Lenny Wolf is a veteran and legend of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. He also is a realist in 2011, one who understands where he has been and what he and his band Kingdom Come have accomplished since their platinum selling, 1988 debut/self titled album. Lenny is not naive about the current state of the record and touring industry either, his remarks are honest and no nonsense when it comes to the current status and future of Kingdom Come.
With “Rendered Waters”, (the thirteenth album overall from Kingdom Come), set for an April 1st, 2011 release in the U.S. on Steamhammer, Lenny’s thoughts are candidly delivered on this new collective of songs that are both “rendered” classics and new. Lenny accepts where he is now, with no regrets of his past. With plenty of good humor mixed into our discussion, Lenny’s outlook is positive, regardless of what changes have taken place within the world of Hard and Heavy Music in the past twenty-plus years.
Lenny Wolf reflects on those colorful and loud 80’s, when in 1988 Kingdom Come shared the stage at the Monsters of Rock with the likes of Metallica, Van Halen, Scorpions and Dokken. He reflects on the manager who made it all happen for his band, making Kingdom Come a household name during those late 80’s. Here is what Lenny Wolf had to say:
HRH: What was your mindset and goals going in to record “Rendered Waters”?
LENNY: There was no particular masterplan. It was just roll the tape, press the button or the mouse. I know what I want and don’t want to do. I knew I didn’t want to just re-record the songs. After twenty two years, I’m entitled to do this and make the songs have the feel of 2011. Things happen, my voice has changed over the years. I did not want to change the structure of the songs, I wanted you to know it’s “that song”. I wanted the guitarist to have a different vibe on these songs too, you know?
HRH: Are you pleased by the early positive response for your new album?
LENNY: I haven’t heard that much yet, I’m talking about the album in interviews right now. With any positive response, I’m thrilled by it!
HRH: What is the meaning behind the album title “Rendered Waters”?
LENNY: It’s a magic, little, God given secret. I can’t tell you man! I was sitting on the toilet and lightning hit my head! Just kidding! (laughs)
LENNY: You have to “render” a particular part of a video, it’s a technical process that needs to be done in order to make it work. Taking these old songs and rendering them is what happened. Taking “water” and combining it with “rendered” makes sense. It’s open to interpretations. It’s like Pink Floyd? What’s that? Not pointing too directly at something makes sense, otherwise it’s boring.
HRH: Is it fair of me to consider “Living Out Of Touch” as a song that is timeless?
LENNY: It’s great for me to hear that! That’s a radical compliment, thank you so much! We took the drums and changed it on a couple of verses. We skipped “Get It On” and told the label we’re not trying to cash in on these songs.
HRH: I think these songs sound much more mature now, than they did then.
LENNY: Really? That’s good to hear that, I want to know what you and other people think of the album.
HRH: Are there any music videos for “Rendered Waters” in the works?
LENNY: We spent millions back then on videos! MTV is only playing top ten and yo’ man crap. If we made a music video, it would never be played on MTV. Let’s just skip this process! Financially it doesn’t make sense, we’re not a top forty band right now. We’re not Metallica either. I have no regrets, who am I to complain? I’ll continue to make my music. Back in the day, making a video was the thing to do and times have changed. It makes more sense to save money for touring.
HRH: How will you decide which songs you’ll play live from “Rendered Waters”?
HRH: How important is it to evolve as a band when it comes to songwriting and sound?
LENNY: It’s always where can I start now? I never try to please the record labels. I always try to sound like myself. For the last two to three years now, I wanted these songs on “Rendered Waters” to see the light of day. Now, I’m trying to do what got me excited all along. The big guitar songs don’t excite me all that much anymore. I always say, you can’t polish a song like “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones! Now, it’s about slowing down some songs and changing some elements as you hear on the new album. I tried the best I can.
HRH: What was the funniest or craziest moment you can recall, from touring back in the 80’s?
LENNY: There’s too many stories with too many circumstances, I don’t want to point out just one. There were times when I thought, oh my God, what did I do? It’s too general to point out specifics, you know? It is what it is. Just to be able to experience touring the States back then was fun! Two months of rocking the States was a career highlight for us. I always think to myself, thank you God for letting us experience it!
HRH: As a guitarist yourself, do you ever ponder making a solo acoustic album?
LENNY: Honestly, I have not given it much thought. Back around ’97 or something, there was talk about releasing an album with versions of uncut songs.
HRH: Are there any tour plans or festivals in the works for 2011?
LENNY: We certainly do want to play live! I would love to play in the U.S.A., all in good time and it has to make sense. It’s not like the good old days though. It’s no secret we’re not a top ten band right now, just waiting for promoters to give us the green light and help us out financially. Our production and tour manager lives in Tennessee and is working with Ted Nugent and Accept, so we want to come to the States.
HRH: That’s cool that your manager has a connection to the U.S. like this.
LENNY: I’m emotionally attached to the U.S.A., my bother Michael Wolf lives in Seattle and works for Microsoft. Touring costs money. When we last toured Russia, it was a financial disaster. Just for planes and food it was fifty thousand dollars! It costs five thousand dollars for a working permit in the States. Even if I had my green card now, I’d still have to apply for a working permit.
HRH: There are a lot of costs that have to be considered, costs that people never realize are involved.
LENNY: I don’t want to bullshit anyone anymore. We could tour and only fifty people would show up! Music is my mission, my calling and I have to do it. I have no expectations and I try not to get disappointed. It is what it is. Seventies and eighties bands are playing small clubs nowadays. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.
HRH: Who has been there the most for you, over your long and successful career?
LENNY: I’ve had quite a few believers supporting me over the years. Marty Wolff, our former manager, I miss the most. He has a wonderful family, with his wife and two kids.
HRH: Are you related to Marty Wolff?
LENNY: No, he spells his last name with two f’s. Besides, he’s Jewish and I’m German! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) That answers my question!
LENNY: I was and always have been a perfectionist and my english was very bad back in the 80’s, Marty was my diplomatic buffer zone. I never thought I’d be playing in Russia back in 1987 and we did thanks to Marty. He has since moved to Hawaii and is out of music. Now Marty is into photography.
HRH: What band was the most fun to tour with over your career?
LENNY: Honestly, I never had a bad experience. I could never say that this or that band was not an extraordinary pleasure. We would meet the bands at the venue and sound checks and then leave. The Monsters of Rock was a big ball for us! The decision by (manager) Marty Wolff, back in ’88, was to play Monsters of Rock in stadiums, in front of bigger crowds. We were asked to open for AC/DC in ’88, I did not want to open for them. It’s like opening for The Rolling Stones, people don’t want to see anything else but the headline band. I wanted to spare myself the embarrassment. The fans would want to hear “Get It On” and then that’s it!
HRH: Monsters of Rock had some legendary bands playing!
LENNY: Metallica and the Scorpions were great to hang out with at the hotel. Van Halen were very reserved and low key on a personal level. Don Dokken I am good friends with to this day. Bon Jovi, Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi were very nice. After Monsters of Rock, I said, never again would I perform on stage at two in the afternoon! Screaming my ass off right after breakfast is not fun. It is what it is.