|Aardschok Magazine October 2002|
HEEP – INTO THE FUTURE
Heep fans have had no reason to complain the past couple of years.
Quite regularly compilations, live CD’s and DVD’s were released.
Almost all of it was worth listening to, like the recently released
documentation ‘The Magician’s Birthday Party’, both on CD and
DVD. One question has become pressing: when will a new studio album
finally be released? After all, it’s been four years since ‘Sonic
Origami’, an excellent album by the way, saw the light.
The always likable guitarist Mick Box starts laughing when I ask him this question.
can imagine why you’re asking this question. We’ve been working on
a new album but the lack of time is the main problem. A while ago we
stopped doing sapping tours and mainly perform in weekends. This works
out fine but it takes a lot more travelling and organising. Apart from
being the guitarist, I’m also the tour manager so a lot of the work
leans on my shoulders. Both the first and the last days of a working
week I prepare business matters or round them up. This way only one
day a week is left to work on a new studio album. It’s a shame but
on the other hand I consider myself to be lucky that we, as a band
with such a past, still have lots to do. It means there’s still room
for Uriah Heep and we should be grateful for that.’
Mick Box reports that he wants to round up writing and recording the new album at the end of the year. He hopes to present a new album at the start of 2003. According to him we needn’t worry about a drastic change of the musical formula.
be a logical succession to ‘Sonic Origami’ , i.e. rock songs with
good melodies – I love that – garnished by the typical Uriah Heep
topping and with lyrics that say something. That’s very important
band performed with special guests several times over the last couple
of years. Mick Box emphasises that the new CD will be a band thing
because of the special shows with all kinds of friends and former
colleagues, I want us to do this CD by ourselves. We have to remind
the world that we can work under our own steam. It sure is important
that this album is on the way because I wouldn’t want the band to be
one with just a past. Things have to keep moving and we have to focus
on the future. I can also see we get rewarded for this approach. Next
to our old loyal fans, we always win a young audience with our new
albums. We’d like to keep it that way.’
of the occasions at which several guests paid their respects to Heep,
was The Magician’s Birthday Party, held in London last year. Apart
from former members Ken Hensley and John Lawton, our own Thijs van
Leer turned up as well.
was great to be on stage again with Ken and John. We had our
differences in the past, but those are all behind us. We feel we
shouldn’t invest energy in negative matters from the past, but see
what interesting things can be done both now and in the future.’
band was so happy about the event held last year, that it has become
an annual event. Which guests can we expect this year?
have several people in mind. They’re all busy colleagues, so many
names won’t be known until the last minute. We’re already talking
to Manfred Mann who made a guest appearance on ‘Look at Yourself’
in the seventies (on the song ‘July Morning’ –RH). We also hope
for Joe Elliot, Nigel Kennedy and Brian May. What
about Ritchie Blackmore? That
wouldn’t be a bad idea either but isn’t he stuck in the Middle
Ages? Something that has led to beautiful music, don’t get me wrong.
I’ll definitely consider that. If not this year, then next year.’
remarkable that a classic rock band keeps all in their own hands, as
if they’re a genuine punk band out of 1977. The band mainly does the
management themselves, manages a website and sells CD’s, DVD’s and
the past thirty years I’ve found out that outsiders don’t always
represent the interests of the band in the best possible way’
responds the musician, ‘and I still put it mildly this way. About
fifteen years ago I started to get more control on management. It’s
a lot of work but I enjoy it. No-one works harder for a band than a
person who’s part of the band! The rise of the Internet has sped up
matters. Communication with the audience couldn’t be better, in the
past this could only be done by way of interviews, concerts or
letters. It also makes us less dependent of record companies and the
media. When you’re not the week’s sweetheart you can have a rough
time. People then just don’t see you. By setting up our own channels
of communication, the flow is consistent, even without the power of a
major record label or the cover of trendy music magazines.
Box states, full of pride, that his agenda is full the next couple of
months. The band performs everywhere, America, Asia and Europe. This
five-piece band hit the stage with an always changing set list
covering 30 years of music. It’s remarkable that they have begun
playing ‘Return to fantasy’ again which was recorded in 1975,
after having been absent for several decades.
the guitarist ‘without a
special reason though. Once in a while I give Bernie (Shaw, the
singer –RH) a couple of old
songs we haven’t done before. See which ones you can work with I
tell him. Pushing something through one’s throat doesn’t work.
Recently he came up with ‘Return to Fantasy’
and expressed he wanted to open the show with this one. Bernie
has developed into the ideal singer of Uriah Heep. He masters songs
from all eras of the band, particularly the ones that were from before
him being part of the band. He keeps amazing me in that perspective.
Box mentions that aside from a new album there’ll also soon be a
biography on the band by Dave Ling, music journalist. ‘It’ll
be a huge book we all co-operated on. All viewpoints will be there.
Also those of former band members.’
catalogue will also be dusted by the company Sanctuary, reports Mick
latter is not needed in my eyes’
the musician who hadn’t even heard of the recently released 7-CD box
“Can’t Keep A Good Band Down’. ‘Everything looked right the first time so why wrap it up like new
again? For that kind of people it’s just making money. Uriah Heep is
treated as a gravy train. It’s music that carries my soul and that
tends to be forgotten. Those who want to buy it all, decide so for
themselves. What is sold through our website has our seal of approval
and believe me, we’re mighty critical!’
(translation Monique Spruit)
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