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Tom Keifer of Cinderella: The Bring Back Glam! Interview

At the end of last week I interviewed Tom Keifer of Cinderella for Noisecreep. While I wrote four articles for the AOL site, I made sure to keep some content for all of us here at Bring Back Glam! Here’s some transcription from that chat with Tom.

Bring Back Glam!: Why did you decide to leave Philadelphia for Nashville?

Tom Keifer:  “I had been working with some songwriters back in the 90s after Cinderella – around ‘95 Cinderella had left Polygram and the band wasn’t doing anything and I was going to do a solo record and I’d been working down here [Nashville] and I liked the music scene so I decided to move down here to be closer to all the resources Nashville provides. So many musicians and songwriters!  Just a great place to be if you’re trying to create music. No matter the music you’re trying to play, the musicians and songwriters here are very gifted and can do pretty much anything you throw at them. It’s funny, I moved here to – bought a house and built a studio - and was about to start delving into making a [solo] record and we got a call to put Cinderella back together. They wanted us to do a record on Portrait which was on Sony records. So my solo record got put on hold at the time and we ended up putting Cinderella back together and writing and doing demos for John Kalodner for that Portrait record that never happened because it ended up in some legal issues. That accounted for four years of time between writing and demoing for that record and preparing to make the [Cinderella] record and we were about to make it - and then it ended up in a lawsuit and it kind of got nasty.  It’s a shame the record didn’t end up happening. Honestly it was a catalyst to some creativity because it was a major label giving us a second shot and John Kalodner is a great A&R person and he really inspired and encouraged me as a writer and it was probably one of the most creative periods for writing for me, so in that sense it was great. We also got the band back together and toured which we’ve continued to do. Since then we’ve probably done six tours since we reunited back in ‘98 – that’s when all this took place with Sony. There were some bad things that happened but probably more positive things came out of it. All the material I wrote for that record – a lot of it ended up being songs I recorded for my solo record that I’m finishing up now. If you look at the bright side of things, there were really a lot of positive things that came out of it and I don’t [have] regrets.”

BBG!: Describe the fear your faced after the vocal issues three years ago.

TK:  “The root problem with my voice issues started in 1991 when I was diagnosed with a paresis but what it is a partial paralysis. A partial paralysis of one side of my voice box. You have to train it to learn how to sing again. It took me a few years back then. That’s why there was such a long period of time between our third and fourth record. And I regained enough strength to make our fourth record and we toured a little – it kind of was always a struggle and high maintenance and I had to do a lot of therapy and I injured myself a lot. When you injure yourself, you have to have surgery because they go in and laser the vessels – it’s a mess. I got back strong enough where I could work and tour and I was having a good time but it kind of hit me again tenfold on the last tour we were on in 2006. It just – I was diagnosed with a second one on the right side of my voice box …and it just …it hit me halfway through the ‘06 tour and by the end of that tour, I had no voice. I mean, my speaking voice – it was hard to speak. I worked for almost two years . We [Cinderella] took off the road to try and get my voice strong and I worked with a voice coach and had another surgery and we booked the ‘08 tour because I thought I was ready and I realized as soon as I got into rehearsals I wasn’t.  It was a struggle and I finally ended up popping a blood vessel during rehearsal and that’s why we canceled that tour. So, it’s real scary. It’s the only way I can describe it.”  

BBG!: So the voice issues really have nothing to do with your chosen raspy, style?

TK: “The partial paralysis is a neurological thing and it’s caused by viruses, even a common cold virus. The virus gets into the nerve and it can degenerate it. It’s rare but it happens. Once degenerated, you can’t – there’s no surgery or medicine that fixes it. You have to retrain it and it is very tedious and time consuming and it’s not a lot of fun. In a lot of cases, it is career ending. The singing voice is such a fine tuned instrument and any subtle change can throw it off. The left nerve which controls the left side of my voice box was degenerated by 20% - which is pretty significant. It has taken years to teach it to come back but the new coach focuses on breathing and air which makes the degenerated nerve less of an issue."

BBG!: How did you end up playing guitar on Lynam’s most recent record Tragic City Symphony?

TK:  Lynam is managed by the same management that does Cinderella: Union Entertainment Group. I met Jacob [Lyman, lead singer of Lynam] through our management and I loved one of their records they had released back a few years ago. He [Jacob] opened a couple dates for Cinderella in Birmingham, Alabama and we got to talking and became friends and he asked me to come down and play on his record so I did. I think he’s a really talented guy – I don’t usually just play on things but I think he’s great.”

In my Noisecreep pieces, you’ll learn more about Tom’s vocal problems, details on a possible new Cinderella studio album and  yes, there’s even a word game between me and Tom. Plus, an in-depth piece on Tom's solo record. Those stories will post soon so stayed tuned.

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Reader Comments (10)

nice interview, allyson. I was most intrigued/interested about the genesis of his vocal paralysis. It does seem most plausible that the root of his vocal problems are biopsychosocial.
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
I'm so elated to hear that Tom's back and healed! His voice is so unique and I can hardly wait to see him rockin' out on the road this summer!

I think it also kicks ass that Tom thinks so much of Jacob (from Lynam). LYNAM = GREATNESS!
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkari
Excellent interview...its great to hear Tom talking about his life and how things unfolded. Scary stuff with his voice, cant wait to read the rest and see them kickin ass in concert soon!
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDesign That Rocks
Great stuff Allyson, as always.
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Red Ledger
I saw Cinderella, along with Poison, during the '06 tour at CommonGround Music Fest here in MI. He apologized about his vocals that night. I didn't think his vocals were that bad. But then again, I was partying pretty hard. Well, good to know there was a medical reason and not that he was sucking just because.
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreg
Cool shit Ally!
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Al, thanx for a taste of your interview with Kiefer.

The explanation you extracted from him regarding his vocal chord issues is stunning.

It is interesting to note he did not elaborate when you pressed him on whether it was solely the medical reasons he gave you as the sole cause of his singing problems or if it was also his vocal style that also contributed to his voice troubles.

I look forward to reading the rest of the stuff you wrote regarding Cinderella's come back on Noisecreep.

Hey, I'm a maroon as you all may have already figured out a long time ago. Al, or someone, please tell me how to find these Cinderella articles you wrote on there. Thanx!

Al, you once again have demonstrated your excellence as a reporter.

Keep up the beyond excellent work!
February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
He still sounded great during those last tours, I guess he was working hard to stay on the road. REALLY excited about possibly seeing them 3 times this year - ROK, M3, and of course ShipRocked!
February 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenternirVrana
He's right about one thing- Jacob Lynam IS super talented and Lynam kicks-A! "Tragic City Synphony" is a killa cd!
March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEarthgirl1914
April 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereliana

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