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Interview with the Uriah Heep band

Odessa, February 28, 2006

Magic Box: How long has your band existed?

Bernie Shaw, Uriah Heep, vocal: We began in 1970, respectively this year – our 36th anniversary.

MB: Do you usually celebrate important dates related to your band?

Bernie: We usually celebrate such events with studio records, recordings of live performances. So it was in the 20th anniversary. And in the 30th. This year, the celebration of the 36th anniversary will be reflected in the world tour.

MB: You are in Ukraine for the third time. I would like to know how you feel about the Ukrainian fans and the quality of the organization of concerts?

Bernie: The current organization is much better than the previous ones. It seems that every time we come back to Ukraine, everything here is getting a little better than it was at the time of our past visits. As for the fans, we are always taken in good part. During every concert of our Ukrainian tour, the halls are filled with people who spend their time wonderfully. Unfortunately, there are always too many guards, which, at times, are taken to pacify the guys, spoiling their mood, while our work is to improve the mood for people. We want people to have a good time. It is unlikely that someone will strongly want to raise a racket. Although sometimes there are one or two hyperactive fans that need to be cooled. While everything went peacefully.

MB: In fact, the safety of musicians is the first responsibility of the organizers!

Bernie: In general, yes, but sometimes they go too far. We do not need 17 security guards. One would be more than enough (laughs).

MB: So you want to shake hands with fans?

Bernie: Of course! This is how we act at the end of the performances!

MB: Coming back to your band, how many years have you been playing with people who will come out today on the stage of the Odessa Sports Palace? And what is the size of the entire staff of Uriah Heep?

Bernie: We have been playing together for 20 years. True, some people worked in Uriah Heep a little less. And our staff is five people playing on stage, and four working behind the stage.

MB: And who is the leader of this legendary band?

Bernie: (pointing to the embarrassed long-haired guy sitting next to me). This is his group, he founded it! Here he is a leader.

Mick Boxing, Guitar: Exactly! That’s why I was placed in the presidential suite! (smiles).

MB: Which guitar do you play?

Mick Boxing: Gibson Les Paul, Black Beauty – the best guitar in the world!

MB: How many concerts does the band give each year?

Mick: Well, the figure changes from year to year. From sixty to two hundred. We give a lot of concerts around the world.

MB: Do you rehearse often?

Mick: Usually, we rehearse before recording a new studio album. We spend about two weeks in the rehearsal studio before recording.

MB: Are all your colleagues at Uriah Heep from England?

Mick: Not really. I’m from London. Bernie is from Canada. Lee (Lee Kersleick, drums) from the Canary Islands, Phil (Phil Lanson, keys) lives in the south of England, and Trevor (Trevor Boulder) is from the Hull area, this is in the north of England.

MB: All the musicians are from different places. How did it happen that you play together?

Mick: Trevor came to us from the audition. Lee – from audition, Bernie – from audition. And Phil … Phil is also from the audition!

MB: And this fateful audition was organized by Mick Box! Do you also write lyrics and music for songs?

Mick: I’m writing with Phil. Trevor now also writes a lot of songs. We hope that everyone will participate in this.

MB: Many Ukrainian musicians sent us letters with questions to Uriah Heep. One of them sounds like this: “With what other famous artists or bands do you communicate?”

Bernie: “Nazareth”, “Jetro tull”, “Scorpions”. Last week we played with Nazareth in St. Petersburg.

MB: So, this tour includes Russian and Ukrainian cities?

Mick: In Russia – only St. Petersburg, in Ukraine – Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kyiv, Kharkov, Kherson, Mykolayiv, Odessa, Zaporozhye.

MB: Let’s go back to England. You in fact there live now?

Mick: Yes, now we have settled in England.

MB: Which studio do you usually use for your records?

Mick: Well, we change the studio every time. It depends on what studio is available at the moment, when you want to record the material.

MB: What kind of record company do you like the most?

Mick: Actually, they’re all the same. I love more studio with analog equipment than with digital. I think they are more in line with our music.

Bernie: It’s also important that you can stay or even live in the studio. It’s better than every evening to get out of the house and back. Much more convenient when you are in the studio for 24 hours, without reducing the working pace.

MB: Do you feel like a star? Stupid question – of course, feel. I wanted to ask – is it easy to be a star?

Mick: You must be a star on stage. However, many continue to behave like stars outside the stage, in ordinary life … It’s very easy to adapt to fame if you do not behave this way. There is nothing terrible when people recognize you on the street, come up, and you stop and talk with them. This is absolutely normal. However, walking around in big black glasses, accompanied by four bodyguards, you create a problem for yourself.

MB: In addition to performances, rehearsals and recording, what else is left for the time?

Mick: I go to the gym on weekends, I also go soccer, but the most important thing is that I have a five-year-old boy – my son!

MB: So, now you are trying to spend as much time as possible with your family?

Mick: It’s been about a month since we were away, because before St. Petersburg and Ukraine we were in India, Indonesia and Thailand. I will meet my wife and child when I finally get home after the tour. In general, in life a person needs a foundation. For me, the foundation is the family.

MB: Have you heard anything about Ukrainian rock musicians?

Mick: Unfortunately, no. We have never met them, probably because they have not yet appeared on the international level.

MB: Could you advise the Ukrainian teams that are planning to reach your level and become as popular as Uriah Heep?

Mick: You have to work hard on what you are playing. However, I believe that the most important element is FAITH. If you believe in yourself, then everything will turn out.

Bernie: Faith, dedication, lots of practice and lots of luck!

MB: What do you expect from today’s concert?

Mick: We hope everyone will return home with big smiles on their faces.

 

Mathew Smith talked with the band.

 

 

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