interviewsofrecordingartists.com KINGDOM COME
Kingdom Come has entered the hard rock music realm once again with their second album, 'In Your Face'. "On this album we are all playing better than ever," says drummer James Kottak. "We have had a year to play together on the road and it definitely has made us stronger musically."
The members of Kingdom Come, Lenny Wolf (vocals), Johnny B. Frank (bass), Rick Steier (guitar), Danny Stag (guitar), along with James Kottak (drums), are more concerned about their music than their style of clothes or fancy hairdos. They all have a great deal to say about the current state of affairs in rock music.
Q:What was different about the second album and the first one?
Danny Stag: I feel that this album is better than our last album. All of the comparisons with other bands will be over. Now people will compare our second album to our first album. I am real happy with the way it turned out.
Johnny B. Frank: As far as the difference between the two, this album was very democratic in its making. Many of our recording sessions we would all sit down and the five of us would work on the lyrics until they were done. We would sit there for six hours and come back the next day and redo it. That was a great way of working and we all enjoyed it. Lenny likes to write melodies because he is a singer. I played keyboards on "Who Do You Love." I wrote part of the music for that one. Rick played keyboards on the other songs.
Lenny Wolf: Before the Monsters Of Rock tour in 1988, I had been sitting on a lot of songs for our second album. I kept writing new material while on tour along with Danny and James. Everybody put in a good bit of input into this new album. This is a 100 percent Kingdom Come project. I am a German all the way. I strive for perfection in the music we play. I'm certain that our second album is better than our first and time will prove it.
Q:What was it like to work with producer Keith Olsen?
Lenny Wolf: First of all Keith has great ears for our kind of music. We had an immediate chemistry the moment we started working together in the recording studio. He knows what rock and roll is all about. We actually recorded the album in six weeks time! We recorded the songs and mixed them right away, then we would go on to another project. It was more fun to record this album because we were all more comfortable in the recording studio.
Q:With Kingdom Come what comes first, your musical content or the image that you try to project to your fans?
Danny Stag: Image-wise we are just trying to be ourselves. We are not trying to have any preconceived or contrived image because we do not need it. On our last album we said that rock music had become a big fashion show and nobody was playing from their heart anymore. In the 1970's, hard rock music became a scene where many bands would play loud and fast and dress up like women. Kingdom Come is not like that. I think that the music is what is important to us and it shows on the finished product.
Lenny Wolf: Every rock band has an image. The image is what makes a certain band immediately noticed and another not. Image can be like the personalities of the members in a band. Our image is based on our lifestyles and philosophies about life itself and mainly songwriting. Images take longer to be discovered or be recognized by the public. Image is very important these days in rock music. We have never dealt with the image thing too much like many other bands. Maybe we could have sold even more records than we did if we would have dressed a certain way and said certain things to our fans. We just like to be ourselves and take care of things that way.
Q:Do you think that some people are in rock bands for all the wrong reasons and that it shows in their music and their stage shows?
Lenny Wolf: Absolutely. I watch MTV and 90 percent of what I see makes me sick! It makes me feel sorry because of all the junk that people have to digest when they watch it.
Q:But they can turn off the channel or the TV, they don?t have to watch it.
Lenny Wolf: You are right, they could turn it off, but you know how the mind and human nature work. People still sit there and watch some of this garbage. A great deal of people are just doing it for the money, women and recognition. Those are all nice rewards. To me songwriting is a necessity to stay alive and live happily. This is what makes me feel great, my music. We are totally on the right path as far as where our hearts lie when it comes to our music. It all comes down to a matter of taste and you cannot blame somebody for not having good taste. Many bands want to pretend and make the fans believe one thing and then they go home and act completely different.
Q:Do you think the obsession with speed in guitar solos will be replaced with a respect for a musician's expertise?
Danny Stag: Would you rather hear somebody read fast so that you could not understand what was being said, or would you rather somebody read slowly with conviction classic poetry? That is the difference between speed playing and the way B.B. King or Jimi Hendrix played. Average speed is all right with me. It kind of scares me the way society is headed. I feel it is reflected in the music. People are losing their principles when it comes to music appreciation.
Q:Do you feel the blood and guts element of heavy metal music is out to make a fast buck?
Danny Stag: I am sure that some bands are in it just for that. I would say that in the theatrical sense that is what some people want to do. People accused us of wanting to cash in for the fast buck. It would be irresponsible of me to speculate as to what some of these bands are thinking when they write what they write.
Q:There is more social commentary on the new album in the lyrics than on the first record. Why?
James Kottak: Heavy metal has been getting a bad rap as far as leading kids to commit suicide and many other accusations. The song, "Highway 6", is our way of making a statement against suicide.
Danny Stag: In the lyrics of "Highway 6" we are saying that it might look like the way to go but it is not. It is an anti-suicide song. We are basically saying hang on and things will get better; it might look bad now but don?t take that road.
Q:Do you feel that you can utilize all of your talents as a musician within the framework of Kingdom Come?
Rick Steier: I was a lead guitar player prior to this adventure but I do demos and I have a publishing deal, as do the other members of the band. We write songs for other acts so I feel that I get a lot of relief that way. I am more of a team player; I don?t like to always be the center of attention.
Q:How well were you received by the Japanese fans on your current tour of Japan?
Rick Steier: I was blown away by the reaction of the fans in Japan. People would approach us and give us gifts and we got tons of fan letters over there! What I always thought Japanese culture was like was not truly correct. I have a great deal of respect for those people and their reverence for life. Small things like, we would walk down the street at four in the morning and there were bicycles that were parked in the street unchained. That would never happen in L.A.! Things were very different culturewise and the fans loved us. A leading rock magazine in Japan voted us the number one hard rock band in Japan! That was a great thrill for all of us.
Q:What do you do when you are enjoying some time off from the studio and the concert tours?
Lenny Wolf: Well, we do not have much time lately. I don?t party much. I like to jet ski and cruise around town in my new Jeep During my vacation I went back to Hamburg, Germany to visit my mother and family. I loved going back to visit and I had a great time while I was back in my hometown of Hamburg. On my vacation that is coming up I am going to go out to the desert and talk to the cactus!
James Kottak: Well, I am the wild one out of the bunch. I definitely can claim that title. Lenny calls me "Bam Bam" because of my occasional wild ways. So when I have some time off I like to go out and bust loose!
Q:What do you see in the future for Kingdom Come?
Rick Steier: I think that we are developing a sound that has more depth and different sounds to it. We have a tough schedule ahead of us.
Danny Stag: In the near future, we are going to shoot a video in support of the album. We are working all together and we have come up with a cool concept for our video. We will have press and photo sessions and then it?s into the rehearsal studio to rehearse for our next tour.
Q:What kept you going in the early days before you signed to a record label?
Danny Stag: The main thing was the fact that I had music inside me that I had to express. I couldn?t give it up! It would be terrible to not be able to play my music! I kept going because I knew that I had talent and I didn?t want to let down the people who believed in me. The people in my hometown and both of my brothers helped me out financially and otherwise. They made sure that I kept working at what I did. Now I am having a great time because I am doing something that I always wanted to do, play music!
Q:Do you feel that to be successful in the music business you have to follow trends?
James Kottak: Kingdom Come does not follow trends; we are just a rock and roll bands. Usually bands that are trendy don?t stay around too long. If you look at the rock bands that been around for a long time, they are all leaders and they just are themselves. They don't change with every new fad or trend that comes along. Kingdom Come is our own identity; we are not just interested in a fashion show. We just write good old rock and roll. To make a cool rock and roll record you have to realize that your music should stand the test of time and be listened to time after time and still sound great. Since we don?t follow trends, we are more confident that ever. We just don?t go around and brag that we are the best band on earth. We just let the music do the talking.