rushonrock has heard no better record in 2008 than Tesla’s Forever More. And as the band prepares to release Comin’ Atcha Live on DVD next Monday we talk to guitarist Frank Hannon about respecting the troops, Obama’s big win and the UK producer responsible for Tesla’s 21st Century sound.

rushonrock: There are so many highlights on Forever More but Private Ledbetter is a belter. What’s the story there?

Frank Hannon: It’s a question we get asked a lot because I think there’s a perception it’s some kind of anti-war anthem or something. It’s not about that at all. It’s about the human element of a private being a person. I had an idea about the sacrifice that people make serving their country but Jeff didn’t like singing the word ‘sacrifice’ and so we started brainstorming to think of a way of moving the idea forward without that word.

rushonrock: How did you do that?

FH: Jeff had an idea about writing a letter and then we thought what if we progressed the story so that the sender was waiting to get a letter back and so on. Through the letters we could tell a story and it turned out to be a pretty poignant story I suppose.

rushonrock: Following president-elect Barack Obama’s victory is it an exciting time to be an American again?

FH: Definitely. History has changed for good in the USA and that only happens once in a while. For the people of America it’s a very, very exciting time. It gives us all a new positive role model in a position of power. To see a successful black man become president of America is pretty cool. I’m excited for people who can now look up to Obama and realise anyone can have success in our country. It will be interesting to see what transpires over the next four or eight years because it won’t all be plain sailing. And I’ll be interested to see what kind of relationships the new administration forges with the rest of the world.

rushonrock: Tesla has played thousands of gigs over the years but very few in the UK. Can we expect the balance to be redressed sometime soon?

FH: In 2009 we will be back. Now that we manage ourselves, we have our own record company and we make our own decisions we can confidently say we will be touring the UK and Europe next year. We’ll be doing festivals and shows over there a lot more than we have done in the past. In the past there was a lot of conflict between ourselves and the record label in terms of where we should tour and when. Things were out of our control. We could never come over to the Uk as much as we wanted to.

rushonrock: With new records by the likes of Def Leppard, Whitesnake, AC/DC, Motley Crue and Guns N Roses in 2008 do you feel Forever More holds its own?

FH: We always tried to make full records. By that I mean we didn’t just stick one hit on an album full of fillers. We try to make each song as good as the next throughout the album and for us there’s two elements. There’s the songwriting and there’s the sonics. We’ve always strived to match the quality of the song writing with suitable production. It’s not that we wanted to be compared to Leppard or Whitesnake in 2008 – sonically we wanted to be on a par with Audioslave, 3 Doors Down or Nickelback. In terms of how Forever More sounds I think it’s the same ballpark as records by those bands. we’re not out to kick anyone’s ass but we just want to be on the same sonic playing field and thanks to our producer Terry Thomas we’ve done that. He’s an Englishman who you should be very proud of.