FRANK HANNON: TESLA Wasn't 'Trying To Compete With The Glam Bands' In 1980s
November 16, 2023
In a recent interview with My Weekly Mixtape, TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon was asked if he and his bandmates received any pressure from their record company, Geffen, in the 1980s to compete with the so-called "hair metal" bands that were popular at the time or if Geffen was "100 percent" in TESLA's corner during that period. Frank responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, I would say it was both. There was some songs that we had to fight for, but we were always being directed by the people that we worked with to write the best songs we could possibly write and not have any filler material or cheesy garbage material on an album. They always insisted that the entire album be good, not just have one song on it that was good and the rest of it be junk. And when I'm talking about [Q Prime management's] Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch and [Geffen A&R executive] Tom Zutaut, they were directing us at the time and they were responsible for RUSH, DEF LEPPARD, METALLICA, AC/DC and DOKKEN, and so they were involved with some really high-caliber kick-ass bands that had integrity. So we were very lucky to be getting advice from them to try to write real songs that were gritty and from the heart and not cheesy. And they put a lot of high expectations on us because we were, again, in the company of bands like METALLICA and RUSH and AC/DC, SCORPIONS, DEF LEPPARD. We weren't trying to compete with the glam bands and the trendy stuff. We were trying to be ourselves. And luckily we weren't having pressure put on us to be glam metal We were having more pressure on us to be ourselves and to write the best songs that we could for ourselves."
Last month, Frank weighed in on the never-ending debate about how the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting. Asked in an interview with Real Music With Gary Stuckey how he and his bandmates were affected by the downfall of the 1980s glam metal scene, Frank said: "Well, the '90s were definitely a harder period for us. But really, it wasn't grunge; it was our own fault. [TESLA's fourth studio album, 1994's] 'Bust A Nut' is a great album, but we were already internally having problems. So the external stuff you're talking about — grunge — it didn't really matter for us and our fans, 'cause we were never really the poster child [for '80s rock] anyway. Even during the glam days, we weren't on the cover of all the magazines as being a glam band. So, when grunge came out, and NIRVANA and PEARL JAM and all the style changed, it didn't matter, because we weren't really affected by those trends anyway."
He added: "So, I don't blame grunge — for us. [For bands that] were really cheesy or whatever, then maybe grunge kind of killed those bands. But for us, it was more our own fault. We were burnt out and partying too much and had problems."
In a 2015 interview with Southeast Of Heaven, TESLA singer Jeff Keith said that he and his bandmates "never really relied on image which is probably why we survived when grunge came along. Our fans knew we didn't rely on image so they had no problem keeping us around," he explained. "A lot of bands who were heavily reliant on image just didn't make it and they were out unless they were so huge. Bands that were at our level that relied more on image than anything just didn't make it. I mean, we had a stylist putting Aqua Net in our hair for our first video but we didn't know what we were doing. [Laughs] We didn't stick with that and we didn't rely on image. We relied on the music and our fans know that."
TESLA hasn't released a studio album since 2019's "Shock", which was produced and co-written by DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen.
In August 2022, TESLA released a standalone single, "Time To Rock!" A year earlier, the band issued another new track called "Cold Blue Steel".
In September, TESLA released the official music video for its cover of AEROSMITH's "S.O.S. (Too Bad)". The song is a bonus track on TESLA's live album, "Full Throttle Live!", which arrived this past May. The LP includes the band's "Time To Rock!" single, plus other songs, all recorded in August 2022 at Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota.
In September 2021, TESLA drummer Troy Luccketta announced that he would "take a little time from the road" to spend with family and friends. He has since been replaced at TESLA's gigs by Steve Brown, the younger brother of former DOKKEN drummer Mick Brown.
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