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Mick Box (Uriah Heep)

Interview with Mick Box from Uriah Heep
by Yiannis Zervos at 24 December 2008, 7:35 AM

When you are about to meet a living Rock legend, you can be a little bit nervous because you do not know what to expect. But when you actually meet someone like Mick Box you feel like talking to an old friend; he is by far the friendliest rock star. Mick formed URIAH HEEP 40 years ago and committed his life to this band. It is a big honor for METAL TEMPLE to talk with Mr. Box after a troubled sound check for an unplugged session in Athens.

Hello Mick, first of all it's an honor speaking with you. You are almost 40 years in the music business.

Yes we begin at 1969, but we changed the name to URIAH HEEP at 1970.

So, we can wait two more years for an 40th Anniversary.

Yeah, two more years!

Wake The Sleeper is your new album and it's the first in 10 years! Why did you wait so long to put a new record out?

Cause the record companies are complete shit! The industry is such a mess. With the internet and free downloads record companies when out of business, disappearing…the whole industry is in a free fall right now, nobody knows what's gonna come next. So we couldn't find a home to record with the industry in that sort of state, so we do what we do best went on tours and release some DVDs, just to keep it alive, you know! Generally the industry didn't have the place for us. And then eventually our old record company said they wanted to make a record with as, and we said that's brilliant, we'll do one and then we did that, they put a release date out, and then we waited a whole year for Universal to release the record. Just saying that to show you how fragile those things are, the industry is a complete mess.

Do you have any information on the record sales so far?

It's very hard to get sales right now. You got downloads, you got Amazon so many things, but it's too early for as to find out.  

What about the vibe you are getting from the fans?

The reaction it's been fantastic from media and fans is the best we could wish for, whether that translates to sales and downloads I have no idea!

You have the love of the people!

It's more important than anything to have that reaction.

You experienced the ups and downs of the music industry. When do you think was the best time to make music?

The best time was in the 70's because the record industry was in growth and they supported the artists, when you signed a record deal you signed for 7 albums. You grew with the label the label grew with you, now days you may get a single deal; there is no room for creativity within the industry. It's very fast, it's very disposable, it's one button to get it in you iPod and off you go. We spend thousand of pounds in the studio to get the most optimum sound we can and the MP3 shrinks our final result!

You are so committed to URIAH HEEP. You haven't made a solo effort or something in these years!

Well I formed the band so it's my single swim. To do a solo album it means you have to divert your attention away from the band and I wasn't ready to do that! The band always needed my attention.

This is very rare!

It's very rare, but I like to think myself as a rear person you know (laughs).

When did you start to play guitar and listen to music, what was your influences?

Well I was into Jazz.

If you liked Jazz you should try a Fender guitar first.

No. Always Gibson, they give my own signature

What do you like in Gibson guitars?

I think they have more body and they suit the music I like playing. Strat would be to think and I wouldn't have the resonance on it. While the Gibson is  oh man…!!!(laughs)

Technique based who is your favorite guitar player?

My favorite all time guitarist would be Jeff Beck.

He is fantastic, and an amazing musician.

I could listen to Steve Vai, Satriani blah blah, but Jeff Beck still gives me the goose bumps.

But, he is a Fender guy…

Yeah I like Gibson but he is a Fender guy.

From the bands that URIAH HEEP influenced, did you get the recognition you should?

Yeah, it's great that we've had that effect and influence on bands like IRON MAIDEN, KING DIAMOND or WASP and these people. It's good to inspire people to make more music!

What are your plans for tonight in this unplugged session?

It's an one time show, they asked to do an 1 hour acoustic show, because we are out on tour right now  doing electric shows promoting  Wake The  Sleeper.

Is it strange to play with acoustic instruments?

It is strange because we are not playing with our own equipment, but in the end with the people and the emotion we're gonna get it through!

The internet is becoming very popular in our lives. Are you surfing the internet, or checking your e-mails?

I have a webmaster back in the States that does that, I do not have the time.

What is your opinion about free downloading?

It's tough when it's free downloads because you are taking away from someone's living. It's OK for someone like us 'cause we're established, we can go around the world and play live, but most bands can't. So it's tough for them right now! The only way to make a living right now is to publish records and to do live stuff. It's not the ideal situation but I can see why it happened.

When do you think URIAH HEEP had the best line up?

I think during the seventies with Box, Byron, Thain, Kerslake and Hensley. It was a good feeling back then a good chemistry, it's very much like this line up right now, but the world is different place, you can't always have the same success.

Have you ever felt like singing? To take on the mic, like Gary Moore or something!

No, I think Bernie has a great voice. Probably I set my standards to high to start singing. But I do all the high part harmonies, but I don't need it, I don't have that sort of ego. (laughs)

Do you think that singers put their ego before music?

Singers have to have an ego to get up there and do it, because they have nothing in front of them, except the microphone, we got guitars to relay on. You have to get an ego to get up on stage in the first place. But the most important thing is to leave it on stage. When you come back to meet every one you are no better - no worse, you are a part of everyone else, but when you are on stage you are becoming special, it's made that way.

Are you leaving tomorrow morning?

Yeah 6 o'clock! I just got to get back to London to my boy because I just found out he's got a really bad temperature,  he is seven and it's nice to spent this weekend to get him fit and ready.

I hope all the best. It's hard to be rock star and a father?.

Yes it is.

Do you like football?

Yeah, I support the Spurs, Tottenham Hotspur. They are not doing very well this season, a lots of problems, but it's my team and I support it for life!

Your rivals are Arsenal? or Chelsea?

Yes, all the London teams. Get rid of them. (laughs)

We love football in Greece!

You love your sport, you love your music. We all have the same passion. That is what life is all about, you got no passion in life - you got no life!

Football and music are very similar in my head.

Yeah, escapees of the mind, you work 6 days a week you have a horrible job just to pay the bills, but you go out watch a concert or a football much and just enjoy your self!

And the way you put together a football team it's like putting together a band.

Of course it is, you got to have chemistry, and you can't have eleven stars. With 11 stars you got a bad team, you need a solid defense or people like me that do not do so much, but when you're need them they are there! You need that chemistry to make everything work!

Mr. Box thank you very much for your time!

Thank you my friend, I am gonna go eat my saganaki \[fried Greek cheese] now! (laughs)


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