Tesla in Troy: Hard rockers are rejuvenated and ready to roll

Frank Hannon, (left to right) Brian Wheat, Jeff Keith, Troy Luccketta and Dave Rudd of Tesla, which was number 22 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hair Metal, brings its Let’s Get Real Tour to Hobart Arena in Troy on Friday, Oct. 15. CONTRIBUTED
Frank Hannon, (left to right) Brian Wheat, Jeff Keith, Troy Luccketta and Dave Rudd of Tesla, which was number 22 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hair Metal, brings its Let’s Get Real Tour to Hobart Arena in Troy on Friday, Oct. 15. CONTRIBUTED


Outside of a four-year break in the late 1990s, Tesla has been going hard since the early 1980s. The COVID-19 shutdowns were an unexpected but much-needed break for the platinum-selling hard rockers, bringing its Let’s Get Real Tour to Hobart Arena in Troy on Friday, Oct. 15.

Since 1984, the core of Tesla has been Jeff Keith (vocals), Frank Hannon (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Brian Wheat (bass, vocals, keyboards) and Troy Luccketta (drums). Dave Rude (guitar, vocals) replaced Tommy Skeoch in 2006.

The California band that came in at number 22 on VH1′s 100 Greatest Artists of Hair Metal was formed by Hannon and Wheat as Earthshaker in 1981. The name was changed to City Kidd in 1982 and then to Tesla in 1985 after the group signed a deal with Geffen Records.

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The band’s debut, “Mechanical Resonance,” was released in November 1986. It reached 32 on the Billboard album chart and was certified platinum. The follow-up, “The Great Radio Controversy” (1989), is considered by many to be the band’s best album. It reached 18 on Billboard and went double platinum. “Psychotic Supper” (1991) was Tesla’s most successful chart release, hitting 13. It was also certified platinum.

Tesla released the new single, “Cold Blue Steel,” in August. It’s the band’s first new offering since the release of its eight album, “Shock” (2019).

Hannon recently called in from the road to answer some questions about the band.

Q: How is the tour going?

A: It’s freaking great, man. We’re so lucky. We feel so grateful to be back out after getting shutdown in the month of August with all of us coming down with COVID. I had done a show at a club and a couple of us didn’t realize it but we had contracted COVID. Then, we all got it. The rest of the guys had been vaccinated so they didn’t get sick too bad. I was kind of hardheaded. I didn’t get the vaccine soon enough. I had only gotten the first vaccine a week prior to getting together with Tesla and actually a week prior to catching it. I didn’t really have the immunities built up like I should have so I got really sick for the whole month of August. That was a disaster but we’ve licked our wounds and we’re even stronger now. We’re back at it and we’re having a really great time.

Q: How did the March 2020 shutdowns impact Tesla’s plans?

A: Well, I’ll rewind it to when we were on the Monsters of Rock cruise ship in early February. We were headlining that cruise and as we were boarding, they asked us these weird questions. ‘Have you been to China lately?’ ‘Have you had a fever?’ We had no idea what was in store and the whole world was going to be hit by this crazy, horrible pandemic. We got off the ship and went home and we had to cancel a bunch of shows. Everything got shutdown and for a year-and-a-half, we all just sat around and watched the news while everybody was hoarding toilet paper and getting sick. During that time, I stayed busy producing bands, working in the studio and doing some stuff on the local level.

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Q: That’s a long time to be off the road but were there positive aspects?

A: Yeah, I’d say, honestly, the timing of the industry shutting down was OK for Tesla. Ironically, I was asking the guys if we could take a year off because we’ve been working our butts off since Tesla regrouped in 2000. We’d gone 18 years straight without a break. I was asking the guys if we could take some time off. We needed the time off and then, whammo, we got hit by COVID and didn’t have a choice. But, yeah, the 18 months was good for us because we’re fired up now. We’re really ready and hungry to do this again.

Q: When was the current Tesla single, “Cold Blue Steel,” written?

A: Jeff was listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd cranked up in his truck while he was driving over to my house one day. When he pulled into my driveway, I could hear him cranking out ‘Saturday Night Special.’ He jumped out of the truck and he was all fired up on that song. I showed him this Jimi Hendrix kind of riff I’d been jamming on in my garage. I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we write our own version?’ There had been a mass shooting around that time so we decided to touch on that subject. It’s not about gun control, if you listen deeper to the words, it’s about people’s intentions. In an unbiased way, it’s asking, ‘What’s to blame? Are you going to blame the cold blue steel or is it really the people that are the problem?’ It’s a touchy subject but we tried to be very unbiased.

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Q: Is the song for an album or is it a standalone single?

A: Well, we don’t want to wait to make a whole album. We don’t want to put that pressure on ourselves anymore by creating a deadline. When you do that, the songs will suffer. Since we’ve been doing this for 40 years, we can call our own shots. We’re going to do one song at a time now and just have fun doing it. There’s no pressure.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.


Who: Tesla with Bad Marriage and Signal 13

Where: Hobart Arena, 255 Adams St., Troy

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $31, $41 and $68

More info: 937-339-2911 or hobartarena.com

Artist info: teslatheband.com

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