With 'Into The Now'
TESLA will release their eagerly anticipated
new studio album, "Into the Now", on Sanctuary Records
on March 9, 2004. The original lineup of vocalist Jeff Keith,
guitarist Frank Hannon, guitarist Tommy Skeoch, bass guitarist
Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta spent more than two years
writing and recording "Into the Now". TESLA co-produced
the album with Michael Rosen.
According to an official press release, TESLA
changed their entire way of working for "Into the Now"
and that included serious personal and musical reconnections as
the foundation for the new album. After such a long layoff, the
band members wondered whether they would be able to write strong
songs and produce an album largely by themselves.
Keith, Hannon, Skeoch, Wheat and Luccketta
agreed that they had to be satisfied with the songs, and that
wasn't always the case in the past. They realized how important
this new album was going to be, and the quality of the songs was
the most important consideration. The band often rewrote full
sections or entire songs and sometimes recorded as many as three
different demos for each one. Writer's block was a problem at
times and the members would not settle on songs they weren't comfortable
with. They knew instinctively which songs were great and which
ones were not.
"To try to get away from a TESLA feel
just wouldn't be natural, but we still tried new things. The songwriting
process was exciting and rewarding but was, at times, very hard
and aggravating. I was a little scared. 'Can I still write?' thoughts
were poisoning my mind. But our songs have to have heart. We must
believe in them and feel it," Keith says. "Producing
the album largely by ourselves added an extra element of fun too."
"The trick on the whole is to keep the
TESLA style in place and yet still grow musically and satisfy
yourself but not change so much that your fans are caught offguard,"
says Wheat. "We wrote about 20 or 30 songs and these were
the 12 best."
"The whole songwriting process was different
from previous records. We didn't settle for the first thing we
wrote," Hannon says. "A lot of that had to do with us
being better friends and being more together than ever. It felt
totally comfortable. Having the songs totally ready before recording
is like sanding a house before painting it — the foundation
has to be there."
"Looking back at it now, it was all worth
it. It was scary producing it on our own but it turned out great.
And we really focused on every nook and cranny on every song.
We couldn't have written and produced the new album without the
newfound communication within the band," Skeoch says. "The
emphasis had to be on great songs. About half the material was
written before the Rock Never Stops summer tour in 2002 and the
other half was written after that. We were really eager to get
a new album out there, but then we realized that the songs had
to be great and that we shouldn't hurry. Why do it if it's not
The give-and-take guitar interplay between
Hannon and Skeoch has always been crucial to TESLA's music, and
that natural relationship was even more important on 'Into the
"There's always been a magic between us.
I can't put my finger on it," Skeoch says. "We've never
fought over solos or who was going to play what part. It just
works out. For example, there were some guitar solos on this album
that we each tried but it just didn't feel right until the other
one did it. 'Words Can't Explain' and 'Got No Glory' were retracked
a couple of times, and 'Heaven Nine Eleven' and 'Recognize' were
rewritten with different chords and verse structures."
"When we were writing songs, we were able
to live with them. We relied on a voting process to decide which
ones we loved and were going to use. That was something new for
us," Hannon says.
"A song took a majority vote — three
out of five votes — to get it approved. It worked. We'd
always feel better after making a decision," Luccketta says.
"I knew we'd pull it together. This was our biggest growth
spurt. We're tighter than ever. We've learned a lot of lessons."
"Each song is a snapshot of an event that
took place during the making of the record. There were a lot of
experiences we had to go through during these last two years.
A lot of pain and growth. For example, several friends of ours
died during this time," Hannon says. "I have really
learned a lot making this record. There are so many benefits to
taking your time and making sure songs stand up months after you've
written them and you're still working."
One major luxury TESLA had making "Into
the Now" was recording in Hannon's Sacramento studio. Hannon
worked on the preproduction demos there as well. Using this studio
gave them plenty of time and saved a lot of money. Producing and
recording the album themselves offered unlimited creative flexibility.
Rosen helped with engineering and restructuring the tempos of
certain songs. For example, Hannon says that Rosen's tempo suggestions
for "Heaven Nine Eleven" resulted in a "street
The autobiographical title track "Into
the Now" is one of the most intriguing songs. It addresses
the past while also becoming a statement of purpose about the
present and future. Musically speaking, its relentlessly pounding
rhythmic thump explores new territory.
"A big part of production was the writing
and, sometimes more importantly, the editing. There were several
songs where there were sections that just didn't work, so we'd
just cut those out and tighten things up," Hannon remembers.
"And we are more aggressive with rhythm guitar parts on this
album than ever before too. Using technology is a balancing act,
but one of the fun things that it allowed us to do was manipulate
some sounds. There's a part on the song 'Into the Now' that sounds
like it's record scratching but it's actually a guitar sound that
"There were a lot of things to write about.
I wrote most of the lyrics although Frank was a big help. He wrote
all the lyrics himself for 'Heaven Nine Eleven' which was inspired
by September 11 and what it was like witnessing this terrible
tragedy," Keith says.
TESLA enjoyed the creative freedom that modern
recording technology provided but it was important that the songs
could be performed live.
"We did use overdubs, but we have to be
able to play our songs live. We don't want to have a keyboard
player behind the scenes or anything like that. If people aren't
believing it's you on stage playing the music then it loses the
magic," says Keith.
Luccketta puts it simply: "We are a live