One of the more talented bands to emerge out of the 1980s was Cinderella. Their blues based hard rock sound garnered them major respectability among critics and their peers. They have been around for 24 years and will be gearing up for a major tour his summer with the Scorpions. We were able to chat with lead singer Tom Keifer about the tour, how his voice is holding up, and the very latest about his future solo album. Let’s Push, Push to the interview
Gus: Tom… first of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us at Backstageaxxess.com. We know the band is revving up for some dates this weekend, so we appreciate you taking the time.
Tom: Sure! No problem.
The question everybody wants to know, hows your voice holding up?
Tom: Great! It feels really great! We just did our first shows in Denver and Salt Lake City. My voice felt really good and I really feel I got the problems behind me. I’ve been working with some really great coaches and think I have it worked out.
Can you explain to our readers what exactly happened to your voice.. and how did you rehabilitate it?
Tom: Ive had voice problems going back to the early 1990s. Thats why there was such a big period of time between the 3rd and 4th records Heartbreak Station and Still Climbing. It was a kind of a mystery at the time. Its a long story, but I will try to condense it. My voice went kind of crazy and haywire towards the end of the Heartbreak Station tour. I just couldnt control the notes and stuff. I went to a bunch of different doctors and had a lot of frustration of not being able to figure out what was going on. I was diagnosed with paresis of my left vocal cord. Paresis is like a partial paralysis. The left vocal cord doesnt move the same as the right one. It can be a sudden thing. It’s usually not caused by how you sing or anything like that. Its caused from the nerve being degenerated by viruses like a cold virus that embodies into the nerve or something like that. They dont exactly know what the cause of it was. Its something that usually can be career ending for a lot of people because there isnt any kind of surgery or medicine to fix it. You have to retrain the vocal cord to do what it is supposed to do. I had to work real hard for 3 or 4 years there, to get enough strength back to make the 4th record. We toured shortly on that one, had to do some more work and the band broke up for a while. Got back together in 1998. My voice was doing pretty well and we have done a bunch of tours since we got back together and in 2006, I got hit with it again. It kinda of came back tenfold. We were well into rehearsals for that tour and the boat was ready to roll. I didnt have a whole lot of choice. It was our 20 year anniversary and we were with Poison. I made the decision to go, even with my voice being somewhat less than expected. The beginning of the tour started off fairly well. I was able to hit most of the notes. As the tour went on, my voice got worse and worse to the point that by the end of the tour, I was probably talking through a lot of songs and changing melodies. Things I never had to do on tour. Because of the stress of that, I put some wear and tear on the vocal cords. I had to have some surgery to repair some tissue damage from straining and that kind of thing. I had that after the 2006 tour. I have pretty much been rehabbing and retraining it since. I had been working with 4-to-5 different voice teachers and finally found someone who helped teach me techniques to get around it and make my voice work again. Im just thankful I got it to that place. For the shows we did back in Denver and Salt Lake a couple of weekends ago, my voice felt better than it has in years!
I’m sure you were very nervous before the show in Denver.
Tom: Oh Yeah (laughs)!
Gus: When you completed the show, how did it feel?
Tom: It felt good throughout both shows, particularly the first one. I felt I sang well, but not quite as well as I did in rehearsals and stuff, but I was just nervous. Particularly at the beginning of the set, I was a deer caught in the headlights. Towards the end of the set, I feel I loosened up and opened up more both nights. For both of our shows this weekend (Verona, NY and Philadelphia, PA), I will be more relaxed.
You have a couple of shows this weekend in Verona, NY (which isn’t too far way from where I am in Buffalo, NY) and Philadelphia, PA, your hometown, which I’m sure your really looking forward in playing.
Tom: For sure. We haven’t played there in years!
Frontier Records released Live at the Mohegan Sun in November of 2009. The show was recorded in 2005 on the Rock that Never Stops tour. Why was this show used as a recording and not something more recent?
Tom: It was one of the few that we recorded. I dont think we really did any recording in 2006. On the 2005 tour, we recorded a couple of shows. We liked that performance and we have a couple of other things recorded from that tour. That record was originally released by Sony here in the States. They had a five year license. When that license was up, Frontier decided to license it to release overseas.
What is going on with your solo record?
Tom: Its pretty much finished. Im booking a mastering date, probably in May sometime, before we hit the road for the summer. Then I will be looking for a label for it.
When can we expect a possible release?
Tom: Its hard to say. I kind of predicted that in the past and have been wrong. I didnt really want to do that again.
When the CD is released, will you be doing a tour in support of that?
Tom: Yeah, I definitely would want to support it and that’s one of the reasons why I’m kind of putting it on the back burner… because of the voice situation. I didn’t want to sign a deal for it and not be able to support it when the record came out.
Compare this record to a Cinderella record. Are there similarities? Are there differences?
Tom: There are differences, but a lot of similarities because I was the songwriter who did a lot of guitar work and was the lead singer in Cinderella. It has a lot of my sound in it. If I had to describe it, I would say its somewhere between Long Cold Winter and Heartbreak Station. Hopefully with a newer twist too.
Cinderella’s last studio record Still Climbing was released in 1994. When can the fans expect a new studio album?
Tom: Right now its been so long since we’ve just been a band and on the road and that’s what we are looking forward to. To just get out there and play and see where that takes us.
Gus: you are a very talented musician where in concert you not only play the guitar, but the piano and saxophone as well. How did you become so diverse in playing multiple musical instruments?
Tom: Well, I don’t know. There were a lot of different kinds of music growing up. Guitars have been always my main instrument. I also liked a lot of bands that had piano. I was big Skynyrd fan and Fleetwood Mac and Aerosmith. A lot of stuff from the 70s that utilized a lot of others, other than guitars, so thats where a lot of the interest came from.
Tom, you pretty much stay out of the public eye when you’re not out on tour. What are some of your other enjoyments away from music?
Tom: I really just enjoy being home with my family. I became a father 6 years ago. It has been really great to be home with him during some really important moments. Sometimes I think the voice problems… well there is never just some ill wind without bringing some good. Of course, as much of a struggle that was and I didn’t like it, it kept me home. I had no choice. I got to see him in his first baseball league. That’s been really great! You always try to look at the positive of things!
You talk about living in Nashville now and its one of the heartbeats of the music scene in America. Have you ever thought about producing other musicians music?
Tom: Yeah, and I do from time to time. I worked with Andy Griggs and produced some stuff for him. I produced some stuff for Bo Bice a couple of years back.
Any other acts you may be working with in the future?
Tom: Not that I have planned, but those things just kind of fall out of the sky. I get things presented to me all of the time and it just has to be something I really love. Then I will get involved in that.
You’re going out on tour with the Scorpions this summer. What other dates can we expect from the band that haven’t already been announced?
Tom: To be honest, Im not sure exactly if everything has been announced, so I probably need to step carefully here. We do have some dates with the Scorpions. We are going overseas to do some festivals like Download and Sweden Rock. We have some other various festivals here in the states this summer.
So the touring will lead you to just the end of summer then? When you can concentrate on the release of your solo record?
Tom: Yeah! I want to get the mastering and editing all finished up before we leave and then I will start to look for a label when Im out on the road.
In wrapping up, what can the fans expect from the band going forward?
Tom: Well, Im going to get my record out and we are going to tour this summer. Then we will see where that all leads for the band. Possibly, a record down the road? I dont know when or if that will happen. We are certainly opened to the idea. If it’s the right place at the right time, and it feels right, and a label thats interested in doing the right thing by the band. Its certainly a possibility in the future. Right now, we are just really focused in being a band, getting comfortable on stage again, and getting out there and just having some fun!
You guys are definitely a great band to see live and I want to wish you luck with your tour with the Scorpions and your festivals and what not.
We would like to thank Sky Nicholas of Union Entertainment Group for setting up the interview. For more information on Tom and the current Cinderella tour, you can go to: http://www.cinderella.net/