The general public often wonders why bands with so much potential dissolve before they reach the apex of their creativity. Reading this interview with the Seattle Metal act HEIR APPARENT and guitarist Terry Gorle should provide a blueprint for what can happen when record labels and musicians struggle to maintain focus between what they desire to play in their hearts versus the egos that clash to stifle that creativity. It was an honor and pleasure to let Terry ramble for over 3 hours and so you will read a majority of his take on the rise and fall of a cult 1980's classic American Metal band...
Can you start from your personal music journey - what beginning events started you to play the guitar and then form your first band?
"I heard my first LED ZEPPELIN album when I was younger, specifically LED ZEPPELIN 4 with 'Stairway To Heaven'. I met a guy who knew how to play the first 8 chords and he showed me how to play this on acoustic guitar and this got me going in junior high. Then we had dances at my school where bands would play and while everyone else would dance I just sat there and stared at the guitar players. That's how I got into it- I worked with my dad one summer during school break and took $50 to buy a cheap electric guitar and $80 for a Sears Silvertone amp and I started plugging away. I started when I was 14. My first band was a year later, just some guys from school. We'd thrash out a bunch of ZEPPELIN, HENDRIX and ALICE COOPER tunes, we're talking 1975-1976. I played cover tunes until 1980-1981 exclusively, and that's when I met Derek (Peace-bass) and we started playing together in some different bands. I started writing some original stuff but it was still very primitive, because we were all self-taught. The serious push at original stuff started in 1983, when IRON MAIDEN was the hottest band on the planet, and "The Number Of The Beast" was all over the radio. Geoff Tate was playing in MYTH at the time and I'd heard he was looking for some new bands to do some things with, as he'd already recorded with THE MOB which later became QUEENSRYCHE. But he was still with MYTH because nobody was interested in THE MOB stuff, so I went over and talked to him about doing something. He was basically copying Bruce Dickinson note for note off "The Number Of The Beast" album and I was pretty impressed with that so I went out and bought that album and I learned it in 2 hours. All of a sudden all the stuff that was big in the concert halls was within my grasp as far as being able to play, so I took it from there."
I understand there's some early connections between two of the beginning members of HEIR APPARENT and Geoff Tate (bands previous to QUEENSRYCHE). Can you fill us in on the details?
"I believe Cory Rivers who was our first singer before we were called HEIR APPARENT, it was Cory,Dave,myself and Jim Kovach on drums. Corey used to play guitar in a band with Geoff Tate that Dave also played in called BABYLON. By that time I got ahold of Cory he was singing in a band with Derek called HELMES DEEP, so I grabbed both those guys and we started on stuff for the first HEIR APPARENT album, which was written in a 3 month period of time. They played with Geoff and I ran sound for MYTH over at the roller rink where all the guys got together and played Heavy Metal cover tunes on Saturday nights. Everyone knew everybody and we all got into the same bands at the same time- MAIDEN, DIO, RAINBOW, SABBATH- so everyone was into music and started rubbing elbows with each other. Down the road there were other connections to QUEENSRYCHE- using some of their same background people, also we had interest from their management as Diane Harris wanted to take us on as a second project. They wanted me to do a solo guitar thing but I didn't feel up to it. I took a year to pull a band together and by then QUEENSRYCHE gained interest from EMI through close friends of Diane. They got so busy so they let us go- we almost had a chance to get real management but it fell through."
How did HEIR APPARENT come together- please include the dates and the cover tunes that the band worked on while trying to create your own material?
"It was strictly original- I started writing material in 1983 and I had a drummer Jim Kovach who I'd played with in bands off and on since 1979, so we auditioned bass players. I'd known Paul (Davidson-vocals) from running sound for his band when he was in high school back in 1980- we'd been in a band doing cover tunes back then called RENEGADE in 1980 as well. I didn't see him again until 1983 where he was living in a rehearsal studio and I was living in a five bedroom house. I gathered guys and told them to live at the house, we'd rehearse there and I'd feed them while playing music all day. It started in 1983 and we called ourselves SAPIEN for the first six months. Derek settled in to be the bass player around October of 1983. So it was Jim, Derek and I and Derek talked Cory into quitting the band that I'd stolen Derek from to join us. By February of 1984 Cory quit because he had a wife and kids- he had career aspirations outside of music. His brother coincidently was QUEENSRYCHE's soundman for many years, and co-produced our first record. Everyone's tied together and it's a tangled web- we always caught flack because people thought we wanted to be QUEENSRYCHE. Well, if the same bunch of guys are all being influenced by the same bands and they rub elbows together, it will sound similar. QUEENSRYCHE just happened to get the big money push and they were the first band to break through. People didn't know we learned everything at the same time."
How were Cory's vocals compared to Paul's?
"Cory had a very assertive, aggressive voice. He was good at doing the forceful stuff, he couldn't do ballad type things. He was balls to the wall or nothing. Pretty good powerful voice- he was the most schooled musician I've ever known as far as theory and that helped me on song structures, modulations, etc. I look back on those days with a lot of fondness because it was a very productive time."
After Cory left you found Paul quickly...
"I knew he had a good voice- he was very good at copying SCORPIONS and Rob Halford's vocals. He could do that all day long- so we started developing his original voice so that he could set himself apart a little bit. Paul had the ability to do the soft stuff as well- he had more experience at being a singer. It worked out well as long as his throat held out- that's why he ended up having to leave the band."
What was the scene like in those days- Metal seemed to thrive between QUEENSRYCHE, METAL CHURCH, SANCTUARY and FIFTH ANGEL among others?
"Actually there was a band called CULPRIT who really got everything off the ground here. In 1980/1981 they were the 2nd or 3rd record that Mike Varney ever put out. He put out the US Metal series. I ran sound for CULPRIT as well- they were the first metal band to put Seattle on the map, they had a good underground following but were another example of a band that didn't have any management behind them to really focus their direction. CULPRIT was a steady concern for 2-3 years- then they hit a wall because they couldn't find management. They were the first band to get everyone fired up, they came out with an album on vinyl. I have some live soundboards from CULPRIT concerts that I may someday slap down on CD. I think the material sounds better than the album that came out. When QUEENSRYCHE came out, THE MOB had never played out- they had a big media push behind them but didn't play their first gig until they opened for ZEBRA or DIO. They had good airplay for the ep, plus they had signed the EMI deal. Tate did the project on the side while he was still playing with MYTH- who also never played out that much. As far as SANCTUARY, METAL CHURCH and those bands, that was 1985-1987 and we played quite a bit together. There wasn't much of a scene in Seattle as far as established places to go to so if you wanted to play a show you had to put out $400-$500, rent a hall, hire a soundman and a lightman, spend $100 on flyers and post flyers around high schools and telephone poles a month before the show. There was no organized club scene- it was all a do it yourself thing and that's what we did. We'd all pitch in to set up a 2-4 band show, share in the expenses and try to make our money back. The musicians created the scene because we had no alternative."
Please provide details on your first studio demo- the studio you used, songs that were recorded, how the process went and what were the final results?
"That was recorded at Triad Studios, Tom Hall engineered it and he was the same guy who did QUEENSRYCHE's ep. We got set up with him at that studio primarily because all the way up to 2 days before the recording Kim Harris was our manager. We were originally going to do a whole album and then we had to come up with the money to cover the 2 week studio time of $5,000. Kim Harris was originally going to spend $20,000 on us, because that's what he spent on QUEENSRYCHE. With no time left my parents gave us $3,000 and we cut the scale of the project way back to do a 5 song demo. It was recorded in a few days during July of 1984. We did 'Keeper Of The Reign', 'The Servant', 'Tear Down The Walls', 'The Cloak' and 'Nightmare' I think. There was no radio support, Heavy Metal was still underground so local bands didn't have a chance other than Thursday nights at midnight where there would be a Heavy Metal hour. Two Hard Rock stations in Seattle would occasionally have us in, play a couple of songs and interview us so we got a little radio play there. I sent some tapes to Europe and that's when we got our first feedback from fanzines/magazines. That's what piqued Black Dragon's interest to get in touch with us."
You had a song "Tear Down The Walls" appear on an Enigma Records compilation called "Pacific Metal Project". Was this a demo recording and how did you get the opportunity to appear on this?
"Yes- that was the '84 demo version of 'Tear Down The Walls'. Jeff Gilbert was the guy who put the compilation together, and he had worked on a Northwest Metalfest with a guy who ran a record store in West Seattle. Kim Harris also ran a record store in Bellevue, and he put out the QUEENSRYCHE ep so the other record store caught on to the idea and decided to put out something. Jeff took off on his own to pull together the "Pacific Metal Project" comp. album. We had already gotten serious about recording an album before that came out- as some time had gone by since the '84 demo. We borrowed another $5,000 to go back into the studio and do better versions of everything 6-8 months down the road. We'd already recorded the "Graceful Inheritance" version of "Tear Down The Walls" but we didn't want to give them the album track so we gave them the demo version. We recorded 1/2 the "Graceful Inheritance" album before he approached us to appear on this compilation. We sent some advance tapes of the new recordings to Europe and that's where Black Dragon advanced us another $5,000 to finish the record. They paid us $5,000 for that record- we covered the 1st $5,000, and they covered the rest."
You gained a record deal with Black Dragon from France in 1985, who put out your debut album "Graceful Inheritance" in 1986. What attracted you to them and were there other deals on the table?
"No, there wasn't any other interest but Black Dragon. We got the impression from sending out the tapes that there was a much bigger demand/interest in Metal from Europe than America at that time. METALLICA had a thing in San Francisco, but American kids weren't listening to American bands in the underground. Local people didn't care about us, but the British people were interested, the German people were interested- basically all of Europe. They were excited about the music because it's foreign and unique. We got interest and after sending out a few tapes I rented out a post office box and started getting mail. I never knew there was such a big Metal underground with all the fans, magazines and fanzines- it was fun to have the feedback plus have people appreciate what we were doing. We'd play shows locally and play in front of a handful of family/friends and 20-30 musician friends who wanted to be impressed. We played shows to gain experience- but US labels didn't care. We got the feedback from Black Dragon- we told them we needed $5,000 to complete the album and they said ok. We had to start somewhere and they were responsive."
According to a previous interview with one of the label heads (Agnes Desgranges), the band didn't like the artwork of the usual cover artist Eric Larnoy and you used a different artist. What happened in this case?
"What happened was one of our earlier drummers Matt Bazemore was an artist- he played drums with Geoff Tate in BABYLON and he designed "The Warning" album art for QUEENSRYCHE. I comissioned him to design a logo and do album artwork for us- kind of the crowning of a future heir apparent theme. You would have the old king passing the crown down to the new prince- we had him paint up a few themes. The medieval theme was very happening back then- so the imagery of a guy holding a knife behind his back to get the king and his crown was what we wanted. I got some good advice from a lawyer about trademarking and tradenaming so I did all that during 1984-1985. I got $2,000 in debt sewing up the business ends with licenses and copyrights. I wanted the other members to commit themselves to a partnership agreement for the band- they wanted all the benefits without putting in any finances to it. They had no cover art in mind- but I did the photo sessions where I wanted a strong image for the band. Something with more class than what we ended up with- the scene in Europe was so different to America back then. I sent them our registered, trademark logo which we should have used on the album- because it only makes sense to use what you've paid for. I'd done all the groundwork- here's the artwork, logo, everything- and we are supposed to have approval on what's done to represent HEIR APPARENT. That was never given to us. Two or three months went by and in the middle of January two weeks after the album's release I got a box of 20 albums from the label. As I opened up the box I saw the final package for the first time- here's this grey horror movie and I was shocked. It was a little too dark and evil, something like the movie Alien on acid. It didn't represent us at all like I wanted to be represented- a little bit of class, responsible and serious about what we do. We wanted a thought provoking painting, and what we got was shocked. I called them up and told them I didn't really like it, and that we never got a chance to approve it- plus they didn't use our trademarked logo. Time wears on and you get used to it- I've grown to accept it. The main point was if we could've worked together on this, it would've been better."
Had Raymond Black entered on drums during the recording?
"Jim Kovach quit in early August of 1984. His wife didn't care about music, plus he had a professor's degree in drumming at a college. We auditioned several drummers and we settled on Ray in the fall of 1984. We played our first concert as HEIR APPARENT on December 21,1984- we borrowed more money to play a theater. We convinced the local music rag to do a feature on us, we hired a video crew and did our first show. We did a 3 town tour in the local area shortly after and promptly went back in the studio to record "Graceful Inheritance"."
How do you feel about the recording and performance on "Graceful Inheritance"? Were the sales and promotion satisfactory?
"For our first real recording experience to me it was absolutely thrilling. When I think back on that album I have a lot of fond memories. We had a lot of momentum going because we did nothing but practice 12 hours a day so by the time we were ready to record we were really tight. The basic tracks were live, we put down 3-4 rhythm tracks, solos and Paul's vocals. It was a good learning experience. I did everything I could to promote the release- specialized promo packages sending them out worldwide. We got phone conversations from Black Dragon for a month or so pretty routinely. By the time we got to Europe it was exciting. Our focus was trying to get some respect in America- the song that was designed for US airplay was 'Under The Candle'. It's really simple, and I was thinking of it like Paul singing a Ronnie James Dio styled intro. Starting out softly and building to a crescendo where the song really kicks in the end a la 'The Last In Line'. I don't know if it ever got played here but at least the Europeans loved it. Overall I love "Graceful Inheritance"- we were tight and got along well as a band. We were a bunch of young kids shooting from the hip- nobody else wanted to help us like outside promotion companies or management. We were the best people at representing ourselves. Every dime we made went back into the music. We wanted to break the norm- it was my feeling that if we approach people professionally that we could be steady, secure and last quite a while. We wanted to do all that and still kick ass on stage. We were Agnes' pet project- her husband took care of SAVAGE GRACE as that was his pet project. They bickered back and forth about who was going to get the bigger piece of the pie- us or SAVAGE GRACE. They told us after 6-8 months we'd only sold 15,000 copies and we were still $2,500 in debt for royalities after the tour."
Tell us about the 6 week European tour you made in support of this album?
"Black Dragon calls us up and tells us they were setting up a tour of 5 countries for 6 weeks in Europe and we were ready. We were expecting contracts to sign because we figured we were going to get paid to play some shows. They stalled and the contracts never showed up- all we got were plane tickets. They wouldn't even let us make the reservations. We flew out of Canada instead of Seattle- we don't have any contracts, we have no money and we only knew we were doing about 30 shows. We knew it would cost us $8,000 to fly ourselves and our equipment over there and back, but we have no idea where we are staying once we are there. They paid twice what they should have paid and made us travel an extra 100 miles to go to Vancouver. We tried to make sense of everything. We land in Paris and we don't know anything- just four guys out of Seattle arriving without a clue. Agnes and Michael lived in a big downtown flat in Paris- we had to rent a van for $200 to get our equipment. I kept asking about contracts and who was paying us, because I know we'd be in debt for 2 months due to our loss of jobs/ rent. Our first concert in Lyon got cancelled due to terrorist threats. America had bombed Libya back then, and Paris wouldn't let the US jets fly over their airspace. We were warned that it's a bad time to be an American. The local magazines in France swampped us for interviews and it was overwhelming. I did radio interviews and invited people to see us- there would be 1,000 people greeting us at the Eifel Tower. They knew of us and our songs, and it was beyond anything I could imagine. We thought we were going to make money. We play the first show in Paris with SAVAGE GRACE. We're the opening act because SAVAGE GRACE had already toured there before plus were supporting a 2nd or 3rd album- we knew nothing of them before the tour. We chummed up with them and lived in a bus together the whole tour. The first show was fun- we were energized and saw a packed house. They knew all the songs- the audience was singing melodies back at us louder than we were playing it. During the days we had a lot of time to kill- we had a week before taking off to Holland and we wanted to get a place to rehearse for tightness. You get a good swing going when you play a string of shows together. The label left us on our own with a map. You had four guys with Levi's and leather jackets getting to know Paris via the subway system. We didn't speak a lick of French- and the general French individual hates Americans. The kids were awesome though. As time went on we realized there were no contracts. Metal Hammer sponsored 2/3 of the tour- as a result there was a lot of radio play, a lot of magazine interviews. The day after the first show Agnes tells me that BLACK SABBATH called her, they were doing a show in a collosium in Paris and they wanted us to open for them. Michael said no because they didn't want SAVAGE GRACE, and they're standpoint was you take both bands or no. I heard this and I was pissed. We had a chance to open in front of 15,000-20,000 people- it would've helped the label and everyone involved. These people made some bad decisions and it was frustrating. I'm getting whirlwind around as the spokesperson for the band. I wanted the whole group involved- you can't pull these guys away because you'll alienate the band. We'd go out to dinners with the radio dj's/press and I didn't like it because I felt for the other guys. Somewhere along the line the trouble started to brew for the band- but I never intended for this to happen. I wanted it to be a piece of a band like LED ZEPPELIN. We do more of the tour and I'd set up interviews with other members but it was still weird. All the promotion stuff was personalized and handwritten- and the people appreciated it. Naturally they all wanted to talk to me as a result- so this started to create a feeling of seperation. It was a double edged sword- I was juggling 6 different roles at the same time and sometimes I wanted to just sit back and learn more on the guitar. We got into Belgium and Metal Hammer was just getting off the Speed Metal tour- AGENT STEEL/ OVERKILL/ ANTHRAX. We got to meet those guys in Belgium and they are all from the East Coast. We posed for pictures but they didn't like us because we wore spandex and stuff. For a year or two we didn't listen to other acts because I couldn't afford the records- we weren't exposed to that due to our own music. We had spandex and big hair but we kicked ass on stage. We wanted to put on a good show and also get some women at shows- because 99% of European shows were male dominated. To a certain Speed/Thrash crowd we were considered posers because of the clothes we wore. As the tour progressed the trends were changing- we were getting better reviews, more press, more radio play- and we were upstaging SAVAGE GRACE. Some external pressure starts brewing about us headlining over SAVAGE GRACE- but I still felt better about opening the show. We did headline a couple shows in Germany though- plus some impromptu shows. We did some shows in Germany and we met WARLOCK with Doro Pesch. We took some photos for magazines on that- it was a six week whirlwind of fun. Crowd size was dependant on the venue- some were 500 and others were 2,000. Most of the shows were 3/4 total capacity. Plus the World Cup was in full swing in Europe. In Germany everything fell silent and the country shuts down to watch soccer. In Munich at one of the shows we had to have screens installed to watch the game- we opened and they had a 3 hour intermission to see the game before SAVAGE GRACE. We busted ass and everything was great, but Germany lost the soccer game. The people were depressed and SAVAGE GRACE had to go on."
After that tour, Derek Peace (bass) left the band to join up with SAVAGE GRACE. What exactly happened to cause him to leave, and what did the band do in the 8 months before he rejoined?
"What he did to leave, honestly I have no idea. I think it showed me that I'd been playing with him for 5 years and it showed me that he was just freelancing, going where there was potential. They were based in Los Angeles, Chris the lead singer/guitarist was a part of the Dole family, so he had a lot of money behind him. I think Dave was set up with a lot of promises, SAVAGE GRACE had an East Coast tour with MOTORHEAD for one thing. He saw the stars and left- but he admitted later on the music didn't mean that much to him. He was in it for a personal potential stepping stone. The tour was over and he was gone. It bugged me for about 15 minutes and then I went out to search for new bass players. Dave was very creative but he always wrote things beyond his grasp technically speaking. He couldn't lay into a groove. We auditioned people and tried to do shows- we were in debt making 65 cents a record, plus taxing that and lawyers, etc. so that every time I sold a record I made 8.5 cents. Even the Capitol Records deal at $600,000 for seven albums, it broke down to the same money royalties. When you realize you have to sell 50-60,000 to recoup the recording advance, it's tough. You've got to sell 200,000 albums to make $10,000- so then you realize you have to keep your day job. Everyone else gets paid before you. Our equipment got confiscated at the Canadian border- some paperwork got lost and they made us pay over $4,000 to get it back. We knew by the fall of 1986 we had to start over- the hometown could care less but we were somebody in Europe. A couple months go by and there's no band to speak of- we are all just trying to pay our bills and make ends meet. I get ahold of Michael Jackson (keyboards) and start working one on one with him. I wanted to get a little more commerical for the Americans but still keep it heavy. Everyone had backing keys- even BLACK SABBATH and DIO. I'd always envisioned what DREAM THEATER did 5-6 years before them. We negotiated a deal with Roadrunner and worked with Michael. I got a 5 album offer from Roadrunner but they want Graceful Inheritance for $5,000- and I want $10,000 because we were already $20,000 in debt. I meet production guys and get a bass player. We got Michael in the band and started writing new songs, it was perfect. I set up a show to play New Year's Eve 1986 at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, a 3,000 seat venue. We rehearse for a month before the show- the whole gig was set up to pay for our new rehearsal space. The night before the gig someone breaks in the rehearsal room and steals my guitars and Michael's keyboards. It was pretty depressing because we had to borrow equipment. We got video crews and we had MYTH play with their new singer. Great guys- great music- a good talented band that should've done something. In January 1987 we lost our bass player. Paul starts to lose his voice- and this is where I hear Steve Bonito's vocals in a band from Oregon called FRENCH KISS. I overheard the tape and Ray rekindled Dave's interest in the band. We did some demos back then with new material- 'We The People', 'Tomorrow Night' and 'Questions' which we played in Europe but didn't do a formal recording. Paul's voice went, he blew it out. We had a 4th of July concert to record a live concert video album with Semaphore from Europe. They were going to give us $5,000 for it- we had major promotions for the crisis center who helped sponsor it. 2 weeks before the show Paul quits and Steve comes in. I loaned Steve $400 to move from Portland to Seattle. Steve was psyched and had lots of live experience with FRENCH KISS- their guitarist was like Yngwie Jr. and I felt pressure to change my style dramatically to impress him- this guy had a 5 octave range and ability. You could roll tape and you'd get either great or amazing- he'd always be improvising and in key. We found out what kind of person he was after the fact."
Did HEIR APPARENT record any demos with Steve- and how did the band gain the attention of Metal Blade to sign a new record deal?
"We made demos and KNAC features it one night, playing 'We The People' and 'Keeper Of The Reign' with Steve's vocals. There was a girl at a booking agency, Julie Hines, who wanted to be our manager. We kept in contact and she moved to Los Angeles and asked to solicit our tapes. She put us in contact with Metal Blade and we negotiated the affilation thing with Capitol. We didn't practice routinely due to our loss of rehearsal space. Then out of the blue I got a call from a booking agency asking if we'd like to open for DAVID LEE ROTH. He was on tour with POISON and evidently their bassist hurt himself so they needed a band. It was frantic and we played that show. Capitol/ Metal Blade flew some people in to that show which helped our interest. We got thrown to the wolves- the promoter never announced that POISON wasn't going to show. We got out in front of 15,000 and did well. About 1/2 way through Steve announces that POISON won't be there- it went deaf and then people got pissed. All of a sudden we had shoes flying at us and we fight our way through the set. Steve freaks out and we finish up 20 minutes before our set should stop. We never met DAVID LEE ROTH- we weren't allowed to meet him. We got some sympathetic reviews from the local press on that show. I think the show helped- they started us on a $25,000 shoestring budget. I negotiated with Metal Blade for at least nine months- they appreciated our drive and goals. We wanted a better royality rate- but they stuck to the 65 cents per record rate of our first deal. So we played the game."
Tell us about the recording of "One Small Voice"- as this album definitely had a more commerical overtone than your debut recording?
"The label had nothing to do with our changes- I think they were a little disappointed in the candyass direction of "One Small Voice". The more aggressive stuff they enjoyed and I thought we were a Heavy Metal band. I wanted to fill in the holes with keyboards but not weaken the band's sound. My idea was to break the rules- have keyboards but play with some balls, like RAINBOW or DEEP PURPLE, because that was long gone for 10-15 years. It got more out of control as Steve entered the band- everyone else started getting stars in their eyes due to this guy's talent in singing. Steve exerted his power trip on the others- so I bent over backwards to strive for a partnership agreement. I was hanging for $15,000 myself and Ray's family helped for $3,000- but no one else in the band. They wanted the glory but not the responsibilites. As we did preproduction I had them sign the new record deal- which I had to talk them into. They thought they were too good for Metal Blade/Capitol- I showed them the money grew with each album so that the long term was worth it. We rehearse for the album and I pull out the books for debts/ assets and so forth. This went over like a lead balloon, which created turmoil during rehearsals and frustrations on my behalf. They didn't want me to do the interviews anymore- yet I'd been flying the plane for 5 or 6 years. They didn't know how to keep up on fan mail, interviews, contacts, etc. I gave them what they wanted- let others write more material, make sure Steve and Michael are happy. I wanted the band to be more democratic and hope for the best. If the second album succeeds great- if it didn't I wanted to go back to my way of building the machine. I'm just a guitar player now- and Ray's mom was handling fan related things. Time goes by and things are getting lax- so I have to get on top of the guys to get work done. We got a $25,000 budget for "One Small Voice"- I wanted to take $5,000 and pay back some investors in our past that put forth demo material. Everyone said no- so tension erupts and they start talking about me behind my back. They mixed down 2-3 songs without my notification. I heard them and got upset- 24 tracks of vocals and keyboards everywhere with no guitar. We didn't have five Geoff Tate's for backup vocals, and where's the guitar to show we are a Heavy Metal band. It was like a bunch of kids let loose in a candy store- Steve wanted it to be the Steve Bonito show, Michael wanted keyboard world as Ray and Derek are happy to be there. Then I heard after I got kicked out they let Ray go too. We originally had 14-15 songs with only three songs that had vocal harmonies. The music was intense and we were showing some maturity. Steve went in for 2-3 weeks on his own, took the project way over budget and adds the slave reel of vocal parts. I heard the bad mix, they sent it to Metal Blade and the label agreed with my frustration- wondering what happened to the songs. We needed to get rid of some vocal/keyboard tracks and we needed to turn up the guitar a little. I shook my head because the album is not what it could have been. I sensed that they were ready to get rid of me."
What caused you to leave the band- as I read in an older issue of Metal Forces that your departure was caused according to Michael by a 'love/hate' relationship you had with Derek?
"That is so weird because Derek and I were together since 1980, longer than anyone. He is a unique, quiet individual. We didn't have a problem- the problem was Ray was into the image thing, Michael and Steve were spoiled- so everyone was into themselves and we were still growing up trying to figure out what was going on. Previously I was the leader because this was my project, a team thing but we needed some leadership. When Steve came in, he took over- vocal talent is a rare commodity, because guitar players outnumber singers. The album comes out in 1989, and we finished the mixing early in January 1989. I wanted to book rehearsal time- we had to learn harmonies, multiple parts, etc.- and those guys are being casual about it. People were missing rehearsals- I got a call on March 10th from Julie Hines as she wants to have a meeting with Michael, her and I. So we meet and they kicked me out of my own band. I was flabbergasted- so it was weird because they replaced me and I wondered if they knew what they were doing was wrong."
The band tried to continue on with new guitarist Klaus Derendorf, but you essentially tied the band up legally because you owned the name HEIR APPARENT and the trademark, correct?
"It took me a year and a half to put an injunction in to shut the band down. I got on the phone immediately with Metal Blade the next day to tell them about this. From an official standpoint with trademarks its all in my name. Metal Blade leaned with them- they said replacing one person is easier than replacing four. They figured they had two years before I could stop them in court. My lawyer wanted me to keep a low profile- I knew they kicked me out and the record company wanted me to work it out because eventually I would prevail. I get the injunction and my lawyer advises me not to show up- it's a sure winner. The band all show up and I don't- so the judge didn't put in the injunction. So they were free to do what they wanted and the album came out in June 1989. I saw it and I looked at the chicken scratched logos plus the photos of them without me at the same photo session I took pictures at. Julie arranged it in March for the photos and I found she was conspiring against me, taking me out to the deli while they did these photos. The arrogance got to me- the Europeans must have been shocked."
Who's plan was it to cover the SIMON and GARFUNKEL classic "The Sounds Of Silence"? Did it gain the attention you expected?
"I wanted to do it. They got all the feedback and changed the PO Box so I was out of the loop as far as responses. I haven't seen them since 1990. I always wanted to do 'The Sounds Of Silence', it was a favorite for years. I could see commerical airplay with this- but it wasn't my idea to turn it into the Freddie Mercury show. I wrote at least half of the record and got little credit for it- it was mostly credited to Steve and Michael. The fundamental thing with HEIR APPARENT was I wanted a theme without being pretentious. HEIR APPARENT is about man/mankind and we control our own destiny- it's science and working with this planet to get ourselves together. The music/lyrics stressed being a strong individual and get past problems. So the lyrics changed on the second one- some of Steve's material from FRENCH KISS got on the record- they changed things so much it wasn't the same."
Are there any unreleased demos/video footage lying around in the vaults- and will this material ever see the light of day?
"If people want it, I'll put it out. I've got so much material- videos, live, preproduction and in different periods. It shows the intensity of the band. I was trying to live up to the Yngwie noodling that was big at the time- I should have stuck to my guns. There's a lot of good guitar playing that never got heard, due to the mix. I'd love to remix the album and give it a fresh perspective. There are 3-4 songs that never got heard because they didn't make the record that I'd love for people to hear."
My metallic bibles that I can't live without include...?
"I'd have to include anything by LED ZEPPELIN and JIMI HENDRIX, as they really got me into Heavy music. I also enjoy PINK FLOYD, SANTANA and BLACK SABBATH."
Final thoughts for the Snakepit readers?
"I would just like to say that I'm flattered that there is still interest in HEIR APPARENT. I'm still playing guitar and hope to come out with something in the future. I wish there were some things I could go back and change. It was a colossial waste of potential. They never got past the plateau that I took them too. They shot their own foot off and ruined my life in the meantime. I hope now that they have a better idea of what happened."