Lenny Wolf of Kingdom Come Talks New Release “Outlier”
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Your newest project Outlier is due here in the US on May 7 and appears to be one of your most ambitious projects you may have ever undertaken. Except for a few lead guitar parts you played each instrument, every lead vocal and even the production work. How long was the process and was your motivation any different this time around?
I have no master plan when I start anything I work on. I have no commercial route I’m chasing. It’s not like I’m trying to be trendy, trying to look or sound like today’s flavor of the month. I’m more like a five year old boy who plugs in his guitar hoping to connect to the hotline of the God of creativity and come up with something cool.
I had a very basic idea going in, I knew I did not want another record full of wining ballads. I concentrated more on the rough edges of each track, giving more attention to the guitar parts. I was very keen on trying to build a bridge between the traditional side of Kingdom Come and the new phase of the band via 2013. I’m pretty happy with the mesh of the two I think Outlier represents.
Everybody is not going to hear what I hear in terms of the new material and get that connection but I tried. The record took me 18 months to complete but I took breaks during the process because I didn’t want it to seem like work it has to be fun. I went through the same struggles all musicians sometimes do where I wanted to scrap the whole project and give up music completely and then three days later I’m thanking God for the inspiration to carry on with a new idea.
Lenny you’re never going to please every fan as you try and break new ground as an artist and strive to write and record the types of songs you want to record. For the average US fan who enjoyed the first two Kingdom Come records but may not be that familiar with your more recent Kingdome Come material, suddenly they see Outlier available at whatever outlet they obtain new music, expecting to hear the next “Do You Like It?” what would you say to them?
Well with new songs like “Let The Silence Talk” and “Skip The Cover And Feel” those have the typical Lenny Wolf sort of vintage 80’s sounding Kingdom Come feel to them. But again my own hearing habits have changed quite a bit since the first record came out in 1988. I do appreciate those records and songs from that era and still enjoy performing them live. Actually if I were to go back and listen to older music I find myself more in tune to the 1970’s and that type of production work and guitar sound.
But honestly I don’t spend a ton of time worrying about trying to appeal to the fan who only wants to hear “Get it On “2013. I could have written “Yesterday” or “Stairway to Heaven” on this new record and some cynics would have been like “Hey Lenny” those songs are ok but they are not really hip new songs! I just try and write songs that my instinct is telling me to do and I can only hope people catch onto it. I try to reach music fans at their inner heart or soul and try to create some cosmic energy where they go and buy it.
Do you feel that Outlier contains more autobiographical songs or just your observations and views on the world today?
I think that I have written both. When I think of songs like “Rough Ride Ralleye” or “When Colors Break The Grey” those are based musically on 2013 sound and technology. Using sounds and elements I built on my own nothing you find, for instance, on a keyboard pre produced. I literally spent weeks and weeks trying to come up with my own sound on each track. Then again “Let The Silence Talk” was more of something based on my life. I had to reel myself in when doing this one and kept saying to myself “Now Lenny DO NOT OVERPRODUCE THIS SUCKER!” let it just grow, remain simple and let the riff and the melody and the lyrics do the talking.
So is it safe to say that certain songs could have been extras on an earlier Kingdom Come records and other songs could only really have been written today?
Yes for sure. Like I mentioned earlier “Let The Silence Talk” I mean that song could have been written in 1984. “Skip the Cover and Feel” is another one that would have worked then. Whether the fans like it now is another story. I really have to please myself when creating new material. You cannot record the expected over and over again. How many more times can I write “Do You Like It?” I would bore myself to death and most likely others as well. On the other hand the record company would probably love it if I could write another “Get It On” twenty times over but I take music seriously than to just repeat myself over again. Being a creative manic that just wouldn’t work for me.
What are the touring plans for 2013?
I can tell you that we would love to tour in North America and play all over the states but we are not exactly on the Metallica or Bon Jovi level so there would have to be a bill that would make sense financially. We are talking to a new booking agent this year and every consideration is being made to make it happen. I’m sure I will be playing in the states at some point. It used to be my biggest market and I love and miss my fans there a lot. I take it day by day and let the almighty musical god do what he will for me.
Last summer there were several media outlets that had created a buzz about the possibility of a reunion of the original Kingdom Come lineup. Is it still a possibility and how do you feel about it personally since you are the lone flame that has kept the Kingdom Come legacy alive and kicking into 2013?
After playing with James (Kottak) a few years back here in Germany when I opened for the Scorpions we sat back and looked at each other and asked ourselves why we ever broke up in the first place? I love James even though at times he can be a total clumsy snitzelbrain he’s like a brother to me. We have talked about writing and recording some new material but he’s been busy with The Scorpions and I’ve been recording and touring as well. It’s all possible. I recently reconnected with Derek Shulman who had originally signed us to Polygram Records and we talked about the possibility of getting the band back together. The current band and lineup is my priority but you never say never.
Having been born and raised in Germany but also having lived in the United States for several years what do you think is the major difference (if any) between rock n roll bands in Europe and North America?
Their outlook on life (in general) is the same. Musically however there are some differences. Most German bands have a different approach to music. Me personally I have always connected more with English speaking bands and solo artists. Beatles, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. Then I developed my own thing based on them. I was never really caught up with the German sound like Helloween for instance. Great band very successful but not exactly my cup of tea. I was Americanized long before I ever step foot in Los Angeles. Just because of the way I think, the way I like to talk to people and at the same time minding my own business and doing my own thing. Live and let live is my motto even before any religious approach I may have had.
Do you feel that newer bands have an easier road to success than they did say thirty years ago?
No. I think that what we are experiencing right now is an absolute overload of information. Technology enhancements are a great thing and all musicians are taking advantage of it but there are too many artists now and not enough fans for each one. Record sales in general are down drastically since then and bands that sold 5 million records then may only sell 100,000 today. The industry just doesn’t have the cash flow it once did to support enough younger bands and stick with them for a while and build them up like they once did. Due to technology every 5th kid on this planet is putting out his own music like on YouTube or Facebook. To keep up with who’s putting out what and when it is coming out is difficult. It’s a time effort that I think a lot of fans just don’t have today. Back then with less choices and less releases fans could focus better and therefore give it more support. Much harder today for newer bands for sure.
Lenny if you were not a musician what do you think would have been your career choice?
The right hand man in the Godfather? A job from 9 to 5 was never really my cup of tea although I delivered washing machines, waited on tables and did whatever I had to do to support myself while playing guitar. I’m a big fan of being in the water and have spent an awful lot of time on my boat so maybe a fisherman or captain of a ship. Maybe a pirate? Jack Sparrow?
Did your parents support you in your choice to become a musician?
Not really. My mom was just barely getting by in the early 1960’s and we were renting rooms in what was then known as giant bunkers left over from WWII. I’m pretty much a self made man who had a dream to play guitar and saved my money to buy my first amp. I’m not as successful as Steve Jobs but I’m content in other ways and grateful to my fans for supporting me.
Do you listen to a lot of new music?
Honestly, I don’t. My brother lives in Seattle, Washington and is my antenna to the outside world. He spends more time listening to what’s hot, what’s not and sends me things all the time. That never really interested me then or now. It takes me awhile to discover new bands and new songs. I guess that type of musically approach of being so disconnected has its advantages and disadvantages.
Any final thoughts to your fans as the first single and video “God Does Not Sing Our Song” gets its initial release?
I’m well aware that the record maybe a bit difficult to digest for older Kingdom Come fans. New listeners have an easier adjustment. I’m just trying to get fans excited and take them on a journey. I’m just out here trying to build a fan base. I’m a very emotional sucker and I think this will shine through my music quite clearly. It’s not made for elevators and or any Hot Cherry Pie eating contests. I appreciate you writing about it and tell my fans not to believe everything they hear about me because I’m much worse!
- God Does Not Sing Our Song 04:05
- Running High Distortion 04:14
- Rough Ride Ralleye 04:35
- Let The Silence Talk 03:29
- Holy Curtain 03:59
- The Trap Is Alive 04:41
- Skip The Cover And Feel 03:37
- Don`t Want You To Wait 04:31
- Such A Shame 03:18
- When Colors Break The Grey 05:03
For more info visit:www.lennywolf.com