Tesla Released their first album, Mechanical Resonance, in 1986. Twenty years later, they needed a new guitar player to replace original member Tommy Skeoch. Dave Rude took the job and Tesla hasn’t looked back since. Their last album, Simplicity (2014), reached #24 on the Billboard charts. Rude has also released three solo albums, including 2013’s fantastic The Key, released by the amazing Rat Pak Records. Rude and Tesla will be on tour this summer with Def Leppard and Styx. Unfortunately, this not-to-be-missed tour will not be heading to Korea, but Dave was kind enough, in his busy schedule to answer Korea Guitar’s 20 Questions. Check them out…
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background? When and why you started playing guitar?
I always wanted to play guitar literally as far back as I can remember. It just struck me and I couldn’t get enough. I started taking lessons when I turned 9 and never looked back.
2. I hear a lot of blues in your playing. Who influenced you to be the guitarist that you are?
I grew up on all the classic rock stuff most guys of that era did–Zeppelin, Aerosmith, G’n’R, Metallica, which all has a pretty heavy blues influence. Also, Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of my all time faves so I’ve definitely gotten a lot of blues influence via the rock players I got into
3. Your new album with the Dave Rude Band, The Key, is killer. I was surprised to hear a cover of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. It’s a great version. Where did this idea come from?
Thanks a lot. Yeah, that was a fun one. The whole end jam is all improv, which is how we used to do it live every night. We heard it on the radio in the van one day on the way to a gig and thought it’d be a cool song to try. First time we ran through it at rehearsal we loved it and it instantly became a staple of our set.
4. How did you get the gig with Tesla?
Frank Hannon found my MySpace profile by accident and he sent me an email. It was really random. I’ve always been a huge Tesla fan so it was pretty surreal.
5. What is it about your Gibson Explorers that makes you stick with them?
I love the big sound I get out of ’em. That giant slab of wood resonates more than most guitars and makes the notes sing.
6. What is the definitive Dave Rude guitar song?
That’s hard to say but if I had to pick one from Tesla, I’d say it’s “Sympathy” from our new album “Simplicity”. That song and riff is one of my favorites and the solo is something I worked on a lot to try and make it interesting and unique. For my solo material, I’d go with “Yours To Hold” from my last album, “The Key”. I love the heavy riff, the fast driving rhythm, and the solo has a cool arc and melody to it.
7. How does recording a Dave Rude album differ from recording an album with Tesla?
With Tesla it’s 5 guys who all have to agree on everything before we can get anything done, which presents it’s own set of challenges. But you also end up getting great results through everybody’s input. With my project there’s more freedom and things can move quicker, which also has up and down sides. I love doing both.
Def Leppard asked us to be on their tour and we couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve loved Leppard since I was a kid and I’m looking forward to seeing Styx tear it up too.
C) What are you most looking forward to on the tour?
Everything–seeing both great bands every night, playing some big venues, and playing cities we haven’t done in a long time.
D) What can the fans expect, with regards to set lists and set length?
We’re on first so it’s a shorter set than when we’re headlining, but we’ll still give you a good cross section of the band’s career– the hits plus a new song and an album track or two. We’ll be rotating the set a bunch to fit everything in.
9. Bands such as Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Tesla, Cinderella are still touring to sold out crowds. Why is there such a resurgence in the so-called hair metal bands or did it ever go away?
I don’t think it ever went away for the people who love that music. I was going to see all those bands through all the years people talked about rock being dead, and I wasn’t the only one!
10. Speaking of the 80s metal bands, which guitarist from that era stood out to you? Which new guitar players impress you?
There were a lot of great players in the 80’s, aside from the big guys like Slash, who was more of a 70’s style guy anyway. Scotti Hill and Snake Sabo from Skid Row did some really great and original stuff, Mick Mars is super underrated and played some of the hookiest, soulful leads ever, Tracii Guns had some great leads, there were tons of guys. Right now I’m really into Joe Bonamassa, who is one of the best guitar players in history, in my opinion.
11. How important is image in Rock and Roll? I always thought that Tesla was a jeans and T-shirt band. Is there a concerted effort to form an image in the band?
It’s very important to lots of bands, but Tesla has always been less interested in that side of the business. We wear stuff we like, but it’s usually not super flashy or trendy.
“Song and Emotion ” is one of my favorites, as is “What You Give “. “Signs” is always a blast because the whole crowd lights up every time and they sing every word.
13. Can you tell us about the Monsters Of Rock Cruise? How did it go?
It was fantastic as usual. Lots of great bands on the boat to see and hang with.
14. My daughter has just started to learn the acoustic guitar. What advice would you give to her, and anyone else who is just starting out?
When I’m off the road I teach lessons in person and online via Skype. I’ve taught for about 12 years and I really enjoy it. I always tell my students–especially the beginners–that the most important things are playing every day, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes, and enjoying what you play. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?
15. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
To instinctively know where the nearest Chipotle is at all times. Wait, I can already do that…
16. If you weren’t a guitar player, what would you be doing?
Hanging at a Chipotle.
17. Do you listen to any music that is not guitar driven? Is it a good idea for guitarists to listen to a genre outside of what they normally play?
Yes and yes. I actually listen to very little rock these days because there aren’t many new bands that excite me and I’ve just about worn out my Led Zeppelin and G’n’R records at this point. I love pop music and country.
18. People always think that successful musicians have nannies for the kids, drivers, cooks. What do rock stars really do when they aren’t rockin’?
Juggling the schedules for all the nannies, drivers, and cooks! No, really we just come home from a tour and go back to regular life. We’ve all got kids and wives and have to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Home Depot for something.
19. If you could travel back in time and have dinner and drinks with anyone from history, who would it be? Which musicians would you like to chat with?
Stonewall Jackson, although he sounded like he wouldn’t have been much for conversation, especially with a Yankee. As for musicians, it’d be Jimi Hendrix just to hear what crazy ass, nonsensical stuff about rainbows and soul he’d talk about.
20. What’s the one misconception most people have about rock stars? Is there one thing that makes your skin crawl?
Other than lice, not really.
(With The Dave Rude Band)
Tesla (* – with Dave Rude)