(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
EMP Label Group, ran in part by Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson, has announced the formation of EMP Outlaw, a southern rock/outlaw country music imprint. One of the label’s first offerings will the re-issue of “Metal Cowboy“, the 2014 independent release from legendary Steeler/Keel vocalist Ron Keel, in stores on March 2nd.
2018 will also see the studio debut from Ron Keel Band, the highly anticipated follow-up to Metal Cowboy, entitled “Fight Like A Band“. This EMP Label Group news follows their recent announcement that they were reviving Combat Records (here).
After a storied career that began as lead vocalist for Steeler, which would also go on to include guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, Ron Keel would go on to sell millions of records under his eponymous-named band, KEEL. That band’s classic albums The Right To Rock and The Final Frontier (both produced by KISS’ Gene Simmons), preceded Keel’s venture into brave new musical territory with the decidedly southern rock/outlaw country feel of Metal Cowboy.
Originally released in 2014, Metal Cowboy was a bold new direction for Keel, pulling strongly from the playbook of country music and southern rock, while maintaining the rock edge and powerhouse vocals Ron Keel is known for. While Keel had some success in the country and southern rock realm after the dissolution of Keel (who reunited in 2008), Metal Cowboy definitively established Keel’s musical identity and versatility.
Ron comments: “We (Keel) recorded a version of ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Outlaw’ for Penelope Spheeris for the Dudes movie soundtrack that also features Megadeth, W.A.S.P., Steve Vai, and Jane’s Addiction. It ended up being a great cult film and I’d love it even if I wasn’t in it. That really was the genesis of the Metal Cowboy – ‘Outlaw’ became my signature song, and ended up featured in the movie twice!”
After releasing Metal Cowboy and relocating to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Keel would go on to form the Ron Keel Band, an altogether new band featuring the best players the mid-west has to offer. While sticking to the earthy Southern charms of Metal Cowboy, the RKB showcases a new, rich musical adventure for Keel and his bandmates.
Says Ellefson’s business partner, EMP Label Group’s Thom Hazaert, “When someone like Ron Keel comes to you and says he wants to be on your label, it pretty much just happens, and that’s pretty much verbatim how it happened. One day me and David got an email from Ron saying he was a fan of EMP and he wanted to be on the label. So we created a label just FOR him. Bottom line, Ron is one of the most talented Rock vocalists of our generation, and a true gentleman outlaw, and we are honored to have him as part of the EMP family.”
Metal Cowboy Reloaded features remixed and remastered versions of the tracks from the original independent release, featuring a star studded lineup of guest musicians including Frank Hannon (Tesla), Mike Vanderhule (Y&T), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt/Quiet Riot), Travis Toy (Rascal Flatts) and more, including fan favorite tracks “Just Like Tennessee” and “What Would Skynyrd Do?”, plus the bonus track “Rock N Roll Hell” featuring Troy Lucketta (Tesla) on drums and Jeff Labar & Eric Brittingham from Cinderella on guitar and bass.
Pre-order Metal Cowboy Reloaded here.