The new release from Bernie Shaw & Dale Collins is now out and available on vinyl & CD, download, etc.. It is a solid album, and definitely something Uriah Heep won’t want to miss — but you can read my review elsewhere around here.
In this interview – Bernie and Dale answer questions about the songs, the recording, and how Too Much Information came together.
Enjoy the read.
Check them out on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/BernieShawDaleCollins/
For ordering :
Amazon CD: https://geni.us/TooMuchInfoCD
Amazon LP: https://geni.us/TooMuchInfoLP
Google Play: https://geni.us/TooMuchInfoGP
The Picking Locks CD came out 20 years ago. Wasn’t it always sort of ‘the plan’ to work those songs in to a full length album?
Dale : yes and no … there was initially a plan to follow them up with an album of new material… but schedules kept making it difficult.
So, it has been 6 years since you guys were in contact to complete a full album!? what initiated that? And how did the record deal come about?
Bernie : I was approached by rep of Cherry Red Records to see if l was interested in recording a album outside of Uriah Heep. My first reaction was to contact Dale and see if he would be interested in doing a whole album with me. Like before , he would write the songs, l would do all the vocals and harmonies. So it turned into a ‘project’ album for the both of us , not a ‘solo’ album.
Dale : I was approached by Daniel Earnshaw, and Bernie 6 years to the day before our release and asked if I would be interested in doing an album . It was originally pitched to me as putting re masters of our EP tracks and single along side some tracks Bernie did with another member of the former ” In Transit”.
I was really not interested in such a mixed tracks idea and responded that Bernie and I had always planned to do an album of our own, and if we make an album that is what it should be.
After some discussions and planning it was decided we would indeed do our own album and eventually it was decided that it would include re recordings of some of our previous works along with some new songs.
Dale: Since Picking Locks, what have you been doing musically? Any other projects? Gigs? Bands?
Dale: Yes I have another recording project here in Canada , as well as some cover bands I play with now and then.
My other recording project is called Sleeping Dogs Lie. It was formed after Bernie and I did our first recordings and includes the drummer Don Restall from In Transit and the EP, and six of the songs on Too Much Information, as well as singer /songwriter Trevor Richardson who co wrote the lyrics for Alone from Too Much Information. We toured for some time including events for Canadian Biker Magazine. We also did some recordings and released two singles early on. I then relocated to another province of Canada which put the project in hibernation for a few years.
Bernie: there’s been some lulls in Heep’s recording time [such as from Sonic Origami to Wake The Sleeper]. Had this project or any other side projects not been brought up during that period?
Bernie : It might seem like a ‘lull’ to you, but in actual fact, that is when the internet went mad, Napster was being sued by Metallica, the whole music business went nuts. Nobody was really signing anybody, record companies were amalgamating , going bust. The entire music scene was a mess. We had all these songs in the bag , and no home. So believe me, if Heep weren’t being offered a deal, I sure as heck wasn’t either.
First, pretty eye-catching and clever album cover art. can you tell me a bit about where this came from and explain it a bit? Was it previously existing or created for this project?
Bernie : No, we were just very lucky. We had the idea of ‘too much information’ being the name of the album, so l went on the web. Public art pages. Hundreds of them. I spent hours looking at literally thousands of images. And then l saw ‘him’. The rusty mechano man sitting in the middle of nowhere . Just wanting to get away from it ALL. WHY? TOO MUCH INFORMATION ! it fit like a glove to what l thought the message was. It’s not metal. It’s not dated, it just GOOD ART. and l love it… very classy, and puts the message across.
Dale : I am very pleased with the way the art work turned out although I had something very different in mind at the outset. I had envisioned the concept of All The Kings Men and a picture of an old castle. This was based on the fact that we were making this album from 3 different areas of the globe. I being in the prairies of Canada, Don being on the west coast of Canada, and Bernie and Daniel being in the UK, as “all the kings men were spread across the globe.
However when Bernie discovered the current art work and suggested the title Too Much Information , it seemed to fit just right. The image of the man holding his head as if overwhelmed with information was a great fit with the title track ; Too Much Information. I love the image and brightness of the cover that was chosen.
Hey Jimi and Here We Go were both on Picking Locks, and [I Believe] Sad Song – were all written at the same time [!?]. Did you make any major changes to them for the album?
Bernie : Not really, a good song is a good song. You don’t have to change it. Maybe just re-record it with better equipment in a better studio etc. But it pretty well stayed the same. I might have tried a few different harmonies , but really thats about it.
Dale : In fact I made a serious effort to be faithful to the original songs when recording the instrument tracks. Before composing solos for the new versions I went back and re learned note for note the original solos I had done to be sure I knew them exactly right. In this way I could be sure that even if I re wrote parts of those solos, they would retain their original intent and emotional direction. I also stayed as close as possible to the original arrangements. This was important to me in part because the songs had a long standing history with our fans, which I did not wish to betray.
Sad Song seems to be a perfect type of ballad for Bernie’s voice and might’ve been a big radio hit at a time. What can you tell me about this song – lyrically, and putting it together [great production]?
Bernie : I’ve always loved a good ballad. Especially if l can get under its skin and make it mine. That song is just one of ‘those’ songs. The message, melody, lyric. That’s my cup a tea! With a song like that, it’s not what you put IN to it, it’s what you leave OUT. let the song breath…
Loved the way it turned out.
Dale : Actually Sad Song was written years before Bernie and I met as a result of something I witnessed while living in Victoria. A tragic accidental event that took the life of a young woman, and involved a young man quite like the character of the one described in the lyrics.
On the original version I played the piano track, and felt it was lacking in expression. This time around a good friend and wonderful piano player named Jason Gardenits came in and put down the piano for the song. I Love what he did !!
Alone is my favorite track here. An almost Iron Maiden-ish intro, but quite a nice melodic tune. Where did this song come from and co-written with?
Dale : Alone was part of the Sleeping Dogs Lie live show but SDL never recorded the song. It always got a especially good reception at the shows. SDL singer. Trevor Richardson originally wrote the lyrics , of which some were re written for the recorded version on the album. It is a basically a song about a broken relationship and moving on from it, as well as the need to move on from it, and that time when the recognition of that need becomes clear to a person or indeed both persons in the relationship.
So Many Times is a great opener; love the guitar intro. This is the one song co-credited to both of you. Can you tell me a bit about where the guitar intro came from, lyrical idea, and how this song worked out between the 2 of you writing-wise?
Bernie : The song is basically about self doubt. But with the help and guidance or believe of a friend, it can all come together . But it can also be so ‘ in your face’ that you can’t even see it. I was in a very ‘Doobie Brothers’ head space on the lyric. You know when they used to almost to on a spiritual song? ‘Jesus is just alright with me ‘. ‘jericho’. Finding something, but then just letting it slip from your hand.
Dale : I had originally written the song with lyrics. However the only part of the lyrics I liked after reflection was the chorus ( “So Many Time I found You” ) That line seemed to strike a note with Bernie, and we both liked the song musically, so we decided to include it and the rest of the lyrics were written by Bernie.
I recorded four different guitar solo intro bits and could not decide which one to use. So I played them all for my fiancé Michaela, and she picked the one that is on the album.
With reference to the title track, and a few others – where do lyrical ideas come from?
Dale : Lyric ideas , for me, always come from life and life experiences. I think that lyrics are basically stories and stories are usually best when told in a way that the listener can identify with them because he/she can relate them to some experience or emotion that they them selves, or some one they know , have been through.
Too Much Information is about seeing some one in a positive light while forgiving the dark or unpleasant sides to their character, and reaching that point at which one knows Too Much Information and can no longer view that person in the same positive light despite trying to. It also speaks to the effort to forgive or ignore those darks sides until a point where that is no longer possible, and self preservation becomes more important.
Hey Jimi is a kind of question as to what Jimi Hendrix would think of the immense legacy he left despite his apparent , from some accounts, wonder about why all the excitement over what he was doing. It is also a tribute to that legacy.
Here We Go is about war and the sadness and senseless destruction that comes of it. . The ending was extended for the album version, making the song longer, which considering man kinds’ never ending return to war as a means of trying to solve or change things, seems fitting.
Was the music on TMI completely done before any vocals were recorded? Was there much discussion on details like harmonies, final mixes, track running order? [How was this stuff decided upon?]
Bernie : Completely independent. Dale wrote and recorded all the backing tracks in Canada, then l took them into the studio the Heep have recorded the last few albums in, with the engineer who’s worked with me for 12 years and we came up with lyric lines, some new, some true to the original, the l came up with all the harmonies and bv’s on the spot. Good fun, great experience, but boy, not as easy as when l had Phil Lanzon just firing them off the top of his head. Very proud of the outcome though.
Dale : Bernie was of course familiar with the four songs we had recorded earlier and so he knew all the vocal parts and took those songs from that point vocally. For the new material I sent demos over with me singing the songs to demo the vocal melodies I had composed for the lyrics. From there Bernie works the melodies and phrasing a bit to suit his style and writes all the back up harmony vocal melodies.
What can you tell me about the other players used on the album and your connections to them?
Bernie : I’ve known Don Restall most of my life. Met him in elementary school, and he’s always been a drummer, and a damn good one! Great backing singer too. Good combo. We’ve been in a hundred garage bands together over my teenage years and before! We were in ‘In Transit’ together, so we know each other inside and out. So good to have him on this album..
Dale : I met Don and Bernie in 1996, when I got a call to audition for the band In Transit, which was a cover show Don and Bernie were building to do some shows during Bernie’s Christmas time visit to Victoria, BC where his family lived. Over the course of doing a few shows together discussions took place about doing some recording, which led to the EP Picking Locks.
On a very interesting and pleasant note for me, the song Alone has 3 of the four original members from my old band London Times, from many years before. Drummer Kelly Studola and bassist Neil van Dyjk , and myself were the original members of London Times which was a four piece rock cover band doing Zepplin, Aerosmith, Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Rush, Max Webster and the like. We had a great singer named Kevin Fullerton who could sing all those high singer parts and the band toured for years with great success in two different version.
Jason Gardenits is a keyboardist/ piano player from my area who I have worked with in Sleeping Dogs Lie. I just love his piano work on Sad Song and Hey Jimi.
Mark Ammar, who played drums on Just A Little Bit, is the drummer who I grew up with from grade 7 through high school and we as kids spent tons and tons of hours jamming and learning to play together. Just A Little Bit struck me as having a kind of Zeppish feel to it and knowing Mark as I do I felt he was the right drummer for that song.
Do either of you have any other projects on the go? [Bernie – aside from Heep!]
Dale : I Always have some musical on the go. I am planning an album and hope to begin work on it as soon as things settle down a bit. I have been very busy with this release.
What new and/or old albums or artists are each of you listening to these days?
Bernie : My listening spectrum is pretty wide. Lyle Lovett, to Lady Antebellum. Patricia Barber to John5. The Blind Boys of Alabama, to Sammy Hagar and the Circle. Damn Yankees, to Jeff Beck. And YES. I’m a Nicleback fan. Love Chad’s lyrics. They are “real” and to me , that’s what counts!!! Oh ya…. and they’re Canadian !
Dale : I have some music, that for me will ever be in my list of favorite listening – albums like Dark Side Of The Moon, Crime Of The Century, most Led Zeppelin, Big Generator from Yes, and far too many to list here… but I am also a fan of Foo Fighters, Vdelli, and many newer bands. I try, when I can, to stay in touch with what is new in rock music; I believe it helps keep me from being in a writing rut.
KJJ, Oct. 2019