"Outlier" review by Powerplay May 2013
Back in 1988, Kingdom Come came out of nowhere and nil hard with their debut. Fans, MTV, and radio loved it, but many critics hated it. The world was looking for the next Led Zeppelin and Kingdom Come was it. They, unabashedly, look Page's rhythms, Bonham's drum patterns, and Plant's vocal inflections and made them their own. The band and album soared lo incomprehensible heights in a very short period of time. However, as quickly as they ascended, they fell just as rapidly. Undeterred, Lenny Wolf persevered and over the years has released some excellent music, most especially his latest entitled "Outlier". Powerplay caught up with Lenny lo discuss his new release.
"Outlier'" is a consistently outstanding recording that deserves our ears. I asked Lenny how these great tunes came together. "Over the last three or four records, some of the songs I liked, and others... (cue groaning on the other end!). But, this time around, the whole record in itself, the way the songs are structured, the way I produced, mastered and recorded them... it all just fell into place. I was just like a five year old sitting in the studio, plugging in the guitar cord, hoping to catch onto something and making something cool out of it. I knew that I wanted to have some rough-edged guitar sound and still find a connection to the more traditional sound. I think, for example, I did OK on the song "Let The Silence Talk". That's a song that I could have written in the 80s. Meanwhile, "When Colors Break Grey" and "Rough Ride Ralleye", those are 2013 contenders. I'm always trying to let progress sneak into the door. I'm kinda like an adventurous type, not wanting to put out the same thing over and over again."
As a whole, "Outlier" is superb, but the song that really grabs you by the balls is "Running High Distortion", which is like big band swing, metal, and glam rolled into one killer tune. "It makes me so happy that over the last three weeks of doing interviews, the feedback has been very good. It's cool to hear people perceiving what I've been doing over the years. It's like, 'Ok, there's Lenny not just doing "Get It On"and "Do You Like /r"over and over again. He's slicking to his roots, but is deeply into progress.'And that's exactly what it's all about, and I'm so happy you mentioned it!"
In my book, any musician who not only plays all of the instruments on his record, but mixes, engineers, produces and records the music is a genius. And that's exactly what Lenny did on "Outlier". "Ha! I certainly would not call myself a genius! It was never because of some ego problem or whatever. Unfortunately, I have not met my so-called soul-mate or perfect match - like a Lennon/McCartney, Page/Plant, or Bon Scott and Angus Young. I never found that perfect match, and therefore was forced to do as much as I can on my own in order to gel anything done. There have been those guys who wanted to play live, but didn't want to work as much, while other guys wanted to hang out with their girlfriends and only stop by when things are great. There have always been those types of issues, so I've had to do things on my own and learn a lot, too. For example, I never stepped inside of a technical school or musical school, so I taught myself everything on my own. I watched people mix and produce and get proper sounds, and learned from them. Today, I go by what I've learned and my ear, my gut, and by my heart. That's part of the magic, because the Big Guy, or whatever you want to call that higher being, gave me some kind of drive, which makes me do what I do."
Lenny, always willing to stretch musically, has added some industrial sounds on "Outlier"-nothing too in-your-face or overt, but stabs here and there to complement the songs. "I really have no idea why I do things, but I just play around with different noises and see what sounds cool. "When Color Breaks The Grey" has that intra sound that is kind of simple, but doing it actually took me a while, adding the layers on top of layers. I didn't want to get too technical with the songs, so I made sure to add the loud guitars to the front, finally adding my voice. That recipe just kinda became the new record."
"Outlier" is far removed from Kingdom Come's debut from 1988. Classify and remember it as you will - a great debut, Zep clones, hair metal, etc... but it was and remains a fresh, phenomenal record that has influenced many, and has stood the lest of time. But Kingdom Come circa 2013 is a far cry from that band of 1988. "In my case, and for others I'm sure, our hearing habits have changed over the years. I can think of a Beatles record or a Zep record from the 70s and they should not be touched at all, because they got the tone, the vibe, etc and should stay the way they are. I loved the 80s and the way we recorded songs back then, but I cannot get a major kick out of listening to them nowadays. I think it had to do with the production. But today with "Outlier", it's definitely another step ahead for me."
As mentioned previously, Kingdom Come rocketed to the moon upon the release of their debut, but fell hard after the criticisms rolled in, as it related to the blatant Zep comparisons. Gary Moore and Ozzy Osbourne went as far as recording a song entitled "Led Clones^. I asked Lenny if that still troubles him. "After all those years, I learned this: bad press is better than no press, It was a blessing at first and then a curse later. What made me sad was that those criticisms took away from Kingdom Come's potential. And how can a living legend, Jimmy Page, even in the slightest way, whine about an absolutely nothing-meaning, little fucking Kraut called Lenny and his Kingdom Come'! That really disillusioned me and took away my hero, my fucking guitar God, and took him down from his pedestal into just a regular fucking guy! He was one of the best songwriters! And I loved Plant too. It just made me really sad how they talked about us negatively. They [Zeppelin] were so lucking huge, so rich! The coolest thing for somebody that big would be to keep your fucking mouth shut! The Gary Moore song is so far out that it doesn't make me angry anymore. What it showed was that we must've kept their minds so busy putting so much energy into it that it was like a compliment, spending so much energy writing, creating, and obviously joining in on the bandwagon and trying to cash in. This is all really so old that even talking about it is like blah blah blah!"
I have a bootleg video of the 1988 Monsters of Rock Festival at which Kingdom Come opened the proceedings for the likes of Scorpions, Metallica and Van Halen. Kingdom Come was superb! I asked Lenny about his memories of that festival. "I don't even have that video-that's unbelievable! That show allowed me to see the planet from a great viewing point. It was an unbelievable dream come true! I remember it being such a huge production - probably the first stadium tour. We did a lot of traveling and played fourteen shows all over America. We met so many nice people and characters, just hanging out and talking with everyone - it was like 'Thank you God for letting me experience this'!"
"Outlier" will be out by the time most of you you read this. Next steps for the band? "Whatever happens will happen," states Lenny. "I will hold up the Kingdom Come flag as long as I can stand up straight, but then you never know what will come around the next comer. I'm not the type to say that I'm going to do this or that. I'd like to take some time off and relax on the water - I've got this little boat on the Baltic Sea - and just hang out. Once the creativity strikes me again, I may just start doing whatever. I did talk to some of the original Kingdom Come band members and said that one way or another we've got to do something together again. I think I've reached a point where I would like to be part of a gang again instead of having to worry about everything from A to Z." The original Kingdom Come reuniting? How sweet would that be?
"Outlier" is out on 29 April and is an outstanding record. Visit Lenny's website at www.lennywoll.com/band for additional information.
(c) Tony Pijar