By Andrew Catania
Most singers that have gone through what Tom Keifer has would probably never sing again. Resilience, dedication and hard work have paid off for the former Cinderella frontman. From opening for Bon Jovi and Judas Preist on their debut album to headlining status on their sophomore effort, Long Cold Winter. Cinderella enjoyed commercial success from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s. Fast forward to 2013 and Tom Keifer is a solo artist. Tom and his wife, Savannah didn’t know what to expect. The same resilience, dedication and hard work he’s used on his voice he applied to his solo career. Keifer went from playing small clubs to headlining festivals. Tom tells me about the Deluxe Edition of The Way Life Goes and the legal journey he had with it.
Are you pleased with the success you’ve had with your solo career so far?
TK: Judging from how touring solo started out in 2013 it’s like Savannah, and I sometimes laugh of the band when we started around the corner and started playing these more significant festivals we’d look upstaging be like wow. So yeah it’s cool because you don’t see that every day when you don’t have that marquee band name anymore. A lot of people end up going back to where they were. So the way this started off in answer to your question when we started playing some of those bigger shows it felt like being a kid again it was like wow look what we did, but we just pulled up, and we get here. Now we’re top of the bill on all the big festivals, and it’s been enjoyable to grow something new out there.
Will there ever be a Cinderella reunion?
TK: I’m pleased where I’m at now. There’s been a lot of issues over the course of decades and build up that is beyond repair at this point. So, there won’t be any reunion. I am renewed and inspired and loving the band that I’m in now and are working on and what we’re doing. We’re having a good time, and the new music’s been received well. It’s been unexpected because the first year of it started slow and we just stuck with it. I think that’s the key to anything if you’re happy doing something and you love it, and it inspires you. You do it for that reason not how many people are in the room or how much money you make and then if you continue to do it for the right reason which it’s something you love, and you inspire you’ll see around the corner and have the success. But I think it starts with the right reasons, and I always felt the chemistry. Everyone’s dedication to the new band to this has always felt like for the right reasons.
Who inspired you to pick up the guitar and sing?
TK: I loved the Monkees when I was just a little kid. I’d watch the show, and I love the songs, and probably my first taste of rock n roll. Then I heard those great songs and Micky Dolenz were such a cool vocalist. And Mike Nesmith’s guitar playing was rather fantastic. I listened to the Beatles on TV so at the very first desire to pick up a guitar was from that and it was more around strumming chords and singing songs. I had a teacher that my mom had come to the house and he had songbooks, So he was teaching me the basic chords. He made me sing the songs too.
And then you know a few years later when I got closer to the teen years I heard the Stones, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart and Janis Joplin came upon in my teen years and that’s when I wanted to play electric guitar. I remember hearing Cream one of the first heavy riffs I listened to the Sunshine Above. There were older kids in the neighborhood that had garage bands, and it was here an electric guitar that turned me on to that music, and that’s what made me want to get into the harder edge stuff.
What was your first guitar?
TK: My very first guitar was a Harmony three quarter size acoustic guitar which is the one that I took the lessons from at my house. The guy that would drop songbooks and taught me to play and sing songs
With the vocal issues you’ve had in the past, were you ever afraid you might not be able to sing again?
TK: I was told I would never sing again in the early 90s we were at the peak of Cinderella’s success on the Heartbreak Station tour. I woke up one day and just couldn’t sing. All my voice would do is slip, and crack. It sounded terrible, and nobody could find a reason for it.
I went to every doctor in the country trying to find a reason, and then eventually someone diagnosed me with paresis of the left vocal cord which is a fancy medical term for partial paralysis. They told me I would never sing again. All the other doctors missed it because you have to do a different kind of test it doesn’t show up visually. It’s it’s difficult to spot visually when it’s a routine office exam.
There’s no medical cure for it, and most singers that get it don’t sing again, and I’ve had to retrain my voice. The doctor told me that the only prayer you have of being able to sing again is to work with speech pathologists and vocal coaches. That’s what I’ve been doing for two decades, and it’s something that’s not an exact science. I’m going to take two steps forward, and you start feeling right about it and think you’re getting somewhere and then you wake up the next day because it’s not logical. It just responds entirely differently, and you take three steps back.
But in the last five or six years and mainly since I’ve been touring with my solo band it’s gotten pretty stable from all the work and training I’ve done so knock on wood.
Who was involved in the songwriting for The Way Life Goes?
TK: The band that I’m touring with wasn’t even the band when the record was made over a nine or 10 year period, and Samantha and I produced it and wrote most of the songs I guess. We produced with our friend Chuck Turner, and it was made without a label involved it was just a work in progress. We were both on the heels of like pretty crappy business deals, record company and publishing deals Savannah had her share of that here in Nashville, and I had to, and we were just making music just for ourselves, and I was still touring the Cinderella. I would work on a few tracks, and then I’d go on the road, and we’d take a break for three or four months I was on the road come back and listen to the stuff and redo stuff.
Over nine or 10 years there were no aspirations for the music. We didn’t even play it for anybody. We woke up one day and just felt like we had a record. Savannah and I wrote you know quite a bit of the song together. There’s a few that I wrote on my own, and then there’s a couple that Savannah and I co-wrote with some other writers or that I co-wrote with some other writers, so it’s a real mixture of writers, but we woke up and felt like we had a record and found a label pretty quickly that loved it and put it out.
Was The Way Life Goes pulled from the shelves for a period?
TK: The record came out in 2013 to great reviews, and the fans loved it. We had a couple of tracks were taken off at radio, and then we had a little bit of a legal issue that caused the record to be pulled from the shelves, and the record hasn’t been available for the last two years.
So the deluxe edition going up. We had to hire an Attorney last year and get our masters back because we were reading people saying that they loved the new record and I can’t find it anywhere.
We were aware that it’d been pulled by the distributor over this legal issue and people were saying I bought the record when it first came out and now it’s disappeared and my iTunes so it was just a mess. To hear these comments and stories from fans after we’d spent nine or 10 years making this record and it came out with a bang and people were loving it and then all of a sudden boom we had this problem. We had a choice, we could either just let the record slip through the cracks, or we could do what we had to do. Like I said we hired an Attorney and we did what we had to. When we got the masters back, and that led to the deluxe edition to be released. The deluxe edition has two bonus tracks, new artwork, and a documentary.
What are your plans for 2018?
TK: We’re going to do a follow up to The Way Life Goes with a full studio album, and that will be recorded with the new band let’s call it the Keifer band. We recorded the bonus tracks last year on the deluxe for the first time we recorded together as a band. The chemistry that we’ve had live that fans have connected with over the last four years we’ve been out touring translated very well into the studio which was nice to see. Everyone created very well together and contributed. If you watch the documentary of us working on those tracks last year you can see that everybody’s how well we all connect and work together. We’re hoping to be in the studio working on that by the end of next year. In the meantime, we’re going to tour a bit more behind the deluxe release.
To order The Way Life Goes Deluxe Edition click here
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