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Wake Me When This Is Over: An Exclusive Interview With RON KEEL

By Ruben Mosqueda, Contributor
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 @ 7:10 AM


"It’s music ‘for the people’ by a guy that has learned the hard way that it’s not easy to find a great song."

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KNAC.COM caught up with RON KEEL who is currently promoting his newly released single “When This Is Over”. Ron isn’t just promoting the song he’s always got several irons in the fire as he told KNAC.COM. “I’ll be part of Guitars Under The Stars. I’m blessed to be a part of it. It’s an immersive music camp experience. It will be in Lebanon, Oregon July 27th-30th. I’ll be joined my MARK “THE ANIMAL” MENDOZA from TWISTED SISTER, CHRIS POLAND formerly of MEGADETH, CHRISTIAN MARTUCCI of STONE SOUR and my guitar player from RON KEEL BAND, DAVE COTHERN will be joining us. I will be looking forward to camping and playing guitars under the stars”. If you’re in Sturgis this year don’t forget to catch RON KEEL BAND as they will be there kicking things off on August 6th, 2022 with Southern Rock greats MOLLY HATCHET at The Full Throttle Saloon. “If I can give you something positive right now, why wait? I will release it right now”, says the singer about releasing “When This Is Over” in advance of the KeelWorld album due in 2023.

KNAC.COM: I just got my copy of the CD for the new single “When This Is Over” last night. I have been listening to it all morning. I have been streaming it on Amazon Music since it was made available. You have a video for the song on YouTube (and KNAC.COM HERE). What a great tune. You’ve become quite a ‘wordsmith’ over the years.

KEEL: I appreciate you and everyone that has been listening and enjoying the new single “When This Is Over”. Every part of this song is very special and important to me. The lyrics speak to a timeless theme. It’s not about ‘The Pandemic’ or World War III, though we do kind of touch on those topics in the lyrics. It’s one of those songs that I think everyone can identify with during troubled times. The subject matter is timeless. I appreciate the compliment both from a ‘wordsmith’ standpoint, because I think that every line of every lyric has to count. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or verbose. Some of the lines in these songs are things that we say in everyday life, so we put them in context together and made them rhyme. It becomes a very special song, for me and everyone that’s listening.

KNAC.COM: How much of keeping things simple has been influenced by Country music and your time recording Country music or performing Country music?

KEEL: I learned from Country music that every line had to matter. When we were cutting KEEL records in the 80s, you just had to scream and hope that every other line would rhyme. With Country music it’s not that simple, you have to tell a story. That’s one thing that I learned from my years of singing Country music. One of the cool things about “When This Is Over” is that it transcends all of those genres. I have received numerous comments from fans. Some think that it’s ‘Country’ the next person will say that it ‘rocks’. It’s music ‘for the people’ by a guy that has learned the hard way that it’s not easy to find a great song.

KNAC.COM: Have you performed the song live with the band?

KEEL: Yes. I have performed it this summer both with the band and on my solo acoustic gigs. It will be a part of the setlist from here forward. I just can’t imagine ever doing a show again where this song wouldn’t be on the list.

KNAC.COM: I got back to how muc in the set must be powerful.

KEEL: Some have referred to this song as a sequel to “Red, White & Blue". I think it surpasses that cover from South By South Dakota in so many ways. It transcends genres, political beliefs, it doesn’t matter how far left or right you think might be…most of us are right in the middle. I believe most of us are in the middle, where we want to make a living and enjoy our lives, and take care of our families. “When This Is Over” touches on all of those feelings that all of us can identify with and share. I made a conscious effort when I was writing the song to make it timeless. In the original draft there was a mention of 9/11, JFK’s assasination, The Pandemic. I changed things because I wanted a timeless song. We cover that in the first line of the song without really mentioning those events, “Do you recall that certain day when everything changed and we had to grow up fast and face the truth”. So I put all of those events and moments within the first line of the song.

KNAC.COM: When we spoke last you mentioned that you were working on an album of new music that would unite all the bands that you have been a part of. If I recall correctly you were hoping to have that album out in 2023 and you hoped to be able to have a second KEELFEST that would coincide with the release of the album. Is that still moving forward?

KEEL: Nothing has changed. My plan remains the same. I plan to release the Keelworld album in 2023 with all new music from KEEL, STEELER, RON KEEL BAND, IRON HORSE, FAIR GAME, and some METAL COWBOY music with a lineup featuring FRANK HANNON from TESLA and MIKE VANDERHULE from Y&T. We’re planning on KEELFEST in early 2023, in Las Vegas. I’d like to do it early in the year before it gets too hot in Vegas! [laughs] We’ll see. My target date is February 4th, 2023, there’s a lot of guys involved, but that’s the target date. It’s a lot of pieces to this puzzle! [laughs] The first KEELFEST was a dream come true. I just wanted to get all the bands together in one place and I think it was great. I’m pretty confident that we can make it even better in Las Vegas in 2023.

KNAC.COM: What did you do for the first KEELFEST to prepare for the event, as you were going to be singing for the duration of the night?

KEEL: I rehearse extensively. I sing for 2-3 hours per day, sometimes more. I sing non-stop! I work through the set at home, I workout, I take care of my diet, but there’s no substitute for screaming your guts out! [laughs] I can hit the gym, eat right, but there’s no substitute for getting the mic in my hands, doing the show, by myself with the backing tracks on my own stage here in my ‘man cave’. If you stay ready, then you don’t have to get ready!

KNAC.COM: I have a couple more things from the past that I didn’t ask last time. There’s always stuff to talk to Ron Keel about. I will probably hang up and think Damn! I forgot to ask him about that?!

KEEL: [laughs] Go for it!

KNAC.COM: Going back to The Dudes Soundtrack, you covered ROSE TATTOO’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw”. Two things: Were you a fan of the band? Second: Who suggested that you record that song?

KEEL: That track, the song, the recording has become one of the signature songs of my career. We heard the song when we were hired to cover that song for The Dudes Soundtrack, The song was produced by KEVIN BEAMISH of REO SPEEDWAGON fame. When we came into this it was like 'you are going to sing this song for this movie'. Little did I know then that it would become the catalyst for my ‘Metal Cowboy’ persona. That’s where the ‘Metal Cowboy’ was born. I could play screaming rock music with a cowboy hat on! The music video was shot at Paramount Ranch Studios, which has since burned down. I have such great memories of shooting that video from riding horses to flirting with saloon girls to screaming "Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw" while wearing a cowboy hat! You can’t beat that! That song has been a staple of my live show since and a cornerstone of my career. You’re going to hear that at the Rocktember Festival on September 10th when RON KEEL BAND is on the bill with TOM KEIFER BAND, WINGER, TONY HARNELL [TNT] all on the same day, the day before you’ll get JACKYL, QUIET RIOT, STEPHEN PEARCY, it’s just a great rock ‘n’ roll festival to be a part of! You’ll hear all the stuff you want to hear, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw”, “Tears of Fire”, “The Right To Rock”, all the KEEL classics and the new classic “When This Is Over” at the Rocktember Festival in Hinckley, Minnesota, September 9th and 10th.1

KNAC.COM: Always promoting!

KEEL: I try my best! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: You released a KEEL album titled Larger Than Live. There was a ‘live’ side and a ‘studio’ side. You tackled HUMBLE PIE’s “Fool For A Pretty Face” and you had some guests singing along with you on that. Who suggested that tune? How did you wind-up getting JAIME ST. JAMES [BLACK N BLUE] and the late KEVIN DUBROW [QUIET RIOT] to sing on that?

KEEL: “Fool For A Pretty Face” from the Larger Than Live album happened as most things happen in this business. It was the label that suggested that we cover the song. We’re always looking for a great classic cover, we recorded “Because The Night” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw”. We've always done those great classics and made amazing cover songs. We were signed to Atlantic Records at the time and they suggested “Fool For A Pretty Face”. Of course we were huge STEVE MARRIOT and HUMBLE PIE fans. We fell in love with the song all over again when we started to learn it and rehearse it. The deal with the label fell apart, but we moved forward with the Larger Than Live project and we kept the song on the ‘front burner’ so to speak. I reached out to Kevin Dubrow and Jaime St. James and I invited them into the studio. The vocal session that happened on that recording was ‘live’. It was Kevin, Jaime and I standing around a microphone, trying to outscream the other. When the song reaches its climax you can hear Kevin trying to hit the higher notes! Then Jaime is going higher than me and I’m going higher than both those guys! [laughs] What a great moment! I wish we had video of that session of us standing around the microphone screaming our heads off on a great cover song! I appreciate you asking about that.

Official Website:
https://ronkeel.com/

RON KEEL BAND Sturgis appearances:
https://fullthrottlesaloon.com/

Rocktember:
https://rocktember.net/


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