Back in my complicated teen years, when I was riding the bus home from school blasting Tesla songs like “Gettin’ Better,” “Love Song” and “What You Give” through my headphones, I never thought in a million years I’d be interviewing singer Jeff Keith today — though I always hoped I would.
I seemed to have found Tesla just when I needed music the most. I was going through an extremely difficult time in my life; my family was falling apart and it hurt like absolute hell. I decided to spend my free time immersed in music. Tesla’s music in particular clung on to me mostly because of its honesty, and it was really its lyrics that got me out of that dark place.
“We have fun playing the music we write because the songs are from the heart,” Jeff Keith said.
Off Tesla’s first album Mechanical Resonance, Keith said the song “Gettin’ Better” was one of the band’s first efforts of being upbeat and positive. Personally, it encouraged me to face my struggles head on and understand that there is always hope.
“We always like to end with a positive note. If a song has a negative vibe, I like to end it with some hope,” he said. “Things can always be worse.”
Tesla’s lyrics have given me the confidence to always look on the bright side, and to keep trying, because things can only get better if you believe in yourself.
“Things don’t always go the way you want,” Keith said. “And let’s face it, we all go through rocky roads in our life. Music is like therapy and it’s great when people can use it in their own different way.”
“What You Give” made me realize selflessness, and that how you value others is the most important thing in life. “We’re a team,” he said. “The more we come together and work together the better things are and the more that gets done in this world.”
Even when you’re feeling down and out, you can always give part of yourself to someone else. Keith said that’s what “What You Give” is all about.
“Something that can mean nothing to somebody else can mean the world to you. It’s what we give back and pass around and share with one another. Those are the things that mean the most and are priceless in life, not materialistic stuff. It’s the stuff that’s priceless that means the most — giving back, sharing. It’s not what you possess it’s what you put out.”
“Love Song” taught me that it’s always okay to love, and that you have believe in it first and foremost. Keith said this song in particular helped him get through a tough time in his life, just as it did for me.
“Myself, when I went through my first divorce I sat there, a band broken up, four years at this time, let me see how much I believe in the words that I’ve written and I’ve put out. So I played “Love Song” ten or fifteen times in a row, and I went, you know what, there is something and someone else out there. Try not to look too hard and let it come.”
Some of the most positive lyrics I’ve ever heard came from Tesla’s Forever More album. Keith said it was great working with producer Terry Thomas whom they worked with on Bust a Nut, and even though sales weren’t as high as their previous albums, it wasn’t about that for them. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter about sales, it matters if the songs hit home. That’s what really counts.”
Keith said he loves the process of writing and making a record but nothing compares to performing live. “We like to have fun up there on stage,” he said. “People are genuinely enjoying the music and we all feed off one another.”
Even though every band says they have the greatest fans, Keith said Tesla truly has the greatest fans in the world. “They sing it word for word,” he said. “They mean it, and they know that we mean it, and that’s the greatest part about it.”
Tesla is a down to earth band that has a grass is always greener kind of attitude. They rock harder with age, and their lyrics have just become more meaningful to their fans over the years. Their insane amount of energy on stage is something that’s been raved about, and I can’t wait to see it for myself.
“We’re lucky to be doing what we’re doing and enjoying it,” Keith said. “And like I always say, once you take the fun out of it, what’s the use of being there.”