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Interview:
Tesla at The Fillmore, 3 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Last year Tesla celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Now the Sacramento, Calif., quintet is looking towards the next three decades.

The group established itself during the mid-80s with a melodic hard rock sound, ultimately breaking through 1990's platinum "Five Man Acoustical Jam" and its hit cover of the Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs." Tesla broke up for a few years during the late 90s, but the group has been going strong again since 2000.

And while it's taking a minute to pat itself on the back for its past, Tesla -- named after the late 19th and early 20th century inventor Nikola Tesla -- is, in fact, looking towards an active future...

with another new album, produced by Def Leppard's Phi

Now in year 31, guitarist and co-founder Frank Hannon says Tesla was a band that was built to last. "Well, absolutely it was," he notes. "We were so young, but we had some great mentors. When I was 15, 16 years old we were playing the clubs and writing our own songs and trying to get established, but in order to get a gig you had to play some pretty sappy music, so we were playing the Top 40 of the day. And Ronnie Montrose discovered us and he saw our talent and said, 'You guys are gonna go far, but you need to get away from playing these cover tunes and write songs wtih grit, from your heart, that are real.' So he gave us that good advice, and so did others along the way."

Tesla is working on a new album, following up 2014's "Simplicity" -- preceded by the new song "Save That Goodness" -- with Def Leppard's Phil Collen producing. "I'd say we're about 80 percent done," Hannon, 50, notes by phone from his home in Sacramento. "It's sounding like the same as all of our albums -- from the heart and multi-dimensional, with different instruments. I did a mandolin solo on one of the songs the other day. But it's advanced in production. Phil is offering us great advice and teaching a lot of tricks he learned on the Def Leppard records like 'Pyromania.'He's really put a shot in the arm for Tesla. He's been a big fan of Tesla since 1989, when we first met him."

On top of its musical achievements, Tesla the band is proud of the role it's played in boosting the legacy of Nikola Tesla. "A lot more people are saying the word Tesla now," Hannon says. "We have to sometimes clarify, 'Oh, we're talking about the band, not the car.' But it's great because if anything it'll bring more awareness to Nikola Tesla. He's the namesake and he got the short end of the stick. He was responsible for almost everything we enjoy today, like this iPhone I'm holding in my hand, alternating current, radio, electricity, satellites -- all of that stuff, Nikola Tesla was dreaming up and giving his ideas to other people and he got ripped off. So Tesla the band, Tesla the car, I think there's even a Tesla guitar company that's coming out, all of that should go back to Nikola Tesla 'cause he deserves the credit."

Tesla, the Cringe and the Raskins

Tuesday, Feb. 21. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $20-$75.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.


Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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