Kelly Keeling of Dokken, M.S.G., King Kobra, Blue Murder, Alice Cooper, etc. - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney -

Kelly Keeling is one of the rock world’s most talented artist’s. A man who has recorded and performed with many historical rock bands, plays guitar, bass, piano, and sings among other things recently caught up with us here at Inside_out666 for a chat. We spoke about Kelly’s latest projects, the book he is writing, Kelly’s new solo cd “Giving Sight to the Eye”, song writing, the petition Kelly recently signed to have an all metal television channel & much more. I hope you all enjoy the interview.

Metal Fanatix: Hi Kelly first of all I would like to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview with us.

Kelly Keeling:
No Problem, thanks for having me.

Metal Fanatix: I know that you are very busy at the moment. I would like to start at the beginning. I believe you started singing at the age of nine and by the age of fourteen you were playing guitar. Can you tell us about those early days growing up & what inspired you to become an artist?

Kelly Keeling: Actually I have a tape I recently transferred to digital where I was 5 singing with my dad. We did school songs, quite interesting. But I guess it was about 9 where I got serious about wanting to be a part of music. Maybe it happened naturally, I didn’t have many kids on my block in Louisiana and there wasn’t much to do. I saw my dad rehearse with his band (he was a singer) and this inspired me. We had instruments around the house. When I got bored of toy cars I picked up instruments and tried to mimic what I heard on albums and tapes. And pretending in the room, with the guitar to my knees and pretending to be Marc Bolan or Paul McCartney. 7 years old I remember getting the Beatles blue hits album and thinking it was Paul McCartney’s band. I had seen his show on television and really like what he was about. It grew from there. I couldn’t be bothered with school from around then till, well still. School was hard for me because I was so distracted by that great music, My parents were sort of hippies, we went to festivals, I was too young to remember but we saw Janis Joplin and " It’s A Beautiful Day" I do remember because the violin player / singer was playing to me as I was on my dads shoulders sp I could see what was going on. So these albums were always on the turn table on weekend hangouts where I had to go to bed early. I remember thinking… One day I won’t have to go to bed early. And I can be a part of all this

Metal Fanatix:
What was the first guitar you owned?

Kelly Keeling: It was a sears sunburst strat looking thing I forget the name of it. Next was another off brand It had no name but looked like a black les paul. This guitar meant business. Especially with the Gibson tube amp my dad brought home. LOUD!! When no one was home I would open the window and place it between and crank it, if I was rehearsed. I think that was a bit later. But I remember it didn't have that Hendrix sound unless it was all the way up. lol The Electric Ladyland album infested my mind about that time. I couldn't stop trying to figure out how he made those sounds with the guitar but was determined to find out. Later George Lynch demonstrated on stage how to play within feedback, and play more than the guitar was actually playing by bending the feedback notes... with echo,,. Etc

Metal Fanatix: It’s no secret that when anyone plays their first live show they are very excited and also extremely nervous. What do you remember from the first show you ever played?

Kelly Keeling: Talent show Edgar Martin School 8th grade last day of school before summer party. I played Overture by Rush and a bit of temples Of Syrinx. I had a bigger better, louder amp for this, the teachers hated it, the kids loved it, and I knew I was in then. What I was going to do

Metal Fanatix: What was your first experience like playing outside the U.S.A. like?

Kelly Keeling: Japan. Very tentative. The people were so polite and kind. Knew my music. I went there with Carmine Appice, Mitch Perry and Tony Franklin. We did songs from our not so distant past then. It was a lot of fun.

Metal Fanatix: I believe you are currently writing a book? Can you tell us about it! Working titles etc?

Kelly Keeling: Well it’s basically my life story and getting very involved. Uncovering things I had almost forgotten. I left home at 17. I went on the road, made 350 dollars a week to start. "Kelly you can't make money playing music", what I have seen and the people and cultures I have met, Being from the near swamps of Louisiana, been a part of, ran across, ran screaming from, got tangled in, released from. It’s been a rough ride but very entertaining. I learned the blues first hand. The titles are by my co writer so I can’t mention. Just imagine, 17 years old, band after band, moved from Louisiana, with girlfriend and son with 13 people to live in a house in LA. I’m not leaving much out so it’s much more than I can paraphrase here. I’m glad to have made it HERE and still have a long way to go. Russia starts my tour in May so the book is still writing itself and some of the most fertile elements happening now as in many ways life has just begun

Metal Fanatix: What other activities are you currently working on?

Kelly Keeling: Activities? Well Its summer in San Diego so, the beach, writing songs, they come to me whether I want it or not, Juicing, Running, swimming in the ocean, which is about 64 degrees right now,, Hot outside though so its great. Trying to get my tour together for summer around the world.

Metal Fanatix: It has come to my attention that more than 1700 rock/metal fans worldwide have united and signed a petition. Artists such as Judas priest, Don Dokken & yourself to name a few are among those in favour of a Vh1 Metal Mania Channel with no “nu-metal” to be played. Many fans & artists believe that VH1 & MTV will never approve this, not because of ratings, but because of the genre of music which would be featured. Can you share your thoughts on the matter?

Kelly Keeling: Well If they can put reality shows with no musical content on music channel VH1, & Music T V channel MTV which by the way I enjoy, then there is room for Music. Even if On MT2. Come on! Let’s have a Rap channel, Pop channel or programming and ROCK program or channel. I watch FUSE more than the others because they are usually playing more what I know to be more musical acts. At least in the time I watch. It used to be headbangers ball... there should be a show during the week as an alternative to American idol. It doesn’t have to be core gore metal just not white bread calculated vibrado singing, no soul audition singing like on that show. I agree prime time can’t be too graphic and needs to be safe. Well there is an avenue for that in the music many of us do. Some of those singers are good, but face it, Many of us, Dokken, Lynch, Priest have long since seen an audition and are now releasing very very good music currently, that have a very large fan base. They would have good ratings. Many people would really enjoy it if decent videos or live recordings were made of these bands.

Bands like Muse, Jimmy Eat World, Gavin Degraw, Keane, Coldplay, U2, My new album, the Crue”, Lynch’s new album, Dokken, Priest, So many are all able to be played at this prime time or later where PUNKED is played. Many of us and them started MTV and VH1 or were there when it happened and have seen it destroyed by joke shows with great ratings sure, But what about all the FANS that are still there, out there, changing the station. I’d like to try to see if it would work for a few weeks / months. We started a lot of what they are doing now. All the sponsors of NAMM all guitar companies, record companies will find resurgence / promotion in this if they didn’t abuse it. Wasp couldn’t play unless Blackie did something like "the headless children album", without that title. We need to talk with the program directors. If the videos were class as they are these days I think many could enjoy it. And the PEOPLE the audiences are STILL there as they were a few years ago.

Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion what do you think about the direction Heavy Metal music has taken over the last few years?

Kelly Keeling: There are a lot of great bands happening. Especially the younger bands. Radical and very motivated. I go to concerts, Buy music. Download some to see what I'm buying. That can be a good marketing tool. As I've seen it used.

Metal Fanatix: What current groups are you listening to if any?

Kelly Keeling: Kasabian, Muse, Queens of the Stoneage, Chemical Romance, Taking back Sunday, Green day, Libertines, Killers, Keane, Bloc Party, Gavin Degraw, (awesome live), Interpol, Velvet Revolver, STP, I like Blink 182 a lot …Very good production and songs, Audioslave, Thursday, Rufus Wainwright, “Want One” Album is brilliant, Judas Priests Angel of Retribution album is amazing, Dokken’s Hell To Pay, George Lynch’s As yet to be titled new album, and FURIOUS GEORGE album, Kelly Keeling “Giving Sight To The Eye” Legacy, Starwood, Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus, Enuff Z’nuff, Michael Schenker’s Assault Attack is surgically planted in my car,...All that’s on my mind at this point

Metal Fanatix: During your career you have had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest names in the rock/metal world. I’d like to ask you about your time performing & recording with some of these guys. First of all your work with Carmine Appice, you worked together in the late 90’s & then again a couple of years back. How did you guys team up in the first place?

Kelly Keeling: Our both leaving Blue Murder during the mix of the second album. And starting a band which became my / his solo albums called Guitar Zeus 1- 2-3 Channel Mind Radio and GZ Japan.

He played on my new solo album that’s just been released. “Giving Sight to the Eye” He’s a great friend, Amazing musician, singer, legend, He’s seen it all, wise, visionary, collaborator, motivator. He first came to my house in Encino and listened to like 50 of my 4 track recordings, and songs I was in the process of writing. We made a list, got the deal that week, and got to work, Called Tony Franklin who had also left Blue Murder and we did those albums. Invited Brian May, Zakk Wilde, Richie Sambora, many great guitarists to lay down solos. It was a lot of fun and really rewarding musically & artistically.

Metal Fanatix:
You have also had the opportunity of writing and recording with the one & only Alice Cooper. That must have been exciting?

Kelly Keeling: Of course! I had all the albums and posters, big fan; our idea with Epic was to resurrect the Alice we were fans of. It was very exciting. That album almost did it. The demos were better in my opinion.

Metal Fanatix: Do you have any plans to work with Alice again in the future?

Kelly Keeling: No

Metal Fanatix: You have also done quiet a bit of work with Dokken, how would you compare the experience of working with Dokken, to the likes of Michael Schenker or Carmine Appice?

Kelly Keeling: I enjoy writing with Don when His switch is on. It’s hard to calculate when that is. I really am very proud of some of the songs we wrote for long Way Home and Hell to Pay. The song "Care for You" may be one of my proudest moments personally. I did the MSG album in 14 days. Wrote, recorded and mixed. Some of it sounds like it; some of it is really good I think. I remember working way too hard on that album. Michael and Mike Varney are very very motivated. 12 songs 14 days, whew, we did it though, and then a small tour, I worked with Michael, Very proud to have. We just did new songs for his 25th anniversary album. I wrote three, One for me which I sang, a song called Big Deal” and two others one for Graham Bonnet and Gary Barden. Carmine, Is my big Brother, I love working with him, spending time with him. Any chance to do so I will. I enjoy everything we ever did. Except when King Kobra didn’t show up and I had to do all the work, still some great songs and recordings that came out of that two weeks.

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have recorded with Dokken, MSG, Blue Murder, and King Kobra among others. From all the albums you have appeared on what one would be your favourite to listen to & why?

Kelly Keeling: Absolute favourite would be Guitar Zeus “Channel Mind Radio with Zakk, Slash & Nugent. I used a different guitar tuning to write and record each song. I think it has a very unique sound, pretty proud of it. Tony &Carmine are Awesome on that. The songs were really good and enjoyable. We took our time, recorded on tape, took very good care with the mixes. Tony, Carmine and I were pretty furious as a three piece. Fantastic memories.

Metal Fanatix: What is the one album/song that would define Kelly Keeling to a complete stranger?

Kelly Keeling: Kelly Keeling “Giving Sight to the Eye’ “American Version”

Metal Fanatix: After all these years of writing and recording how do you constantly come up with new fresh sounding material without falling into the trap a lot of other bands do by repeating themselves?

Kelly Keeling: I let the past go and am pretty influenced by what I am a fan of. I go to concerts of friends of mine, Velvet Revolver in a few days, those guys are really good. I’m a fan of new music and that’s why it’s new, because it is just that. I repeat myself sometimes but I think only in the formula sense. The clan I know recognize my songs, but don’t hear repeats. I have too many songs unrecorded now that are nothing like one another... It’s like The Songs Remains the same... What Treatment you put to the song, The sound, the tempo, etc, many ways to change a song, but still the melody and basis of the song remains" verse, melody, chords." MUSE has inspired me in the way that I may go out as a three piece, Due to the fact that I play piano, guitar, write and sing… & could easily do these similar treatments, songs I’m currently writing. Rather than take 5 people out on the road to drama.

Metal Fanatix: You are a man with many talents. You sing, write, produce, and play bass, guitar and the piano, if you could only choose one of these things what one would it be & why?

Kelly Keeling: Acoustic 12 string Guitar, because there are so many tunings you can use which makes it into that many more instruments, and variations of the instrument. And you can always transpose to any of the others. Hard to say, piano is very useful when guitar loses its writing kick. I take my voice anywhere... basics... If I had to choose ONE. It would be a mini tape recorder to sing ideas into

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Kelly Keeling: By Far my time with George Lynch was the best tour. We all got out of hand a bit because we were on the road with no days off, I thought I couldn’t make it But each night was better and better. George Got really innovative, new pedals each night, echo plexes, pedals he would make. We would go into these jams with Jeff Martin that I wish were recorded, I actually remember one… We were all very delirious but it worked. Sometimes we would do two shows in a night, in the same state, Brutal. We were touring with Yngwie Malmsteen and many nights we won. Malmsteen and band were so good we had to get it together quick,, You can’t beat all the hits George has, and the audience was right there singing every word each night.,. Yngwie didn’t have that, although he was fantastic of course.

Metal Fanatix: What advice would you give to up and coming rock/metal touring bands?

Kelly Keeling: No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, straight edge, study, study, study, learn a form of communication with a higher power, God, Jesus, Krishna, Whatever it is to keep you focused, internal and musical. Listen to your heart, but it must be clear enough to hear what it says. Hence, No drinking of spirits that are not of you, or drugs of bad spirits. I think that’s clear enough. I cannot stress enough. All the success stories now are all without intoxication to a large extent. Even the metal bands and new rock punk bands. Who are getting high is going DOWN. Seven habits of highly successful people, one Sobriety. STUDY, Go on the road, even if its bars, Write songs, Study, be innovative without being too weird, consider that music is a tool to bring people together and help people in distress or out of bad emotions. Write songs; be of help on earth not of more chaos. Preaching over

Metal Fanatix: There has been so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?

Kelly Keeling: My son, Ahmet Ertigan signing me at 22, my new album and the three others of extras I recorded during it’s process. My life, family and friends.

Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?

Kelly Keeling: "SUN" Harrison, McCartney, Lennon, Appice, Starr, Laine, Daltry, Dokken, Jon Lord, Kerry Livgren, Robbie Steinhardt, Phil Spectors orchestra and horns, George Martin, Elton John, Paul Scheaffer, Clapton, Townshend, Jaco Pastorius, (basically the band McCartney had on the Back To The Egg album on the song "ROCKESTRA")

I’d call the band "SUN"

Metal Fanatix: Kelly thanks again for your time. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Kelly Keeling: Love one another, keep the faith, and believe in yourself

Be a peaceful conduit

Kelly Keeling

Be sure to check out Kelly’s latest solo cd ‘Giving Sight to the Eye’ available now in the U.S.A. where all great metal albums are sold. Worldwide release date is set for April 23rd 2005

Make sure you check out the following websites: - Kelly’s official website - Inside Out 666 Past Interview’s - Dedicated to 40 years of Hard rock & Heavy Metal music

© Cameron Edney April 2005 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.