Posted on October 04th. 2018
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Due to my everlasting passion for US Metal, next conversation makes me feel humbled and proud ! I penned down/published the review for Heir Apparent’s newest piece entitled “A View From Below”, feel free to read my opinion right HERE. I won’t refuse the opportunity to have a talk with founder/guitarist of the band named Terry Gorle, started with Heir Apparent back in 1983. Thirty five years later on now and I’m sure he will tell us a whole lotta interesting things. My intention is to talk about the early years, present and future so let’s not waste time and start right away.
Stefan: Very welcome here at Metal To Infinity webzine Belgium Terry ! Congratz from the heart with the new majestic album “The View From Below” but we’ll discuss that topic later on. First I’d like to take you back in the early days of existence. As founder of the band, How Heir Apparent came about… Who were the first musicians you teamed up with?
Terry: I began writing original songs in the summer of 1983, beginning with The Servant, Dragon’s Lair, and Keeper of the Reign (called “A Memory” at the time, with different lyrics). Jim Kovach was the drummer, with Scott Bringedahl on bass, and I played guitar and sang until we could find a real vocalist. At this time, we called ourselves Sapien. In the fall of 1983, Derek Peace replaced Scott on bass, and Corey Rivers became our vocalist. This lineup was called Nemesis, and we were very productive for the few short months we were together. Corey and Derek brought Hands of Destiny and Tear Down the Walls, and we wrote several other songs during this period. By the spring of 1984, Paul Davidson joined the band as vocalist, and we began making plans to enter a studio for the first time. At this time we changed our name to Heir Apparent.
Stefan: Where exactly the name Heir Apparent came from?
Terry: Like most young musicians, I spent a lot of time trying to think of cool band names. 😉 At some point in 1984 I came across the term “heir apparent” and it just made sense. It was something I could tie into my general philosophy of the responsibility mankind owes the planet as its guardians inheriting the Earth, and it relays a sense of succession and achievement. And the bonus… heir apparent was already in the dictionary! 😉
Stefan: What was the first real achievement of the band, the release of a few demo’s I guess… am I correct?
Terry: We entered Triad Studios in 1984 and recorded a 5-song demo in 4 days that received local radio play on Seattle’s two rock stations. That was pretty exciting. In September 1984, Ray replaced Jim on drums, and we began rehearsing and making plans for our first concerts later in the year. Meanwhile, I sent out tapes to magazines around the world and waited…
Stefan: Due to signing a deal with Black Dragon Records, doors went open and the legendary debut “Graceful Inheritance” saw daylight, on vinyl. What story can you tell us about the release of this album and the response of the press and media?
Terry: It was a very exciting time for us, but it was offset by financial pressures. I couldn’t afford to continue renting the house where I’d built our rehearsal room, and I was indebted to friends and family who loaned the band $8000 to record the 1984 demo and the first half of Graceful Inheritance. I moved into an apartment, answering correspondence from around the world by mail, and prepared for a tour beginning in May of 1986. We didn’t have a US deal, so we had very little recognition at home. By the time we received mail from Europe, we were several weeks behind in knowing about the responses. It was all very encouraging, but we needed to survive in the meantime and hope for the best. The album was only available in America as an import, it was very hard to find, and expensive. And, we were very upset that Black Dragon didn’t use our original painting we’d commissioned from Matt Bazemore.
Not only had I spent money on it, but Black Dragon breached the record contract by not allowing us to approve the cover they used. We had no idea until we opened the box. Religious groups and the PMRC were attacking heavy metal for being an evil influence in America, and we didn’t want anything to do with the negativity, suicides, or satanic bullshit that was associated to the heavy metal genre at the time. Eric Larnoy’s artwork was a huge setback for us in America, because the band was judged negatively by the album cover as just another evil influence on the minds of kids. We are not religious, so we face criticism from those who are. We believe in mankind and unity without cultural delusion, and that concept is unfortunately controversial to religious zealots who are predisposed to their prejudices.
Stefan: A US Metal band signing a deal with a French label (Black Dragon Records), what’s the story behind Terry – it was only meant to be released in Europe as far as I can remember, right?
Terry: Black Dragon had worldwide rights, and we were counting on their ability to provide adequate worldwide distribution. We knew they had good relationships with media in Europe, and they had a respectable roster of bands, although as an independent they were unknown of in America and only associated with the underground. Before the album was released, Ray and I flew down to Los Angeles to meet with an A&R exec at Capitol Records. He liked the album, but was disappointed that we were already signed. But, I think this put us on their radar to follow up with a couple years later.
Stefan: “Graceful Inheritance” was only released in Europe, do you mind to give some more information on that?
Terry: I don’t really have any additional information on what Black Dragon did. It would have been nice to see our record in America with the intended album cover. Looking back on the 80’s scene, and the speed that trends come and go, I can only imagine what might have been possible if we would have been able to record and release Graceful Inheritance in 1984 as it was originally planned through 206 Records with Kim & Dianne Harris managing the band (Queensryche’s label and management).
Stefan: Along with the release came a lot of gigs I guess, would you mind to name a few of the most interesting bands you’ve shared the stage with those days?
Terry: Our first two concerts we opened for Perennial, a local rock band with some radio play and management. After that, we arranged and promoted most of our own concerts, playing shows with our friends in other bands. We played with Soldier, Myth, Rottweiller, Culprit, and several others. None of the bands in the Seattle area with a record contract ever asked us to open for them. By the time Steve was in the band, we opened for Fates Warning when they came to town, and we replaced Poison to open for David Lee Roth when Steve Vai was in the band in June 1988. Soon after that, we signed with Metal Blade/Capitol for the One Small Voice album.
Stefan: Back in 1986, the CD version appeared through an independent label in Europe… still no one in the USA interested in releasing the album as well?
Terry: The CD was manufactured and released illegally. Black Dragon had been notified by our attorney in September 1986 that the contract was terminated due to their several contract breaches. They ignored the letters, and continued to manufacture the album and CD illegally. They did a second pressing in England, and eventually gave the CD to Metal Hammer Greece for promotion in their magazine without my permission or any compensation. They never returned the master tapes, and they never sent royalty statements or paid us a dime. No publishing, no royalties, nothing… The relationship with Black Dragon was originally strained by their use of the artwork without our permission. Then, we were denied an opportunity to open for Black Sabbath in Paris because our label refused to let us play the concert unless Black Sabbath took Savage Grace too… They only wanted us, and Black Dragon refused. As you might imagine, this was incredibly disappointing, and it only caused more tensions as we proceeded through the tour in 1986. The one encouraging thing that evolved with our momentum as a band was that we began the tour opening for Savage Grace, and we ended the tour as the headliner.
Stefan: Let’s talk about the follow-up entitled “One Small Voice” featuring a few new guys… for what reason some of the former members called it quits Terry?
Terry: This is probably more of an overview than you intended with your question, but here goes… I’d returned from the 1986 European tour, got married, and recruited Mike Jackson to join as a keyboardist to expand our ability to fill out the sound and branch into more interesting musical directions. Meanwhile, Derek left the band to join Savage Grace in LA and tour with Motorhead. We didn’t have an album deal, and we all needed to find work. Duane Bakke joined on bass and we headlined the Paramount Theater in Seattle on New Years’ Eve 1986. Unfortunately, the evening before the show, our rehearsal room was broken into. My guitars and Mike’s keyboards were stolen. We played the concert on borrowed gear. Duane’s father passed away and he left the band in January.
We had interest from investors who were shopping us to labels, and Randy Nelson played bass on demos of two new songs, We The People and Tomorrow Night. By the spring of 1987, Paul Davidson was experiencing problems with his voice and left the band. Eventually Derek returned, and we recruited Steve Benito by May of 1987. We recorded additional demos at an additional expense through investors, and proceeded to shop ourselves and play a few shows while writing material for a new album. By the time we signed the contract for One Small Voice in October of 1988, the band was now $20,000 in debt to more friends of mine who had invested in promotions and demo recordings, and the debts were still all in my name.
I spent 9 months negotiating the album contract, 7 albums with $600,000 in recording budgets. The first album budget was $25,000. I knew we could record it for $20,000, so I requested that we take $5000 from that budget and make a good faith payment to the 5 major investors who had faithfully believed in me and patiently stood by to see us achieve this. The band refused. This placed me in a very bad situation. This undermined faith of investors as well as any sense of trust and commitment from my bandmates. They refused to honor their responsibilities or show any appreciation for the four years of work that got us to this point. The undercurrent of tension lasted throughout the recording process, and increased as Steve took the album $5000 over budget with excessive vocal tracking. Discussing financial responsibility and demanding a business partnership with people who have no appreciation for facts is impossible, and a huge betrayal. This ultimately resulted in a coup to illegally remove me from my own band before the album was released. This action was facilitated by Metal Blade effectively breaching the contract, as I was specified as band leader with rights of approval for all actions.
I was forced to take legal action to enforce my ownership of the tradename and stop their illegal use of operating as Heir Apparent, eventually getting them to court and winning my claim in 1990. This was an extremely painful experience for me. Ultimately, we have grown up and forgiven each other and ourselves for what we may have done differently. Harboring the pain is only destructive and provides no benefit to anyone. In 2000 I took the monies from the reissues, along with additional money I’d saved, to repay all the debts to investors I could locate at the time, including $500 as my share of the debt to Ray’s parents who had financed our first concert in Seattle. If nothing else, I am a man of principles, and I honor my debts before I eat.
Stefan: As I wrote in my review, “One Small Voice” was a real good one but I prefer the debut due to some personal reasons/taste. May I ask for you to compare both albums – which one do you prefer yourself and why?
Terry: I have no preference. They each represent a different point in time with different people, circumstances, goals, and influences. We don’t finish something we don’t like, and I enjoy playing all of our songs.
Stefan: Released through Metal Blade and I like to know more on the conditions that were discussed in advantage. Signing such a deal meant that Heir Apparent got the opportunity to play large arena type of concerts? Tell me some more on that if you want too.
Terry: The band dissolved before the album was released. I know that the ex-members toured with Crimson Glory while illegally using the name Heir Apparent, and I also know they recorded a 4-song demo in 1990 while illegally using the name with a different drummer.
Stefan: I read something about a seven year contract in 1988 in a joint venture with Capitol/Metal Blade… what happened the deal never came to reality?
Terry: The deal was made, and it seemed that we had the world at our feet until the coup occurred in March of 1989. The band dissolved before the album was released in June of 1989. The ex-members continued on for a period of time playing and recording new songs while illegally using the name Heir Apparent. In looking back, they had undeniable talent, and I am uncertain why they failed to get themselves their own deal, or create their own identity under their own name.
Stefan: What kept you busy during the years of absence?
Terry: I concentrated on my life in construction as a tile setter and stone mason. I enjoyed jet skis and camping with my wife. I was in an original rock band for a while that wrote an album of material and played a couple shows, but we never recorded in a studio. Finding a great singer who could rise beyond a local scene has always the most difficult part of forming a band. So, music took a back seat to life until there was interest in Heir Apparent again with the growth of the Internet.
Stefan: Many years later on, good news reached my ears…. Heir Apparent was back with multiple appearances on great festivals.
Terry: Yes, it has been encouraging to have renewed interest and see what can be done after all these years now that we are older and wiser (although I’m still doing the majority of work and self-financing). The reality is that this will never be an equal partnership, and to have a band at all requires continual compromise and concession while always hoping for the best.
Stefan: Surfaced from the dark, from where the sudden interest in a band that has not been active for many years?
Terry: It’s the fans, and the promoters and record label people who are also fans. They make everything possible by showing us that there is hope we can have some fun and entertain people who enjoy our music. This is a very expensive hobby unless the fans support our work as we hope.
Stefan: Were the other members immediately agreed – which one of the reunited gigs were the most memorable?
Terry: It’s pretty easy to get people excited about learning some songs to play shows in Europe. The difficult part is getting a commitment of time and investment for writing and recording an album. We’ve managed to do that, and now we look forward to the opportunities this will provide. To this point, we appreciate every opportunity to play for the fans, and all of our shows are memorable. We have never performed on tour to the point that we forget where we are. I don’t ever want to get jaded by this opportunity, or take anything for granted. I have invested a lot, and it would be great to break even financially when it’s all said and done. Ultimately, the joy from playing for people who love the music is the most important reward of all. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
Stefan: Have these performances given you a boost to go for it in full force again, new plans and reorganizations were made I guess, right?
Terry: Our future is riding on the success of this album. The fans will determine our fate. We are here for you, and we have made the sacrifices to do everything we can in advance, to hope you are now here for us.
Stefan: Let’s talk about Heir Apparent’s 3rd. and brand new album “The View From Below” Terry. Who came up with the idea, c’mon guys… let’s go for a new record?
Terry: I’ve wanted to record another album forever. Everything rested on finding a singer who could do the job.
Stefan: Great new singer and also the keyboardist gets my absolute approval… where did you found these guys?
Terry: Op Sakiya has played keyboards for Heir Apparent since 2004, no matter who else was in the band with us over the years. He has been a great addition to the band, and his work on the new album is great. Op wrote “Here We Aren’t” with Will as a piano/vocal duet. It was a beautiful song before the rest of us walked all over it. 😉 Will Shaw was discovered in 2015 on YouTube. Will was referred to me by Mike Gorham. I contacted Will and let him know we had festivals booked for 2015/2016, and he took on the challenge. We could not do this without him. His performances are amazing.
Stefan: I suppose that all of the songs were ready to unleash but you had to go on the hunt for a record label interested in a participation. Finally No Remorse released your new album and I’d like to know how the collaboration came to be.
Terry: I approached Chris at No Remorse when we were at KIT XIX in 2016. I told him I didn’t want to fly home without a record deal. He smiled and said he’d contact me once he returned home. By July of 2016, we had a contract and started writing songs. I’d written a lot of ideas over the years, but I always hesitated to finish them completely because I wanted to collaborate. I didn’t want this to be a situation where I write everything and the band are a bunch of robots. It’s important to me that we collaborate, and the vocalist is capable of writing and feeling his lyrics. A couple of ideas were brought in from my past, but most of this album is new ideas written specifically for this album. Ray and Op each wrote their first songs for Heir Apparent, and this is Will’s first album. They have done a fantastic job, and I’m very proud of this album.
Stefan: What about the distribution process – who will distribute the new album in the US and far beyond?
Terry: No Remorse has worldwide rights for physical copies. We retain our digital rights and publishing worldwide. The label has arrangements with distributors, and they are willing to create any new arrangements necessary to get physical copies anywhere there is interest.
Stefan: Where and by whom “The View From Below” was written and produced?
Terry: For this album, Op and Ray each wrote a song. I wrote six songs and provided some lyric ideas. Will wrote the lyrics for most of seven songs, and Mike Blair contributed lyrics to Savior when he and I wrote that together back in 2003. I engineered all the music recording, Tom Hall engineered the vocal recording and the final mixing. Tom and I were primarily responsible for producing the album, and I mastered the recordings for the various mediums (CD, vinyl, mp3).
Stefan: Great cover artwork also Terry, who’s the creator?
Terry: I did that as well. This is just another example of doing whatever is necessary when there is no money to hire external professionals. We had a dozen different ideas, but this one was something that could comprehensively fit the album title as well as tie in to the philosophy of the band. I used a NASA photo of the M81 Messier spiral galaxy, a DNA strand, and a Neanderthal skull. This directly represents science, evolution, and our place in the universe. “The View From Below” not only represents mankind looking to the sky, the title represents a social and political message from the viewpoint of anyone facing a struggle against any form of oppression or inequality.
Stefan: The music style totally differs compared to your two first albums, in what way you’d like to describe the new style of Heir Apparent? Maybe you can name a couple of bands to compare with?
Terry: I cannot name any band to compare with. I don’t listen to much music at all. When I have nothing else to do, or when I’m on a long drive, my favorite five albums to play are the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath. It’s been interesting to read the album reviews and comments from people who are always making comparisons to other bands when they listen to our new album. I can assure you that I have never heard 98% of anything that has been mentioned. Everything I play is something that feels good and makes sense to me. Something I have been doing for about 10 years is using stacked fifth chords (for example, E as root, B as the fifth, and F# as the fifth of the fifth, which acts like a 9th chord without a 3rd).
I have incorporated these on almost every song. This is very unusual from a songwriting standpoint. It creates harmonic complexity and a huge sound for one guitar. It can also create mystery identifying the tonal center or key of the song depending on what the other instruments are playing at any given time. We have never followed trends in terms of detuning or extra-stringed instruments, we use standard tuning with standard instruments. The depth is in the arrangement and our intent is to be able to replicate as much as possible when we play live. Minimal overdubs.
Stefan: May I assume that this is a concept album? If you’re agree with me about that, what is the red line that runs through the entire album? Which are the main topics the lyrics are based on?
Terry: It was not intended to be a concept album, but there are some coincidental consistencies. We could pretend that was our intention ;-). I think it just solidifies the notion that we’ve managed to create a cohesive modern album that is capable of standing on its own without the need to compare it to any previous work.
Stefan: In what manner you guys write new songs, is it some kind of a joint process?
Terry: This was a totally new experience for us. We shared ideas over the Internet. Sometimes we worked alone, sometimes we paired up in different combinations. Only once did we have a chance to sit in the same room and compose lyrics and melodies knowing that we had two days to complete two songs, and we managed to finish the work in one day. It was amazingly productive and unexpected. We proved to ourselves that we could work under pressure, and that if we ever had a chance to actually be in the same room on a consistent basis like the old days, our productivity could be endless.
Stefan: Do you have some favorite songs to announce, compositions that gets your preference? What makes them so special in your opinion?
Terry: I have no favorite song on this album. There is only one “least-favorite” of mine, but it’s the favorite of some reviewers, so there you have it. 😉 I feel very good that people have different favorite songs. It means we are doing something right when we can appeal to different tastes. As far as news, we are releasing a new video at the end of next week. Be ready for that. 😉
Stefan: How the press/media responded so far?
Terry: The response has been very encouraging. We have tempered our hopes so that we don’t get too excited prematurely, but it has been great so far. The proof will come when sales begin. Ultimately, all of the Facebook Likes in the world mean nothing. It is our dream to play concerts for fans that are singing the songs back to us as loudly as we play them. We have seen that before with the old material… now is the time to feel it with the new. 😉
Stefan: Heir Apparent has three albums created so far, each album – different character, which one do you like the most of all, why?
Terry: I don’t follow other bands, so I don’t know if this sounds cliché or not. Everyone in the band believes this is the best Heir Apparent album, and at least one of our previous singers agrees. For songs, for cohesion, for sound and production quality… it is simply the best work we have done. What makes it particularly special is that we did it ourselves, at home, in collaboration with Tom Hall, reuniting with the engineer who has worked on every single Heir Apparent recording since the beginning.
Stefan: What are the plans to promote your new album? Touring as much as possible I guess.
Terry: We have day jobs and family responsibilities, so touring would only become possible if supporting this album became a profession. This depends entirely on the fans and the reception for this album. We’ve done the work, and we will support it as best we can. If the pathway is created by the people who run the business, we’ll do our part.
Stefan: Hopefully you’ll passing by on Belgian soil as well, any news on that?
Terry: Not yet, but we expect more opportunities will present themselves after the album is released.
Stefan: Do you have other professional activities besides Heir Apparent?
Terry: We all have professions (day jobs). We have never been professional musicians. There has never been a time when money from music allowed us to survive.
Stefan: I was wondering about your knowledge in Belgian Metal music, any bands you’re familiar with?
Terry: Nope, sorry. The only time I could imagine becoming familiar with any new band would be if we toured with them. It’s simply a matter of practicality. I don’t have time to follow anyone else unless I can concentrate on being a musician with time to spare.
Stefan: Speak for yourself Terry, did you reached the absolute peak with “The View From Below” or to early to make up your mind about that. Future oriented, wat do you want to realize with Heir Apparent?
Terry: This is not the end if the support exists. There is always more music, more emotion, more intensity… it just takes the investment in time and energy to make it happen. And, that requires being able to survive while you do the work… it’s economics any way you slice it. I would love to be a professional musician. It all comes down to the fans helping to build the machine that makes it possible.
Stefan: All good things come to an end, as well as this conversation…. thank you very much for your cooperation in this interview and want you to speak some final words to our readers, cheers brother!
Terry: I just want our fans to know that we are here for you. We’ve done the work, and now it’s your turn. We hope to meet you at our concerts. We don’t hide backstage, we don’t charge to meet us. We are people among the people. You will find us in the audience of festivals. Come up, introduce yourselves! And THANK YOU!