INTERVIEW AND PICS BY MARKO SYRJALA
TRANSCRIPTION BY ANDY OSBORN
Kingdom Come was originally formed in North America by German-born vocalist Lenny Wolf following his critically acclaimed but commercially untenable band Stone Fury. The original line-up consisted of Wolf, guitarists Danny Stagg and Rick Steier, bassist Johnny B. Frank and the current Scorpions drummer James Kottak. The band was soon signed to Polydor Records, and they released their eponymous debut album, produced by Bob Rock, in 1988. With the impact of the huge radio hits ‘Get It On’ and ‘What Love Can Be,’ the album went gold. Later on the same year, the band finished the U.S Monsters of Rock, including such names as Metallica, Scorpions, and the headliners, Van Halen. At that point, everything looked very promising for the band’s future. The following year the band returned to the studio, now with Keith Olsen, and as a result, the band released their sophomore album IN YOUR FACE. Although the album sold well, it failed to reach its predecessor’s success and the whole band split up in late 1989. Lenny decided to continue under the name Kingdom Come and the band’s third album, HANDS OF TIME, was released in late 1990. Despite the album’s undoubted strength, the band’s interest level had declined sharply, and HANDS OF TIME failed to chart. Kingdom Come’s career at Polydor Records came to an end. Lenny made another attempt to return, now with all German line up and a new record deal with WEA. In 1993 with the heavier album BAD IMAGE was released but didn’t get too much interest outside Germany. 1995 saw the experimental TWILIGHT CRUISER album release, and MASTER SEVEN was released the following year. Although the band hasnâ€™t been much in headlines outside of Germany after the mid 90’s they still have been around. The band has since then released four studio albums. The latest one, AIN’T CRYING FOR THE MOON, came out in 2006, and they have done some touring. Recently the band joined forces with U.S band Dokken, and together they did a co-headline European tour titled “Defenders of Rock.” I managed to catch Lenny and current guitarist Eric Foerster just before their show in Copenhagen, and here’s the latest update from the world of Kingdom Come.
Letâ€™s start with the current tour; you’ve been on the road with Dokken for a while. How has that been going?
Lenny: This tour’s been great. I remember when I heard Dokken the first time when BREAKING THE CHAINS was released in the early ’80s, and here we are now together. They’re great guys.
I haven’t heard a lot of you guys after the first couple of albums in the late ’80s and early ’90s. At least you guys haven’t been here in Scandinavia for a while?
Lenny: Yeah, the music industry has changed. There are hardly any record labels out there and the whole distribution thing has become hard. I’m making a lot of sales over the internet now. It’s true; we haven’t been touring much, which I regret, so we will tour more than we used to in the past. Now we are here on tour with Dokken, and it’s just the beginning. We’re hoping to do the same route again sometime soon. I met Don when we were doing Monsters of Rock in the States in 1988, and we became friends. We have the same sound technician and so we had the idea of touring together. We kept saying yes, let’s do it.
Eric: In 2001, we played in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm, and we had a pretty good crowd. But yeah, that was the last time we were here.
Lenny: We should come here more. I remember the last time we were here my voice was fucked. I got it from my mother, and she has a pollen allergy. At Sweden Rock, the day before, my voice was fine, and then I went outside and it was terrible, and that’s why I prefer clubs and halls. For some reason, I can’t go outside. I’m not in the best shape right now either, all the Dokken guys are sick and I think I’m catching it. I’m not trying to whine, and I don’t complain when I play bass, but it’s a lot worse when I play guitar. Once I get sick, and you get on stage, and you know you can do better, it just makes me so depressed because I want to deliver the best I can to the people that came.
Do you have plans to extend this “Defenders of Rock” -tour to the States or somewhere else?
Lenny: The whole States concept is in the air right now, but after this, we’re going to take a break, finish the record and then go to Russia for two weeks because Russia is very good to us. We love it.
LINE UP CHANGE
You had a lineup change lately?
Lenny: Yes, Yenz Leonhardt parted on good terms, everything is okay with him. He is very, very busy working with other bands. I can’t just sit around a roll out the red carpet and ask him, pretty please, I need reliable people. Especially nowadays, you have to confirm shows on short notice a lot. Now, it’s like, okay, we are going to tour for three weeks, and we’re going here and here. Yenz’s schedule didn’t allow, and I said we should part. I was figured I would be able to play these shows doing his parts and the feedback has been very good actually. I enjoy playing guitar very much. We might keep this lineup the way it is.
So you may not replace him at all?
Lenny: Right now, it doesn’t really look like it.
Eric: Sometimes things happen for a reason. It added all this freshness to the band, and there’s more space on stage. Lenny is a very good rhythm guitar player and it just causes a lot less confusion.
So you like him as a guitar player?
Eric: Yeah, he’s great. Yenz is an old buddy of mine but I think this is the best for the band because our sound has a new freshness. It sounds good on the PA system.
While you are now on tour with this new lineup, do you have any plans to release any live material or DVDs from this tour?
Lenny: Well, we’ve thought about it for the last couple of weeks now, and we might do it when we go to Russia. When we play there we play big places with lots of technical equipment so maybe. But Kingdom Come has failed in a few ways. We didn’t tour enough, we didn’t put out CDs enough and we had some really bad luck regarding management. But, no complaints, everything is good right now, we have a new lineup and new management, and we are looking forward to restarting again. It’s never too late.
How much do you have footage left from the early days, I mean that is there any change that you would release some vintage material someday as well?
Lenny: No, we don’t have much footage. Universal owns our old stuff, and they don’t want to give it up. It’s a legal issue that we have been dealing with for a while. We can’t sell our stuff but people can get away with selling it on eBay.
NEW STUDIO ALBUM
You mentioned earlier that you are working on the new studio album. When do you think it will be out?
Lenny: Late spring, probably? First, I want to finish the record, then I’m going to talk to the labels, but I have no idea. Maybe in six months but you never know?
During your long career, you have covered many different musical styles. I mean, there’s a huge difference between the early albums compared to PERPETUAL and AIN’T CRYING TO THE MOON and so on. What kind of material can we expect from you this time?
Lenny: We are always trying new things. The Beatles didn’t write “She Loves Me” for the rest of their career. They went on and wrote “Strawberry Fields” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” They didn’t want to continue the same old thing. We love playing the old stuff, but I can’t write that stuff anymore. I’ve gotten to new levels musically. I love building a bridge between industrial loops, heavy guitar, and at the same time, keeping that typical Kingdom Come emotional thing which we are known for. Kingdom Come has a bit more of that depth or whatever you want to call it. Everybody does what they have to do, and I’m always writing for myself, not for labels or magazines or any particular people. If I get goose bumps, I’m happy, and I hope people like it.
But still, what kind of music can we expect from the next album?
Lenny: The next one will be heavy again, but it’s going to have some new elements to it. It’s not just another speed metal band where you’ve heard one song, and then you had heard them all. I like working with new elements. The advantage of this new technology is that you can do stuff that you couldn’t do twenty years ago. Except if you’re Pink Floyd and you’re in the studio for two years, you can do it now in three months.
BITS AND PIECES
Besides new album, what other plans you have for the next year?
Lenny: Nothing confirmed, but some talks are going on right now. What’s that one guy’s name?
Eric: I don’t think we’re allowed to talk about that?
Lenny: Oh, sorry! Unhatched eggs!
Eric: Our Russian tour last year was kind of a fresh start for everyone. Since we got a new manager everything really took off. But as Lenny said, we haven’t toured really in years. Now, this is our second big tour in thelast year.
What other things you guys do besides Kingdom Come?
Lenny: Doing nothing means a lot to me. I mean, I’m not one of those writers who write a lot. I write a lot for Kingdom Come and that keeps me busy. I want to live my life; I’m not one of those workaholics. I have lots of time to hang out with friends, go to coffee, and go to places.
Eric: And go to coffee, and go to coffee.
Lenny: [laughs] I really like coffee.
Eric: We would write like 30 songs for an album, pick the best 10 and the second we pick those 10 he leaves to go get coffee.
When the first Kingdom Come album was released in 1988, many people were confused because they thought it was a new Led Zeppelin album. What kind of feeling does that give you that Led Zeppelin is now reunited?
Lenny: I’m happy for them. But I sent a letter to Jimmy Paige saying I’m busy. [laughs]
Ok, guys, thank you!
FOR MORE INFO GO TO: WWW.KINGDOMCOME.DE
KINGDOM COME LIVE AT “THE ROCK” IN COPENHAGEN