After Forty Years and Counting, for Tesla it’s Still ‘Time to Rock!’ (Part 3 of 3)

Continued from Part Two

Tesla’s most recent studio album was Shock, released some five years ago. Not counting the live album, since then you’ve released two singles, in 2021 and 2022. Is the band working on another full-length studio release?

We did an interview a while back, and Brian nailed it right on the button for me. He says that right now, with downloading songs, it’s like going back to the old days when you put out singles. We’ve done “Cold Blue Steel” and “Time to Rock.” And we’re getting ready to go in the studio to record a new song; that’s probably going to come out this spring. It takes about a year and a half to write and record a full-on record [album]. So one of these days, we’re going to get the time to pencil in the time to write a full-blown record. But right now, we just go with singles.

We just need the time to put the effort in, because when you do a record, you’ve got to write the songs, then you go into pre-production, and then you record it, and then you layer it and layer it, and then you get the record. But by the time you record it and mix it and print up artwork and all that, it takes time.
At this point, we’re still selling tickets, we still got the fan base that adores us and we adore them, and we’re having fun doing it, and we’re just doing the singles at this point. But there will come a time, I guarantee you, before the wheels fall off, we’re going to get another record out. That’s what I believe. Sooner or later, we’re going to have enough ideas for a full record. But when that day is, I can’t tell you.

How has the band’s musical approach changed from the earliest days?

It really hasn’t. Now with new technology, with a computer and ProTools, you can really paint yourself into a corner with that technology if you’re not careful. Because you can do a thousand tracks and go, “It sounds incredible.” But can you recreate it live? That’s the thing that we keep in mind when we record to this day. We do a basic live track and then we build on that, so it always has a live feel. Because ultimately, when you write a song or write a record, your intentions are to go out there and play it night after night.

And we use the term no machines. Because we never have and never will roll [pre-recorded audio] tracks in the background. When you see us on any given night, we’re either having a good night – which mostly we do – or there are nights that are a little rough. But the fact of the matter is, it’s all live. We know the way we like to do it. It’s the real deal. Take it or leave it.

What’s your favorite part of being in Tesla?

Being the lyricist and the frontman and the singer, I get to go out there and open up my heart and share. And to have people relate to the lyrics is like, wow. And I enjoy the music; how could you not enjoy what the guys are playing? It’s beautiful music. The greatest thing is playing the songs live. I love making records, but it’s a whole different process than going out to play it live.

When you started back in the ‘80s, did you ever think you’d be doing it this long?

I grew up in a small town of population 900 in northern California, lived in Oklahoma for six years. Graduated high school in ‘76, came back to northern California in the foothills. And then my first concert was Day on the Green at the Oakland Coliseum. That was in ‘78, and I was 19 years old. Van Halen opened the show with “Running With the Devil.” And then it was AC/DC, and we were like, “Who the heck is this?” And then it was Pat Travers, and then Foreigner, and then Aerosmith was headlining. That was my first show ever in my whole life, when I was 19.

When I joined [pre-Tesla band] City Kidd in ‘83, I was 24. By the time we put out our first record I had just turned 28. Most people start out at twelve years old looking at magazines and listening to phonograph records and saying, “I want to grow up and be a rock star.” I never did that. I’ve still got that small town attitude. I’m just a blue collar, hardworking guy. And that’s what Tesla is: a blue collar, hardworking band. We’re very humbled by it. We’re not this big band that sells out football stadiums. We just have our own little following, and we love it.