URIAH HEEP guitarist Mick Box recently spoke with Jackson Heaton of the Atlanta radio station Rock 100.5. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On touring with JUDAS PRIEST:
Mick: "We can't wait. I think when you look at it, PRIEST released 'Firepower', which people are saying is one of the best albums of their catalog, and we released 'Living The Dream', which people are saying is one of the best of our catalog. You've got two bands on the top of their game, which is fantastic. Then on top of that, you've got nearly 100 years of metal, of rock on one stage every night. It's going to be immense."
On "Living The Dream":
Mick: "The scoop of getting Jay Ruston, our producer, involved was that he kept everything that URIAH HEEP is known and loved for, and just give it a freshen up, if you like — a 'bring it forward to today' sort of thing. He's done that very, very well, without losing any of the heritage. I think a lot of that is down to the fact that we recorded it in the one room – all of us all in the one room playing together... It was done very quickly. We did the whole thing in 19 days, which was amazing... We've still got a passion for our music that we've always had. With URIAH HEEP, we always let everything happen naturally. We don't try and force it. We don't sit around and say, 'We should have a direction like this. We should have a song like this.' We just write... and very soon, once you put a five-part harmony, wah-wah guitar and Hammond organ, it becomes URIAH HEEP. It becomes a very natural thing for us to do."
On keyboards not being used as prominently in modern hard rock music:
Mick: "I think a lot of keyboard players went simply and moved away from the Hammond organ. They didn't realize what the Hammond organ has to offer. It's the most versatile instrument I know of, other than the guitar. It can be gentle; it can be churchy; it can be aggressive. It can be everywhere you want to take your music, and fit in there perfectly. It was the ideal foil to my guitar."
On the musical scene when the band was starting out in the late 1960s:
Mick: "It was just an amazing time. It was buzzing like you wouldn't believe. It was kind of rebellious, to be honest, because we were coming out of that '60s thing where everyone were wearing suits and singing sweet harmonies and even doing dance moves to the music. It was all choreographed, and then we came out, and it was the long hair, Marshall stacks as high as your own skyline, bellbottoms and platform shoes – everything louder, bigger and better. The good thing about that, it did create some wonderful music that stood the test of time that still, 50 years later, people love to hear... It created this whole classic rock thing that we didn't realize we were writing the book at the time. We were just immersed in the middle of it, right in the bubble of the eye of the storm doing our best."
On the advice he'd offer up-and-coming groups:
Mick: "I think bands today have just got to embrace what's there and find their niche in it. Quality will always come through with originality... Back in the '70s, I didn't play like Ritchie Blackmore. Ritchie didn't play like Tony Iommi. Tony didn't play like Martin Barre in JETHRO TULL. Martin didn't play like [Paul] Kossoff in FREE. All the bass players were different; all the keyboard players were different; all the drummers were different; all the vocalists were different. It's the sum of the parts that gave each band its own individual sound. Nowadays, you can't tell one from the other, to be honest. Guitarists go into the music school through the front door and they come out two years later playing incredible guitar, but sounding just like everyone else. In that two-year process, nobody paid attention to any individuality, so they all come out as clones of each other. If you put Ritchie Blackmore in URIAH HEEP, it would never work. If you put Mick Box in DEEP PURPLE, it would never work. If you put Tony Iommi with JETHRO TULL, it really won't work that well. Nowadays, you can put any musician in anywhere and they fit in in seconds, because they're all doing the same thing."
URIAH HEEP released their 25th studio album, "Living The Dream", on September 14 via Frontiers Music Srl. The band's ongoing North American tour with JUDAS PRIEST wraps up June 29 in Las Vegas, Nevada.