by Christopher Lee
Rock N' Roll is a dangerous business, whether performing live, or in this case, conducting an interview over the phone, things can take a disastrous turn in the blink of an eye! Everything that could go wrong did in the case, when conducting this long overdue interview by phone with the elusive Lenny Wolf, vocalist and founder of the band Kingdom Come, who was patient and gracious enough to talk to us about their upcoming 13th record, Outlier released on May 7th in the US (April 29th Europe) on Steamhammer/SPV! You remember Kingdom Come don't you!? Well if you wondered what they have been up to, look no further and read on as Lenny Wolf fills us in on his whereabouts!
Lenny - Test, Test! Let's jump on the left lane, you've been a bad boy today man! Ha ha!
Crypt - First off, It's great to talk to you, and I have a great story. I saw Kingdom Come on tour for the "In Your Face" record with Warrant opening, I was a little kid, my older brother and I brought our younger brother, it was one of his first concerts. We happened to meet you guys after the show, and I remember James Kottak as well as yourself taking a liking to him, and you picking him up and carrying him around on your shoulders! I never forgot that!
Lenny - Ha ha! Wow, that's funny, unbelievable! I miss those days!
Crypt - OK, so lets get started since I know you are pressed for time. Regarding the new record Outlier, which I enjoyed listening to, I love the opening track "God Doesn't Sing Our Song", I found it a great way to start off a record, very moody and dark, with a great chorus. Now I haven't kept up with the Kingdom Come name over the years and I had no idea you continued to record under the KC name. My question is when did you bring a more electronic industrial element into the music?
Lenny - Oh honestly, I mean, if you listen to our records from 1993' called "Bad Image", which is our 4th album from 1993, I already started feeling things out. Even back then I wasn't just listening to the typical, uh metal or rock stuff only, I mean I've been listening to bands like Depeche Mode, Frontline Assembly, Nine Inch Nails and all that stuff, so I mean I grew up with The Beatles I love the Zep stuff, the AC/DC stuff, but I also have like a second heart beating in me which is really into Industrial, dark, moody, like a massive, uh melancholic, whatever you want to call it, "element". So that is what I always try to combine and I think on Outlier I found a great bridge of connecting the more traditional writing styles of Kingdom Come and the 2013 more "moaning" element, uh stylistic songs. So I'm just like, progress is always knocking on my door not just doing the expected and the same old cliche "lets party" thing, "each night is the night forever", blah blah blah, I can't hear that stuff anymore, ya know?
Crypt - Well I noticed that it definitely has that traditional Kingdom Come slow, atmospheric thing going on, but yet its also very modern and sounds very current. And for the record I love Depeche Mode, especially The Violator record. so you were trying to put your stamp on that particular style with a more rock n' roll edge?
Lenny - Absolutely. Exactly, that's where I'm coming from, I'm one of these guys just listening to the same old thing and everything else just sucks and it's bad, it's like a criminal offense or whatever. I mean I'm not running for fucking president, ya know, I'm just a musician cruising through the audio cosmos which I believe is endless, and if you pick up on good elements and just make them become your own, then just like I said, I call it progress ya know!? And if bands had kept standing still, I mean uh, we would have never had bands like Pink Floyd or The Beatles, people would have just kept doing the same thing over and over again. On the other hand, I don't want to nag it or like down, badmouth too much, a band, for example like AC/DC who should never change anything. While every creative person has to figure out on their own, like take new routes and try new adventures or whatever, ya know?
Crypt - So what are your plans for the album, its been a long time since you have been here, do you plan on touring the US at all? Cause I see that you play all over Europe and you still have quite a following, just the other day I was just watching videos of you performing in Russia etc, on youtube, before this week I had no idea that Lenny Wolf was still out there flying the KC banner...
Lenny - Yeah and the sad thing is that one of our biggest markets, which used to be America, is now one of the slowest, and believe me, we would LOVE to play in the states again, ya know, but uh, times have changed and its not like in the old days where we just had like three thousand people show up easily. I mean the whole music business has changed radically, and we have to deal with financial and immigration issues and blah blah blah too. It's not that easy ya know and we would love to come, and I'm sure I will come out to the states, one way or the other with Kingdom Come, but I would love to make some noise out there again, especially since it our second home basically out there. I lived in LA for almost 10 years, so I mean it's definitely time to do something!
Crypt - I agree. So do you ever speak to any of the members of the original lineup, are you in contact with any of them!?
Lenny - I have been seeing James (Kottak) from the old gang lately quite a bit lately because our waves have been crossing from touring, playing festival shows with Scorpions, Alice Cooper, and Kingdom come. James was actually sitting in playing "Do You Like It" which was a great, great fun moment. James, Johnny and I, we have been in contact lately along with Derek Shulman who signed me in 87' when he was the head of A&R in New York for Polygram Records. I mean we just talked and uh, maybe there's something in the cards worth looking into but nothing is set in stone, but I'm talking to a touring agency right now and maybe they will take the chance and look into it with all consideration, but we are not willing to play every dive just for the sake of playing, it just doesn't make any sense. It has to feel good and it has to feel right, and nowadays there's too much product and so much bands popping up and you don't know what is going on. Things have to fit. Kingdom Come ain’t made for elevators or cherry pie events. So I'm just taking it easy, watching the whole progress and we are all very curious about how Outlier is gonna be received, so we'll see, I'm ready for all kinds of adventure!
Crypt - Well when it comes to rock n' roll, I think people always have short attention spans, whereas I could see the album doing well in Europe!
Lenny - I think, I mean honestly if people had radio like in the 80's where you had rock radio stations with people playing stuff they really like I think people would know about us, but I think the biggest problem is that when your hearing all this rap, and pop crap all day long, that people are not aware of that, THAT's the biggest problem! Not the quality or the type of music, there's still billions of rockheads out there but they don't know about it and nowadays with youtube and young kids recording their own songs in their living room, it's like you have more music releases than people living on the planet, so its hard to figure out what the hell is going on and it makes it harder for anybody basically to break through and say "Hello, here I am, check us out"! So that's just a sign of the times and unless your like Metallica or Bon Jovi, you just have to live and roll with the punches, but you know, no complaints on my end, ya know, it is what it is.
Crypt - So after living for 10 years in Los Angeles, I take it you are now back residing in Germany?
Lenny - I'm based in Hamburg, ya know it's "I'm like a hamburger no cheese..."
Crypt - HA HA!
Crypt - So when did you start out playing music, what was your first instrument and how old were you?
Lenny - Actually, my first instrument was when I was thirteen years old, I was playing the accordian covering Bavarian music, don't ask me what tune I was in, I have no idea, but I was playing all this folk stuff and then it was by the age of fourteen I discovered The Beatles and obviously that changed my life radically, like instantly, so I got myself a guitar bought "The Beatles Complete" book, out of which I learned my first chords, ya know guitar chords, and that's basically how I, uh, taught myself to play the guitar. I mean I never saw a music school from the inside, and I didn't study music to actually become a technician or like a guy sitting behind a console. It was just very familiar, I was self taught over years, letting my heart and my intuition basically guide me through all this making me do what I do.
Crypt - So what would you say were the highlight of being in Kingdom Come, what were the most memorable experiences you have had doing this?
Lenny - Obviously, I mean without a doubt The Monsters Of Rock tour to me because it was such an unbelievable, amazing, huge experience I was able to uh, live through. I mean I'm very grateful that I got a chance to join a tour of that size, I mean uh, we were traveling for about 4 weeks around the states, and uh, we had allot of off days because the production was so huge which had to be transported from show to A to B. so we had allot of free time and meeting with people, hanging out with people, taking a helicopter with some sheriff, eating some barbecue, some of the guys got speeding tickets, ha ha. I just liked meeting people and hanging out, I think that was a fantastic time. I forgot to mention, when I listen to our first record, I'm very grateful and it was a fun time but if I hear those records nowadays its kind of like "aahhh I wish I had done this differently or this differently". But being alive and having fun, meeting people and just hanging out, the record industry still had lots of money, people knew very little about AIDS, it was a very fun, easygoing, hallelujah time ya know? So I guess thats what made me say the Monsters Of Rock was a great time to remember!
Crypt - Do you have any memories of the Stony Fury days, what was it like to be one of the first to play with Randy Castillo?
Lenny - Just very vaguely, I mean I do remember him being a very, very nice guy, I mean a true hearted very nice guy, I mean I'm not talking about somebody who gets paid to drum and just shows up for the gig, to a paid gig or whatever, he was a guy who would hang out, went to Denny's just talking about life and very grounded, and very real. He was definitely and that's why I am pointing it out so radically, he was one of the very few people who really had a piece of my heart, I mean a good guy definitely...
Crypt - What are the songs that you have written over the years whether with Stone Fury or Kingdom Come that you are most proud of? What are you favorite songs to perform live?
Lenny - Um, when we play live, we more or less uh, play songs from the whole Kingdom Come history so from "Get It On" and "What Love Can Be" to "Do You Like It?" all the way up to my 2013 Outlier album. So its kind of like a very interesting, orchestrated mix because if you like the very like "blues-ish" ya know, "What Love Can Be" type of a song and then suddenly you hear like "When Colors Break The Grey' from Outlier, which is like a total different approach, but since it is the same band playing it, and the same guy singing it, it just automatically kind of finds a bridge and just finds it by itself, so its not just this or that. I mean it is definitely a travel though time, and
different styles but at the same time they all do fit because there is what makes Kingdom Come become Kingdom Come. Its not just a metal band, or a rock band, or a "ballad-y" band, or whatever a blondy hair band, your gonna hear fucking "Heaven" like I'm gonna puke!
Crypt - HA HA!
Lenny - It is what it is. "Just to answer your question," I think one of the songs I am very grateful for having the inspiration for is called for example "Twilight Cruiser", which is like a song made for the freeway or highway, ya know like the German autobahn ha ha. On the other hand, I really, I mean right now obviously I'm really into Outlier because it is reflecting on a really interlying meaning, travels, uh traveling with a new age element, while "Let The Silence Talk" is a song I could have written in the 80's, meanwhile "Rough Ride Ralleye" is a song destined for 2013 ya know, and "Get It On" for example, I like playing them live, I don't really listen to them much anymore.
Crypt - Well Lenny, thanks for your time, I hope to see you and the band on our continent sometime in the immediate future! Any final words!?
Lenny - OK Chris, good to talk to you, everyone be sure to check out Outlier, which comes out in a few weeks!
You heard the man, so if you want to hear something different, be sure to check out the album, starting with the video for the excellent track "God Doesn't Sing Our Song" on youtube!
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