Sean Kelly of the Toronto based band Crash Kelly answers a few questions for us before starting on a new tour and the release of their 2nd album.
How did you get started in music?
From the age of 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a musician. My first inspirations were bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt, Def Leppard, and Quiet Riot. From there, I was able to go back and discover bands like KISS, Slade, Sweet, Thin Lizzy, and Cheap Trick.
I began playing in clubs when I was 15, and from there I went on to study Classical Guitar at the University of Toronto…upon graduation, I focused on playing original music, and did so in a wide variety of projects until forming Crash Kelly.
Was it difficult to break into the business here in Canada?
I think it’s difficult anywhere. However, I always tried to appreciate each small victory along the way, be it a cool opening slot, a chance to make a record, playing with established artists, etc. To be frank, the business aspect of music should be heeded, but the goal of music-making should be the art, not the commerce.
Do you feel the music industry gives enough support to bands just starting out?
I wish there was more of a focus on developing young acts over the course of a number of albums, but those days seem to be gone in the major label scene.
Having said that, I’m fortunate that I signed with a label like Liquor and Poker/Century Media, as they hold fast to the 70’s ethic of working a band over the course of three or four albums…not unlike the way that bands like Rush, KISS, and Judas Priest were developed.
How did you come to form Crash Kelly?
Crash Kelly was created out of my deep desire to express the influences that have been most important to me as a musician. Basically, this band is a vehicle for living out my teenage rock n roll fantasies, from writing exactly the type of music I want, to making records that have all of the sonic attributes I want. Crash Kelly came about because one day I sat down at my four track recorder and put down a piece of music that sounded like the culmination of my influences.
For those that are unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe it?
70’s boogie glam on the early-80’s sunset strip…the focus is on delivering Classic rock n roll, not necessarily in the derivative sense, but in terms of solid song craft that stands the test of time and is immune and impervious to trends.
I have to say that working with Gilby Clarke on Electric Satisfaction was a true education, and I felt like we shared a real musical connection…we went to the same rock n roll school.
Who are your main influences and what albums made the biggest impact on your life?
At this juncture, I would say my main inlfuences are Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Guns N Roses, KISS, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Hanoi Rocks. In reality, I’m influenced by almost every band I ever dug, and they all come out in my playing and my songwriting.
As for albums, I’d have to say Shout At The Devil, Too Fast For Love, Appetite For Destruction, KISS Alive!, Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous, Cheap Trick’s In Color, Fair Warning by Van Halen…God, it’s like asking me to pick my favourite children!!!
How did you come up with the name Crash Kelly? Were you going for the Guns and Roses thing (Tracii Guns/Axl Rose)??
Haha, no I never made that connection before! My uncle, Orville Kelly, was a professional hockey player in the AHL in the 50’s, and he was nicknamed “Crash” for his rough style of play…he was a great guy who also had a real wild side, and I thought naming the project Crash Kelly would be a fitting tribute.
Do you feel that there are too many bands out there today that sound and look the same?
To tell you the truth, you’re talking to the wrong guy…I’ll walk into a record store, determined to buy something new, and walk out with a CD that I already own on vinyl! I really dig Coheed and Cambria and Avenged Sevenfold, but I do find a lot of records today lacking in dynamics. Still, there are tons of great bands flying under the radar that are making solid music.
How hard is it to stay original and not copy whatever the “Flavour of the Month” is just for commercial success?
Not hard at all…I can honestly say that I’m only in this to please myself.
So many of my dreams have come true in the last two years, that I consider anything else gravy. I’m not about to whore myself out now.
On the PENNY PILLS album you had the track “Love Me Electric” which was written about Alice Cooper. Now a few short years later you are opening for him. How does that feel?
It feels very gratifying…that kind of opportunity is a reward unto itself.
I don’t see it so much as a platform to further my career, more as the
completion of a circle in my musical development.
Ask me the same question the day of the first shows, and I’ll just be
pinching myself to see if it’s really happening, lol!
What can fans expect to see and hear at the show?
You can expect screaming harmony guitars, bitter-sweet rock n roll anthems, and our best possible efforts to capture and deliver the magic of an arena rock show.
Any of the shows being recorded or filmed for a future Live DVD/CD?
We are always recording shows and taping gigs…ultimately, i would like to do another studio album, and then follow that up with a full on live DVD/CD
I hope we can get some of these Alice shows on tape, what a great keepsake!
You are also involved in a few other projects besides CK. One such project is Revolver with Nick Walsh. Is that on hold now or finished?
Nick is my bro, and we are always there to help each other out…the
Revolver album Turbulence is doing very well in Europe right now, and I know the band is planning to go over for a tour. My priorities lie with CK, so we’re taking a wait and see approach right now.
Will the next Revolver effort be more of a group effort instead of more of a Nick Walsh solo disc?
You would have to ask Nick about that. However, just like I do with Crash Kelly, Nick has a clear cut vision of what Revolver should be, and I was always very satisfied just having the opportunity to put some lead guitar on his great music.
Will CK or Revolver be heading out west this summer (BC in particular)?
I can’t speak for Revolver, but CK is planning to be in LA in july, so a
West Coast jaunt is entirely possible.
What other projects occupy your time?
I play bass with Carole Pope, I’m working with an aritst named Shannon Lee Briggs, I’m producing a young band called High Voltage, working on various TV Jingles, and I’m also preparing to record a Classical Guitar album for a major label…busy times!
Is Crash Kelly your main focus?
Yes, it is my passion as a writer and performer. I’ve recently come to a very comfortable place with my pursuit of this project, and I realize that what drives me is having the opportunity to have my music come out exactly as I envision it. I don’t need to be defined by any other type of success.
With these 2 releases you really capture the feel and sound of the 70’s. It seems so natural and not forced like some just so they can be “Retro”. Was it hard to accomplish that?
Not at all, becuase it came from the heart. Also, on both records, I had very talented people involved. Ky Anto and myself did practically everything on Penny Pills, and on Electric Satisfaction, I had the pleasure of having a consistent band deliver the goods. Also,I cannot stress enough how crucial Gilby was to the process…wait unti you hear the next one, lol!
The new cd is amazing. I’ve been spinning it since it arrived and there is not one filler track on it. How long did it take to write and record it?
Thanks dude! We cranked out the majority of the record in a week…old school baby! The guys in the band did a great job. As for writing it, some songs were older ones, others were written just before the session…there were 30 songs to choose from. I never stop writing.
Were there any songs leftover from these sessions that may surface eventually?
There was one song we didn’t have a chance to finish, it may see the light of day on a future release.
Whats next for Sean Kelly?
More music…I want to do more writing, more session work, more
albums…At 33 years old, I’m feeling very comfortable in calling the shots of my career…if I had listened to conventional wisdom, I’d have been out of this biz a long time ago, so I’m not gonna start now, lol!. Rest assured that Crash Kelly will always be the closest to my heart. It symbolizes not only my musical passions, but also my musical freedom.
Thanks a lot for your time in answering these questions.
Thank you Bob, a pleasure!
Anything you’d like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules?
Thanks for taking the time to check this out, and hit your local record shop to get your Electric Satisfaction!
Thanks a lot and see you on May 1st.