Any Metalhead will attest, (from what we can recall), that they had a pretty darn good time back in the ’80′s, so did Ron Keel. This man has seen and done it all – musician, vocalist, song writer, lyricist, composer… and he is still writing his own legacy in 2010. Ron’s most famous band KEEL not only jumped on board the Heavy Metal explosion of those colorful ’80′s, the original lineup is back for another hard and heavy go round with their loyal fans… both old school and new. Ron Keel is a smitten guy these days and there is more to this Heavy Metal veteran, more to this man, once you take in what he has to say. Oh, Ron Keel does have a lot to say too, taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to Hard Rock Hideout recently.
With the new KEEL album Streets of Rock & Roll, (released February 9, 2010), receiving it’s just praise from around the Heavy Metal and Hard Rock circles, concerts being aligned in support of this album and the KEEL NATION rising, Ron Keel is a man that is busy, happy and proud to be alive! Ron is excited about the present, reflects on the past, looks more to the future, holds friendship sacred, values his fans, respects and cares about the American troops both past and present, has a charitable heart, reveals his Heavy Metal and Hard Rock dreams and also has a message for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Walmart too… (phew), check it out:
HRH: So, Ron, how are you doing?
Ron Keel: I’m doing great! Keel is back! We just released Streets of Rock & Roll and I’ve never been a bigger fan of Keel in my entire life than right now!
HRH: You sound really happy Ron!
Ron Keel: I am! You know, back in the ’80′s, I used to want to go down in a blaze of glory. I used to think it would be cool to die young in a plane crash or something crazy like that. All those crazy thoughts go through your mind when your young. Now, I want to live! I’m 48 years old and I’ve seen and done it all and I’ve never felt better about life! I’m a husband, father and grandfather now, I want to make music, tour, do the things I love most in life and continue to Rock! I want to continue on with Keel and talk about this band and new album to everyone!
HRH: I’ll have to admit Ron, I really like this Streets of Rock & Roll album, it’s a great album. It Rocks hard.
Ron Keel: Thanks, I really appreciate that, I’m glad you enjoy it. It’s an album that I have in my truck right now, a great album to listen to while taking a long drive through the desert with the windows down. People are liking it, unfortunately Streets of Rock & Roll has been downloaded illegally already. There are ten thousand illegal downloads that were aware of in the first two weeks alone. It’s the other one million illegal downloads that we don’t know about!
HRH: That’s terrible Ron, it’s definitely not like the ’80′s anymore, where each album sold is accounted for.
Ron Keel: Sure, only back in the 80′s there were people out there buying chart positions. It gets real bad with how some albums got pushed up in the charts back then. It’s something I might want to touch on with my autobiography that I’m working on.
HRH: I’m sure I would be schooled on some of those stories.
Ron Keel: Keel was a young band back then, we were screwed out of money, we didn’t know any better back then. We probably sold a lot more albums than was being told to us, maybe a million more. It’s not like that anymore, I’m in charge now of everything.
HRH: Going in to record Streets of Rock & Roll, were there any pre-conceived ideas that were scrapped at the last minute?
Ron Keel: None. The cream always rises to the top, we just let it happen. Recording this album was a natural, easy, creative process. The entire album was written last year, after our (Keel) reunion and there was an excitement of working together again. There was no band meeting or anything like that. It was a six month creative process, it came to be where expressing two to three songs a day was happening and we recorded on June 18th of 2009. Streets of Rock & Roll was the greatest joy of my recording career.
HRH: Sounds like you are very proud of this new album.
Ron Keel: Definitely, it’s a reunion album, it was the right move and I have no regrets. Streets of Rock & Roll has all the great qualities of past Keel albums, the twin guitars of Marc Ferrari and Bryan Jay trading licks, big choruses, rhythmic duo voicings, power grooves, the lyrical content, strong attitude and fighting for what we believe in. Lot’s of power. Plus there are different tempos and key grooves, a whole different feel on this new album that takes you on a journey. The strong bond and friendship among Keel shows through these songs. Life felt very natural in the studio while recording Streets of Rock & Roll. This new album would not sound as great if not for Pat Regan, he is the best in the business, his state of the art recording techniques made this album happen!
HRH: Hold Steady, bravo for writing such a patriotic song! Are there loved one’s of yours serving or have served in the Armed Forces?
Ron Keel: Both of my parents served and I have many dear friends that have served or are serving. Back in ’98 and ’99 we toured military bases and that inspiration carries to this day! Everyday is a sacrifice for our service men and women. I have dedicated, to their honor, a free mp3 download of Hold Steady that is available on Keelnation.com. We appreciate and honor the service men and women, by giving them and the fans this song.
HRH: The song and the free download are commendable, Ron.
Ron Keel: Thank you. We really care about our veterans, I like to donate money when it’s available by taking it out of whatever comes through the office in earnings. I don’t care about having the extra money laying around, I’d rather donate it. Just recently, I wrote a check out for The Veteran’s Hospital in Las Vegas. My wife and I strongly support and endorse a special charity as well, it’s to pay for arts classes for kids with parents that have been either severely injured or passed away in war or service. Anyone can donate by visiting http://www.our militarykids.org., it means a great deal to us.
HRH: Again Ron, very commendable.
Ron Keel: Thank you. I have lived a good life and made my money. Donating is not going to hurt our bottom line.
HRH: Live, from Streets of Rock & Roll, is this a personal message from the heart? Sounds like it to me.
Ron Keel: Forty eight years of experience wrote the lyrics to this song. I thought of these lyrics while driving home from a gig one night. I never expected to live this long, I love my life and all of it’s blessings. I have also gone through a change in my personality. My thought is now… you get through the bad times to enjoy the good times. Live is a celebration of good stuff in my life. Let me just say, finding the music to fit the lyrics for Live was the challenge! The melody and lyrics came first, then the music. I’m used to writing or being handed the music first, then adding the lyrics.
HRH: Live came out just fine to me, it Rocks!
Ron Keel: Thank you, I appreciate that you like it.
HRH: I have read recently your statement, that you have some unfinished business to still take care of. What singer or musician do you wish to collaborate with as an unfinished business item?
Ron Keel: One band I want to open for is the Scorpions, on their farewell tour. Keel wants to play with the Scorpions! I am friends with Jon Bon Jovi, Keel opened for him on the Slippery When Wet Tour, so I would love to sit down with him and write some songs together. I also would want to write songs with Chris Daughtry, he is a special, strong and unique talent. I feel Chris Daughtry has bridged the gap between modern Hard Rock edge and old school mentality.
HRH: Those are some powerhouse choices of musicians and bands, Ron. Plus, I really hope the Scorpions read this and give you an opening slot on their tour! You just never know Ron.
Ron Keel: Thats it, plus it would be a dream to play with the Scorpions! I would want to sit down with both Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Daughtry, drink some beers and kick out some songs for an album. I think the three of us together, we would write some great Hard Rock songs!
HRH: (laughs) I would love to sit down with you guys and share a six pack while you write songs.
Ron Keel: (laughs) Oh yeah!
HRH: How come Streets of Rock & Roll is not at Walmart or Target?
Ron Keel: Hey, don’t go to Walmart to buy your music! I buy everything online, it’s all out there. Walmart has nothing for Hard Rock or Heavy Metal! Hey, if Walmart wants me to send them two million copies of Streets of Rock & Roll, no problem! Just ask me! The AC/DC Black Ice marketing campaign was incredible, what Walmart did with them was brilliant.
HRH: KISS Sonic Boom as well. They had the KISS kiosk.
Ron Keel: Yes, KISS Sonic Boom was huge at Walmart! I remember seeing that KISS kiosk.
HRH: You know what you need to get into Walmart besides CD’s, is a Keel kiosk! (laughs)
Ron Keel: (laughs) Yeah! A Keel kiosk! That sounds good to me!
HRH: Well, you know how it is Ron, I’m caught in Walmart, with the family, the CD aisle is a cool escape to hang out in.
Ron Keel: I understand, actually, I went into a Walmart recently and looked for the new Chris Daughtry deluxe edition CD. Walmart didn’t even have it!
HRH: What 1980′s moment in your career do you laugh most about now?
Ron Keel: The ’80′s were happy times, it was a non-stop grind with all of the arena shows. Everyday in the ’80′s was like the 4th of July, New Years Eve and Halloween all together! We had nothing but sold out shows in Japan. As far as remembering a moment where I can laugh about today… there were many crazy female moments.
HRH: Crazy female moments? Such as? Or do we use our imagination?
Ron Keel: (laughs) Yeah! Use our imagination! That’s a good way to put it! Actually, there was this one time, where a girl handcuffed herself to our tour bus door.
HRH: Gee, what happened to this girl?
Ron Keel: (laughs) Well, no one had the key to the handcuffs! I really don’t remember what happened to her! Honestly.
HRH: (laughs) That’s funny.
HRH: What band would you pay top dollar to see, past or present?
Ron Keel: Well, top dollar or no dollar, because I’m friends with many of the bands. I like to support my friend Bret Michaels on his solo tours as much as I can. Nickelback, only when they came to Vegas, I was out of town on tour. Chris Daughtry, AC/DC, and a Van Halen reunion. Bon Jovi just blows me away every night as a fan! Queensryche as well, as a fan!
HRH: What band or musician has been ignored too long by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Ron Keel: KISS! They are one of the five most iconic bands that ever lived! Don’t even get me started on this topic! I’ve expressed my disgust for that place many times in my past. Who votes in that place anyways? I’m not trying to throw The Who under the bus here, but, one hundred years from now, most people will say who is The Who? Not with KISS! One hundred years from now, people will know who KISS is and was! I’m not just saying this because Gene Simmons is a friend of mine either. Man, Gene Simmons’s kids will be running KISS, then the grandchildren will have the run of KISS! Their music, marketing and brand will never go away.
HRH: What song or album did you hear, that inspired you to become a musician?
Ron Keel: The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was two years old, it was February of 1963, I believe. The song was I Wanna Hold Your Hand. I remember looking at my parents and saying, this is what I want to do! I became so addicted and drawn to it at that moment. There were many milestone albums and songs, I devoured it all! KISS, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin all inspired me. Later on, the edgier stuff like Black Sabbath I listened to. As a kid, it all goes back to the 45, those little records I would buy at K-mart. The top thirty songs on 45, I bought them all! Every week, if the top thirty changed too. I learned them and sung them all! My father used to play Country Music all around the house, that is where my Country exposure came from. The Van Halen 1 album changed the world when I was a junior in high school! When I first heard Van Halen, everyone was saying, who is this guy Eddie Van Halen? No one was around that sounded like Eddie Van Halen on guitar. No one sounded like Van Halen, it was great! Because of Van Halen’s overnight explosion, credit Heavy Metal in America because of them.
HRH: Those are really cool influences.
Ron Keel: The kids today, they already know about most of these bands because of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. These two games are exposing all of this great Hard Rock and Heavy Metal to new generations, our music will be kept live and fresh for decades to come.
HRH: If you could go back in time and rewrite a movie soundtrack, what movie would it be and why?
Ron Keel: I’m a music movie fan, I also like music biographies of famous people. I would not want to go into the past, I’d rather want to do something new. It’s interesting to consider, with all the t.v. and film work that I do. If I had to go back, it would be Spinal Tap. I would rewrite all the music and lyrics for that one! I wouldn’t mind contributing to a Rock movie as well. My favorites are Eddie and the Cruisers, Pure Country, Crossroads and Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg.
HRH: If you were to make just one more album, knowing it would be your last, what genre would it represent?
Ron Keel: An acoustic album by myself. I already released an acoustic album called Alone At Last. It was the biggest and most personal music achievement of my career. I sang the best of my career on Alone At Last. I want my next generation to listen to it and know that grandpa gave this to them, to know that I am at my happiest when by myself with a guitar and song. Alone At Last was the single most demanding project that I have ever done in my life. My fingers literally bled while making that album. Alone At Last is driving at night songs, through the desert. You can find it on CDBaby.com. Sabre Tiger is the heaviest music I have ever done, progressive too. Country maybe… it would be another acoustic album.
HRH: What is the common thread that has kept Ron Keel, Marc Ferrari, Bryan Jay and Dwain Miller together from the very start?
Ron Keel: Friendship. We never let anything get in the way of friendship, not money, women, drugs, nothing. We became Rock stars together, sharing the best times of our life together. Now we get to do it again! This Keel reunion is not about money, together we have already pumped so much money back into the business. At the end of the day, we settle our differences. We raise our glass to each other, brothers in blood is what we are!
HRH: Just like the song on Streets of Rock & Roll.
Ron Keel: Just like that.
HRH: Any message you want to say to the fans?
Ron Keel: Listen to this new record and enjoy it! It’s special. Fans of commercial Heavy Metal and Hard Rock will enjoy it. Fans can stay in touch with us by visiting online at Keelnation.com. The Keel fans are the people that helped me, helped us, to live a dream life and I cannot forget that. Twenty years from now, I hope the fans still listen to Streets of Rock & Roll!