Heart was one of the bands that broke ground in the female-based metal in the middle 80's. A Seattle based band which was formed already in the sixties by members no longer in the band, released its first album "Dreamboat Annie" in 1975 and went metal with their self-titled album that hit a jackpot among metal fans. Heart is fortunate to have fans that have never forgotten the band no matter what they were up to and Sweden Rock was a dream come true for those who never saw the band live. The members who graced the press conference were the Wilson sisters Ann and Nancy, welcomed with great applause, Debbie Share (keys, also with Van Morrissey), Craig Bartock (guitar) and Ben Smith (drums, The Lovemongers). Mike Inez (Alice In Chains, Ozzy Osbourne) just reached the festival grounds at the time so he wasn't present, but plays bass in the band for the third summer now. The interview took off with curiousity towards The Lovemongers, another band from Heart members and Nancy was the most talkative of the sisters.
Nancy Wilson - Right now we don't have time for The Lovemongers. We've got the new Heart album out now "Jupiter's Darling". Lovemongers is our expensive little band that we did out of our own pockets, so we're gonna do something that can afford us a bed and breakfast in the meantime.
On their latest album Heart has found their roots again and it's been a "long, strange and crazy trip. Every decade has had it's own big challenge for us and it's own particular success for us. But 90's I'd say our biggest success was becoming mothers and The Lovemongers. We've been able to incorporate our art into our real lives these last 30 years. And of course rock comes out on top once again. The kids are old enough so we're out here playing for you all".
Howard Leese is an ex-member of Heart and "he's (now) playing guitar with Paul Rodgers, has been for four or five years. I think we're gonna meet up with Howard tomorrow actually, go to a festival in Holland. They're playing in Holland today". Heart also had a show in Holland the next day in Arrow Rock Festival, but what comes to Heart shows in Europe otherwise, Nancy said "we haven't been to Europe in like ten years for one reason or another. So we figured the best way to start re-introducing ourselves to Europe was to keep it short and sweet. There's some good places you know".
Ann - To see if they toss us out on a rail.
Nancy - But we'll be back.
There's many countries Heart has never been to including Finland, which they were supposed to visit in the 80's.
Nancy - Yeah, we were supposed to go. We've never been to Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Russia. It's a big world.
Concerning the back catalogues that are coming out these days of older albums, Heart "just did that. We just got that ready to go. "Little Queen", "Dog And Butterfly", "Dreamboat Annie" and "Bebe Le Strange". We remastered it and we found some really cool bonus material as well, it's coming out. I'm not sure when it comes out here, but it's very soon. This time it's only the seventies albums. We're starting with the first four big ones. You want the eighties ones ? Ok, we'll arrange that" (Nancy).
Heart's favourite all-time songs then ?
Nancy - I guess one of the best Heart songs is "Mistral Wind" from "Dog And Butterfly". It's sort of an opus you know, sort of long winded, but it's got the poetry that matches the music. The music describes the lyrics really well and it takes you on a journey through a real crazy thing like life. But you come out the other side of it alive and wiser.
Ann - I think another one that has really kept all its molecyls together really well with the passage of time is "Barracuda", because it still has all its rage in it. Just has stood the test of time. It's just as pissed off now as it was when it was written.
Heart has also recorded cover versions from other bands, but what comes to other bands doing covers from their songs Nancy says "I've only heard a cover of "Barracuda", where they sampled it for like a dance mix song".
Heart was put to rest in the 90's, but "we always had the plan to get back together. I wanted to do some scoring music for films, we're both working on certain families and of course we did two albums with The Lovemongers as well during that time. And after the 80's we were pretty tired of the way, the imaging and the hair and the MTV and all. So we kinda went underground for a while. Now it feels like a good time for music, because you've got real rock coming back again, Queens Of The Stone Age and The White Stripes, The Hives...We knew we were kinda waiting for the window of time when it felt good to come back and I think it's a hopefull time for rock music again. And besides that I decided I'm going to produce the album. We can have it our own way for a change instead of being imaged by someone else's ideas of how Heart should be".
Ann - We're steering it ourselves this time and Graig Bartock was our co-producer and we all did this together, wrote everything ourselves.
"TOO MUCH HAIRSPRAY OUT THERE"
Back in the 80's Heart-sisters were Metal Queens that turned metal men into jelly before them, but do they still have it like that and hear people praising the 80's to them ?
Nancy - Yeah, but I don't think anybody really at this stage of the game wants us to revert to our 80's-selves.
Ann - It's too much hairspray out there (laughs).
Nancy - I think everybody wants to see everything move ahead. And let's be as authentic as we can and let's push the envelope. But it's funny too, as the sound of the new album, people have been saying that it has the characteristics of Heart from the 70's with a little bit of Heart from the 80's.
Ann - Who said that ?! I'll kill them...(laughter).
Nancy - But I think it's true. The Heart from the 70's had a more sparse sound, I think this one is real authentic. It's not insincere like the 80's sounds were, but its got everything that Heart should be and it's what a Heart fan wants.
Heart's latest live DVD "Alive In Seattle" has a lot of soul to it with great spirit.
Nancy - Oh thanks. You should see us now, we're better. That was two years ago.
New songs like "Heaven", "Sister Wild Rose" and "Break The Rock" on the DVD can't be found elsewhere, though were almost included into "Jupiter's Darling". Nancy says "we kept writing more and we thought the songs just got better so we let it just only be on the DVD. And everybody likes bonus material now, so there's a lot more bonus material actually".
ONE SLEEPY DOG, ZERO CATFIGHTS
Some people like keeping the family and business seperate. How does it feel like working so many years together, how do you manage keeping together as family and as a band ?
Ann - The thing that is a challenge there of course is giving the right amount of space to each other. Because if you're too close, you're just going to smother each other. I just think that over the years we've learned how to give and take to each other. It's not that we'd ever struggle.
Nancy - Although we've been talking about staging a catfight, just for publicity. But also because we started really young making bands. And because we speak (the language of) music together, that's a much bigger picture than stupid petty jealousy or things that I think a lot of siblings go through, "give me that dress" or whatever they fight about. Or just drama. We came from a military family, we travelled around a lot as really young kids in a tight-knit family, so when you have a really strong sense of humour you survive. I think that's another way we've been able to handle it.
Ann - And no one of us knows how to run this band. I don't know how, she doesn't know how. (Leadership sucks, Nancy whispers in the background) So together with the help from others we can make the boat flow.
As Heart got their first record deal with a Canadian record label and also used to live in Vancouver, British Columbia which lies right next to Seattle, some magazines labeled the band as Canadians in the 80's. But how does the band feel like playing in Sweden Rock together with the wide range of Canadian bands, any "brotherhood" there with the neighbours ?
Nancy - We go way back with April Wine actually. They gave us our first shot when we were just a little kid band up in Canada. They let us open for them, so it's really amazing to get to see them again. A lot of people thought we were from Canada when we first started, because we started over in Vancouver. But we are a Seattle band. Although the way things are right now we might just wanna say we're Canadians anyway.
The perfect Heart show for the sisters is "about two hours, a lot of hard rock, super fun, romantic and semi-religious, like spiritual" (Nancy). Heart tour in Europe ended two days later to England, altogether they toured two weeks in this part of the world, counting Ireland and Scotland also. It has been fun for the band, but home was calling and they had plenty of shows over there.
Nancy - My dog Charlie's not here now, obviously because of quaranteen. But he will be joining us for the rest of the tour when we get to the States. He's a good tour dog, he's our mascot. He's an english springers spaniel. He has a pillow on stage right on my side and he sleeps through the show.
Gilby Clarke (Guns'n'Roses) also played in Heart, but only for a while. "I asked him to come and play with us last summer and he's also a producer and a songwriter with a lot of projects and after the tour we said if you want to work on the album and do some writing, he sort of wasn't up for it. He's really had a lot of his projects going, so that's fine, 'cos we got to meet Craig and we're happy about that. He's (Gilby) involved with some really cool stuff. He jams like once a week in LA with a blues band and he's always doing something in LA. I don't think he really likes going on the road, 'cos he's got his family. He's a great player" (Nancy).
What comes to the question of not getting jaded, Nancy says "boy, that's a really good question. I think sense of humour once again. Comradery. If you don't love what you're doing and love the people that you're doing it with, then don't be doing it. We sort of stick through the idea that we can have what we can, succesfully have a family atmosphere eventhough Ann and I are the leaders obviously, but it matters to us a lot to be able to have a brotherhood and a sisterhood kind of feeling inside of our band".
Ann - The matter of being jaded really comes down to money. If you're making tons of money, you're probably gonna end up a little more jaded than if you just make ends meet. Which means out on the road you're not staying in the most expensive, exquisit suites or flying around on a private jet.
Everyone wanted to know how they keep their voices in shape.
Nancy - Don't smoke anything. And a lot of vitamins, a lot of buffered vitamin C and water and warming up. Just trying to be healthy, I think the whole thing is just being healthy. Try to stay out of trouble as much as possible.
Ann - Singers are pretty people that become fools, because they party too much and lose their voices.
After the interview the band was quickly escorted out. Heart played a fantastic show in Sweden Rock later that day and the audience was also pleased about the two hour show.