Very excited about “48 Seconds” – the new album from Uriah Heep keyboardist/songwriter Phil Lanzon! Check out my review in my previous post.
You can order Phil’s album on CD & Vinyl, as well as his novel “Curse Of The Mudchalk Devil” at the likes of Amazon.
Here’s a Q & A with Phil about the making of 48 Seconds. Enjoy the read and check out the album!
Since your first solo album [17 months ago] – you’ve released your first novel, Uriah Heep’s Living The Dream, as well as a lengthy [and ongoing] world tour since [September release]. When and how did you find the time to write, record and produce “48 Seconds”?
I’m damned if I know, haha! No it was as you’d expect, piecemeal. Between touring and festivals I recorded sections in studios across London including Air studio where I recorded the orchestra.
On 48 Seconds you have taken the use of orchestra and choir a step further as part of the production. What lead you to that direction – being that it’s very different to what you’re known for and is quite a grand production?
I love movie soundtracks. I sometimes find myself listening more to soundtracks at the cinema and at home than paying attention to the story. I guess I need that enveloping sound that I only get from the warmth of an orchestra
You often write pretty interesting story-based songs – either on books you’ve read or historical moments. Do you spend much of the time on the road [or home] reading? and what sparks your interest that may end up being a song idea?
I had a period of heavy reading a while back but I don’t read much at the moment. Usually it’s life matters that spark the interest…something I feel strongly or passionate about.
I’ve read the song 48 Seconds was something you had as an idea for many years!? Can you give me your interest in the subject [event] of the San Francisco fire and how it eventually evolved in to the song we hear?
After reading a book on the subject when I was ten years old, the subject stuck in my mind and would often raise its head and ask to be made into a song, but it never materialised over the years until now. I always felt an affinity or a connection to the event. No idea why, it sometimes feels to me that I may have lost a family member in the fire. I knew it would have to be built into sections as there was a good few elements to set up the whole picture. I created two fictional characters into the story so the listener could relate to what went on. Together with arranger Richard Cottle we concocted a suitable orchestration to fit the bill and then let poor old Simon Hanhart producer and mix it. A masterful result indeed.
Another I really like is “Road To London”. This seems a bit of a spooky tale — did this come from something you read or some where else?
No, it is solely based on the story telling style of traditional folk tales. Go to any traditional Irish or English folk session and you’ll probably come across a similar tale of ghostly woe.
“Look At The Time” is a great rock track – more progressive / pop – Can you tell me how this one evolved and what inspired it?
Purely politics and its self serving code of ethics
You’ve used 2 of the singers from your first album, as well as the same production team. But you’ve also brought in a number of new people. Can you discuss how many of these players came to your attention and got involved?
All the musicians/singers were brought into the fold via Simon and Richard. I leave that to them as they are the experts.
Who is the singer on “Rock n Roll Children”? [she is also on “Face To Face”] . She sounds great! Can you tell me a bit about her?
Miriam Grey. She’s amazing. Gutsy as well as subtle, she’s got a set of pipes on her for sure. – http://www.mimgrey.com
“Forty Line” has quite a big orchestra piece [where one might put a guitar solo]. this is pretty unique, giving it an old big band sound, sort of like something out of a movie. How did these musical breaks develop? Were you hands on with suggestions, written ideas, etc.. ?
Yes, I was. The big band thing came from an idea I had to turn the verse into an old fashioned big band solo with all the trimmings. I handed the job over to Lorrie Cottle (Bass) who came back with this incredible arrangement and a blast of brass that knocked my socks, and everybody else’s socks, off.
I also wanted to write a song that had no specific meaning, if you listen close you’ll see what I mean.
Any moments on the album that you most proud of or impressed with the outcome?
As I worked so close on every aspect of the album, I would never let anything go that wasn’t impressive in some way. I think it all gels so well.
You now have 2 albums under your own name, plus a busy schedule with Heep [current tour and 50th anniversary next year]. would you like to [or plan to] get a few shows of your own music together – with some of the performers on these albums?
Would love to. So if you know anyone out there willing to invest I would be glad to hear from them. I would only perform with the real instruments… real strings and real voices.
You went to Michael Cheval again for the cover-art. Was this a piece he created specifically for 48 Seconds?
Not particularly, I gave him the concept and he had a piece of artwork that had a slight resemblance to the idea. I drew a sketch of how it could be modified and after going back and forth a few times he came up with the one you see.
Might you want to see some of the orchestra stuff perhaps work it’s way in to a Uriah Heep project? [Something along the lines of Heep’s Salisbury from 71].
Yes, we have always discussed working with an orchestra but only on a live situation. We’ll see.
Up Next [well, working on it] : a look at Phil’s early days [before Heep!]
KJJ, Aug, ’19