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“I Was Convinced That I Might Die”: Lance Keltner Talks New Album After Brush with Death

Lance Keltner
Lance Keltner strapped with a Teye La Azteca (Image credit: Kate Russel)

Texas-based guitarist, producer and songwriter Lance Keltner has released a music video accompanying his hard-rocking new single “Train Of Misery" taken from the forthcoming album, Lance Keltner & Nuevo Retro.

Recorded at Ice Cream Factory Studio (opens in new tab) in Austin, Texas, blues-rock maestro Keltner’s fifth studio long-player is loaded with 10 tracks comprising new material plus a handful of rejuvenated numbers from the catalog.

Scheduled for release in July via National Treasure Records in association with MARS Label Group, the work sees a revitalized Keltner returning with newfound perspective after winning a battle against Covid-19 that nearly cost him his life.

For that reason, Keltner sees Lance Keltner & Nuevo Retro as both a personal and creative rebirth.

Lance Keltner and Nuevo Retro album artwork

(Image credit: National Treasure Records/MARS Label Group)

“I contracted Covid in January 2021,” explains Keltner. “At the time, I was convinced that I might die, and I think the hospital staff was right there with me on that. But then, on the fifth night I was in the hospital, I had an incredible spiritual experience that changed everything for me.

“At three AM that night, my room lit up,” he continues. “I can't really describe it, but I felt elated, and I was at total peace. A voice clearly told me that I was not going to die in that place. It also told me to never touch alcohol again, and that if I made music my priority again, everything else would fall into place.

“After that, we signed a new recording contract. I took two months to recover, and then we cut 15 songs in two weeks. So I lived, and I think that I made the best record I’ve ever done.”

Lance Keltner

Lance Keltner (Image credit: Kate Russel)

After releasing his eponymous solo debut via East West Records America in 1992, Keltner went on to record three more albums prior to his latest. He has toured extensively throughout Europe and is currently planning to hit the road in the U.S. in support of the new record.

Speaking of his new single “Train Of Misery" Keltner says he was inspired by the lingering memory of a homeless person sitting on a railway platform in downtown Austin.

"Years ago, my bandmate Cole [Hanson] and I moved into an apartment in downtown Austin,” recalls Keltner. “From the balcony we could see a train platform, and on that platform lived a homeless man. 

“He read the paper, he talked to himself, he was troubled. Cole and I picked up two guitars and imagined his story through the song."

In true Texas blues guitar style, Keltner is known to favor the Fender Stratocaster, though he also uses Charles Whitfill (opens in new tab) guitars and a CHC Guitars custom model (opens in new tab).

As pictured above, he is also a fan of Nashville-based Teye Guitars (opens in new tab) – creators of some of the most stunning-looking axes around.

Interestingly, Keltner is the owner of Smart Belle (opens in new tab) – an Austin-based guitar gear firm producing guitar amps and effects used by pro players such as Joe Walsh, Tommy Shaw (Styx), and Frankie Sullivan (Survivor).

Visit Lance Keltner’s website (opens in new tab) for more information.

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar, as well as contributions for specialist books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.