In an era when it seems like anyone can record and release an album almost instantaneously, it’s no longer an occasion every time a new record hits the shelves.
But in the case of Tom Keifer’s “The Way Life Goes,” it’s a pretty big deal.
For starters, it’s the debut album from Keifer, known for his powerful, bluesy voice as the lead singer of Cinderella. Second, it’s taken him more than a decade to complete the record. And the fact that Keifer is still singing at all, never mind singing well, might be considered miraculous, considering that he’s been combating a paralyzed vocal cord for years.
“There was a time during that 10 years where it felt like it was never going to be done,” Keifer said of the album in a recent phone interview with Highway 81 Revisited in advance of his Sunday, June 2 show at Brews Brothers West in Luzerne. He’ll also appear at a meet-and-greet at Gallery of Sound’s Mundy Street, Wilkes-Barre location the afternoon before the show.
Keifer, who is originally from the Philadelphia suburb of Clifton Heights, Pa., but now makes his home in Nashville, began putting together “The Way Life Goes” while work on a new Cinderella record was stalled due to litigation.
Sunday’s show will include most of the songs off the new record “and old Cinderella favorites,” Keifer said, adding that the concert will be a “high-energy” experience. He said that he’s also featuring an acoustic, storytelling-style portion during this tour’s shows.
“We’ve been having a blast out here,” said Keifer. “It’s a very musical show.”
After touring in support of Cinderella’s 1990 album “Heartbreak Station,” Keifer found himself unable to sing. He said he’s had six operations to repair “collateral damage” to the problem vocal cord, but he explained that the problem is a neurological one: his brain stopped sending a signal to the cord.
Because of the ongoing ordeal, Keifer said he does between 90 minutes to two hours worth of vocal warm-ups every day, even on days when he doesn’t have a show — a far cry from the old days, when he said “I used to be able to roll out of bed” and sing. On days when he’s scheduled to perform, his warm-up usually takes twice as long as the concert.
He said the effort pays off.
“Some aspects are stronger,” Keifer said of his voice compared to his singing abilities before the issues began. “And I think for me that’s proof of the saying that no ill wind doesn’t blow some good.”
Keifer got his start playing in cover bands, and thanks to the proliferation of rock clubs then, he was playing five nights a week in the Philadelphia area and New Jersey while he was still in high school. He formed Cinderella in 1983, and the band went on to be one of the brightest stars in the 1980s and early 1990s brand of hard rock that later became known as “hair metal” due to the over-the-top appearances of the bands. The band sold 15 million copies of its albums “Night Songs,” “Long Cold Winter,” “Heartbreak Station” and 1994’s “Still Climbing,” the last album the group released. The albums yielded radio and MTV mainstays like “Shake Me,” “Nobody’s Fool,” “Somebody Save Me,” “Gypsy Road” and the power ballad “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).”
While the genre was massively successful, with bands like Cinderella, Poison, Bon Jovi, Skid Row and others all selling millions of records and packing arenas, when grunge arrived in the mid 1990s, the old style became a source of ridicule.
“The way I look at that is every decade had a look, the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and the ’90s, which was flannel shirts and Doc Martens,” Keifer reasoned. “I think that because of MTV in the ’80s, the emphasis was put on the visual so heavy.”
Keifer added that if you close your eyes, the big bands of the era “sound very different.”
“There’s a difference between Poison and Def Leppard and Poison and Cinderella. Every band had its own unique stamp and it’s a shame that all of the bands get lumped together. I always said, listen with your ears, not your eyes.”
Because of those bands’ massive success, they “felt it harder because it had been so mainstream because of MTV. The bigger you are, the harder you fall.”
And while many see the rise of grunge as the final death blow to the ’80s bands, Keifer isn’t so sure it’s that simple.
“Grunge and the whole Seattle thing wasn’t that different from what we were doing,” he said. “It was darker. I loved Nirvana and Soundgarden. But really their look was probably a rebellion to the ’80s, and then it got bigger. Our decade was a rebellion, too.”
Keifer said that it’s a “very good feeling” to finally have the album out. But while “The Way Life Goes,” which boasts some Rolling Stones swagger and blues-rock stomp, might be seen as a departure from the melodic metal of Cinderella, Keifer said he did not intend to make any sort of statement with the record.
“I don’t know. I kind of just look at it as just music,” he said. “I’ve been trying to make music that I love. In that sense, this record is no different than Cinderella.”
Tom Keifer, with John Corabi (Motley Crue, The Scream), Jane Train and Melissa Krahnke, Sunday, June 2, 7 p.m., Brews Brothers West (75 Main St., Luzerne, Pa.).
Tom Keifer meet and greet, Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m., Gallery Of Sound (186 Mundy St., Wilkes-Barre).