One day I picked Heir Apparent'S Graceful Inheritance to listen to and so looked at the web, if there is any page. I found the official homepage and thought that it would be interesting to do an interview with the band after all those years. I contacted them through the site and Terry replied immediately that it would be a pleasure for him. So I started preparing this emailer and in the meantime I heard that Heir Apparent been signed for Wacken...
How you came up with the idea for the reunion?
Actually, a fan from Italy, Paolo Vermillino, located Derek, Ray and me. He called several times on the phone. His conversations resulted in Ray and Derek contacting me, we hadn't spoken for 11 years. I had already been invited to play Wacken, and I was prepared to form the band with other musicians. But, after speaking with Derek and Ray, I decided the fans deserved to see as many original members as possible. They have apologized, we have reconciled, and I'm very happy to put those years of pain behind me.
Have there been letters / emails from fans who demand a reunion? Did fans wrote through all those years?
I had been totally out of the music business, and out of contact, since 1989. I just bought my first computer last year in April. I answered a message board inquiry about Heir Apparent tapes last spring, and everything happened from there. For several months last year, fans were asking for a reunion and new album. In September, I signed with Hellion Records for the reissues. In November, Ray and Derek made contact. I was totally removed from any band business after my betrayal and expulsion back in March, 1989. I was never asked to tell the truth about what happened, none of the magazine editors or writers contacted me for an explanation. It was a very difficult 10 years of silence. I never imagined this could happen, I'm very excited about everything now!
What happened in the past years? Is it right that you decided not to tour anymore after you got married? And that this decision was the beginning of the end of Heir Apparent?
Totally false. My wife has supported the band since before it existed. I was deceptively expelled from the band by the other members who wanted to escape the debts that were all in my name. I was betrayed for greed, by the others, and an ex-girlfriend who wanted to manage the band. She was upset that I married someone else. She controlled the lawyers in Los Angeles who influenced Metal Blade into the deception. My relationship with Steve Benito was very difficult also. He is a talented singer, but a very arrogant person. He would not listen to any form of constructive critic to improve his stage presence, or his choice of overindulgent harmonies. They refused to acknowledge our responsibilities to my friends and family that loaned us money for demos and the group's survival. They never appreciated the importance of taking care of the people who created the band with their financial support. They were as malicious as they could be.
When you look back, do you think it was a good decision to sign with the French label Black Dragon in the beginning?
In the beginning, we were very happy and excited. Then, they lied to us. Black Dragon never let us see the album until after it was released. They used different art and logos. They still have the mater tapes that belong to me, they were supposed to return them to me after the album was mastered. Black Dragon never paid us, we played the tour without a contract. They manipulated situations while we were on tour that started the separation of the band members. After the tour in 1986, I got married, and Derek quit to join Savage Grace. Due to their several breaches, we terminated the record contract in September of 1986. They ignored that, and in October 1986, released Graceful Inheritance on CD. A few years later, they allowed the CD's to be produced in England, and recently Metal Hammer used Graceful Inheritance as a promo CD throughout Greece. Totally illegal, totally without consent or compensation to us. I wrote 90% of that album, I own all the publishing, yet I've never seen a dime from that record. Someone made money, but it was not Heir Apparent.
Graceful Inheritance is an album which has a cult status (music, words & artwork are just great!). Was it hard to write the follow-up?
Well, One Small Voice ended up so completely different in style that I don't think of it as a follow-up. I added a keyboardist, a new vocalist, and I took a lesser role as songwriter. There was jealousy that I was getting so much attention from writing most of Graceful Inheritance, so I let the others have more influence in the music. I was trying to be nice, I assumed the others would understand the style that made us successful in Europe, and continue in that direction. But, it didn't work that way. Several of our best songs were not used on One Small Voice simply because I wrote them. And the more aggressive songs I did write, Young Forever and Crossing The Border, I received no credit on the album. I wrote about 40% of One Small Voice, they gave me partial credits for two songs. And they mixed the guitar very low in the tracks, they didn't want my playing to be important to the sound. In the end, they hurt themselves by releasing a weak album. That's why I'm excited to finally remix OSV and release it they way it should have sounded from the beginning.
Do you have any special stories, funny ones perhaps, you remember from the tour with Savage Grace in Europe in 1986?
The tour was an amazing mix of emotions. I was very happy to be there, the fans were fantastic. We had a lot of fun. But, there were also difficult times when we realized that our relationship with Black Dragon was deteriorating. I have many special memories, but most are personal. I didn't want the tour to end. We were just starting to get our live show personality when it was ending. You see, we only played about 5 small concerts around Seattle before coming to Europe. We had never seen stage diving before, it was amazing! I've only been on stage twice since 1988, I have a lot of things I want to do this summer! For a few weeks, I will be 25 again!
Why don't you work with the original singer Paul?
I tried to contact him, I couldn't find him. Paul was my first choice, but Ray and Derek knew Michael Flatters, and suggested him for the job. Michael has a great voice, and I'm looking forward to writing and performing with him. He has great stage presence, and a voice similar to Dio.
Why you choose Steve Benito as a singer for One Small Voice?
Paul quit the band in May of 1987, he had a secret cocaine habit, and lost his voice. We had a special concert arranged for the 4th of July Holiday, with video and live album recordings, Steve was a quick replacement. As I said before, Steve had a great voice, but if I would have known his personality, he never would have been in the band. By the time he showed his true nature, it was too late for me to replace him. I tried to impress upon him the importance of modesty, and an appreciation for the foundation of the band he joined, but he didn't care to change. As the concert turned out, Steve forgot too many lyrics to use the recordings for an album or video release. I spent a lot of money for that mistake. That is why we learned 3 songs from Steve's old band, French Kiss, we needed to play songs that he would remember the words to. Those 3 songs helped us add 15 minutes to our set, even though they didn't fit the style of earlier Heir Apparent. (The French Kiss songs: Screaming, Alone Again, and Two Hearts)
How is it working with the old mates?
I feel great to have the chance to put the painful past behind, and give the fans another show. I always had a good relationship with Ray and Derek, that's why it was so difficult to understand why they would do what they did. It was extremely hard to even imagine speaking to them, but I am trying to forgive and forget.
Do you stayed in touch with each other during all those years?
As you know by this time, no. I never thought I'd see them, or want to talk to them, again.
Have you already signed with a label?
I have an agreement with Hellion for the reissue of Graceful Inheritance, and the TRIAD CD. I have an agreement with Metal Blade for the reissue of a remixed One Small Voice. We will discuss the next album with all interested parties.
Can we expect a new album soon? How will it sound?
I'm writing a new album now. It should be completed by the end of the year. I envision an album that displays the intensity and emotion that I've always strived for in playing music. This will be my statement of what Heir Apparent was supposed to be from the beginning.
Why you decide to re-release Graceful Inheritance with 1 (?) bonus track? Why you choose that one?
Graceful Inheritance has 2 bonus tracks. I wanted to include everything we had recorded with Paul Davidson's voice. I have live recordings of Paul doing Questions, but they are not close enough in audio quality to match the rest of the album. We, The People and Tomorrow Night were the last songs Paul sang before leaving the band.
Same question about One Small Voice!
One Small Voice will contain 2 bonus tracks, The Haunting and Two Hearts. They were originally recorded for the album, but unused. The album will also include photos of ALL 5 band members, they cut me out of the photo on the original release, as if I were never in the band at all.
How you came up with the idea to release the demos and live stuff? Unfortunately I haven't heard this yet.
TRIAD was released to give the fans a glimpse of what we sounded like live, without all the extra vocals and keyboard overdubs that buried the songs on One Small Voice. TRIAD includes 5 songs previously unreleased. Listening to TRIAD as compared to One Small Voice, you will understand why I was disillusioned with the direction of the 2nd record. TRIAD was never meant for release, but it's a good example of us at a typical day of rehearsal during the writing of the One Small Voice album.
What do you expect from playing at Wacken open-air?
A dream come true! I will be overwhelmed.
Do you think about asking the fans at the web what songs they want to hear live?
Never thought about it, really. I know from the mail that they want to hear the "classic" Heir Apparent, I guess that means the Graceful Inheritance era. We'll play an hour of the best songs we have, and that will include something new
Do you think the media reactions helped you in the past? Or do you think Heir Apparent could have made it, if they would had more support by maga&zines, etc.?
I was very happy with the response we received from the 1st album. Rock Hard magazine created our success with their early demo reviews in 1984, everything grew from that. Metal Hammer was very instrumental in our 1986 tour. I have no idea what the media response to One Small Voice was, I never saw a review. We exist today because of the last year of internet. The media attention I'm getting now would have been impossible in 1986.
Do you think the media will see your reunion positively? Through the amount of reunions many are tired of it! What about the fans? Any reactions yet?
We only reunited because of the fans. We have never made any money. There is no guarantee we ever will, even now. I'm not trying to play "rock star", I never have. I want to give the fans what may end up being my final "THANK YOU!". For Heir Apparent to exist beyond this summer will be up to you. We all have independent lives and families to return to. I did not plan this. We're changing our lives in order to make this happen for you. Paolo Vermillino was the fan from Italy who got us together, he is 19! He was 6 when we played Europe in 1986! I am so honored to be remembered, so honored to be asked to play Wacken. After all the broken dreams I've lived through, I might cry with joy as I walk onto that stage.
What do you think is the reason why other bands of this genre made it (more or less) in the 80's and not Heir Apparent?
We never had big money behind us. We never had professional management. I made Heir Apparent everything that I could, with the help of my friends and family. We had bad luck. My friends and family were betrayed as much as I when the others took control. This business is controlled by companies who care about money, not music. If you are fortunate enough to write good music and have big money behind you, there's a chance you will sell enough albums to pay them back and end up with some in your pocket. We never had that chance. The companies we worked with cheated us, and honesty in this business is EXTREMELY RARE! .
Do you know that there is a numbered DCD with live tracks from the shows in 1986? (Other bands at this Out Of Darkness DCD are Warlord, Culprit and Crimson Glory.)
I've heard rumors of it, but I've never seen it. I have never made a dime from my music, but some lowlife asshole can sell a shitty recording to a desperate fan for $20. He makes money on my music, I get fucked again. Tape trading is fine, it's promotion. Bootlegging for profit is absolutely fucked! That's also why TRIAD was released, the fucking bootleggers were raping fans for $20 to buy a shitty CD-R of that material. What also pisses me off is that I was Culprit's live soundman, the tapes that are bootlegged are probably from tapes that I sent to a magazine writer I thought was a friend I could trust with a nice rarity. Then, he fucks Culprit and ME by bootlegging it! Culprit never made any money from their music either. FUCKING BOOTLEGGER LEECHES!!! I've got one-of-a-kind tapes and videos of many things, I don't dare share them with anyone for fear they will be bootlegged and I will never see a dime from my work.
What do you think about bootlegs in general? What about MP3?
Bootlegging Led Zeppelin doesn't hurt them, they're rich. Bootlegging any band that can't make a living is KILLING THE BAND!!! MP3 can't compare to a real CD, it's a necessary evil for pro;motion. I provide MP3's at the website, but they aren't CD quality. As I said earlier, a limited free exchange is fine. When thieves are making a profit, or giving everything away so a band can't survive, that's FUCKED!
Are their any plans for the future?
We're waiting for the final arrangements for a European tour to branch off of Wacken. We hope to release a new CD by early 2001. But, everything depends on YOU, the fans. Living as a professional musician, instead of a tile layer, would be a dream come true.
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, but perhaps it's because I remember that days in 1986 and always loved the band. It's good to know that I'll have the chance to see them at Wacken after all this years.... I'm looking forward to see them and I wish them all the best and that they will return to the stages of Europe again!!!!