Tommy Skeoch is famous for being half of the original guitar tandem with Frank Hannon in the band Tesla. Ten years ago, due to internal issues, complicated by drug issues and behavior issues, Tommy left the band.
Since then, he has been living in Florida making his own solo albums, and has now released two new songs on iTunes. He is also giving guitar lessons via Skype. This is a cool way for his fans to interact with him and learn a few rockin’ tunes to boot.
Give this one a read and then take a look at the links provided at the end of the article and pony up a few bones to check out a guitar lesson, or buy a song… or an entire album!
Jeb: Tell me how you decided to do Skype guitar lessons?
Tommy: I’ve always been doing lessons, but now I’m trying to do this Skype.
Jeb: Do you teach beginners?
Tommy: It depends on the person, really. It’s fun. I just show them a few power chords and get them going right off the bat. The lessons are cool. I have a good time doing it. I can get most people playing “Rock You Like a Hurricane” within 15 minutes if they’ve got some rhythm.
Jeb: That’s pretty cool… see I didn’t know if you were like doing master classes for musicians or if you are like just giving intermediate guitar lessons.
Tommy: I’m just giving guitar lessons. I’ve been doing it locally for 10 years and I’ve had anywhere from 10 students to, like right now locally I only have a couple. I started kind of talking about it on my Facebook page and people were like “oh that would be cool” so, I’m charging like $80 bucks.
Jeb: That is fair. You’re a recorded professional and you’ve been around the world a couple of times.
Tommy: I don’t feel like I’m milking it too much, really. It’s a little more difficult to do the lessons on Skype because there’s a time delay, so it’s little bit different, but you can do it.
Jeb: I can see real possibilities with that. I mean, you can get a big Tesla fan that would like to take a couple of lessons and learn some of those early rockin’ hits, and you can get someone who’s a big Tommy fan who really wants to kind of delve in to how you actually do it. You might also get some pretty skilled people looking for some tips regarding some of those original recordings.
Tommy: Yeah, that’s the thing, usually you just add a few things to your tool box and I have had some people that really were more… not really guitar players. It was more of just like kind of an interview. We ended up talking, which is okay, too.
Jeb: Where did you come up with the idea for Skype? Was it your idea or did somebody come up with it?
Tommy: Well, I don’t know… it might have been my wife’s. We were just talking about it. I’ve been living in this town now for… we moved here in 2000, so I’ve been living here in Florida for 15 years and was doing Tesla for the first 5 years. The last time I left Tesla was in 2006, so the last 10 years I’ve been doing the lesson thing. Lately, I’ve only had two or three guys come in. I didn’t want to put ads out in town anymore. I mean there’s always a new crop of kids… I can do that, but I kind of wanted to do something different and reach a wider audience and I thought what better way than Tesla fans, you know. I started putting it out on Facebook and then I got a few hits and so I thought, well I better do a couple, plus I put some new songs out, too.
Jeb: All right, let’s talk about those. You were such a focal point of Tesla. I’m going to put it this way, you can disagree with me or you can tell me to fuck off, but you were kind of a rock star, man… not just a guitarist. You were kind of a rock star.
Tommy: Well, I was working on that. I mean yeah, that was kind of the deal. Those other cats definitely know how to handle it better than I do. I love the fans, that is how I made my living and everything, but I didn’t always deal with them the best. I didn’t want to be their best friends. I didn’t want to do Meet and Greets as much as the other guys. They didn’t always either, everyone’s only human, but, out on the road towards this last time before I left, it was becoming kind of a nostalgia act. We put out Into the Now and not much happened with that. It’s a nostalgia act and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I just kind of got to where I was doing a show for a couple hours. I’d get a day off and with my disposition, I’d get bored and I’d just want to medicate. It just wasn’t good for me.
Jeb: Well, that is the sad truth, man. I’m glad to hear you’d be open about it, too… I mean you didn’t point one finger after 10 years. You’ve come to terms with a lot of shit.
Tommy: Oh, absolutely. I wasn’t real happy in the whole situation here, either. Nowadays, I miss them. I especially miss entertaining and doing shows. I can still do it here on a smaller level, like with this kid I was producing, and I do an acoustic duo with this friend of mine… but I miss it on that level. That’s the one thing I do miss, kind-of… but I don’t miss, you know, days off just doing nothing. It just drives me nuts, man.
Jeb: Do you think that’s probably why you won’t do that kind of gig again?
Tommy: I did a little bit with this kid I was producing, but it kind of turned into the same thing. I was out there, and… it’s just not good for me. If I was doing it with Tesla it might be different. Those guys are so, like… kind of like mother-nurturing type of guys, they would probably take care of me. It doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t go crazy, but I probably would behave better if I was around them.
Jeb: That’s funny!
Tommy: You know, if I was out on my own tour doing like Tommy Skeoch songs, and I was the boss of the tour, forget it. Oh, it would just be… like… you don’t want me being the boss, that’s for sure. It would fall apart man, for sure.
Jeb: I want to get into the songs and everything else, but I just remained curious… like I said, we talked there, a few years have gone by, I’m curious about you… I’ve always worried I’m going to read about you… you know…
Tommy: Ah, don’t worry… you know what? Everyone on Facebook, too, is like, “You know we’re rooting for you” and all this stuff. I’ve kind of interacted on Facebook more lately, trying to get out from being a recluse, which I am. I get on there and do some videos. I told everybody, “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine… you know, I’m doing good, maybe I’d like to make some more money, I guess.” That’s about the only thing… I’m making a little less money than I’m used to. Plus, I want to stay busy.
Jeb: I think what’s going on with the fans… now, I’m a fan of you guys man… I’m a fan of yours as well, I’d like to think… I mean we’ve done enough interviews...
Tommy: Well, we’re kind of buds; I mean it’s a little bit of a different situation over the past few years…
Jeb: Yeah, I think so. I can understand both sides. I mean, let’s face it… I don’t pull any bullshit with you, and you’re always honest. You had a reputation, and the fans knew it, and they just worry about you, man... It’s kind of a compliment, really.
Tommy: Yeah, they’re very loving and caring. It’s all coming from a great place, no doubt about it, and there’s no question it’s all about love, which I appreciate. But after reading it over and over, I realized they’re like really thinking that I’m about ready to fall over, keel over any day… They must think I’m putting the needle in my right arm and I’m just not doing that anymore… it’s been quite a few years now. So, I’ve been doing quite well. I’m not saying I’m perfect, you know. I’m not a big ‘program guy’… that will make me stick a needle in my arm, doing the fucking program… you know I can’t take it. You know I have a drink every now and then. I noticed when I stopped doing smack all of a sudden all of these pains started happening. I don’t know if I just happened to get older, or I was always having the pains and I medicated so much that I never felt it.
Jeb: That could be both.
Tommy: Not that intense bad sharp pain where I can’t live without medication, but every now and then I’ll take a Percocet… you know I’ll do it. My wife knows. I don’t do two days in a row because I know I’ll get strung out, but I take medication as prescribed.
My wife was really weird about it, when I first went to the doctor and started taking Percocet. She’s like, “Oh I don’t know about that shit.” I was concerned about it too, but it was this gnawing every day fucking pain I was having. I was like, “Fuck this shit.” I’ll take one or two, you know, and then I’ll take a day off. I don’t like doing it every day, then you get strung out… You know I’ll never deal with that feeling, that ‘wake and bake’ every morning just to get out of bed, you know… fuck that.
You know I’m not a school boy. I’ll still have a drink or whatever, but nothing even heavy there, either. I’ll like have some wine, but I will say when I was touring with this kid that I was producing, it was like a country-rock thing. There was some whiskey-drinking mother fuckers, you know… they were just pushing my face in and I didn’t turn it down. I was getting fucked up, you know… I was drinking and it wasn’t good. It wasn’t getting out of control… a couple of times I may have gotten drunk or whatever, but nothing ever bad happened… but that can take over real quick. You’ve got to be careful. I’m not in denial, I know where I stand, so…
Jeb: I mean how do you balance it, or do you? Or is that part of the reason you’re doing things the way you’re doing them?
Tommy: That situation I noticed makes me want to do that more.
Tommy: And that’s why I say, like if I was… I don’t think this will ever happen, nor am I asking for it to happen… but if I was ever with Tesla again, I would behave because those guys know me. They would know if I was doing anything out of line and they wouldn’t take it, because that’s how they are. But when I’m doing my own thing… it’s towing a fine line. I stopped doing that gig with that kid was just for that reason. I stopped drinking. I haven’t really had a drink since then, maybe a beer here and there, like Angry Orchard beer with the apples.
Jeb: I’ve heard of it, I haven’t had it.
Tommy: Oh dude it’s pretty good. You know I’m not usually into tutti-frutti kind of drinks, but it’s actually pretty good, and so I’ll just have a couple of those every now and then and that’s it.
Jeb: Yeah man, maybe God forbid Tommy Skeoch would grow up a little bit.
Tommy: That’s a little kind-of-happening... I regret to say that, because I am such a fucking rebel in my heart, but it’s happening. With my little girl out of the nest… and my two boys, and the one highly functioning autistic kid… the other one is 10, and I don’t think he’ll ever be independent. He has his own language, he’s highly autistic. It’s really tough, so part of that has really made me kind of grow up. My wife’s sick of me and my childish behavior and taking shit. She just doesn’t take it anymore. I don’t have any fun anymore.
Jeb: I think it would be tough from an outsider’s perspective to be that big of a rebel. I’m a rebel, too, and fuck I gave the shit up. I know what you’re going through.
Tommy: But you know, like I say it’s all good, man. I don’t do anything out of control anymore and I mean even the drinking… I barely drink. I mean, every now and then I’ll have a beer or if we’re out for dinner I might have a glass of wine, but that’s it.
Jeb: It would be kind of tough to know that touring is kind of what gets you there, and being as good of a musician as you are, that would be a Catch 22.
Tommy: It’s weird because that actually gives me, really, not a great feeling because I love entertaining. If I was with Tesla I think I could do it, I mean they would police me. I don’t say that they have to, but I would behave. They just know me so well. But with anybody else, I just don’t think that’s the case, I think I would end up… and I would… I’ve already just proved that the last 2 years when I was messing with this other band.
Jeb: Do you ever stay in touch with the guys in Tesla? I know you and Jeff used to stay in touch...
Tommy: Yeah, I mean we stay in touch. I hadn’t heard the ‘Bar 7’ record in so long, so I look on-line and I end up buying my own record on eBay. I contacted Jeff about it a little earlier today.
Jeb: That’s awesome. It’s a good album man; it’s a fucking good album.
Tommy: Yeah, the Bar 7 album, when I listen to it… I mean I had not heard it in probably, I don’t know 8 or 9 years. I mean literally that long, so I listened to it, the whole thing, one-time through, driving around in the car with a stock stereo. I just love the way it sounds. I texted Jeff and said “Dude, I haven’t heard the Bar 7 record in forever and I just listened to it. It fucking kicks ass.” He texted me back and was like “Dude, I just listened to it the other day and like, it kicks ass… fucking right, you know.”
Jeb: Do you think maybe it will never happen with those cats in Tesla?
Tommy: You know what? I think their thing with me is I’m kind of a hopeless thing. I don’t know, maybe not to Jeff. You know, I don’t want to talk about any names, really. I know there’s at least one guy that just doesn’t probably want me there. He’s a business type guy and I’m not a business man, and he thinks that I’ll drop the ball. But do I think about… yeah sure, I think about it, but I don’t ever think it will happen. I would never ask, number one… and number two, I just don’t think they would ask. I think that they’re happy. They’ve got this other guy, the kid that’s with them now. He is probably a really nice guy and the band doesn’t have any issues. Look, it’s not just about drugs. I was isolated, and didn’t want to deal with people. I was a little bit bipolar, and I have some fucking issues. And… you know… that new kid [Dave Rude] is probably just a normal, cool kid and it’s just what they need, I think.
I mean, it’s just so funny; we all came from like fatherless families. It’s so funny how alike we all are, really. But yeah, I think that there’s no… well it’s hard for me to say, knowing some of the guys… in talking to Jeff I know there’s still probably some drama there; I just know some of the personalities. There’s probably less drama than when I was there, I suppose.
Jeb: I call it the ol’ one less thing to deal with situation.
Tommy: Yeah, I admit it; between the issues I had with drugs and my personality and just kind of my craziness… just issues I have, it was probably tough for them. I mean, it was definitely tough. There’s another cat in that band. What can you do? Some people are dicks.
Jeb: I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since you’ve been out of Tesla.
Tommy: Ten years since I’ve last left… now, I’ve left a couple of times, but it’s been 10 years… yes, this year is the last time I left.
Jeb: Unbelievable, man!
Tommy: Unbelievable, I know… it’s been cool. I’ve just been making my own records. I’ve been giving lessons. I’m at home way too much, man. This gig I had with this kid… I was starting to tour in Nashville and I was producing. I was doing a lot more stuff and I was getting out of the house more, and my wife’s used to that. She’s used to like me in Tesla touring, as that’s how we function well… me being gone and home for a time, then gone for a time, and that was good. Now since I’m home all the time… not good.
It’s tough. I would like to have a gig outside the house but, I’m still kind of working out of the house as of now, doing the lessons. I do want to go in and record. I want to record another batch of songs and put them in as an album. Then recording just songs, like the songs I sent you, the mp3 songs...
Jeb: Let’s do talk about the two tracks, there’s “Crazy” and what’s the other one?
Tommy: The other one is “Get Away From Me.”
Jeb: That’s right. Hey, that fits with some of what we’re talking about! I liked your last album. Some people didn’t get it. I looked at it and it’s more of a mix between punk rock and performance art, man… and I fucking loved it.
Tommy: The Brand of Metal one? eah, I love that, too. Some people are like, “Don’t listen to the vocals and you’ll be fine.” I mean, look, I’m not a singer and I never claimed to be. It just is what it is. I love those records, and a lot of people do… and other people, most people are like the music’s great, it’s kind of garage band-ish. It’s exactly the kind of what I wanted and kind of what it is, you know.
Jeb: Now “Crazy” though, I think I told you in the text, kind of has a Pat Travers vibe.
Tommy: You know, when you say that to me, I thought about that… the only thing I was thinking, Pat Travers… now I don’t even hear that, then I started thinking about just the like harmony, the guitar parts and kind of the way they feel and I can see kind of like where you’re coming from. Vocally, I don’t know about so much.
Jeb: Now, the other song…its more punky. You kind of write in that vein, though.
Tommy: I do. Even in the Tesla days there are songs like that, that I had and I just never introduced them to the band. It’s just not what we were about; Jeff’s not about that, and he sings the songs, you know.
It never ever made it to the rehearsal room. Well, it wasn’t even that… I wasn’t afraid to introduce them, I just knew it wouldn’t go over with the guys. Now some of the just heavier kind of metal stuff I do on my solo records, or the pop kind of stuff or in-between stuff, yeah, they’re songs I would introduce to Tesla in a heartbeat. I’d say, “Hey check it out Jeff, do you like it, feel like you want to write some lyrics to this and sing it?”
Jeb: Have you thought about it? This is for the rock stuff, not the punky stuff. Man I get it, if you’re doing that vein, it doesn’t matter what your vocal is, that’s part of the whole package.
Tommy: I’ve always been into all kinds of music, from even way back in the 80’s when I was a kid, I got into all the punk, late 70’s… all that stuff. I was just into it, man. So, it’s had a definite influence into what I have, I just never expressed it in Tesla, that’s all.
Jeb: Have you considered doing like a solo album that’s more rock like what you did in Tesla?
Tommy: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about… Like, I want to do another record… and like Brand of Metal had a couple of songs that was heading that way, I just don’t know if my… as a matter of fact ‘Crazy’ is from that same session when I did Brand of Metal, I just didn’t put it on the record. There are a couple of songs like that. I would like to do that, but I don’t think my voice is up to the task, really. Although, like I say, I do want to do another full record to put out and make it a bit more rock, soft rock, classic, like we were talking about… but there probably would be between it some more yelling and stuff like that, I don’t think I can do a full record of it.
Jeb: Now hold on, here’s a crazy idea: you could get a singer.
Tommy: Ahh, I thought of that, too. I’ve got a guy down here that I do an acoustic duo with and this guy fucking is an amazing singer. I mean, he sounds like fucking… when he sings Zeppelin songs, he sounds just like Robert Plant. Now, I don’t want a guy that sounds like Robert Plant necessarily on my songs but he really can fucking kick ass, he sings great; so I have thought about that, yes that is another idea. Don’t think that I haven’t gone there in my mind. I just haven’t, you know, sometimes I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of kooks and that whole situation would take more time, more money, I don’t know. I thought of it, sure.
Jeb: The reason I was thinking is, believe me I’m not a business man either and I don’t mean it from a business perspective, but your fans probably would really like to hear that.
Tommy: My solo records don’t sell. They sell a little bit, but that’s it. As a matter of fact the guy I’m talking about did sing a little bit on Brand of Metal. He sang some backing tracks. He’s really great. You know, I would never just abandon the idea in my mind; it’s very possible I might do that some time.
Jeb: You can tell me I’m full of shit, but I noticed on your solo stuff -compared to stuff your stuff in Tesla- you don’t play long guitar solos.
Tommy: No, probably not. I mean, some of the epic solos… well let’s see… I did a few that were long, like on “Try So Hard” and stuff like that. The way I look at it, there are no bones about it, Frank [Hannon] is a fucking unbelievably talented guitar player. The way we worked together and I’m not… I’m just a knucklehead. I’m not technically good at all. I can’t play real fast or anything. The way we worked… I mean, we were just magic; it just flowed, man. We never talked about who’s going to do what, we just did it, and it just worked. So yeah, a lot of the longer solos Frank did on the Tesla records. I would do more like the two measure ones, or something. There’s a few where I did some epic ones; what comes to mind is “Try So Hard.” If you think of that song, at the end of it, it just goes on forever. I did that in one take, by the way… it was brilliant. I just love that solo, not to toot my own horn. Yeah, this year I think as far as soloing I’m not like… you would never catch me dead listening to a Joe Satriani record or anything like that. I just can’t take just listening to some guitar player going ‘whaaa’ just forever; it’s just not my thing.
I mean, think of Van Halen… I mean, really those good songs are rocking songs, but they’re not like extended guitar solos. But I will say, what I’m thinking that what you’re saying is that like some of the songs on my solo record there’s not even a guitar solo. Sometimes I don’t even put one in there, but when they’re put in there, I’ll go a measure or two and knock it out, sure, and then I’ll do something, one on the out. Yeah, it’s kind of how I handle those anyway, even in Tesla.
Jeb: Now, before I forget as we’re talking, this is an important part of the interview… if I read this, I’m like, “Man I’d like to check Tommy out and do a guitar lesson… how the hell do I go about doing it?”
Tommy: Well, thank you for asking. First of all you can go to the official Tommy Skeoch Facebook page. When you go there, there’s a Book Now little line, you can push that… it goes right to the site where there’s a dumb picture of me kneeling down. You just plug in the buttons to PayPal, break out your credit card, pay $80 and it goes to my email and I email you back and we set up a time, or you can just go to www.TommySkeoch.com and they will take you to that same place and you put in the money and it goes to my email and I call you up, or I email you and set up a time.
Jeb: That’s simple.
Tommy: So www.tommyskeoch.com for the people that aren’t going to Facebook. I think I have about 3,000 followers on Facebook so we want to go worldwide. Everybody out there go to www.tommyskeoch.com. Go there, put in $80, we’ll rock or we’ll talk or whatever. I’ll have a guitar in my hand.
Jeb: Ha ha ha! What’s the biggest challenge in working with people?
Tommy: Timing. Some people just don’t get it. They just cannot wrap their head around it. It just depends on the person, the guitar is a tough instrument, but the piano is like what I call the ruler of the music. The guitar is like a piano’s smashed to fucking bits and then put back together in a big pile… that’s a guitar. That’s how you have to look at it, so it is a very tough instrument you know, and so some people just can’t wrap their head around it. I can lead as many fucking horses to water but I can’t make them drink.
Jeb: How rewarding is it when someone learns something?
Tommy: Oh, it’s great. I’ve got this one girl that I still give lessons to. I’ve been giving her lessons now and her dad for a while. They’re just really into it. I mean, they’re religious, every week. I give lessons and she’s great. I mean, she went from nothing, no playing, no timing to being able to play. It was the same thing, couldn’t wrap her head around it and I’ve got to where she’s rocking. She can learn the songs now by ear. She hears the notes. She’ll go, “Oh that’s an A chord” or “Oh, they’re doing D tuning there.” I’ve got to say this one girl is probably the most rewarding one I’ve ever had. She went from like where I was talking about, where you would think she’d never get it… to straight-up rocking.
The thing is, the way I give lessons I don’t do it out of a book. I make it real simple and fun. By the first lesson, I like to get people jamming in the first hour, which you can do. I don’t go for sheet and music that looks like fucking hieroglyphics or anything. I show them right off the bat power chords, two fingers on two strings and pound them out. I show them rhythm and show them how to play “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
Jeb: You know, as you’re talking, I hear you say you get a lot of enjoyment instructing people.
Tommy: Oh, it’s great. I really get the feeling that I am good at it, actually. I’m not good at tooting my own horn, but I think I’m really good at it.
Jeb: Well, I could see that, because you… I guess what might surprise people, Tommy, is that some rock stars wouldn’t want to start with me, because I don’t know how to do shit.
Tommy: Yeah, but it’s not like that. Number 1, you got to remember, it’s good for me. It gets me out of my head. When I’m in my own head, when I’m not doing anything, it’s not good. It’s good for me to be busy and doing this kind of stuff. All you people that are thinking, “How’s Tommy? Man, I hope he’s okay…” Well, make me okay.
Jeb: Take a lesson and rock with Tommy.
Tommy: I mean, yeah… be my psychiatrist, be like a psychotherapist. No, over the years of course, I’ve gotten better. You know what’s funny? I’ve become a better, more knowledgeable guitar player since I’ve left Tesla, more than I was with the platinum-selling act. I’ve learned a lot myself from my teaching.
Jeb: Well, you know that makes perfect sense to me because when you’re teaching you have to be prepared.
Tommy: You have to know, kids want to learn songs and you have to understand music before, like I almost on purpose in Tesla tried not to learn other people’s styles. I just kind of shunned away, because I wanted to be an artist, I wanted it to be pure, I wanted it to be straight from me and my style is that way because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, especially back then. Now, I still have that, but I do know what’s going on behind it, I understand it more than I ever did. It’s wild, it’s ironic, I mean… it’s fucked up.
Jeb: Now talk about this: we talk about the lessons and what the students want to do… but to buy these two new tunes, where do they go?
Tommy: They can go to iTunes or www.tommyskeoch.com. You can buy any of my solo stuff on iTunes or Amazon or CD Baby. If you go to my Facebook page or go to www.tommyskeoch.com, just like where you go for the lessons, you can buy hard copies of the record. I’m selling them for $10 + shipping, $14 per record and since I’ve been doing it I’ve already had a few people hit it and all these people are buying both records, so they’re putting $28 in there. The kicker is I’m giving half of the money to Autism Speaks.
Jeb: What I want to clear up is: people still think records mean LP’s. You mean CD’s, or... ?
Tommy: I mean absolutely CD’s. I always call it a record. A record is an old school term for recording. You’re still recording, that CD is a record. I know it’s like a CD -they take it literally. Of course a CD is what we’re selling. So go to tommyskeoch.com, you can buy the actual hard copies, I send them out myself. I sign them and half the money from all those sales goes to Autism Speaks.
Jeb: That’s a pretty cool thing to do.
Tommy: Well my kids are Autistic and I think I am, too. I just think I wasn’t diagnosed when I was younger and I think I’m a highly functioning autistic person. Anyway, my one kid is severely and my other one’s very high functioning, but you know what? I’m blessed, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think Autistic people get it more than so-called normal people, you know. So anyway, ½ to money to all those CD sales goes to Autism. Now the money for the lessons, I’m keeping it and buying some cheese burgers.
Jeb: Ain’t nothing wrong with that, man. That is very cool that you’re doing that, now if you don’t mind me asking a personal question... How long have you been married to your wife?
Tommy: Oh my God! I’m going to say 23 years, almost 24 years. She has stuck around through a lot of bullshit. I mean, I put that woman through… I’ve made her a sick, poor woman. She at least knows what’s up. That’s what happens when you live with a person that’s sick. You become sick. You’ve got to take care of yourself.
I love her, and that’s what that song “Crazy” is about. It’s about my wife. If you listen to the lyrics it’s basically saying I know I was too crazy for you. Bless my wife, she must be crazy, too. So, I mean that’s what that whole song is about. I love her and she’s a great woman and I just fell in love with her because you know what, she wasn’t like anyone else I knew. Everyone else was in awe about the rock star thing and she couldn’t give a fuck about that. I was like, “This is the woman I want.” She’s still like that. I try and play her songs and I forget how she just doesn’t give a fuck and I’ll go to play a song for her, like a solo song of mine and ask her what she’s thinks and she’s just not interested. She’s into a whole other kind of music, anyway. We’ve been together 23… 24 years…
Jeb: So here’s a tough one for you, because you’re not a business guy and you are kind of bouncy and you do tend to, some days, like you said, I think you described it as a ‘recluse’… to get this going, you’re going to have to pay more attention to business. Is that something you’re prepared to do?
Tommy: Yeah, I mean it’s kind of just set-up already, if the money goes into a PayPal thing. I’m not prepared if I’m going to have to pay taxes on it, or what if the IRS is going to trip me up… none of this has happened yet. But I’m doing this interview and I’m doing Eddie Trunk after this. I’m getting the word out there.
If it turns into, I mean I’m getting $80 bucks a pop and if I get enough lessons, I think I just need to stay on the promotion of it more to keep it out there so people know and have interest, that’s what’s going to be the hardest thing. As far as just collecting the money and maybe paying taxes, that might be the other thing, it just goes into a PayPal account… it is what it is.
Jeb: Really, what I was talking about was the promotional angle.
Tommy: It’s just, I’m giving lessons and here I am talking to you to get the word out there, that’s it.
Jeb: Excellent man, it sounds like you’re doing okay, how’s that?
Tommy: I am doing okay… no, actually I’m doing pretty fucking good, you know? I’m going through life, I’ve learned a lot. I’m always behind the 8-Ball. Someone who would learn from a mistake instantly, would take me about 5 years. It’s tough, so I’m doing pretty good, actually.
Jeb: To wrap it up, because I’m not going to keep you all day… I’ll let you enjoy the beach…
Tommy: We’re staying all night, until sunset.
Jeb: Have you kind of had the thing in your head remind you that it’s been 30 years since the first Tesla album?
Tommy: No, I haven’t really been tripping on that, actually. I think the guys are doing a live recording and they’re going to put it out as a live record. It is the 30th anniversary, this year.
Tommy: I didn’t put that together and hadn’t thought about it until now. That’s a trip. Well, time flies doesn’t it? It’s weird, and I think of those days and man, what a ride. When I was a teenager, that’s exactly what I wanted and exactly what I wanted is what happened, you know.
I did it and it was beautiful. The whole thing of it was so beautiful. Now, it got a little weird in the end and that was nobody’s fault but mine. I mean, I don’t even know if it was a fault, people are people; it turned into what it turned into. I don’t know how much I was enjoying it towards the last 10 years ago when I left this last time… but, like I said, I definitely miss entertaining people on that level. I will always miss that.
Jeb: Well, I don’t know if you can… and I’ve never had that experience, but I talked to so many guys, and I don’t know if you cannot miss that… there’s got to be something wrong with you.
Tommy: That’s what I’m saying, I still entertain people. I do shows and stuff, but it’s not on that level, but a whole new level. What’s funny is me and my partner do a duet, that acoustic thing we do… We’ll do bars and clubs, all kinds of stupid places. People request songs. One time someone requested a Tesla song and I’m like they have no idea I’m from Tesla… Oh, I was cracking up! I’m like, “Sure, we’ll do a Telsa song.” They requested “Signs” and we did it. They had no idea that I was from Tesla, it was just fucking great.
Jeb: You really think so?
Tommy: Oh, I know so. It was some girl, some chick… she was just like, “Do ‘Signs.’” When we play these places, people are always requesting stuff and we’ll knock it out even if we can barely get through it. We may sound like crap, but we’ll do it if someone requests a song. You know how that is, at a bar & grill and shit. She’s just like hey, people we’re calling out songs and she requested it and me and my partner kind of look at each other and chuckled and go, “Yeah, we can do that.” I mean, she had no idea.
Jeb: You really don’t toot your own horn, do you?
Tommy: I don’t. I wouldn’t sit there and go, “By the way I’m from Tesla.” No, it’s not my style.
Jeb: Well, you know the business side of you, it might not hurt, “Former player of Tesla”, doesn’t hurt…
Tommy: Well yeah, I do use that. I’m using that right now for the lesson thing, in that regard I do. Things come up sometimes where it’s a situation like where I can jump in and say, “By the way, what you’re talking about I know a little about because I’m the guy that was there.” That does happen, but I don’t go there. It’s just too much. I mean, I don’t go hanging gold records up at my house….. I’m just not like that. I don’t want the dishwasher repair man to come in and go “Oh wow.” I just don’t want to go through the whole thing. I’ve got nothing against Tesla or anything, it’s just I don’t want… I’m private, that’s how I am.
Jeb: I’ve got to ask, because it is the anniversary… I’m not too sure when you fell in? Where did you fall in, when you joined Tesla? They were called something else, I forgot what it was...
Tommy: They were the City Kids. When I joined them, we had a different drummer. I’ve known Frank and Brian [Wheat] from around town for years and they knew of me because I played probably in one of the more popular cover bands in Sacramento. They were younger than me, so they knew me, and Frank was a big fan of mine, just on a local level, and I was kind of his. Everyone knew Frank in town because he’s so talented, he was only 15 and he could play guitar like a mother fucker.
So, they got rid of one of their guitar players that wasn’t working out and I had gotten out of a band that I was doing, and they asked me to join. In a week we were over in Guam doing a three month thing for an air force base over there. This was with another drummer.
We knew we wanted to make records. “Coming at you Live” was a song that came from that after I had joined. We knew if we were going to do it, we had to get a great, great drummer. The guy was a good drummer, but Troy Luccketta -I say to this day- he was probably one of the best drummers in the world. He’s an awesome drummer, just solid as a rock; a fucking great drummer.
Jeb: Yeah, there’s no doubt about it.
Tommy: And we needed that. We probably needed a better guitar player on my end, too. I don’t know why they didn’t get one.
Jeb: Ha ha ha! Listen to you! You brought a lot of personality to it.
Tommy: I agree. It’s just different without me now. I don’t go listen, I haven’t really listened to any of their records since I’ve left. I’ve heard a couple of songs. Everyone on my Facebook page is just like, “It is not the same… Like when they play, they sound really different.” I don’t think it must be that bad. I mean, you replace any member from a band and that personality, it’s going to make a difference.
Jeb: I’m friends with you, I ain’t going to lie. Dave’s a nice guy. You nailed it perfectly for not knowing, I mean, he’s kind of a normal, just a good guy and the bands good. Those guys know what they’re doing. I’ve seen them a few times before, and I saw them a whole bunch with you. You nailed it perfectly… when you replace any member of band it’s going to change, and that’s what’s happened.
Jeb: Exactly, but man I’m telling you and I’m not trying to kiss your ass, you have a cool stage presence when you were in Tesla.
Tommy: There was a presence in my playing, not kind of knowing what I was doing, especially at that time. I definitely think there’s an edge that they’ll never have without my presence there.
Jeb: Yeah… now I do want to ask before I leave, because it’s the 30th year… I had to give you shit about it, and they did kind of primp you up a little bit… what was that first video of the big song?
Tommy: “Modern Day Cowboy’’?
Jeb: Yeah, yeah, the video man… What was it like to shoot, that was classic. MTV was never bigger. What was that experience like?
Tommy: Man, it was nice. Back then I was just a kid. Everything back then was cool. When it started happening, it happened quickly. It was like one day we were this band from Sacramento, the next day people wanted our autographs. It was just big, and the actual video experience… there was an actor, this old man in the video, that’s playing this drunk and I had seen him in the movies from back in the 30’s and stuff, so he’s probably dead now, I’m sure. I was kind of like “Woah, this is a trip.” It’s weird.
I was born in L.A. and I lived there until I was 10 and my mom was a model, she knew all kinds of movie stars. I’ve kind of been around them my whole life, actually. The video was great… it was a great experience, and all of them are fun. I think “Edison’s Medicine” was a three day grind… it is a great video, so maybe that’s why. I think it’s one of our better videos, but we shot that over three days. It was a killer.
Jeb: Anything else you want to nail down before I let you go?
Tommy: No, you’re great. Your whole deal is great, and I appreciate you so much. Head over to www.tommySkeoch.com and buy some hard copies, half of it goes to Autism Speaks. You can go to my Facebook page and push Book Now or go to TommySkeoch.com and sign up for a guitar lesson. We’re having fun and that’s it. Thank you so much, you’re always so good to me and I appreciate you so much.
Jeb: Well you’re so honest and like I said, I still love the music. To me, and we’re kind of just shooting the shit here, I may leave it in, I don’t know. Tesla to me was one of those bands… I mean, I didn’t like a lot of those hair bands, pretty-boy bullshit….
Tommy: I think we had some integrity. I think it lasted.
Jeb: I think you know where I’m coming from.
Tommy: I totally know where you’re coming from. I believe it, too.
Jeb: Because there were so many, it just became, I don’t know…
Tommy: They were dumb.
Jeb: It became phony.
Jeb: When I heard your album I knew it was genuine. When I saw that first video… they kind of made you fancy, like everyone else.
Tommy: They did. There’s also -my autistic son loves pictures, so he’s has all these old pictures that he plays with like toys, it’s just his thing, right? So, I’m always seeing these old pictures and there’s a photo shoot we did from around that time, right around that time we did the “Modern Day Cowboy” video… man my hair is just done up, it’s almost like an afro, it’s so funny. Oh my God, and like a belt around my pants. In the beginning we didn’t know better, we would do what a photographer said. We did what people told us to do. Very shortly after that, we’re like, “Wait, we’ve got to be ourselves.”
Jeb: Well, I’m glad you did, because I don’t think it would have worked. That was the thing… when you guys came out, when I first saw you, I was like, “Oh, here we go again.” But then I heard you, it was like, “Oh!”
Tommy: Yeah, everyone says that. The world’s not wrong I guess, I don’t know.
Jeb: I don’t think so… well my brother go and enjoy your night, if we think of anything else, I’ll shoot you a text, but I think we got a ton.
Tommy: And call me anytime, I know after the last interview we did we were kind of communicating after that. Call me anytime.
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