(Still) modern day cowboys

Tesla rocks Hobart Arena

By Allyson B. Crawford

Photo: Brian Wheat, Tesla bassist, performs at an outdoor festival

“We’re headed across the country to tour until the end of September,” exploded Tesla frontman Jeff Keith. “We’re really excited!”

The band, best known for ’80s rock hits like “Love Song” and “Modern Day Cowboy” will play Hobart Arena on Saturday, Feb. 7.

The California-based band is very familiar with Ohio – Dayton in particular.

“We used to play Hara Arena! Great memories,” Keith told the Dayton City Paper. “We used to have what we called the ‘Dayton Gang’ that used to follow us around since the first time we played there. We were very sentimental with Dayton. I’m glad we’re coming back.”

It hasn’t been that long since Tesla visited the area. During summer 2013, Tesla played Fraze Pavilion in Kettering.

The years between the band’s formation in 1982 (then known as City Kidd) and 2015 have been marked by highs, lows and member changes. For the most part, however, the core of Tesla has remained largely unchanged, a rare feat for former ’80s Glam bands. This may be because Tesla is run more like a corporation and less like a traveling circus. Members manage the band, select tour dates and venues, run their website and social channels, write and record their own songs and more.

“The last few years, it’s been possible for us to go out whenever we choose,” admitted Keith. “We’re gonna take on that monster of being out in the ice and snow. We’ll keep our warm coats and scarves wrapped around us. We’ll still make it out after the show to go around the bus and sign a few autographs.”

Staying close to fans, both in person after shows and online through various social media channels has allowed Tesla to stay popular and relevant with classic rock fans. The members also continue to release new music, a creative act becoming increasingly rare for bands originally from the 1980s. In 2014, Tesla released Simplicity. Going back to basics, the members of Tesla collaborated and worked on songs for months before going to the studio to record. This helped relieve some of the pressure that comes with the recording process.

In the midst of crisscrossing the country playing venues of varying sizes, Tesla will take a working vacation of sorts, headlining the Monsters of Rock Cruise April 18-22. The cruise leaves from Miami and stops on a private island and in Nassau, Bahamas. Also joining Tesla on the cruise are other ’80s stalwarts like Europe, Night Ranger, Kix, Krokus, Stryper and many more.

“It’s awesome!” Keith said of the cruise experience. “We get to take our families. Last year I took my mom for her 80th birthday. This year I’m taking my family including my son who is four years old. He’s been going since he was in my wife’s belly! We’ll be down at the pool swimming. I love doing the shows on the deck and going out and mingling with everybody, getting pictures, signing autographs.”

Tesla will play a few times during the cruise. One set is usually acoustic, rarities or a jam session just for fans helping to create a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Despite being “on” 24/7 during a special event such as a rock cruise, Keith says no one in Tesla considers their role work.

“It’s not work. It’s a passion,” Keith said. “It’s always been a passion. People pick up on that. And our fans are so passionate about us and we’re so passionate about them. We’re all passionate about music. We have all these things in common. It’s just awesome. It’s full circle. We feed off the audience and they feed off of us. It’s one big full circle.”

Back here in the Miami Valley where there’s more snow than sand, Keith reflected on the band’s upcoming Troy show and what fans can expect.

“We’re gonna blow the roof off Hobart Arena! We’re gonna have a great time. It will be the place to be! A killer rock ‘n’ roll show!”

If you can’t make the show in Troy or grab a last minute cabin for Monsters of Rock, set your sights westward. Tesla will play Rocklahoma, an annual three-day music festival in Pryor, Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend. Joining them in headlining the massive event will be Linkin Park, Godsmack and Slayer.

“We literally spend months and months piecing together the exact right mix of artists for Rocklahoma each year,” Joe Litvag, senior vice president at AEG Live, commented via press statement after the Rocklahoma lineup was announced. “Linkin Park and Slayer happen to be two of the most requested artists by the fans of Rocklahoma to play, so to get them both at the same time is a major coup. But surrounding them with the exact right element of bands that span the spectrum of classic to current and metal to lighter rock, that’s the key.”

Tesla will perform on Saturday, Feb. 7 at Hobart Arena, 255 Adams St. in Troy. Special guest NoMara will also perform. The show starts at 8 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now, and prices start at $25. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit hobartarena.com. To see Tesla’s full tour schedule, please visit teslatheband.com.

Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog bringbackglam.com. You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at AllysonCrawford@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog bringbackglam.com. You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at AllysonCrawford@DaytonCityPaper.com

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