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Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 8, 2007

Celebrating Columbus . . .

"1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them."

-- Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), author, from Breakfast of Champions

(NOTE: Strictly speaking, this Vonnegut quote doesn't have anything to do with journalism. I'll owe you one. On the other hand, Columbus didn't have anything to do with discovering America, either, strictly speaking.)


Re-energized Telsa to rock Utah with concert and 'Real to Reel'

By Shannon Gibbs

Editor's note: The Salt Lake City Tesla concert has been rescheduled for July 27 at Great Saltair. Fans should keep their tickets, which will be honored at the new date. Real to Reel enters the Billboard Hot 200 chart this week at No. 48.

June 13, 2007 | For 20 years Tesla has rocked the music world, and now the band is back and better then ever.

Nothing can keep these musicians from delivering what fans crave. With their new album release Real to Reel they pay tribute to those that have changed their lives. From the legends of rock 'n' roll to the fans who have kept them coming back with more, Tesla knows how to deliver real to reel rock 'n' roll.

Unlike '80s hair bands that copied each other, Tesla stands alone in that it blazed its own trail and introduced the world to what rock 'n' roll could really be. With a distinct mix of classic rock intertwined with a hint of the blues, creating a sound the world had unknowingly been waiting for, Tesla surpassed all in its genre . . . by not conforming to generalities of the times.

Tesla's new album Real to Reel was released June 5, a day dubbed "Tesla Tuesday" and celebrated with band appearances and other events for eager fans. The band kicked off its tour June 7 and will hit Utah on June 22 at the Great Saltair in Magna. It's a show well worth the wait, and when you buy a ticket, you receive the second CD from Real to Reel free. This is the only way to get the second CD, so grab your tickets while you can. It fits inside the Real to Reel case that contains the first CD in this two-album set, which is on sale now.

This tour also gives Tesla a chance to show where the band came from and where it is going.

The Hard News Cafe sat with Frank Hannon, Tesla guitarist, for an interview Monday.

HNC -- So for starters, what made you guys decide to do Real to Reel?

Frank Hannon -- We have always liked doing covers. We started off as a cover band in the early '80s and we have always enjoyed playing covers. When you do a cover song, you learn a lot. . . . You learn a lot about someone else, how they interpreted songs. We like to explore those songs that way, and we have been wanting to do an actual cover album for the past 10 years. It turned into the concept of Real to Reel because through that time, through those years of conceptualizing it, it developed into recording it all analog and recording it all live and keeping as real as possible to the original, the way the original songs were recorded, which would have been on analog on a tape machine. . . . A lot of cover albums have been done already but we have been planning this one for many years.

HNC -- What process did you use to decide which songs to use?

Frank -- Well, throughout the years we have covered and tried different songs in our shows. Going back to Five Man Acoustical Jam, we did some Stones tunes, some Beatles tunes, you know, it starts off with our favorite artists. You pick your favorite artists and then you experiment with several songs by that artist. Like we tried several songs before we ended up with Hand Me Down World. We tried No Sugar Tonight and it didn't really sound good, so we would try several songs by our favorite artist and one would fit. . . .

HNC -- I know you guys just barely started your tour, but how has it gone so far?

Frank -- It's some of the best shows we've ever done. The band is . . . it's more inspired and on fire then we ever have been. We sold out the past three shows. In Hollywood, California, we played the House of Blues and it was sold out. And we have a lot of energy now. We just did a Rockline performance, which is probably one of our best performances

HNC -- Did you guys think that when you reunited in 2000 that you would be where you're at today?

Frank -- Well, yes. We've always known that this is what we loved to do. A lot of the problems that we had are no longer with us anymore. So we're better off . . . in a better place today then I imagined us being in 2000 because a lot of the negativity is gone.

HNC -- So Dave Rude, you recruited him as a guitarist -- what made you decide on him out of others?

HNC -- I personally myself auditioned several guitar players and I've played with a bunch of guitar players throughout my career and I knew what I was looking for. When I found Dave on MySpace, he had a song on there called Come On, Come On that had a great rhythm guitar feel, and really it was his rhythm guitar that I liked the best. And then when we got his personality in the band he was so positive for the band that that was it, his personality was the cincher.

HNC -- So it's been a good experience having him as part of the band?

Frank -- It's been a great experience, yeah; he brought a new breath of fresh air and light, positive energy to the band.

HNC -- So do you think he completes Tesla and where you guys are at today?

Frank -- Oh definitely, his energy is probably gonna prolong the life of this band another 20 years.

HNC -- Nice, that would be awesome because you guys have been around for almost 25 years.

Frank -- We have been making records professionally for 20 years but we have been together for 25.

HNC -- How does it feel to have that longevity?

Frank -- You know it feels great. It even feels better looking forward now that we don't have the negative problems, the derailing of it. We have had so many ups and downs in the past 20 years and now it looks like we're just gonna have a lot of smooth sailing ahead of us.

HNC -- What do you think Tesla's best achievement to date has been?

Frank -- Best achievement to date. . . . Learning to work through problems and communicate and . . . learning to communicate, learning to listen (laughs.) A lot of people can talk and spout but not a lot of people can listen.

HNC -- Very true. Do you think that '80s music is making a comeback? Many would say that in the last 10 years music has lost its emotion. I think there was a lot of emotion in '80s music, is it coming back because of that?

Frank -- Yeah, I think younger people are really starting to appreciate the energy of '80s music, and the high energy feeling of it and because there was so much negativity in the '90s and downer kind of music that I think when kids get a taste of rock 'n' roll they like it. Makes them feel good.

HNC -- How do you expect your concert date this Friday in Utah to compare with past shows here?

Frank -- From our end . . . well ,our shows that we're doing, we are going to be doing a lot of our new stuff, some of Real to Reel. It's going to be about half Tesla songs and half Real to Reel songs. So it is going to be a lot different from previous shows that people have seen. And filled with a lot of jamming and a lot of musicianship.

HNC -- Awesome. . . . Do you guys have any pre- or post-show rituals you do to get prepared to go on stage or to chill out afterward?

Frank -- Well everybody in the band has their own kind of rituals, like some guys work out, some guys stretch out. We don't smoke out or do any of that stuff anymore (chuckles).

HNC -- Do you do anything for yourself, like meditation or something, because it is overwhelming, I would think, to go on stage and face the crowds and its gotta suck out a lot of your energy to play.

Frank -- Yeah… for me its not anxiety its more like a race horse in the starting gate, waiting. It's the waiting that's hard to do. Its not really nervous its more like anxious, you just wanna get in there, get on the stage an go. And ya know, when the five of us are on stage that's when everything is in a great frame of mind. Sometimes there's a lot of BS you gotta deal with prior to it that you just wanna get on stage to get away from it all.

HNC -- Have any of your fans motivated you to create any specific songs throughout the years?

Frank -- Yeah, we have written songs about . . . being influenced by fans, some of them that we have lost. Fans, friends that have died. We have lost some close friends and the older you get the more experiences you have in life, you know. We were really heavily affected by 9-11. A lot of that is depicted on our last album, which is Into the Now. There are a lot of songs about that kind of stuff on that album.

HNC -- Do you have any regrets?

Frank -- Regrets? No. I mean, you know. . . .

HNC -- What I mean is, some people see them as regrets but some people see them as learning experiences.

Frank -- Right, yeah, I don't look at them as regrets. I would have waited to get married till I was older, don't get married tooyoung. Wait till you're older.

HNC -- (Laughs.) I can relate to that. Do you bring your wives and kinds on tour with you, and do they enjoy it?

Frank -- Sometimes, yeah, oh yeah, they enjoy it.

HNC -- Just one last question for you: What would you like to say to your fans, both old and new?

Frank -- I would just like to say thanks for giving us the chance to share music with them and to checkout YouTube and check out our new video Thank You 'cause that's how we feel. We want to thank everybody for being there, for coming to the shows and enjoying our music. We did a cover of the song Thank You,(Led Zeppelin) and it's a video of it so check it out.

HNC -- I have not yet seen the video of that but the song. . . . I was so impressed when you re-made that. That is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Frank -- Thank you, it's a beautiful song, you know, out of all the Led Zeppelin songs there are, to me, that's one of the prettiest, most beautiful messages right there. So check out the video, it's again, on YouTube and our Web site,


• • • 

Check out Thank You, and many other hits both new and old live June 22 at the Great Saltair before you miss your chance. This concert date is bound to be one of the most memorable shows one could ever experience.



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