October 15th is the day when prog metal veterans Heir Apparent will release their highly anticipated third studio album, ‘The View from Below’. Fans of excellent US metal and acclaimed progressive metal were hungry for this release and what was a dream for decades became real. MHMB contacted Terry Gorle and Will Shaw to get deeper insights about the new album ‘The View from Below’ and the future plans of Heir Apparent.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Are you overwhelmed by the huge amount of positive feedback on ‘The View from Below’? Actually, already the announcement of a new album made fans go bonkers.
Will: It is very overwhelming. It’s an extraordinary thing for a band to take a 30 year hiatus and return with such a well-received piece of work.
Terry: Yes, the feedback has been very encouraging. There was an awareness that fans had high expectations, and it feels great to have done something new that has been so well accepted.
MHMB: The Wacken show in 2000 was seen as a reunion show, but things didn’t proceed as planned, incl. some line-up changes. How did you guys find together again?
Terry: Ray contacted me in early 2011 after talking with Derek, and he asked about the possibility of reforming the original lineup with Paul. In August of 2011 I joined Facebook and saw there was interest, and everything that has followed over time has grown from there.
MHMB: Derek, Ray and yourself, you are the core of Heir Apparent. This line-up played some shows and festivals in the recent past (e.g. Keep It True), but what was the final trigger for you guys to entirely revitalize Heir Apparent, leading even to a new album?
Terry: When we found Will in 2015 and had a few successful shows covering the older material, we became confident that this lineup could produce an album and create its own identity moving forward. The ability for this band to exist depends on having a vocalist that can handle the role, and Will has taken on the challenge to prove himself as a world class singer.
MHMB: How did you approach a new album, 29 years after having released ‘One Small Voice’? How did the songwriting process go? And how easy or difficult was it?
Terry: Songwriting for this album was a totally different process than Ray, Derek, or I was familiar with. We exchanged ideas by sharing files over the Internet, and each of us would work on things to present to each other. Most of the ideas would be guitars placed over midi drum tracks, and we would build from there. In the end, we learned a lot about this process, the need to keep organized with everyone using the same session files, and working with digital. Next time, we should be faster. 😉
MHMB: Looking at the three albums, how would you describe similarities and what are the main differences in your opinion?
Will: I think the most prominent similarity is the subject matter. Issues that span the globe and connect to all the people on earth. The obvious difference is the singers, but aside from that I think there is an undertone of bleakness on this album. We are living in a time where it is easy to feel this about the world itself. We are telling stories that everyone should be able to relate to. I think this is a part of the success of Heir Apparent, both on this album and the ones before it.
Terry: Due to lineup changes and the necessity to feature the strengths of each vocalist, there are very few similarities. The 29 years since the last album is longer than our ages at the time we made ‘One Small Voice’, so we have an additional lifetime of new experiences behind making this new album. There was never any good reason to look backwards and limit ourselves. And we always strive to never copy ourselves, simply to take our ideas and write good songs.
MHMB: Are all the songs based on new ideas or are some of the basic ideas from earlier in time?
Terry: Most of the ideas are new, written within the last 2 years. One song was written in 2003, and two songs have some parts written in the past 25 years. I’m always writing ideas and saving them, but I never wanted to finish anything completely because so much depends on the vocal lines, which can also change the music if the chemistry and inspiration is there. Two of these songs were finished the week Will was in town to record vocals, so we proved to ourselves that we can work under deadlines and be inspired from the experience itself.
MHMB: Without any doubt, the album features excellent songs, of which I would describe the epic ‘The Road to Palestine’ as the masterpiece. Can you tell us a bit more about the song and is it lyrically addressing the current situation of Palestine?
Will: This was the only song we had the luxury of writing in the same room. Myself (Will Shaw) and Terry wrote all of the lyrics and melodies in Terry’s home studio while the vocal sessions were taking place in Seattle. We had both understood what the general message of the song would be about, and started writing independently the night before. When we met up the next day to combine our ideas we realized we had both written the same exact line at the same point in the song… “All roads lead to Palestine”. The song is actually written about a man named Herodotus. He was referred to as “The father of History” with one of his most known works to be “The Histories”. We wrote in some specific references without showing all our cards to the reader as to what the song was specifically about… SPOILER ALERT! 😉
Terry: It really was a great collaboration of ideas, and we proved we could be really productive under the pressure of timelines. I’d had many of the guitar ideas floating around for a long time, and it needed a story line based that fit the musical theme relayed by the Phrygian mode. I’d chosen the name before any lyrics were written. For me, the song is a call for peace and unity. The region of Palestine was named 2500 years ago by Herodotus, and it has seen almost unending conflict as a result of religion and politics. I am very concerned about the current state of conflict and inequity. It seems to me that if mankind is capable of recognizing our future depends on unity, cooperation, and peace, all roads lead to Palestine.
MHMB: ‘Synthetic Lies’ was the first song, unveiled with a lyric video. What was the main reason to choose this song?
Terry: It was the first video I finished, so it was the first video I released. 😉 At that time, I was really eager to get some feedback because I was so proud of what we’d done, but I didn’t want to release what I thought was one of the best four songs. Happily, what I have discovered about this album is that people have different favorite songs… ‘Synthetic Lies’ is our producers’ (Tom Hall) favorite. Almost every album review we have seen so far mentions a different song as the writers’ favorite. This is all great news to us, because it means we have been successful at creating a diverse album that will appeal to many different tastes.
MHMB: The singer is, of course, crucial for Heir Apparent’s music. With Will Shaw, the band has the third singer on the third album. How did you find Will and how did his voice and way of singing influence the songs on ‘The View from Below’?
Terry: Will was referred to me by another vocalist, Mike Gorham. Will has risen to the occasion and worked very hard to establish himself as the vocalist we needed to make a third Heir Apparent album possible.
MHMB: The new album will be released via No Remorse Records, which is a small but very dedicated label. What was the critical factor for you guys to start a collaboration with No Remorse Records?
Terry: All we have ever wanted from a record label was to establish a partnership with mutual respect. We are very happy with No Remorse.
MHMB: ‘The View From Below’ was produced by Tom Hall who also did the debut. Did you want to create a sort of ‘Graceful Inheritance’ vibe for works for the new album?
Terry: Tom Hall also engineered and co-produced One Small Voice. In fact, Tom Hall has engineered every recording of Heir Apparent since the first 1984 demo. We reunited the old band together with Tom again, but we looked forward with the music just as we always have. Tom’s experience with capturing performances from great vocalists (Geoff Tate and Steve Benito) was invaluable on this album.
MHMB: I think that the new album is closer to the debut than to ‘One Small Voice’. It’s a bit heavier and darker than the previous album. Was this planned or did it ‘just’ happen?
Will: It’s cliché say but there was nothing planned about this album. Each member was presenting ideas that built into the songs you hear. We wrote what “felt” natural. We just wrote what we felt were representations of music we wanted to hear and enjoyed making. As a whole I think we all understood that this album was going to be heavy (Of course) but it was not written intentionally that way.
Terry: For me, this album just happened, without any intention to look back at either previous recording. Regarding the heavier and darker, we now live in times that we were warning about 30 years ago… The planet is slowly dying by the hand of man, through ignorance and the greed of those in power. To remain disengaged from this reality endangers us all. I want to remain hopeful, but it’s increasingly difficult with the rate of environmental decline I have witnessed in my lifetime. Mankind has a limited window of time to rise above cultural delusions to unite the best minds to focus on science and technology in an effort to slow the rate of extinctions and establish a sustainable world. The world population has doubled since I was in high school. Mankind will triple that number to 10 billion by 2050. If we do not act quickly to unite, the powerful who implement politics and religion to keep us divided will see society disintegrating into nationalist tribalism as different factions fight for diminishing resources. There is no positive outcome if we do not take action. We must awaken as mankind if we hope to preserve life on this planet. Was that heavy and dark enough? 😉
MHMB: Recently Heir Apparent is announced for the 2019 edition of the Rock Hard Festival in Germany. Are there any additional tour dates planned?
Terry: We are booked for Headbangers’ Open Air in July in Germany, and we hope to make more announcements very soon.
MHMB: Next to grunge a lot of great metal bands call Seattle their home. Next to Heir Apparent also Fifth Angel, Queensryche, Metal Church… started in Seattle. Are you guys in contact with each other? Could be an interesting tour package esp. thinking about Fifth Angel and their new album.
Terry: We had some brief encounters with each other in the 80’s, but we did not play gigs together. There was a feeling of competition more than cooperation. They all had big record deals that placed them at a higher level than us. By the time we had a US record deal, the band dissolved before the album was released. But, we have just become Facebook friends with Fifth Angel, and we’re playing a show with them next year, so all is not lost 😉
MHMB: Fans, including myself, hope that Heir Apparent came back to stay. What are the future plans for Heir Apparent?
Will: We plan on writing and playing more. So long as promoters and fans continue to support the band we will do everything we can to deliver music we feel is authentic and inspired.
Terry: Our opportunities for concerts and continuation depend on the fans who will decide our success, and the success of this album. We have made the investment to be here for you, now it’s your turn to be here for us.
MHMB: Is there anything more you want to share with the fans and the readers of Markus Heavy Music Blog?
Terry: Heartfelt thanks to our dedicated fans for their support. We hope to see you at our shows. We don’t charge for meeting us, we don’t hide backstage… We are in the crowd watching other bands, people, just like you. Come up and introduce yourselves!
MHMB: Thanks a lot for spending some time with Markus heavy Music Blog and I’m already looking forward to seeing you guys at the 2019 Rock Hard Festival.