil Collen, who produced TESLA‘s latest album, 2019’s “Shock”, will return to helm the band’s follow-up effort, Frank responded: “The ‘Shock’ album that Phil did, they worked really hard on that. When I say ‘they,’ I’m talking about Phil Collen and Brian Wheat, our bass player. Man, they really worked hard on the album. It was a collaboration. Phil wrote most of the songs. And some people thought it was a great album and other people didn’t like it. But we gave it a shot. But from now on… Brian and I had a discussion… Brian and I are the founding members of the band TESLA, along with Jeff Keith. And we decided from now on, we’re gonna write and produce our own music. We worked with enough producers — we’ve had producers coming and going our whole career — so from now on, at our age, we’re gonna produce our own music. And we’re actually producing a brand new single that’s gonna come out next month, and it’s frickin’ rocking. I’m really excited about it.
“The best thing about producing ourselves is it’s imperfect and it’s edgy and it’s got the warts and everything and it’s as real as it can be because it’s us. We’re not technicians where we know how to make things perfect.
“[TESLA‘s latest single, 2021’s] ‘Cold Blue Steel’, we produced it ourselves, and this new song — it’s called ‘Time To Rock’ — I’ve been producing it and working on it for about two months. And it’ll ultimately get put on a self-produced album.”
Asked if TESLA will continue to focus on releasing individual singles before dropping another full-length album, Hannon said: “Yeah, we’re gonna put out singles after singles and just focus on one song at a time, man, and rock that song.
“What happens is when you’re young, man, you can write 10 songs and frickin’ put out an album every year, but as you get older, like we are now, it’s not as easy to do that,” he explained. “So you end up sacrificing quality for quantity, and we don’t wanna do that. Why put out 10 songs that are just in a rush when we can spend our time and just create singles that we’re real proud of. And this one next one, I’m telling you, Jeff Keith and I are really excited about it, ’cause he and I wrote it on the road last year and I got the band to put it together. I’ve been chipping away on it in the studio producing it, and I’m getting ready to produce a video for it this weekend. It’s called ‘Time To Rock’, and it does rock.”
This past March, TESLA released the official lyric video for “Cold Blue Steel”. The clip, directed by Brandon Gullion and produced by Hannon, is raw and high electric energy that takes fans back to the roots of TESLA.
Originally released last August, “Cold Blue Steel” was the first TESLA song to ever be produced by the bandmembers themselves.
Last December, Hannon told Let’s Rock that the lyrics to “Cold Blue Steel” have been partially misinterpreted by some fans.
“We’ve been getting a lot of flak from people that only hear the couple of verses in the song, thinking it’s about gun control,” he said. “And in a way it is, but, really, it’s so much deeper than that, the lyrics. We try to definitely not take sides and be political but we wanna sing about a situation. Something like what we did with ‘Modern Day Cowboy’ in the ’80s; we sang about foreign lands and terrorist demands and ‘bang bang, shoot ’em up’ and how that attitude was still happening in the world at that time, being a gunfighter, cowboy situation, but we’re not pointing fingers. And that’s the same way with this song, but some people only hear parts of it and have been giving us some shit about it. But if you listen to the lyrics, it’s asking a question, ‘What’s to blame? Let’s get real.’ And the song is really about people that you give ’em an inch, they take a mile — whether it’s a politician, whether it’s a crook, whether it’s a police officer. And we support our police.”
He added: “There’s evil intentions in all parts of life, and that’s what the song is really about — just observing and asking the question, ‘What’s to blame?’ It’s not talking about ‘take away guns’ or any of that shit. But it started off just being a fun poke at Ronnie Van Zant. That last lyric in the song, ‘Just like Ronnie said, ‘Let’s dump ’em to the bottom of the sea,’ that’s where the song started for fun. And then we took it and tried to make it a little bit more serious.”
Last September, TESLA drummer Troy Luccketta announced that he would “take a little time from the road” to spend with family and friends. He is being replaced at TESLA‘s gigs by Steve Brown, the younger brother of former DOKKEN drummer Mick Brown.
Frank Hannon – guitar
Brian Wheat – bass
Jeff Keith – lead vocals
Dave Rude – guitar
Steve Brown – drums


Editor of LLR since 2005

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