Interview with Todd Kerns by Adrian Hextall
One of the best shows you can catch if you’re on a trip to Las Vegas is the critically acclaimed ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’. The multi-award winning show which has already been performed over 1,000 times is heading to the UK for the first time ever.
Raiding the Rock Vault brings the history of rock ‘n’ roll to life, featuring classic anthems by the biggest acts in music including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Free, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Boston, Kansas, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Heart, Journey, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Survivor and many more. The show is performed by some of the best performers of their generation – artists with a who’s who of credits.
The show is a fully immersive experience – backed with projections relating to the iconic songs the band will be performing – as the band deliver a journey through the history of rock music.
Raiding The Rock Vault debuted at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles on November 29, 2012 and has since won many awards including “Best Tribute Show” in Las Vegas Review-Journal’s 2018 Best of Las Vegas Awards. This award marks the fifth consecutive win for the rock show after being awarded “Best Musical” (2014, 2015) and “Best Tribute Show” (2016, 2017, 2018).
The show was also awarded “Best Limited Engagement Show 2017” by the Branson Show Awards.
UK Show Line Up
For the UK shows in December 2019 the band will include the following artists:
Howard Leese (Heart / Bad Company). Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Guitars
Rowan Robertson (Dio). Guitars
Jay Schellen (Yes / Asia). Drums
Michael T Ross (Missing Persons / Lita Ford). Keyboards
Tony Franklin (The Firm / Whitesnake). Bass
Todd Kerns (Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators). Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Canada. Vocals
Robin McAuley (MSG / Survivor). Vocals.
Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot / Rough Cut). Vocals
Megan Ruger (The Voice USA). Female Vocals.
We recently spoke to Todd Kerns, who we last saw over here with Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators when they recorded their Hammersmith Apollo show for a live album and DVD.
TK: For whatever reason, the UK has been really good to us (speaking about the Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators release) and it felt right to record the show there, it’s such a legendary venue.
On being able to sing Dr Alibi (made famous with Lemmy on vocals when Slash released his ‘& Friends’ solo album) in front of the London crowd..
TK: It was such an honour to perform that. It was a huge loss to everyone when Lemmy passed and to be able to perform that song, at a Slash show, knowing he was the original vocalist… it’s a great feeling. I also got to do an Iggy Pop number and of course we used to do a fair few Guns ‘n Roses songs but Slash is pretty bold now, he doesn’t need to do those older Guns’ number and can focus very much more on his own material.
Raiding the Rock Vault is of course the reason a (very) late night phone call takes place with Todd and with some 1,300 shows under its’ belt, the show is clearly one to be experienced outside of Sin City.
TK: I’ve been in and out of this show, in and out of life, even my family (laughs) for some years now. But the opportunity for us to bring this to the UK is something that’s been talked about for a long long time now and we’re really excited to be able to do it.
In and out of course also explains the set up and line up of musicians in the show. A rotating who’s who of musicians, the show contains the best of the best of rock music’s performers from the last 30 years. Somebody somewhere clearly has access to the biggest and best ‘little black book of numbers’ in the world!
TK: It kind of is like that. You know it was only recently that we brought in Tony Franklin (Bassist from The Firm \ Whitesnake) and we all had to look at each other and go “Wow – how did we get Tony??” Then you look around and realise there are a lot of legendary performers in the show. Howard Leese (Heart \ Bad Company – guitars) is no slouch obviously [laughs]. Basically everybody in the show has a long resume and a great pedigree that warrants each and every one of them standing side by side on stage.
A smart introduction that pulls in the reality TV show viewers as well is the inclusion of vocalist Megan Ruger, first seen on The Voice USA. For the cynics among you that might see her inclusion as just a way to pull in the crowds, her vocal style is reminiscent of classic female Rock singers such as Ann Wilson of Heart, Pat Benatar and Joan Jett, and that is good enough for us!
TK: It’s not just a walk in exercise. you have to be capable of performing at a certain level with these musicians and Megan more than handles her own business, she’s really the whole package. The TV shows have definitely proved their weight and having her on does tap into that audience that watches shows that like.
If you look at guys like Robin (McAuley – MSG / Survivor) and Paul (Shortino – Quiet Riot / Rough Cut) these guys are still at the top of their games and the bar has definitely been raised to a level that we all have to reach as well. Robin has all of the respect in the world for a reason, he’s at the top of the pile, he really is. You also get to appreciate just how many quality musicians, vocalists there are out there as the line up changes.
If you look at me, I’ve been in rock and roll bands all of my life, usually the band walks on at 9pm and plays for two hours. With Raiding The Rock Vault, you go on, you perform a song, you might stay on or come off waiting for the next number that you’re going to do. It’s definitely got that Vegas showcase feel to it, which I think they manage to keep it fresh by bringing on new faces throughout the set.
One tough aspect for the musicians is that the hits aren’t their own. They performers come from hugely well known bands. Global acts like Heart, Bad Company, Survivor and more yet, the songs in the set celebrate the genre rather than celebrating their own careers.
TK: A lot of the setlists came together in the early years to celebrate music starting in the 60s, heading through the 70s and moving into the 80s. We’ve spoken about the 90s as well but it’s really a history of rock music show. It’s designed to take you from The Who and The Doors, through The Eagles and Deep Purple to Bon Jovi and Van Halen. It kinda crosses these three decades of music so it might feel weird to play for example one of the Slash & The Conspirators tracks just because I’m on it. This show tells the story both with video and dialogue to celebrate when rock grew it’s hair and became loud! We only scratch the surface though. We could play for 3 hours and still not run out of material.
Of course with the show having run for the best part of a decade, as time progresses, the 90s becomes more and more a ‘classic rock’ era. It’s a point that isn’t lost on Todd who explains how local radio stations are having to adapt as well.
TK: You can be listening to a classic rock station in the States and (I don’t know what it’s like in the UK but) they have definitely started to sneak a few songs in from that decade. You can be listening to Van Halen one minute and then Alice In Chains the next. You stop for a moment and wonder if it’s really classic rock but by timeline standards, it technically is. Will we change the show that much… who knows but there is definitely a lot of good music coming out of that era as well.
On rumours of starting a Raiding The Metal Vault show….
TK: Wouldn’t it be fun? There are so many metal stones that remain un-turned. it’s a minefield of genres though. What do you class as metal, what eras do you go for? I think it would be pretty exciting to try and pull that together.
The upcoming UK shows will be a perfect replica of what audiences have experienced in Las Vegas. The video screens and additional narrative help tell the story of the evolution of rock music through the decades. Interspersed in all of that we have of course the performances from the exemplary list of musicians that help define three decades of classic rock.
The likelihood of London becoming a second home for the show
TK: If we can create this so it becomes a semi-residency state for us then we’d love to make this a more permanent thing. Rowan and Tony are Brits so it’ll be cool for them to play on home turf as well. We’ll just have to see how it pans out and what the demand is.
Raiding The Rock Vault UK dates so far announced are below
Thursday 5th December 2019 Subterania, Ladbroke Grove, London
Friday 6th December 2019 Subterania, Ladbroke Grove, London
Saturday 7th December 2019 Subterania, Ladbroke Grove, London