MOTHER ROAD is a brand new band consisting of three members based in Germany and an American vocalist and one of our management bands. We spoke to incredible singer Keith Slack (formerly of Steelhouse Lane & MSG) and guitar player extraordinaire Chris Lyne (ex Soul Doctor) to introduce this hot four piece to you. Musically, their sound seems to be tailor made for all you fans out there digging 70’s kind of Classic Rock with bluesy influences! But read yourself what the guys have to say…
Please introduce yourself a bit first.
Chris: Hey guys, my name is Chris Lyne and I am playing the guitar in the band Mother Road.
Keith: Hello, My name is Keith Slack and I am the vocalist for the brand new band called Mother Road.
MOTHER ROAD is an impressive new band coming from the bluesy Hard Rock genre. How did the idea come up to form this group and how did you guys get in touch with each others?
Chris: When the idea to form this band came up first, my manager and I started to search for a singer on the internet. We received a lot of applications from many talented guys – I though think that none of them came from Germany. However, none of these singers really fitted to the job. My manager then played some songs by the band Steelhouse Lane to me and asked me how I like this vocalist in particular. I immediately have liked him but Keith simply blew me away when we came across a bootleg of his old band Mudpie – and we contacted him straight away. I sent him two songs and he loved them. Two days later, he returned one song to me – his vocals were absolutely fantastic! We realized very soon that the chemistry between us was right, that we think the same way and feel the same when it comes to terms of song-writing.
Keith: I was recommended to Chris by music industry professional Birgitt Schwanke. Who was familiar with my work from previous bands and projects that I did including Steelhouse Lane, MSG and Mudpie. From there Chris and I began to communicate and write songs together. There was an instant chemistry and so we decided to further persue our venture together.
Rock fans should be familiar with your names from your previous bands Steelhouse Lane & MSG and Soul Doctor. What are your memories on these bands when you think back?
Chris: I had 12 great years with Soul Doctor, toured almost all over the world and played the big festivals. I’ve learnt a lot about the business and had good times and bad times with my friends but unfortunately even good things always will end one day. Nevertheless, this is an era which I do not want to miss.
Keith: I have very fond memories of Steelhouse Lane in particular due to the fact that I had the opportunity to work with such a talent as Mike Slamer. Mike taught me more than anyone else in the business, with maybe the exception of his wife Susan, who is one of the sweetest yet most knowledgeable people in the music industry period. I am very lucky and indebted to both of them and family. MSG was a fun time as well. Mostly because I got to meet and work with Shane Gaalaas and Barry Sparks. Those two are without a doubt one of the greatest rhythm sections ever. Getting to tour the U.S. with Vinnie Moore was also a highlight. Vin is one of the coolest guys I know, as well as a monster talent! Performing at the Swedish Rock Fest with Deep Purple and the Scorpions was also a memorable event. As were many more that we don’t have time for here..lol
Where does the band name come from and is there any meaning behind?
Chris: That’s a funny story…it was really difficult to decide which name we will pick. We had tons of ideas but none of them really stood out. Keith suggested just to ‘let the music do the talking’…then I visited a friend who owns a garage to let him fix my car. There, I saw this impressive Route 66 plate at his wall – below this name there was a small writing saying “The Mother Road”. I thought this was great because it has got a deep relation to the music we’re playing.
Your current demo CD includes five tracks. Even though you’re a German band with an American singer the songs do not sound German at all. In fact, there is not any band in Germany around which sounds similar – at least not on this high level. The music seems to be inspired a lot by the classic bluesy influenced British & American bands from the late 70’s and early 80’s. Which artists and bands are your main influences?
Chris: I think it will be difficult for Keith to sound German (lol). As for me – my personal influences come from the 70’s. I grew up with bands such as Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin and Free. My older brother is liable for this! Paul Kossof, Jimmy Page and Gary Moore impressed me a lot, and Jimmy Page is the master of guitar arrangements.
Keith: Yes, you are correct. Both Chris and I seemed to have been raised with those musical influences. I listened to a lot of different music growing up. Everything from Sly Stone to Iron Maiden, Percy Sledge, Free and Zeppelin. I started playing drums at age 4, so most of my influences were back-beat drummers. However I quickly gravited towards songwriting and the craft that was needed to emotionally effect people and take them on a journey of sorts.
Would you agree, if someone would say that MOTHER ROAD sums up all these influences but also adds some own flavors to it?
Chris: The band consists of experienced musicians who all add their own style to the songs – this creates a new sound without denying our influences.
Keith: Absolutely. It’s basically years of cultivated influences wrapped with our own take on it as well as life experiences.
Who are the other guys in the band?
Chris: A bunch of unbelievably talented musicians and great people. I’ve known Carsten Klick (drums) and Frank Binke (bass) for more than 20 years and they are one of the best rhythm sections I know. They just sound great when they start playing together! We are speaking the same language. On the song “Still Rainin” we have added Jimmy Kresic to the band to take over piano and hammond parts. Another great guy and musician – but unfortunately also a very busy guy. I though hope that we’ll be able to get him to record the rest of the songs with us.
Your management currently is offering this demo to the labels. What expectations do you have on a record deal? And why does a band still need a label in the year 2012?
Chris: It would be really great to sign with this band on a bigger, influential label which honestly will believe in us – to get the whole thing really started and to give it a big push. We love what we’re doing! There are still many fans of this kind of music out there but many labels just want to make quick money. It’s getting more and more difficult to get a proper deal because many record companies these days just are offering licensing deals without any advance payments. If they do not invest any money, they will not need do anything to push this record. A great production also costs quite a lot money. Before we would sign a deal like this, I would rather offer the album to the fans as a free download. The music industry is making income from selling our works – unfortunately they forget about this too often.
Keith: Well, it would be nice to sign a deal with a label that has both the ability to promote it, as well as distribute it to our target audiences. I think labels are still a necessary part of the whole process because they are the bank that loans the money to make it all happen as well as utilize their experience and connections for promotions. It’s just getting harder to find labels that are actually about the music and less about the immediate pay off.
Most of the songs on the demo have been written by Chris and Keith…did you meet for the song-writing and the recordings or how did you work on putting these tracks together?
Chris: Keith and I communicated a lot via Skype and used to internet to exchange music files. We both own a studio where we can record and compose. The other guys joined me in my studio here in Berlin where we recorded the basic tracks. Keith sometimes has joined us with the help of video chats. This has worked very well during the demo recordings and was the best alternative for this purpose as we didn’t have any budgets.
Keith: Chris and I exchanged music via digital file transfer. Since we both have state of the art recording gear, it was obvious to both of us that we pursue our endeavor in that fashion. It’s is way more cost effective to do it that way, at least for demo purposes. We also stayed in close contact with Skype video to make sure we were both on the same page at all times.
Your manager told me that the song “Dirty Little Secret” already has caused great interest by a film company and will appear on an international released movie soundtrack next year.
Chris: Yes, this will be the case. I’m permanently recording guitar parts for movies and the composers of the score of this one asked me to play them some music of my new band to them. They liked it so much that they asked us if they can use “Dirty Little Secret” for their upcoming film. They also have played this track to the American office of the film company – and they loved it too. My guitar performance can be heard in the whole movie…the picture material I have seen so far is incredible.
The track “Blue Eyes” offers a bit of a ‘Black Crowes meets Bad Company’ flavor.
Keith: Thank you. However, when I approach songwriting, I just sing anything and let it come out. It’s a lot like channeling I suppose. The song pretty much tells me what it wants to say. Sometimes it’s not always what I want to hear, but none the less I go with it in that manner. I am definitely more influenced by the Jeff Beck Truth record and the Faces than I ever was by the Black Crows. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Crowes too, but I had those influences way before I knew who Chris Robinson was.
Chris: I guess this would do fine for us even though I think that this song really is focused on Keith’ warm voice and his very own style to add melodies to the rhythm.
“Still Rainin’” offers a great blues feeling, and the vocals on this track just sound so natural. Impressive performance!
Keith: Thank you. I’ve always really liked Johnny Lang so that was a fun one to do.
Chris: I only can repeat myself here – Keith just picks up the microphone and always sounds amazing. If you believe it or not – the version on this demo was his first try, and we kept it the way it was because of the great feeling. The right feeling is the most important fact for a performance!
Your sound is screaming for a release on vinyl…what is your opinion on this format?
Keith: I really don’t know? Do they still make vinyl? That would be very cool. I think people miss looking at all of the cool photos that we had growing up. Digital downloads and things of that sort just don’t have that magic anymore.
Chris: This definitely would be the real thing for me! I’m a big fan of vinyls and own all of my favorite albums on vinyl myself. There still are a lot of music fans around who prefer this format. Most recently, I have bought all Joe Bonamassa albums on vinyl.
Here in Europe, there currently seems to be a bit of a Classic Rock revival happening. The success of bands like Black Country Communion shows. What does the Rock scene look like in the US – and in particular in Texas?
Keith: Well, I live in the live music capital of the U.S. so it’s always going to be alive and kicking. However the music that I love doing, and Chris and I are writing, isn’t big here. People are more into Texas Country music here. Everything can change though. I think the real rock music will always have a place in our culture and attitudes.
You have been touring with MSG in Europe and you also came to Germany at the time. I also heard that some of your forefathers were German. What memories on Germany do you have from your previous visits? Does it feel strange to be the singer in a German band even though everyone over here basically regards the UK and US as THE ‘Rock N Roll’ countries?
Keith: I absolutely loved touring in Germany! My Father’s side of the family came to the U.S. during WWII so I definitely have a connection there. The small town that my Grandfather was from was pretty much erased during the war, but it would be fun to research it all someday and find more information on it. As far as feeling strange to be in a German band goes? I don’t feel strange at all. Music crosses all boundaries. Especially doing the music that Chris and I really love to do.
Chris – in one of the previous interviews you mentioned to me that you’ve been over for holidays to the USA quite often during the 90’s and that you like a lot of things on this country. You are now working with an American singer for the first time. What are your thoughts on this?
Chris: Keith definitely has got all the right feelings and everything else that needed for this music in his blood. He’s singing and performing in his mother language and grew up where ZZ Top, Gallagher and the Winter brothers come from, too. This all is helping our band and songs so much. I’ve been dreaming for a long time to be able to play in a band like this – and even though we’re already on a great level there is so much potential for more in it as we’ve just have started.
Your guitar sound seems to be very much unique and even though the music here is a bit more bluesy influenced than Soul Doctor, it perfectly works for both. What kind of equipment do you use and what’s the secret behind your sound?
Chris: Thanks a lot! Too be honest – I never have been really thinking about this a lot before. I’ve never tried to sound or copy someone else. The music comes from my heart and just feels to be natural. 90% of the guitar sounds come from what you’re doing with your hands and not from the gear. Many people get it wrong when they say that – if I’m using the same guitar like Gary Moore – then I need to sound like him as well. I’m mainly playing my Les Paul live on stage. In the studio I’m working with quite a lot of different equipment all the time – depending what the song needs and which sound I would like to create.
Steelhouse Lane and MSG are/were some kind of more melodic orientated bands… where do you see the musical differences to Mother Road?
Keith: When I did SHL back in the late 90’s, Mike pretty much had all of the songs for the first CD and knew what he wanted it to sound like. I had more input on the second CD, but still tried not to sway too far away from what the fans wanted. Mother Road is me being me and not conforming to anything or anybody. I’m just letting it flow out of me on this one.
25-35 years ago, this band certainly would have had a chance to become one of the big players in the international music scene. For me, the band really succeeds when it comes to transferring this great, vintage sound into the present. What kind of expectations and goals do you have with Mother Road in the year 2012?
Keith: We always hope for the best. You never know what the future holds. I just keep doing what I do and hope that someday people will get it. It’s all about the music for me. If I get too involved in the business aspect of it, it really becomes too distracting and uninspiring and then I end up not doing anything.
Chris: I always – in the first way – make music because it’s my passion and not for the money. I love the music we’re playing and I really hope that our fans will like it, too. When you’re thinking making music just is a job then you will turn into a machine. This will take away all the passion for it. We will see what the future will bring. One never knows in advance.
At the moment, there are many American bands from the 70’s and 80’s coming over to Europe to play live here for the first time while they did not tour here when they were big over there. This especially goes for some of the Glam and Hair bands of the late 80’s. In my opinion, many of these groups lately have released really weak albums and their live performances are miles away from the class they might have had at their heydays. Many labels and concert promoters are putting too big focus on this alleged name dropping and are feeding these old bands with far too much money instead of investing into new talents. In Germany, we’ve got an old saw that says: “They’re milking the cow – as long as the cow still gives milk.” What’s your opinion on this and what does this mean for Mother Road?
Chris: I totally agree to this! Name dropping seems to be the most important fact here. There are so many new, talented bands around which play their asses off to get some recognition. But as mentioned before – investing into talent is more important than making some fast bucks.
Keith: I agree 100%! That’s because the promoters and labels are just trying their hardest to cash in in any way that they can. The business has become so bad that they will try anything to make a dollar (or Euro ;). The problem is that these bands can no longer afford the great producers that made them sound good in the first place, and now they are left out exposed for people to see that there really wasn’t much talent there to begin with.
Today, for a new band there are a couple of new ways around how to promote a new idea and how to make it grow. What do you think about Facebook and the tools for bands offered there?
Chris: Social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Myspace are good platforms to promote bands independently from traditional media. It’s a good way to reach a lot of people without having a lot of budget.
Keith: I personally liked Myspace better because it was more about the music and less about the high school drama that goes on all day long on Facebook. Either way, these are all great places to promote and launch music. If the labels don’t want to do their job as good as they used to, then we are left to pick up the pieces and march on with this technology.
Any final words to our readers?
Chris: Finally a few words about my friend Keith Slack. He is one of the greatest, talented singers and musicians that I know. He plays the guitar too, and you guys should hear him playing drums – incredible! And the most important thing is that he is a really nice guy. I am really proud to work with him! Give MOTHER ROAD and our music a chance and we will give you all a blast of Rock´n Roll. Hope to see you all on the road soon!
Keith: I truly hope that everyone listens to this CD in it’s entirety. There are a lot of different flavors and emotions for everybody. Thank you all so much for your love and support throughout the years! Hope to see you all out on the ROAD very soon 😉
This promotional interview is available for free release. Please send pdf’s of your articles or links to email@example.com if you’re using parts of it. Picture material & logo in hi-res are available on request. Please, support the band and click on the ‘Like’ button at their Facebook site! Thanks!
photo credit Keith Slack: Mark Maryanovich
Management & press contact: Birgitt Schwanke // firstname.lastname@example.org