Thursday, July 15, 2010

Still Going Strong

 When it comes to rock star siblings and fist fights, Ann Wilson admits her band has been boring. As Heart, she and her sister Nancy have been too busy writing, recording and touring for the past 35 years. And with a stop in Thunder Bay July 20, the Seattle sisters have a new album to share showing no sign of a blowout any time soon.

"It’s going to look and sound amazing and be Heart at it’s best in the moment with everything starting back from the beginning and ending up right now," Wilson said of the show.

The pair had been "romancing" Ben Mink, who Wilson calls "the most creative thing on two legs", to produce their album "Red Velvet Car" for awhile before he saw Heart perform and liked the new material. Vancouver’s Mink, who has produced artists like Feist, Rush and Wilson’s solo effort "Hope and Glory", even ended up writing some material. Wilson said recording the new album was an "amazing experience". The album isn’t trying to compete with contemporary pop stars but rather just stay true to what Heart is about, heavy-duty rock with an acoustic centre.

"We learned several times throughout our career is the best way to kill the creative spark is to put pressure on it to sell," Wilson said. "If we want to be the Heart that is recognizable to ourselves and to the people who love Heart then we better be ourselves."

While artists such as Lady Gaga or Katy Perry have digital sounds all over their tracks, Wilson said she prefers the analog sound.

"I don’t particularly like the digital sound that much because I think it’s so cold. I see it as sort of robotic. I know that’s the very thing a lot of people like about it but for me I always tend to like a warm crunchy sound."

That sound was developed at a time when women were playing everything but rock. While there were female disco, folk and R’n’B singers, Wilson said their new sound was added to the multiple genres of the day. And it’s the same today. Wilson said new genres will come along after the likes of Lady Gaga to replace that digital sound.

"Pretty soon something will come along and blow that out of the water. It’s a series of genre changes," said Wilson.

Wilson has however, embraced other new technology such as "Guitar Hero" which has made Heart fans out of a whole new generation thanks to tracks like "Barracuda" being added to the video game. Another new format that has brought out young fans is the popularity of Heart songs like "Alone" being attempted by contestants on American Idol.
"Some people that come see us are so young that when we do ‘Alone’ they go ‘Wow that lady’s covering the American Idol song’," laughed Wilson.

Even though it’s flattering to be imitated Wilson, who didn’t watch the show, said American Idol made the songs impersonal. Wilson said the songs became exercises like a gymnast’s routine rather than art.
"It’s very funny and strange and to me," said Wilson. "The pure joy of doing art becomes competition."