Keel came into my world when I was fifteen. As a complete Kiss nerd and metalhead I was constantly reading the magazines to hear all about my favourite bands and to learn about any new bands on the horizon. That was when I spotted Keel who were about to release a new album with Gene Simmons in the “production” chair.
Good enough for Gene, good enough for me, and I went right out to buy “The Right to Rock” album. Top to bottom this albums rocks with great songs but what really stood out to me was the vocalist, Mr. Ron Keel. Ron is one of those singers with a truly unique voice, powerful, memorable and honest. In my opinion he holds his own with the metal greats of Ronnie James Dio and Rob Halford.
The video for “The Right to Rock” showed a long haired young teenager being chased down and harrassed for listening to ROCK!. Which pretty much, although not to this extreme, was my youth. I remember sitting in the park with my friends and blasting this cassette to many less than appreciative classmates at lunch. The Right to Rock is a classic metal anthem that still rings true today.
When Keel reformed and I heard they were going to release a new album I was actually a little concerned. Many of the “reunion” albums from various bands of my youth have been filed under the “yeah I might listen to that again” category. Keel’s “The Streets of Rock n Roll” is definatly not one of those. This album is rocks with some great new songs and I think it may just be my favourite Keel album ever.
So needless to say, I was thrilled when Ron Keel agreed to let the Decibel Geeks in on what is new and to share some stories of his long and interesting career.
Decibel Geek: Alright then, let’s start with Keel as it is now. I know you’ve been back together for a little while but how exactly did the Keel reunion happen?
DBG: So take a moment and introduce us to the current lineup of KEEL.
RK: It bears a striking resemblance to the classic KEEL lineup from the 80’s – Marc Ferrari & Bryan Jay on lead guitar, Dwain Miller on the drums, and we brought my long-time bassist Geno Arce into the band when we put it back together.
DBG: Keel’s latest release “Streets of Rock n Roll” harkens back to a golden age of metal. Quite honestly, I feel it’s possibly Keel’s best album to date. Please tell us how this record came to light?
DBG: Technology not withstanding, what are the differences in recording a Keel album now versus back in the 80’s?
rep, show up ready to kick ass…we only know one way to make a KEEL album. For the basic tracks – drums, bass & rhythm guitars – I think it’s essential that the band is together in the studio. Guitar solo overdubs and lead vocals are best done later, alone with the producer, but for the foundation we wanted to capture the vibe and hang together.
DBG: You have been playing some shows in support of the album, what is the plan moving forward for Keel?
DBG: So I assume Keel is back to being priority number one musically but you spent a number of years recording some great country material. Can you tell me a little about Ironhorse? I stumbled across the video for “Best Move” and fell in love with that song. What happened with the Ironhorse band?
DBG: Personal question, Is Ironhorse available for purchase anywhere? I have been looking but so far am empty handed.
DBG: Continuing with the country music, you set up shop in Vegas with an incredible tribute to Ronnie Dunn. From the footage I have seen, you captured both the look and the sound to a T. How did you get involved with the show?
DBG: As a teenager in Canada in the 80’s I was about as far from the LA music scene as anyone could be.
My introduction to Keel came through the pages of Hit Parader magazine, when I read about this new band being produced by Gene Simmons of Kiss. As a huge Kiss Geek, that was all I needed to hear and I immediately went out to purchase The Right to Rock album.
So how did the whole Kiss connection happen?
DBG: What were the studio sessions really like with the Demon?
DBG: Any “Gene” memory you’d like to share with the Decibel Geeks?
DBG: The Right to Rock album is still one of my all time favourite albums top to bottom. Any great tour stories you’d like to share from that time?
DBG: n my opinion, Tears of Fire is quite possibly one of the greatest power ballads ever written. Lyrically, what was the song about?
DBG: Keel went on to tour and record extensively for the next few years. Who were some of your favourite bands to tour with?
Queensryche and Dio were two other bands that we toured extensively with, and I never got tired of going out into the crowd and watching their shows every night, and now I’m really glad I did that.
DBG: I understand that you auditioned for the vocalist spot in Black Sabbath. Any recollections from that event?
DBG: Your time with Steeler produced some
great music and of course is known for introducing Yngwie Malmsteen to America. Now Yngwie certainly has quite the reputation as being somewhat difficult to work with. How do you remember your time in Steeler?
RK: Steeler had a lot of history before Yngwie came along, and kept going for a year after he left, but of course the band will always be remembered for the album we recorded together, which really launched both of our careers. Of course I’m proud of the album and the accomplishments, but my best memories are of the original lineup that relocated to Hollywood from Nashville to make our mark, lived a very tough existence and clawed our way to the upper deck of that amazing early 80’s Hollywood metal scene. THOSE were some magical times.
DBG: My final question, I ask this to anyone I interview…Pick for me the one song you wish you had wrote?