Heart of Rock Interview: Ron Keel. Vocalist, guitarist. KEEL.

Fleur the Kiwi

From now until the end of time (or until too many people die for us to continue) DGT&G will be interviewing rock ‘n’ roll artists — famous, not-famous, and the vast numbers in between — and asking each the same five questions.

On our foray into the Bourbon Room at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Vegas last month, Hazelzworld also espied Ron Keel, frontman of KEEL, a heavy metal band formed in 1984 and best known for the song “The Right to Rock,” a title and subject matter dear to our hearts. KEEL broke up in the late ’80s, but has been back together since 2009. During the interim, Ron did stints as frontman for Steeler, Saber Tiger, Fair Game … and even a brief moment with the legendary Black Sabbath; wrote music for TV shows and major motion pictures; and created a weekly radio show called Streets of Rock & Roll, which he hosts. Upon being cornered in the Bourbon Room, he good-naturedly agreed to a short interview, the other half of which is here.

DGT&G: Why do you play rock music?

Ron Keel: I love rock ‘n’ roll because of the spirit of rebellion. It’s wild and reckless. It keeps you young forever. I’m gonna sing music. I’ve devoted myself to it. I’ve been doing it ever since.

DGT&G: What else could you see yourself doing?

RK: I do have a lot of other interests, but they’re all entertainment related. I’m hosting a radio show. I want to keep furthering my radio career. I’ve done some acting. A lot of music business in terms of production, TV and film work, all that. But rock music is the hub and everything else is the spoke of that wheel, so really, it’s all about entertaining people, having a good time and enjoying life. I don’t think there is anything else I can actually make a living at. I’m not really good at anything else.

DGT&G: Do you have any regrets about taking this path?

RK: Absolutely not. I made some bad moves along the way. When you are gonna play in a 30-year game, you’re gonna make some wrong moves, you’re gonna fumble the ball, throw a couple of interceptions now and then, you know, but you’re still looking back. I mean, all we have is what is left of our lives and you gotta learn from your mistakes and move on. I do have regrets about decisions that I’ve made, or decisions that were made for me that were out of my power. When you’re in this business, there’s a lot of people—managers, producers, record companies—that are making decisions that are gonna affect your life, and that’s out of your hands. All I can do is create music, have fun, and keep entertaining people.

DGT&G: What’s your favorite part about being a rock n roll artist?

RK: The creative part. The actual writing, creating music. Taking something that’s just a very rough, raw idea and turning it into a finished song that you like, that you’re proud of, and then you share it with people and hope that they’ll feel the same way about it. But that creative process to me is like the most powerful thing in the world. That’s the reason why I do everything else. But the actual sitting alone with a guitar and this little voice recorder, a notebook like you’re writing in now, and making a song out of nothing, to me is the most powerful feeling in the world. I love that creative process. And the money ain’t bad either.

DGT&G: If you could create your dream rock band, who would be in it?

RK: I would clone myself four times. To play with myself all night long. I would play drums, guitar, sing, and probably get into terrible fights with myself. We’d probably be beating each other up, ya know? I’ve been blessed to play and write and sing and perform and record with a lot of people that I’ve admired in this business, but there really is no one—if Van Halen were to call and say they need a lead singer, I’d probably say yes. [Lots of laughter.]

Ron Keel solo album


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