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Keri Kelli

Keri Kelli
Rock’n’Roll Is Supposed To Be Fun

25.07.2011

Архив интервью | Русская версия

What most people know about Keri Kelli is that he recently played guitar for Alice Copper. At least the shows that he’s doing in Russia more and more often lately are with an Alice cover band and performing Alice songs. But if you look deeper, you’ll find that Keri has cooperated with many other significant persons on the U.S. hard rock scene – from Slash’s Snakepit to Skid Row and beyond. Even that is not it – apart from being a guitarist, he’s a bar owner, a vegetarian and simply a nice and friendly person who is great to talk to. And that’s basically what we did during one of his recent visits to Moscow, so now you can read this interview and get a little bit more familiar with the man with the guitar...

My first question is about the upcoming release of Alice Cooper, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare”. I heard that he did it with the old line-up. And did you take part in it?

As far as I understand, Bob Ezrin is putting it together, and it’s retrospective in a way. The old guys from the old band recorded like four songs, we recorded four songs, cut about a month ago, and I know about other people on the record – Kane Roberts from the 80s, and a few other guests Alice has had throughout his career. Everybody is there, it’s like a family affair or something. So it should be good. I don’t know everything about it, because Bob is doing it, and he has a kind of big puzzle that he’s trying to put together.

You have also recently collaborated with a band called Pushking from St. Petersburg. How did you get together with those guys?

I know a guy in California that has helped them produce some of their records, his name is Fabrizio (Grossi), he’s a friend of mine. A couple of years ago he got in contact with me regarding a new release where they have a lot of guest stars (“The World As We Love It”, 2011), and he asked me if I would be interested in doing something. I said, “Yes, sure, I’ll do it”. Then a little while after that they go, “Hey, maybe you can talk to Alice and see if he wants to do something?” So I did, and we made a deal, and the next thing is that I’m on the record, Alice is on the record, and they’ve got a lot of other great people there – Paul Stanley, Billy Gibbons… It was cool, and then those guys were kind enough to invite me to St. Petersburg about a year ago, where they were doing a little private party. I played with them there, we jammed the song that I played on, and a couple of other songs of theirs, and some cover songs, and we had a fucking blast! These guys are really good guys.

You’re big friends with Slash. How did you become friends?

In L.A., a lot of people just know each other from hanging around and stuff. I’d been over to Slash’s house in the 1990s, just partying, drinking beer, shooting pool and shit like that. Some years later I was on the road with the band of another friend of mine called Warrant, and Slash was calling, he said, “Hey, where are you?” I go, “I’m in Texas or something”, I don’t know, it was somewhere weird. He goes, “OK, call me when you get back home”. I said, “OK, I’ll be home in a couple of weeks”. I called him, he said, “Come to my house, we need a guitar player, so we want you to come down and jam”. And that’s how I ended up in Slash’s Snakepit.

Wikipedia reads that you were also a member of Skid Row. Is that true?

Yes. Once again, those guys are my good friends. I believe I’ll be doing some shows with Skid Row in May this year. It sounds kinda funny, it probably sounds weird to some people, but you just wait for the phone to ring. I was just sitting at my house one day, it was on Thursday, the phone rang, and it was bass player Rachel Bolan. He goes, “Hey, what are you doing?” I’m like, “Nothing, I’m just sitting here”. And he goes, “I need your help, can you play with us?” The thing was that Snake Sabo, the other guitar player, his hand was fucked up or something. Skid Row are great guys, great rock’n’roll music, and I said, “Sure, I’ll play with you! When?” And he goes, “Tomorrow!” (everybody laughs) I said, “Tomorrow? Send me the songs!” And he sent me like 17 songs, and I had one day, Thursday, to learn them! And then to fly out on Friday morning and play on Friday and Saturday! That’s kind of how I ended up playing with them, and I still play with them now and again. I try to help them whenever they need, but originally I started playing with them before I started playing with Alice, I think it was 2005 and 2006. I joined Alice at the very beginning of 2006, but I still did some Skid Row stuff, too. I played with them for several years pretty much straight, and before that I played with Vince (Neil) from Motley Crue.

Do you still play with Vince?

No. He has a new group of guys that he’s been playing with, and of course, he has Motley Crue. And I’ve been so busy with whatever. I would like to play with Vince again, but he has his new dudes, and I haven’t played with him since 2004. I see him, we played some shows with Motley Crue last year, I hang out with him, but that’s about it.

What about a band called Dad’s Porno Mag? Is it still active?

No. That was a project we did back in 1998 and 1999, 10 years ago. I just try to be a working musician in a way, always doing something, and playing with my friends is the main thing, because rock’n’roll is supposed to be fun. Of course, it’s a business, it’s entertainment business or music business, but you still gotta have a little bit of fun, right? So you get together with your buddies, “Yeah, cool let’s rock!”, you drink some beers… I’m always looking to play with any of my friends anytime. Maybe we’ll play with that band again - I don’t know, we’ll see.

Then let’s discuss yet another of your projects you’ve been involved with – Liberty N’Justice…

It’s another thing, it’s more of a project. The guy who is actually the mastermind behind it is called Justin Murr, he writes the songs and has a theme for the record, what this record’s gonna be themed after. He basically hires people that he likes – guitar players or singers or whatever – to play on certain tracks. I’ve been fortunate, I think I’ve been on every record, so he must like me or something. He’s a good guy, and again, I have a lot of friends on his records – John Corabi, Phil Lewis, Jani Lane, the singer of Warrant, tons of people. It’s always neat when you have Keri on guitar, Eric Singer on drums, and Jani on vocals – that’s what this project is about. It’s more of a recording project only.

You’ve also been involved in Adler’s Appetite, can you say a few words about what this band is about?

It was probably in 2002, Steven Adler from Guns N’Roses was living in Las Vegas, and one of my friends in Las Vegas had met Steven or was friends with him. Steve told him he wanted to start playing again, because he hadn’t really played for about 10 years. My friend said, “You should talk to Keri”, he called me up, and we started talking. I said, “I can put some guys together, some band guys, and let’s see if we can make some work”. I got my friend Robbie Crane, who plays bass in a band called Ratt, myself, Steven on drums obviously, Brent Muscat, of Faster Pussycat played rhythm guitar, and another guy called Jizzy Pearl was singing, he’s from a band called Love/Hate. We did a rehearsal, and it sounded good! We toured in Europe for a couple of years, we just played covers, we had fun. We did Guns N’Roses stuff, we did Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin stuff, it was just like a party. And then we recorded an EP as well with six songs. And then basically Robbie and I and everybody quit. (laughs) But Steven is still doing the band with a whole different bunch of guys. I haven’t done anything with Steven since 2004 or 2005.

Now let’s pass on to another band – Shameless…

Shameless are more like Liberty N’Justice. It’s this guy named Alexx (“Skunk” Michael) from Germany, he’s a bass player and a songwriter. He basically gets people that he likes – singers, drummers and guitar players, and hires them to play on specific songs. I recorded most of the records in my house, I have a home studio, it’s very convenient. Basically all the guys who are there are my friends – Eric Singer on drums, Janie on vocals, Phil Lewis on vocals, John Corabi… it’s another little project like Liberty N’Justice, but in Germany.

You also have experienced in producing – you worked on a record by the band called New Skool Kings. How did you become a producer?

Back in the old days I was always the guy in bands who had a recording unit. You had a four-track, then an eight-track unit, which you used to do the demos with your band. I was always the recording guy, and now I have a studio at my house, a full studio. I live in Orange County, CA, and New Skool Kings are one of the bands that I came to know and I thought they had a lot of talent. They are kind of like Bad Religion meets Pennywise, very Southern California kind of punk rock. I’ve been working with them for the last year, they’re a great band, and I really hope they do something.

Do you work with other bands as a producer?

Yes, there’s a band out of Texas that I’ve been producing. I produce a lot of bands, but the main bands I’ve been working with are New Skool Kings and a metal band called Metavenge– they’re like Metallica meets Testament and Megadeth. They’re awesome, and they’re kids – not kids, but the main singer and guitar player is 20, the drummer’s 18, and the other guys are like 21. They are younger kids, but they are fucking great. Those are the two main bands I’ve been working with last year, trying to develop, really get their sound together. But I’m always recording stuff.

I saw a photo of you together with Slash and Ozzy Osbourne. Where and how was it made?

That was actually in Norway. I happened to have a day-off in Norway with Alice, and Slash was playing a few hours away. He was doing a festival, it was a Slash jam – Slash was the main guy, and then he had different guests: Ozzy, Fergie the girl from Black Eyed Peas and a couple of other singers. I was a couple of hours away, so I called up Slash’s wife, Perla, and said, “Hey, I’m over here”. She said, “Kick your ass, come down here!” I took the train and went down, hang out with them all day, obviously Ozzy was there, so I hang out with Ozzy, then they did the show, the show was awesome, and after the show we went out and drank a bunch of beers all night.

Does Ozzy still drink?

No, not Ozzy, it was me and Slash, also Perla and some other friends. Fergie was there getting crazy, she’s great!

You’ve been involved in so many bands and projects – which one was the most comfortable for you to play?

I try to find something good in every situation. I’ve never really had a problem with anybody in any of the bands. As I said, rock’n’roll is that you try to have some fun. You wanna have a good time with your buddies and play some fucking rock, dude! What I do like is playing different stuff. I’ve been very fortunate to play with different bands – Skid Row is a heavier rock band, and Alice is a little old school, Vince is the Motley kind of stuff… Even though it’s all rock music, it’s different a little bit. With Skid Row, you go fucking balls out, you’re cranking “Slave To The Grind” and fucking headbanging. With Alice, it’s more laid back. It’s neat to be able to do different styles of rock.

Have you ever thought about having your own band?

Many times. (laughs) I might be doing that - maybe this year, maybe next year, I’ll put my little project together. I’ve got a lot of songs recorded, tons of them, because I have my own studio, so I’m always doing something.

How do you see your future band?

I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it too much. I see it being badass! (laughs) Kickass!

What are your best memories about the beginning of your career?

Back in the old days I was just a kid, a lot of the musicians were older than me. What I did was move up to L.A., I was like 18-19 years old, hanging out with the people that were older than me, which was cool. But we were sleeping on floors, you know, fucking chicks, strippers and shit, drinking beer, and I as a kid was like, “Wow, that’s great!” It was a fun time, wild and everything. I did that for four or five years and finally gave it up. But every step you make brings you where you are today. If I wouldn’t have done all that crap in the early days, then I might not be where I’m at today. I think everything comes into play for some reason.

Which albums or songs that you have recorded do you consider your best?

I really like the record that I did with my friend, the singer from Warrant, his name is Janie, we did a project called Saints Of The Underground, and everything on that record (“Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner”, 2008) is really great. Saints Of The Underground is Janie Lane on vocals, me obviously on guitar, Bobbie Blotzer from Ratt on drums and Robbie again, Robbie Crane from Adler’s Appetite, on bass, he’s from Ratt, too. I’m very proud of that record, it’s got great songs, and the sound is cool. Andy Johns mixed it, he’s a famous producer, he did Ozzy, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones. Check it out!

How often do you have the jam sessions like the one you did in Moscow with Chris Holmes last year?

We try to do them all the time. I play with Chris all the time, we have a band called The Big Ball Stars. We actually haven’t done it too much lately, but in the last two or three years we used to do it about every two months. We’re always doing little jams. Actually when Saints Of The Underground started, it was just a jam band. We four were just the guys who used to play Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Rolling Stones, and then somebody said, “Hey, why don’t you make a record?” So we ended up making a record.

Does it mean that we can expect a record with Chris Holmes and yourself on it?

Maybe. I don’t know.

Apart from music, you also have a bar in Las Vegas. What does it look like?

Oh, it’s killer! It’s called “Aces & Ales”, it’s a specialty in craft beer, a special beer bar. We focus on real good quality micro breweries, instead of big breweries. We’ve got 22 draft beers and like 50 bottled beers, so we’ve got about 75 different beers in total.

Have you tasted Russian beer?

Yes, I’ve tasted most of them, and I don’t really prefer it too much. But there’s a good place here called “The Beer Market”, it’s a bar where they have like 50 different drafts, but mainly European beers. Russia beer is… (imitates unwillingness to drink it) The weird thing is that in the States there’s a great beer called Russian Imperial Stout – have you ever heard of it? It’s a dark beer, stout beer like Guinness, but very powerful. Usually Russian Imperial Stout is about 10-12% alcohol, but it tastes really good. And apparently back in England they brewed this beer and brought it over here in 1500-1600s for the king or tsar or whatever it was – “we’ve made this for you, Russian Imperial Stout!” And now the style lives on! We have Russian Imperial Stout at the bar, so come on over!

I heard that you’re a vegetarian. Why did you choose the vegetarian way of life?

Oh, I don’t know, that was like 20 years ago, when I was just a kid. I knew somebody that was a vegetarian, and I went, “Yeah, I’ll try it!” So I did, and I felt pretty good, to be honest. Two or three days after I stopped eating meat I went, “Wow, I actually feel pretty good!” I kept doing it, and now it’s been 20 years, and I don’t even think about it anymore.

What do think about Ted Nugent, who’s a strong meat fan?

He’s fine. I don’t care, nothing really bothers me, it’s none of my business what anybody else wants to do. Ted’s great, Ted’s wild, he can eat whatever he wants. Some people are kind of weird, they go like, “No, never eat meat!” I’m like, “Whatever… I do my thing, you do your thing. I’m cool with it.”

Keri Kelli on the Internet: http://www.kerikelli.com/

Special thanks to Pavel Potapov for arranging this interview

Interview by Sergei “BoBr” Bobrik
Photos by Alexander “SUMRAK” Nefedov
February 25, 2011
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