Tesla - Cumin’ Atcha Live & Electric

Tommy Skeoch Interviewed by Keith McDonald

14 million albums sold and a string of radio hits might be enough for a band to look back at a great career, especially in a business where most bands aren't lucky enough to forge ahead to do a second and third albums. But with Tesla, a band that came out of the 80's, stopping is something that isn't on their minds. After reuniting recently, the band has had an incredibly successful tour that has seen most of their shows sell out and in the case of New York City, moved to a larger venue. Tesla, singer Jeff Keith, drummer Troy Lucketta, bassist Brian Wheat and guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch have delivered the fans a much needed dose of material via Replugged Live. The band continues to tour, but on their recent break, I had the opportunity to speak with Tommy who filled me in on what's going on. You can check out their website at www.teslatheband.com or www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com.

Image courtesy of www.teslatheband.comWhy did you do a live album?
Cash (laughs). We got back together; we've been touring. We recorded all the shows with the mindset of putting out a live record since we never put out an electric live record. A lot of people mentioned that they were missing that from us. So we did it. We have a pretty hardcore fanbase that has been waiting for new material. Something to hold them over. The record is kinda cool, there are some improvising and it's fun. It's not just one show, couple of takes from one show and then a couple from another. It's got tracks that sound better than the original.



Were you surprised by the success of the reunion tour?
Not totally. I can't say I was dumbfounded. I knew there was a good thing with Tesla. Me and Jeff had gone out and promoted the Bar 7 thing. People had been saying when will Tesla come back. I was surprised we sold out almost every show.



How did the reunion come about?
There's a guy, Pat Martin in Sacramento, CA, a DJ at 98 Rock that has been trying to get us to do a one-off reunion show for three years. We were ready for it. Frank's band Moondog Mane broke up, Brian was working on another Soulmotor record and me and Jeff did the Bar 7 record and it really didn't go anywhere. A lot of the bullshit from the past was gone. We had gotten over the problems we had with each other.



How did you land at Sanctuary?
Brian's on CMC, which is part of Sanctuary. More or less of all the offers we did get it was the best offer. We got a really sweet deal. It isn't like we have to sell a million records to make a million dollars. With Geffen they were basically taking over 80% of the money we made. It's a big company and that's what they do.



How well does the Tesla catalog sell?
Not bad. The Greatest Hits is really what does it. It just went Gold this year. The other records I don't know. We get a lot of radio play. It does o.k. not great but steady.



When can we expect a new studio album?
We're writing for it right now. I think we're going to try to record it within the next six or seven months. I'm going to be writing with the boys (soon). Hopefully we'll have all the writing completed and have it out early next year. We're all pretty pumped up about it, we've written some great songs. It's good to have some new material for the fans and us.



What about any tour plans?
We just got off a leg. We're going back out (Nov.) 25th, take a month off. In between I'll be writing. We have one more leg after that till February. After that maybe some one-offs but we'll be concentrating getting the record out.



How do you explain your longevity?
It's a miracle we got back together. Even without getting back the band goes on in radio. I think it's just the integrity in the music. We really concentrate on writing great music, that's our main thing.



How do you feel about the Glam Rock tag?
It's o.k. Labels are labels. I don't really see it. We are definitely from that era but it wasn't like we were writing 'Look What The Cat Dragged In' or use hair spray and didn't look like any of those bands. The music definitely had more integrity than what I would classify as LA rock. I don't agree with it but it's cool.



How's the band getting along?
We're all the same people we were. We've grown up a little bit more. There's a lot more acceptance. They're like my brothers. We talk now, in the past we didn't. Some of the subjects that are brought up aren't real comfortable but you just do it. We're all not on narcotics, which is probably making the communication better. We're not angels. We smoke grass and drink beers but that's it. We're not doing coke or heroin or slamming pills.



Will we see another Bar 7 album?
I don't think we're gonna as long as Tesla is going. I think if Tesla fell apart we would (do it) for the work. That's why Jeff and I did it. I really enjoy playing with (Tesla).



What's the future for Tesla?
We're gonna try to put out a record every year for the next five years. We made a five-year plan. Before we'd stagnate on the record and it would take two to three years to get another record out. We wanna get our ideas out. While we're back together really capitalize on it and make a living and have fun. That's the main thing...to have fun. Before it wasn't. If it's not fun then it's not worth it.

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Saturday, November 17, 2001