Steelhouse Lane


Steelhouse Lane - Keith Slack (1999)

Hey Keith, I haven't seen much info on you out there, so we might go right back and get the basics from ya!
You are based in Texas, right? Always been a Texan?

Yes, I'm currently living in Beaumont, TX. Born and raised here, I feel blessed to have grown up in such a musically rich area that such musicians as Billy Gibbons, Janis Joplin and Edgar & Johnny Winter to name a few, came from.

When did you start singing?
Well, I actually started playing drums first at the age of four. I never wanted to be the front man, I hated the way my voice sounded at the time. I was more or less talked into it by friends and a few beers of course. I guess that was around 1995. Shortly after that I met Jonathan Grell and we formed Mudpie.

Who were your influences growing up?
My parents took me to see Three Dog Night when I was four and it was all over after that. I remember begging for Frampton Comes Alive, which I received for my sixth birthday, and then it was the usuals...Kiss, Hendrix etc...

And now - are differences in what influences you these days?
Oh yes, I've always had that inner soul thing learning for a new experience, and with the blues thrown in with that, there's an awesome combination. I listen a lot more to song writers and not so much musicians if that makes any sense. Don't get me wrong, it's great to have both but I'd rather be moved than amazed. I'm definitely a child of the 70's.

What were you first bands?
My first band was when I was 15. I played in a blues band here in Beaumont, playing drums. After that I think it was a modern rock a la early Cult band when I was 17 and then? it gets blurry.

And your first paying gig / band?
Well, we charged the neighborhood kids five cents to come and watch us jam and tear up our instruments when I was six, does that count?
Really I don't remember. I played a lot of gigs around the time I was 15 thru 17.

For the Steelhouse Lane debut, we heard from the Press Releases of this
sensational new singer. True of course! But where did Mike Slamer find you?

James Christian is who referred me to Mike, and that was damned nice of him. Mike called me and the rest so they say, is history.

Robin McAuley said to say howdy! How long have you two known each other?
Howdy there Robin! I've known Robin since '95 when I met his guitar player Jonathan Grell and we formed Mudpie. Back in the insecure days of singing when I wasn't real sure of myself Robin gave me a lot of support and assurance, He came to every gig and showcase we did and I'm forever grateful for that. He and his wife Gina are truly two of the nicest human beings on the planet and an amazing singer I must ad.

He mentioned an earlier project you had and were still thinking of shopping - MUDPIE was it?
Oh yes, Mudpie is where the real Keith gets to do his thang.

Tell us a little about that...

Jonathan and I are both from TX and have a lot of the same influences, so it was quite natural when we both jammed. I think the first time we jammed together we just looked at each other and started laughing because we couldn't believe how good it sounded. The CD we did together included some of the first songs I had ever co-written, and I think those songs still kick ass today.

So Mike's found you and you hook up, what was the sessions for the Steelhouse debut like?
It was a little nerve racking at first. My true style was a lot different from that, it was my first time working with a producer not to mention a musical genius. Everyday in the beginning I thought....surely he's going to get someone else for this album. I was quite green and luckily Mike had a lot of patience and encouragement. He's a very cool person.

Had you heard the original versions of the Slamer originals re-cut for the album (Metallic Blue, ...... etc)
Yes, Mike sent me a tape of the original versions to learn and go over before we did the recording.

Did you feel any pressure singing those songs, considering the success of the originals?
Yes, I didn't want to sing those songs like the original singers because then everyone has to make their comparison's, and Mike agreed with that so I just put my own inflections in there and it turned out good.

The debut album received a great response - looking back now, what are your thoughts?

It was the first real record I ever did. There are some really cool things on that record that still move me today.

Did you get any feedback personally from the fans?
Tons!!! that was the coolest part of it all, that people appreciated what I was doing. All the hard work just seemed to be a faded memory when the fan mail started coming in.

The Slaves album was amazing - I expected it to be great, but it was more than that. I named it my album of the year for 1999.
And I thank you for that! And a million thanks to the fans out there who bought and supported it.

What did you and Mike have in mind when you started to record the album?
Mike had said that he didn't want a S.H.L. Metallic Blue 2 record, and I agreed with him. We both wanted to create something more from a perspective of where we were, at that present time. I think too many people try to ride the same horse when they see that it wins one race, and that's not really growing musically is it ?

It was a major step up production, mix and sound wise. what do you put that
down to?

I think we had a little more time spent on this one, and maybe not even that...maybe it was the fact that the songs were more inspiring to us, I really can't pin point it down to just one thing.

How about tracks like Seven Seas and Find What We're Looking For. Great melodic anthems and huge vocals. What do you do to warm your voice up before recording such songs?
I usually try to warm up properly by doing some scales and what not, but I'm also impatient, so sometimes the music hits me and I want to start going for it right away. It depends I guess.

I am a great fan of Chris Thompson. How was it working along side the great
He's a cool dude. Very wise and talented. At first it was a little intimidating but Chris makes you feel right at home.

Any vocal duels? Did you guys feed off each other at all?

Na, I didn't want to get left in the dust completely you know!

And the title track - who's idea for the mega-rap?!!
Well the Hmmmbardah thing was Chris all the way but the concept was Mike's and mine as far as the social evolution thing and all.

That track was a lot heavier than we were used to from the debut. It caught a lot of people by surprise!
Good ! there's nothing like a little shocking the system.

What have you guys got planned for album number 3?
Now you know that would be spoiling the surprise wouldn't it. We'll most likely just do what we do and saddle up a new horse for the distant ride into the sunset.........hey, sounds like a new song.

When do you start recording that?

I don't know yet. We'll keep you posted.

And any surprises in store?

You never know. It's like a venture into the unknown. That's the fun of it isn't it?

Now through much of 1999, you have been out onthe road with Michael
Schenker. What an experience!
Yes, it's been very cool hanging out with such a great band. Lot's of fun and great people.

How did Michael get in touch with you and what was that initial experience

Well, Kelly Keeling called Michael's manager Peter Knorn and told him about me since Kelly was busy doing his solo record at the time. Later that week I received a phone call from Peter and then a fax from Michael saying congrat's and here's the song list. I then learned all the songs in a jiffy and we rehearsed for a few days and started the US tour. It was literally that fast.

The guys goes through a lot of lead singers, for various reasons no doubt! But how have you found the experience?
It's been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. I worked the green right off....ha ha ha. I needed the touring experience so it was perfect.

How long did you have to learn the material?

I don't remember I think about two weeks or less.

Best experience out on tour?
You bet!

Any word on whether you might record a studio album with Michael someday?
As far as I know there are no plans yet for an MSG studio record, but we'll keep you posted.

How about playing with the guys from Thin Lizzy?
Very cool ! It was an honor to be on the same stage as them. I idolized Sykes and Aldridge then I was younger so I felt like a kid asking them things.

And Glenn Hughes?

I hated going on after Glenn. He is hands down one of the best if not the best singer I've ever heard in my life! And he's a real nice guy too.

Were you able to meet or were approached by any Steelhouse fans out on the tour?

Yes, many. They were the coolest! Thanks guys!!!!

And you were even caught on tape! Immortalized on the MSG Unforgiven Live CD. Very cool mate!!

Thanks, that was the fourth gig in the tour I think. I wish it would have been later when things really started to gel but hey, It's still pretty good.

You obviously get a kick out of playing live - disappointed there has been no opportunity for Steelhouse Lane to play live yet?
No, I think that's more or less a record co. thing. With all the fan mail I've received I know the support is there it's just a matter of the co. following up on it. I know if it was my money I would want to protect my investment wouldn't you ?

That would be a kick ass show!

It wouldn't suck, that's for sure.

Any chance of that happening in the near future?
If I knew the answer to that question you would have to start calling me Nostradamus, ha, ha just kidding.

So Keith, if there is any room for anything else, what else have you lined up for 2000?
Well, I'm busy building my own studio at the moment. I'm going to release my own record in the future with me writing and playing all the songs. It will most likely be available via the Internet. I'm working on all that as we speak. Also, Mudpie is still generating a lot of interest with record companies here in the States as well so we'll see what happens.

Anything you would like to add?
Sure, I would like to say again that I really appreciate all the fan support as well as support from people like you Andrew for keeping the music alive when there are so many other alternatives to entertainment these days, and God bless everyone and have a prosperous and fulfilling new year!!!

One last question...what are you listening to right now?
Silence, It's golden isn't it ? ha, ha.... No, just kidding again, I was listening to my Jeff Buckley record "Grace", the man was a genius.
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