Chuck Wright is the bassist for Heaven & Earth. The band also features: singer Joe Retta (The Sweet), drummer Richie Onori (The Sweet) and keyboardist Arlan Schierbaum (Joe Bonamassa) and founder/British guitarist Stuart Smith. Chuck plays bass for Quiet Riot too. You may recognize him from his days with House of Lords as well. Chuck has worked with a lot of bands over the years, which can only be a testament to his talent! I met Chuck a few times back in his House of Lords days. He was always a cool guy. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him.
1. Any person (living or dead) that you would like to meet and why?
If you are referring to anyone throughout history, the obvious answer is Jesus Christ. If you are asking about musicians, I’d say John Lennon. He was one of the most influential songwriters of all time. I’d love to get a one on one account of his life with the Beatles and after. The truth of it all. We’ve all heard a lot of varied stories.
2. Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Being a Bassist, I’d have to say John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, John Entwhistle, Jaco Pastorious, Jeff Berlin and John Paul McCartney. Guitarists?? Jeff Beck baby!
3. What’s your guilty musical pleasure?
I love playing drums. When I started out, I played both drums and Bass but I thought to myself “do you really want to set up and tear down that drum set”. So I chose Bass and I love it but drums really speak to me. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some big name Rock drummers in my career, Carmine Appice. Frankie Banali, Gregg Bissonette, Pat Torpey, Ken Mary, Glen Sobal…the list goes on and on.
4. Who did you idolize as a child?
My Mother and I still do. Though she has passed, I still try to make her proud every day. One of the highlights in my life was giving my Mom a platinum album award with her name on it. She always supported my choice to leave military academy and pursue a career as a musician.
5. Stranded on a deserted island, what 3 cds would you have with you?
The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour”, Led Zeppelin’s debut and Jeff Beck’s “Blow By Blow
6. The difference between today’s music and the music of the 80’s?
I could write a book on that. We have new technologies, which allow people to record without really having true talent. We have the Internet where people just download a single song (or usually steal it) and not buy an album to be able to get to discover the true depth an artist has to share. A lot of artists are now only putting out one song. Some of my favorite songs on albums were not the singles. It’s all a blessing and a curse. You can reach more people faster than ever but there so many more people that have access to get their music out there. Record labels as we know them have all but disappeared. It used to be you had to be on MTV, now you have to go viral on YouTube.
7. Favorite place to perform?
Here in my neighborhood, we have Universal City, which had the Universal Amphitheater, which is now the Gibson but sadly it’s being torn down to put up a Harry Potter amusement attraction. I loved how you could walk to the front of the stage there and hear the sound system because it was behind and off to the side of you. So you could hear what the fans were hearing. It sounded huge!
8. What makes a good song?
Usually it’s the hook in the song, the main chorus or it could even be the Bass line like Queens “Another One Bites The Dust”. You have to have something that people can hold onto musically or lyrically.
9. What are your hobbies?
Lately it’s been riding my bike but I used to play softball for 20 years
with my musician friends from various bands like Mr. Big, REO Speed Wagon, Styx and Guns-n-Roses.
10. Favorite food to eat on the road?
Oh that would be pizza but you have to watch that.
When I toured with Alice Cooper we had Pizza delivered after every show. I blew up like a balloon.
11. The first concert you ever went to?
I think I was 11. My Mom took us to the Hollywood Bowl to see Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf and The Grass Roots. Funny thing about that is later in life I became friends with Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf’s guitarist), The Grass Roots guitarist (Warren Entner) became my manager in Quiet Riot and in 2008 I toured with Three Dog night lead vocalist Chuck Negron.
12. Who’s the best person you’ve met on the road?
You meet so many people so, I’d have to say the best person I’ve toured with as a hang was Alice Cooper. We did a 75 city/ 17 country tour together and he and I would meet for breakfast at each new city and then go out to see the sights while shopping. He loved getting a deal then he’d give away whatever he bought to someone in the band or crew. What a great guy.
13. How did you get involved with your current band Heaven & Earth?
Stuart and I have known each other for twenty years or so. Early in 2011, he called me and said “I’m going to be doing a new Heaven and Earth album and this time it’s going to be more like a band project.” The other one I was involved with was really a solo project for him. The plan was, we would get into rehearsal, he’d bring in an idea and we’d work on it and turn it into a good song structure. Then Joe Retta, our lead singer, would throw in his ideas, coming up with lyric and vocal melody for the music. This has been a great experience working with a bunch of guys who have killer chemistry together.
14.What makes Heaven & Earth different from any band you’ve been in previously?
We are very lucky to have a label behind us that truly believes we can turn music around from it’s current direction and get it back to real Rock-n-Roll. I’ve also never spent this much time developing songs before. We worked on this album for over 14 months. Some of the guys had shows with Sweet, our keyboard player was in Europe with Beth Hart and I’d been out touring with Quiet Riot so scheduling played a part in how long the recording process took. Other albums I’ve done were a couple month process at most.
15. You have a new album with Heaven & Earth called DIG coming out, can you tell me a little about it?
The album drops on April 23rd and we just released the first video for “No money No Love” on YouTube and it’s taking off. We’ve had 50,000 viewers in just a few days. This album is like you went into a music vault at record label back in the 70’s and found an album that never came out but was supposed to. We totally went for that classic rock seventies Deep Purple, Bad Company, Rainbow kind of vibe. We have a couple of epic pieces on it, the opening track “Victorious” is pretty heavy handed compared to the rest of the material, some folks say it has a Zep “Kashmir” feel. There are also a lot of songs that have a strong commercial viability. Our greatest asset to me besides the material is our singer, Joe Retta. I believe he is one of the best vocalists anywhere. He could go toe to toe with Paul Rodgers, Glen Hughes, Robert Plant, any of those guys. I also think we have the coolest Album cover to come out in 20 years thanks to Glen Wexler. He’s done covers for Van Halen, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Rush and worked with Michael Jackson. He’s the best of the best. He also directed our new killer videos.
16. How is DIG different from the albums you’ve created in the past?
As I said before, we really wanted to get into a time machine and make a record that had the same strength, sound and integrity of all our favorite 70’s Rock records. We used a devise called the “Clasp”, that allows you to record to 24 track tape machine heads getting that fat sound you can only get from recording to tape and actually go straight into a computer without any lapse.
17. Do you have any other current projects?
One of my favorite groups I’m involved with here in L.A. is “Acoustic Saints”. We reinterpret Classic Rock tunes using Violin, Mandolin, acoustic guitars, percussion and I only play my Godin Fretless Bass. Stan Bush is the lead singer. He’s won Emmy’s and has albums out in Europe. He actually wrote songs for Quiet Riot and my band House Of Lords back in the 80’s. We do three part harmony like Crosby, Stills and Nash. Check us out at www.acousticsaints.com
I’m also, always out on the road “Bangin’ My Head” with Quiet Riot. There’s a documentary on the history of the band set to come out this year. Keep an eye on www.officialquietriot.com.