Tom Keifer ‘Would Love To’ Write New Music With Cinderella

By on April 19, 2013

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Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with CINDERELLA frontman Tom Keifer. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

Icon Vs. Icon: With so many years under your belt in the music industry, to what do your longevity?

Keifer: I don’t know. It is hard to say. Who knows?! I think for every musician or band out there, there is probably just something about them that clicks with their fans and could be different for everybody. It is hard to say. I think if we could all put our finger on that, we could bottle and sell it, right?! [laughs] I will say that I have honestly, 120%, put my heart into the music and tried to make the best music I can make and give the best performance live. It has always been my motivation. Maybe that is it, I don’t know.

Icon Vs. Icon: There was a period of time where you thought you might never sing again. Can you take us through that period and the process of overcoming that tremendous obstacle?

Keifer: It was a long period of time, actually. It started in the early ’90s. We were on the “Heartbreak Station” tour, which was our third record. We were almost to the end of the tour and literally overnight my voice started cracking and breaking. Every time I went to hit a note, it would just fall apart. I liken it to the little kid on the “Lil’ Rascals”, Alfalfa, who when he sang it would break and crack, ya know! [laughs] It just freaked me out. Obviously! Even my speaking voice got weaker and it would also crack and break up if I tried to raise it. Long story short, this was about 1991, I immediately started going to throat doctors. I had never really gone to one before because I never had any trouble with my voice. I had always heard that singers, particularly rock singers, over the years would develop these things called nodes. They are calluses that grow on your vocal cords from screaming or intense singing. Although it is not anything that anyone ever wants to get, it can be dealt with by having them lasered off. You have a little recovery period, but most people are fine, ya know?! I figured that is what I had and the first doctor I went to I told him I had been on tour for years and I may have nodes. He looked down with the scope and said, “No. There is nothing on your vocal cords at all.” I asked him, “Why is my voice doing this?” and he said “I don’t know.” That started a series of going to other doctors and specialists for probably another year and a half or two years. Everyone kept telling me the same thing, “There is nothing wrong with your vocal cords.” Finally, a doctor that I went to ran a different kind of test, a neurological test and told me that one of my vocal cords was partially paralyzed. That is not something that is easily spotted on the scope that the other doctors were looking at. If you know you are looking for it, you might spot it but they vibrate so fast, the reduction on them is not as obvious visually. He had to uncover it with a neurological test and that was the diagnosis. The doctor said, “You know, you are probably never going to sing again.” This was in about 1992 or 1993. There is no surgery or medicine that can fix this condition. The only chance you have to sing again is to try and retrain your voice, which is not an exact science. I started working with speech pathologists. Then when I started to learn how to hold pitches again, I started working with vocal coaches. It has been an ongoing learning process. I get to points where I just learned enough to go out and tour. We made the “Still Climbin’” record, but I recorded those vocals very differently than I was used to. I used to just go in and sing the song. On “Still Climbin’” I was singing a line at a time. There was a lot of comping and studio magic. We toured for a couple of months on that one. There was an up and down ride with it because you would think you are getting better and then it would get worse. Over the years, I have learned more and more and I have kept working with more people and coaches and learning new things. It has been a cumulative process of taking in all that knowledge, trial and error, experimentation, therapy and doing vocal exercises everyday that has allowed me to get it to a place where it is pretty consistent. I have been touring a lot in recent years and it is pretty strong! In some ways, it is stronger, you know? Certain areas of my voice are stronger because I have had so much training. One of the things that was difficult throughout this time, if that wasn’t difficult enough, was that you keep trying to sing with this condition and since it is a hard condition to sing with, it puts a lot more stress on your voice. I have sustained a lot of collateral damage along the way that required surgical intervention to fix. I have had quite a few hemorrhages and done damages to the cords themselves. I have had six surgeries to repair damage from straining. Like I said, it is a long story. It has been years or struggling with this up and down. The good news is over the years, I have been able to put together enough pieces of the puzzle together and figure out what I need to do to keep it consistent and keep on track.

Icon Vs. Icon: You put the ["The Way Life Goes" solo] album together over the course of several years. Can you tell us about that process and what made now the time to release it?

Keifer: It was almost ten years in the making. We started cutting tracks in 2003. The idea of a solo record was something I started thinking of in the mid-’90s. I started writing then for it and it kept getting put on the back burner. I had tons of songs piling up and finally in 2003 started cutting tracks for a record. It was cut independently of a label because I had just come out of a bad record deal with CINDERELLA a few years before that. I didn’t want to deal with a label, lawyers and people telling me what to do. I just wanted to make some music! That is how the record started. I produced it with Savannah, my wife, and a friend of ours here named Chuck Turner. He is a really talented producer and engineer. We just kinda worked on it until it felt right. To answer your question about “Why now?,” it is as simple as this. About a year ago, I woke up and pressed play and though it was done! [laughs] Then we started the process of finding a label. That was always the idea all the way along, once the music was done and created, we would go and find a label because I don’t know about marketing a record in this day and age. [laughs] We shopped it around from there. I actually completed the music about a year to even a year and a half; I can’t remember. We finally found a great place at Merovee Records. It feels like home and the first meeting with them, like “Bam!”, and here we are!

Icon Vs. Icon: Looking back on your career, how do you feel you have evolved as an artist since starting out?

Keifer: I don’t know. It is hard to be objective about yourself! [laughs] What I have tried to do is become a better songwriter, performer and singer. Obviously, the singing thing has been a challenge because of the condition I have. I do think, in a lot of ways, because of all the training I have had, I do think in a lot of ways my voice is better than it was. It is still a challenge and I don’t know what it will do from day to day. It stills borders being inconsistent. On the good days it is better in a lot of ways than it used to be. I think I have grown a lot in that area. I think as a songwriter, moving to Nashville was a really great move because the way that I write, which is lyrics from life situations, is what all the writers do here. That is the process here. I learned a lot from moving here and inspired by the amazing writers that call Nashville home. That is what it is all about to me — always trying to write a bette song.

Icon Vs. Icon: With that said, is there any interest on your part in creating new music for CINDERELLA?

Keifer: We would love to, but for as much as we would like to, we haven’t really had the right opportunity or deal presented to us. We had the one deal, which I mentioned, that really went south about ten years ago. We worked really, really hard on that and that is when I really started my solo record because we were in a legal battle in the courts over this record deal. The other guys kinda did the same thing to. Everybody went out and started doing their own things. We continued to tour as a band and that has been great for us. We have done some really, really great tours and it is our favorite part of the business anyway. We haven’t been in any hurry to jump back into a record deal after we got burnt so bad. That isn’t to say that we wouldn’t. To answer your question, we never say never. It is not for a lack of desire on our part, it just has to be the right situation.

Read the entire interview from Icon Vs. Icon.


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