Guitarist Danny Stag and Keith St. John discuss how the reunion came about and bringing Keith into the fold and why original singer Lenny Wolf is not involved for the anniversary. The band consists of the original members: Lead guitarist Danny Stag, rhythm guitarist Rick Steier, drummer James Kottak and bassist Johnny B. Frank. Who will be forming the entire debut album and some songs from the second album In Your Face.
IMM: Danny, this album came out thirty years ago and does not feel like it was thirty years and the band reunited five years ago and played on the Monsters of cruise. How did you like it playing on the ship?
DS: It was really cool and people I haven’t seen in a long time and being on the cruise you get free food hang out with cool people and get paid (laughter). Really! They are paying me! We had a balcony suite, it was and tremendous. The best part for me though was the show on the boat was at midnight going through the Caribbean like at thirty knots or something and the ship was hauling ass to get Nassau or something with full moon above and the wind blowing. It was like a dream and really cool.
IMM: For this album and tour was it planned to do a thirty anniversary show and James Kottak is on hiatus from the Scorpions?
DS: Well, we tried to put it together while James was still in the Scorpions and winding their tour doing seventy five shows a year if that. And there was a big empty spot in James calendar and when we were about to do it the Scorpions called James to get back in the fold to do some recording and an album so that was the end of that. And we tried to get it back to together again and we did. We have wanted to do this for six years. I was contacted in the early spring or summer of 2012 to do this and here it is we are doing it.
IMM: I read somewhere that Lenny is not doing the US shows but might do some European shows?
DS: I didn’t hear anything about that and I tend to doubt that based on what Lenny said on his farewell address on his website on 2016 I think it was July. That he said the great ship of Kingdom Come landed its last call into port or something but he might come back in band called Electric Banana (laughter). He’s done and doesn’t feel like singing the songs anymore. He’s moving on and he’s cool with it and we cool with it. We are disappointed but were happy that Keith is joining and will do a great job. And pretty soon we won’t be hearing Lenny’s name a lot in interviews and people questioning it anymore and will be as Kingdom Come as us.
IMM: That is good to know that you guys parted on good terms. How did it come to bringing Keith into the band?
DS: I’ll let Keith answer that one.
KJ: I didn’t know the other guys to well and maybe a couple of acquaintances and I’ve been friends with James since ’92 and started out coming off the days of the Sunset Strip thing and jamming acquaintances. He invited me to be part of this project and that project back then and over the years we had great times together and anytime we jammed together on something it’s been super magical. And said hey man we should do something together blah, blah. For me it was out of the blue and it more than a year ago he mentioned the possibility to me. He asked me what do you think about Kingdom Come music. I didn’t know the whole history about it. He pointed out that the original guys from the US did the first two records together way back when. The guys want to get back together and I said count me in if it comes together. Of course I had a bunch of questions like if the original singer and other members want to do it and he doesn’t want to do it, he’s ok to be running with the ball and get involved and the legal stuff done. And six months later we were talking and that it become real and I think three months ago James called me up and told me everything is done and I signed a contract with Lenny and he is totally cool with legally using the name for touring and blah, blah. I said cool and let me start learning the songs. I want to hear the stuff and there are so many projects and when you play in a few bands and been around the block and played in a few bands and quote and quote a national act and people here and there are calling you to do gigs. I really don’t want to do more new projects I don’t really want to join new bands and be part of new stuff in ripe middle age here unless I can be really be myself. And what’s cool with the Kingdom Come stuff I can really be me and works with this material and is a cool blend like it was with the Montrose stuff. And when I joined that band I never heard the material and it was magically and coincidentally was right for my style. And this stuff is kind of the same thing and was like wow is not my band but feel I solidify it with this music if that makes any sense. So that’s a big part of it for me.
IMM: How are rehearsals going?
DS: So far it’s been Rick and I getting together making sure he is not playing my parts and I’m not playing his parts. We are at the pre-production stage right now and James and Keith have been doing a lot of stuff together. And Rick and I have been doing stuff together with Johnny. So probably next week we are going to get our bodies together on a sound stage and start jamming together.
KJ: Yeah, feeling it out. And just to clarify with rehearsals with Danny and them on the other side of the country we have project as when are we going to rehearse? Where and how we are going to rehearse? And I thought to myself before the guys get out here, I asked Rick and James can you get into this little studio who is a mutual friend who has a recording studio nearby and he agreed t let us use it if we wanted to borrow some time. So we went in and I though it be great to record the stuff together. So we made recordings with James on drums and Rick on guitar and bass to be basic so I can cup a feel with those guys groove. I’ve been rehearsing on my own a little bit. And as Danny said I’ve been rehearsing with James already and getting a feel where the stuff is going to groove and gel with the drums which is important for the singer. For a rock band we’ve done a lot of homework ahead of time.
DS: In the old days we did 250 dates just in 1988. So we did close to 500 dates together and all the rehearsals we did for both albums and all the recordings. In those days you didn’t record an album for ten grand in one day. We took three months to record a record and is muscle memory that’d just in grained in you. I have to say when I put the record on and started playing from beginning to end, I was like oh my god I still remember this shit! I still remember like ninety percent of it. I can play it at a drop of a hat. This rehearsal is sort a like boot camp like when you rehearse the whole show three or four times then take a break for dinner and then do it again for three or four more times. So you’re doing a equivalent of four, five or six shows a day for a couple weeks and if your into that than you’re ready to go.
KJ: A side from all that as Danny said they have all this stuff so down in their camp and their rhythm section that we have a good amount of time to sit and work special things for the live show and add specialty’s to the songs to add give the audience a little bit more.
IMM: Are there more shows planned for Europe and Asia?
DS: That is in the one year plan. Japan is in the discussions and Europe has been asking. Back in the first attempts to get us together were being asked to start at Eastern Europe and Russia and have offers to play at St. Petersburg, Russia and a couple other cities at Russia and strange sounding locales I have never been to like Bulgaria, Kashmir and Turkey, stuff that would be pretty interesting. There is definitely a demand for us out there.
IMM: For this tour we know you are performing the whole album and doing some songs from In You Face. Which songs from that album will be played?
DS: we asked the fans on our website what are your favorite songs on the second album? And there was an overwhelming response to certain songs so I guess we will keep that as a surprise.
KJ: And depending which show you go to because we will have a rotation where we play some songs one night and different ones on another night.
IMM: With everything still a work in progress is there an option to record a new album Keith?
KJ: Not at the moment and I believe there is a time factor involved after a certain amount of time that Lenny and James came to an agreement after certain amount of time we could. I am not privy to the whole thing. But Lenny Is letting the band using the name for live only and at some point who knows. And many bands had the same members and used other names to record albums.
IMM: Is good to have the band and Keith playing the music again and getting out there. So it’s a win, win for everybody.
DS: Absolutely! I couldn’t be happier.
KJ: It’s a one step kind of a thing. And will see how it goes. Everybody is cool and Lenny is kicking back and he says you guys sound good like that, who knows.
IMM: You never know that you (Keith) and Lenny could sing on album together?
DS: The official response to that is there are no plans to record but that could change.
IMM: It was good talking to you and Keith and bringing the music out again and with Keith. And Keith what is the status of Burning Rain?
KJ: We have finished up a new record that is getting mix and to be released on Frontiers early next year.
IMM: Great! Again thanks for your time.
DS: Thank a lot man.
KJ: See you down the road.