INTERVIEW WITH TESLA GUITARIST DAVE RUDE
Date: June 25, 2016
ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL ’80S HARD ROCK BANDS HAS TO BE TESLA. THE GROUP CURRENTLY HAS A LOT ON THE GO INCLUDING ITS BLOCKBUSTER SUMMER TOUR WITH DEF LEPPARD AND REO SPEEDWAGON ALONG WITH THE 30TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE RELEASE OF ITS DEBUT ALBUM IN THE FORM OF THE UPCOMING LIVE ALBUM ‘MECHANICAL RESONANCE LIVE!’ SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH TESLA GUITARIST DAVE RUDE TO TALK ABOUT THESE TOPICS AND MANY MORE INCLUDING WORKING WITH DEF LEPPARD’S GUITARIST PHIL COLLEN AS A PRODUCER AND THE TIMING FOR TESLA’S NEXT STUDIO ALBUM.
Sleaze Roxx: Tesla are about to release ‘Mechanical Resonance Live!’ What prompted Tesla to release a live version of their debut album?
Dave Rude: Well, last summer, we were out with Def Leppard and I think it might have been been Phil Collen’s idea. I’m not sure but I know that we were just talking about it. We had already started promoting it as the 30th year anniversary of the band. You know, playing more and more deep cuts; old album tracks anyways so I think it just sort of happened. It was like “Hey! We have the anniversary. Why don’t we do a live record of it?” You know, we just started recording last summer putting together the pieces. That whole thing with Phil Collen’s song on it was sort of an extra cool bonus that got everything started to how it is now.
Sleaze Roxx: When did you guys decide that you’d have Phil Collen producing the song that he wrote for you guys?
Dave Rude: Literally last summer, we started demoing it up on tour and did a lot of really sort of intensive pre-production work and all the details so it looked pretty much thought out, planned and done before we went into the studio to record the real version. We kind of knew exactly already where everything was going to go where by the time that we went into the studio in Sacramento. We took one day, maybe two days, to record the actual version.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! I can’t wait to hear it! You guys must have been happy with Phil’s work because I understand that he’ll be producing your new album.
Dave Rude: Absolutely man. We really hit it off and he’s so cool. All of Def Leppard have been so great to us and are really nice guys. Phil really took an interest to us from day one. We’ve been working on that song “Save That Goodness” from the live record. You know, it went really well working with him so we were all kind of interested in taking it further. So now we are doing an original record with him actually producing. It’s cool. It sounds different. He’s got that Mutt Lange school of production, which is so legendary and really cool. I am really excited to be using some of these sort of like methods. The stuff that we have done so far, it sounds really fantastic so I am excited! The songs will sound a little bit different and I think people will dig it.
Sleaze Roxx: Have you guys already started recording the new album or will you be doing it in the future?
Dave Rude: We’re recording it out here on the road man. We’ve got really good — you know, with digital recording the way it is — we’ve got a really good Protools set up out here. A few of us have our own set of them so we can all work on it when and where we please. You know, usually the deal is we will set up a room backstage at these big shows and have it be the recording room. One or two of us are in there with Phil for a couple of hours a day every day before the show. And Brian [Wheat] is kind of engineering but he’s always in there doing stuff. Me and Frank will come in and do a guitar part on a song. He’ll do another part on a song. I’ll leave and go work out and come back an hour later and do another guitar part on a song. You know [laughs], then it’s like Def Leppard have got to go soundcheck and then we got to start getting ready for our show. I mean, our last tour in May with Leppard and Styx, there were a couple of times that we were recording up to 45 minutes before we are supposed to be on stage [laughs]. We’re like, “We’ve got to stop!”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Dave Rude: We’ve got to put on some cool clothes and stuff! It’s real efficient you know because we are going to be on this tour for four months and this way, the record will be by and large done instead of having to start from square one in the studio when the tour is over.
Sleaze Roxx: When do you anticipate that the new album will be released?
Dave Rude: I don’t know. We talked about late this year. I don’t know if we are going to stick to that or not. Again, because we are able to record it so expediently, it’s not like out of the realm of possibility. I don’t think that you will have to wait a year for this but who knows? It’s probably exactly what will happen because I said it [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s right! Getting back to the new live album, when did you guys record it and where?
Dave Rude: Throughout the whole tour, we recorded a song or two a night. We would do it until we got a good version or two. A lot of those songs man, they are already in our set. Especially on this tour because we are first so we are only playing 40 minutes. So it’s really just all the hits and the classic Tesla songs that people want to hear. A lot of those songs are from ‘Mechanical Resonance.’ We do a lot of those songs every night regardless. It was some of the deeper cuts for which we did some rehearsals on the road on days off last summer. You know, tighten those guys up. On our own tours, we change up the setlist quite a bit and we’ll work on new songs and old songs at soundcheck. We change up the setlist to keep it interesting. So we have already done that a few times with some of those older album tracks. We tended to have to brush up a little bit on them but then, there were a couple… “Cover Queen” — I don’t think that the band had ever played it. Definitely not during the time that I have been around. So stuff like that was really needed to work on those rehearsals. It was fun.
We had to keep our short hit set and thrown in one or two album tracks per night just to try to get a good version of them. But luckily, it did not take too many tries. It was really fun for us because we pretty much play the same set every night. On this tour, it’s pretty straight ahead but playing those weird album tracks just kind of — I don’t know — just breaks it up and kind of gets you a little bit more excited about it. And also you have to think harder [laughs] because you don’t play them every night. But I think because of that, we’ll start changing up the setlist more this year, which we already have — switching things around, pulling things in and out even on our short set out here on this tour. So it’s cool. It’s good all around you know?
Sleaze Roxx: What would have been the time period that ‘Mechanical Resonance Live!’ album would have been recorded?
Dave Rude: Last summer.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there a chance that we will get a live album for ‘The Great Radio Controversy?’
Dave Rude: I don’t know man. I guess we’ll see. I think that would be a cool thing to do. It’s kind of what a lot of bands do. Every anniversary, do a thing. We’ll see where we are. It depends on the touring schedule and all that. When was that? 1989?
Sleaze Roxx: Was it ’88 or ’89? I can’t remember.
Dave Rude: I am pretty sure it was ’89. Either way, we’ve got two years to wait. We’ve got to get ample rehearsal time.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s true. Now also for the 25th year anniversary of ‘Psychotic Supper’, you guys are releasing it on vinyl, which is pretty exciting! When did you guys decide to do that?
Dave Rude: I did not know that we are doing that so [laughs] thanks for the heads up!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Dave Rude: That’s awesome! But that’s not for a hell of a long time. Oh! You said the 25th anniversary?
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, 25th.
Dave Rude: So is that right now?
Sleaze Roxx: It’s supposed to come out on July 22nd . That is what I read. Maybe the websites are wrong…
Dave Rude: I have not heard this at all. So OK, cool. That’s my favorite Tesla album That’s awesome! I’ll try to snag a copy [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: That’s cool. Obviously, your tour with Def Leppard last year went really well. So how was the tour last year and how did you guys get together with them for this year again?
Dave Rude: It just went perfect last year. It was so much fun. The guys in Leppard are super cool! They hang out. You see them every day. All the crew are fantastic — just the best of the best. We all got along really well, which was great. Also, last year there was Styx and same thing goes for them — the band and the crew were just so awesome! We really became like a big family. Every night after the show, we’d all hang out by the buses. It was a really great vibe and it was you know, a good package. People liked it. Almost every show was sold out. I think that it was the best selling rock tour of the summer for Live Nation and all that. It did really really well. I think it was a really great package because it was all rock bands but with slightly different twists of the rock genre so you bring in a bunch of whole different people who all have similar tastes. Man, every band was putting on a great show. So, we are really lucky that they asked us back for more. We did that tun with them in May that had originally been scheduled for like February but got postponed. Even again to come out on this whole four month summer deal which is just so great with now REO Speedwagon, which is also fantastic.
Sleaze Roxx: You know what? I saw your show in Toronto last summer, which was fantastic. I was questioning a little bit why Styx were on the package but once I saw the crowd reaction to them and I realized that I knew tons of their songs, I realized that it was a great package! But now, you have REO Speedwagon on the bill. How did they come up to replace Stxy I guess?
Dave Rude: I don’t know. I know that REO have done a lot of tours on these sort of big package tours. They are sort of a classic rock thing. I am sure that they are just sort of in that mix. This is our first time really getting in the door on these big giant summer amphitheatre tours. Well, last year was. I know that they are one of those bands that gets on a lot of these big things so I think that people just know that they are great. So I think people just know that they are great and know that they can deliver and want to work with them. That would be a question for the booking agent but also so that it is not the exact same tour two years in a row. We’re having a little bit of a change in the middle slot, which is probably a good change.
Sleaze Roxx: For sure. You must have at least one good or funny story that you can share about the Def Lep guys since you have been on tour together.
Dave Rude: [Laughs] You know, I can’t think. I am always bad at these questions. [Laughs] I don’t know man! [Laughs] Honestly, I can’t think of anything! I’m sorry. I’ll take a rain check on that one. I can’t… sorry man! I got nothing!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s OK. That’s OK. Looking at your time in Tesla, you joined in 2006. Were you a fan of the band beforehand and if so, what were your thoughts on the various albums that the band did prior to you joining?
Dave Rude: Man, I was a huge fan! It was the coolest luckiest thing. I was just so excited. Every day, I thank God for fucking everything! Joining one of my favorite bands is so cool! The fact that since day one, all of the band has just been nothing but sweet and cool, and they are all so down to earth and really just totally normal guys. The crew is just fantastic. I was a huge Tesla fan. I got their acoustic record when I was 12. I learned how to play “Signs” end to end you know. [Laughs] I was just a little kid you know. It’s just nuts. The first Tesla record that I got was ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam.’ So I still just love that record to death. It’s obviously like the biggest Tesla record. So it’s got magic for a lot of people. Funny, I did not know — I mean, I knew that they had other records — but since I was like 12 and there was no internet where you can just go search all these other things. You had to go but a record and find a store and all that. So I just had one acoustic record for a couple of years. I had never heard any of the original versions of these songs so I thought that weird “Modern Day Cowboy” was how it went.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Dave Rude: I thought that “Paradise” is slow like that [laughs]. And this was until years later when I got the original version and it was like “Wooohhh! This is like a whole new song man!” I got to rediscover another version of a great song so that was cool. But I did get — because I got into it from the acoustic record — the next one that they put out after that which was Psychotic Supper. And that record, people don’t always agree but I think that ‘Psychotic Supper’ is by far the best Tesla record. There weren’t as many hits on it but I think — just no question — fucking “What You Give,” “Song And Emotion,” “Call It What You Want”… God dude! It’s just unstoppable. That record is just great.
Sleaze Roxx: Yes. There are definitely a lot of great tracks on it. That’s for sure! So it’s been ten years now that you have been in Tesla. Do you think or feel that you are the new guy, or are you well past that stage?
Dave Rude: I’d say both. I’m well past the stage in the band and the crew. I’m definitely… like I don’t — and that is one thing that I was really lucky in that there was nothing like hazing or any you know. Since the beginning, they were all just real cool and welcoming and treated me really well. It was great. It was never, “Oh. You’re just some hired guy.” Because I wasn’t. I actually joined the band, which was also really super cool and lucky. So in regards to the day-to-day, and with the other guys in the band and all that, totally normal. But it’s funny, with fans and any kind of media, I am forever the new guy. That’s alright because it’s done in a good way. You know, Ronnie Wood is always the new guy in The [Rolling] Stones 40 years after he has joined the fucking band!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Dave Rude: And I get that because I am a big fan of a lot of bands. If there is one new guy and even he has been there for 20 years, it’s like, “He’s not the original so he’s kind of the new guy.” Even though he’s not [laughs]! It’s a perception thing.
Sleaze Roxx: So what is the status of the Dave Rude Band?
Dave Rude: You know, I am not actively doing it at the moment. I am always writing songs and I have been working on demos last summer on this tour to make a new record. So eventually, I think that will happen but last summer, we started getting busy with the idea of writing a new Tesla record even though it had not started until more recently, we were still just thinking about it. I was already writing. I was already kind of getting in that mode. And also we were doing rehearsals and so we were learning old songs from the first record to do for the live record — all that type of shit! It was just a really busy summer and so, once we decided to do this new original album, I kind of slowed down on trying to write solo material. But like I said, I already got — I don’t know — four, five songs demoed and written. So, whenever things slow down, I might do it. It would be just more for fun because it would be like a recording.
I don’t really have the desire to like go out and tour, and get in a van, and do all that type of stuff anymore. Maybe a show here and there but like I did it really hard and extensively for a long time trying to get that band happening. I am more happy just being in Tesla and I do a lot of songwriting outside of Tesla like pop music and TV stuff — like songs for other artists. So in my time, I prefer doing that. Like I said, I think that I still eventually… I guess that I am kind of giving you a “yes” and a “no” [laughs] to a question in a way because eventually I will probably do something. Because also at the same time, it’s really fun and having a solo record and solo project means that you can do whatever the hell you want! Not that there is even a band for my solo project. It is really just me solo. I could totally do whatever the hell I want. I can say that the sings that I have been working on and the feel I get if I ever do more steps or when I do more, it will definitely have a lot more guitar, a lot more soloing and extended jams and shit like that [laughs]. You never like get to do that and that would be really fun.
Sleaze Roxx: I saw that you released a new song “Earthquake” with Jeff Campbell.
Dave Rude: Yeah!
Sleaze Roxx: How did that come about?
Dave Rude: Oh man, that was really fun! Jeff Campbell — he’s pretty well known in the singer-songwriter circles. He won this big Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter big nation wide contest thing a couple of years ago. I think that he did the first one and he won out of like 60,000 people. He played on Jimmy Kimmel — a big TV show in America — and fucking, he had a record with John Shanks with a gigantic producer. He’s done all these cool things and big shows and he is always touring. I met him because he’s from the area where I am from and we have been in similar circles in terms of bands, rehearsal studios and clubs. I’ve seen him here and there, and said hello. I kind of heard about him and hadn’t thought about him in a long time and then saw some videos of him as a singer-songwriter stuff that he was doing. I thought, “Wow. This is really cool.”
I liked it a lot and I do like I was saying before, I do a lot of writing that’s not even rock at all. I write stuff with people in Nashville and we are piecing stuff to other artists. Totally different — not rock. Wouldn’t work on a Tesla record. Wouldn’t work on one of my records. None of that and I really like that type of stuff. I really love John Mayer — things like that. So I called him up and said, “Hey! Do you want to write a song together?” for him to do. We wrote this song. Really cool and we’re both excited about it. And we’re talking about it and it kind of sounded good singing it together and so it was like, “Dude. Why don’t we do this song as a duet?” You can sing harmonies and play the guitars with me. That’s what we ended up doing. And when we were recording it, we were like “Fuck it. Let’s have a guy in there with a camera so we can actually do a video and you know…” And that led to, “Well hey! If we are going to release one song, we might as well give them like a digital “B” side and let’s do that Aerosmith song “What It Takes.” So we did like a real cool rhythmic slide acoustic guitar version of “What It Takes” and that’s kind of the “B” side for it though there is no video for it yet.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool. So have I missed anything that you would like to share with the readers?
Dave Rude: Man, just that we are stoked to get up to Canada. I have never been to Quebec! I think that we are going to be pretty busy for the next few years so hopefully, we will see everybody out there at a show soon!
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what would be your three favorite albums of all-time?
Dave Rude: ‘Appetite For Destruction’ [by Guns N’ Roses], ‘Master Of Puppets’ [by Metallica] and ‘Ritual De Lo Habitual’ [by Jane’s Addiction].
Sleaze Roxx: That was the quickest answer that I have ever got. Do you realize that?
Dave Rude: [Laughs] If you ask me tomorrow, it might be different but ‘Appetite’ will probably always be there. And ‘Master Of Puppets’ or the “Black’ album would be there. The third one, that just kind of came out out of the hat because that was one of my favorite records but I could have gone Led Zeppelin or fucking Aerosmith ‘Rocks’ or who knows? Fuck, I could have gone ‘[The] Joshua Tree’ [by U2] or fucking ‘Born And Raised’ [by John Mayer]. Who knows?