domingo, 8 de junho de 2014

Interview: Ron Keel - "The Metal Cowboy"

I wish there were a time machine, you can return to the 80's and feel on the skin as were those golden years of Hard/Heavy. There were so many bands and artists of the time who were bursting, that is not easy to say who were the best, because there were a multitude of styles(visual and musical) completely different.

One of those characters who lived and experienced by the glories of those golden years is Ron Keel.

Known for his work with Steeler and then with Keel, in which he recorded two great albums, "The Right To Rock" and "The Final Frontier", won his place in Heavy Metal and Hard Rock not only by the quality of his music, but also by his simplicity and the attitude he has with the public.

In 2014, he released his first solo album under the name "Metal Cowboy", joining his "Cowboy"  side with Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, plus showing other influences from other genres where Ron grew listening.

In this interview, he talks all about "Metal Cowboy" album and the glorious past, where experienced success and worked with legends like Gene Simmons and Yngwie Malmsteen.

Rtm: "Metal Cowboy" is the album that marks your debut as a solo artist. But from what I imagine is not easy to compose an album all alone, very different when you have bandmates helping , but on the other hand , can explore other influences , do something more personal. We would like you to talk about this experience, to make a solo, and what motivated you to finally record a solo album?

RK: “Metal Cowboy” is a very personal piece of work, the first album of my career that I wrote all of the songs and created a new style of music that combines my love of heavy metal with my cowboy heart. I am still – as always in my life – motivated by the desire to make music and challenge myself to create something special. Music should be strong enough to stand up against criticism, the passing of time, and go beyond the latest trends and fads and I think we’ve delivered a timeless classic with “Metal Cowboy.”

RtM: You had a special planning before the disc begins to be recorded ? Have been working on the songs for a while?

RK: KEEL was on tour in Europe in 2012, and I was on the tour bus sitting at the table with my good friend, KEEL guitarist Bryan Jay. He looked and me and said, “You should just be the Metal Cowboy – that’s who you are.” And a switch flipped inside me when I realized he was exactly right, and that moment I made the decision to do this. Soon after that, I started writing songs for the album, and it was like a journey into the deepest parts of myself – I wanted to be honest, express myself, tell my stories, but I also wanted the riffs to be strong, the vocals to scream, and the sound to capture all those pieces of my personality.

RtM: People focus more on the albums that you recorded with your band Keel , but many do not know that you have great influences of southern rock and country music, which are quite explicit in " Metal Cowboy ". In your point of view, we can consider that "Metal Cowboy" is an important material to fans who do not know this side more Southern / Country and Classic Rock ?

RK: I just love music. I grew up in a time when it was all just called rock & roll, listening to Judas Priest and Lynyrd Skynyrd – Black Sabbath and The Eagles – so this style is very comfortable for me, it feels like home. “Metal Cowboy” is important to me, and I’m very thankful the fans have embraced it and are enjoying this music.

RtM: When I put the album (Metal Cowboy) to hear for the first time, it sound perfect to me. The production and compositions are excellent! My favorite song (is Gabriel talking) in particular is "The Last Ride". What range that you define as the most important of this album ? Even have a friend of yours here in Brazil that says this is the best album of the year .

RK: Thank you, I love “The Last Ride” too – it’s hard for me to choose a favorite, but I think that one and “My Bad” are the two songs that really capture what “Metal Cowboy” and Ron Keel is all about! I also appreciate the compliments about the production and compositions – I wanted great songs, not just good songs, and I wanted production that sounds as good as the albums that I love to hear and I think we’ve achieved those goals with this project.

RtM: By listening carefully to the record, we can say it has pretty much of everything: Hard, Heavy , Southern , Blues and Classic Rock . But the title , "Metal Cowboy ", made me have some doubt, if this title is for the fans have an idea how is the sound of the album? Hard/Metal + Southern/Blues!

RK: Another great compliment, thank you. “Metal Cowboy” is more than just the album title, it’s who I am – but I think it describes the music perfectly in two words. Maybe if we release the vinyl version, we can include the entire title on the cover – “Hard Rockin’ Southern Country Metal Blues Cowboy” – Ha!

RtM: In "Metal Cowboy", we can hear the high quality of the musicians that plays on it. How was the choice of the right people to play in the album, and if you were satisfied with the end result?

RK: Trust me, if I wasn’t satisfied, I wouldn’t have released it. Throughout my career, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with so many great musicians like the guys in KEEL, my bands IronHorse and Steeler, the Saber Tiger project in Japan, just very lucky. 

The same is true for “Metal Cowboy” which features Mike Vanderhule (Y&T) on drums, Frank Hannon (Tesla) on lead guitar, so many others – a full list of album credits is at – but it’s important to say that everyone on the album is not only a great player or singer, but a good friend as well. Making an album is like having a party, and you want to invite your best friends to show up and celebrate with you!

RtM: Gabriel choose your favorites songs in the album, and i choose  my favorites too, and "What Would Skynyrd Do" is one of its (now, is Carlos talking!), and soon I pick the album, is the first song that I heard, just because the title! We would like that you comment more about this song, and about the Lynyrd Skynyrd’s influence in your music.

RK: I do love that band, and in my view, there are two Skynyrds – the original classic lineup, and the modern lineup. I love both, but I am a huge fan of their most recent albums from the last 15 years, and they have a real hard rock edge now, as well as being able to write songs that have strong messages like “God & Guns,” “Edge Of Forever,” “Something To Live For.” But my song is about more than their music – Skynyrd has had to endure some of the most tragic and heartbreaking experiences life can throw at them, and they still survive, they still work hard, they still deliver great albums and shows, and that was the inspiration behind my song “What Would Skynyrd Do.”

RtM: What if you could choose some people to play in a future album, who would like to have on your side in the studio? Some of your influences, or some of your heroes?

RK: I would reassemble the “Metal Cowboy” team in a heartbeat, that was a magic combination of talent. One dream is to work with Gene Simmons again, who produced “The Right To Rock” and “The Final Frontier” for KEEL. Another dream is to record a Metal Cowboy album and play all the instruments myself, I think that might be the ultimate personal statement for me.

RtM: We cannot forget, of course, the participation of your wife, Renee Keel, doing some background vocals on some tracks .And also the vocalist Paul Shortino, from King Kobra, doing a duet on the song "Singers, Hookers & Thieves". Tell us a little about this two special participations ?

RK: Renee is part of everything I do, and she is the reason I’m still striving to succeed and excel. She’s a true musical spirit with a great voice and understanding of harmony, so she’s not just on the recordings because she’s my wife, she earns her spots. Paul Shortino is one of my best friends in real life, and one of the best singers in the business, so it was a real treat to work with him on the duet. He produced my vocals on the last KEEL album “Streets Of Rock & Roll,” we have a very special friendship that I cherish and he just killed it on “Singers, Hookers & Thieves.”

RtM: Accompanied by the release of "Metal Cowboy", you also launched your autobiography, which takes its name from "Even Keel - Life On The Streets Of Rock N 'Roll ". Since the book has not been released here in Brazil , we cant’ say nothing about yet ( laughs ). But to satisfy our curiosity, tell us a little about the book, and what Brazilian fans can expect from it?

RK: The book is released worldwide, and we have sold many of them to fans in Brazil – I thank the fans who have bought it and I hope they enjoy my stories and my journey in words. The book is a very honest account of my life, from childhood through the glory days of the 80’s to the cowboy bars and the KEEL reunion. I took a little different approach, not trashing anyone except myself – I discuss my history honestly without slamming bandmates, ex-wives or ex-girlfriends. The goal was to create a book that is fun and entertaining while sharing the stories that made me who I am.

RtM: And a little of history! What about the first years, with the band Steeler. What did you can say about the experience with the band, and to work with Yngwie Malmsteen too?

RK: Steeler was obviously very important to my career, that album is a huge metal milestone with a life of its own. I tell the whole story in my book, more than we have room for here, but it was an amazing experience being a part of that Hollywood scene in 1982, 1983…

As far as working with Malmsteen, we had our differences but we shared a very special moment in rock history together and we’ll always be joined by the fact that was his first album and my first album.

RtM: After the demise of Steeler, you formed Keel, and you live some of the golden years of Hard Rock, selling many albums, the work with Gene Simmons (that produced two albums) touring around the world. How were those years for you, artistically and financially speaking, and if you see something today that should have done differently and that could help the band have reached an even higher level ?

RK: Those years were a dream come true for me, and the success we had has allowed me to continue living that dream for thirty years now. For a kid who grew up on the streets on the poor side of town, to achieve my goal of being a rock star was beyond incredible. Of course there were some decisions made – by the record company, by myself – that probably hurt our chances of getting where we wanted to go; but if the 2010 KEEL album “Streets Of Rock & Roll” had been released in the 80’s I have no doubt we would have been multi-platinum.

RtM: What about the future? Already plans to a Keel’s new album? Or maybe continue a solo career ?

RK: I am on a roller coaster, living life at the speed of rock & roll. I will continue to scream as loud as I can, create music, entertain people, and hopefully see you on tour in the near future!

RtM: Ron, thanks a lot for your attention, thanks for you music too! This final space is to you send your message to Brazilian fans, and fans around the world!

RK: For so many years now, the support of our fans in Brazil has been a huge source of inspiration – I hope that we can tour there, see you face to face, get the hugs and handshakes, and share some music and good times. Thank you for all you have given me, Ron keel loves you. Find me at

Interview: Gabriel Arruda & Carlos Garcia
Intro: Gabriel
Edit/Rev: Carlos

Ron Keel Official Site

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