MICK BOX On URIAH HEEP's 50th-Anniversary Celebration: 'Looking Back Sometimes Can Be A Real Millstone Around Your Neck'

MICK BOX On URIAH HEEP's 50th-Anniversary Celebration: 'Looking Back Sometimes Can Be A Real Millstone Around Your Neck'

Rock Bottom's Jörg Reiche conducted an interview with guitarist Mick Box and drummer Russell Gilbrook of British rock veterans URIAH HEEP prior to their November 12 concert at Docks in Hamburg, Germany. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the reception to the material from their new studio album, "Living The Dream":

Mick: "First and foremost, once the album was released, it was accepted by the media and the fans alike as being a great album. That was all good. Now we've put some of the songs into our live show. They're sitting beside the classics very nicely. People are giving the same reaction as they do to the new songs as they do the classics."

On whether "Living The Dream" refers to URIAH HEEP being "rock legends":

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Mick: "I think it partly does, yeah. It's a title I had for a long while. Going through my lyric book, I thought it would be a very strong title for the band. We've been doing this for 48 years, so we are, in fact, living the dream. Playing in a rock band and traveling the world like we do, you can only be living the dream."

On balancing tradition with modern elements while recording an album:

Mick: "I think we decided on a producer, Jay Ruston, for a number of reasons. One of them is that the other bands we heard he produced, like THE WINERY DOGS and STONE SOUR and ANTHRAX and all those bands, basically, what he did with those bands, he made them sound really fresh, but kept their identity. That was very important for URIAH HEEP — to keep our identity, but have a fresh sound. He brought all the separation to the instruments that we were looking for. That harnessed that. The art of it is to get the separation of each instrument but also so that it jells as one. It's the jelling process, and he does it very, very well. I agree with you: he kept the heritage of the band and he made it really fresh."

On whether the current incarnation of URIAH HEEP is his favorite:

Mick: "I don't know if you could ever say favorites and bests. It's just where we are right now. We're in a band that's firing on all five cylinders, that is very creative, very forward-thinking and is enjoying playing with the band onstage and in the studio. It can't get any better than that."

On whether URIAH HEEP has anything planned for their 50th anniversary in 2020:

Mick: "To be honest, because we're so immersed in promotion for the album and it's so new at the moment, we haven't given it a lot of thought. Of course, getting to the 50th anniversary is a special moment. Along the way, we'll think, 'What about this? What about that? What about that?' We'll phone our management and they'll say, 'Yes, we can do that. We can't do that.' And, then something will happen along the line. Not many bands make 50 years. Not many bands make 50 years and are still forward-thinking and are still writing new songs and that's the important things."

On whether URIAH HEEP would bring up former members for their hypothetical 50th anniversary events:

Mick: "Haven't given it a thought, mate. As we've achieved what we've achieved with this lineup over the period that we've been together, we feel that looking back sometimes can be a real millstone around your neck. It's something we're not keen to keep looking back all the time. Of course, we're very proud of the songs, but looking back and doing this and doing that, it just doesn't appeal to us anymore. We're still moving forward. If we just went out and played just the old songs and didn't really have the passion we have now and just played them and made it a job, then we'd maybe we'd look at those other ideas. We're too forward-thinking."

On the makeup of URIAH HEEP's current fanbase:

Mick: "We pick up fans all the time. We have lots of young fans. We've got the fans that have stayed with us. We've got fans that have grown with us. We've got fans that left us, got married, had kids, then the kids left home, and now they come to concerts again. So there's many different ways. For us, for URIAH HEEP, we're tapping into a very young audience at times, and that's where we're most happiest."

On why Box doesn't get mentioned as a guitar hero:

Mick: "It's not anything that worries me at all. I've always been my own competition. I don't worry about what other people do, so I'm quite comfortable with that. I think it's a good way of looking at it. How people perceive you is how people perceive you. You can't make them perceive you any differently. You hope that you get through to a lot of people and you connect with people. I've got many stories of people shaking my hand and thanking me and saying, 'I saw you play in 1972 and your concert made me want to play guitar and start my own band.' There's many rewards along the way."

"Living The Dream" was released on September 14 via Frontiers Music Srl.

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