Jeff Keith - vocalist, Tesla
On the phone with David Lee Wilson - 2000
With all of the Rock and Roll rebirths, reunions and reactivations of the past few years few hold the promise for sustained interest as the reunion of the original Tesla lineup. Between 1987 and 1991 Tesla had complete ownership on the genuine Rock and Roll market, hell they were the market. No makeup, no frills just white knuckles and blue-balls set to an every man's Rock music soundtrack, that was the beauty and magic of Tesla's success. Now in 2001, after years of separation and bad blood between the various members Tesla has reconvened for a tour. There is no record to promote, there isn't even a record company, what there is plenty of is an honest desire to roll the Rock again and having witnessed the band thrill one sold-out audience I can attest to the success of that aim and predict the continuing reunion of one of Rocks greatest commodities.
Having completed one cross continental run Tesla find that the demand for genuine Rock music has not waned, in fact it has increased and as a result Tesla will tour on a bit longer until it is time to return to the studio after which they will tour some more and if that ain't Rock and Roll then I don't know what is. Somewhere along the line the band will release a live record that was recorded at various stops on the first leg of the current "Replugged Tour" and eventually they will have to decide what to do for the long term but those are all secondary thoughts right now. Having spent a good hour watching the various members of the band laugh, reminisce and forecast with a couple hundred after show guests I did manage to sneak Jeff Keith off to a quite corner for a few minutes of utter giddiness under the guise of conducting an interview and here is a piece of that.
DAVID LEE: Is it love again?
JEFF KEITH: It is love again!
K2K: Is it better than the first time?
JK: It is even better than the first time, it is love again, love like we never had before!
K2K: That giddy kind of love?
JK: It is very giddy. I don't want to get too giddy on you but it is very giddy. If I get too giddy you are libel to go, "Whoa, those boys are from Northern California just how giddy are they?" but it is good enough to call it giddy, oh it is silly giddy! (laughs)
JOHN HINKLEY (tour manager): It is so silly!
JK: That's right John but we do come from Northern California so we want to be careful with our words here.
K2K: Were you recording tonight for the live record?
JK: Yeah, every night we have been recording for the last couple of weeks and will be for the next four weeks to see if we can't get, even it is one song to a town, something great to put out as a live record. If we can, great, if we can't, Oh well, we still had a great time. It is kind of like the acoustic album, we were never planning on anything happening, we were just having a good time playing an acoustic set but then we ended up making a great album out of it so we will see what comes of this.
K2K: The acoustic record is actually probably your best known disc so to capture that kind of feeling again would be great.
JK: Yeah, it was an accident waiting to happen and that is just the way that we work. We are hopping that maybe we can come across an accident on this "Replugged" tour.
K2K: Do you have a label set yet?
JK: We have had a couple of people approach us but we are not ready for a label right now because we don't have any new material written yet so anything that we are approached with, I mean, it is a nice thought but we are just not ready for that yet.
K2K: The live record, will that be something that you market yourselves kind of like the Black Crowes / Jimmy Page thing?
JK: We will see what happens but first we have to see if we really have something here because we are not going to put out crap.
K2K: There is a really good vibe around the band, everyone seems to be having fun, are all the other bands that popped up as a result of Tesla's ending on hiatus for now?
JK: They are not "done" but they are all on the back-burner for right now, in all honesty.
K2K: You sold this show out and most of the tour has been like that and the halls are getting bigger, are you at all surprised by the reception you have had?
JK: Dude, Detroit was the first date that Tesla ever did as a four piece, it was heavy man. I cried like three times on stage because it was the first time that we ever played on stage without Tommy Skeoch in the band. I don't know who all made it here tonight from back then but this was a hell of a night.
K2K: Have the years in between that show as a four-piece and tonight allowed everyone to mature a little, perhaps even to forget about whatever it was that broke you up in the first place?
JK: You never forget but you remember more the things that are important and try to be sure that you never forget the important things so that there isn't a "next time" for all that shit. I think that is where we are at with this and we have learned a lot, from what we mean to each other to what magic that there is between the five of us. We certainly appreciate it a lot more and we won't take things for granted anymore.
K2K: The first time I saw Tesla live was with Alice Cooper and the band that night was young and hungry whereas tonight it seemed like you guys were really, really just enjoying yourselves, do you see it that way from the stage?
JK: Well, you know on that Alice Cooper tour, you remember when he put that Mic stand through the guys chest?
K2K: Yeah?
JK: That was so cool, dude! (laughs) But when we did that tour we only had an album under our belts and now we have a lot more miles driven, you know what I mean? That Alice Cooper tour was our second tour ever and it was really cool.
K2K: OK, so what about the "Covers" album that you were going to do, is that something else on the back burner now?
JK: Yeah, I think so. The time is better spent elsewhere I think.
K2K: You have new management now and eventually a new record label, were all the business dealings of the past anything that contributed to the break-up of the band and how will you avoid the same hassles this time around?
JK: Naw man, we never tripped on that stuff. We are back together and things are different in all worlds, the business world, the music world, everything is different and we are just into this beautiful thing of being back together. If we would have had our way we would have never broken up but the bottom line is that we are back together and we are enjoying every minute of it.
K2K: The scene is in desperate need of real rock bands, bands like yours...
JK: Yeah, it is always in need of that stuff man. People will always like good Rock and Roll music.
K2K: Any other groups that you feel are carrying the torch for Rock and roll?
JK: Yeah, there is always Rock and Roll even if you call it Grunge or whatever it is still real Rock and Roll, that is the way I look at it. They are feeling it for real whether you are or not or if it is the kind of shit that is pleasing me or you at the time, I just feel that the Rock is always rolling but, I can't wait to hear the new Tesla-Rock get rolling!
Written by David Lee Wilson

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