Mick Box – rockman, guitarist, sole active founder of Uriah Heep (1970).
His hard rock band was inducted to Hall of Heavy Metal History in 2019 so I went one stop further and asked him about potential induction to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
Uriah Heep is an obvious music feast for fans of Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Nazareth, Wishbone Ash, Led Zeppelin etc as their most popular songs were created in the beginning of ’70-s and perfectly reflects its school of playing heavy rock.
But Uriah Heep is also powerful nowadays – listening to the excellent, 25th album “Living the Dream” (2018) leaves no doubt \m/
source: Frontiers Music srl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHgDPxLlFW4
Do you have an appetite for greatest hard rock legends? Then Mick Box features in the following interview an upcoming tournee: Uriah Heep, Nazareth, Wishbone Ash! It rocks!!!
How are you around 50th Anniversary of Uriah Heep?
Mick Box: I am fine and rockin’ as hard as ever, thanks! Our 50th is in 2020, so we are not quite there yet, but I am still as passionate about our music as I have always been. Reaching our 50th Anniversary is quite something to celebrate, as well as to be proud of, as it is one hell of an achievement!
What does your anticipated induction to Rock’N’Roll Hall Of Fame means to you?
Mick Box: It would be a fantastic honour to have the recognition of what we have achieved over the years. I would be extremely proud but if it does not come our way for any reason then life continues on as always. We play concerts in over 62 countries, so we are continually working and releasing new albums, our most recent being ‘Living the Dream,’ and long may it last.
Which other hard’n’heavy bands deserve the induction but didn’t get it yet?
Mick Box: To name a few, ‘Vanilla Fudge,’ ‘Free,’ ‘Winery Dogs,’ ‘Richie Kotzen,’ ‘Europe,’ ‘Saxon,’ ‘Graham Nash,’ ‘Joe Walsh,’ ‘Mott the Hoople,’ ‘Opeth,’ ‘Rainbow,’ ‘Rory Gallagher,’ ‘The Kinks,’ ‘Steve Lukather, ‘’Thin Lizzie,‘’ ’The Tubes,’ ‘The Who,’ ‘Jethro Tull,’ ‘Uriah Heep’.
The main idea of Musictivity is “upcoming concerts as inspiration to explore unique cities”. It’s kind of contradiction to popular belief that rock’n’roll lifestyle is about alco, drugs and gambling.
How would you relate that to the history of Uriah Heep and its changes in line-ups?
Mick Box: Sex drugs and alcohol is long gone! Well 2 out of the 3 survived anyway, but moderation has been added to that list now. That lifestyle played a part in the creativity of many bands but in the end it was also responsible for the downfall of many bands too.
“Let me tell you how it was so many years ago
When lives were lived in dreams without a care
Those days will always be mine
There to last a lifetime
And take with me anytime, anywhere”
Uriah Heep “Dreams of Yesteryear”
What do you enjoy to do during free time between concerts? Especially when you have like one or two days free in new foreign city during tournee?
Mick Box: Usually it is a time to rest, catch up on e-mails, do my blog.
Mick Box: I have a traveling guitar with me, so I write songs ideas and put them down on to my iPhone to work on later. If it is an interesting place I will go out and explore. We usually all end up in an Italian Restaurant together for dinner in the evening.
When and how did you catch this sense of maturity “musicians have to take care well of themselves if they want their band to survive long”?
Was there any specific event or person who taught you this wisdom?
Take care not only for health, chemistry between band members and general well-being but also for a quality of cultural inspirations which can reach far beyond music…
Mick Box: When it was a time of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll it was fun until people start dying, then it was a complete wake up call.
Mick Box: I have always had the ability to listen to my body and stop anything when I liked, but others did not have that ability, plus at the time there was no care for anyone with an addiction problem, so you either took care of it yourself or suffered the consequences.
Mick Box: Health is the most important thing you can have, because without it you cannot do anything, so in my case playing guitar and writing songs are very important elements in my life, and to continue to do that in an international band like Heep which travels the world, you have to look after yourself.
Mick Box: Don’t get me wrong. We have a lot of fun and we have our moments but good health is paramount.
Mick Box: Back in the 80’s I said that I would never work with anyone I cannot smile at, like being around, go and have drink and a laugh with. That included Band members, Crew, Management and our Agent. Having negative people around you is not healthy and the chemistry of the band members is very important to be creative and achieve everything what the band needs and wants to say musically and lyrically.
From your perspective – artist who have traveled everywhere and who have seen everything – what all people should to value more than money to preserve access to their creative power also in XXII century?
Mick Box: Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself is a good start.
Mick Box: I have a passion for what I do on many levels. Money can come and go, but if I am doing something I love then I can be no richer.
source: MUSIC FOR YOU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw1dgS9f6iI
What is your opinion about body language of Bernie Shaw? (I find it pretty expressive.)
Mick Box: It is expressive and shows that he is totally immersed in the music, what is a good thing.
I’d a pleasure to watch your energetic performance before Judas Priest in Dortmund, Germany, 2018. I remember that you played fantastic set of early Uriah Heep songs.
read also: Musictivity interview with Andy Sneap who plays guitars in Judas Priest on stage
My impression that time was that you wanted to play music created before Judas Priest’s debut “Rocka Rolla” (1974) because you have emerged first in rock history. Well it’s a good thing and probably Judas Priest wouldn’t have anything against to tell that Uriah Heep inspires them \m/ How is it?
Mick Box: We decided about the hour set what we want to play. As it was a Judas Priest audience, we wanted to keep it rocky and leave the acoustic and piano numbers alone. From the first note to the last we rocked the house and the response from the fans and the media alike, was terrific.
Early this year we did a 2-month tour with Judas Priest in the USA & Canada and it was just a repeat of that show in Dortmund. We won over a lot of Priests fans which felt pretty good, as they are a hard audience to please, and so pro Priest, but in the end, we made a lot of new friends.
You play often “Between Two Words” from LP “Sonic Origami”, aren’t you? What is the cool point in “Between Two Worlds” from guitar virtuoso point of view?
Mick Box: It has a good powerful chord progressions; an intricate arpeggio (in the middle of the song) picks piece that builds into a crescendo; a long guitar solo on the end that takes it to a climax with strength and power.
I have special affection for the song called “Circle of Hands” (Demons And Wizards, 1972). Could you share with me please circumstances of writing this song? What do you think about “Circle of Hands” today?
Mick Box: This is my version!
Mick Box: It was written by Ken Hensley (our keyboard player at the time).
Mick Box: We had a séance in Italy on a mad drinking night that got a bit out of hand, highlighting the fact that we were messing with things we should not be and Ken wrote the song from that experience.
Mick Box: It is a very powerful song with some almost gospel harmonies and a nice melodic solo part from me, followed by a good slide guitar part from Ken on the end.
Mick Box: It still means the same as from the day we recorded it. This is a powerful number. We have played it on stage quite a few times, but it really does need a slide part on the end to make it complete.
source: Uriah Heep – Topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_931bHJHPAU
Everybody praise recently Uriah Heep for “Living the Dream” (2018). I don’t want to repeat the same question which everybody ask you so let me ask just about one thing.
What would you answer to opinion that “Living the Dream” is the best Uriah Heep album ever released?
Mick Box: That is very hard to answer because the world was a different place back in the 70’s in comparison to what it is today. There is a change in the way we hear and buy music. Everything is very disposable, whereas back in the 70’s there was only ever Music, Football/Sport and Fashion that people got involved in, so music was a lot more important in people’s lives back then.
This is just my theory, but back to your question, lots of fans and the media have said that ‘Living the Dream’ is one of the strongest album in our career, and as we approach our 50th Anniversary that makes me extremely proud.
I’ve interviewed recently an young band called Ring of Gyges. Could I ask you please for an opinion, what do you think about their song “Andvaka”?
Mick Box: I really like it! Very prog rock but sounding good!
What special are you planning for upcoming Uriah Heep tour in 2020? Where else will you play beside Germany, Luxembourg, Czech and Hungary? Which band(s) will play together with you?
Mick Box: We will start a tour being called ‘Music and Stories’ in Germany on the 10th of January. We are headlining with Nazareth and Wishbone Ash each night. There will be a Q&A with each band hosted by Andy Scott from the band Sweet and then we will all play our sets.
Mick Box: Then we will go on the Rock Legends Cruise for a week sailing from Fort Lauderdale Florida USA to the Cayman Islands and back.
Mick Box: Then a long Russian tour.
Mick Box: I am told that our agent is working on Uriah Heep going to South America which will run us into Festival season.
Mick Box: Then the 50th Anniversary tour will really kicks in with a full Heep tour and production which we will take out on the road to as many countries as possible.
Thank you so much: for your music, for this interview and for making our planet happier!
Mick Box: That is very kind of you and thanks for your support! ‘Appy days! Mick URIAH HEEP
written by: Sam O’Black, Mick Box