TESLA's JEFF KEITH Says New Drummer STEVE BROWN Is 'Working Out Great': 'He's A Great Guy'
August 7, 2023
TESLA singer Jeff Keith says that he doesn't know if there are still plans to release an official statement regarding drummer Troy Luccketta's status with the band.
In September 2021, 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.
Jeff discussed his longtime bandmate's absence from TESLA's concerts during a new interview with Tulsa Music Stream. Asked if TESLA will address Troy's position with the band in the form of an "official" announcement, as TESLA bassist Brian Wheat suggested would be the case in an interview back in April, Keith said: "I don't know about statements, but I know that… After eight 18 months, if we have a chance to go back out and Troy says, 'I need more time for my family…' If I tell you I need more time with my family, I don't need to explain to you what I need in my family, what I need to do. All I know is I'm telling you I need more time for my family. The guy needed more time for his family. He said, 'Get somebody to fill in.' We got Steve Brown. It's working out great. Yes. So now as far as officially still needing time for his family? I don't know about that, man. I don't know about official posts and stuff like that. All I know is Troy told us — what was it — a year and a half ago, 'I need more time for my family. I need to sort some things out.' I don't sit there and go, 'Well, Troy, tell me what's up. Tell me what's going on. I wanna post something.' It's, like, 'Hey, man, he needs more time. He needs more time.' I'm not gonna question that. He says, 'Get somebody to fill in for me.' That's what we did. And Steve Brown's working out great. And he's a great guy and he's a great drummer and he's played with a lot of bands…. And then his older brother Mick, the drummer for DOKKEN, who was inspirational. And he's a great guy. And he gets up there every night with us and plays some songs. And the people appreciate it, we appreciate it, and it all is full circle and everybody's happy going, 'Wow, what a great show.' Isn't that what it's all about?"
Four months ago, Wheat told Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of the Rock Interview Series about Luccketta: "He's not touring [with us]. There'll be an official statement soon — very soon. But no. He's kind of doing his own thing, and we're kind of doing our own thing. And we're working out all that stuff.
"Listen, I love Troy Luccketta; he's my brother," Brian continued. "We all love Troy. It just came to a point where we just weren't on the same page anymore as to what we wanted to do. It's not like we had this big massive fight or anything. It's just you start out like this [holds two fingers close together] and then sometimes you go like this [holds two fingers wide apart]. And that gap just got too wide. And he said, 'Look, maybe it's better if I don't do this.' And we said, 'Okay. Maybe it is.' He's out, I think, playing with THE GUESS WHO or something… So he's out playing. So it's not like he retired. He's not playing in TESLA. And who knows? Maybe one day there'll be some reunion tour — [when we do] the last final lap… But that's not now. And who knows? Things always could change and whatever.
"So, to answer your question, Troy is not playing in TESLA," Wheat repeated. "Will he ever come back? Who knows? We'll see. Maybe one day [he will]. But right now we're sorting out all the shit that you've gotta sort out. And there's no bad blood."
Two months earlier, Brian told Waste Some Time With Jason Green that Troy is "not coming back" to TESLA. "I don't think he's gonna come back," he said. "He wanted time off. People just do things like that. You start out like this [holds two fingers close together] and it just grows apart. I think that we've probably come to a point in our professional relationship that we've just grown too far apart on things.
"Look, I love Troy. He's my brother, just like [former TESLA guitarist] Tommy Skeoch is my brother. Will we play together again? I don't know. Probably one day, yeah. I mean, look, I'm the kind of guy that… And I know this is gonna funny to anyone, and I'll go ahead and say it… And I haven't even said this to Frankie [Hannon, guitar] and Jeff [Keith, vocals] or Dave [Rude, guitar] or anybody, but when there's one last lap around the track for this band, I think we owe it to our fans that everyone plays together. And I'm not saying Tommy without Dave; I'm saying DaveandTommy. And Troy too, if he would be up for it. And go out with class and dignity and style, and say, 'Okay, listen. We've been through a few changes. We're gonna do 40 more shows,' or whatever that is. Not turn that into a five-year tour or anything. But I, as I sit here today… And that can change, Jason… And I'm sure Blabbermouth's gonna be all over this tomorrow and say, 'Brian Wheat wants to put the original band back together'. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying when there's one last lap left, and we all know there's one last lap, I'm the one guy that'll stand up in the room and say, 'I'd like us all to go through it all together.' If that means having two drummers and three guitar players and Jeff Keith, I'm in. Now, I can't speak for the rest of the band. This is me speaking. I'm that guy that would like to do that. So, Blabbermouth, if you're out there, don't fucking misquote me, because that's all you ever do."
Wheat didn't specify exactly how BLABBERMOUTH.NET "misquoted" him in the past, but he added that TESLA should eventually stage a final tour with all current and former members in order to make it special for the fans. "I think we owe it to 'em," Brian said. "They've been such a loyal and diehard fanbase, I think they would love the fact that we went out playing; if that's how we're gonna go out, that that's how we would do it."
Pressed about Troy's reasons for no longer playing with TESLA, Brian said: "I don't know. The bottom line is, we wanted to go out and he said he didn't. And after being off for — what was it? — 18 months with COVID, we had to go out. We couldn't just sit home. We're not independently wealthy guys, We make our living from playing concerts. We work. That's our job. We were never fortunate enough to have, like, a 'Hysteria' or a 'Pyromania' or an 'Appetite [For Destruction]' or 'Slippery When Wet' or the Black Album or 'Back In Black'. We quietly would sell a million, a million and a half records, and we've got this diehard fanbase, and every year we have to go out and earn our living. So we couldn't sit home. And that's where it came to the thing."
Wheat added: "[Troy] had his reasons [for leaving TESLA]. And I respect that. And we just decided we were gonna continue to go out and play."
Troy most recently discussed his absence from TESLA's gigs during a September 2022 interview with Tulsa Music Stream. Asked if he was still taking a break from the band, he said at the time: "I am. I'm on a bit of a break. Personally, there's a lot of things going on in my life that I'm… This thing that we do doesn't cater to families. So at the time that this had gone down and COVID and everything, it just really gave me some time to step back and kind of look at things.
"I'd been running hard with the band for 36 years," he continued. "And I love the guys and I love the band. I'm a fan and always will be. I've got nothing but praise for them. They gave me a great life and I think we all share in that.
"Right now I've been doing a lot of different projects," Troy revealed. "I never played in any cover bands, man, so I went out and played in a James Taylor tribute; I went out and did some with this LED ZEPPELIN tribute; I did a VAN HALEN thing with these friends of mine called COMPLETELY UNCHAINED. And then I'm in classic rock tribute. And those are some of the things. And records — I get to do a lot of records. I'm here. I like being home. And quite honestly, I just signed up… I'm doing some dates with THE GUESS WHO right now. I've done half a dozen shows… I'm having fun with the guys. I like the band; I like the guys. Yeah, good stuff — a lot of good stuff happening."
Luccketta was also full of praise for his replacement in TESLA, saying: "He's a great, great drummer, a great person, a great guy. And we're not best of friends or anything, but I've always known Steve over the years and I always knew he was the right choice. I had him pegged out years ago before I even had to make the phone call. So it's perfect. It's really great because, if you think about it, it's a win-win. And I think it's even a breath of fresh air probably for the guys right now. And it's like having a new girlfriend [laughs] for a minute."
As for his future with TESLA, Troy said: "Will we ever play again together? I don't know if that will ever happen or not. I don't know what we will do moving down the road. But right now Steve is the drummer and it's his gig. And I'm happy for everybody. And I'm happy for me."
In an August 2022 interview with Canada's The Metal Voice, Hannon was non-commital about Troy's return to TESLA, saying: "We're just allowing the time for things to work themselves out. He's got things that he's dealing with.
"Touring is not an easy life, man," he explained. "It's a very difficult thing being out there on a bus, with everybody crammed in that tight situation. And when you've got stuff going on at home, those things need to be taken care of. But hey, man, he's a long-standing member of the band.
"We'll work it out," Frank added. "Time will work things out. He's a brother, and, like I said, time will work things out. The founding members of the band are together and Steve Brown is playing drums for us at the moment and really doing a great job. And we're just happy to be able to keep on working."
Hannon went on to praise Steve's contributions to TESLA, saying: "Steve is not only 'Wild' Mick's little brother but he's also a member of our local community here in Sacramento. We've known him since he was a little guy. He used to come watch us play when he was a teenager. And he has done other shows for us in the past, filling in for Troy. So he's a member of our family as well."
When Luccketta first shared the news of his decision to stay off the road, he wrote: "I am happy and well, and couldn't be more grateful to my bandmates for this opportunity. I am also looking forward to some musical ventures closer to home. In my absence please show some love to Steve Brown. Steve is a dear friend, and great drummer! He has played with OLEANDER, Ronnie Montrose just to name a few. He is one of Sacramento's finest, The perfect choice so to speak!"
TESLA 2023 is:
Frank Hannon - guitar Brian Wheat - bass Jeff Keith - lead vocals Dave Rude - guitar Steve Brown - drums
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