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Kelly Keeling

Interview with Kelly Keeling from Kelly Keeling
by Panagiotis Koutsompogeras at 12 April 2005, 6:51 PM

Kelly Keeling's a musician who's worked more or less together with some of the most famous rockers still around like Alice Cooper, Michael Schenker, Don Dokken, George Lynch and others. Up till now he only used to collaborate with all those grandiose names by playing the guitar and singing backing vocals… Now it's time Keeling showed the world what he can do on his own (having others come and collaborate with him this time) and that's why Giving Sight To The Eye was created - his debut solo album! Panagiotis interviewed Kelly via e-mail and here's the thoughts he shared with us about various persons and situations in music but also in life in general.

Hello Kelly and congratulations on your new album!

Thank You!

Since we are an online magazine we have to ask you this: What is your relationship with the Internet and what do you think about it as a way of communication?

I think it’s great. It’s opened many lines of communication that were down before. We would not be talking as easily.

What do you think is the general acceptance of the people to it?

So far people like it. I’m amused and surprised. People are noticing my musicianship.

You have cooperated with many Rock mega masters such as Alice Cooper, Michael Schenker, Don Dokken and many more. Which of the co-operations did you enjoy the most and do you have any funny stories to tell us?

Well Alice is a very nice person as is Michael, Don; I don’t work with people I don’t get along with. So far everyone has been really great. I think I enjoyed working with Carmine, Tony Franklin the most. I enjoy the songs Don Dokken and I wrote. Enjoyed recording with Don. I enjoyed Guitar Zeus projects with Carmine. Those albums were rewarding. No funny stories I can recall. George Lynch is pretty funny though.

Since you are a musician and music surrounds you all the time what stuff do you like to listen to when you feel like hearing somebody else apart from you?

V.A.S.T., Ours, Queens Of The Stone Age, Coldplay’s first album, Live, Velvet Revolver, STP, Muse, The Music, Jimmy Eat World. There are some composers I like. The man who did the 24 caprices by Nicolo Paganini by the name of Shlomo Mintz is amazing. Very perfect and the only way this work should be heard. Also Gavin Degraw, a new artist on J Records. Great singer, amazing live, check him out. Cult, Rufus Wainwright, Stevie Wonder, Jaco Pastorius, Joni Mitchell. So many. Doyle Bramhall III…

We see that you refer to your son in your CD and there is also a beautiful song called Jesse. Do you get inspiration from people from your closest environment and how do you feel when you compose something about them?

I learned what love was from having my son in my life. Of course I only write about life situations or what I’ve learned along the way. It’s all in my diary. I was asked shortly after a visit with him to write a song called Jesse for the movie Chasing Destiny. It was easy to do after this visit. I was very in touch with the emotion.

Would you say that you prefer working for your own record or do you fancy more participating in other people’s bands as a musician?

I must say I do like doing my own deal because there is so much freedom. I do miss good collaborations. I’ve had some great times with Don Dokken and Carmine Appice, who are on my album, so… Not much has changed really. Many of the records like I did with Carmine and Don, I wrote as I would for myself.

Do you also teach the guitar or do you just record your frenzied ideas?

I taught guitar when I was about 17. I still teach my friends, and sometimes if I’ve written a song that needs to be played a certain way live.

If you do so, do you enjoy teaching.

I don’t really enjoy it, unless advanced students or bandmembers. It can be very frustrating trying to get a point across

…and do you have any famous pupils, just like Satriani had Vai?

No, although John Norum played a few of my songs with tunings and chords that were foreign. So I don’t know. I’ve heard it is said John is a Swedish Guitar Legend. I guess he’s famous.

It’s really hard to distinguish what you do better; singing or playing the guitar. Thanks, that’s nice of you. In other words when you are on stage or in the studio do you say Where’s the microphone? or  do you go Where’s my amplifier? So, do you feel more like the guitar guy or the vocal guy?

I do what has to be done. Guitar I must say is a bit tougher than singing for me. I actually say that with the bass. I really enjoy playing fretless bass more than any of the other instruments. That’s the one I say… where’s the amplifier for.

You have described your solo material as the softer side of Kelly Keeling. Do you have any plans for demonstrating the harder side of Kelly Keeling?

That was taken from an old quote mentioning an album that hasn’t been released. I think many of the songs on Guitar Zeus are heavy. I wrote some of the John Norum songs which were heavy. My album has its heavy times and mellow times.

Do you like instrumental records generally?

Not really. Although Micahel Schenker’s Thank You album is nice!

Would you ever consider making a vocal-less record?

Maybe. I like a lot of Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth’s album Road Games is amazing. Steve Morse’s 1st solo album was great. It’s hard to be that interesting for a whole album without vocals, I think. Yngwie Malmsteen’s first solo album was mostly instrumental. That is a brilliant album. I’d like to attempt doing one all instrumental. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s instrumental work is great. Hmmm, Allman Bros’ Jessica comes to mind, Kansas’ Magnum Opus. But a whole album. Hmmm, difficult to do.

Who are other musicians you fancy listening to? Any guitarists in particular?

Di meola, Michael Schenker’s Assault Attack album among others he’s done, Doyle Bramhall III, Uli Jon Roth’s Electric Sun album, Kerry Livgren - Kansas is great, Alex Lifeson’s work up until around Signals. All The World’s A Stage inspired me on guitar very much, Moving Pictures and 2112, Hemispheres, 12 string electric…I was about 15 or so, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Land, King X. Paul Gilbert is great, Malmsteen’s Odyssey, Eclipse isn’t bad too… that was his Hendrix phase, Terrence Trent D’arby. I don’t really listen to guitar players much anymore. Van Halen’s early work and Savatage. Actually a lot of the guitarists I’ve worked with, Lynch had some amazing moments live.

I like a lot of the new bands like Muse, The Music, Keane, Gavin Degraw is great live, Beatles, Stone Temple Pilots’ Tiny Music album and the last one, Shagri La Di Da, Jellyfish, Klaatu (Hope album), The Cult’s Sonic Temple, and Beyond Good & Evil, Rufus Wainwright’s Want One, Jeff Buckley, Thicke, Jamiriquoi, Darren Hayes, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ruth Etting, Mad Dog and Englishmen, Blood Sweat ’N’ Tears, UK, Holdsworth’s Road Games, Purple…there are so many, Led Zeppelin, Racer X, Jeff Martin…

Do you enjoy touring?

I dread going out but once out there, rehearsed, it’s fun provided a good road manager is on board and if  you enjoy the music and the people in the band. The fist Lynch tour I did  was a blast. 6 weeks, almost no days off. We opened for Yngwie Malmsteen. I had a blast. About to do my tour. We’ll see how it goes.

How hard is life on the road?

Depends who is leading. My last tour of Europe was brutal. Lynch’s crew had it together. Pretty hard. It’s hard to sleep, hard to find good food, energy is low sometimes but it’s worth it for that hour or so you play. I just don’t like all the waiting around, sound check and all. And I hate flying long distances.

How can a balanced man keep the right attitude and combine a musical career and a warm and healthy family?

I’m out of balance, I haven’t been able to have a family of my own, and it’s hard to keep close with my immediate family with all the schedules on top of one another as it happens. I consider my friends in San Diego family; my son and my immediate family are in Louisiana. It’s tough. Lots of sacrifices to do what I do.

After the completion of a possible forthcoming tour what are your future plans?

Do another album, tour again.  I’d like a farm with animals and kids.

Do you have any other interests except music?

I’m into the beach and the ocean, Harley Davidson bikes, old Jaguars, old Rolls Royces, Bentlys, animals, juicing, vegetarianism, wildlife, a few organizations, like PETA, save the music programs, painting, drawing, writing, Christ, consciousness, meditation, Yoga, gym, running, dreaming, living… I could go on forever, astral projection, leaving the body. I’m interested in that too.

How would you find it if you played a role in a movie?

I had a small part in Chasing Destiny, a movie I wrote music for. It’s fun, lotta waiting around though, everyone has to be there at 5 am.

One word feelings for the following: Don Dokken, Kerry Livgren, Carmine Appice, Erik Norlander, George Lynch, Michael Schenker.

Don Dokken: IntelligentKerry Livgren: GiftedCarmine Appice: InnovatorErik Norlander: ScientistGeorge Lynch: FunnyMichael Schenker: Driven

What’s your opinion on the young guitarists of the Metal scene nowadays? What’s your opinion on Rock nowadays?

I like em. I like how there are less solos.

Any last words you would like to say to the people of Metal Temple and generally to people of Metal?

Believe, believe, believe.


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