Stuart Smith, Heaven & Earth Guitarist talks with Robex Lundgren for his Music Blog.
What´s the name of your band? Heaven & Earth
How was the band formed? I’ve had the band under different names for half my life but it really got started when I got the deal for the first album in 1994.
Can you tell us about your band? We’ve released 3 full albums and one EP.
Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band? I’m from York, England but now live in Los Angeles and I play guitar. Joe Retta is the singer and he’s from Rochester, NY but he now lives in Los Angeles as well. Lynn Sorensen is on bass and vocals and lives in Seattle. He was previously with Paul Rodgers and Bad Company. Ty Bailie is the keyboard player and was from Mesa, Washington but now lives in Los Angeles and Jackie Barnes is on drums and vocals and is from Australia.
What was the ambitions of the band when you started? To bring good guitar driven rock music back to the fore.
Could you explain your music to someone that haven’t heard you? We’re a hard rock blues band in the vein of Deep Purple, Bad Company.
Where was your first gig? With this version of Heaven & Earth, at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, U.K.
Where was the latest gig? The Steelhouse Festival in Wales.
Who writes your songs?/Who writes the music who writes lyrics? Mainly myself and Joe Retta but a few were written by the recording line up of Richie Onori, Arlan Schierbaum and Chuck Wright.
Who has the best sense of humor in the band? They’re all pretty funny guys and great to tour with but I would probably have to say Ty Bailie and Jackie Barnes.
What’s good/bad with the band?/What genre do you feel you are? The good is that the guys bring their A Game to the show every night whether we’re playing to 3 people or 3,000. The bad? Nothing really apart from the fact that not enough people know who we are yet.
We’re sort of in the 70’s rock genre.
Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about? It’s the musical style we all love. Our songs are about a variety of subjects.
Do you write your own material or mainly covers? We write our own but have done the occasional cover.
Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?
Yes. 3 albums and one EP.
Heaven & Earth featuring Stuart Smith.
Windows to the World
A Taste of Heaven. EP
Do you have any clips on YouTube?
Yes. 2 produced videos and countless live ones.
“I Don’t Know What Love Is”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB0yuWs2qD8
“No Money, No Love”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WB1iW0thik
“Victorious” (Live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM284Quo2_U
“House of Blues” (Live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTPMp1tVI5g
How old are you?/What got you started in music? I’m 58. I got into music because I was colorblind and couldn’t fly fighter jets like my father.
At what age did you start playing? 8 years old
How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? About 14.
What year was the band started? Officially in 1994.
Best/worst gig you’ve played? The best was probably the Montreux Jazz Festival last month. Can’t remember a bad one.
Which band is the best you´ve seen? Deep Purple and Aerosmith.
Is it always the same songs live? No, we change them up.
What has been the best/most promising gig so far? I would say the whole of this European tour we just finished as it brought us to the attention of a lot of people.
Where do you usually play? Wherever we can.
How do you get psyched up for a gig? I try to have some peace and quiet and warm up.
When did you decide to go all in for the music? When I was 17 years old.
Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? Definitely older bands.
What are your sources of inspiration? I don’t know. Generally it just comes while I’m playing.
What’s the first step when making a new song? Coming up with a good riff.
How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? It sucks. It’s made it incredibly harder to make a living as a musician.
What would be your dreams for the band? For Heaven & Earth to be successful enough to keep doing what we’re doing for the rest of our lives.
Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? Classical, Blues. Anything that’s well played.
What do you hold most dear? My daughter.
What would be your greatest fears for the future? Not being able to provide for my daughter.
When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? Power outages or my amps not working.
Have you been part of any other projects? Yes. Too many to list. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Smith_(musician)
Have you been in any other bands? Yes. “The Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” with Keith Emerson, Sweet and a few others.
What do you work with outside of the band and the music? I don’t have another job. I just play the guitar.
What would you do if there was no music? I wouldn’t exist.
How important are your fans? Immeasurably. Without them we wouldn’t exist.
What’s the most memorable thing a fan has done for you? Made a guitar for me.
How often do you rehearse? Before we do an album or tour.
Where do you rehearse? Third Encore Rehearsal Studios in Burbank.
Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? “House of Blues” and “Victorious”
What drives a band that isn’t all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? For the love of it and sheer stubbornness.
Do you have any webpages?
Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there? Don’t give up. Stay away from hard drugs or drinking too much. Practice. Exercise. Play with as many people as possible and in front of as many people as possible and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
Describe your show. Visually and musically Exciting and dangerous.
How do you view the music industry of today? Screwed up.
What are the biggest obstacles for a band? Trying to get noticed with all the rubbish out there.
What is best/worst with playing the clubs? The best is playing to a tight small audience. The worst is that clubs very rarely make any effort to promote a show. They expect the band to do it.
What is your favorite crappy instrument? The Kazoo.
What was one of the most quarrelsome times for you in the band? After the recording of “Dig”