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Kevin Chalfant


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Kevin Chalfant best known as vocalist with The Storm, Two Fires and many more expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.


Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer?


My earliest memories of wanting to be a singer “for real” was when I was fortunate to watch The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show when I was a very young boy. I was a Paul McCartney fan from the “get go”, because of his soulful melodic vocal style. I was also attracted to Paul Rodgers soulful raspy voice and bluesy vocal style. I was fortunate to have grown up near Chicago, Illinois in the 50’s-70’s and heard the multiple genre sounds of WLS 890 am Radio-Chicago that played every format of music, before radio music became segregated according to its style and genre. Other favourites were Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Elvis, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gay, Tom Jones, Lou Gramm, Steve Perry and so many more.


Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any notable bands?


Oh yes, I have auditioned for several bands. I joined 707 after a live audition in 1981. In the early 1980’s I flew to Chicago and worked out with Survivor. I was sick with a chest cold and congestion,  but made it through several songs. I loved their songwriting a lot. It never worked out with Survivor and I’ve heard and read a couple versions of how that went down, but it was a decision I made with my wife and some help from above. Though Survivor was a great band it wasn’t the best fit for me. Shortly after I made that decision to pass, they then auditioned my good friend, the late great Jimi Jamison and he was the perfect fit for them and it all worked out famously. I was an interim vocalist with several bands, Steel Breeze in the 1980’s, The Alan Parson Live Project in the early 2000’s and one record with Shooting Star in the early 2000’s as well.


You have appeared on a number of albums. Do you have a favourite and why?


I have been very blessed and fortunate to have worked on many albums. I have loved my recording sessions and have done a trainload of them. I have recorded as a lead vocalist, and guest background vocalist, duet, co-vocalist, as a part of a gang vocal session, as a producer, arranger and even engineer. The Storm records were probably my favourite lead vocal performances. Backing vocals, I have several, Kim Carnes, Night Ranger, Dennis DeYoung, Jim Peterik’s World Stage and Skip Martin’s People Get Ready remake (we won an Emmy Award with this one) in 2023.


Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?


I still love performing live. I may enjoy it much more now as I have more control of the performances than I did when I was younger and less confident. I perform high visibility shows with several groups. I do a lot of multi-singer shows. Most of them with my own group Voices of Rock Radio, that I share partner duties with John Elefante (former singer of Kansas). I also perform with Mickey Thomas & Starship (Voices of Rock) and do a high number of corporate events.


Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?


I eat right as much as possible, ha ha! Clean ice cold purified water is my best friend. I love my morning coffee as well, but I’d prefer to use a healthier version of a creamy cinnamon flavoured oat creamer. Boy I’m sounding like an old yuppie these days! I do use a Navage sinus flush machine with a mild saline. I try not to abuse my vocal chords and love when the monitor engineer isn’t a prima donna….


Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?


Sure, I would love to share time with Paul McCartney, full circle. It would rock to record with him but reality is, well he’s on another planet. Truth is, I’ve had the great fortune of working with many top producers, engineers, artists and players. I’ve also had the great pleasure to have worked with the most brilliant manager the music business was ever blessed with, Herbie Herbert. He was a genius and we can all thank him for many of the special effects we enjoy in live shows, such as high definition video walls, specialty lighting and super high end audio equipment. He almost single handedly designed and/or financed research and development of most of its creation and dependability .


Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days in the bands you’ve been involved with that could be released?


I always save cards up my sleeve, however, I have intentionally stepped back and away from the recording industry. I just don’t like the direction it has headed and finally ended up at. I am no one’s hero. Not sure if I even care to be. I am a husband, a father, a grandfather, a singer, songwriter, entertainer, band leader, cheer leader, road manager, studio chef, and about anything else I need to be to support my family and make the most of my life. Herbie Herbert once asked me, “Kevin, do you know what I consider to be a successful musician?”  I said, “a million sales, two million, three?” He said, “No! A successful musician to me is someone who can pay their own bills!” As I look at my recording career in general, I spent most of my time working very hard making other people train loads of money. Not any more though. I love and respect the fans or supporters of my career, however, the new dynamic of free downloads, torrent sites, and streaming is only making other people all of the money. I am not a greedy man, but I have bent my music every which way to make other people happy and loads of cash. I may or may not be missed making records, but regardless, it’s just my way of having some kind of control of my own future. My focus has turned back to “Live Performance and I am enjoying it greatly!” I don’t miss deadlines to serving up productions by a certain date for release underfunded and under cooked. I have even had previously unreleased material shared by someone not even connected to me or my record label at that time post my hard work on a “Free torrent” pay to share files websites without any of us involved compensated. That’s really when I decided, why work that hard for other people to profit from stealing my work? Nope, I am not interested in that in the least anymore. Oh I have unreleased music, but I am waiting for “the fairness reboot”. Sorry for rambling on like that, but you asked so……


Your tenure in Journey was very short. Do you feel disappointed as something great could have come out of it?


Oh please don’t feel sorry for me…something great did come out of that experience. I couldn’t be any more blessed. The Journey guys gave me a huge boost and God knows I needed it then. But at that time in history Journey kind of needed a kick in the pants as well. They needed to know they could move on making music and they have. Journey has done greatly and strongly. No one will ever thank me for jumping in and just singing their famous lyrics and iconic melodies that made them all so famous. I did it knowing it all could have gone either way. It was such a huge wall of sound, but I gave everything I had, and yes, I know I help them get their legs under them because of that experience. We’re still friends and sometimes like family in certain circles. I’m just as big of a fan like so many of you are.  

It should be mentioned that I actually worked with almost every Journey member in several bands. It started when Jon Cain performed with 707 in the studio while we were recording with Producer Keith Olsen at Goodnight LA. Then Ross Valory and I formed a band in the mid 1980’s called The VU with Prairie Prince, Tim Gorman & Stef Burns. Then a short time later, in the early 1990’s Gregg Rolie and I wrote a bunch of songs together after meeting singing at a  background vocal session together at Fantasy Studios. That band was called The Storm and we enlisted Steve Smith, Ross Valory & Josh Ramos signing a record contract with Interscope Records. Herbie Herbert helped get us that deal playing our demo’s to Jimmie Iovine and Beau Hill. That was the foundation, I guess for Journey feeling confident enough to ask me to jump in and sing with them. We started writing songs together and shortly after that Steve Perry decided to come out of retirement. You’re welcome everyone... ha! Perry was without a doubt the best singer Journey could have bet on, as they did before, so no hard feelings, sincerely.


Do you have any plans to release another solo album?


When the stars are aligned and I find someone who can show me they have a long term plan to support a heritage classic rock artist the way deals used to be structured, with trust and loyalty in the business. I have my eyes on a company, we’ll have to see how all of that pans out in the near future.


With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?


I check my email every day, just waiting for one of your top concert promoters to reach out offering multiple tour dates for a mutually fair price. I would love to bring the Voices of Rock Radio to Europe again.


Would you be interested in doing some production work for other bands?


I have done production for other bands and am always willing to listen and give my critique. Producing a record isn’t cheap, but it can be fun and rewarding and it’s good to keep your skills honed.


Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment that you would like to share?


Currently I am performing live with a group of classic rock artists called The Voices of Rock Radio. My partner is former lead vocalist for Kansas John Elefante. Also appearing Randall Hall formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The original singer of HeadEast & Petra John Schlitt. Others include former singer of Foghat Charlie Huhn, Former singer of Boston Fran Cosmo, Wally Palmar lead singer of The Romantics, John Cafferty Singer of The Beaver Brown Band, Jason Scheff, former singer of Chicago and other greats.

 

Interview by Stuart Dryden

 
 


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