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20 Questions With Jeff Keith, 4/24/01



Tesla Singer Jeff Keith

These 20 Questions were conducted over the phone by our Sludgeaholic DJ friend Wendell Neeley, who hosts the Classic Metal Radio Show out of Akron, OH. He also does our weekly Metal Sludge Song Of The Week. Anyway, Wendell set us a specific interview for these 20 Questions with Jeff on March 30th. Wendel asked all our dumb questions and Jeff got a little irritated with us around question #17, which was entertaining. But he was a good sport and hung in there for the duration.


1. What are you up to? Plug your shit now or forever hold your peace.
I’m having the best time of my life right now! Tesla’s back together man, it’s the real thing, all 5 original members. It’s the best thing in the whole world and we’re really enjoying it! We’re recording every night. Hopefully we’ll come up with a little live CD for everybody. If not, hey, we’re still having a good time going around country and letting everybody know we’re back and we’re very excited to make a new album coming up real soon.

Bar 7
2. What happened with Bar 7? Are you officially done with that now and are you happy with how it did?
No, I love Bar 7 to death. Me, Tommy, Ray, Steve and Dennis put a lot of time and effort into it. I think it’s a beautiful thing but it also came about when once Tesla walked out the door. So now that Tesla has come along better than ever it’s put on the back burner. Honestly, for a little bit longer than I’d prefer too, but it’s still in our hearts and me and Tommy still want to go back and do it. Just has to have time to provide, you know.

3. What weighs more, a pound of silicone or a pound of saline?
Ahh, well it all depends on how much you party the night before and on what day you are carrying what.

4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
Ahh, any hard rock/heavy metal band that’s not enjoying themselves up there on stage needs to get out of it and go somewhere else.

5. Rate a singer 1-10, 1 being a waste of hearing and 10 being the shit!
Kevin DuBrow = No comment. (thinks it over) Alright, Kevin DuBrow, I’ll go with, uh, 3.
Bret Michaels = I’ll give Bret a 6
Geoff Tate = We’ll gonna give Geoff a 7 or 8
Sebastian Bach = We’ll give old Sebastian a…a…a 7
Jani Lane = 6
Rob Halford = (sings) Breakin the law, breakin the law, you’ve done it! Nah, he’s a good one, we better give him or we’ll piss someone off….nothing to do with his sexual preference alright with this rating, but we’re gonna give him a, we’re gonna give him a 8.
Joe Elliott = Joe gets a 10
David Lee Roth = I’m gonna give him a 10
Eric Martin = Eric Martin gets a 9
Don Dokken = Don Dokken gets a 8

6. You guys were offered the Poison tour this Summer but turned it down. Do you think Tesla is too good to tour with Poison?
Absolutely not. We enjoyed touring with them guys at one point in our career but at this point in our career we’re just, we’re just satisfied with going out, doing our smaller show and doing our show and having fun with it and not be, you know, strapped for time on stage. You know, we can go up there and do our own show and that’s the only reason why we wouldn’t tour with Poison. It has nothing to do with the guys they are because they’re a great bunch of guys. We just think at this point in our career we feel more comfortable doing what we’re doing. No offense to no one.

7. After years of tours, which bands treated Tesla like shit?
None of the above. They were all good to us and at the same time, you got to understand us Tesla boys, we’re the kind of guys who we ahhhh…….sort out all the good stuff. You know what I’m saying? We don’t trip out on the bad. When they go…like when David Lee Roth for instance said, you don’t get to use these lights, you don’t get to use these lights, all we wanted to know is which ones do we get to use cause that’s what we’ll work with. Ya see what I’m saying? Other bands might go, "Ahh, it’s a bummer, we don’t get to use this and that" but hey, the point is just show us what we can use and we’ll take that tool and do the best job we can. So they’ve all been good.

8. Speaking of shit, which rock star deserves a big smack in the mouth and why?
Well…. I don’t know, you know. I mean, in all honesty, my reaction to that question is hey, if they’re kind of being the asshole that you’re kind of making it out in the question, I think they’re already slapping themselves in the mouth on their own just for being the way that they are if they’re being an asshole. You know what I’m saying?

9. Who’s the most overrated band today?
Um, I would have to say…either Britney Spears, N’Sync, or Backstreet Boys.

10. What do you remember about writing the following songs:
I Can’t Wait = Well that’s one of those, by golly, sometimes in hindsight you go, I almost wish that one wouldn’t have made it on the record or whatever. But that is kind of about just saying that you got a love for someone and if they don’t fucking start using it up then, it’s, it’s, you know, it ain’t gonna hang for ever. Better use it or lose it baby.
Modern Day Cowboy = That one was originally inspired by a guy named Lightning Billy in Oklahoma. He was like the outlaw were I grew up and he use to run all the dog fights and chicken fights and so the song started about that and then it started evolving into how there were different eras that just kind of controlled everything. The cowboys back in the day when it was a fight, they just had a shootout. Then when the gangsters came along trying to run everything, once again the bullets are flying. And then when it all boils down to is it’s like a politically song meaning a, how like say, our government or something can sit there and all kinds of blood shed is going on but they’re in suits and ties and giving the orders, you know? So in actuality they’re the modern day cowboys going around bang bang shoot em up.
Wendell: They’re callin’ the shot.
They’re callin’ the shot but just letting somebody else do the shooting.
Lazy Days, Crazy Nights = Just what it says man. Can’t do without those lazy days and crazy nights. I love it, you know. It’s a whole different schedule that you are running on out here on the road playing music and stuff. It’s more like a nocturnal thing. It’s a fun loving song about if it seems like we are getting crazy don’t worry, we are getting crazy but we’re trying to keep one foot one the ground. So it’s like don’t worry about it we’re just having a good time.
Change In The Weather = Change in the weather. (pause) It’s a song sort of about how….you know, a generation can start taking over the reins, you know. Like the younger generation now we’re raising and stuff, one day will become the ones that are calling the shots. It was kind of a….kind of a…(pause) what do you want to call it? Like a very, I don’t want to say confident, I’m trying to look for the right word. Very cocky like saying of hey we want to be heard and this is what we got to say.
Wendell: Like a changing of the guard, so to speak.
That’s exactly right! It’s a new shift.
Mama’s Fool = It’s just saying, "hey man, just because somebody fools you and pulls the wool over your eyes doesn’t mean you are a fool." It just means you got fooled. And a….it may look like, say for instance, if you go, "Ahh, that person just got taken." Well the thing is actually it’s they’re not wrong for being fooled, it’s the person that fooled ‘em that’s bad. So it’s just saying mama didn’t raise no fool, and fool I got my eye on you and don’t try it on me.
Paradise = That’s a song about having to leave home and how the love for the road, you love playing the music for the people but there’s another side to it and that’s you have to leave all your loved ones and stuff back at home and it can be hard so sometimes….personally for me that’s my therapy. I get to write about it and it helps me release, you know, certain feelings and can make you feel better. But it’s basically about a song, you know, about having to leave something behind for a while.
EZ Come EZ Go = The easier it comes the faster it goes. And sometimes even when it comes hard like in the Tesla situation, man it can go in a blink of an eye. So I mean, you know, but it’s just what the song is about. We were young and stuff, and that’s what it was all about. You know, just EZ Come EZ Go. The harder you work the longer it stays around.
Cry = See on "Bust A Nut" I was going through basically a…breaking up with my ex-wife which is now my ex-wife. So that song is kind of a song where I think I’m standing up saying, you know what, that I’m ready for it to all fall apart now because I can’t deal with the situation the way it is. So you know, it’s another one of those cocky like songs but yet in the middle it breaks down saying, "man I really tried for ya but since I’m not your cup of tea I need ya just to go." That kind of song.
Steppin Over = Steppin Over is definitely about Tommy Skeoch’s departure from Tesla. That’s exactly what it’s about and I think it’s a beautiful song.
4 Leaf Clover = Ahh, a little Bar 7 here, eh? 4 Leaf Clover, that one is definitely relating to my divorce and the breakup of Tesla. Because I was lost at one time when I didn’t have either one and I’m happy that the ex-wife left and I’m so glad the band came back!

11. What is your opinion on Napster?
It’s gone, isn’t it?
Wendell: Well…
86’d isn’t it?
Wendell: I guess so.
Nah, I think there should be something on there that only allows the thing to be played so many times and then, you know…like Get Smart or something, it just blows up after 10 times played and if you want to hear it for the 11th time you have to go down to the store and get it. That would be my way of dealing with it.

Old School Tesla from 1986

12. Do you think it’s possible that Tommy Skeoch is on some corner right now trying to buy smack?
(pause) No he’s not and that’s a beautiful thing. Tommy’s never done smack to be honest with you but he’s been a bad boy before, don’t get me wrong. But Tommy Skeoch, right now, is just the opposite of that statement. That mother fucker is making us proud right now and I do mean proud. He’s great. He’s one of my bestest buddies in the whole world man.

13. What do you remember about the following years:
1975 = I was a junior in high school and it was a very good year because now, by that time, I had been (inaudible – can’t make out the word he says here) signs for approximately 4 years and I was loving it all the time.
1979 = Was (pause) uh…I was hauling septic tanks and it was a year after my first concert ever in my life. And it was a good year also.
1983 = Alright, that was a good one because I auditioned for City Kidd and I was hired in the band. And I was loving life very, very much at that time.
1987 = Woah, that was a very special time because we were on tour with Def Leppard for a whole world tour. We had already toured with David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, and we were just….playing The Texas Jam. Just loving life. Once again a beautiful time.
1991 = Excellent! Lots of fun there. We had now recorded the acoustic album. And we had released "Psychotic Supper" and we were very proud papas. Once again, not to be boring, but it was a very wonderful year.
1995 = Now the clouds start coming over, it starts to get dark and nasty. (laughs) The rain gutters are full of leaves. (laughs) And the storm is on it’s way. That’s when things were starting to fall apart and along with the grunge movement thing, so the industry was freaking out, you know. Tommy’s leaving the band freaking out, I’m going through a divorce now freaking out. And all kinds of stuff. That was a very freaky year.
1999 = Ahh yea, it was good. We were tearing it up with the Sofaking/Bar 7 thing. And uh, trying to play music we love and enjoy. Me, Tommy, Ray, Steve and Dennis, and uh, (pause) it was an alright year. It was a good year.

14. It’s one thing to not to care about your image, but it’s another to look like Brian Wheat. Can you please explain the look he’s going for?
Whatever feels good to him, man. I don’t understand that one but just whatever feels good to him cause he’s a good man and that’s all that counts. Unless clothes is what counts to ya.

15. Which do you prefer:
Winger or Warrant = Winger or Warrant. Huh. (pause) Let me see. Winger or Warrant. (longer pause) I’m gonna to go with Warrant.
Hard liquor or Hard drugs = Always beer and hard drugs.
Smoking cigarettes or smoking weed = Well, that answer would be, I quit smoking about 45, 50 days ago so weed would be your answer on that one.
Dogs or cats = Either one without a home and I’m taking it in.
Go-carts or Motorcycles = Well, now had you asked me this when I was 9 years old I would have went, Go-Carts! But now I’m going to have to go with motorcycles because it’s a lot less pulling it up a hill and coasting down it. It’s got a motor on it and I like motors.
Vince Neil or John Corabi = Ahhh, John Corabi. But I like Vince Neil too man. I hate to be in the middle of that. You see what I’m sayin? I’m going to have to go with lots of love for both of them, how’s that?
Porn stars or Strippers = Well now I know a guy named John Hinkley that loves them all but for me buddy I carry my choice with me. I got my beautiful wife and that’s all that matters to me. But nothing against either one of those. But actually, I’m going to have to go with dancers if I was to get really technical because of the fact that pornos really go over that edge there, you know?
Cows or pigs = I want ‘em both. I plan on having them both on my farm someday. Right now I just got a one eyed pony and 2 goats up there in the pasture but I plan on having it all!
Motor homes or trailer homes = (pause) Well I don’t know see. Like in Bar 7 we went out in motor homes and RV and those things get really harsh. So I would take a tour bus but a…what you say, a motor home?
Wendell: Motor homes or trailer homes. Which do you prefer?

Trailer home.
Earthquakes or floods = They’re both fucked. Let me see…(pause) I hate either one of ‘em.

16. What Tesla song could go into a vault called "Songs That Fucking Suck?"
I’d say fuck you I’m going to keep it in my own fault. Fuck yours! (laughs) Cause I like em all. So fuck your vault!

17. Has Jeff Keith ever…
Tasted urine = Has Jeff Keith ever tasted urine? What is this, one of them porn stars asking these questions or what?
Wendell: No, no, it’s just a goof question, you know how that goes.
Don’t be silly.

Ate sushi with a member of Motley Crue = No I haven’t. I don’t like that raw fish shit but I have eaten some meals with Motley Crue and they tasted pretty damn good.
Touched another man’s penis = Ahhh, next! Hell no. You know better than to ask me that shit! Next!
Considered suicide = Considered suicide? Ahh c’mon, you know better than to ask me that shit.
Somebody in the background: What are you doing man?
Hey dude, you know what, any of those questions like that I can save ya a bunch of time and go, motherfucker just …I’m not talking to you personally, I’m just saying to the people that want to know the answer to it is, don’t waste my fucking time. On to the next one dude. Cause I….homosexuals and a, all that shit, I’m not going to go out and bash ‘em but…I don’t even want to answer questions like that is what I’m getting at.
Sang along to an N’sync song = (sings) A baby bye bye bye. Probably that one a time or two.
Fathered a child out of wedlock = Absolutely not
Shot a female deer = Did what?
Wendell: Shot a female deer.
Shot a female deer? Absolutely not

Had a finger in your ass = (Wendell skipped this one since Jeff got stressed about the other ones)
Visited a massage parlor = Uh, no sir. I’ve had massages before but not the kind you all are talkin’ ’bout.
Had your arm in a cow’s ass = No sir but I did major in FFA in high school in Oklahoma so by god I’ve seen a calf born but I’ve never stuck my hand up it’s ass.

18. How many times has Tommy Skeotch quit the band during this tour?

19. How much do you weigh and how much of that weight is alcohol?
145 and you’d have to have a forensic science to tell you how much of that was beer fat, I don’t know dude.

20. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Rikki Rockett = (pause & sighs) Dude, is that the last question?
Wendell: There a couple names on here and this is the last question.
Alright, Rikki Rockett, yea, he’s cool.

Fred Durst = cool
Tommy Lee = cool
Kid Rock = cool
Tom Zutaut = motherfucking cool
Thomas Edison = you know better than to ask me that shit. Next!
Lars Ulrich = cool man
Lonn Friend = is one of the greatest dudes I know
Eminem = you mean like, Emimen the rapper? He’s got a couple songs I think are cool.
John Kalodner = Ahhh..he’s good for a lot of folks, I’m not saying he’s my cup of tea but he ain’t never done me wrong.

There you go. Jeff wasn’t too keen on the gay questions, but that’s cool. At least he finished all the questions, so for that we give him props!

Thanks to Wendell and Jeff for both being good sports!

For more info on Tesla, you can go to their website at www.teslatheband.com

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