MANKATO — Remember when MySpace was all the rage?
Dave Rude does.
The mostly forgotten website that once vied with Facebook for social media supremacy helped the relatively unknown guitarist land his dream gig with one of rock n’ roll’s most well-known acts.
“Somehow, (Tesla guitarist) Frank Hannon randomly found our profile,” said Rude, who was fronting his own hard rock band at that time in 2006. “I guess he liked our picture. He emailed, and five days later I went and jammed with him.”
But Hannon didn’t mention anything about Tesla in his email. Though the band was looking for a replacement for Tommy Skeoch -- the talented but embattled musician who departed in the mid-1990s due to drug addiction -- Hannon said only that he was looking for a guitarist to add to his side band.
When Rude showed up to jam with Hannon on the agreed-upon date, Hannon admitted he was actually looking for someone to join Tesla.
“I was like ‘holy hell,’” Rude said. “That was my first freakout moment.”
Shortly after, Rude discovered the truth about Tesla’s down-to-earth, humble-pie, no-gimmicks reputation:
It’s all true.
“Definitely true,” said Rude, adding that he’s been a fan of the Sacramento, Calif.-based group since he bought his first copy of Tesla’s groundbreaking album “Five Man Acoustical Jam” as a kid.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I joined. They’re just like normal dudes.”
And for Tesla, that has sometimes meant selling records in spite of that fact.
Early on, the band faced industry pressure to adopt a more glam-rock look. But the band continued to eschew the stylized garb, makeup and outrageous antics of contemporaries like Alice Cooper (with whom the band toured in the late 1980s) in favor of a T-shirt-and-jeans approach that members embrace to this day.
In 1990, the band released the live album “Five Man Acoustical Jam,” which included what is perhaps the band’s biggest hit, “Signs” (a cover of the 1971 Five Man Electrical Band hit by the same name) as well as acoustic covers of their own material.
That album helped spawn an acoustic movement that later led to a host of rock bands releasing similar acoustic albums. MTV itself gives Tesla credit for inspiring its popular Unplugged series.
Since Rude joined in 2006, the band has continued to deepen its already rich catalogue.
In 2007, the band released “Real to Reel,” a two-volume release in which Tesla covered a variety of 1960s and ‘70s rock and blues songs using analog tape and vintage equipment. In 2008, the band released “Forever More,” a return to Tesla’s heavier sounds that is clearly influenced by Rude’s songwriting and guitar play.
“I think it stands up to the rest of the Tesla catalogue,” Rude said. “We didn’t want to make old-school songs that sounded like 1987. We wanted to make it sound big and huge.”
Since then, Tesla has released one more acoustic album -- 2011’s “Twisted Wires and the Acoustic Sessions” -- and has maintained an extensive touring schedule.
Unlike other bands that originated in the 1980s, Rude said Tesla has not been content to rest on nostalgia. Rather, he said, Tesla’s fans have demanded new, original material -- and Tesla is happy to oblige.
“The people who travel to see us -- they want new songs,” Rude said. “They seem to like the newer stuff. And that keeps it more exciting for us.”