''Local kid lives the dream with Slash'' by FFWD
It’s been a long, strange and fantastic journey to rock ’n’ roll stardom for Todd Kerns.
Born in the veritable rock hotbed of Lanigan, Sask., Kerns was the frontman of ’90s Canadian rockers Age Of Electric before striking out as a solo artist, eventually landing as the bandleader of Calgary-based Static in Stereo, a combo he formed with his brothers John and Ryan.
As a performer, Kerns always seemed on the verge of something big — he had the look, the moves, the presence and his versatility, both as a singer and as a musician. But his career truly took flight after picking up producing gigs in Las Vegas. First landing a temporary gig as guitarist and back-up singer for ’80s L.A. glamsters Faster Pussycat, he later formed famed Vegas party rock-metal act The Sin City Sinners.
The latter resulted in what most would consider a boyhood dream gig: He was selected as the touring bassist and singer with Slash.
“It’s been a strange turn of events,” Kerns says, trailing off into laughter. “It’s certainly nothing you can plan, and the gig with Slash has ended up taking over my life almost completely.”
“Things had been going well for me in Vegas with the Sinners,” he continues. “But a strange — and random thing — about life is that Brent Fitz (drummer for Theory of a Dead Man and Econoline Crush) ended up getting (his current) gig with Slash. He’s a Canadian guy, and we always had nothing but respect for each other and what we do. When the position with Slash came open, he called me right away.”
The former Guns ’n Roses guitar legend was impressed; it didn’t take long for Kerns’s prospective new boss to make a decision.
“Initially, I thought… well, this could be fun,” Kerns says. “We jammed out a couple of songs, and next thing I know, Slash is laying out his plans. Even when it became clear that I had the gig, I was naive enough to think, ‘Well, here’s a guy in his 40s or whatever, and he’s going to do the weekend casino run.’”
“(But) Slash is a complete road animal. He has no interest in going home, it seems, and that’s just the beauty of what he does. He doesn’t want to be racing cars or painting or anything else. He’s a guitar player — that’s what he does and that’s all he wants to do. God love him!”
Fast forward a couple of months and Kerns has had to endure the exciting culture shock of playing in front of more than 100,000 people at massive European summer festivals such as Glastonbury and Download. On top of that, he’s opened jaw-dropping shows for boyhood idols such as Aerosmith and KISS.
And when he’s not onstage himself, Kerns can be found standing by the side stage, rocking out. His balancing act as a fan and world-class performer is, perhaps, what set him apart from the pack.
“It’s been pretty nuts!” Kerns says, in the understatement of the year. “Ever since I’ve lived in Vegas, I’ve been able to hook up with a lot of artists I respect and love. But on the road with Slash, it’s been times 100.”
“We jammed with Lemmy from Motorhead three times, Alice Cooper, Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks,” he adds. “The funniest thing now is that we text each other. Guys that used to be pictures in rock magazines are now guys that I continue to have contact with and consider friends.”
As Kerns has been away from Canada, he’s looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends during the western Canadian leg of the current Slash tour, which touches down on Calgary on September 27.
“The more dates we do, the more the comfort level sets in,” he says. “The cool thing, obviously, is that Slash is one-fifth of one of the greatest bands in the history of music. The G’nR stuff is still the footnote of what we need to do. But what I had to realize is that there’s also the new solo album, all the Snake Pit stuff, the Velvet Revolver stuff… he’s done a lot of stuff, and we all need to be on our toes.”