All news

Best is yet to come: Uriah Heep guitar legend vows to record new songs, tour Russia again

"Russia is a big part of our rock-n-roll heart"

Guitarist Mick Box and lead singer Bernie Shaw Sergei Fadiechev/TASS
Guitarist Mick Box and lead singer Bernie Shaw
© Sergei Fadiechev/TASS

LONDON, December 30. /TASS/. Renowned UK hard rockers, Uriah Heep, who like many other performers were unable to tour in 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions, failed to come to Russia, but they will definitely play for their Russian fans again, Mick Box, founder and all-time guitarist of the band, promised in an interview with TASS. The group also intends to record new songs, although the dates of the recording were shifted due to COVID-19, Box added.

In 2020, Uriah Heep planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of their debut album. In an exclusive interview that took place via video link, the veteran musician told TASS about the band’s plans for touring, how he spends his time in quarantine and remembered two former members of Uriah Heep’s "golden lineup" who passed away this past autumn.

On touring

The band had to cancel its 50th anniversary concerts this year because of the pandemic.

"We initially had plans to do a long show, just Heep - acoustics sets, stage sets - it was a big deal going down but then that all stopped because of Covid," Box acknowledged.


He confessed that a lot of the promoters the band was dealing with are "out of business now."

"So, we’ve got to rethink the whole thing again," he said adding that the circumstances will not stop the band from celebrating this momentous anniversary.

"We should definitely celebrate it, loud and clear and very proudly, because it is an amazing milestone for any band," the musician stressed.

He added that Russia will "most definitely" be on the next tour’s schedule.

"We had one [Russian] tour booked for this year and we had another tour booked, a long tour of Russia, three weeks or something, starting in April (2021). But that looks like that may change now due to all the different strains and things that are coming in, the lockdowns and everything else," he explained.

"We love playing Russia, we love being there we enjoy it the fans are fantastic," Box stressed.

"Russia is a big part of our rock-n-roll heart," he added.

"We were the first Western rock band, as you know, to come out there and play in Moscow in December 1987 at the Olimpiisky stadium," the rocker recalled.

"We were kind of pioneers in a way through our success it allowed others [Western rock bans] to follow (in touring Russia)," he pointed out.

Box reassured all Uriah Heep fans worldwide that the band still had a tour booked for 2021 and was keeping a close eye on what shows could still take place this year. He made it clear that the tickets to concerts cancelled because of the coronavirus restrictions would be valid for later dates.

"For all our fans out there, yes, we are looking at coming, we got a tour booked in 2021, we are watching it closely to see if it is still possible to pull it off. If it is, we are going to be there. If it gets moved, just hang on to your tickets and hopefully they will be honored somewhere down the year," the legendary guitarist promised.

Retire? No way, you must mean ‘re-tyre’

The musician confessed that because of the quarantine he has been spending so much time at home as never before.

"I am just keeping myself busy. I’m doing a lot of songwriting, a lot of writing stuff, which is what I do every day but now I have more time to do it. And of course, I do a lot of family stuff…because you know... I’ve never been home this long, ever, ever in my entire career," Box said.

The guitarist stressed that he is not going to retire from music.

"The only time I use this word [retire] is when I have to change the tires on my car, when it snows and its icy, then I re-tyre," he said laughing.

New album

Although the pandemic seriously affected the band’s studio plans, he expects them to return to the studio as soon as possible.

"Actually, we had January 2021 booked as a pre-production for rehearsals for new songs and they were going to be recorded in February - we got studio booked and everything," he said adding that these plans were ruined after London officials had imposed Tier-4 lockdowns due to the new strain of coronavirus found in the UK.

"But we will do the new album for sure. We’re using the same producer - Jay Ruston - who did our last album, Living the Dream [2018]," Box noted.

On bandmates who passed away

This autumn, two former members of Uriah Heep passed away: Ken Hensley (keyboards, guitar, vocals) who was the author of the band’s biggest hits in the 1970s and drummer Lee Kerslake, who was also famous for playing with Ozzy Osborne. Box said that he often thinks about his former bandmates.

"Oh well, I have got so many memories. My head is chuck full of memories of all the guys. You know even going back to [bassists] Gary Thain, and John Wetton, Trevor Bolder, and [vocalist] David Byron, and now Ken and Lee. We travelled through a lot in life together, we went through the university of life together, basically. And travelled the world many, many times, so we got to know everyone’s foibles, we got to know everyone’s good side, bad side… when we were on stage we just felt we were unbeatable, we were a very strong entity," he recalled.

About band’s milestones

When asked what songs and albums in the band’s 50-year history, he considered to be the best, Mick Box said that best song or album "is always the one that is coming up, the one we are going to record."

"Because if don’t believe that then you know, you tend to stagnate and not move forward and we are forward-looking band" the guitarist added.

Nevertheless, he highlighted that the Demons and Wizards album [1972] was a ‘magical’ milestone for the band’s career.

"It was very successful and along with the song Easy Livin’ took us to the world stage and that allowed us to tour in 62 countries or it did pre-Covid, of course," he said.

Among other significant albums, Box also mentioned Abominog (1982), which was very successful in America, Sea of Light (1995) and the latest Living the Dream (2018).

How Uriah Heep came to be

Uriah Heep was founded in 1969. At that time, Great Britain was going to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens (1812-70), and the name of the great writer was everywhere around.

One day, Gerry Bron, manager of an unknown rock band Spice suggested that the musicians could change the name of their band to Uriah Heep, a villain-like character of the David Copperfield novel. At first, the musicians unanimously rejected it, but, ironically, it was that very name that the musicians eventually gave the band.

Uriah Heep recorded 25 studio albums that sold over 40 mln copies.

Through the years, more than 20 musicians played in the ranks of Uriah Heep.

The band’s current lineup includes Mick Box on guitar, Bernie Shaw on lead vocals, Phil Lanzon on keyboard, Russell Gilbrook on the drums and Davey Rimmer on bass.

Uriah Heep became the first Western world-class band that performed in the Soviet Union. In late 1987, the band played 10 concerts in Moscow, which brought together a total of 180,000 spectators at the Olimpiisky sports complex. Nine years later, the British rockers returned to Russia making their first tour around the country. Since then, Uriah Heep tours in Russia on a regular basis.