- Interviews
Heartland - Chris Ousey

How are you mate?
Not bad. I haven't been out of bed long, I take a while to run on all cylinders, you know!

How's things?
Okay, not bad. We've done a couple of weeks in Germany. It has taken me a week to get over that, we did a lot of travelling. It has been great.

And you are just resting in between projects right now?
We are going to start the next Heartland record in the studio in mid January. I have just got maybe one more tune to write.
Apart from that I am not flogging it at the moment.

How has the Distance project faired up?
I am really pleased with it actually. It's gone a hell of a lot better than I thought it would. Not that I didn't think the songs were good to begin with, but I was kind of nervous to start a new project.
I hadn't met the guy before.

Yeah, I knew very little about Kenny before hand. The thing just came about, because I was half way through writing the next Heartland record with Steve Morris and Steve had to break off for a little while to be in Ian Gillan's solo band.
So I had a kind of dead period, and I didn't want to stop writing because I find it difficult once I have stopped to get started again.
Escape music here wanted to know if I fancied doing a sort of solo record. And I thought that is a little unfair, as I always work with somebody else, and the idea of putting it out as a solo record when it is pretty obvious it is a joint project seemed to me a bit unfair.
I heard the Pokerface record, which I really liked, and I just fancied the change.
To get out of the country for a little while and do something different gave me a new slant on the Heartland stuff as well. It is good to do something else.

I have enjoyed the Heartland records. But as soon as I played this record I was blown away. The power, the guitar. It was a lot more in your face.
Yeah, there was definitely a change. I think it even has a little of the Canadian sound. It is a little bit more basic, and gave me a lot more scope to get a lot more attitude into it.

It is a rocking album!
We are definitely going to do another one.
Apart from everything else, I really enjoyed working with Kenny.
You always hope that everything you work on will be a commercial success, and it seems to be doing well, but when it comes down to it, it's whether you enjoy doing it, and I had a great time.

You sound like you are enjoying it.
Absolutely. I went over (to Vancouver) for 10 days to do the vocals and it was great to walk into the studio and have everything ready for you.
I don't particularly like studio's. For me going into the studio is like going to the dentist!
It is just not a very creative place for me. I like to have everything completely finished before I go in, so I can go strait for it.
Kenny has a nice little ranch up in the hills, so there are no disturbances.

Hard for some I guess!!!
Actually it pissed down most of the week.

Ha ha.
Yeah, it rained something rotten. But I live in Manchester, which is known as the rainy city, but Vancouver can take some beating!

Has the album been received well?
Yeah, I shouldn't really be surprised, but it has.
I took Kenny over to Germany for two weeks; we did an acoustic thing over there.
I went with Steve and Kenny so we could do some of each band acoustically.
It was great to go from one to the other.
We did some TV spots which were good.
I think with AOR, you have to try and keep the standard up. There are a lot of albums kicking about that aren't great, but aren't bad either. It is hard to keep up the standard.

Something I am curious about. You along with fellow UK rockers TEN have been pumping out new material at an awesome rate. Do you keep yourself busy recording all the time?
Yeah, I think a lot of that is that we are working with a smaller label.
With my last deal at A&M, the wheels grind really slowly. It's not that bands don't have enough material, or don't want to put records out, it's more the fact that when you have a major deal - because there is so much investment in each record, things grind forward so slowly.
With an independent record company the whole thing just moves much quicker. You get on the phone and ask for something, and it is done.

That must be enjoyable.
Yeah it's great. Escape have a great deal of enthusiasm.

How about Virginia Wolf?
I always enjoyed working with Nick Bold. He was incredibly prolific.
You would leave him in a room for a couple of hours and come back, and he would have four songs ready for you.
He was one of those guys that didn't seem to sleep.
I miss working with him.
I have not spoken to him for about three years. He was madly keen on learning the piano when I saw him last. He loves a challenge.
I hope he is still in the business.

That first record is one of my all time favourites.
Right, the first album as a good live album also. It was good to play live.
I think if anything, that was one of the problems. When we put the first record out and did some touring, it felt really good.
The record company were right behind us, Atlantic in America.
We put the second album out, and although it was a great studio record, it was hard to put over live. It didn't have the same easy flow as the first record.
I think at that time, what we needed was another really good live record.
We stumbled a bit around then.

What happened after that?
We lost the deal with Atlantic, and that was back I the days when none of us were particularly experienced, we thought once we lost the deal, that that was it.
Which looking back was really stupid!
A band is a band, and you go from deal to deal, you know.
We took it as a bit of a blow and Nick took it bad, as he felt he has worked really hard on the second album, and I think he was just very very disappointed.

And from there, a couple of years later, Heartland was formed.
Yeah, I was friend with a guy for years called Gary Sharpe, and I knew he had a home based studio.
He was one of the first guys into that. We kind of juts naturally drifted together.

It was a pretty soft album. Great soft AOR.
Yeah, I think you have to be critical of it, a lot of people say it is over produced, which is fair enough.
It is difficult to get hold of now, people are now looking for it.
A&M had an open wallet when it came to that one, they really liked the songs, and were looking for a band like us at the time, and went for it.
I actually got a lot of satisfaction at the time when the second record Wide Open came out, which was just working demo's anyway.
People were kind of saying the second album, that had absolutely no money thrown at it, and we were getting the same sort of reviews.
It just taught me that it is the songs that matter.
What I am trying to say is that you can throw as much money at a record, but a bad record is always going to be a bad record, no matter what how much money is involved.

How about Virginia Wolf on disc then?
It is possible. I was asked that in Germany. At the moment Escape are looking into that. I will keep you posted!

And the next Heartland record?
Yeah, I would like the next album to have even more depth to it. It will sound well produced, and I always want to put a little more into the songs. More going on.
That will keep going in the same direction as the last one.

Maybe we can talk again when the next Heartland comes out.
For sure mate. Good luck with the web page.

Thanks Chris for calling.
No worries. Bye.