TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon recently appeared on the Detroit radio station 101 WRIF's "Talkin' Rock With Meltdown" podcast. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band's decision to hire DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen to produce its new album, "Shock":
Frank: "We've known Phil for a long time. I actually wanted him to produce our album when we first got back together in 2000, because I had done some shows with him in the '90s. He's such a great friend and got positive energy. We learned a lot — a lot of different ways of approaching things. For example, we didn't think we could ever record an album on the road, [and] 90 percent of this album was done in hotel rooms and dressing rooms and stuff like that. We recorded it with a portable laptop. The attention to detail that Phil really puts into it is what he learned from Mutt Lange. We used to just kind of go in and just throw it down live, and Phil took the approach of what he learned from Mutt Lange. It's definitely a different album for us; there's no doubt about that."
On why the band wanted to use an outside producer in the first place:
Frank: "People don't realize how hard it is to make an album when you've got five guys in a band. I mean, why do you think THE BEATLES broke up? They had four guys and they were only together for five or six years. It's very difficult. For a band like us that's been together for 35 years, you need an outside coach to come in and really help you direct it. He did a great job of it. Each one of us has very strong opinions, and when you get five strong opinions trying to work on a song, it can be very difficult. A band has to have that. THE BEATLES, they had George Martin. You've got to have an outside... I like to use the word coach. Maybe 'mediator' would be a better word, [or] 'counselor.' It's a funny process when you get five hard-headed people together... We definitely gave him the keys to the car and said, 'You drive us to where we're going.'"
On his past comments that he recorded his "From One Place To Another" solo albums to push himself to improve as a vocalist:
Frank: "That's what I love about music — it's a nonstop well of learning. You can continue to improve your style, your sound, your different things. You can learn by going back and learning what some of the old-school people did. I was just watching this movie on Netflix about Jimi Hendrix, and some of the things that he was doing, I want to try with my guitar. You can never stop learning. That album, I took it on as a labor of love to really develop my lead singing voice. Lead singing is different than singing backup. It's a whole different art to tell a story. Music is a lot of fun for that reason. You can never stop learning."
On whether he feels his vocals have indeed gotten better:
Frank: "I have definitely noticed an improvement in our live show. On this tour, I am doing a lot of singing with Jeff [Keith, TESLA vocalist]. Jeff and I got together before we left on this tour for about a month. We started right around Christmas-time. He came over to my house and we practiced harmonies and we practiced digging up some old songs that we haven't done in a long time. I'm singing a lot of parts with him, and I feel like my vocals have come a long way since I did 'From One Place To Another'... I learned a ton of different stuff, and it helped strengthen that vocal cord muscle up a little bit, I think."
On the band's place in rock music:
Frank: "We're just making our own way. We have to forge our own path. TESLA came out in the late '80s. The last half of the decade when the glam scene was happening, we were doing our own thing. Then in the '90s, when grunge happened, we were kind of doing our own thing too, so we kind of didn't really fall into any of those categories. We've had to just make our own way, which is a great thing, actually. It's just a lot more work [laughs]... The record companies were definitely trying to make us into MÖTLEY CRÜE at the very beginning. MÖTLEY CRÜE was wearing all the crazy clothes and all that shit, but we just did our own thing. That's kind of what LYNYRD SKYNYRD and THE ALLMAN BROTHERS [BAND] and those bands did — they just did what they loved to do, and just did it naturally."
"Shock", TESLA's ninth full-length album, will be released on March 8.
TESLA's current lineup includes four of the band's five original members: Hannon, Keith, Brian Wheat (bass) and Troy Luccketta (drums). Guitarist Dave Rude joined in 2006 as the replacement for Tommy Skeoch.