An Interview with
'Keith St. John'
Frontman of 'Burning Rain' and formerly of 'Montrose'
that took place on November 30th, 2016
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: Hi Keith, it’s Glenn from Metalliville. How are you doing Sir?
Keith: Hey Glenn, how you doing buddy?
Glenn: Good man. Last time I saw you, you’d got the 'Hard Rock Saints' in April 2012 at the Whisky A Go-Go. That was a cracking gig mate!
Keith: That’s a few years ago!
Glenn: It is.
Keith: With (Brian) Tichy, Michael Devin and Doug (Aldrich)?
Keith: Yeah, yeah! I remember. Wow! That’s been a while! I didn’t realise it’s been so long.
Glenn: I know. The weird thing is, I actually saw Doug and Brian last week in Sheffield. They played on 14th November at the Corporation which was outstanding - The Dead Daisies!
Keith: Cool. Yeah man. They’ve played a lot this year in 2016. I don’t know if they’re doing as much next year but they did that record and a cool band.
Glenn: Totally. You ripped it up last week at the Ultimate Jam Night. It was great. I really enjoyed that. You were doing something different. More funky disco styled stuff as well which made a change.
Keith: Yeah man! That was funky. Well… they asked me to do that – the Kool & The Gang song (Celebration). I said, “Whatever you want” because I’m easy like that. I said, “Hey, if we do it, can we do something else?”. I found a Chicago song and I thought, “That’ll be way out there!”. I wanted to use the horn section for a bunch of songs. My dad used to have that record. That’s how I used to hear it. It’s always fun and there’s always something interesting going down there. I try to do stuff that I don’t normally do. I don’t really do AC/DC – it’s not normally one of my things – then they did an AC/DC tribute – so I got in on that too and tried some stuff I’d never tried before. I don’t know how that goes over worldwide but it was fun for me.
Glenn: I enjoyed it. You did it with Jerry Montano. I like that there’s no safety net. Chuck or Matt just ask you to learn a song and you sit down and work on it I guess?
Keith: Exactly. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. For that thing, I said, “Alright, I remember that song from when I was a kid”. I didn’t really have time so I just listened to it on the way down there. I had some lyrics sat in my pocket just in case but it wound up being okay.
Glenn: You wouldn’t have thought so. You would have no idea from the performance you were giving off. It was spot on from what I could see.
Keith: It was tough because the Whisky stage is small. With all those horns they didn’t really have any place to put them so we just got in rows. They all got in front of the drummer. Of course they had three or four backup singers as well, keys, a guitar player or two and me also. At the end of the day, I am just standing up at the front of the stage and I can’t move. I can’t go forward, I can’t do anything.
Glenn: Yeah I notice. Even Paulie Z said he has to manoeuvre around people when he is trying to get to where he is introducing for the next people on stage, do his trivia bit and throw his t-shirts out. It’s crazy up there. How they do it is amazing! The work that goes into that!
Keith: Yeah! It’s a fun thing. It’s a way to get out of work and just do music for fun. It’s cool if you have the time and you can have a couple of beers ith a guy you haven’t seen in a while.
Glenn: Yeah! I must ask, how did you get into the Ultimate Jam? Was it through Matt (Starr) or was it through knowing Chuck (Wright) before?
Keith: Well Ultimate Jam was actually started with Gilby Clarke. Tuesday night used to be the night that Gilby used to do his jams at the Cat Club years and years ago which went forever. It went for a long time. It was Gilby and Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats and some other cats. Keith Richards would be known to stop by, Pagey and stuff like this. When Chuck was getting it together with Gilby, that’s what they were trying to create and bring that back in a bigger way.
That’s actually a really nice room. A good sounding room. It’s really comfortable for the crowd. Gilby dropped out and basically it became Chucks gig. Matt invites people down too. He called me and said, “Hey you want to jam this week?”, I said, “Okay!” Maybe I’ll sing more often now. It’s right around the corner. I’m in the Valley. I’m down there in 20 minutes.
Keith: There’s always people that I’m doing something with that I can invite down and continue our little music business chat about whatever.
Glenn: It’s a good little rapport thing because as you say, you get to see your buddies that you’ve not seen for a while so it all works out perfect really.
Glenn: A nice little musical liaison. How was the Montroese Wabo that you held on 26th November?
Keith: That was great. I saw people I hadn’t seen in 5, 6 or 7 years. I saw one of Ronnie’s good friends – a photographer. He told me he had thousands of pictures of us that he’d never even gone through from back in the day – this guy, Bill Towner. It was great to hook up with him. I’ll be hooking up with him, going through stuff and see if I can find more footage and photos to put out for Ronnie Montrose Remembrance. More stuff that people haven’t seen before if I can find some great shots.
Glenn: What would you say the highlights of the Montrose Wabo were for you personally?
Keith: The main highlight is that that particular line-up had never played together before without either Ronnie or Sammy onstage way back in the early 2000’s. Other than on the Cabo Cruise or the Montrose reunion type of event, we’d never gone off and done anything on our own with Vic and myself and Mona and David, So that was the main highlight in that it was a unique thing. At least for now we’ll start doing it some more.
Me singing old Sammy songs isn’t something I thought I’d ever be doing. That’s quite a thing for the later Montrose crowd that was coming out and watching the later Montrose shows from ’99 on. It’s interesting for them to see me break that barrier. I’m not singing stuff like ‘I Can’t Drive 55’ or the Van Hagar stuff because I feel like it would be a little bit to campy for me. I feel like only Sam can really sing that stuff or it comes off like a tribute band or something.
Keith: That’s not really what we want to be. We just want to go out and play the songs that we love to play. Get out there lean ‘n’ mean ‘n’ tough and do our thing. The old Hagar songs that we did do aren’t necessarily the hits but they are tune that people don’t get to hear. We did a version of ‘Little White Lies’. It’s a blues tune on the Sammy Hagar record. It’s got a bunch of slide acoustic. It’s an acoustically feeling until after the lead and then comes in super heavy.
Keith: We had Miles Schon come up and join us for the second guitar on that song. We had a local blues harp player come up too. We extended some jams on that and it made it really, really cool.
Glenn: That’s awesome! No doubt there will be footage of that on youtube.
Keith: That song had everybody guessing what was going to come next which is the kind of stuff I like. That’s the kind of stuff that Ronnie liked - taking things in a direction every night and have some fun with the songs. Go out into the adventurous world of ‘Okay, what’s going to happen next?’ (laughs)
Glenn: Yeah! It must have been really strange when you first started doing that and not have Ronnie by your side. You look over and he’s not there! Or do you just feel that he’s there anyway in spirit or in your heart?
Keith: Yeah! I grew up on the East Coast so I didn’t really hear the Montrose music and have it influence me when I was growing up. Honestly, the guy that introduced me to Ronnie just introduced me to him at a time when Ronnie wanted to write some new material and wasn’t even thinking about the old Montrose.
For the first year and a half that I knew Ronnie, I didn’t even hear that old Montrose stuff and I didn’t know it. It was just natural when he got asked to put together another touring version of Montrose to go out and do the old hits. It was natural for him to try me out on it first. It just was luck or coincidence but I sounded good singing it.
Keith: We went out and did the first couple of shows. They were pretty decent sized shows but the fans responded really well. It was right up in Northern California where you’ve got all those red heads and the fans but they seemed to go nuts to the fact that he was back up doing it. We sharpened up good things at the shows. The first whole year worked but I had a big learning curve. I didn’t even know that stuff and I had to get into it and really study it. Between shows I tried to record myself and see what I was doing wrong.
I had been a big fan of ‘The Song Remains The Same’ and the whole idea that the Zeppelin live jams were so different to the studio versions. Growing up on all sorts of styles of music – classical, folk music, traditional music and theatre music – I had a big enough scope. A variety in my brain that wherever Ronnie wanted to go I could just drop in and follow too. Jamming is one of my things. It’s just worked out.
Glenn: It’s funny that you mention ‘Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same’ because you used to work with a Led Zep tribute band as well called ‘Led Zeplica’.
Keith: Yes. I’ve done several notable shows with them that I had a lot of fun at. We got to play India a few times. There’s nothing like doing ‘Kashmir’ in front of an outdoor coliseum where the seats are all carved in rock and there’s 3000 kids there singing along to every word.
Keith: That was awesome. That’s pretty incredible that you can go out there and cover someone else’s material and still have people respond to it and love what you’re doing and what you’re bringing. There’s something to be said if a tribute band’s done properly. I don’t mind doing it. The cash can be okay.
Glenn: Hahaha! I knew you’d say that!
Keith: Who doesn’t appreciate a really loving appreciative audience?
Keith: It’s a win-win. You just get caught up in it and forget about your own style and your own thing.
Glenn: Yeah. That’s great. The first time I saw you was at a Z-Rock Festival in 2001 with Burning Rain. It was for your second album. You had just released it.
Keith: Yeah. We had just done a side deal with Mark Alger of Z Records.
Glenn: I remember it well. A lot of the bands all sounded like the typical how high can we sing and sounded like Journey. Then you guys came on and absolutely blew the place away. You blew my mind completely. As soon as you had finished I went out and bought the album from the actual stand itself and played it several times. I actually noticed that a couple of the albums were re-released in 2013 as deluxe versions that I have just re-bought via Amazon.
Keith: Yeah with the bonus tracks which is interesting.
Glenn: How did that come about doing the deluxe versions?
Keith: Doing those versions came down from Frontiers Records. That was by a guy called Serafino who owns that label. It was really his brainchild to do that. We loved the fact that they were getting re-released and getting attention again. Of course it’s always fun to record some additional material and do some bonus tracks. There’s a few different versions of a few different songs that got included. For me, it was a lot of fun to re-visit those.
I’ve heard a lot of people… it was so many years between the second and third record that when the third record came out, especially over here in the States, a lot of people just thought that was our first record. “Hey Man, you and Doug did a record together.. this record is great… blah, blah blah…”. But it was night for the fact that already attached to it was the re-release of the first and second record.
People come out to my shows out of here which really aren’t that many, so when they do come out, they’ll bring all the CD’s with them, all their whatever and some of the other stuff I’ve done over the years with whoever. It’s nice that people have a lot of great things to say about the older records. For me, it’s been a nice trickle down effect, the fact that there’s the deluxe versions we’ve put out. That music is still appreciated and it still stands up because I always ask everybody what their favourite record is. For me, it’s always the latest thing we’ve done because that’s where my mind is. Now it’s the fourth record and those ideas are on my mind. They are all different. I love the first one for this, that and that.
Glenn: I did notice there was talk about another album coming so I’ve got my eyes on that. What songs can you talk about that you have got ready for that? Are you allowed to talk about anything yet?
Keith: We’ve got a lot of sketches and a lot of material available. Kind of like on the third record – as we were putting that together, over the years Doug & I have put together so many ideas and so many songs because in different years we were thinking about the time when we were going to record another record.
Therefore there are so many ideas and so many sketches which we’d basically just make with a sequencer or drum machine. We’d start with some riffs or some vocal melodies and what-not… probably the way that most people do it. We’ve got so many of those ideas to choose from that I it’s hard to say which ones are going to land.
There’s some heavy modern riffs that hopefully grow us once again as artists and as a band forward. We’ve had some really complex arrangements in the past, especially the second record or on the third. I think there’s some really simple anthemy rock tunes coming together for this fourth album. I am excited about everything that we’re working on and I think Doug is too. That’s just it when you have so many ideas to pick and choose from.
We sit there in the studio together and play through ‘em. It’s nice the fact that we can just say, “Okay, we’re both really digging this idea – let’s put it in!” All I can say is that they’re exciting tunes. The ones I’ve been working on I really love and I hope we can warm to people every time we put out a new product.
Glenn: I mean, I can see the next one doing so, so well because when I first saw you back in 2001, Doug was.. I know he was a member of that band called Lion and had just come out of that not long since but after the second ‘Burning Rain’ album he gets picked up by David Coverdale. Now he’s got that side (Whitesnake), you’ve got your Montrose side of things and then of course he has The Dead Daisies that have been blowing the place up all around Europe, in the UK and everywhere else. So when you guys get together that’s going to be good.
Plus, you’ve got the Ultimate Jam Night that you do and there’s Matt Starr on drums who co-organises part of that. There’s no so many people that have had the chance to see the various members of Burning Rain without actually seeing Burning Rain or knowing too much about them. I think they’ll put the pieces together and think, ‘Wow, we’ll get out and check these’ and of course you’ve got the fans from pervious that are going to latch onto it anyway if they haven’t done already. I think it’s very much a win-win-win situation for you guys.
Keith: I think so too. The tough thing for me is that Doug has become so popular that it’s a matter of how much time he gets to spend in town at a time and when he does have some time of course, he’s got a new baby that’s going to be 1 years old in January and a lot of things to attend to. That may make it take a little bit more time for us to get this done than we were originally thinking.
I’ve got my fingers crossed and with technology the way it is these days we can also communicate from the road and actually write things, send ‘em back and forth while on the road so that helps a lot too. But yeah, I agree. Since the third record has come out, people always see us at jams or whatever and events. People would be introducing me as, “Hey, it’s Keith from Montrose… blah… blah… blah”. Now everybody seems to tag on the Burning Rain thing as well. Even here in the ‘States they say, “It’s Keith from Montrose and Burning Rain.” The name is picking up speed.
Glenn: For me, I was always thinking Burning Rain and Montrose was something you did later. It’s like the other way around in the ‘States.
Keith: When Burning Rain started out it was really only a Japan thing while we did the first record. Then the European fans were involved… probably more of Doug’s fans from the days gone by from ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and other things that he had done. It was a unique brand that some people were into as a result of his past. The second record, we branched out a little bit in Europe.
It wasn’t really in the States at all at that time except for those die-hards who were watching that kind of music worldwide. We knew obviously it would go over in Europe. I’m sure at this point there’s some really great number and we can make some really great noises in your clubs and wherever else we can play out there at festivals.
Glenn: It’s all about people’s schedules for when Burning Rain can come over to do some dates!
Keith: Yeah it’s schedules and at the end of the day, hopefully we’re all artists in this industry but as well, you’ve got to make money, especially when you’ve got a family and other things and all the bills. It’s got to make sense for everybody involved obviously. As far as Dead Daisies go, they’ve got a great thing going and I think they should probably keep on going for a long time.
The beautiful thing about that band is they can switch out members and they’ve already been accepted for the fact that that’s what that band is about. If they have another band or another project for example if Marco has another record he has to do in a certain amount of time and they get another bass player of that level, maybe the fans will eat that up as for the variety factor of it. So it’s a little bit of a different world.
Glenn: I was talking to Marco on Nov, 14th when they played Sheffield and he was saying he is going to be busy next year with another project so it would be the perfect time for Burning Rain to come back.
Keith: I think that’s the plan for now. They are on this run right now but hopefully we’ll resume when they get off and they’re done and when Doug’s back. Hopefully we’ll resume and have enough time to get basic tracks done and start working on the overdubs etc etc. We’ve got a guy helping produce this time who we haven’t worked with before. He’s the guy that works with Serafino quite a lot who Doug meant while working with Revolution Saints.
There’s that on the plate. Also for January I’ve got 'Ronnie Montrose Remembered' coming up again which we’re going to do. That’s exciting because we’ve got a lot of new names that I can’t really announce officially yet.
I am doing a project with an orchestra that could be really cool that they contacted me about the other week. It could wind up being a record. They are definitely doing a record. They just don’t know to what extent they want vocals on the record right now. They are doing some rock albums and they are doing them orchestrally. Right now they want vocals sprinkled here and there. They are trying to decide if they want certain songs that have a vocalist all the way through. They are doing old Zeppelin songs and stuff like that.
Glenn: How did you get involved with that? Did they just phone up and ask because they liked your style etc?
Keith: In this case it was the Musical Director. He phoned me up and left me a message. He said he wanted to speak about it and then it went to a meeting – we met up for a coffee somewhere in the valley after he checked me out to see how I was to talk to or work with. Then he decided, “Yeah, why don’t you come down to the studio and we’ll try putting up a track or two and have you sing on them?” I wound up singing on four of their tracks.
I’m sure that all the different people working on their team looking me up in different ways on either of the social media or listening to some of the records I was on, checking out the voice and trying to figure it out. Then thinking, ‘Is this our guy?’. I think what they want to do ultimately in this particular project is that when they are touring once they release their record, from city to city I think, schedule depending, they’d like to get stars come in and guest star and they can do cameos of songs to help ticket sales and stuff like that. They just need a base vocalist to get the stuff on the record and work it out with. We’ll see what happens because they are still forming exactly what they’re wanting to do and what they are wanting to be on the record.
Keith: The beauty of me not being on tour with somebody else right now is that I’m free to do projects like that which can be fun and pretty rewarding and creative too. The grass is always greener and you can definitely make a lot of money on tour with a big act but you can definitely feed your creative juices being at home in L.A.
Glenn: It does make a lot of sense on that score. What sorts of strange things have you been asked to do that have been outside of your own box with regards to advertisements and radio jingles etc?
Keith: Over the years, anything and everything has come into play. There’s a lot of people who know me from working in the past or just heard of me and their friends in whatever circle are aware of me. They might say, “We want this kind of voice on this track”, so they give me a call and just do a work for hire thing. On that level I’ve seen all kinds of stuff in all kinds of styles except for country or rap. I’ve done a bit of rock and pop stuff – either jingles or certain types of sound-alike stuff for movies.
There’s all sorts or stuff that gets vocals recorded on them. I’ve done a few voice-overs for adverts. Even through that in my own studio I’ve produced a few other vocalists and a few other voice-over people. I know a lot of good tricks now. I know how to set up a vocal change and make someone’s voice sound good to what kind of voice they have.
Glenn: How would you say it’s different being a singer and doing voice-overs? Is it the same mindset or do you just have to adapt to different things?
Keith: I think as a singer you have to adapt. You know what your bag of tricks are. Say you have to sing clean that day with no grit and you know that it’s got to have a poppy nasal tone, you’ve just got to do whatever you’ve got to do to make sure you get that tone whether it’s not eat a cheeseburger that morning or whatever it is. For a singer, it’s got its own unique set of rules. Every person of course is different. I always envy the fact that almost anybody else – guitar players, bass players, keyboard players can pretty much play any genre of music they want.
They can change the stuff they are using, change the guitar they are using, turn a few volume knobs and get a different sound. Singers really… they can do that to a certain extent. You can clean up your voice by singing a little bit of a different tone but bottom line is there’s only so far you can stretch that. That’s the difference in the mindset – doing your own stuff if you just want to be free and let your voice be free and do whatever it wants. When someone else asks you to sound like this or like that, you have to try and customise what the universe gave you in your body and make it sound like what you think they want.
Glenn: Yeah! As well when you are talking about your guitarists or keyboardists or whatever.. if they want to play top C, they can press a key or bend a string or press the right fret whereas you’ve got to hit those notes and after so long that gets tiring and people have got to appreciate that as well.
Keith: Absolutely but I think vocalists with a higher register, especially male vocalists, because in modern rock it’s not as popular or hasn’t been as popular for people to sing in their range like older singers like Steve Marriott, Glenn Hughes, Bruce Dickinson or Robert Plant or whoever. So being able to sing in that register has its advantages because there’s not that many guys around that are singing like that.
Glenn: Yeah that can do it.
Keith: That has a thing to it that has worked out okay for me. Lots of stuff I sing does involve singing in that register just for that reason.
Glenn: You do so much with no safety net at all. You’re doing acoustic shows now. What’s your preference or do you like for different reasons?
Keith: I think the variety is nice. Everything’s got its reasons. The acoustic show has another side to it that I don’t really get at the electric show. At the acoustic show, the audience appreciates a little bit more story telling and a little bit talking and a little bit more of a head trip as far as the subject matter I might bring up and how I may introduce the songs There isn’t as much of a sonic excitement to grab them with.
You get more of a chance to specifically make them think in between songs about stuff they might not have been expecting to think about. That’s a different stem which is cool. In a way, especially if you’re doing the acoustic thing and I’m playing guitar and singing, I have everything right at one push of a button. For my dynamic, if I decide to sing something way down and then really belt and scream, it’s all just in one body. It’s easier to bring across.
On the other side of things when you’re playing with a full band, you have the excitement of playing off the band, especially when you have a world class guitarist who’s kicking ass!
Glenn: Like Doug?
Keith: Yes! Like Doug who can stretch out dynamically in any direction and really, really, really throw down hard. You get that sort of Viking challenge in you come up. It’s not a competition but it’s a healthy interplay where he’s gonna step up the speed and you’re gonna take your ground musically and step up to speed as well. That probably appeals to a wider audience. If you play the rock show it’s usually true. A bigger crowd in a larger environment. It’s going to be a much more dynamic thing. They both have their bait, so to speak.
Glenn: Tell me more about the Ronnie Montrose Remembrance because we only touched on it a bit earlier.
Keith: It really is a big thing. It was a huge event last year. It was actually the biggest event in the Namm Press in Namm history they told me.
Keith: That was interesting to hear. I never expected it to be that big. Just from my house and in my studio and working on social media and a couple of small time publicists I hired just for that. It blew up like crazy. Ronnie’s got a lot of fans and a lot of people that love him. We had members of Aerosmith & Guns ‘N’ Roses. I just got a text from Brad Gillis confirming his participation this year. I’ve got a few other people coming in. By the time it was all said and done last year we had a really great line-up.
Glenn: Yeah! It’s nearly a year since Lemmy left us too!
Keith: I was with Lemmy on his 70th Birthday – right next to him at the Whisky. It was not that long before he passed. It had come time for him to jam. The guys on stage didn’t realise how under the weather he was feeling and he wasn’t really showing it. He wasn’t saying anything to anyone like, “Hey I’m not going up on stage”. He didn’t get up to play and it was a little bit of an omen I guess.
It was so weird. The very fist night I arrived in L.A. I met Lemmy. He was one of the first people I met at the Rainbow. I arrived at the weekend. We hit it off and I saw him often hanging out in LA. It’s so weird – it’s one of those losses.
Glenn: How did it come work with Tracii Guns?
Keith: Well we did the Gunzo thing last year. Tracii wanted to go out, his agent called me and said, “Hey, we’re trying to put something together this year. Do you want to go out with Tracii Guns and do a combination of some L.A. Guns tunes, you can do the Monstrose tunes and this ‘n’ that, I can line up a tour…”. He told me this and then they started talking about budget and I started to listen to those L.A. Guns songs.
I said, “Listen, if you want to save a bit of money and we can each make a little bit more, we might make some more dates out of it, I can easily play bass and sing on this stuff too”. It’s very basic – it’s rock and it kicks ass but I can handle playing it and singing it”.
That’s what we were going to do at first. It was going to be a three piece band with me playing bass and singing with Tracii on guitar and Shane Fitzgibbon playing drums. Then a couple of months went by, we were making a set list up and talking about it, Tracii called up one day and he said, “Guess who’s going to play bass with us?”, I said, “I don’t know man, just tell me because it could be anybody!”, He said, “Rudy ‘F*ck*ng’ Sarzo”. I said, “You’re kidding me?” because we rearly had a band back in the mid 90’s called ‘Giant’ which was kind of cool and I haven’t done a project with Rudy since then.
Keith: We got together in the studio. At first it was called ‘Tracii Gun’s ‘L.A. Guns’ and then once we started jamming and getting together more, those guys wanted to call it ‘Gunzo’. I was the photoshop guy amongst us so I started playing with logos and ‘Gunzo’ was born. We did our first gig 10 minutes away from my house at the Canyon Club up in Augoura Hills.
Glenn: Nice! It’s a good venue that!
Keith: We went over great so then we booked the tour and spent a time on the road doing it.
Glenn: When it comes to shows I am sure that solos were invented so the rest of the guys could have a toilet break! (We laugh)
Keith: Maybe so! I’ll tell you what, the nice thing about guitar players who really like to jam and go off on a solo for a while especially if you’re a singer and singing your ass off, a couple of times in the set and you get a minute to jump off side stage , towel off and get a drink of water and get revived is great. I remember we played certain songs especially ‘Rock Candy’ with Montrose and at that point I knew I could usually leave the stage for a good five minutes, maybe more and come back when I was needed again to come and do the outro of the song.
Glenn: (I laugh) Always a good thing! Nice!
Keith: of course, when you’re all amped up with that stage energy, 5 minutes feels like half an hour.
Glenn: (I laugh) Yeah, I can imagine. Crazy stuff but you always have to get back on stage.
Keith: I do really hope that Burning Rain can come and tour Europe for sure in 2017. Doug seems hopeful that we’ll be able to do that and we do have somebody over there who is ready to start plugging us into some dates if we’re able to green light some time periods. Fingers crossed. I’m hoping we get over there. I personally love it over there. I think the energy for the type of music that we do is really good.
Glenn: That’s cool! Will you have Matt Starr on drums? Or is it all down to schedules overall?
Keith: Oh yeah! By and large, as long as Doug continues with Dead Daisies, we are going to have to work around their schedule. All I can say is at this point is if you see certain legs of tours that The Dead Daisies are doing, you’ll know that that’s not when Burning Rain’s going to be around.
Glenn: Yeah exactly (I laugh)
Keith: Whether or not we can fit something in-between those dates has yet to be seen. Our main priority is just to get this new record recorded and once that happens I’m sure you’ll see us over there in some form or another. I am hoping more often than less.
Glenn: We are looking forward to it. Dare I say it’s overdue and we need you back again. I was thinking how cool would it be if three high-powered firing vocalists could be on the same album like they have the three tenors or HTP which was Hughes-Turner Project with Joe Lynn and Glenn, I was thinking how cool would it be to have your good self, Jeff Scott Soto and Eric Dover on a musical project of some nature. That would be something!
Keith: Oh yeah!
Glenn: I could see you guys working. I mean, you’ve got similar looks at times and vocally you’re all so strong as vocalist plus the personalities. I think that would be amazing.
Keith: Well I love working with Jeff because I feel like we have very complimentary voices.
Glenn: Yeah! I agree!
Keith: He’s got a very baritone gruff to him. I have that sometimes but most of the time I’m more up in the higher mid-higher registers. I think our voices blend great. That would be a lot of fun and Eric’s such a great all-round musician and I’ve known him for years too. That’s a great call! On that note, you know who just sent me a note, I think it was yesterday or the day before, was Michael Olivieri (Frontman of Leatherwolf).
Glenn: Oh I know Michael. He was singing for Bjorn Englen in Soul Sign.
Keith: He was asking me if I would do a project with the two of us on it.
Keith: Do a record project as a side project. He was naming the players which sounded real good. I won’t name names but he’s got some really cool guys involved and wanting to do it. Maybe as a cool side project I will be doing something with another vocalist. I think like you say, three is a great number. If we can get three vocalists… I mean, that worked really good with the stuff that Glenn and Joe Lynn did.
Glenn: Who when you’ve played ‘Ultimate Jam Night’ which artists that have played it have really stood out to you ands why?
Keith: There’s a lot of great guys that come and play at the Ultimate Jam Night. It’s tough to compare because I was out on the road with Ronnie Montrose forever.. with Doug Aldrich, with George Lynch, Tracii Guns, Neal Schon – you are talking about some cats man. I’m not talking anything away from the people that play Ultimate Jam. I mean, I was playing with Ira Black the other day – he’s amazing.
Gosh – over time, all kinds of guys have showed up. I feel like I’ve been lucky enough to play with Vinny and Carmine (Appice), Brian Tichy, Joe Travers, Chad Smith and all these guys on drums. On bass, being on bands with Rudy Sarzo and Chuck Wright etc etc – it’s hard to say that I was up with any stand-out guys at Ultimate Jam that just blow me away.
I think the jam thing is more about having fun and getting together with guys you’ve never jammed with before. I did this jam with Chris Broderick (ex-Megadeth) – he’s a guitar player and he’s absolutely fantastic. He’s a fun guy and we have a lot of fun on stage. Some of the jams are really fun depending on the players looseness on stage when they jump up there who just go with the flow, who maybe is more in their own mindset. Obviously, when you’ve just learned a song, you’ve got to think in your head what comes next and some guys are more like that. I am a little bit more like that sometimes too.
It’s tough to say but what was really great was doing the Ultimate Jam Night with Steven McGraph, the bass player from the Billy Idol band and Frankie Banali. Frankie actually played drums on the track when Billy recorded ‘Mony Mony’ back in the day. I always love hearing the stories and Frankie came on stage and told the story.
Then of course we had Steve McGrath and Jimmy Burkhard who plays guitar with Billy Idol when Steve Stevens isn’t there and I got to sing the song. It’s stuff like that, that makes it feel like a really cool thing and magical. That was great and we got the crowd to really raise the roof. That was a lot of fun!
Glenn: That’s awesome!
Keith: That was great fun that night. Those kinds of nights are the things that are the most memorable for me. There’s also a girl saxophone player, her name is Katja Rieckermann.
Glenn: Yeah! She’s incredible! She played with Rod Stewart!
Keith: I’ve known her and seen her on and off for years and years. Surprisingly, I hadn’t seen her in a million years and we wound up on stage together at the Ultimate Jam Night because they asked me if I’d come down and do a Pink Floyd song for the Pink Floyd tribute that they did. I said I could do it but I’ve got to sing ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. I don’t even know the words to that one but I read the words to that one and think it’s the most killer track. I just saw a video of them doing it with Crosby and Nash getting up with them. It’s pretty cool. I saw them get up there. It’s dim on the stage before you start, I noticed it’s a girl saxophone player and then all of a sudden I notice it’s Katja. I said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a really long time”. So it was a fun jam that night as well.
Glenn: That’s awesome!
Keith: It’s more about the stories and the personal vibes and the what-not.
Glenn: I guess at times Chuck doesn’t realise that some of these people know each other that he’s phoned up or Matt’s phoned up and put together sometimes and that they met each other years ago. It just happens doesn’t it?
Keith: It does. When we did Kool And The Gangs ‘Celebration’ (that also featured Katja) it was in a low enough register that I was able to take the chorus part up a notch and put some blues licks in it and make it feel a little bit different at least. That horn section with Katja in it and the other players they had was really, really spanking!
What else was fun.. I did this jam at the Viper Room last Monday (Sunset Jam) and a guy named Stuart showed up and wanted to do a song on guitar. He’s played with that band ‘The Sweet’ before. We had some fun playing on ‘Fox On The Run’ – he jumped up and did that. That was fun the other night.
Glenn: That’s cool.
Keith: Yeah! It’s more about that. Once you’ve been in the industry for a while and you’ve played with a lot of people.. unless Jimmy Page or Eddie Van Halen shows up or Keith Richards it’s tough to get goosebumps these days.
Glenn: Yeah! You get used to seeing everyone don’t you?
Keith: Yeah! Here and there!
Glenn: Not to put a dampener on anything, but when some of the guys across here, the people in the UK or closer to home, Sheffield, they go absolutely nuts about seeing them. For me, it’s like yeah it’s so and so, I see them every time I go to Hollywood or something. It’s like, “Alright Glenn, how are you doing?”
They don’t see them enough so it’s like ‘Major Rock Stars’ in neon lights kind a thing. It’s said because we become so desensitised to it all. But I guess you do after a time because everyone gets used knowing everyone and seeing everyone in different situations or you get out in a bar or something?
Keith: Sure! When it’s the craft that your in, you get together with different guys and you try and find the union between your style and theirs, what works and where it fits in. If you’ve got good basic intuition in you, by the end of the first verse you can usually find a pretty good way to make the chemistry work for you.
Glenn: Get in the pocket?
Glenn: In the vibe, the zone, the pocket or whatever else – it’s working anyway and it’s going good. How was ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’ over in Las Vegas? How did you get into that and what are your thoughts to that?
Keith: Well I’ll tell you one thing, I worked on a record with Howard Leese and played live gigs with him years ago. We’ve been friends. Even when they started the ‘Rock Vault’ he was always trying to find an opportunity to get me involved. What he felt was Robin McCauley’s part would be the right part for me.
The thing about Robin is that he was the guy of the show that hadn’t missed one show in something like 275 shows in a row. I don’t know, he’s a guy that takes care of himself. He doesn’t get sick, he doesn’t party and he’s a total pro – he’s got his sh*t together.
That particular time back in January (2016), his son was getting married and he was definitely going to take off the time for that. I went in one day early so I could run through his parts backstage with him as he was doing them to see what he was doing as far as costume changes. Of course, see what bits of each song that he did, because in that show, there are only a few songs that get played all the way through.
A lot of the songs are parts and they segue-way into something else. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot to learn for a small amount of shows. I would say if you were doing it for about a month, then you could probably sit in and own the stuff a little better. But I did feel pretty good what I did that night.
Keith: It seemed to come off pretty well. I maybe had a few too many parts to fit in my costumes. Actually while I was on the stage and the spotlight hit me, I was still zipping up pants and typing shoes. (We laugh) It was funny man. I was cracking myself up because you are coming out of the rock vault that they have up on the stage. You are in this little turning disc that you stand on.
Some of the times that you come out, I’d be standing on the disc knowing that the part is coming up and there’s no stopping the show and I’m seeing this as it’s rolling. You can still be putting on a costume piece knowing that I was about to sing in seven seconds, trying to get it together and juggle the mic under my armpit or something while I was down on the floor as I’m spinning around, pulling it altogether and come out with a smile. I’d say, “Hey!”
Glenn: And you walk onstage and your zip is down on your pants! Doh!
Keith: I’m running down the ramp with this smile singing ‘Pour Some Sugar One Me’ or ‘Now I’m Here’ or whatever and all the other singers involved have all been through it, so when you get backstage you get a little laugh and everybody’s saying “You did great man! It was really beautiful”. It’s those kinds of moments you remember forever because they’re fun, they’re funny and their in the moment. I think you’ve got to be a little bit of a jokester or a little bit of a sarcastic personality to be an entertainer in the first place.
Glenn: Nothing can phase you! You’ve just got to go with the moment! Just see how it goes and don’t worry when things don’t go as planned. You can’t have a dicky fit on stage and do an Axl or something.
Keith: Exactly! By and large what I’ve learned over the years is the audience loves human. They love the fact that you are human. Whenever something does happen, if you can play to the fact and bring them into it, talk about the reality behind it and just say, “I was walking on stage , I had to take a leak and my last show was still untied…” Just give it to them, bring them into the story and most of the time it becomes a win!
Glenn: They love it. It’s real.
Glenn: It’s how we all work.
Keith: Exactly. “Oh that guy’s cool”, they will say.
Glenn: Then it becomes the thing they most remember from the entire show. “Oh the guy whose lace was undone or something. He forgot to tie it!”
Keith: “Yeah! I was at that show in 2006!”, “Oh the one with the shoelace, yeah!” (We laugh)
Glenn: I remember seeing Howard Leese when he played with Bad Company a few years ago. He was phenomenal.
Keith: I played with Howard Leese in a band with Keith Emerson back in the day! I can’t even remember the name of the project they were calling it. One of their weird and proper gentleman of the whatever. One of those secret club names. It was really cool and getting to work with Keith a little bit was crazy. Howard was doing some work on and off with Heart back then and hadn’t done Bad Company yet. I think he had done the Paul Rodgers solo stuff. What a great cat, a great player and a good Producer too.
Glenn: How do you find the difference between LA & Las Vegas?
Keith: I think there’s a very, very different scene. It’s apples and oranges because first of all when you talk to guys who tour in major bands, they’ll tell you the two cities that they don’t really play. Unless you’re selling out the Forum which for rock guys isn’t happening much these days, you’re not playing L.A. or New York when you go on your tours – not in the U.S.
They’re really aren’t big live venues to play at in L.A. so much. If guys for example from L.A. 80’s hair bands, if they play the Saban Theater down on Wiltshire in Beverly Hills which is a good sized theatre and they’re doing a theatre tour, usually that is going to be their least sold show. If they break even on something like that they’re lucky.
L.A. isn’t really a live music town – that’s the thing. It’s a city of entrepreneurs who are all running around. The money in the town is all about the film industry, the web series and the TV, TV Shows but mainly the film industry. That’s what this town is built on. As the music industry since some time in the 90’s has got further and further watered down and trickling down as a result of the internet – even more so! People in the entertainment industry don’t generally want to come out and blow their pay-check on the weekend on concerts and partying – they just don’t do that.
Now Vegas, people are showing up on their vacations, showing up to party. There’s all kinds of live gigs going on all the time all over Vegas. The thing is, if you’re a musician who was never in a famous band or whatnot, Vegas is a great place to go to get all kinds of work doing cover, tribute bands or whatever they may be playing because every one of these casinos and clubs around Vegas have live music. They have it going in many different lounges.
They generally have some kind of a club attached to every casino with a stage and some of them of course like the Hard Rock have bigger venues where they can have headliners play like Guns ‘N’ Roses. Vegas is the polar opposite as far as making money and playing live shows. You can go to Vegas as a performing musician and make a living.
You can work seven nights a week out there and be a man as a musician. You can’t do that so much in L.A. – in L.A. it doesn’t really happen. But on the other end, if you’re in Vegas you’re not necessarily going to go and grab a coffee with people from any major record labels or any major studios who are interested in putting some money behind what you are doing as an artist.
Glenn: Yeah! That’s all in L.A. & Hollywood
Keith: So yeah, that’s my viewpoint of it in a nutshell. Maybe nicer if you were more on the country side of things. Maybe a nice blend of both those energies would be down in a place like Nashville. There’s a lot of industry down there and there’s still a legitimate crowd coming out to see bands play.
Glenn: I think it’s amazing that these hotels in Vegas will have a live venue on different floors. It’s just unheard of anywhere else but that’s Vegas for you. It’s incredible.
Keith: Yeah! Las Vegas is very unique. Worldwide for sure. I was brought up around theatre so I do love the idea of a production involving rock music. I feel like some in Vegas is putting a production on like Tommy. If you go and see Tommy, maybe Roger Daltrey will show up sometimes and guest in or Elton John or whoever. Vegas is a place where you can pull that off. Or any of those rock musicals. Just get some famous rock guys together and who knows?
Keith: Tonight it’s Twisted Sister doing Jesus Christ Superstar. Anything can be mashed together and be cool if its produced right in Vegas. In L.A. you’ve got nowhere to do anything like that.
Glenn: Yeah that’s awesome! You’ve not long since play the ‘Rock ‘N’ Skull Show’ – how was that?
Keith: That was great. I didn’t originally know. I didn’t realise until I looked it up and I was going to start putting some word out on social media that Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns were actually playing and they were the headliner. Originally, the whole night was going to be acoustic. Then it turned into being electric and they did the whole L.A. Guns thing with Tracii joining in with Phil’s band.
Well actually it was a hybrid because it was Shaun Fitzgibbons from Tracii’s band and the guitarist, Michael Grant) who also plays with Phil in his version of L.A. Guns. It was a unique show and it was nice to see that. That had no bearing on me playing the stuff. I don’t even think the promoter really realised there was a connection when he had hired those guys and hired me and put us on the same bill. It just worked. It just happened.
Glenn: That’s awesome.
Keith: I like seeing Chip Znuff. I always like talking to him. They played out there. Johnny Gioeli had never met in person. That was the first time we ever talked.
Glenn: That’s cool.
Keith: We had a good chat and caught up on things because we’d both played with Neal Schon.
Glenn: Yeah, he’s a nice guy!
Keith: That was our connection with each other. We shared a few stories. It was fun to meet somebody of that calibre that I hadn’t met yet.
Glenn: I always liked the band Hardline who had songs like ‘Rhythm of the red Car and Hot Cherie. I’ve never had chance to see them though. They play those AOR Melodic Rock Festivals now and again but I’d like to see them on a tour in their own right.
Keith: Yeah! Johnny asked me if I wanted to come up and sing on ‘Hot Cherie’ and I said, “I’m sorry man, I don’t know those songs!” (We laugh) “If you want to do ‘Kashmir’ or something then I’m all about it” (We laugh)
Glenn: That’s funny sh*t. We’ve talked music for quite a bit. What do you enjoy doing outside of music?
Keith: Oh man, I’ve done so much stuff. It’s so funny. I’ve got a Degree in Electrical Engineering from a really competitive electrical engineering school in the U.S. back in New York. It was right around graduation when I got my first record deal which was a band I was on Atlantic with in L.A. with some local guys who were known who had made it already so it was kind of a cool situation.
Even without that, I don’t know that I would have persued a career in electrical engineering. I was a good maths and science kid so I just thought that was the thing to go to school for, not knowing much about anything. I did that and oddly enough what I got into as I was getting into some cover band and doing some other stuff during college, I started working for an Italian house builder. I started learning construction and all aspects of that. My mind fro maths and geometry was so sharp. I caught onto that stuff really quickly and started taking on projects on my own because obviously you can make a little bit more money if you have your own business even while I was in college. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed building and making something from the ground up.
Glenn: Do you still like doing that sort of stuff now in your spare time?
Keith: I have, for example for about eight years I owned a dance and music academy out here for kids with a partner because I know how to do all that and I did all the build-out myself, ran all the electrical, build all the walls and all that stuff which is great because it saves you a lot of money on your build-up. When opportunity arises I always like tinkering with that sort of stuff.
Glenn: That’s awesome!
Keith: I’m just one of those guys. I like to do stuff. I like to take stuff apart and figure out how it works or fix it or improve it and build it my own way. Ronnie Montrose and I really got along on that issue. Ronnie was the ultimate tinkerer. He’d take everything apart. I mean, way worse that I ever could be. Ronnie changed the gromits on the switches on his guitar amp. He could tell you every capacitor and resistor inside of every circuit of every component of every piece of equipment that he had.
He was a real tinkerer. Certain things not that intricately detailed but he could talk about them especially when it came to home-building or different things with electric components. I don’t know many musicians I could talk about that sort of stuff while being on the road. That was another cool aspect of working with him.
Glenn: Yeah! You had your own little niche thing that you had to have a good gas about. That’s nice that you had that extra thing going down as well.
Keith: Yeah man! I’ve never really been into… a lot of people talk about politics. Maybe I should know more about world news and stuff…
Glenn: But you don’t want to depress your day do you?
Keith: That’s true. That’s true man! Even as a kid, I always thought, ‘I can’t do anything about any of that stuff – no matter what I do, my day, my life, my world is gonna be what it is!
Glenn: Exactly! That’s the way I look at things now. Anyway aside from all that, I’m a big fan of American Pickers. Mike and Frank will go around peoples houses,old factories and warehouse buildings etc and they’ll pick certain items up. There might be a story behind itm, how they got it, where it came from and all that sort of stuff. Do you have a certain item or items that mean the most to you that you’ve been given, acquired over the years and what would that item be if you had to pick one out and why?
Keith: Oh gosh! That’s tough for me man! I’m such a pack-rat! You change over the years somewhat. I’m what you call in astrology a triple fire sign which means my sun sign, my moon and my rising sign are all on fire! That means we’re able to change and see the horizon quickly and not be stuck in thing so much. If I had to pick… well you know I wrote that one Burning Rain song that we have called ‘Heaven Gets Me By’. I wrote that song about my Mom. She was the oldest of five sisters. My Mom had me when she was super young. Her youngest sister since she was the oldest was only a few years older than me. I was an only kid so that girl was like a sister to me – about the closest thing I could have. I spent a lot of time at my Grandparents house too. She passed away at stage four of ovarian cancer.
Glenn: Wow! Not good!
Keith: It’s been quite a few years now but I have some rings on one of my fingers and one of them is a special ring of hers that she had given me. We were both into that kind of thing. My moms other sisters, they were more part of the hippy culture. I got turned onto the whole bell-bottoms and silver all that stuff. My collection of rings of rings from my Aunt that passed away is pretty near-dear to me.
After she passed, the opening line of ‘Heaven Gets Me By’ is ‘Baby we’ve been joined by this ring around my finger’ because it was her ring that I have on right now. It doesn’t come off. It doesn’t come off in the shower. It just doesn’t leave me. I’d have to say that’s a pretty significant item. Maybe the story behind it is typical for what it is but that’s what I;m thinking of straight off the top of my head.
Glenn: That’s a nice answer and it’s a tribute as well. It’s gives it a deep meaning. It’s nice. I like that. Yeah! That’s a very, very appreciated answer that. That’s awesome!
Keith: That’s a real answer. Matters of the heart are the things that matter.
Glenn: Exactly mate, exactly!
Keith: There are a couple of things that I have here and there that Ronnie gave me that are pretty important to me especially after he passed because once they’re gone they’re gone. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve got a few items from him that he gave me that are pretty special as well that I’ll always hold onto.
Glenn: That’s nice!
Keith: Other than that I don’t know. I have pictures in my head of boxes of what I call my boxes of crap. They are under the bed or up on the top shelf of the closet that I haven’t seen for a long time. Then of course, I might come across something! ‘Oh yes, that t-shirt that I had while in high school’. I’ll probably have something and a few more things like that.
Glenn: My buddy, Dave Attrill, he’s one of my writers and he actually told me about Burning Rain originally. He asked me to ask you, how did Burning Rain first come to be?
Keith: The connection was Ian Mayo, the bass player. Ian Mayo was in that band, Bad Moon Rising with Doug. I don’t know if he was the original bass player – it might have been Jerry Best but Ian Mayo was in Bad Moon Rising with Doug and in one of my bands that I was putting together where I was actually playing guitar and fronting, called ‘Crushed Flowers’. I’d been working with the guy for about two years and he just said that Doug had said he wanted to put a new band together to Ian.
Ian introduced us and we got together and listened to some music and some of each other’s idea. Doug had a line into Pony Canyon – a Japanese record Label to their A&R Dept. He had worked with them before. What we did was we put few songs together. We did ‘Smooth Locomotion’ and ‘Making My Heart Beat’ off the first record – a two song demo – maybe it was three. We sent it over to them and they were very interested.
Keith: I think we sent three more rough demos after that and then we signed the deal. That’s was it. That’s how it started.
Keith: We had never jammed together live at that point.
Keith: All we had done was write some stuff together. We got it recorded. I brought in a drummer that I’d been working with. A guy I used to hire to do covers on the road. I cut a deal which was a pretty lucrative deal with a group out of Columbus, Ohio. What I was doing was going to different towns – they were opening up clubs – big clubs with live music in them in every town in the US in every big city. I would go and I would spend six weeks in a town. I’d put these live shows together and put bands together in the town.
But before we’d do that, I’d bring a band of my own in there and we just did a very showy show – a very exciting stage act. This drummer that did it with me he was fantastic. He was really, really one of those Bonham guys. He was one of the best drummers that either Doug or I had ever played with for sure. He just never got into it a big act. He was in that band Steelheart for a little while. I’m sure he did a few records – this guy Alex (Makarovich).
So we had Alex and Ian, me and Doug and that was it. We went in and cut the record and we learned how to play together live after that. Unfortunately we never played that many live gigs together. I wish we had played a lot more.
Glenn: I mean, I have known about Burning Rain for years but it made me laugh when I read, ‘The best band that nobody’s heard of!’ It’s like ‘Wow!’ (We laugh)
Keith: I used to get that a lot. Mostly people are hearing about it so that’s good. It’s how many years later? 17 years later (we laugh)
Glenn: I was lucky to see you back in 2001 at the Z Record Festival in Manchester.
Keith: We played The Ritz in Manchester– that’s where we played. It was such a weird thing that gig. Even though it was so many years ago, I just remember that I was doing some other stuff and my schedule was really tight and I had to fly in differently to the other guys. It was a stretch for me vocally for the timing of having to fly. I can’t remember if it was a red-eye. It was a 24 hour thing. I wished we could have had more time to tour that band at that time and get a nights sleep or two here or there.
The band really was a lot better of a band than what we showed at the Ritz that day. I think everybody’s head was in a funky place. We were trying to throw something together that didn’t have enough rehearsal time together and we didn’t have enough history with each other to just jump on a foreign stage together through whatever monitors and just be able to pull it off with proper poise. It’s too bad because it was a really good band but I don’t know that there’s much proof of that.
Glenn: Is there anything else that we’ve not talked about that you’d like to mention?
Keith: I really want to push the Ronnie Montrose Remembrance. It was so fun last year. Many people wrote me afterwards saying, “Man, I really wanted to make it out there but it was a lot of money to find with NAMM and all that stuff. I only heard about it the week before. If they just go to the website and see the list of players that played last year, it’s going to be that plus more this year. Burning Rain 4 of course is a no-brainer.
The only other thing is that I’m developing my own solo now. Of course I have so much material because I’m a writer and I’m always writing. I’m usually saving it for something else like Burning Rain or what-not. But with doing The Dead Daisies a lot now and Doug saying, “Yeah you should do your solo record too”. I talked to some agents and they said, “Yeah you can play some Burning Rain stuff, play some Montrose stuff and play some of your stuff that instantly works with the crowd”.
I don’t know what it is about my writing. People think I’m a big hard rock ballad writer. They say, “You’re the ballad guy”. So I’m just like the Tom Kiefer that even if you don’t know the song that is big - sort of ‘Bringing On The Heartbreak’ style ballads. If I played you some of the stuff that’s been used in film and tv you’d get it.
I’m thinking of bringing a KSJ band out there and starting to do some opening gigs for some nationals since I’m soplugged into everybody. For example a band like Cinderella or Quiet Riot or whoever is playing somewhere in Southern California and I can jump on the bill and just start getting my solo act out there. I should be doing some of that.
Glenn: Cool! Awesome!
Keith: I don’t know what the future is going to be. This ‘Montrose Wabos’ seemed like a good idea to bring the people that were in the Montrose band. They are old now. The Montrose band in the old days when Sammy and Ronnie were together and then were force apart by them being apart. Trying to sort of bring that back together with Sammy’s crowd and Ronnie’s later crowd together doing these Montrose Wabos. I was hoping that was something that we’d be able to do more of and it will catch on. We’ll see if it does because those guys are all into doing it like Dave and Mona. We can play some more of that music in the up and coming years. I’d love to do it man!
Keith: One thing that did happen is that when we were at Ronnie’s first official memorial just right after his death, Sammy pulled me aside and said to me, “Hey Man”, he must have known he was going to get busy doing the circle and Chickenfoot was probably be coming to an end. He said, “You should go and sing with the Wabos band!”.
He was telling me, “They are going to need to work. You should get in touch with them and you guys should keep working”. I didn’t pay much heed to that back then and then we wound up doing this now. There’s a chance I guess that Sam’s caught wind of it by now. Maybe there’s a chance he’ll want to get involved to make it more legitimate.
Glenn: That’d be great that. Tour it around. Be good to get a World Tour or whatever financially you guys can put together for something like that. If would be nice to see it across here as opposed to have to dive across to your side of the pond to Sammy’s place. (We laugh). It’s all about schedules and financial things and stuff like that.
Glenn: It’s what can be realistically accomplished isn’t it?
Keith: Exactly! Where there are a lot of fans for that. I know how to play it. We can play it on the West Coast here until we are blue in the face and certain pockets of the U.S. For example, every year Ronnie and I went back to St. Louis and certain other cities that were a huge Montrose pocket. We could be one of the headliners at a festival with 20 or 30,000 people. Then in other cities we’d still play for 90 people in little clubs.
Glenn: Do you enjoy making videos because there are two or three Burning Rain videos – what are your thoughts to that?
Keith: I love them. My way is I don’t like to do something. If Doug green lights me to start and shoot some video footage, I mean, I’m somebody that loves putting stuff together. I’ll go out and get footage. I’ll get camera people and start working on it. I’ll get the makings of video stuff together quickly. I just love creating that type of stuff.
My thought is, I’ll go back to the first record or whatever and just start making videos for everything that we’ve got. For me, we’d just be putting out a video every month – here’s another one. I have no problem. It’s just a matter of time and it would be getting Doug to commit to the concepts. We’ll see what happens. I hope we can make a lot more in the future because that’s the vehicle these days. The video is that vehicle that is the seller.
Glenn: Especially now with You-Tube and they’ve created that Facebook Live thing as well, everyone can do it. By all means, do as many videos as you can. A lot of us enjoy watching them when we get chance to.
Glenn: I like the tour diaries because they are often more interesting and you get to see the other side as opposed to seeing the bands on stage all the time. I’m not knocking that but you get used to seeing that. It’s always good to see what they do when they are chilling out off stage, all the capers that they get up to that are not staged as such, then it’s nice to see all that kind of thing. Which is cool!
Glenn: Well let’s wrap up. It’s been absolutely great. We’ve covered so much different stuff. Right, I’ll let you get off!
Keith: Right on Man!
Glenn: It’s been good talking to you. You take care Keith. It’s been a pleasure mate!
Keith: You do the same Glenn Man! It’s been really great talking to you and I look forward to seeing you in January.
Glenn: Thanks Man!
A big thank you to Lisa Morton Woodard for setting up the Interview and Keith St. John himself for a in-depth chat on various parts of his career so far.
Many Photographs are the property of Ronnie Lyon and used with full permission.