Question and Answer with Rog
To submit questions to Rog and have them posted on this page email email@example.com.
Message from Rog: "I'm going to postpone the release of the book at least one year. The idea of putting an autobiography out just before some of the most exciting times of my life just doesn't make sense. Thanks, Rog." - Oct. 10, 2008
Over the years I've been asked many questions regarding Heart. A few of these questions are repeated often, so I thought it would be great if any of you who are interested would go ahead and fire away and ask anything you want - whether it regards Heart or not. Some of your questions and my replies will be posted (after screening). Also, I'm working earnestly on my autobiography. By sending your content, you're agreeing I may use it unconditionally. It may be in the book. Sign up on the mailing list if you wish to be kept up-to-date.
Longtime fan, hope I can ask a quick question...
What is the story on the (what appears to be) custom-built set of modular speaker cabs in the Heart backline, painted white. I see them in all the old YouTube clips..was hoping you could give me some history/details on the unit/s. I suspect they really focused the tone over traditional cabs.
Best Regards –
The backline configuration you asked about originated in 1975. After the release of our first record, Heart was starting to tour, opening for national acts like Rod Stewart, the Bee Gees, ZZ Top, Rush,etc. I realized that we needed to set ourselves apart visually, and address a host of issues with the way we approached sound reproduction on a large stage. As an opening act we quickly discovered that sound checks for us were considered optional by the headliners. Being able to hear oneself on stage was sketchy and challenging. Roger and I had already developed a very effective method of baffling his guitar speakers which kept the direct sound of his instrument from overpowering the mix the audience was hearing while still allowing him to have the volume level he needed for the right sustain and distortion that we both loved. When we moved to a huge concert stage, without good monitors, there were large areas where Rog, Nancy and Howard couldn't hear what they were playing. With our array we could distribute everyone's instruments evenly on both sides of the stage without having to count on the headliner's monitor system.
It was customary for many groups that played the kind of high-energy rock that we liked, to sport a wall of Marshall amps behind themselves. We wanted a unique look that was big and powerful that could also solve our sound issues. I had been building experimental prototypes of fiberglass horns for a sound system for the group. I realized we could use these things in a matrix-like array behind the group in a way that would not only augment our on-stage sound but would be visually striking and unique. I created the horns in white so that when the band stood in front of them they would stand out against the backdrop which we also lit with various colors. The deep contours of the horns provided an interesting play of shadows with the changing lights and colors. We also incorporated channels in the cabinets so that we could pour dry ice fog from the top of the boxes allowing it to flow down the fronts to the floor and fill the stage.
You would be amazed how often people mention those cabinets. I later gave them to Rail, a great local rock group. They painted the horns red. They favored red and black for just about everything.
That is a greatly condensed version of the story. Check back later to read our book. You will love it.
I love your playing and always felt that your guitar was what gave Heart their sound. I have an 8 year old son who has been playing guitar and taking lessons for a little over a year and is now at the point where he is starting to play complete songs. And the first song he chose to attempt to learn in it's entirety: Barracuda. It goes to show that great music and great playing is timeless and has as much appeal today as it did when it was created.
What advice would you give to a beginner? Did playing come naturally to you or did you really have to work at it at first?
Thank you for taking the time to answer people's questions!
Thanks for your kind words.
First advice for your 8-year-old beginner:
When learning by ear, memorize the thing so it's in your brain, then pick it out, note-by-note. Practicing this will make it possible for you later to hear something once and play it immediately.
Always play it slowly at first, so it's within your ability, then gradually speed up.
Don't play mistakes over and over. Doing so cements that info into muscle memory.
To really understand Barracuda, count it. Most the song is 4/4, but the verses vary this. When the singing starts, count a bar of 3, then as you hear her kind of jump into the next line, count the next bar at 6 beats to the bar. The entire rest of the song is 4/4.
There is way too much advice to try to relate in an email. I will have an instructional section coming out one of these days on the web site that I think will be full of applicable content.
What's your son's name?
Really have enjoyed your music over the years, and you are one of my favorite guitarists! I was wondering if you could share what type of phaser or effect that you use on songs like Barracuda and maybe some tips on settings?
Thanks and best regards,
In choosing a flanger, what you need to do is go try them all out; compare quality and price and make the decision yourself, based on all your specific needs and context.
How are you? I hope all is well!
Just wondering ...when looking at your recent pics and video, I see that you are using a Seafoam Green pretty regularly. Is it new or vintage....any mods or stk?
Also, a while back, you mentioned that you were working on a book that would be a "must read" for any Heart fan ( original Heart.....not the newer current Heart-less version) .
s it still in the works?
Ed from Boston
The Strats I use - two green, one white - have piezo bridges and Resonari tone blocks.
Still working on the book, but it has evolved into a double-autobiography with bro Mike and I co-authoring, entitled, Bros. Gonna be great:-)
Thanks for your continued interest!
I really enjoy the new website and am currently listening to the "Little Queen" CD and had a few questions for you:
I really enjoy "Too Long A Time" - the precursor to "Love Alive." Is there much unreleased material around from your days with Heart?
Rog: There's a bit, but not much that we wrote. There's quite a bit of cover material from clubs somewhere still in the can, I believe. One of the best things we ever did was an ambitious Zeppelin medley that was as crowd-motivating as it was ingenious. I'd love to hear that again, but I don't think we have a copy of it.
If you didn't play guitar, what would have been your second choice for an instrument?
Rog: I don't think I would have played another instrument. I would have loved to have been a lead singer :-)
I know you play some mandolin, are there other instruments you play?
Rog: I horse around with mandolin, bouzouki, drums, and love playing bass guitar. My daughter Lily plays harp and that's a great instrument to mess around with. I finger the piano a bit and can do a mean jam in A minor, but I wouldn't call it "playing."
Did you listen to Howard Leese's new solo release? What did you think?
Rog: I heard some cuts before it was released and thought it sounded pretty good.
I know you did some improvisation in your Heart guitar solos - "Sing Child" and "White Lightning and Wine" come to mind. Given that early Heart was so inspired by Led Zeppelin, was there ever any talk about opening up some of the songs for more improv?
Rog: Live, we improvised a fair amount, but nothing like what I enjoy doing these days when I've got the right guys to jam with. It's sheer joy taking off in wacky musical directions, knowing that your buddies will be right there with you. The free, random expression that founts like life itself is a tricky wave to ride, but given enough flexibility and patience, produces the most surprising results.
I think it'd be interesting and fun to hear some of the old songs like Yes tunes, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull and whatever else Heart covered in the club days. Is there any chance of putting any of these up to listen to on your site or elsewhere?
Rog: Now that you mention it, I'll have my brother Mike take a look and see what he still has.
Thanks for your time and I'm looking forward to your new recordings and autobiography.
Rog: Thanks for your good questions, John. Very excited to hear your reaction to the new album, All Told.
So I was going through YouTube and came across one of a posted video of you under the title "Roger Fisher - A Real Guitar Hero". And after years of loving Heart, I realized just in recent years that it wasn't so much Ann's voice and Nancy's guitar playing that drew me to being heavily influenced in my style of singing, but, the overall aura of the group itself. After the first personnel changes with Heart, I still stayed a fan, but, one can tell something big was missing. They weren't putting out music that was very complex and epic sounding. Instead, it seemed overly produced and the guitars were just too, how should I put this nicely, just too overwhelming in its sound, basically drowning everything out but the vocal. Before Heart had its personnel change (The first time), it was such a magical group. And even though most of the music one could tell was influenced by Led Zeppelin, the group still had their own identity. In fact, you and Heart played Led Zeppelin's songs better than Led Zeppelin themselves. At times, I wished I could sit in in one of your jams, then by fate, allowed to take the mic and sing those cherished Heart classics. But not sure if that would happened, considering I live in Hawaii and you live, well, not here. Friends tell me, if Robert Plant and Ann Wilson had a kid together, they'd have me. Mainly because I trained my singing to sing like them, very rock and bluesy at the same time.
Now that I got that intro out of the way, here are my questions.
1- Have you seen Heart play live lately, and if so, what did you think?
2- If you were to start a new group and needed a singer, would you hold auditions or just sing the songs yourself or have a close friend do it instead or both?
And finally 3- Do both Ann and Nancy mind you playing songs still of Heart that they also helped penned and gave it life?
I know this is a lengthy email, but, just wanted you to know, I am not the only fan of Heart that feels, Heart lost its true magic after you, your brother, Leese and Derosier were no longer with Heart. I do hope it is lined in the stars that one day to perform onstage with you, but me on vocals. You just rock, Roger! Keep playing the 6 strings!
Firstly, I'm 60 years old now, and when I receive email with type the size of molecules I know the sender must be younger than me. Thank you for your kind words, you obviously have insight :-)
1- If I gave a detailed critique of my response to the show it wouldn't necessarily illicit a positive reaction, and wouldn't be of good use to anyone. If I gave that report personally to Ann and Nance it could have relevance, depending on how open minded they were. For those reasons I'll reply simply, I loved seeing the spirit of their grandparents and their parents still alive and radiating, it was always their most valuable asset, and part of the source of their greatness.
2- When I tried that with the Roger Fisher Band in the early eighties, we put an ad in the Los Angeles media and held auditions at A&M Studios. It didn't work. I've worked with many good singers over the years, but always keep coming back to the realization that nobody sings my songs the way I sing them, so it has to be me that does it. I've struggled with becoming an adequate singer hard and long. The general consensus among the friends and family I hold most dear is that I've arrived. I'm no Pavorotti, and not the greatest guitarist, technically. What I do have is clear direction of expressing things that matter a lot to me, in a way that sounds like no one more than Roger Fisher.
Word of mouth is the best way to find good talent, in my opinion.
3- Knowing the rules and laws governing copyright, they don't mind who plays their songs. Generally, songwriters are happy to have as many people possible covering their material. As long as licensing and fair use is observed, it's a win-win.
I recently saw the Dodge car commercial on television and noticed they are using Crazy on You for the music bed. I heard over the years that Heart retains and controls their own publishing and I was curious to know what is your involvement in that process? Are you still part of that publishing group and involved with the decision making for use of the songs you have credit on? Also, from a business perspective, are you a current stakeholder in the group and/or name Heart (publishing, business, licensing etc)?
It's great that you were able to devote your life to music and have had a successful career doing what you love. Looking back, what was your best moment while playing in Heart and what was the best moment in your career so far?
Thanks for the question, Vince, I'm sure it's one that comes to many people's minds.
The licensing fee for the music accompanying a commercial can range from a few thousand to millions of dollars, depending on the profile of the artist and prominence of usage.
Along with the creation of Heart Incorporated, we each started our own publishing company, whose names you can see listed with songwriting credits. These companies still are the funnels through which each songwriter's royalties flow, so each of the writers of Crazy On You, depending on their agreed share, will receive a nice surprise when those royalties come in.
Universal Music Publishing administers the rights to the Heart catalog.
Best moment... hmmmm. One my favorite memories is flying out of Vancouver, BC after a gig in our own (leased) plane. We were heroes in our (second) hometown and had just played what was probably our career-best concert. Ann was sitting across the table from me, both enjoying freshly made Screwdrivers and having fun conversation. It was merely a little moment of dreams come true - we were like soldiers in the trenches sharing a cigarette between battles.
Best moment in my career? You'll have to read the autobiography, which I'm in no hurry to finish, as the best chapters are being written with each new day :-)
I can't wait to read your book when it comes out. I'm sure that that will answer many questions and curiosities that I have for you.
However, I'd really like to know about your eating and exercise habits, if any. You look fantastic, young and full of life. I know much of that may come from having peace of mind and the quality of your life, but I wondered if you do anything to achive this.
Would you be so kind as to shed some light on this? Fountain of youth, maybe?
I'm a huge admirer of your musical abilities and your lifestyle... influencing me in many ways. Thanks for that.
- Andy from Alta Loma, Ca
Thanks for your kind words!
I love your question because I've anticipated answering it since the mid-sixties. Seriously. Back then I realized we humans are a lifelong sculpting project in-process. I inwardly vowed to live a life of "conscious evolution," continually "bending toward the light," so to speak.
Most importantly, the Fisher family is blessed with good genes, so I can take little credit for how healthy I appear.
Thanks to brother Mike, I've been eating well since the late sixties, also the time we studied Zen together and began meditating.
Oddly enough, it was something seemingly unrelated that really got me headed in a direction that has had a big influence. Playing live, I had a hard time feeling comfortable on stage. I'd try to look like one star or another and felt absurd after awhile. It took some years, but I finally landed on the Natural Rog. By shedding thoughts of what I should do, and simply let my body move/dance the way it tended to, and compliment the music rather than "put on a show," I finally felt comfortable, and the energy could flow. When I tried to impress, the opposite seemed to happen. This approach also applies well to life in general. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't follow a pattern or routine, so answering your question in a nutshell is difficult. Living in the moment and going with the natural flow seems to work for me.
An example is the mode I'm in now, August 4th, 2009, which is similar to other periods in my life: I wake up about 5:30 with my girlfriend. She goes to work and I answer emails; play the stock market; write a few things in a To Do list, while drinking my own blend of teas. The concoction is my home-grown mint - several varieties; ginseng; oolong; star anise; white tea and raspberry leaf. This blend changes as I find different herbs available at times. Before long, hunger coerces me into pouring into a bowl my own blend of muesli - Trader Joe's Blueberry Muesli combined with quick-cooking oats; almonds; filberts; brewer's yeast; protein powder; and dried cranberries. I add organic bananas and fresh, organic blueberries and rice milk.
After breakfast, I take the best vitamins I can find, supplied by my "rock and roll naturopath," the same lady Geoff Tate and Dave Matthews go to. Then, a 20-minute bike ride gets the blood flowing. It's either that, or some mornings I go back and take a nap, which feels incredibly good, but too often I feel a little let down with myself upon awakening - a little groggy, guilty, lazy.
Then I'll either record or, if I'm preparing for an upcoming show, rehearse the music I'm about to be playing, which can range from a Yes song with veteran music friends on a local TV show, to a solo, live acoustic set, to some high energy rock covers to a guitar/harp duet.
These days I either do power hot yoga or regular hot yoga around lunch time. Hot yoga is the best thing I know of that one can do for oneself.
Then back home for more email answering and business (you know, family stuff; tax stuff; bills; Life In General). This summer, Rogie and his mom are back in Czech Republic, so I Skype with them.
Then, one of my favorite lunches is a sardine mash I make out of sardines; Tabasco Sauce; mayonnaise; horseradish; mustard with garlic; and minced onions. I mix up enough of this for about six sandwiches, or three days' worth. We get a fantastic 21-grain bread called Dave's Killer Bread, upon which I spread the mix, adding alfalfa sprouts or my new favorite, red bean sprouts with green pea sprouts and lentil sprouts. I wash that down with Kombucha. This fermented tea is originally from Manchuria, China, but I've found a good brand in most local stores here in the Seattle area: GT's Kombucha.
Then more recording or practicing, whatever the day dictates. I'll do 35 pushups somewhere in the day. Write in my book a bit.
Throughout everything I do I let unnecessary thought fall away. This constant ongoing practice is absolutely key to sanity and peace, in my opinion. Read The Power Of Now. Great book... helped me a lot.
Dinner is typically barbecued shrimp; beef; pork; prawns or fish, but almost always accompanied by fresh, local-as-possible corn on the cob. We soak the corn in water in-husk and throw that on the barbie to steam in it's own husk. We'll also have a salad with dinner. I typically have some cookies with rice milk later and we often have ice cream while watching TV.
Then there's the weekend, when all rules go out the window and we PARTAY!
In performance mode, I seldom have any intoxicants before going on stage... water is good.
Hello, Mr. Fisher,
Heart was one of my all time favorite bands up through the Dog And Butterfly album. I used to replay Mistral Wind over and over. As much as I like the vocals and musicianship, they were never the same after you left the band. I greatly admire your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions, and also that I never see you saying a negative thing about the Wilsons, no matter what they say about you. I’m just wondering, do you or will you ever tour, and if so would you ever make it to the New Orleans area?
Thanks for the kind words... much appreciated.
Yes! I plan on touring in 2010. Brother Mike and myself are finishing an album that has been 30 years in the making. After sifting through more than 100 songs I've written and recorded, Mike chose 12 that had a common thread that impact with great emotion. After he played it for me the first time, I was very surprised, stunned.
The next months will see us doing overdubs and final mixes before a release in (hopefully) late October.
I have many friends in the Mississippi Delta and more in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, so I'm confident I'll be in your neighborhood next year.
You can be a great help by passing my web address to anyone you know who might be interested... and sign up to be on my mailing list so you'll know when and where we're playing.
I often wondered what happened to you along with Drummer Mike. I know that he was a sore subject for you. But without the Internet, someone from Jersey would only think where the hell is he? And what is he doing? Now... I know. You are far too talented to have just laid down that guitar because of a meltdown episode! I saw it and now I look back and it was funny. But when it happened I didn’t think so!
Mike Derosier and I have made a lot of music since leaving Heart. My brother Mike and I have been going through over 100 original songs written and recorded since 1980 and have been astounded by some of the great creativity and production Drosh and I have been a part of. We're in the process of remixing almost all of that material for release. Right now Derosier is enjoying staying close to home in a steady gig with very talented local musicians. He and I find ourselves on the same stages every now and then.
Thanks for asking.
Hello Mr. Fisher.
I'm a late comer to guitar playing at the wonderful age of 45 I started taking lessons. I was lucky to find what I consider a very accomplished guitar teacher. As he told me one day that there are a lot of guitar players out there. With seeing so many outstanding guitarists and musicians in our local scene I find it astonishing that such a well rounded guitar players & musicians haven't made millions. I guess my question would be, even though a person can be greatly talented, is the music industry still so based on who you know and not so much on talent?
As you know, the music business is extremely competitive, with hundreds of thousands of bands and singles acts in America alone. The idea of rising to the top of that huge pile, whether as a performing artist or with the release of a body of music begs the question, "How?" I believe the answer is a constantly moving target, especially since record companies lost their relevance with the arrival of the internet and digitally-transferable sound files.
The most important ingredient in this rise to the top is probably desire. I think the person needs to live and breathe not only their craft, but the method and means by which they're going to climb, which obviously reveals a daunting potential for counter-productivity. The beauty of record companies was that they completely handled the business of promoting and marketing the persona and music while the artist concentrated on creating and performing. Today, the artist needs a team of people to wear all the necessary hats to ensure that they don't become so immersed in diversity and distraction that the art suffers. That's why a band scenario can be effective, with each member assigned to different tasks.
Who you know has always mattered, but I don't believe it matters how good you or your material are, if you don't have a driving desire to make it heard, you won't. Sometimes the most talented are that good because of a concentrated focus on the craft. If they were to dilute that with attention paid to marketing, the art would probably suffer, so to me that implies that a successful musician or band is possibly not the most talented, but the most driven.
It may be wrong to ask a musician to pick his favorites, but over the years, I've listened to a number of songs by Heart, and I'd have to say that Mike Derosier was the best drummer they ever had.
Also, I think Ann and Nance do a much better job on such Led Zeppelin songs as "The Battle of Evermore" and "Rock and Roll" (which you played during the Greatest Hits/Live album).
Care to comment, or did I ask a no-no/off limits question?
Thanks for your questions.
I don't think they are off limit questions at all.
There's no doubt in my mind Derosier was the best drummer Heart ever had, as I think Fossen is the best bassist and me the best guitarist for the group, not necessarily because of technical virtuosity, but because of style; personality; and chemistry.
Ann and Nance rock on Zep tunes!
I've been a Heart fan for a long time, and I also play guitar. Your guitar tone in the song Magic Man has been one of my favorite tones of all time. Just can't listen to that song enough! I was just wondering what amps and especially what effects you used for that song, rhythm and lead parts, if there were any differences.
Take care and God bless,
I'll be offering a detailed report of the various guitar/amp/effects set ups I used over the years in my autobiography, which should be out in 2009.
The set up for Dreamboat Annie was pretty simple: Les Paul through a Fender Twin Reverb, LOUD. I used a UniVibe at the time as well. I think I used a distortion pedal, but I need to talk to Howard and a few others to determine which one it was, as I don't remember.
Above all, as I've said before, the tone comes from your heart and soul... and your fingers. :-)
Just watched Glenn's solo. I had no idea we had virtuosos walking the planet these days. Is he in your Clever Bastards band or one of your friends?
Glenn Proudfoot is from Australia and is a dear friend, the guitarist of a Czech band, Prazsky Vber II (Prague Selection 2).
I was fortunate to have sat in with one of the best bands in the world many times in 2007. I photographed them and videotaped them many times and will release more material in the future.
Thanks for your inquiry, Mike. Let's stay in touch and be a part of positive change.
Mike is referring to the following YouTube vid: Glenn Proudfoot at Trutnov
The first time I heard the guitar riffs in 'Crazy On You' I was certain it was Steve Howe! Was he a big influence on you?
Also, I've seen many bootleg videos (although professionally shot) from the classic Heart lineup, but none have ever been remastered and officially released. Are there plans for any of this footage to be released in the future?
I think you're referring to the intro to Crazy On You, which was written and performed by Nance. Howe was dearly loved by us all, and his influence shows in Silver Wheels, title of the intro.
I'm not aware of plans for professionally shot video of Heart, but in my autobiography, which will include a lot of "never-seen-before" footage, there will be some great hi-res vids that you'll love.
Thanks for the questions, Mark.
I have been a fan since the early days of Heart. Reading many of the previous questions posted prompted me to write.
If having been a devout Heart fan has taught me anything, it's the amazing power of the media and the publicity machine that is part of rock 'n' roll. Being touched to the soul by an artist and connecting to them on some level should be enough, but often times it draws us to want to know that person more, and in some ways, to intrude on their right to a private life. The only way to learn about them is the media...
I just want to say that I have always respected your gracious and tactful responses to the questions you receive. I admire your professionalism AND candor in the face of fielding those questions about the Heart days & split.
As for the press, back in the day of the original splits, some deception and smoothing over was all part of the game. I was twelve in 1978, I'm glad I didn't know about the drug use, etc. because I had no one else to emulate than Heart. I'm thankful the machine worked the way it did, and in many ways, I'm thankful to Heart for allowing it to be that way. In more recent interviews, they have been more open about those things, as different things are accepted and mainstream in rock media now. After years of following Heart in the media, I've learned to pick and choose to sort out what I believe the truth is.
Being saddened by the dissolution of the original Heart still seems to fascinate after all these years, probably because there was a chemistry never to be duplicated.
I recently saw the Cheap Trick/Heart/Journey tour. It brought to mind some of the previous comments about you and Drosh hiring two chicks to go out on the road as Heart. Wow! Glad you guys wouldn't dream of it! Journey is now touring without Steve Perry. I am not a huge Journey fan, but could not accept the idea of Journey touring without Steve Perry. It was weird. I left feeling I'd seen the best Journey cover band in the world (and the most expensive). You wouldn't want to be the best Heart cover band ever. I'm glad you have more respect for yourselves and Ann & Nancy! And to the fans you'd rip off! Although we'd love to see you GUYS on the stage again!
In the same way, those who I was with commented that although Heart slayed 'em all and Ann's voice can still fill a stadium at age 58, it's never been quite the same without Roger and the original lineup!
Which brings me to my question...another reunion question. Back in the 90's, about the time Heart's Capitol days had wound down, I heard rumours so strong that KZOK announced it on the air, that the original Heart would reunite and play the Seattle Coliseum. I know I wasn't dreaming, I was driving home from work when I heard it...But nothing ever happened. Were there at least talks, at some point, of a reunion? I always wondered why KZOK would let something slip like that unless it was a real possibility...
Thanks for your time!
I never heard about anything like that happening. I think you need to face the truth that you actually have a mental problem. You've lost the ability to distinguish between the dream world and reality.
I'M JUST JOKING!!
Who knows what might have been being said... maybe someone on the station was trying to make it happen. I've heard of other DJs at other stations trying to start a campaign to make the reunion happen.
At any rate, I do believe we'll play together again some day, in some way. Time will tell:-)
Thanks for being involved, Lynda!
I read some of the Q&A out there that you have posted to get some insight into who Roger is. I'm impressed by your intelligence, artistry, and sensitivity. My question is: What do you look for in a woman?
I have been very fortunate to have been with a few truly extraordinary women in my life, in addition to many one-night-stands. I've learned valuable lessons and have grown and evolved spiritually, mentally, socially and physically as a result of these relationships. For the last two months I've been celibate - no sex whatsoever - and feeling aloof from the strong instinctual pull of sexual desire. From that lofty position I can see clearly the type of woman I'd like to be living with.
1. Is honest
2. Is kind
3. Has common sense
4. Loves to work hard and play like crazy
5. Is even-keeled
6. Doesn't complain, but provides solutions
7. Has a positive, unstoppable attitude
8. Is understanding and forgiving
9. Has a strong spiritual awareness
10. Shows love and affection in many ways
These are just words, and seem to paint a perfect picture of someone I will obviously never meet. If I did meet someone with these qualities and could ACCEPT their human shortcomings through my own understanding and forgiving, maybe we'd have a future together.
I don't believe in seeking out a mate. I believe in envisioning her and expecting her to turn up via the grace of Universal Intervention. At this point I'm envisioning no one, perfectly happy in my second childhood fascination with becoming a real musician.
"But what about SEX?" you may wonder. Wow! I love sex! No erectile dysfunction aids needed here:-) I think it's a shame so many people (including myself at times) get so trapped in indulgence that we exclude important, worthwhile things from our lives in our distraction. The things I am known and respected for exist as a result of painstaking work which happened as a result of pure love for my craft.
We all exist because of sex. All life has sex. Sex is the foundation of life. I want to have sex all night long with someone I love... but I'm in no hurry. I have a dream that began when I was a little kid. That dream never died, though it was beat up, laughed at and back-burnered at times. The dream is alive and well and I'm living to see it come to fruition... and really enjoying the hard work!
When I woke up this morning I never imagined I would be sending an email to one of my all-time favorite pickers. At lunch I tend to surf the net and today I found your website. What a thrill to know you're still out there and doing well. I read through the lengthy Q&As and I can't think of any intelligent questions to add to the list. Seems everyone beat me to the good questions and I'm not going to insult you with a stupid one.
All I wanted to express was a sincere "thank you" on behalf of so many other fans and fellow players for taking the time to post a website where we can write to you and have you respond so genuinely open and real. That doesn't exist much these days. It's wonderful to be able to approach those whose talents we enjoy hearing and respect so much. I especially enjoyed reading your comments regarding Jesus and your spiritual search sometime back. I hope that never goes away.
I guess if I had one question it would be, what guitars are in your arsenal these days? I'm a guitar addict and I'm always curious as to what other guys are playing.
Looking forward to hearing back sometime Rog. God bless.
I like your question because it raises a point that is important to me: GEARHEADS.
There were many years I devoted to madly searching for perfect tone as if it were the holy grail. Life was a constant investment of time, energy and money toward coming up with yet a better means of expressing music in a way I didn't hear from other players.
Back in the '80's a guy named Scott Dunham moved out from Framingham, Massachusetts to work with me building guitars, etc. This guy is a genius. His work is so perfection-oriented and backed by such an in-depth knowledge of all things musical and electric, he was the prime candidate for contributing to my addiction.
Scotty and I put together several systems that evolved into a very nice guitar rig. He looked after all my instruments like a mother, gently caring for each one and making it as right as possible. He did fine work for me, including transforming the "Magic Man" Les Paul into one of the finest guitars I've ever seen.
My trouble is I just can't seem to stay satisfied. I had custom-this, custom-that - all one-of-a-kind set-ups that were extraordinary, and still found myself putting so much time into gear that it took away from my playing. Add that to being the studio designer; engineer; producer; songwriter; singer; guitarist, and it no longer made sense to be so gear-involved.
I decided to buy 3 new, Jeff Beck Strats, simple Marshall and THD amps, a TC Electronics G System pedal board and call it good. I'm also using Taylor and McPherson acoustic guitars, and an ASR electric mandolin that was handmade for me in the '70's.
So my gear isn't terribly exciting, but, having skipped in and out of more sit-ins and jam sessions than I can count, and having to play on as many different guitars and amps, I've found the most important aspect of musical expression, in my opinion, is the attitude, spirit and fingers of the player. Gear means almost nothing. Granted, if I'm playing through a system that rocks, I play better, and that is the most desirable scenario.
Royalty checks are a wonderful thing. The gear you have has little to do with writing a great song; has little to do with how good a singer and player you are. I focus on putting great musicians together for live performances, playing songs I've written that I can really sink my teeth into. Someday, I hope a lot of people agree with my love for my own songs. :-)
In my autobiography I'll get specific about various set ups I've used over the years to get the tone on specific songs. A lot of material no one has heard yet will be released soon, and there are some great musical moments with truly fine tone which I'll document gear-wise, as well. My personal stash of instruments will be shown pictorially, too.
Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby advised musicians to spend less time at computers and more time playing. I agree, and I'd apply that to gear, as well.
I wonder if you could tell us fans what it was like to work with Ann Wilson. I always hear about you and Nancy but what about you and Ann.The lead guitar player and the lead singer is what I want to hear about, the friendship between you two.
My first memory of working one-on-one with Ann was being picked up by she and her mom at a rendezvous point in Bothell, a small town just outside Seattle.
We went to the Wilson residence in Lake Hills. After casual introductory chat with her mom and dad, Ann and I walked up the stairs to Ann's bedroom (or maybe it was an office... not sure) to compose a flute/guitar duet solo. On the way up the stairs I saw a picture of Nance on the wall and was stopped in my tracks. I had to stand there, thinking, "This is the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," and ask Ann if that was her sister. After tearing myself away, Ann and I got right to work and discovered we worked well together.
I think we were both a little surprised at how quickly, comfortably and easily it came gelled... a melodic, with clever twists, solo that fit very well in the song.
This chemistry worked well on many parts and arrangements. I believe she and I lived similar dreams - we were both intent on being "big time," and both believed we would make it. Back in those early days we were musical partners on a quest, working well together and generally enjoying each other's company.
I look back in horror as I watch memories play out of me sometimes being extremely gross in her presence - doing anything necessary to get a laugh out of the other guys.
I apologize, Ann. I know I really made you uncomfortable sometimes, while making a fool of myself. I know those unfortunate moments were parts of the parting puzzle.
Roger: Thank you for influencing my guitar playing so much all these years (I'm 47). I have loved so many of your tones on Dreamboat Annie and paid VERY close attention to your playing. Question: On your lead on "Sing Child" I can almost swear I hear you using a Univibe or possibly a Phase Shifter.
Can you remember the guitar rig you used on it?
RF: Les Paul through a Fender Twin.
I use a Strat and a Marshall Super Lead and a Univibe and it seems to get close. Did you use a fuzz, cause if not,you must have been WAY turned up.
RF: Yep, WAY up.
On your intro to "Magic Man" did you use some kind of tape reverse simulator?
RF: No, just swapped reels and recorded backward. That was Howard.
Electro Harmonix Attack Decay? Ebow? How DID you get that tone?????? On the second lead (Magic Man), again you must have been VERY LOUD.
RF: The last, long soloing is me, and yeah... to get that great sustain and feedback, while retaining a tone-saturated sound, I rely on simple air-moving-strings, which is, of course, attained with a lot of volume :-)
Hey Roger, do you ever have any regrets about your relationship with Ann Wilson?
To say that I have regrets would be to imply I wish some things had never taken place, so I can't really say I have regrets, as I needed to learn my life lessons.
I have many wonderful memories of moments with Ann. Once, after dancing our asses off somewhere, she told me she loved me as a dance partner. That meant a lot, as I know she recognized two kindred free spirits with a lot of energy and abandon.
Any advice for young struggling artists, Roger?
I answered that question the other day from a guy at the Dusseldorf airport: "Get a clear vision of what you want. Wake with that vision; spend all day with it; go to sleep with it. Make sure it is long-term, and high enough. Make sure it's healthy. WORK HARD toward fulfilling it. If you live and breathe it, and BELIEVE, it, or something very close to it, will happen."
Here's my question: In your journal you mention that in 2006 you ran into Howard Leese and that the two of you had bonded like never before. What was your relationship with Howard like during the first several albums, and what do you make of Howard's contributions after your (and Mike and Steve's) departure?
Great question, Neel.
Howie and I always got along well. I held him in high esteem because of his knowledge of music theory - mine was almost non-existent - and his self confidence, which, to me, bordered on arrogance, which was my single least favorite thing about his character.
We sought out and bought sitars together shortly after we met.
We co-composed some pretty great guitar solos, and Howie can take sole responsibility for the writing of some them, Straight On being one.
We didn't get as close as we might have because I spent most my time with Nance and didn't go out with "the guys" as much as I otherwise would have.
I'm not really knowledgeable of his contributions after he left, as I never heard most the music.
I do know that his contribution to Paul Rodgers' band is great, and greatly respected by Paul, as he values his ongoing membership immensely. He's held that spot since about 1996, I think.
Thanks for asking....
I wonder why it is called VOX? Do you know? What language is that? From Latin? I just don't know that one.. somewhere in all of my music training I missed that one!
On a recording track sheet, when the engineer is writing the instruments, or entering them into the computer, given the number of tracks, there usually isn't much room for the naming of which instrument is on which track, so they're usually abbreviated. Vox works nicely for vocals.
Hey Roger, I am wondering about the gear/amps you used in the early days with Heart. I am mainly interested in knowing about your amps and pedals in the 70s, especially at this live performance.
I am assuming it was Marshall amps. Btw what year, and pedals, specifics? Thanks! I love your tone there.
If you look closely when the camera is aimed at stage left, you can see my 2 100-watt Marshalls sitting there. One is back up. The live one sends to a 2-12 box near the front of the stage, which is very loud, allowing good sustain, and baffled, so as not to be too loud.
At that time, I used an MXR digital delay, Phoenix Systems flanger, and volume pedal.
I plan on having an in-depth accounting of my gear in the book.
I was wondering why you don't mention Alias that much? It's not even under your "Bands" link on your web site. As a matter of fact, I think I may be the first person to ask you about it.
The experience with the band Alias in 1989 and 1990 was filled with spicy unfaithfulness; questionable record company tactics; alcohol abuse; and psychological warfare.
Mike, Steve, and I, overall, did not relish it.
I'll elaborate in detail in my book.
What are your feelings regarding drugs? How would you approach the topic with your kids and kids in general?
If you're looking for some good, positive input to show your kids, I'm afraid you may consider me the wrong guy to ask.
What I did with my kids was let them see real life. I love having people around and would host many parties. I didn't try to hide much from my kids, and they saw what goes on... in my case, nothing very hard core - just people getting intoxicated and having a good time, with lots of music-making.
Each of my kids was taken aside at a right moment in their life. I told them, "I know you're going to do whatever you choose in your life. I'm not just your father. I'll always be one of your best friends. I'm not going to tell you to or not to do something. What I will tell you is: be smart. When your friends are partying and want you to try this or this, do what you want, keeping a watchful eye on everyone and everything around you. Don't hurt yourself or anyone else. Be smart. Don't get so out of it you endanger anything or anybody. Have fun. Be smart. Don't hurt and don't get hurt."
Unfortunately, I never had this conversation with my first child, Alicia. She became addicted to heroin at a fairly young age... having nothing to do with me and my "free" lifestyle. She died in her early 30's of diabetes.
Kids in general: We parents know you're going to do what you're going to do. There is nothing we can do to stop you. What we can do is be your real friend... the kind you can confide in; the kind you wouldn't hesitate to call if, in no matter how crazy a situation, you needed help; the kind who won't judge, won't condemn; and won't ostracize you for anything you do. We confide in you... you confide in us. We respect you and the choices you make, simply because they are your choices, and you respect us.
I was very fortunate to have been given a long leash by my parents. That allowed me to be free and experience life, making my own decisions and sometimes suffering their consequences. The beauty of this kind of relationship, in my opinion, is, the kids are elevated by the faith and trust their parents have in them, and are inspired to do what makes the most sense.
So far, it has worked well for my remaining kids. It seems they are all headed in very good directions. My kids love me. We have a bond way beyond what is normal. We know something together, few people seem to know. The result is communication of real stuff.
Hi Roger. Before I ask my question, I just want to say thank you for forming the band Heart and thanks for giving your fans such as myself the opportunity to ask you questions! You're a cool guy and an awesome guitarist! My question is, what do you think a concert would be like if Ann and Nancy Wilson performed with THE MAN Billy Joel?
I would think it would be pure magic. Billy has the capacity to touch deeply, as do Ann and Nance. I'd love to see their performance.
I know from other interviews I've read with you that you were on friendly terms with a lot of the other big rock groups of the day (when Heart first hit big). Was there ever any talk or plans for you to join any of those bands after you departed from Heart?
RF: Heart was still playing nightclubs while living in Vancouver, B.C., in 1975. One of our favorite places to play was Oil Can Harry's. Led Zeppelin would party there in the elite area of the club after their shows in Van.
One night, after their show in town, Nazareth came in and saw us. They were keen to meet us after our show, and praised each of our individual skills. They asked me to join their band.
I told them I was happy in this band and that we were going to be big, thinking, "Probably bigger than you guys."
At any rate, they invited us to join them for a tour of Europe, which we ecstatically agreed to, and did.
Were there any groups you wanted to join even if it weren't practical (I'm thinking of how Eric Clapton always said his deepest wish was to have been asked to join The Band, even though he knew it couldn't happen)?
RF: As arrogant as it may sound, I wanted to be in a band with Paul McCartney, but not so much a side musician as a co-writer and recording guy. I always believed our synergy would be very good.
I wanted the same situation with Paul Rodgers... I think we could write great songs together.
There weren't really any groups I felt desirous of joining. My dream was always to be successful based on my merits. The dream is alive and kickin'. I work toward that every day.
After leaving Heart, Kiss approached Heart's manager Ken Kinnear, saying they were interested in having me audition. I certainly mean no disrespect to a great group, but they didn't really turn me on at the time. I had Ken ask them what the pay would be. They responded with, "Come down and audition, and we'll take it from there."
I was unimpressed with that response, so passed on the opportunity and lived a somewhat hermit-like life in the middle of five acres of woods, until I met my second wife, Maureen in 1983. That five acres of woods is now an extremely fond memory in the minds of Maureen, Dylan, Michaela, Lily and me.
Also, I remember at the first Heart convention you said (and played) that Mistral Wind was your favorite Heart song. I wanted to know what you regard as Heart's finest recorded performance. You know, the one where everything just fits together perfectly. What would be your choice?
RF: To me, Barracuda rose to the cream of Heart's recorded crop because we all knew it had the potential to be big. As we were recording it, it seemed to take on a life of its own, where we became the servants of a worthy master, who insisted we not let up until every subtle aspect of it was polished like the finest silver. We never worked as hard on a song as Barracuda. By the time we got the "keeper," it was rolling along like a train on autopilot - a huge powerful moving mass of dreams and hopes on its unstoppable way to Rock And Roll destiny.
Forgive me if this sounds terribly ignorant, but as a big fan of early Heart (70s), I would appreciate it if you could post a reply on your Web Site that gave an overview of the specific events and dynamics that made you leave the band, and also an overview of your relationship and breakup with Nancy. I assume the two things may have been related somehow, but only you can let us in to what really happened. Heart, during its formative years, had such an amazing unique and special sound. The decline of Heart's spirit and musical authenticity seemed to coincide with your leaving the group. The whole 80s keyboard-pop, big-frizzy-hair scene just seemed so wrong a direction for them to take. Even to this day, nobody plays acoustic guitar quite like Nancy does. I will always remember Heart as possibly the greatest pure "guitar band" in Rock history. That's where the magic was.
On the menu of "Questions Regarding Heart," yours is absolutely the most delicious, and above all, most delicate. Your summary of thoughts speak for many people... I've heard this said a thousand different times and ways, but none as succinctly as yours.
My reply may disappoint some.
I'm currently engaged in a project that began in 1977 when I bought a broadcast-quality video camera and began documenting the rock band I was in at the time, Heart. This footage, which the public has never seen, shows a lot of behind-the-scenes moments which, when coupled with my large library of on-stage footage, will be a must-see for Heart fans.
I'm now gathering video interviews with many of the original players, managers, secretaries and people who played an interesting role in the Heart story.
This perspective of Heart will be available in the context of my autobiography, which I intend to have ready for sale November 1, 2008. This will be an unusual book because, not only will it be an e-book - available online - the hard copy will have urls pointing to the text-related slideshow or video, so as one is reading, they can, for instance, see a backstage Heart video showing exactly what the author was talking about in the text.
Working on my happiness - you will have to give me some of your tips - you seem like a genuinely happy and positive person.
AGGRESSIVE BAGGAGE REMOVAL
Write down everything you consider baggage weighing down your life. Piece by piece, simply throw it away. It will keep coming back. Each time you see it reappear, smile and say, "you're gone!"
After awhile you'll feel so light, you'll have the desire to fly. Flying can only occur after a decision. All of us eventually make that decision, but to many it is heart-rending. It needn't be so.
What was the first song you learned to play on the guitar?
Within a few minutes of picking up the guitar for the first time, I played it on single strings and quickly discovered fifths, playing power chords within fifteen minutes, without outside input.
I was so thrilled, I never stopped!
I've often wondered how Ann & Nancy wound up with the name Heart when it was your band in the first place?
This answer is detailed in my book.
In a nutshell, when brother Mike was happily with Ann, and Nance and I were happily together, the Heart Partnership was formed. Mike and I, in our wisdom, insisted the girls be given 51% of the rights in the partnership.
Is Music Important To Brain Health?
The underlying key to excellence in all human endeavors is the ability to concentrate.
As we age, the brain, weathered and damaged from many varied abuses, ceases to be as responsive as in youth. It was once believed that a damaged brain cell was finished... kaput... game over. Scientists have, in recent years, found the opposite to be true. Certain stimuli can actually trigger re-growth of damaged brain cells.
Like a training athlete, the more we challenge the brain, the more it responds and the longer lucidity remains. It is a proven fact that studying and practicing music counteracts the tendency toward Alzheimer's disease. The simultaneous use of motor skills, memory skills, deep emotional involvement, and striving for perfection, as found in the playing of music, challenges the brain like nothing else. The millisecond-accurate decisions regarding tempo, tone, style, phrasing rhythm, and emotion, cultivate a highly refined organ.
One key thing about learning and practicing music on an instrument is the pleasure factor. Unlike the ambitions and striving in other areas, music involves such joy... it provides the vehicle for the time and quality of practice gained by no other means. Generally, musicians practice – at least in part - because they love it. This love of daily evolution is vital to all-around growth, especially brain growth.
Practicing and performing on a musical instrument is excellent for the brain. Merely listening to and appreciating music involves memory, pleasure, emotions, and, in the case of dancing, physical stimulation. This is great brain therapy.
In addition to exercising the brain with challenging tasks like playing a musical instrument, consider the importance of exercise and the intake of oxygen.
Muscle activity keeps synapses stable, while inactivity triggers a loss of receptors. Walking in particular is beneficial because, while increasing blood circulation and oxygen and glucose intake, there is no great demand put on muscles. In other forms of exercise, muscles absorb more oxygen and glucose, leaving less for the brain.
Less physical activities are also beneficial. Examples of very worthwhile brain-stimulating activities are: reading; writing; doing crossword puzzles; playing games like Scrabble and chess; doing tai chi and yoga. Working with modeling clay or play dough is an excellent way for children to grow new dendrites (the intricate nerve fibers through which neurons communicate), as it promotes hand-brain coordination and agility... much like playing an instrument.
It is the combined use of body and mind that is most effective in the regeneration and sustenance of healthy brain matter.
When a musician practices, scales; songs; various patterns; and performance moves are committed to muscle memory. This culturing process involves changes at neuron-to-neuron synapses. Synapses are the junction between two nerve cells, where the club-shaped tip of a nerve fiber almost touches another cell in order to transmit signals. These changes, called long-term potentiation (LTP), improve the communication between neurons, creating memory. This memory lasts for weeks, but begins to fade if not revisited. This is why the musician must practice the same passages repeatedly over the years – to "dust off" parts that were learned in the past.
This process of aligning and training synaptic communication is referred to as receptor aggregation. The opposite is receptor dispersal – the equivalent of long-term depression. This is partially why musicians achieve such satisfaction from playing... they are doing precisely the best thing possible to counteract depression.
Two additional factors are important in brain health: oxygen abundance and temperature. Mild hypothermia (low body temperature from exposure to cold) is now frequently used world-wide to reduce intracranial pressure and cerebral blood flow. When the brain is cooled, there is a reduction in cellular metabolism, which protects cells from membrane breakdown. This is why it is so important to sleep with one's window open, providing cool, oxygenated air. The hundred billion brain cells that comprise the brain use more that ten times the amount of oxygen as the rest of the body.
Heart smart is brain gain. One can live without food for a few weeks; without water for days; but only for a few minutes without oxygen. Breathing properly – slow, deep breaths – is something most good vocalists practices throughout their day. Most oxygen absorption occurs in the lowest portion of the lungs. Deep bell breathing requires less muscular energy than shallow chest breathing – which most people do.
Of course a major factor in brain health is eating good food, particularly that which contains specific vitamins and amino acids.
An 88% reduction in the frequency of vascular dementia was shown in elderly men who took supplements of vitamins E and C. This effect was greater in men who reported long-term use of both vitamins. Vitamin C is concentrated in the fluid around neurons up to 100 times higher than elsewhere in the body. When levels become deficient, vitamin C is leached out of body tissues, maintaining adequate levels in the brain and lungs. If this maintenance didn't occur, the brain would be destroyed by a frenzy of free radical damage in a matter of minutes.
Better than popping vitamin pills, eating fruits; vegetables; nuts; and grains provide phytochemicals – much more effective in brain health. Dark red grapes and gingko leaves protect cerebral blood vessel walls by neutralizing free radicals. Found in the curry spice, turmeric, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. Seeds; nuts; and soybeans – and their unrefined expeller pressed oils – have the highest concentrations of vitamin E. The richest sources of vitamin C are rose hips; guava; black currants; cranberries; kale; parsley; peppers; Brussels sprouts; broccoli; collards; and cabbage. More powerful than either alone, vitamin E works in synergy with selenium, one of the most powerful detoxifiers of heavy metals that damage the brain and other organs.
Very important as well, is magnesium. The most notorious depleter of magnesium is alcohol. Extreme alcohol induced magnesium deficiency is also know as delirium tremens. Excellent food sources of magnesium are almonds; avocados; pumpkin seeds; spinach; peanut butter; and wheat germ.
What is the food containing the highest level of antioxidants? BLUEBERRIES! They contain nearly 60-times recommended daily levels.
To describe a person engaged in a daily life style conducive to good brain health, he or she would:
1. Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and berries.
2. Get a lot of exercise – walking, in particular.
3. Practice a musical instrument.
4. Habitually breathe slowly and deeply.
5. Read often and play mind-stimulating games like chess.
6. Stimulate the body with practice in things like tai chi and yoga.
7. Sleep with an open window.
8. Involve yourself in something regularly, that demands complete focus, and which offers the opportunity for you to be in the "zone." This could be your daily job; live performance; many things.
The answer to the title question is an emphatic YES!
What do you think of the rock scene these days as compared to the scene from years ago, especially the 70's? Personally speaking I do think that there are a lot of good bands, but overall the industry is over saturated with mediocre bands but that's just my outlook on it.... what do you think? I for one really think that this all started with MTV... you probably won't agree with me being as that's a quick way to push a band & give them exposure...lol...
I'm so immersed in my personal world of daily living and creativity, I'm not nearly as in touch with the current scene as I could be. When one does a little hunting, it's still possible to find the same depth of lyrical content; emotion; performance; as well as amazing production. To put down the music of "these days" is, to me, an over-generalization.
A few of my current favorites are Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. I recently discovered New World Symphony by Dvorak, which is wonderful. What about Stevie Wonder's last album? Wow! I adore Mark Knopfler. There's a band called Clever Bastards that I find amazingly heart-stirring.
MTV, in my opinion, changed the playing field... it didn't stop any good song from being a good song. Over-saturated by mediocrity... well, that's a current world problem in all fields, isn't it?
iTunes is the best! Rock on, APPLE!
RF: This was the response I gave to a very talented friend who received an inheritance and made himself a nice little studio:
"So after you've got the gear, what meaningful thing can you create for the world, and will it make you any money? I have answers to both those questions. Do you?"
Damn, Roger. You kick ass. :-) I've been thinking about that question, continually. :-) hmmm ... meaningful for the world. Was Hendrix's stuff meaningful for the world ? Zeppelin ? The Beatles ? Dylan ? For me, the answer is yes. But, why ? hmm ... All good music is meaningful for the world. Take the music away and ... god ... that would be horrible.
I will be happy to capture my musical potential. I'm capable of so much more than I've displayed. In the past, I was at the mercy of others, in regards to recording. Now, with the advancement of technology, as you are fully aware, one can easily obtain the necessary tools at your local Guitar Center. For the good stuff, it takes a little doe, but I've got it, now. :-) ... As to making money with what I produce ? I've always believed that if I build it, they'll come. :-)
I would very much like to hear your answer to those questions, Rog.
In my opinion, the music Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Dylan made was great largely because of its relevance to the times. They responded to a need in society. Specifically, as an example, the early Beatles songs broached sensitivity and kindness - willingness to step down from pride. In a world where females needed to grow into equality, this was a very important message men of that time needed to understand.
So, what does the world need now?
We know well-crafted songs about sex, relationships, pain and epiphany will have a good chance in the marketplace. Personally, I've stayed away from sex songs because the few I've written don't seem to stand the test of time well. They're embarrassing!
There is no doubt in my mind as to what the world needs now, musically. In my opinion, we - all life on the planet - are in extreme danger. If we don't start taking big steps, as humanity, soon, the suffering is going to be incredible. We really do have to put away our differences, band together, combine our knowledge, resources, and imagination, and create solutions. It seems many people are either unaware of, in denial of, or don't care about, the following:
1. Almost all the glaciers in the world, and both polar ice caps are melting fast. 100 years ago, Glacier National Park had 150 glaciers. Now there are 27. 90% of the ice volume is gone. In 25 years, all the ice will be gone - for the first time in 7,000 years.
2. The permafrost in the northern latitudes is thawing, releasing large amounts of methane. Methane is much more dangerous in the atmosphere than CO2.
3. The warming oceans are allowing frozen methane beneath the sea floor to turn to gas and bubble up and into the atmosphere.
4. Many areas of the world have entered a drought. In the southwest U.S., this is the return of The Dust Bowl. To quote National Geographic: "The wet 20th century, the wettest of the past millennium, the century when Americans built an incredible civilization in the desert, is over." The EPA reports: "Water shortages for settlements, industry and societies; reduced hydropower generation potentials; potentials for population migration."
5. The ocean level is rising quickly. To quote National Geographic: "As the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica shrink in the next few centuries, seas could rise 20 feet." The EPA reports: "Salinization of irrigation and well water; Increase in deaths by drowning in floods; increase in stress-related disease.
6. Mass extinction is underway and accelerating. In 2005 and 2006, 5,000 species per year became extinct.
A lot more needs to be added to this list, which I'll do when I have more time. The point is, the new music needs to motivate people to act.
Whoever comes up with good ways of achieving that will make a lot of money, I'm sure. Hopefully, a lot of that value will go to helping all life.
Addendum: (by Mike Fisher)
"On the environmental topic I think you need to be careful about being too "fear" oriented. Humanity is always on the brink of calamity from a multitude of directions. We can stress over earthquakes, asteroids, comets, epidemics, supernova, terrorism, the list is endless. We grew up under the specter of a hairpin trigger on Nuclear Mutually Assured Destruction. We need to be motivated for sure. I find that what motivates me is the enthusiasm I have about the kind of world we can build together. Right now there is tremendous energy and money moving in this direction. What we need is leadership and political will and I think we are about to get it. There are many technologies just in need of a push or funding or public support. Check this out: http://www.switch2hydrogen.com/h2.htm"
JF: You have had a long and distinguished career, and you seem to be unstoppable still. So let's start with the present and life in the Czech Republic. After what was a whole adventure moving and getting settled there, how do you like it now?
RF: There were several reasons for wanting to move to Europe: 1) My wife, Eva and I wanted our son, Roger to attend school in Europe, 2) I wanted out of America for awhile, having seen the life style and values in Czech Republic, 3) I wanted a change in my life... an adventure, and 4) I'm working with Michael Kocab - a great musician and also an icon in this country. He was one of Vaclav Havel's right-hand-men when they ousted Communism in 1989, and had the most popular group in this country for many years - Prazsky Vber (Prague Selection). He has become a dear friend, and I hope we can collaborate on more projects in the future.
Living in a post-Communist country has its difficulties. Slow motion bureaucracy is frustrating for Americans who take for granted our generally quick ability to get things done. I don't know if it is true with other foreigners who have moved here, but everything I attempt seems to be fraught with difficulty and frustration, if not impasse.
Other than the difficulties, the friends and family I have here are wonderful, and I enjoy being in a place where the last few centuries are only a tiny bit of its history, while encompassing the entire life span of America. The implications of this long-tested, mostly pure genetic hierarchy are found in subtle mannerisms common to most Czechs. The fact that this area has been conquered over and over and has been subject to not only inhumane authority but also the Black Plague dictates that the people here have an invisible bond and an unspoken communication. To most Americans, I believe these people would seem generally very poor. Even if they don't have a lot of possessions and fanciness surrounding them, what they do have is immeasurably valuable. It is more than strong camaraderie. It is more than great generosity and the need to uplift. It is more than impeccably clean self sufficiency. It is an ineffable, quiet consideration and harmony that generally feels close to the earth. I'm generalizing, but these are the qualities that attract me. Of course, these are human beings, and far from perfect:-)
JF: What does your life and routine (or not) consist of there?
RF: My dad once advised me, "Watch out for routine, boy. Mix things up. Don't do things the same way all the time."
I took that to heart and generally run freeform... routinely.
A typical day is: wake up at anywhere from 4 to 6 AM. Make brewed coffee just for me. Get on the computer, catch up on email; check the news; check the business implications for the day; update my to-do list; have Eva's latte waiting when she gets up; do the dishes; wake up Rogie in a gentle, caring manner; make breakfast - either my own blend of muesli-with bananas or bacon and eggs, or Eva makes something else; drive Rogie 15 minutes to school while telling him a scary story; return home and work on my latest music and/or video project; write and/or practice vocals and guitar... this is getting boring. To synopsize, I do the usual stuff most people do... with very noteworthy exceptions, which will be documented in my autobiography.
JF: Going into the music now, your song, Petra, which you performed live for a TV show there, has quite a slow and hypnotic mood, what was your inspiration for that?
RF: In June of 2005, sister Kay, brother Mike and myself went to Andalsnes, Norway to meet with our family there. I saw in my cousin's mother the embodiment of femininity and motherhood. I'd been writing song after song, inspired greatly by having just been introduced to Rufus Wainwright. Wondering what I should write about next, Petra walked into the room. "That's it," I thought. "This will be for Petra." At that moment it was suggested we go for a drive high into the Norwegian mountains to visit an ancient hunting area. Armed with pen and blank book, I bagged a poem underneath thunderstorm skies so severe that a man on another mountain not far from us was killed by lightning. I was inwardly entertained by the fact I was writing a love song for all women while surrounded by high intensity. By the time we got home the words were finished. The music flowed out easily and I had what I knew was the best song I've written.
JF: What other projects are you working on in your new home?
RF: The focus is on the words you're reading now, which will be part of my autobiography. Some working titles are: The Wisdom Of Nonsense; Play It By Ear; or maybe simply, Rog.
There are times when I feel bored with rock music - not because I can't totally immerse myself and thoroughly enjoy playing it, but because IT'S BEEN DONE. It can't ever be greater than it already has been. Some new form or variation, sure, but Rock? Hey, no one is going to improve on the Beatles or several of the other classic groups. Don't get me wrong, there's a place for pertinent and timely rock music. But for many of us "who were there," the race has been won and the winners have all gone home to bed. Maybe that seems negative or defeatist or cop-out, but if that's what I feel, it's difficult to be motivated to engage in it.
After I finish this autobiography, I'm going to finish some of the high energy songs Derosier and I composed. Some of this stuff is fantastic - very Zeppelinesque, but original. I guess the truth is, I have some kick-ass rock music in the can that I'll be excited to release when I have a band that it's suitable for. But there is no burning need right now to finish it.
I've spent most of 2007 thinking about what I should do and it all boils down to creating a work which includes photos and videos of noteworthy moments of my life and very personal text to pass on to my kids. This is the gift I always wished I could have had from my parents - to really feel like I knew them, so this book is for my kids.
In 1977 I bought a broadcast-quality video camera and began documenting Heart. I have very entertaining footage from that era that I know will delight many people. I also know the Wilson sisters reasonably well, having lived with them and their parents, being close to the entire family. I bring to the table a perspective that no one else has to offer... and I offer it for the right reasons and with no lack of integrity. This perspective, in the context of "The Life Of Rog," I believe, makes for an entertaining experience.
JF: Your solo albums have focused on issues you strongly believe in, like the environment, family and humanitarian causes and albums such as Standing, Looking Up and Evolution have had strong overtones of these themes - can you tell us a little more about these solo endeavors?
To me, Standing, Looking Up was one of the first electronic music endeavors. When I hear cutting-edge electro music of today, I hear my first solo album. It was way ahead of its time and I love it... very happy with that album.
Evolution is an album reaching out to elevate, illuminate and uplift. In 1995, I realized that a global calamity was the only thing that could bring humanity together. I figured people should start to focus more on spirituality and preparation for moving on beyond this body, as I believed something big and devastating was going to happen. I had no clue about global warming then. Now, even though so many know about it, people don't seem to realize the implications: we are going to have to help each other like never before in history. While this seems like a big negative, it's not. It's exactly what we need: a motivator to bring us together... because if we can't show that we can harmoniously inhabit this planet, maybe we don't deserve a place on it.
I love the music of the Evolution album, but it needs to be remixed and re-mastered and I strongly urge people to wait before buying it.
JF: And you are involved in The Human Tribe Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting these causes, can you tell us a bit more about that?
There are more hats than I am able to wear. If someone would step up and say, "Hey - I'll handle that!" I'd be happy to put energy into The Human Tribe Foundation. I have specific ideas that require a lot of money and engineering expertise. Someday I hope to be able see some of these things come to fruition. One project is: I have a design for what is basically an ark that would survive (theoretically) a global calamity. I'll elaborate on this idea, and others, in my book.
Human Tribe. What does that imply? That we are one: people, humans. No countries, borders, religions, barriers, walls... just people. A tribe living on Earth. That, to me, is reality.
Over the years Heart shared the bill with many other bands. Who were some of the bands or musicians that impressed or inspired you personally or musically?
RF: From my perspective, the tightest, most polished group we ever played with was, hands down, the Eagles. We had collectively seen them open for major groups in their rise in Vancouver and always loved them. To play on the same stage with them at A Day On The Green in Oakland, California was eye-opening because they took such care in delivering their absolute best. The eighty thousand plus in attendance agreed.
Another great was Randy Hansen, known mostly as the world's premier Jimi Hendrix impersonator. Impersonator, to me, is the wrong word to use for someone who pays homage to their major inspiration by invoking their mentor's spirit into original interpretations of the great music the master created. Randy has a healthy repertoire of tricks, moves, guitar knowledge and timing and intuition which he incorporates in live performances, and always wows his audience.
I believe Boston's first major live gig was opening for us. I'm sure Tom would agree they learned something:-) Van Halen, before becoming a major force, also witnessed our live show - from on stage - and Eddie told me he thought we were great.
Steve Miller was one of my favorites, truly a musician's musician.
Carlos Santana was an early favorite. His band was amazing at the Sky River Rock Festival near Seattle in, I believe, 1968. When we played with them at Cal Jam II, his professionalism and experience shone.
Your guitar playing has always been about emotion yet you've had the technique to get your ideas across. In some instances I feel your playing changed the meaning of some of the songs - or certainly added some vivid coloration to the aural "landscapes". The "Magazine" solo to me is a prime example (especially the live versions) - you have a cautiously melancholy tune about a young gal fantasizing about rock 'n rollers. Yet at the end of the song, the guitar solo is pretty much bi-polar! And I get the message that this person fantasizing is bordering on despair.
RF: When I recorded that solo I was just enjoying myself, playing guitar. I had no thought of interpreting or expressing anything in particular... I've never taken that intellectual approach to playing. In retrospect, if I were to try to verbalize an intellectual interpretation of the solo, it would be this: The guitarist is identifying with the person looking at the magazine, longing to be the one pictured. His spatial playing early on represents the hunt for the key to making his dreams come true. Realizing the leap of faith he must take, he energetically reaches a climax of determined, unbridled, inspired raw energy... a gift.
I think this is hilarious. I'd rather just feel it and not think much:-)
But you're right... solos like these absolutely change and crystalize the listening experience.
Forgive me if I read too much into the music....But my question is, how do you feel about the whole 1980s through present "shredder" type guitar playing? Have there been some modern players that you feel play inspirationally or do you tend to go back to the old school players for inspiration?
RF: Shredders tend to get put down a lot, which is easy for anyone to do, who isn't capable of shredding. To be able to perform that way on guitar requires an enormous amount of practice. Why do some guitarists choose that road?
Yesterday Eva and I went for a walk, with 7-year-old Rogie joining on his bicycle. "Watch this! Watch this!" After successfully jumping his bike on to a curb, he looked back to see our reaction. Eva and I looked at each other with a "What's the big deal?" look. The big deal was that Rogie had acquired a skill and wants everyone to know about it. He wants to be appreciated. He wants to be loved - one of the strongest motivators in our lives.
I believe shredders have leaned in that direction because at some point they realized they could. Not everyone can play like that. I certainly can't, but it's also a matter of what one is attracted to. I'm not attracted to jazz or shred guitar the way I am to a David Gilmour solo, or an early Clapton solo. Jimmy Page playing The Rain Song thrills me to my core. Shredding doesn't take me there.
Yngwie Malmsteen is among the best shredders, but there are many moments in his playing that are incredibly emotive and melodic. Satriani hits points where his playing is so soulful it is breathtaking. Nashville cats are so damn good, I laugh out loud... listen to Brad Paisley, for one.
To me, the bottom line is, this is a big world, with a lot of different tastes. To belittle any kind of musical expression is pointless, because there are people out there who are elevated and liberated by their enjoyment of it. For you or me to judge it is, possibly, a waste of time.
Lastly, I find it slightly disturbing that the Wilson sisters (esp. Ann) don't seem to take much accountability for the business/artistic moves they've made. On "Behind the Music" they laugh at their videos and the whole 1980s image, yet they were willing participants in it. They had no problems with a #1 hit CD and song. They made boatloads of money. Yet as the 80s ended and alternative became popular they changed their tune and went "independent" with the Lovemongers. Now they've adopted their old logo and have started playing more old material. Credibility isn't that easy to win back IMO.
RF: I'd say, the fact they can laugh at their past is a sign of greatness. Of course, they at some point would need to embrace the first four albums' music... wasn't that when they wrote the most, and created their most original and inspired compositions? Isn't that the public consensus? Isn't that what thrills the audience the most? The fact that I was in the band at the time of that music's creation may be irrelevant in some peoples' opinion.
Another response to your comments: The music business is a constantly moving target, replete with corruption and deceit. Survival in this context requires a continued reinventing, or at least refreshing of one's approach in order to be competitive. I believe the sisters did whatever they felt they had to do to keep their heads above water. The fact they succeeded makes me applaud them. There is no one who can say that - even though they may have taken controversial steps to be successful in this industry - they are not two of the most talented musicians in the world.
The question, "What could they do to achieve their maximum potential in this industry?," is perhaps more answerable by you than them;-)
I regret that the "Behind the Music" special on VH-1 made no mention about any of the Wilson sisters' negatives - like drug use and other problems. Instead, they come across as two sisters victimized by band members, record labels, kids making fun of overweight people, lovers and who knows who else.
RF: Any journalistic or commercial approach needs to have a "spin." Whether or not the spin involves honesty or correct reporting is irrelevant. The spin dictates the shock value; word-of-mouth factor; and entertainment value. These three factors drive reporting - not necessarily truth or the whole story. To support the idea that any kind of publicity is better than none, Mushroom Records' partner, Shelly Seigel said, "Ink is ink."
If any of the Heart band members are concerned about the whole truth and nothing but the truth, maybe they should write a book :-)
Who were your influences (bands, guitarist, etc.) when you were young?
One of my first "Golden Moments," the phenomenon that happens when you're struck to the core of your being by a lightning bolt of pure magic, was putting on a 45 RPM vinyl single of You Send Me by Sam Cooke. I sat there on the floor, playing it over and over, swept away, goose bumps from head to toes.
The very first Golden Moment I'll never forget. I believe it was 1953 and I was, having been born in 1950, three years old. Only mom and I were home, and she and I walked out into the yard on a beautiful Spring morning. Seattle at that time was still small, and hadn't displaced wildlife yet. Mom and I were greeted by the chorus of thousands of birds - a tumultuous, yet perfectly interwoven symphony of melody, joy and celebration. If one has a feeling for what heaven would be like, equate that with the way this music made me feel.
Another was the first time I heard All Shook Up, by Elvis. Wow! Brother Mike and I went around singing "Amashaka" all day:-) In second grade I made my public singing debut standing on a desk in the front of the classroom singing Hound Dog. Don't Be Cruel, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock also rocked my world.
Mom and dad always had the radio on in the morning and I remember loving Mr. Sandman, by Pat Ballard; Yakety Yak, by the Coasters; Honeycomb, by Jimmie Rodgers; Let The Good Times Roll, by Shirley and Lee; Be-Bop-A-Lula, by Gene Vincent; Blueberry Hill, by Fats Domino; It's Only Make Believe, by Conway Twitty; Chantilly Lace, by the Big Bopper; Rock-In Robin, by Bobby Day; So Fine, by The Fiestas; Sea Cruise, by Frankie Ford; Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home), by The Impalas, and generally being uplifted by most music. I've always been grateful that mom and dad loved music and started the day with it.
Talking about these good ol' days caused me to remember the first song I composed, a commercial for Schick electric shavers. I performed it at 8 years of age to an audience of thousands... of frogs at a nearby pond. Their roaring croaks of unanimous approval were encouraging.
One of my all-time favorites is Come Softly To Me, written, arranged and performed by Gretchen Christopher with The Fleetwoods, which was the biggest selling song of 1959.
I was on a Los Angeles-bound jet in the mid '90's when I became aware of an attractive lady sitting a few seats behind and across the aisle. There was a tone in her voice and friendliness and outgoing quality which immediately mesmerized me. I went back, introduced myself, and a friendship began that lasts to this day. It was Gretchen. I've been very privileged to have performed the song live with her several times since.
When I was in 8th grade I met Steve Fossen and we became instant friends. I remember seeing "The Beatles Are Coming" written on someone's notebook cover. Steve told me who they were and that they were great. My first memory of experiencing them was watching their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. It was THE Golden Moment! Absolutely thrilled to my soul... riveted as time stood still... being changed forever by a force that must have been divine intervention. They went on to be the biggest musical influence of my life, as I know they were also many others'.
Of course I loved the Stones; The Kinks; Gerry And The Pacemakers; Lovin' Spoonful; Beachboys; The Ventures; ahh, the list goes on and on.
Guitarists in particular who drove me were: Scotty Moore; Jim McCarty; Howard Roberts; Nokie Edwards; John Lennon; George Harrison; Paul McCartney (Paul played several of The Beatles' solos, including Taxman); Eric Clapton; Jimmy Page; Jeff Beck, to name a few.
Louie Armstrong, Victor Borge, and Buddy Guy are some of my favorite live performers.
Wow what a privilege!
First of all thanks for all the great music past and present. It must be a truly awesome feeling to have your music spread around the world and provide so much for so many. You saw monetary reward (at least you better have!)...but I'm sure it pales.
RF: It really is a great feeling to know at any given moment, thousands of people are hearing my guitar playing.
Yes, the money has been good. The nice thing is it frees up time so I can keep working on art.
I grew up on Vancouver Island as a kid in the 70's and your band's music was so on that soundtrack. Barracuda blasting out the carny's stereo speakers as I spun pulling 3g's on the Gravitron at the fall fair...oh ya. And then the other day my 12 year old -- the same age I was then -- cranks up the volume when that same tune drifts out of my car radio...what a cool song Dad! Oh ya son -- tres cool. We rock out.
Thanks for helping make those moments.
RF: It's amazing - the magic behind music... how it is capable of bringing memories of places, events, and feelings. One of my favorite all-time songs is Beyond The Sea by Bobby Darin. It was one of my brother, sister, and my "ocean songs." When we would go to the ocean as kids each summer, certain songs were pure magic for us.
You've been like this enigma for me. Your tone and choice of notes is so distinct..a true signature sound...brilliant and beautiful. And at the same time so intimidating and aggressive to me both musically (I play a bit) and as a personality -- like this guy sounds like he could be one intense mf...back then
RF: Ever since childhood people have told me I'm crazy. I think it's because I'm enigmatic - which to me means I know the wisdom behind my craziness and choose not to hide it like most people - creating the mystery in people's minds, "Wow, he sure is different from other people." To me, it's important to recognize and embrace the differences and wackiness and let it come through in one's signature style.
Now I read your post from a few days ago about going to the desert (metaphorically speaking) as a very young man and making this really deep spiritual choice..at the cross roads so to speak. And a part of me goes holy shit...here it is in the raw -- that once again it seems this sound and creativity really does spark from something somewhere deep within each one of us -- as we all know it does...or think we do...maybe :) But if nothing else, here's someone who has made it his life's work to throw this whatever-it-is out there for the rest of us to behold...as art...in the best way that he can. It's just great you can share that Roger...it really is...especially when it is so deeply personal. I just wanted to thank you for doing that as it has answered something for me...which is also pretty fucking personal! lol
RF: Hundreds of feet underground, running through France and Switzerland, is a circular, 17-mile-long tunnel containing a particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider. One of its purposes is to identify something called the God particle - something which, after it occurs, lasts less than a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second. This particle is named thus because it is believed to exist, but no one has ever seen it.
If you ask a major artist where and how they get the inspiration that makes them create greatness, they won't be able to tell you. It's the God particle.
I watch recent youtube clips of you today and you're like this totally different guy. Happy, laughing...a cool cat...in a good way. And I wonder how and when (and if!) this shift occurred. And I wonder how a shift like that might affect one's art...if at all...? And I wonder if a part of you felt denied by choosing the path you did so early in your life's journey.
RF: Generally, I've always been happy, so there has been no real shift. My art has certainly shifted, but the source of creativity is the same. There have been times when I've observed, "This sure isn't a holy path... or enlightening... or healthy," but I don't regret going this route. It makes for a good story :-)
ps - early Heart vid's show this funky symbol on the drum kit -- what's the deal?
RF: I'll ask Derosier its significance. The answer could take a while to get up here.
My Heart questions:
Were there any discussions about the change in direction the band took going from the riff-heavy "Little Queen" LP to the "Dog and Butterfly" LP and subsequently the "Bebe Le Strange" LP or did these albums just take their course as a result of the songwriting that was taking place?
RF: When the writing for Dog And Butterfly began, our musical and personal relationship had begun to be more strained. There had been a point while recording Little Queen where I mentally and spiritually quit the band, based on decisions being made which, to me, were not done for the right reasons. What I saw that bothered me so much was the power struggle beginning.
While I think the songs I wasn't welcome to play on on the D&B album are great, they certainly don't represent a band. I felt I was being slowly worked out of the lineup. This was a very difficult time for me, as one can imagine.
Are there many unreleased tracks still in the vault and will we see any of this stuff come out anytime soon?
RF: Not that I know of.
I applaud your brother's extremely clear vision of the band and its music. It's very obvious to me that he intuitively knew what fans wanted and how to deliver it. I feel that if Heart had stayed on it's "Little Queen" track (more Zep influenced) that the band would have kept getting more popular. Especially given what was happening in the rest of the music industry at the time.
RF: I agree with you, and appreciate your insight to Heart's "7th member."
If Ann and Nance could have teamed up with some of the stuff I wrote after leaving, I have no doubt it would have been huge. Derosier and I created some of the highest energy rock I've ever heard, and no one else has heard it. I still have these tapes, and if I were Ann, I'd call me and check it out. I know she could put vocals on there that would awaken the dead :-)
If Heart were reformed, imagine the money we could generate to help victims of disaster! Not only could we help victims - we could help in disaster preparedness, even more valuable. I'm amazed at how little people seem to know about what is about to happen to life on this planet. The possibility exists - and this is supported by historical evidence - that a mass extinction could occur within decades. The combined resources and efforts of humankind could do a lot to counteract this, but only if we were able to put away our weapons and adversity and work together, which is the same thing a broken band could do to make a difference, not only in physical applications, but as a demonstration of personal greatness.
I don't mean to be campaigning for a Heart reunion... that's not my intention. I am campaigning for every living human to put away the qualities that have always brought mankind down and find a way to help the whole.
I wish you and your family the best in the future and I'm looking forward to your upcoming autobiography.
RF: Thanks so much. You have no idea how much your involvement means to me. I treasure this intercourse with the people who are responsible for music's popularity.
I hope there is no limit to questions to be asked. I do want to give other people a chance to chime in. Before I ask my next question, I would like to say something. Any one who thinks you are a piece of crap should take a good look in the mirror. We ALL make mistakes in life.
Imagine if forgiveness reigned. The smiles, fun and endless possibilities all of us could have. Instead, some choose to be bitter, making them cold, ugly and only hurting themselves. That's not anyone's fault but their own.
The Petra video/song you have on your web site, I watched that. THAT'S Roger Fisher. The contributions you made to Heart making it one of the super groups of the seventies, THAT'S Roger Fisher. Your wife, kids and projects, THAT'S Roger Fisher. NOT past mistakes! Nuf said.
Now, to my question;
When you started learning to play guitar, did you take lessons or are you self taught?
Yep... self taught. Actually, I consider all the great guitarists I was listening to and spending countless hours copying, my teachers.
For the first two years of my playing, there were many days of practicing for eight hours... chromatic scales, and things which had little bearing on music... and I wasn't using all my fingers - just thumb, one, two, and three. I suddenly came to the realization I'd been learning - etching into my muscle memory - wrong habits. When I began a wiser approach, it was like starting all over again and I agonized through the process until I had a foundation that made more sense. If I'd had a teacher, a lot of time would not have been wasted.
Now, I would advise a beginning guitarist to acquire a basic understanding of theory - how chords are structured; basic scales and how to use them; hearing and feeling the various emotive qualities of modes. Then I would choose one artist to focus on. Learn one song by that person. Copy it absolutely exactly, channeling the soul from which it came. When that one song is mastered, learn a few more, then choose a different artist.
The most important ingredient in this work may be honesty, because the aspiring student knows when they've got it right, but it's a struggle that takes a lot of time and tenacity. The beauty of being young is you have a lot of time, generally, and mom and dad's roof over your head. You probably don't have a job yet and your dreams haven't had time to erode or be squashed. Go for it with everything you've got and it probably won't be enough.
There are certain ingredients that need to be discovered by living, looking and learning. An important one is inside you. Who are you? Why do you cry? Why do you matter in this world? If you reached success, would it be all about you, or would you retain humility and think of how you can give back? Your greatest strength may be your very soul. Are you aware of the deepest you? Some of these people you're listening to know their soul. That's why their playing thrills you.
I was wondering, had you never made it famous with Heart or any other band, what would have been your choice for making a living?
Wow... good question! Made me remember something I hadn't thought about for years.
When I was in grade 8, around 14 years old, I read several books about Jesus's life... more biographical than religious. I was very moved by the possibilities I recognized in study of spirit, which is what he did. I was so enthusiastic about it, I immediately had no friends. So I shut up, but the bottled desire to attain a deep spiritual perspective remained.
One thing I wanted to do was go into the desert and exist like Jesus did for as long as it took until I had an awakening. This whole direction was one I struggled with a lot when I was around 18... should I do music or seek enlightenment?
Though I chose music and the flirting-with-disaster lifestyle, I've always striven to wake up spiritually. Naturally, it's a very personal journey, which I won't talk about.
But as for what other occupation?
My dad was a carpenter, but I really struggle with that sort of thing.
I'm a good producer, I think.
A humanitarian cause would be a possibility. I'm drawn to wanting to help humanity.
Thanks for asking!
I have been a frequent visitor to your website and just had to drop you an email. I just saw the new Q and A on Heart and was delighted to hear that you and Nancy Wilson are writing autobiographies. Any idea on when you may be realeasing yours?
I'm really not concerned with the when... it's the what that matters most. I intend to make something that uplifts, enlightens, and entertains.
I had the pleasure of seeing you with Heart in 1977 opening (!) for Dave Mason in Syracuse NY and in Rochester, NY on the Dog and Butterfly tour. The band was never the same after you left. You were such a huge part of Heart and it has pissed me off to no end over the years how your contribution has been downplayed by Ann and Nancy. And then to see how Steve and Michael were treated just made me even angrier. You and Steve were founding members of Heart! I sometimes wonder how it is even possible that you can be let go like that. I was able to get a copy of a TV show you did in 1976 from Seattle called "After Hours" (if memory serves). It was awesome! It was amazing to see you play so close up. Your fingers are like talons! You are an amazing guitarist!
I have no clue what After Hours is, but thanks for your complimentary words. Talons... haven't heard that before:-)
I bet you hear from people all the time saying a lot of the same things I have said. I just wanted to add my two cents. Your muscianship has given me a lot pleasure over the years, and I wish you the best in all of your future endeavors.
Messages like yours can come at a time when self-doubt is trying its best to inflict uncertainty. They are much appreciated. Fans have no idea how much they mean to guys like me... human beings. Know what I'm talkin' about?
I would have waited to send this from my home address but I found out about the above this morning [he's referring to the Dreamboat Annie Live CD and DVD], and I didn't want to wait until later to say how unfortunate it is that no attempt was made by Ann/Nancy to get all of you back together for it.
RF: While it would have been wonderful to have the original band recreate that incredible album, the context doesn't exist yet that could support that right effort.
In order for something as appropriate and noteworthy as the original band reforming for any reason, Ann and Nance would have to forgive me my mistakes of the past. That way, we could feel comfortable around each other and once again be productive in a democratic relationship.
There are, however, no signs of a reunion in the near future.
As disturbing as it is for me and I'm sure many fans of the original (and best!) Heart, I'm not sure how you deal/approach news like this.
RF: Well, it doesn't phase me. All I can say is that, if and when the correct context to support a reunion exists, I'd be very excited to work with Ann and Nance and the band - all people I have fond feelings for; great memories of; and great respect for. Each of the members of the original Heart were and are exceptional people, each with their forte. I personally feel obligated to give Heart fans every possible thing I can to help them experience what was an amazing amalgam of talent and spirit. I wish I could do more.
've heard that Nancy is working on an autobiography. This timing should be great, as its release will coincide with my autobiography, which will touch heavily on Heart.
I've purposely avoided asking about your life during Heart but now that you've 'opened the box', I'd like to find out your feelings about events like this. It really seems they think of Heart as "Us,.....and the band". I can't help but wonder what reaction would take place if you, Steve, Howard and Mike got together with two women singers and did a "Heart" concert???
RF: A lot of people have strongly suggested we get other gals to take the place of Ann and Nance, and we've played with a few who were up to the task. The fact is, we would never get two women and go try to be "Heart." Drosh and I feel very strongly about the sacredness of authenticity. It's all I can do to get him to play Heart material at all, let alone try to capitalize on previous success with an imitation band. How could we possibly retain integrity doing that?
Thanks for the opportunity to ask about Heart.
RF: I hope a lot of fans come to the site to see these questions and replies. It's high time the Heart history comes clearly into the light.