It’s been almost 6 months since the release of your first solo album The Way Life Goes and the reviews have been very positive both of the record itself and the shows in support of it. Was it a scary concept to go out and be just Tom Keifer having been a part of a band setting with Cinderella for all of your career up to this point?
Yes, there is a safe feeling being part of a band for that long. The thought of stepping outside of it and starting something new with each step that I took was a little nerve racking and something to get used to. It’s felt pretty natural so far. We worked so long on this record and have been real pleased with how it came out. It feels really good also to be out touring in support of it. It’s cool. But it did take a minute to get used to the idea.
The Way Life Goes represents years of hard work and a toll was taken on you both physically and emotionally. Do you think these tracks are in general autobiographical in nature or do they just simply represent events that were occurring around you within this period of time?
I always write from life experience. It’s not necessarily maybe something that is happening in my life right when I’m writing the song. Sometimes the emotions are cumulative. Sometimes it’s something you may be observing a friend go through or somebody close to you. Sometimes it’s not something right in the moment when you’re writing it. It maybe something you felt years ago and maybe something you’ve felt repeatedly over the years. With songwriting sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on where the emotion came from. It all comes from life to me.
What do you think will occur first: a new Cinderella record or a second Tom Keifer solo album?
I just take life one day at a time. This record just came out in April and we plan on being on tour all next year supporting it. I’m just kind of having a good time with this one and we will see what the future holds. It’s a hard thing to predict.
As a writer do you ever just create something musically or lyrically and say to yourself: this would work well as a Cinderella song or this would only work as a solo track or do you just create without taking either into account?
When I’m writing I don’t really think about what it’s for. It’s more about just getting a feeling or an inspiration out.
When picking the set list for this solo tour did you choose specific older Cinderella tracks that would work well with this particular lineup or were they chosen because they were fan favorites?
I think the ones that were chosen are definitely fan favorites. There are also some of my favorites which is probably more the reason they were chosen. In the show we have been doing “Coming Home”, “Shelter Me”, ‘Night Songs”, “Somebody Save Me”, “Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone”, “Gypsy Road”. The new material sits alongside of it very well kind of seamlessly be able to go back and forth between old and new throughout the set. It all seems to flow really well so far.
Does stamina play a factor these days in the number of shows you can play in a row or the length of your set from night to night?
I usually get stronger after performing for multiple nights. I can usually do up to 3 or 4 in a row. Any more than that in a row is really pushing it for me. I always say that days off are the necessary evil because you have to rest your voice. Generally speaking I’ll get stronger after multiples in a row. But then there does get to a point where I will have to rest it.
I was very happy to see The Way Life Goes was issued on vinyl in addition to CD. I personally hope that these formats do not disappear with the advent of downloads. Do you see a day when the physical copies disappear forever?
I hope not. I really do. But who really knows? Records and CD’s have taken a huge hit because of downloads. I was surprised when this album came out how many people still do buy the physical product. When I was looking at my Facebook and Twitter accounts I saw thousands of posts from fans saying that had ordered the CD or I ordered the vinyl. I was truly taken aback by that. I think it’s great. There really is something about holding it in your hand it feels more real. I don’t know what the percentage is overall in the industry but I’d hate to see a day with no DC’s or records.
My personal favorite Cinderella tour was the headlining Long Cold Winter run with White Lion and Tangier supporting. At the end of the night all the bands would get together and jam on Rolling Stone covers. Was that band camaraderie something you initiated or did it just happen by accident?
It was really like that back then. One of our very first tours was with Bon Jovi. They had us up almost every night to do a song with them on their encore. I learned early on from Jon and the rest of those guys that type of jamming is something the fans really love. They love to see that band camaraderie. We got along great. Bon Jovi and Cinderella was such a fun magic tour.
I think when we started to headline we just carried on that tradition. We got along really, really well with the bands that we took out on the road. We tried to treat them with the same respect that had been for us early on. Give the audience the most that you can give them. It’s so cool at the end of the night when bands come on together and can do a song together. You can also tell when it’s not real. It was very real when we were out with Jon and when we hit our stride headlining on Long Cold Winter. It was a lot of fun.
Back in the day when MTV Unplugged ruled the airwaves in the late 80’s into the early 90’s I kept waiting for Cinderella to appear yet you didn’t. Were you: never approached, approached but declined or just not interested?
I don’t remember. I couldn’t tell you why we weren’t on it. I’m not sure if it was a management decision not to do it or if we were not asked.
Great job a few years back on “Blue Christmas” cover. How did that come about and any thoughts on additional Christmas music in the future?
It came about when Monster Ballads approached me about a Christmas album that they were putting together. The record company called my manager and asked if I would be interested in doing a song. I had always wanted to a straight up really like authentic blues track. The closest thing would be “Long Cold Winter” but even with that the sound still leaned more towards hard rock. When the opportunity came up to do this Xmas song came up I thought why not do “Blues Christmas” as a very Chicago Blues style track. The sounds, the tone, let’s bring in the horns the whole deal. We went into a studio down here in Nashville with a few of my buddies, actually a lot of the guys that played on my solo record, and just laid it down live. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces I have ever recorded.
Could you ever envision a time or circumstance where you may record an entirely blues based record?
It is certainly something I have thought about. We’ll see. I really loved recording that “Blues Christmas” track and you never know. Maybe an EP!
If you could pick any female singer to duet with who would be and why?
Well I actually just performed a song on this last leg of the tour with Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. We did some shows supporting Halestorm about a month ago and she and I did a duet of “Nobody’s Fool” in the encore of their set. She’s an amazing singer so that was a lot of fun.
Funny you should bring that up Tom because I did a Q&A with Steve Whiteman about a year ago when their Live CD came out and he talked about Lizzy because he had been her first vocal coach. (Read the interview here)
She told me that when I met her. We were talking about vocal coaches because I had to be retrained when I was having my vocal issues. Steve did a good job that’s for sure!
With all of the autobiographies of rock bands or individual books by rock artists and with everything that has happened to Tom Keifer have you ever considered a memoir?
I had been approached about doing a book a few years back and it really wasn’t anything I was interested in. I feel like my story is not offer yet so it’s not the right time. If and when I do it I only want to do it once. It will be awhile before I start to think about that.
What’s next for Tom Keifer?
All of 2014 we will be out on the road supporting my record. North America for sure. We want to play overseas but just need to wait and see if it presents itself