Tesla is an American hard rock band formed in Sacramento, California in 1984, and have sold over 16 million albums in the United States as of 2008.
The band formed in 1984 in Sacramento as City Kidd, and was renamed Tesla during the recording of their first album, 1986's Mechanical Resonance, on the advice of their manager that City Kidd was not a great name. The band derived their name, certain album and song titles, and some song content from events relating to Nikola Tesla, an inventor and electrical engineer born in the 19th century.
Tesla's music is often referred to as heavy metal, but is better described as hard rock with a bluesy feel. The band's lyrics also strayed from the themes popular in heavy metal, particularly in the 1980s at the beginning of their career. A further distinction from their contemporaries was their T-shirt-and-jeans image which was in strong contrast to Glam Metal bands of the time, which were characterized by big hair, leather pants, and flashy makeup. Also in the early days of their career, Tesla toured with David Lee Roth, Def Leppard, and Poison which incorrectly resulted in the band being categorized as a Glam metal band. The band's members resented this labelling. Tesla has always been proud of the fact that their music has always been just guitars and drums, with an occasional piano from guitarist Hannon and/or bassist Wheat and occasional organ from Hannon, with no synthesizers or anything to distort their sound. Their albums always proudly proclaimed, "No Machines", referring to that fact. However, the band's 2004 album, Into the Now, does not include synthesized beats. Drummer Troy Luccketta cleverly designed his drum set to make it sound like synthesized beats, as seen on the Cuminatcha live 2008 DVD section on Troy's gear.
The Great Radio Controversy and Psychotic Supper (1989-1993)
It was three years before the band released their second album, The Great Radio Controversy. The album helped solidify the band's growing reputation and fan base. The album produced the hit single "Love Song".
In 1990, Tesla released Five Man Acoustical Jam, a live album featuring acoustic renditions of hits such as "Cumin' Atcha Live", "Gettin' Better", "Modern Day Cowboy", and "Love Song". The album also featured a number of covers most notably a version of "Signs", a a 1971 hit by the Five Man Electrical Band.
In 1991 the band released their third studio album Psychotic Supper. The band themselves consider this to be their best album according to their official Web site. The 1998 Japanese reissue import of Psychotic Supper contains three previously unreleased songs, including "Rock the Nation", "I Ain't Superstitious", and "Run Run Run".
Bust a Nut and hiatus (1994-1999)
In 1994 the band released their fourth studio album Bust a Nut. The 1998 Japanese reissue import of Bust a Nut contains the previously unreleased cover of Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean".
After the release of Bust a Nut, the band took a hiatus to support Skeoch during his struggle with substance abuse. However, it wasn't long before Skeoch briefly joined up with solo artist Marshall Coleman's band to support his solo career, only to see a departure of Marshall soon after. This band eventually morphed to include Jeff Keith and resurfaced as Bar 7 with a single "Four Leaf Clover", from the album The World Is a Freak. Brian Wheat formed Soul Motor and Frank Hannon Moon Dog Mane, while Troy Luccketta worked with several local artists including the Bay Area's One Thin Dime.
After a break of six years the band reformed in 2000 and recorded the double live album Replugged Live. In 2002 they were featured in the Rock Never Stops Tour alongside other 1980s rock bands.
2002 saw the release of a further live album Standing Room Only which is just a single CD version of Replugged Live.
In February of 2005, Tesla headlined a benefit show at the PPAC in Providence, Rhode Island for the victims of the Station nightclub fire. During the show the band auctioned off an autographed acoustic guitar with the proceeds going to the Station Family Fund. 100% of the ticket sales also went to this charity.
In 2004 they released their fifth studio album Into the Now which debuted on the Billboard album chart at number 30. The album was well received by fans and the band was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
In the summer of 2006, the band embarked on the Electric Summer Jam Tour and put the following statement on their Web site: "We would like you to join us in welcoming guitarist Dave Rude, who will be hitting the road with us for the 2006 Electric Summer Jam Tour as Tommy Skeoch will not be performing with us. Please also join us in congratulating Tommy and his wife on the birth of their new baby boy. We wish the whole family the best".
An article in the Deseret Morning News (June 16, 2006) that featured an interview with Wheat clarified the situation: "The tour is also a chance to introduce the newest member of the band, guitarist Dave Rude, who replaced Tommy Skeoch. Skeoch has been in and out of the band since 1994, addressing substance abuse problems. But with a new baby at home, this time Skeoch's departure is final. He just wanted to spend more time with his family after all these years. It's hard. He'll always be a part of Tesla history". Although Mr. Skeoch stated in an interview with "Classic Metal Show", that he wanted to spend time with his family was just an "official" statement, and he left because of other reasons. Skeoch has said "I'll never say never; who knows, maybe I'll go back someday".
"Cumin' Atcha Live" appeared in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Tesla have recorded a covers album titled Real to Reel, which was released on June 5, 2007. The recording is available as a 2 CD set. The first CD (containing 13 songs) is sold in a case with a blank slot for the second CD. The second CD (containing 12 additional songs) will initially be available to concert goers in the USA at no additional charge beyond the cost of a ticket. The second CD was also given away with the August edition of Classic Rock magazine in Europe.
In February 2008, Tesla helped fund and headlined a benefit concert for victims of the Station nightclub fire. The show was broadcast by VH1 Classic. Tesla played three songs: "What You Give", "Signs", and "Love Song". "What You Give" never made on the broadcast.
It has been confirmed that Tesla is going to play at the Sweden Rock Festival and Graspop Metal Meeting in June 2008 as well as Rocklahoma 2008 in Pryor, Oklahoma, on July 13, 2008.
On August 11, 2008, it was reported that Tesla's next album, entitled Forever More, would be released on October 7th on their own record label, Tesla Electric Company Recordings. The album was produced by Terry Thomas, who produced Bust a Nut. The band aired the album's first single, "I Wanna Live" on radio stations across the globe on August 18th and kicked off a world tour on October 1st.