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Uriah Heep's Mick Box is 'Living the Dream'

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Since their debut in 1970 Uriah Heep has consistently delivered a proprietary blend of prog-rock and metal filtered through the various influences of each member of the band.

While the lineup has undergone a number of alterations over the years, Uriah Heep’s founding member, and lead and rhythm guitarist Mick Box, has been the kingpin.

The band’s 25th studio album – titled “Living the Dream” - was released in mid-September in multiple formats, including CD, CD/DVD, and colored vinyl. From the blistering opening track “Grazed By Heaven” to the thematic closing “Dreams of Yesteryear” (the deluxe version has a bonus track) it’s clear that Uriah Heep was determined to deliver a record they were proud of and one that could stand tall with their storied catalog.

Box checked in with The Maine Edge to talk about “Living the Dream,” a relentless tour schedule, being one of rock’s “nice guys,” and upcoming 50th anniversary plans.

The Maine Edge: Fan response to “Living the Dream” has been extremely positive. What was your goal with this record?

Mick Box: We had a great engineer in Jay Rustin (Stone Sour/Anthrax/Steel Panther). The scoop with Jay is that we wanted to be true to our heritage but we wanted the album to sound fresh and very 2018. I think he brought that to the forefront very well, and to start with a song like “Grazed by Heaven,” was a statement to show people we will have the same passion. It kicks the album off with a lot of energy.

The Maine Edge: The new album has a good mix of heavy rockers, rock ballads and prog-rock to keep the diehards happy. How did you decide which tunes would make the cut?

Mick Box: Phil Lanzon (Uriah Heep keyboardist since 1986) wrote most of the songs and (bassist) Dave Rimmer brought in “Grazed by Heaven” which he wrote with Jeff Scott Soto, the singer from Sons of Apollo. We put all of the ideas together with the band and chose the ones we wanted to rehearse. We knocked the songs around in pre-production for a couple of weeks, just working on arrangements and everything else. In January of this year, we went into the studio and recorded it in 19 days.

The Maine Edge: There aren’t many bands who’ve been doing it for as long as Uriah Heep and I can’t think of another one that can pull off a touring schedule like the one you have. You have stretches coming up with six nights in a row in six different cities or countries. How do you do it?

Mick Box: I think that’s all down to the word “passion” again. If you’ve got the passion to do something, it gives you the energy and drive to see it through. Being in Uriah Heep is like being with your family away from family. We have a great time when we’re out there but we’re also aware that the schedule is tough, so we look after ourselves.

The Maine Edge: With such an enormous back catalog, do you ever listen to one of the band’s old albums just for fun?

Mick Box: You know what? I never have (laughs). We’ve had some reissues released through BMG, who now own a lot of the back catalog, and they asked me to be a big part of that. Because of that, I’ve almost been forced to listen to the old albums and I’m very proud of it. It’s a journey through our career it’s been fun to hear it again, but I don’t make a habit of listening to our old records.

The Maine Edge: Most bands have had plenty of “Spinal Tap” moments. I’m guessing you’ve had your share of them.

Mick Box: About 90 percent of that film is true to every band in the world (laughs). Most everything that happens to them in that movie has happened to us, and when it does, we call it a “Spinal Tap moment” like you just did.

The Maine Edge: You have a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in rock. Is it important to you to be approachable?

Mick Box: I’m very grounded. You’ve got to have an ego to get up on stage and do what we do every night but then leave it there. I’m just Joe Schmo when I come offstage. I’m very approachable because I feel that it’s part of what we do. Uriah Heep isn’t just about music but about communication on every level. If people want to come over for a picture or a selfie with me or just have a chat - even if my family is there - it’s cool. People are quite respectful and I enjoy meeting them. I think you can build up barriers if you walk around with eight bodyguards around you and create a fuss or you wear dark glasses that cover two thirds of your face, you’re just asking for trouble (laughs).

The Maine Edge: A huge Uriah Heep fan named Randy from Bryant Pond here in Maine sent in a few questions. Here’s one: After nearly 50 years of Uriah Heep, which lineup and which era has been your favorite?

Mick Box: Every lineup has been great to me. I formulated those lineups and I’ve enjoyed every one of them for different reasons. We had a great deal of success with the “Demons and Wizards” lineup with Box, (David) Byron, (Lee) Kerslake, (Gary) Thain and (Ken) Hensley.

(Note: Released in 1972, “Demons and Wizards” was Uriah Heep’s fourth studio album and featured the hit single “Easy Livin’” – a staple of the band’s shows ever since.)

The world was a different place then. When those albums were being released, the only thing to get involved in people’s lives was music, fashion and sports - football or whatever. Now, there are so many diversions in life, even on your phone you’ve got more than that.

The Maine Edge: 2019 will mark 50 years of Uriah Heep. Any special anniversary plans you can share with us?

Mick Box: We’re immersed with promoting “Living The Dream” into next year. Because the first album (“Uriah Heep” in the US, “Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble” in the UK) was released in 1970, we’re actually considering 2020 to be our 50th anniversary. That also buys us some time (laughs) to get some exciting things together. Because of “Living the Dream” and the tour we’re doing, it’s very difficult to see anything beyond that. As things evolve, we’ll get into it and have discussions and I’m sure there will be some exciting things to come out in celebration of the 50th anniversary because it’s such a milestone that not many bands have reached. We’re very proud that we have and we will.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 October 2018 12:46

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