Guitarist Keri Kelli is a guy who keeps his options open! His guitar playing skills have allowed him to comfortably land the lead guitarist spot in many of the worlds leading and most respected hard rock bands. In the past you may well have seen him walking the boards as a member of Warrant, Slash's Snakepit, Ratt, Pretty Boy Floyd and most recently Love/Hate and the much talked about Adler's Appetite which features original Guns n' Roses drummer Steven Adler. Kelli was also one of the founder members of Dad's Porno Mag alongside Ryan Roxie and the much loved Big Bang Babies. Earlier this spring the Love/Hate tour rolled through the UK where TrashPit caught up for a chat. Once the tour was over Kelli returned to the US to join up with another hard rock legend, Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil on his current US trek. Like I said Kelli keeps his options open and there doesn't seem to be any band he's not capable of performing with.
You keep yourself very busy handling guitar duties for a lot of the LA rock bands. Do you plan to write and record some new solo material in the future?
I'm always doing stuff cause I've got a studio at my house so it's real convenient to record. I have a bunch of songs that I want to put out. I've been shopping them around over the last month or two, just stuff I've recorded over the last six or nine months. I'm singing and playing guitar, it's like Goo Goo Dolls or Matchbox 20, kinda adult alternative pop. On all the tracks it's me doing all guitar and vocals then Matt Long from Snakepit on drums. I don't know when it's gonna be released, I just don't want to give it to anybody and I'm always getting hassle from people saying I ought to press it up myself and sell it on the internet but I don't really want to go that route, I want someone to take it on board.
How much homework do you find yourself doing when you join a new band on guitar and how much freedom do you get to inject your own style?
I just kinda do my own thing all the time! Looking back on it, it's weird, I've played in so many bands over the last ten year period, I'd probably need three hands to count 'em all! When I first started playing with Robbie (Crane - bass) in Ratt which was five or six years ago, they gave me like 22 songs to learn on a Thursday and we had rehearsal on Tuesday! You just gotta go focus and make it happen! I like doing lead stuff cause if there's a line that's really important I'll just kinda play that how it's meant to be and then just noodle around it. I always try and do my own thing in between. It's weird, there's all these bands I've played with like Gene Loves Jezebel and others that people don't know I've been in. Gigs like these just come up and I have no problem playing with anybody, I just try and do my best and music was always fun when I started and still is.
Is there any band you'd love to play guitar with, for example would you ever consider the Ace Frehley position in KISS!?
I would love to play with KISS but I think Tommy's pretty tightly knit in that camp. KISS is one of my favourite bands of all time, they were the second concert I ever saw in my life. The first show was Queen on December 22nd 1977 at the LA Forum which was awesome, then I saw KISS on the Dynasty Tour, something like November 1979 in Orange County. I hailed KISS and Queen back then when I was just a little kid. Back in the 70's KISS were legends and the fact they're still doing it today is unbelievable, they're cool for what they are.
Did you know the guys from Love/Hate when they first broke onto the music scene?
Yeah, I lived in LA for about five years back in the late eighties, early nineties and Jizzy lived above my old singer and he'd always be yelling and screaming. We'd be like 'That's that fuckin' singer from Love/Hate - shut the fuck up!'
Onstage the band appear to have a lot of fun and seem to get along really well - do you all hang out together outside of Love/Hate and Adlers Appetite?
It's good to have fun when you play. Sometimes when you're too professional or too tight it becomes really rigid, so I think there's a really fine line between having fun, staying loose but still being professional. So that's what we try and do with Love/Hate, we have a great time playing and we're all friends so that's a good foundation to any band you play in. I've had fun in every band but to tell you the truth some of the most fun I had was when I played with Warrant. We were just goin' crazy! We'd go out and kick ass for like two hours then afterwards we'd just have a blast - killer, no pressure, nothing!
Do you think this line up will record together, either as Love/Hate or as a brand new band?
I think we'd all probably like to but the other guys are doing their thing with Ratt and we have the Adler project with about eleven or twelve songs done too. We've a deal set up so we've been working on songs for that, then over the summer Ratt are on tour and I'm out with Vince Neil. It'll be about November before we can start on the Adler record so after that Love/Hate maybe next year? The thing I loved about Love/Hate when they came out was you had all bands like Danger
Danger which were third generation copies so when Love/Hate came out it was fresh and new, it sounded different but it was still cool, rock and dangerous.
Who put the wheels in motion for the Alder's Appetite project?
I've known Steven since about 96/97 from around town and we'd jammed at one time in one of my old bands. I'd lost touch with him for a few years until he turned up in Vegas and one of my friends out there ran into him and they started hanging around. Steven was saying how much he wanted to start playing again so my buddy calls me up. I told him I can get a bunch of guys together and just see if it works, just take it really slow. We just jammed on some Aerosmith, Guns stuff, Thin Lizzy - pretty much all the songs we ended up playing in the main set. It was fun so we just said 'Fuck, let's do it!' It was simple how it came together and now the new stuff is just straight ahead rock, kinda AC/DC meets old Aerosmith - commercial but really stripped down. I think we're gonna put out a solid record.
What's your take on Velvet Revolver?
I think the best thing they did was get Scott in the band. Some people thought they should've got Sebastian Bach or someone like that but I love new music, I thought Stone Temple Pilots were one of the coolest bands. I love Slash and Duff, they're friends of mine and rock legends but they're old school now and Scott bridges that gap between old and new. I think it's the best person they could've got. I went out to the mini concert they did and it was fuckin' killer! The place was packed, Scott came out all crazy and shit - it was awesome! So I can't wait to go check them out and catch the full show!
What's the story behind the mask you've been wearing on this tour?
Me and some friends went down to Mexico a couple of months ago, and they have all the shops were you can buy all the bullshit Mexican crap and they have these masks all over the place - I guess Mexican wrestling is really popular. So I'm like 'Man I gotta get one of those masks, that thing is killer! I can wear it onstage and freak people out!' At first I was gonna wear it at the beginning of our set but when I was doing my other jam band with John Corabi in Vegas and during 'War Pigs' I go to the side and come back out with the mask on. Crane and Corabi couldn't even play the song, they were laughing and crying and shit! That was the first sighting of our boy they named El Douche! It was just for fun and now it's turned into something more! El Douche comes out in the Love/Hate set when we play Boozer which is quite appropriate! Who knows maybe he'll come out during 'Welcome to the Jungle' in the Adler set or something!?
Photos by Ian Dowdell