Monday, July 26, 2010
It may be hard to believe but Heart still has a pulse.
One of the first hard rock groups to be fronted by a sister act, Ann and Nancy Wilson, the band started beating in the 1970s before flatlining in the early '80s when they experimented with a new sound.
When they returned to their roots in 1985, fans responded, sending three albums into the top five.
Now, Heart is pumping again. They play the MGM Grand at Foxwoods on Saturday, featuring songs from "Red Velvet Car," their first studio album in six years.
"We have been steadily working in our little rock 'n' roll sweatshop, in the soul of our rock 'n' roll planet," says Nancy Wilson in a voice that is more of a coo than the strong instrument she projects from the stage.
The CD is scheduled to drop on Aug. 31. To the guitar-playing sibling with the strawberry blond hair, it brings hope that it will return the band to the lofty heights it last enjoyed with "Heart" (1985), "Bad Animals" (1987) and "Brigade" (1990) — when singles like "These Dreams," "Alone," "What About Love" and "Never" sent the blood rushing through the veins of fans.
"It took a couple of years," Wilson says, "what with being a mother and all" — she's been married to filmmaker Cameron Crowe since 1986 and they have twin boys born in 2000 — "but we just used our time wisely."
She first worked on the lyrics and "guitar ideas" with bassist and bandmate Craig Bartock.
"Craig is a whiz at bringing it all together," she says. "We then brought Ann in and [producer] Ben Mink, who gave us some really cool ideas. He can make acoustic rock sound harder than electric.
"This is a true Heart album," she says of the 10 tracks. "You get the whole arc of personal stuff with the extreme rock stuff. There is not an inauthentic, fictitious bone in the body of this album.
"We've been under the radar the past few summers. We've gone out with Journey a couple of times, [but this tour] is our own thing, and getting to Foxwoods is very important for us."
After they emerged in 1976, the Wilson sisters were considered the first ladies of arena shows, a Seattle-based garage band that flourished with songs like "Crazy on You," "Magic Man" and "Barracuda."
Then, "the hair band thing and the Seattle grunge thing ended" and they went away "with our tails stuck between our legs."
Heart almost stopped beating. Their music had become more pop, even folksy. "I really thought this was it." Then came the transfusion of hard rock that got them rolling again in the mid-'80s. Now, they're hoping to ride "Red Velvet Car" to the top of the charts once again.
"We've outlived the average rock band a couple of times over," says Nancy Wilson, 56. "We're not a hair band anymore. We're now a heritage band who can actually sing and play.
"Acoustic is way harder than any electric guitar can do. But we do it. And we do it well. I really feel the fans are going to love what's on ‘Red Velvet Car.' We're excited about taking it on tour."