BigMusicGeek.com recently conducted an interview with CINDERELLA frontman Tom Keifer. A couple of excerpts from the chat are below:
BigMusicGeek.com: Looking back, how would you describe the group's "Still Climbing" (1994) era? Considering the successes of "Night Songs" (1986) and "Long Cold Winter", it really seemed that the record had been lost in the shuffle of it all.
Tom: It was a hard record to make because at the end of the "Heartbreak Station" tour, I got hit with the paralysis. I knew we had to make another record immediately. The record company was down our throats. I couldn't sing. I couldn't sing at all. So I would describe it with one word: dark. I was trying to write songs for a voice that wasn't there. It was weird because they'd say, "You're never going to sing again, but if you are going to sing, you have to completely retrain your voice." So I started that process and I'm thinking, "Okay, what voice am I going to end up with?" I was basically trying to write songs for a voice that I don't know what the voice is yet. It was just a weird time, man. Eventually, we had the songs and it was time to go. We put off the record for almost three years while I was struggling with my voice. And then, when we finally got in, we had to record those vocals very differently from what we did on the three records. I'd walk in behind the mic and just sing the song top to bottom on four or five tracks and then we'd comp it… I couldn't do that on "Still Climbing". We had to really kind of go one line at a time and really piece all of the vocals together because I was in such a bad place."
BigMusicGeek.com: After the departure of (drummer) Fred Coury, how did everyone become interested with Kevin Valentine?
Tom: We ended up using (drummer) Kenny Aronoff (CHICKENFOOT, JOHN FOGERTY, JOHN MELLENCAMP) on that record. He was just amazing. The bottom line is that the drums came out really great. Actually, Fred said he thought it was the best drumming on any CINDERELLA record. Kevin had actually joined the band. When we got into the studio, (producer) Andy Johns is very good with drummers and Kevin, unfortunately, was not working out in the studio. So at that point, we brought in Kenny to cut it and then after the record was done, we were back to searching for a new drummer again. That's when we found Ray Brinker, who came from the band BAREFOOT SERVANTS. I don't know if you remember him. …He has also played with (classic rock vocalist) Pat Benatar, so he's an amazing drummer. He's actually the one who toured with us on that tour. …He's a great guy.
BigMusicGeek.com: Am I correct in understanding that after being signed to Portrait Records by (A&R legend) John Kalodner, the group recorded an album? What is the status of these recordings? Will they be ever fully released?
Tom: Actually, it never was finished. We were in the demo stage and the deal blew up. We ended up in court with a lawsuit. No record was actually ever recorded. We wrote a lot of stuff and demoed a lot of stuff and we were getting ready to hire a producer. I won't get into details, but we ended up having a falling out with Sony and a lawsuit occurred. We were tied up legally for quite a few years. In those situations, you have recording restrictions, so we couldn't record as a group for a while. That's when I started my solo record. (Bassist) Eric (Brittingham) and (guitarist) Jeff (LaBar) did their solo stuff and everybody kind of drifted apart. In terms of the recording aspect, we were still touring together pretty heavily back then. That's really all we wanted to do. We just wanted to be a band and play music because the deal was so ugly. Once you get into the lawsuit thing with courts and judges, you're pretty much screwed. It's probably why we haven't signed another record deal since. And honestly, it's why I produced my record without a label involved. Normally, you would take demos to a label, sign a deal, and then let them pay for, fund, and produce the record for you. I didn't want to deal with any of that, so when I started "The Way Life Goes", it was produced without a label involved. We used our own money, did it on our own time and money because we just wanted to have a finished product. We always had the idea that if it ever got finished that we would take it to a label for distribution and marketing because that's not something I wanted to do. When it was finished, we actually found a great home with Merovee Records. …They're such a great label. They're independent. They've had this really incredible faith in the record and in me and put everything into it. They've done a great job and I'm very grateful that I found them in that situation.
BigMusicGeek.com: Throughout your career, there have been countless rumors in regards to (BON JOVI frontman) Jon Bon Jovi having "discovered" CINDERELLA while playing at the Empire Rock Club in Philadelphia. Is this story entirely true?
Tom: Actually, I'm going to set the record straight because something came up online about this recently. Jon is credited with discovering the band. Or, in other words, his interest in the band actually led to a record deal. But if you went back a couple years before that, (KISS bassist/vocalist) Gene Simmons was actually the guy who first took an interest in the band. His interest did not lead to a deal for one reason or another. He took it to some labels and he actually did take it to Polygram, but they just weren't interested. He did take an interest in the band, so I guess in terms of discovery, you really could credit Gene, even though both Gene and Jon showed an interest in the band. Jon's interest did eventually lead to a deal, but that was pulling teeth, too. He told his A&R guy they were chumming about us and said, "You've got to go down and see them." He came down and he still wasn't convinced. He wanted to hear more material and sign us to a six-month development deal. It's not easy to get a record deal. Gene Simmons and Jon Bon Jovi can be singing your praises all day long and it doesn't mean you're going to get a deal. Gene was the first to take an interest and then a couple years later, Jon wandered into that club and went to his A&R guy. We finally won him over and he signed us to a full deal, but that was a bit of a process too. I'm grateful to both Gene and Jon for the interest they took in the band.
Read the entire interview at BigMusicGeek.com.