Interview: Keri Kelli of A NEW REVENGE

The LA Based outfit, A New Revenge, featuring an all-star line up will release their debut album, Enemies & Lovers on March 29th, 2019 via Golden Robot Records.

Supergroup is a term that has been diluted over time. Throwing a bunch of people from other bands into a new project doesn’t automatically make them Super, but their bios will tell you otherwise. It’s time to seek revenge and reclaim that word!

A New Revenge is the very definition of a supergroup. One whose members have more than earned their legendary statuses but also remain humble enough to let the music do the talking and not actually rely on the term.  So who is out for A New Revenge?

Featuring one of the finest voices in metal of all time, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (who’s voice is all over albums from Judas Priest, Iced Earth and Yngwie Malmsteen), one of the most versatile and name-checked guitarists in rock Keri Kelli (Slash’s Snake Pit, Alice Cooper, Vince Neil Band and a hundred more) the most iconic bass player in heavy metal history, Rudy Sarzo (whose work with Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Whitesnake and many more have earned him an almost revered status in heavy music) and longtime Scorpions drummer James Kottak (also from Montrose, Warrant, Kingdom Come & more).

Keri Kelli, the band’s guitarist says of A New Revenge coming together; “Beginning the songwriting process we said ‘Let’s get together and come up with three or four original songs.’ Without any pressure, just creating as we went. Finally, we got to the eleven songs we were all happy with. ‘Here’s To Us’ was the first song we wrote for this record. It came very fast and was pretty simple to write. It’s basically an ode to hard rock fans the planet over”

To further, Kelli comments on the album Enemies & Lovers “It’s been a long time coming but it’s completely finished mixed, mastered and all ready to go. We all really, really excited to finally unleash this on the hard rock community.”  I had the opportunity to get the lowdown on the band from the band’s guitarist Keri Kelli after completing a soundcheck for his ongoing Nightranger tour.   

ANTIHERO: Okay! You’re with another new band, A New Revenge. I just wonder if you can tell me how the band came together?

Keri Kelli: Yeah man! Very cool band. Obviously James Kottak, Tim Owens, Rudy Sarzo and myself on the record, and it just kind of started as a fun band. James and I kind of came up with the idea, and it was just like I said it was for fun. We were just kind of like a jam band playing songs from bands that we were associated with, and we were like, “Oh cool, who should we get for vocals and bass?” And literally, I just said, “Well, Tim’s awesome and Rudy is a great guy, I’ve known him for years.” And I just called them up one day, and they all said, “Sure, let’s do it!” It was that simple, man. It was just out of fun, just playing music and having a good time with your buddies.

ANTIHERO: What about the name itself and the actual album cover? The whole concept of a voodoo doll? Have you got anybody in mind that that’s kind of directed at?

Keri Kelli: No man, it was just a cool image. I actually think that I sent it over to James, or we had found it and everybody just thought it was cool, we should use that. It’s kind of like, it was a revenge thing. And we just went with it, man. We tried not to give too much thought to it. It’s like Van Halen record covers or something, you don’t even know what they mean but it’s just cool, you know? And we just went with it.

ANTIHERO: Okay then, from that early idea and the band line up’s solidified, how did you get about creating the songs for the album?

Keri Kelli: Yeah, they were, like I said when we kind of put together it was kind of just us playing tunes from the bands that we had been associated with, Scorpion stuff, Ozzy, Judas Priest stuff for Tim, Alice for me and things like that. But we just started kind of writing some riffs in my home studio, everybody kind of has a home studio these days, and I’d just put riffs down and send them over to Tim, and then Tim would kind of sift through them and pick out different songs that he thought sounded cool. And then he’d develop them that way. He lives in Ohio, I and the rest of the guys are in California, so we just literally do it through email these days. And we kind of just wrote a couple of songs here and there, it wasn’t like a project that we put together within a month or two months or something like that. We kind of wrote and developed songs over a couple of years.

We finally had the 12 songs we finally recorded for the record, I think there’s a couple of bonus songs for iTunes and in Japan that didn’t come as the 12 that were done, but yeah. We just kind of did it as we had time, to be honest.

ANTIHERO: So, it was all recorded and pieced together by yourself?

Keri Kelli: Yeah, yeah pretty much. I did most of the recording, then we kind of finished it up with the guy who co-produced it with us, Tommy Hendriksen. He did an incredible job. He’s been working with Alice lately, and the Hollywood Vampires, and a bunch of other stuff. He’s awesome in the studio. So he kind of took what we had, and really put the finishing touches on it, kind of brought it to a whole other level with extra production and things like that. The mixes sound awesome. So it’s kind of like a collaborative effort on the whole thing.

ANTIHERO: These type of projects, with a lot of big names working together, they seem generally to have a short shelf life. Basically, one album, and then that’s it. Do you see this project as having some sort of longevity?

Keri Kelli: Yeah, I mean we hope so. As I said, we started just a few years ago just playing to have fun. That’s what it was all about. It wasn’t something that…I think a lot of times these days that last 5 or so years, or 10 years or whatever. Some record companies have been kind of putting projects together. And this was not how that came about. It just came about as us playing and having fun, and it just kind of developed into this. And like I said, the advent of everybody having home studios, you can do pretty good work on your own these days. We’re already working on some new ideas for our next album. Hopefully next year, something like that. It’s just all about creating and having fun and making some art, you know? Which are all these little songs that we put together. We hope that we can continue this, little by little and chip away, and yeah. It wasn’t something that was put together by a label or anything like that, and a one-time thing, so we’re hoping that we can see it through on multiple albums. Multiple years.

ANTIHERO: A lot of those record label projects don’t even get the opportunity to play live. They just go in, do the album, then that’s it?

Keri Kelli: Yeah.

ANTIHERO: But you guys already have been out playing gigs? You’ve got that experience.

Keri Kelli: Yeah, absolutely! Like I said, that’s how we started. Just playing out live, and having fun, and we want to do that as well. This project, toward the end of the year, we’re looking at trying to get some dates going. I know it’s a little ways after the record release, but with the summer here, everybody’s kind of tied up with some of their other projects. Obviously, I’ve been in Night Ranger now for 5 or 6 years and we have a bunch of summer stuff coming up with Sammy Hagar, a tour with him, and some other things with Foreigner I think. But towards the end of the year, the fourth quarter, October, November, December, we’re hoping we can get out there and play these songs for the people.

ANTIHERO: Of course that’s always going to be difficult, getting the time where all you guys haven’t got other things going on. Is that what happened with Rudy? You mentioned that he played on the album, but you obviously play live shows with Phil Soussan?

Keri Kelli: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. It is rough this day and age with everybody, this project or other bands like this, where people have other opportunities that they’re involved in. It’s just kind of hard to carve that time out and figure out a way to make it work. But we want to! I’m sure that other bands want to as well. But like I said, we’re hoping that towards the end of the year we’re hoping that we can get something going. Rudy was just too tied up with The Guess Who which he’s been involved in I think for, same thing, 5, 6, 7 years. Which is all good. We love Rudy. He’s a legend. Loved playing with him. Great guy and stuff, but you know, if things don’t work out on a timing or logistics standpoint, it is what it is. We’re all adults here, you know what I mean?


ANTIHERO: Do you envision touring maybe a bit further, I was thinking of  Europe in particular?

Keri Kelli: We hope so. Right now, we’re looking at some offers that are in Europe, South America, Japan, and Russia where we’ve played a lot before, so probably those territories. I mean, we’d love to play in the States. It’s kind of a hard go at it right now. But yeah, those are the areas that we’ve been talking with, at least. We’ll see if we can get the offers in to get over there.

ANTIHERO: Moving on from A New Revenge. Obviously, your musical career, you’ve been around the block quite a few times. Just want to ask you a few general questions about your career. Can you recall hearing one of your songs on the radio for the first time, and how did that make you feel?

Keri Kelli: One of the first songs, it was kind of wild. This was back in I think it was ’99, maybe? or maybe even earlier in the nineties when I had a local band, we were on radio stations but around ’99 I was in this band, right? And then I actually left the band, but I still had recorded the record with them and wrote some songs on it. It was a band called U.S. Crush. They were more like a Foo Fighters type of a band, and we had this song called Bleed. It was actually the second single on the record, and it was on all the stations. I mean all the big A radio stations. And I was actually playing with Ratt at the time and we were in the car one time going to a gig, and the song came on. The Bleed. And it was pretty awesome, man, I gotta tell you. It’s weird, because that song, myself and the singer of that band just wrote it in my little bedroom, back 20-something years ago. And then it’s coming out of the stereo speakers, man. It’s a trippy thing, man. I was very happy. I think it was ’99 or it might have been 2000, but in that time period. It’s a cool feeling, man.

ANTIHERO: Over the years, you’ve worked with many musical legends — Slash, Alice Cooper, just to name a couple. Who would be the most influential musician that you have ever worked with? Who have you learned the most from?

Keri Kelli: Wow. That’s kind of a hard question, because like you said I have worked with a lot of great people. I’ve had awesome experiences with everybody. Slash, back in the day and Alice for many years. I mean, those two, in particular, are just pillars in the rock and roll industry. Legends. Alice’s organization, Alice himself, so professional. He’s been doing this, obviously, fifty years, man. Utmost respect for the music business, and/or entertainment business. And Slash as well. Learned a lot from him. He’s one of the nicest guys, same as Alice. One of the coolest guys in rock and roll. Never goes crazy, never gets mad, whatever. It’s just, literally, no matter how hard you went off the night before, maybe after the show, you know something like that, the next day you’re right back down to business, man. And that business is playing that rock and roll show. Being there, showing up, and doing it. That’s really something that I learned from those guys.

A lot of times, you know, kids coming up in general, they think that it’s like…you know, rock and roll, party, party, miss the show, miss sound check or things like that. Seeing it from Slash and Alice, these legends, none of that goes on. It’s like the utmost professionalism, and it’s all about that night. That show. That day. That night. Soundcheck, the show, the people that paid their money to come to see you. It sounds very simple, but those are incredible lessons that I’ve taken with me the last twenty years or so.

ANTIHERO: I was actually quite surprised, did a little bit of homework for this chat, and the amount of albums that you’ve played on…it’s phenomenal!

Keri Kelli: Yeah! Some of them I played on whole records, some of them just a song here or there. Some of them just a guitar solo. So, various things, but yeah! It’s pretty wild. I’m very blessed.

ANTIHERO: Are there any of those albums that maybe stand out for you, particularly good memories?

Keri Kelli: They’re all cool, man! Just to be able to have worked with a lot of these artists, I’m very proud. Working with Alice in the studio, doing demos, and then we’d end up doing the record and the live DVD and things like that was a great experience. Obviously working, the same thing as you said, with Slash. The Skid Row guys. Even the last couple of Night Ranger things we’ve done. Those guys, in particular, incredible musicians, songwriters. I mean, Jack Blades, besides Night Ranger has written many songs with many different artists. Obviously, The Damn Yankees, his other project. Just to be in the studio with him, working on songs, writing songs, is awesome, man. I can’t trade it for anything, man. I’ve had a lot of great experiences.

ANTIHERO: Do you still have ambitions? Any goals, dreams that you still have or have you checked all those boxes many years ago?

Keri Kelli: I’ve been very fortunate in the last twenty years, some really cool things that I’ve been able to do. You know, play places like Madison Square Garden in New York, I mean just the name of it. There are newer arenas that are bigger and nicer these days because it’s kind of an older building, but it’s iconic. To say you’ve played Madison Square Garden is cool, man. It’s awesome. As I said, I’ve been very lucky and blessed to be able to do these things, but yeah.

Nowadays, man, I’ve done so many cool things over the years, I’m just happy to get up every day and play for the people, which we’re doing today down here in Florida, Night Ranger. That’s what it’s all about, having fun. I want to have fun. I want to entertain the people that come to the shows. You know, they pay their money, they come out and pay for parking, pay for tickets, pay for beers, whatever they’re doing, and like I said that’s just going back to what we talked about, about Alice and Slash. That’s what it’s all about. It’s that concert, that night is what the whole day, that you’re life kind of revolves around. That’s what we do. So yeah, I think I’ve checked all the boxes, pretty much.

ANTIHERO: Would there be any musicians that you’ve never yet managed to work with who you’d really like to do something with?

Keri Kelli: I think Dave Grohl is one of the coolest guys, you know the last, whatever it’s been thirty years that he’s kind of been around. I’ve never met him. A lot of my buddies kind of run in the same circles as he does, and I’ve actually jammed with them and stuff like that, and I’ve never…for some reason, we’ve never crossed paths. I mean, he’s one guy I’d really like to hang out with or jam with or work with, so who knows! We’ll see. Like I said, I mean I literally know a handful of people that are buddies with him, but it just hasn’t worked out that we’ve been in the same room.

ANTIHERO: Just a final one then…I’m sure you’ve done many, many interviews, but if the roles were reversed, who would you like to sit down and interview?

Keri Kelli: Who would I like to sit down and interview? Wow…You know, I would have to do some of my, it might be a geeky situation, but I would do my homework as well. But, Keith Richards would be awesome for me to really sit with for a half-hour and do an interview where I would come up with the questions and really get deep into it. He’s a great influence on me as well, and I’ve had the pleasure like you were talking about checking off boxes, we actually with Alice did a little tour with them. We played 5 shows with The Rolling Stones, opening for them. That was incredible. Playing stadiums with them. Hanging out with Keith and Ron and Mick Jagger. It was really surreal, because these guys are like, untouchable. You know, Alice, of course, is a living legend as well, but when you think of The Stones, they are literally A+, number 1. And you’re just standing there with Keith Richards, having a drink, talking to him. So, it was a very wild experience. But just to be able to sit down with him, he and I for a half-hour, I think that would be an incredible experience. Maybe one day, we’ll see.

ANTIHERO: Sounds brilliant. Thank you very much. Hopefully, you’ll get over to the UK and maybe get some dates scheduled for over here!

Keri Kelli: I hope so man! I hope we can get A New Revenge over there, or maybe Night Ranger can get back there again. I love it over there, I love Europe, I love UK. I just love to play. At this point in the game for me, I just love playing and I love entertaining people, and that’s really what it’s all about. So I hope we can get over there and see you, man.

ANTIHERO: Yep. That’s great. Thank you very much for chatting!

Keri Kelli: Awesome, man! Thank you, have a great night over there, man.


Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.

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