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Ron Keel – Vocals for Keel

Date: 2/10/10
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Keel reformed in recent years and just released a brand new album "Streets of Rock & Roll". Do you think the album recaptured the bands classic heavy rock/metal sound from the 80s?

RON: I think this is an incredible commercial hard rock album in the old-school tradition. All the elements are there – loud aggressive vocals, pounding grooves, the twin-guitar attack bouncing solos and guitar harmonies back and forth, and strong powerful anthem-type songs with huge choruses. But it’s about more than just style – with our experience and maturity comes a certain amount of substance and content, and there are no disposable moments on this album – every passage, every lyric, every lick says something and when you put it all together it’s a fun and entertaining ride down the "Streets of Rock & Roll".

Our roots are in the 80’s, and although these songs were written in 2009 it definitely doesn’t sound or feel as if twenty years has passed.

In the end, it’s what the fans and the listeners think that really matters, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with the fans unanimously embracing "Streets" and many in the media heralding it as the kind of album we’ve all been waiting for.

2. Tell us about who is currently in the band?

RON: It wouldn’t have been the same without the classic guitar duo of Marc Ferrari and Bryan Jay, and Dwain Miller on drums. The new guy is Geno Arce, who has been with me for eleven years now – it seems having a new member brings even more excitement and enthusiasm to the band, and you have to have somebody to carry all the luggage and guitars, bring the rest of us our cocktails, and when there’s not room in the limo he can ride in the trunk. I’m just kidding – Geno is like a brother to me, and I’m really glad to have him on board. It was a special day when we decided to pull the trigger on the reunion, and Geno had no idea it was coming when I called him and told him he was the bass player in Keel.

3. Prior to recording "Streets of Rock & Roll", how long has the band been reformed and how many shows did you play?

RON: We made the decision to go for the reunion in the fall of 2008, and made the announcement on November 18th. Rehearsals began January 1st 2009, our debut reunion gig was in Hollywood January 31st, and we began spitting out new Keel songs almost immediately. In between live gigs at South Texas Rock Fest, M3, and the MidWest RockFest we were in a furious creative storm writing the new album and began recording last June. Took a break for an appearance at Rocklahoma and spent the rest of the summer finishing up the recording.

4. How much touring will Keel do in support of the new album?

RON: We’re getting ready to make some announcements regarding festival appearances this summer, we’ll have at least one trip to Europe, and we’d like to go back to Japan. So much depends on sales, and hopefully the CD will do well enough to help create opportunities for us to perform live in enough cities across the U.S. to please the fans that have hung in there and helped keep this style of music alive. Cranking up the big machine and taking it on the road is an expensive operation, and although we’re not in it for the money, the offers at least have to make sense – if we don’t make it to your city, it’s not because we don’t want to play there, it’s because the local promoter or venue can’t put the right deal together.

5. Why call the album "Streets Of Rock & Roll"?

RON: I live in Las Vegas, and we have a great local magazine here called “Vegas Rocks” – and they send out an e-mail newsletter and the publisher, Sally Steele, always signs off with the phrase "See you on the streets of rock & roll". For me, that conjured up visions of an almost mythical place where the spirit of this music rules the night, and I thought it was a great name for a song. It really painted a picture in my mind and said something important, and as soon as the song came to life there was never really any question that it wouldn’t be the title track.

6. Keel’s second breakthrough album "The Right To Rock" was recently reissued. Was it remastered and if so what changes were made?

RON: We’re really proud that Frontiers Records chose to release "The Right To Rock: 25th Anniversary Edition" in conjunction with "Streets Of Rock & Roll". We’ve been trying for years to acquire the ownership of that album, and in 2009 we were finally successful and offered it to Frontiers. Modern-day digital remastering enables you to boost all the frequencies and make the original recording even louder and more powerful than the original without losing the raw edge that people love about that album.

7. Tell us about the 25th Anniversary version of the song ‘The Right To Rock’.

RON: Obviously ‘The Right To Rock’ is our signature song, and we’re proud to have made that our contribution to the greatest anthems of the genre. The song itself – and the message – are timeless, and we wanted to create a new recorded version that could bring the song to a new generation and hopefully stand for another twenty five years. One of the cool things about the new version: through the technology available to us now, we were able to have fans from all over the world send us MP3 files of them singing the title of the song, in the chorus, and we took their voices and blended them with ours on the recording so the fans are actually singing with us. It was the first time that was ever done, and that makes it even more special.

8. Are there plans to release a Keel DVD with pro shot live footage from the 80s and all the promo videos?

RON: We’d like to do it. There is very little pro shot live footage from the 80’s – we were moving so fast, the cameras couldn’t keep up – but we’re very pleased with the response to our YouTube channel KeelTV - http://youtube.com/keeltv where fans can see all of the old-school videos, interviews, promo stuff, all kinds of clips.

9. "Lay Down The Law", "The Final Frontier", and "Keel" are hard to find on CD. Will any of those albums be reissued?

RON: "Lay Down The Law" was digitally remastered and released by Shrapnel records in 2008, and is available on their web site http://shrapnelrecords.com. "The Final Frontier" and "Keel" have been re-released by Universal Music and are available for digital download on our web site http://keelnation.com.

10. What are a couple of the band’s favorite memories?

RON: You don’t go through twenty five years of rock & roll history without accumulating a ton of incredible memories. I’ve lived a dream, full of incredible surreal moments in time, like a range of mountains behind us and still a few more to climb. Among those mountains, there are a few that really stand out on the horizon as we look back – signing our first major record deal, working with Gene Simmons, seeing our albums climb the charts, the magazine covers and videos on MTV, not being able to turn the radio on without hearing your song. Opening for Van Halen in front of 86,000 people in Dallas on July 17 1986, still our all-time record crowd; the trail end of the Bon Jovi "Slippery When Wet" tour which included three sold out nights at Madison Square Garden; sold out tour of Europe with Dio in ’86, and our headline sold out tour of Japan the same year.

I got a feeling that years from now, I’ll be looking back on what we’re doing now with the same feelings – to come back strong after all this time and get back out on the big stage, and be able to create and release an album like “Streets Of Rock & Roll” certainly ranks up there with the best of times.

11. Plans for the rest of 2010?

RON: Of course the album has just been released, so there’s plenty of work promoting it – doing interviews like this one, trying to be very active on line with our web sites, staying tight with the fans. And of course we’re booking shows. Getting ready to crank up the big machine and get back on stage. After all I’ve been through, I keep the plans loose – follow the dreams, and when opportunity knocks answer the door. I plan to live, have a great time, enjoy every day and every night like it were my last, and when my time comes, they can scatter my ashes on the Streets of Rock & Roll.

Hey Rich – thanks for the opportunity, I had fun with this one. We appreciate Metal Asylum helping us get the word out, best regards/rock on – RK

Official website: http://keelnation.com


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