Lenny Wolf has seen it all throughout his four decades in the music business. He experienced the all the highs and lows one can expect with the way Kingdom Come’s career started. Their debut album reached platinum certification and they were off and running. Despite critical analysis of sounding like a Led Zeppelin clone, the band opened the huge Monsters of Rock tour in 1988. The tour brought the band to stadiums all across America opening for Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken and Metallica as they opened the star studded affair. Quite a beginning for a band who had just released their first album. Their second release In Your Face despite charting received little airplay or fanfare. The band broke up and by the time Wolf recorded Hands Of Time, it was just Wolf and studio musicians. Wolf just recently released the thirteenth KC release entitled Outlier to much critical acclaim as he has given the sound an update into the new millennium while still belting out his distinctive vocals. We had a chance to discuss a few things on our mind with Wolf recently. Grab your favorite beverage, relax and see what he had to say.
Rock Show Critique: Congrats with the new album Outlier!! It has quite a different vibe from what others may be accustomed to but at the same time it still delivers a punch. How long did it take you to write and record the release in whole?
Lenny Wolf: I spent about a year and a half, but took a “lot of breaks” to reflect. Especially during the summer I have a hard time diving into the dark vibe of my creative mission. That’s an advantage of having my own studio. No time pressure. Sometimes I go nuts for 2 weeks in a row, and at other times I don’t even wanna look at my guitar for month. Especially creating my own “sound elements” like in songs called “Rough Ride Rallye” or “When Colors Break The Grey”, can take forever. But that is often the most fun part. Experimenting. Excluding those moments where I wanna throw my studio including myself into the toilet. But that is the emotionally roller coaster most creative people have to live with.
RSC: How do you think Outlier stacks up against the rest of your catalog?
LW: I think people can definitely notice my growing process as a musician as well as a “technician”. I never saw a music or “technician” school from the inside, so all I know is what I taught myself throughout the years of trying and overseeing things. Some older records suffer a bit from being done by myself too soon. But the days where I spent 100 thousand dollars for a good producer are far over.
It all has it’s good and bad sides to it. But as long as there is “progress”, I think I’m on the right track. “Doing” always speaks louder than words. That includes failure.
RSC: Do you plan on touring the USA at all to promote the release? I know many fans would love to see you here on American soil once again.
LW: Believe me, that is a question which has been asked a lot lately, but I can only repeat myself. The band would love to hit US soil again, after all it has been my home for almost 10 years after I touched ground in Los Angeles in 1984, but today’s reality speaks a different language. Once the demand is stirring up more interest and we find a “brave promoter” to set up a tour, we’ll gladly jump on the next plane. I cannot excite the boys with camping and Mcdonalds three times a day anymore. Hopefully we can come before we all turn into dust!
RSC: Kingdom Come landed on the prestigious Monsters Of Rock Tour in 1988 playing big stadiums with Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken and Metallica. What was it like? Going from your first album right into playing stadiums a good thing or bad thing in hindsight?
LW: It was a dream come true. Exploring the US from an unbelievable point of view and meeting tons of fantastic and lovable people along our travel was an experience I’m very grateful about. It was a bit of a pain having to sing my ass off at 2 pm in the afternoon by 95 to 110 degrees, but besides that, live was a blast. Thank you America! Looking back I must say that the sudden success had it’s downside also. The band wasn’t able to become a tight unit, and therefore was not able to deal with certain issues facing us. That lead to a fairly soon end of the original band formation. I just saw (and played) with James Kottak (KC’s original drummer) when we where in Russia playing with Alice Cooper and the Scorpions. We looked at each other and were asking ourselves WHY we broke up? We both had no idea.
RSC: You have always released under the Kingdom Come moniker, any thoughts on just releasing a straight out Lenny Wolf release?
LW: Thought and have talked about it quite often, but Kingdom Come has been and still is my vehicle. I think today it would not really make a difference. But maybe I could call the next adventure “Blue Banana”. But then some smart people would come around the corner whining about me (us) sounding to much like Madonna. Either way, might as well stick to it. I like consistency but still being open for new routes.
RSC: Recording these days as opposed to back in the eighties to early nineties, do you find it any harder, easier?
LW: I find it less nerve recking not having to “fight” for what I want to get done. But carrying the whole load on my shoulders can sometimes be a pain also. I think I’m ready to join a gang again where I only have to worry about “my parts” and enjoy the rest of the day watching someone else doing the remaining work. But that would require the “”right”” guy behind the mixing board, as well as the right players. But I’m more relaxed nowadays to give up control. At least I think I’m ready.
RSC: Is there anything else you hope to achieve or any other goals you have in regards to music?
LW: I can only hope that the God of creativity is still having an eye on me, and that more people will tune into the KC vibe. The problem seems that there are still so many people out there who are not aware of Kingdom Comes releases. Soon we have more new band releases than citizens on this planet. That makes it hard to break through. Quality alone does not mean much anymore. But I’m happy doing what I’m doing when and where I wanna do it. So no complaints from my end. Holding up the flag and trying to stand my ground is something I got used to over the years.