This is my first interview with a local band in the Midwest. I wrote a list out of as many bands as I could think of, and the band that came to mind was the band “ Tempered Steel”. Tempered Steel rose from the ashes of such local bands as Chaos, Trouble Is, Groove Belly, and Hair Metal Academy. Packed with some very talented musicians from the East Central Illinois/ West Central Indiana area, from the minute they hit the stage until the last note is played, you will go away with a smile on your face, and wondering where is their next show. Thank you guys for letting me crash your practice to do this interview. You truly ROCK……
TEMPERED STEEL IS:
Troy (Madman) Daniels - Vocals
Kevin Nelk - Guitar/vocals
Fred Sinks - Guitar/vocals
Doug Rayburn - Bass/vocals
Shannan (Udeenie) Uden - Drums/vocals
Susan: How did the band form ?
Kevin: We were coming to the end of the former band. I think you know how bands go through cycles. Members come and go and we didn’t want to quit playing, so me and troy was what was left of the last band. We recruited people we know and have played with over the years. And put together the group we thought we wanted. What would make the sound , the sound we were after.
Susan: So you and Troy both started the band ?
Kevin: Yeah more or less yes.
Susan: How long have you guys been together as Tempered Steel ?
Shannan: Since January this year... 2013
Susan: Can you name some of the covers you do ?
Troy: Walk-by Pantera, Bodies- by Drowning Pool, Rocking is my business- by Four Horseman
Kevin: Black by Sevendust
Troy: Bitch- by Sevendust, Killing in the name of- Rage against the Machine, Diamonds & Rust- Judas Priest.
Kevin: only the good stuff.
Susan: And my favorite you guys do is Asphalt Ballet’s. I Still can’t believe you do that song.
Troy: Soul Survive.
Kevin: We’ve liked that song since it came out.
Susan: I’m friends with the band.
Kevin: We thought it should have been a bigger hit then it was.
Susan: I very much agree, and they are very talented guys..
Kevin: Of yeah
Susan: Their first singer Gary Jeffries has an amazing voice. I know you guys do a lot of cover songs, but are you working on any original songs right now ?
Susan: How many do you have done ?
Troy: Well we don’t really have any done
Susan: I mean in progress.
Kevin: They are all in progress.
Susan: Well what I heard was very good. What is the name of that song ?
Troy: Freaky…… kind of fitting.
Susan: Who are some of your influences ?
Kevin: Mostly Shannon is my influence (laughter) On guitar probably Randy Rhoads. He was always a big influence growing up. Jimmy Page not for necessarily everything he did, but for his studio influences, for structures of songs and stuff like that.
Fred: About the same ones. Randy Rhoads, Jimmy Page, anything along that lines is good.
Kevin: Sorry about stealing your thunder.
Fred: That’s alright
Susan: You guys can like the same. They are very talented musicians.
Fred: A lot of Judas Priest
Susan: Shannan don’t say you pass, who’s some drummers you really like ?
Kevin: No ? I’m just trying to help man.
Shannan: Tommy Lee, Buddy Rich. If it wasn’t for KISS, I wouldn’t be doing what I was doing so I can’t think of anymore.
Kevin: Any regrets ?
Doug: Eric Carr
Susan: Eric Carr was the best drummer KISS has ever had.
Doug: I don’t know Eric Singer is pretty bad too.
Susan: I’m a Carr fan.
Kevin: Eric singer was in a lot of bands that you would never known he was in for, studio cuts, tours. He was always in the background.
Susan: Badlands, they were a good band.
Kevin: Badlands was.
Susan: You guys should do a Badlands song ?
Shannan: Rick Rounds - Alice Cooper
Kevin: Troy was your influences Randy Rhoads ( laughter)
Doug: Tiny Tim
Kevin: Tiny Tim ?
Fred: For What ?
Susan: Backstreet Boys ?
Troy: Yeah that’s good.
Susan: Justin Bieber
Troy: Actually mine would be John Levins, Zak Stevens, Savatage, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, all the classical power metal songs and singers.
Doug: Steve Harris, Gene Simmons, and Cliff Williams. He played a cool bassline down all of the time solid bassline.
Shannan: Tony Royster Jr. was the guy I was thinking about from Black hit.
Susan: Oh okay I know who you are talking about now. What about future shows. What do you guys have coming up ?
Troy: October 12 th Tempered Steel w/ Left 4 Dead at Barnoble in Covington, Indiana.
October 26 th Tempered Steel w/ Left 4 Dead at Josephines in Georgetown, Illinois
November 27 th Tempered Steel w/ Left 4 Dead at Josephines in Georgetown, Illinois
Night before Thanksgiving
Susan: How long have you guys been playing- each of you ?
Shannan: Band wise or just how long ?
Susan: How long have you been playing yourself ?
Kevin: I picked up a guitar at 18 years old, so I’m older now.
Susan: Uh- oh
Kevin: So I’ve been playing for almost 4 years now. ( laugh) I’m 44 and I haven’t done the math.
Doug: Just say over 20 .
Kevin: It’s been 20 years.
Doug: It’s over 20 years, just leave it at that.
Kevin: Well I didn’t pick one up until I was 18, so I didn’t play as a child like a lot of people do.
Shannan: 31 years. Since I was 8.
Susan: Wow, that’s a long time.
Fred: About 25 years just a little longer than him. ( pointing to Kevin)
Kevin: He’s older
Fred: Just a little bit
Troy: I would say 35 for me, because I started playing drums when I was 8. So 35.
Susan: Do you still play drums ?
Troy: I haven’t in about 2 years.
Shannan: Do you want the job…..
Fred: He’s been working on the slide flute.
Troy: And a slide flute player now
Susan: That is a lot of talent right in front of me guys. What do you guys think of the local music scene now ?
Shannan: It sucks
Troy: It does suck, but it’s on it’s way up. There is a few up and coming bands that are trying to turn it around.
Kevin: It’s not as much the bands as it is the scene itself is deteriorating around here. In that we don’t have the big clubs to play. We don’t have bar owners that want to have live music. They’d rather play a d.j. or karaoke for less than half of what a live band would cost. The reality is they make just as much money in the bar and pay half the money for a lot less.
Doug: Your not supposed to say that.
Kevin: Not supposed to say what ?
Doug: Now all the bar owners are gonna say hell with it.
Kevin: They already know that’s why they don’t want to pay us.
Susan: This is common knowledge. I don’t want to see somebody playing music, I want to see musicians.
Kevin: People aren’t going out and saying no I want the live bands. They are satisfied with karaoke and d.j.’s
Fred: I think it’s starting to swing the other way. It’s just we need to start turning crowds.
Kevin: There’s always been good musicians in the area, and good bands it’s just the whole scene. I think has to come back to live music which I’d love to see happen.
Troy: It’s like the Studio 25 show we played on the 13th. Excellent venue, it’s huge, has a big stage, and is three levels, but we’re trying to get that changed where we can have a lot more rock bands in there.
Kevin: 20 years ago that was the most happening place around. That national acts came through there on a regular basic.
Shannan: That’s the old Mabel's experience.
Kevin: I have seen and played with or opened for Foghat, Ratt's been there, Kansas, Four Horseman.
Fred: Quiet Riot… all big name acts used to come through that place.
Susan: Where is this venue?
Kevin: Downtown Danville
Troy: 128 Walnut Street.
Kevin: It used to be a big parking garage, but they tore it down because they don’t need any parking there anymore.
Fred: They tore it down because it was falling apart and injuring people.
Troy: It’s by far the best building around as far as turning it into a concert venue like what traxside used to be, and Radmakers in Tolono. This has the potential to be just like that.
Susan: The only thing is Traxsides is tiny..
Troy: This is much bigger. I don’t know how many people it will hold.
Kevin: At the time I think it was what Mabel's and Yesterdays was the two big clubs you played at. If you were a big act that’s where you went, both of those places have been gone for years.
Susan: Silver Bullet used to have shows, because one of the bands I managed - Scary Cherry played there. If you could open up for any one band , who would it be ?
Shannan: You know we are all going to answer this individually.
Susan: That’s fine.
Doug: Texas Hippie Coalition
Susan: Excellent Band
Troy: Pantera for me
Fred: Black Sabbath
Shannan: You already know this answer
Susan: oh would it be KISS ?
Shannan: That and Steel Panther
Kevin: I don’t know, I would prefer to open for Alice Cooper. I would love to open for Alice Cooper.
Troy: I would open for any one of those bands.
Susan: What bands have you been in prior to Tempered Steel ?
Kevin: Boy where do we start. Three of us was in the band Swollen.
Doug: Two guys were in Chaos, two guys were in JAB, the three of us were in Ruckus.
Kevin: I was in a band called Wikkerboxx, and a band called Ruby Slick early in my career.
Susan: I remember them.
Kevin: I had longer hair and I was skinnier, but yeah I was in those two bands.
Troy: I was in Taken by Force, Ritual. I’ve done a lot of work with John Oliva and Steve Wacholz from Savatage, Randy Burkey and Darren McFarland from the band Athiest. I’ve done a lot of work with national bands.
Doug: Groove Belly, Buster Hymen ( laughs) Reckless…… you like that name Scary Cherry, Buster Hymen rules.
Shannan: Pariah, Skirge, JAB, Anger Management, have sticks will travel.
Kevin: We’ve been is so many bands , if you count all of us……
Troy: We don’t have that much time.
Shannan: We could roll a paper out across this whole driveway with every group.
Susan: Probably so. What got you guys into music ?
Doug: A couple buddies of mine I knew wanted to meet chicks.
Troy: That’s what it’s all about.
Kevin: That’s what it starts out to be.
Doug: So we started jamming together and I was drunk half the nights, but one of my other buddies that could play drums and sing needed a bass player, so I started playing bass.
Troy: I actually started listening to Elvis and that’s originally what first got me into that. Then it was the Beatles, then it just went off into another direction. My brother actually turned me onto Styx, and that was from then on that’s where it was at…
Kevin: That’s why he can’t feel anything below the waist on him when he’s onstage, because the elvis.
Troy: Yeah right.
Doug: It’s illegal in some counties.
Fred: It’s banned.
Susan: We’ll have to crop all of your pictures now from the waist up. Don’t get anything down lower. (Laughs)
Shannan: It would have been the KISS Alive album for me. The first live album I heard and that changed my whole world.
Fred: It is the best Live album
Shannan: Since I was 4 years old it changed my life.
Susan: I wasn’t allowed to bring that record in the house.
Shannan: I didn’t have it, it was at my cousins house. We beat the shit out of the album cover with a weight bar. We put it on “ Rock and Roll All Night” and that was it.
Susan: Explain to someone that has not listened to or seen Tempered Steel, what is it like going to one of your shows ?
Troy: It’s definitely in your face
Kevin: High Enegry
Troy: High energy. Most important thing is at the end of the night, they walk away exhausted and feel like they have been totally entertained. And they will have a sore throat the next day.
Troy: We like to get the crowd working with the band.
Shannan: Some of them are going to be borrowing doug’s neck brace before the end of the night.
Troy: We want them to feel like they are a part of the show as well.
Susan: You guys did that for me from the minute you first started, until the minute you ended. It was amazing. You guys are really talented men. I walked away from the show exhausted. The minute I hit the bed I was out.
Troy: That’s awesome.
Susan: You put everything in it and put so much into the show. I don’t know how you did all of the shows that day.
Troy: Well thank you.
Susan: I do not even understand that. It was amazing that’s why I’m telling everyone I know “ You gotta see these guys”.
Troy: Thank you very much
Kevin: If you gotta go sit down, it is because you’re out of breath.
Susan: If you gotta go sit down go dig a grave. What do you guys do when you’re not practicing or playing ?
Doug: Females as much as possible. (Laughs) Top that one gentlemen, ( laughs)
Susan: That’s pretty good.
Troy: Music’s all I do, so I mean that’s all I do morning , noon, and night.
Fred: I just fix stuff that 90 % of the world breaks, just repair stuff.
Susan: That’s a good skill.
Shannan.. I pick up everybodies trash.
Kevin: I do heating and air conditioning work. Commercial work. So I fix the other 10% he couldn’t fix
Troy: Obviously I’m the broke one of the band.
Susan: Is there anything else you guys would like to say to your fans or anybody coming to your shows ?
Troy; We appreciate everybody that comes. That’s what it’s all about, is the crowds, and make sure they’re entertained. We want to make sure they have a great time and walk out feeling like they got their money’s worth. We try not to do a cover charge as much as possible, cause that just makes it better for everyone. That’s pretty much it for me. I just want to make sure everybody’s happy at the end of the night.
Kevin: I’m good with that.
Susan: That’s all I’ve got guys. I appreciate it and thank you.
Troy: Well thank you very much.
Kevin: Thank you
If you are in the East Central Illinois/ West Central Indiana or just passing through, keep an eye out for Tempered Steel- it will be one memorable night of hard rock and metal you won't soon forget! ...and tell 'em ZRock'R sent ya!
~ Susan Graham
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