Intervju med Lenny Wolf i Kingdom Come.
Lenny Wolf gjorde sig ett namn med Stone Fury. Visserligen inget stort band, men med det bandet blev han en del av LA-eran i början av 80-talet och gick sedan vidare med Kingdom Come, som blev desto större.
Kingdom Come anklagades för att vara zeppelinkloner och detta ledde sedan till att bandet upplöstes. Genom åren har sedan bandet uppstått, men då har det främst varit Lenny Wolf som enda kvarvarande originalmedlem.
Bandet är just nu aktuella med albumet "Outlier", en titel som Lenny själv fick ta till ordlistan för att förstå och albumet blandar nya, moderna tongångar med lite mer klassiska riff som känns igen från Kingdom Comes storhetstid i slutet av 80-talet.
Lenny visade sig vara en smått hyper man, som efter min inledning på tyska, snabbt skojade om att vi inte skulle prata om kriget.
Guten Abend! Wie gehts?
Lenny: German! I can´t believe it! Vielen dank, tjabalala.
What about the title of the album, “Outlier”?
Lenny: Well, I had to look it up myself because the title actually came from my brother´s girlfriend when we were sitting in the car on our way to Austria. It was six or seven hours of doing nothing and it was that time again when I was looking for a title. I had a couple of ideas that I felt very strongly about, but she basically just told me in a brief way. About an hour later I looked it up on Google and fell in love with it right away because when thinking about my childhood, I was an outlier, breaking out, and then now on the new record stylistically I´m breaking out again and combining traditional sounds with some new sounds. The title just over all made sense. I´m very happy with it.
There are some really modern sounds on it, especially in the song “Rough ride rallye”. There are also songs where you can hear the “classic” Kingdom Come sound.
Lenny: You couldn´t have said it better. Perfect! That´s exactly what it is. I´m glad you realized it. That´s cool!
I read that you kind of needed to explore your own way of making music.
Lenny: Well, ever since 1993 I started using new elements and that´s just a part of me.
How would you describe the new album and as I understand it, you did most of it yourself?
Lenny: Yes. To make a long story really long. To describe it with one word, it´s great. I once again did it all on my own and actually more than ever this time. I not only recorded it by myself, but for the first time I also mastered it myself. The reason for it is that sometimes in your life you have phases and periods where you just have no idea of what you wanna do or where to go. For some strange reason, when I started about a year and a half ago, I had a very clear vision of where I wanted to go sound wise without even haven written any songs. Just attitude wise, I knew where I wanted to position myself. I had just bought a couple of new plug ins, which inspired the hell out of me when it came to atmospheric elements and stuff. Building a bridge between old and new was basically where I was at but I had a lot of positive writing energy, so I just did what I did. I just plugged in the chords and hoped to find a hotline to your almighty and hoping for something cool to come out of it.
I read somewhere that it took 18 months to put it together?
Lenny. On and off. I´m not a workaholic. There´s a very famous saying from Bon Scott: “Doing nothing means a lot to me.”. It´s true! I need a lot of time and space to just sit and drink my coffee, hang out by myself or with good friends and just let the energy fly by. Finding new energy by just living my life and not doing anything in particular. That´s something I need a lot of. I don´t belong to the type of people who can sit in the studio 365 days. I would go bananas. Last summer I decided to become a captain again and spending a lot of time on the water. I was just a lazy shit but afterwards it enables you to reflect much better on what you´ve done. That´s just what it is. I didn´t work on it for a year and a half but I started it about a year and a half ago.
Did you ever feel during this time that it was just too much work?
Lenny: Absolutely! Honestly, I think that in the near future, nothing´s set in stone yet, but I came to a point where I felt I would enjoy just being part of a gang or a project. Just worrying about the microphone being plugged in and that´s basically it. Maybe come up with some lyrics and just working with a great band and a great producer. The key issues are finding the right producer, somebody I can trust, which is the downside of Kingdom Come because I only worked with two guys who I enjoyed working with very much, Bob Rock and Andy Johns. Andy did the first Stone Fury record, which I´m not too crazy about but I liked the guy a lot. Should I find the right guy to work with, I would love to just lean back and letting him do the job, instead of having to sit behind a console all day and having to worry about every part; how to record it, how to mix it, how to play it, how to master it. I would like to just step back and be part of a gang again, but it all depends on if I´ll be able to find the right situation for me. We´ll see! Life is an adventure, as I keep saying, and full of surprises and no one knows what might happen tomorrow. We´ll see what the almighty has planned.
Are you gonna be touring for this album?
Lenny: Yeah! We all like to play live. The thing is that I don´t play any dive anymore just for the hell of things. Maybe that´s one aspect where I realize I´m getting older. I just don´t care about camping outside some dive and playing in bad circumstances on a bad system in the middle of a pizzeria. Kingdom Come isn´t exactly a party band. If we were like “let´s all get wasted, tralala, tralali”, that would be a different thing. We do have a few fun rock songs, but in general I think Kingdom Come has much more emotional depth that needs to be transcended right. We´ve done a couple of tours where we basically just played everywhere just to play and there are two things we realized; it shouldn´t become a pain for the band and it doesn´t really get you anywhere. It´s not like the 60´s and the 70´s where you could play yourself to the top, because people were just going out saying “Let´s see who´s playing tonight!”. Nowadays people just go very specifically for a particular band. I know that Kingdom Come is not a huge band. Who am I to fool people? Things have to fall into the right place and if the situation is right, we´re gonna hit the road again.
The competition these days must be huge, since the situation is what it is and every single band is out there playing?
Lenny: Absolutely! These days every other youngster is a musician recording something at home and putting it up on You Tube. There´s a certain overload going on right now and people don´t know where to spend their money first. There´s also a lot of good stuff out there. I don´t care if there´s 10.000 people or a 1000 people, but in some joints there might even be less and then it becomes a financial problem, because strangely enough the crew wants to be fed. I thought they´d just be happy being part of it, but no, they wanna get paid! (laughs) Like I said, if it´s doable, I´ll do it and if not, I´ll have some more coffee, sit on my boat and look stupid.
If you look back on all the albums you´ve done, is there one album that kinda stands out for you? One you like more than others?
Lenny. For the latest four or five months I think “Outlier” is my favorite, but as people know, from a creative point of view things change rapidly so maybe a year from now I´ll go “What the fuck did I do?”. That´s a cross we all have to carry basically. In general, there´s no particular record I like more than anything else. Luckily I´ve got songs for every kind of mood. One of my favorite songs is “Twilight cruiser”. I can be on the autobahn at 2 am and just put it on repeat and listen to it 10 times. That puts me in a different atmosphere and I love that song. On the other hand I really dig “When colors break the grey"” on the new record. It starts out like a darkish soundtrack or whatever and it takes you somewhere and still rocks the hell out of it. Then of course we´ve got the unplugged stuff. On all the records I´ve done, there´s stuff to choose from for that particular vibe.
Looking back a bit. The first time I heard of you was on a Swedish radio show called Rockbox when they played “Break down the walls” with Stone Fury.
Lenny: Ah, I thought you´d say “Like a virgin”! (laughs)
I love that album and I also remember my dad buying the first Kingdom Come album when it came out and I played it all the time. When you were recording that first Kingdom Come album, did you have a feeling that it might be something or did that come as a surprise?
Lenny: It came as a big surprise. One thing I´ve learned for sure is that everything we know is that we know nothing at all and especially when it comes to the record industry. Bands that made it big were always rejected first whether it was The Beatles or Guns N´Roses. Then all of a sudden a song made it through all the doors and blew up and nobody knew why. Then of course, the industry jumps on it and tries to sign bands that sound like that, but the record companies never set trends, they just follow them trying to make some cash out of it. If it comes to pop music, it´s a different story because there are very particular formats. I will never understand how people can buy certain types of music. Listening to country depresses the hell out of me! Rock music is like the cornerstone of things, the real thing and you can´t really fake it. Some energy has to happen. The only thing I do remember from that album and recording, just like with “Outlier”, is that we had a fantastic time. I think that the circumstances, under which you record an album, do have some impact on the outcome. The most important factor of it all is timing. If the people are ready for that type of sound you can get lucky. But on the other hand, selling a billion is not the only way I would describe success. For me being able to do what I wanna do, when I wanna do it and how I wanna do it, that makes me happy. Of course it would be great to sell enough records so I know I can pay the band great salaries while we tour for the next two years, but that´s like the cherry on the cake. In general I´m happy with the way things are right now. But it´s all about the money these days. Certain rock bands are so huge and I don´t wanna name names because badmouthing is not my cup of tea, but they´ve turned into corporations and are more concerned of making the next 10 million bucks, instead of worrying about making a great record. But it is what it is, I guess.
Have you stayed in touch with Bob Rock?
Lenny: Not really. Bob had some hearing problems after Metallica and he also left Metallica because of all the psychiatrist bullshit going on. Bob is a working guy and I´m sure he didn´t dig all that. We´ve kind of lost touch but I still love him dearly because he did magic and I will never forget that. I actually started talking to Derek Schulman, who was the only record company guy back in the 80´who signed us after all the other companies passed on my new project, which I
didn´t know would be called Kingdom Come. Derek, formerly a singer himself with Gentle Giant, he was the only guy that said “I wanna sign you, but you have to find a band and there´s this guy named Bob Rock that I want you to meet.”. He and I have been talking lately and I actually also talked to James, Johnny and Danny a little bit, all from the original gang. I don´t wanna stir up any rumors, but we´re talking. After all, we did spend some fantastic, unique and great times together. It would be nice to see all those guys again before we all resolve into dust. (laughs)
That would be really cool. Do you remember any fun stories from that huge Monsters of Rock tour you did with Van Halen and Metallica?
Lenny: It´s one of these questions I really hate because I don´t know what to say. (laughs) There are things we did that I could never ever talk about, because they would put me in jail, so I´m not gonna mention those. All I can truly tell you, besides having to deal with the Zeppelin issue which also in the end made us break up, is that if my career would be over tomorrow, all I can say to the almighty is; Thank you for letting me experience this. I was able to see the planet from a very comfortable and wonderful point of view, so who am I to complain? As I was saying, we had a fantastic time. It was unbelievable, funny, disgusting and we did great things.
Are you involved in anything else right now or working with other musicians?
Lenny: No! Right now I´m just looking forward to putting on my captain´s hat and letting things happen. Something will come around the corner and I will hop on which ever train and do the next project.