Lenny Wolf, Kingdom Come, Bio-Interview, Stone Fury
Kingdom Come / Stone Fury Vocalist
full in bloom: What’s new? Tell us about the new album. When can we expect to see you touring?
Lenny: Don’t really like talking much about music. It’s something you should “listen” to. But it surely is another growing step for me, in regards to combining sounds and building a bridge between the ’80s and 2009. I think Kingdom Come has developed a unique approach to writing. Not doing the same thing over and over again, and taking the fans on different journeys. We are booking shows as of now. Depending on the circumstances, we play wherever it makes sense.
full in bloom: You recorded the song “24 Hours” as a duet with a girl named Jessica. Tell us a little about her and why the song wasn’t on the album as well as where our readers can go to hear it.
Lenny: I met Jessica right after the CD was shipped to the factory already. Just did not make it in time. Therefore we decided to at least offer it through iTunes, Musicload, etc etc? to people who want to hear it. I actually prefer the version with her. Rather later than not at all 😉
full in bloom: Tell us about growing up in Hamburg. What was it like?
Lenny: A love and hate relationship. The greenest “big city” in Europe, with more bridges than Venice, with a big harbor, a nice lake, a pumping red light district (for tourists), and most importantly, my roots. At times it feels like a “village” and at other times like a busy high-energy big city. I really dig Hamburg, but sometimes I’d like to kick their peoples’ asses when they are falling into that typically non-relaxed behavior. The Germans still must learn to “relax”. Live and let live;-) But it is getting better;-) It’s one thing to get things done, but another thing to run around like stressed chickens on the run. Other than that just another (beautiful) city with all the good and bad sides which come with big places.
full in bloom: When did you first move to the US from Germany?
Lenny: In 1984. I was 3 years old 😉 just kidding!
full in bloom: Who were some of your biggest musical influences?
Lenny: I started covering Beatles songs, and then went on to bands like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix, and Fleetwood Mac for driving naked late at night with my sweetheart, and Status Quo for my reckless bicycle days. I mounted my ghetto blaster on the handlebars. Oh my god was I cool 😉 PS: I had blinkers on my bicycle as well, and left the house secretly late at night to be able to “see” them blink! Cooool
full in bloom: Tell us about your experiences in the band Funhouse.
Lenny: My first serious German band. The guitar player Norbert (Pape)was dealing with old Neumann Microphones between LA and Hamburg. That is how the contact with LA actually started. His partner passed on a demo tape to a label in LA. Funhouse did not make it to the US, but the lighting guy from the Doobie Brothers, who was a friend of Norbert’s business partner, invited me to LA for a few weeks. He later became my manager, by the name Marty Wolff. I stayed at his house with his lovely family for the first year, getting on his nerves while learning English.
full in bloom: What was it like working with Bruce Gowdy on the “Tease” and “Life Is Too Lonely” demos?
Lenny: Great. Good guy and very patient. My English at that time sucked big time. He came from a more pop style, while I brought in the more streety and harder style. A very talented guy and fun to work with.
full in bloom: You two signed with MCA in May of 1983. Do you remember how much the signing bonus was?
Lenny: Of course;-)
full in bloom: How did you guys come up with the name Stone Fury?
Lenny: I think my manager came up with Stone .. something, and I brought up Fury. Don’t really recall why but that’s how it was. Maybe because I’m such a furious guy;-)
full in bloom: Any memories from the “Burns Like a Star” recording sessions in ’84? Any funny, cool, sucked or brilliant moments?
Lenny: I just learned that beer can be more than a friend when I was working with Andy Johns. A very charming guy, who was really good at biting off my ear with stories from life and hell which could go on “forever”, if only that damned studio clock weren’t ticking! I really liked him, even though I did not understand much at all at that time. He spent days positioning the microphones for the drums. His favorite thing to do between telling stories. Funny enough I today use some of his drum samples when working in my studio! I remember a very careless and wonderful time in LA. Nobody knew about aids, money was no issue, and the weather was fantastic. Hallelujah! I came with my big old red Cadillac Eldorado (white leather seats) and enjoyed the positive vibrations. No scandals, no dramas. We actually put the demos on the final record, which we recorded earlier before the deal was made because those songs could not be topped again. Those were the songs “Tease” and “Too late”. Dealing with a woman I thought I loved, not knowing the meaning of cocaine, but having to deal with all issues related to it, sucked big time. That nightmare, fortunately, ended soon. Funny to see how especially old people really dug the fact that I’m a German boy. Telling me about the planes they were flying over Germany during World War II, and now really liking “us”. Felt strange but very nice at the same time! Does not have much to do with the recording process, but those are a few vibrations I experienced in my first USA hey-days. Guess that’s what life is all about. A mix of history, apple pie a la mode, growing up while trying to stay out of jail, and looking for the big reason why we’re here;-) Helter Skelter meets Strawberry Fields forever.
full in bloom: What was the budget and how long did it take to record it?
Lenny: Don’t recall the exact number. At that time I did not care about financial issues at all. I trusted my manager, which luckily I could! But I remember a 6 digit number. If it was worth it, don’t know?!?
Stone Fury – “Let Them Talk”
full in bloom: Tell us a little about doing the video for “Break Down the Walls”.
Lenny: My first trip back to Hamburg with my first American girlfriend in my baggage. It was great to come home with a signed record deal, shooting a video with Bruce in my hometown (and LA). Took my mother and brother shopping big time. Felt good;-) Showing all those smart asses and non-believers, everything is possible, if you work hard enough and believe in yourself. Back then I thought my “Q-tip hairstyle” was sooo cool. Ooops!
full in bloom: Stone Fury got to tour with Aerosmith right out of the gate. What was that experience like? Any cool memories?
Lenny: It is really too long ago. We only did a couple of shows with them if I remember correctly. I was wearing a ridiculous pink sparkling shirt with a golden butterfly on my chest. I don’t know what pill made me do that;-) I’m still embarrassed! I do remember the big screen in the middle of the huge hall, which said: Welcome Stone Fury! Getting my first “big hello” from a great USA audience. Nice! Think it was Texas. Never thought I would start in America. Thought I would have to take the struggling route through Germany and maybe England to pay my dues. But there I was, taking a shortcut, which may not have been the smartest way looking back today. But who am I to complain;-)
full in bloom: What stands out from the “Let Them Talk” recording sessions?
Lenny: Only bad memories! I was forced to work with a country producer, who could not spell the word “Rock” and was very unhappy about the whole situation. That is one of the main reasons why I ended Stone Fury and left MCA right away. Good songs packed into a lousy production. After that, I told my manager: “My way or no way”. A little later, Kingdom Come was born. Amen.
full in bloom: What was the budget and how long did it take?
Lenny: A 6 digit number, but don’t remember the exact amount. About 4 terrible weeks.
full in bloom: How important was your manager Marty Wolff to your education in the music business?
Lenny: The manager’s perspective was kind of new to Marty as well. He was my friend, my diplomatic buffer zone, in the beginning, kind of my father which I never had. A charming and hard-working believer, who knew how to talk to people! I still miss him! Just saw him on my last trip in 2008 to LA. He is now photographing whales in Hawaii!
full in bloom: In 1987 you signed with Polygram Records. Does anything stand out from the day you signed your record deal?
Lenny: Drunk on happiness! What else?!? Breaking a bed in New York while I was jumping up and down.
full in bloom: What were the terms of that deal?
Lenny: It was a deal I would not sign again today, but in those days it was common to sing your songs for love. Money was fair, and later on, after we went gold, of course fantastic. Unfortunately, we don’t own the rights for the first 3 KC records which we would like to offer to people. Universal, who owns the songs now, is not doing anything with them. A pity 🙁
full in bloom: What was the search process like for you during those days when you were forming Kingdom Come?
Lenny: One of Derek Schulman’s (head of A&R Polygram and former singer of Gentle Giants) big points before signing was I must put together a band. Which is exactly what I wanted to do anyhow. I knew a friend by the name Lucy Forbes in LA, who made a living by connecting musicians. I gave her an audition tape for the players to learn and met with them later on in a rehearsal room. As simple as that;-) With James Kottak I knew instantly that he was my man, Danny (Stag) had the “tone”, Rick (Steier) was James’s best friend and happened to play a reliable rhythm guitar, and Johnny (B. Frank) was just too cool to not have him in the band. He was as crazy about cars and women as me, that just made sense enough back then;-)
full in bloom: Kingdom Come was the first time you fronted a band without playing guitar. Was that an adjustment?
Lenny: It felt strange in the beginning since I’m not that David Lee Roth type on stage, but was okay later on. I now enjoy playing the ax myself again very much! Even though I am very busy at times with all my floorboards due to so many different sounds we have to deliver. For example like “Twilight Cruiser”.
full in bloom: What stands out when thinking about the recording sessions for the Kingdom Come self-titled debut?
Lenny: I was very busy pulling Bob Rock out of the studio to that great strip joint and eating place in Vancouver, where we fell in love on a daily basis. Vancouver is kind of a bridge between Germany and the US. Very big but with lots of European influences as well. Really liked it! The singer from Loverboy came by, showing us his new Ferrari. Just funny seeing the guy, whose song I heard a million times in Hamburg while growing up;-) Welcome to the real banana! Many more stories I would not wanna yell about today. Things you just don’t talk about;-) Respect and shame, you figure it out;-) We occupied a whole floor at the hotel, which fast became the exchange place for the young and free, or shall I say stupid and careless;-) Happy to see how Bob became a big guy after establishing Metallica.
full in bloom: How much was the recording budget and how long did it take to record?
Lenny: I see, you just keep trying. The time frame as I remember was about 4 weeks in Heaven. The money was about the same as with Stone Fury. A lower 6 digit number. Thinking about it today makes me wonder!
full in bloom: What was it like working with Bob Rock?
Lenny: Great, great, and greater! Miss him. The last I heard is that he is burned out by the Metallica boys. Very cooperative, very talented, and very serious! He knows how to get the best out of a band’s strengths.
Kingdom Come – “Get it On”
full in bloom: Where were you the first time you heard “Get It On” playing on the radio?
Lenny: I think in LA, where I lived at that time. I freaked big time. There he is, a little German remote-controlled idiot, hearing the song I wrote all over America. Hallelujah!!
full in bloom: Tell us how the song ended up on radio stations across the country before the album was even released.
Lenny: Oh my God. This would really blow my time frame now: PLEASE visit: lennywolf.com. There it is written in detail.
full in bloom: **For your convenience, here is a small excerpt from the site:
“Having finished the record, Bob and Lenny flew to New York to mix it at the Electric Lady Studio, formerly owned by Jimi Hendrix. During the mixing session of “Get It On”, John Kalodner, a John Lennon look-alike and back then one of American most listened to men, stopped by to say “hi”. He liked the song and asked if he could take a cassette with him. As far as is known, the tape ended up at a radio station in Detroit, which played the song without anyone in the band or Polygram Records knowing about it. Hard as it is to believe, other stations actually recorded the song off the air since the record had not even been released yet. The American music industry magazine “Album Network” reported about a mysterious band, which kept the telephone lines of Detroit’s rock stations busy for days. Suddenly, a few weeks later, all of America’s rock stations were playing “Get It On”.”
full in bloom: How did you guys end up doing the North American Monsters of Rock tour in 1988?
Lenny: I had to decide whether to go out with AC/DC, Def Leppard, or the first US stadium tour. My manager Marty felt it would be best to join the Monsters of Rock tour. Had a blaaaaaaast, but don’t know if it was the right decision. Who knows ?!?!?…. I thank God for having lived through that time. Something nobody can take away from me. But never again will I sing at 2 pm right after breakfast.
full in bloom: Later in ’88 you toured with the Scorpions. Any cool memories from the road?
Lenny: Cool I don’t know. But it was nice to hit the big stages with them further on in the US. The Scorpions are a very professional band that always had a good sound. I had to do some growing up ever since, which I did. It will be fun seeing them “””and James”””(Kottak, first KC drummer) again in Russia in June!! My first “drunk on stage” experience, due to a cold which I was trying to overcome with Tequila. Bad idea! Happened in Chicago. Jim Morrison saying hello;-)
full in bloom: Why was Kingdom Come pulled off the tour?
Lenny: I don’t remember being pulled off?! I do remember having a lighting issue with them because I kept walking on Klaus’s stage extensions, which I wasn’t allowed to do, which in the heat of the moment I kept forgetting. Shame on me;-) But I think we finished the tour as planned.
full in bloom: The debut album ended up going platinum in several markets. Did you see a nice chunk of money from it?
Lenny: Life was a peach!
Kingdom Come – “In Your Face”
full in bloom: What was it like working with Keith Olsen?
Lenny: Just okay. We did not click like we did with Bob Rock. Keith did a fantastic job for Whitesnake but did not click with us so well. Oohh well?.. But his secretary and I became “good friends”;-) That was nice.
full in bloom: Tell us about the recording sessions for ’89’s “In Your Face”. Any cool memories?
Lenny: Except Keith’s secretary, no.
full in bloom: What was the budget and how long did it take?
Lenny: About 4 weeks again, and the budget was the usual 6 digits, but don’t recall the number.
full in bloom: How about the “Hands of Time” sessions? What was it like producing for the first time?
Lenny: A fight between myself and the technicians working with me. I had a vision that I desperately wanted to fulfill. Whether I did or not, is for the people (listeners) to decide. Recorded in Holland in a nice studio right outside Amsterdam. Soon before finishing, I was being tax audited, and had a hard time staying relaxed. But things worked out ok, thanks to my still very good friend and tax attorney in LA!
full in bloom: Of all the bands you toured with over the years, who were your favorites, and who did you not get along with?
Lenny: Don Dokken and I became good friends. Took out the Harley in LA many times. Van Halen was exciting in the beginning, but their live sound did not thrill me. We more or less got along with all bands. There is always a bit of competition going on. That is normal, to be honest. But I don’t remember a band who really kicked my ass in regards to excitement. I came from the ’70s, and bands from that era did not tour much at that time. This 80’s sound was never really my cup of tea, even though we are called an 80’s band from LA. But anybody with a healthy pair of ears on his head should know by now, that Kingdom Come’s roots are to be found in the ’70s and now 2000s.
full in bloom: Lenny Wolf is transported back in time, to the year 1988, and had to do three things differently, what would they be?
Lenny: 1. Not hit on the woman of a great A&R man, which was very excited about signing me, and me being such an asshole later on. In those days, the pulsating salami in my pants had far too much control over me. That has changed now!!! 2. Producing the songs differently now knowing how it works;-) 3. In certain situations smoke a joint to be able to take things easier;-) The pressure was tremendous. Other than that, we are human, bound to make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them. So let’s think positively!
THE FAST 5
full in bloom: What is your most disgusting habit?
Lenny: Biting my nails.
full in bloom: What is the most feminine thing you do?
full in bloom: If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?
Lenny: Can I stay? Where are the angels?
full in bloom: Greatest rock band of all time?
Lenny: The Beatles.
full in bloom: What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?
Lenny: Just came back from my first springtime convertible car ride with my sweetheart, making pee-pee, washing my hands, and yelling out loud: Need a tea, please! Then went to the computer to start typing these words.
Best to all of you, Lenny on April 4th, 2009, the first warm day in Germany.
And always hold up your flag!