Oh man, this is like a blast from a long ago past. HEIR APPARENT was a fave already back in the 80s and now they are back with a new album. X-mas does come early this year. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
I remember you guys from back in the days and how you kinda carved a niche for yourself back in the mid to late 80s. What happened then, why did not HEIR APPARENT become a household name?
-Because a million people didn’t buy the albums… (??) Success requires exposure. Black Dragon was a small independent company with limited distribution. They made some poor decisions, like denying us a chance to open for Black Sabbath in Paris in May of 1986… that might have helped. We had no professional management or agents, no US label… You cannot get success without someone in the machine deciding to invest in you.
I have always wondered about your name because to me as a non-English speaking person it hasn’t made any sense. How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-Is there no equivalent term in Swedish for a successor or an heir to the throne? We believe mankind is the guardian of this planet, so “heir apparent” has very deep meaning to our lyrical messages in song lyrics. We believe in science and reality… whether we are using medieval analogies or speaking in modern terms, we write about individuality to overcome cultural delusion, the folly of religion and divisive politics, and mankind’s responsibility to preserve life on this planet now that we have the power to destroy it.
You are back with a new album now, your first since 1989 if I have done my homework correctly. Why now? What do you expect to get for response on this new album?
-Our fans have wanted a new album for a long time, ever since they began asking us to reunite for festivals in 2000… the major requirement has been finding a vocalist who was capable of copying the old songs from the first two albums at a professional level, as well as someone who also had the motivation and talent to create their own identity as the new singer of the band. There is only one way to follow two albums with 2 singers that people place in two genres, and that is to write a third album that stands on its own… I think we have accomplished this.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-We played what we liked, learning from our musical influences, and using a name that would allow us to write intelligent lyrics that relate to our philosophy of life. The band had a few different names until we settled on Heir Apparent, beginning in 1983 with “Sapien”… which is directly related to mankind and evolution (homo sapien).
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-I don’t know what it takes to survive as a musician anymore. It seems only the true collectors and die-hard fans buy CD’s and vinyl… most of the people who call themselves fans are stealing our music online, or streaming it for free, so we never see a dime… it’s a very sad situation. Lars Ulrich was attacked and Metallica has been condemned for 20 years by people when he complained about Napster and torrents, but he was right about the Internet killing the music business. By the 1990’s, many musicians had been able to tell stories about how record labels were ripping off bands… so, when music was first being stolen from the Internet in the 1990’s the predominant thought was that it was OK because everyone was getting revenge on the evil labels… So, it killed the labels… which immediately killed the bands. When “fans” have no respect for copyrights and creative works, how can they expect us to survive? I have never made a dime from music… what is my incentive to keep making music? We invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to create something from nothing… and it is criticized by people who are mentally stuck in 1985 and have never created anything in their entire lives, and then stolen by people who have no refuse to pay for our music while claiming to love the band. If the only possibility to survive is to play concerts and sell t-shirts, releasing a single doesn’t seem to make sense… it will be stolen anyway. If you have 10 singles to release, does it make sense to sit back and put out a new single every month?? You can’t tour on music that hasn’t been released yet, so… it seems best to release the whole album and try to get a gig to make some money and repay your debt from making the recording in the first place.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-You do the best you can with the resources available. We recorded this album in my house, and I worked for free… we had no art budget, so I created the album art myself, also for free… we do everything we can afford to do for promotion, and we hope for the best. The album recording budget was given to Tom Hall for mixing the album, and we spent twice as much as the recording budget to make this album, so we need to sell a few thousand more to break even and pay our debts. This is the real world. We invest a lot of time and money, and our families make sacrifices so we can make music… we count on the fans to buy t-shirts and CD’s and concert tickets to support the work enough to make it worthwhile. We have made ourselves available to the fans. Now, we rely on the fans to support this work. If not, it all ends.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Everything is different than it was 30 years ago. This band only exists because of social media. At least I’m not handwriting all the interviews and fan mail like I did in the 1980’s…
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-We enjoy playing our music, whether it is for 5000 people or just ourselves. The more people that can enjoy it, the better. When the audience knows the music and sings it back at us as we play, it is a more exciting and enjoyable experience. If the lyrics can inspire people to make the world a better place in their lives, that is the best reward. If success creates a situation where a band can feel like they are making a true difference in society, I imagine that would be very rewarding.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We all have families to support, with jobs and careers required to survive. We cannot afford to tour away from home for more than 2 or 3 weeks every year unless the band was successful enough to become a profession. It is a double-edged sword… a band must tour to make money, but we must save money from our lives to invest into recording an album and hope it gets enough attention and sales to make a tour possible… so, that is the real world as a band today. As I said before, everything comes down to people deciding what they want. If they want us to survive, or want to see us in concert, they need to buy the album and the merchandise. I don’t need to be rich, I just need to survive. Ultimately, everything is economics.
What will the future bring?
-We will see. We have answered to call for new music. We have made the investment and done the work, and we are very proud of the result. Now, it’s your turn… we are here for you… what will you do to create the future? 😉 Thanks.