Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: October 2008
Brian Rademacher: Hello Mick and welcome to RockEyez.com
Mick Box: Thank you very much and good to be here!
Brian Rademacher:First I have to congratulate you on the new release “Wake The Sleeper”
Mick Box: That is kind of you and I have to say that the reaction globally thus far has been very positive so we are happy about that!
Brian Rademacher: How much has changed in the music since you first started back in the sixties?
Mick Box: Soooooo much! For instance back then when you signed an album deal it was for 6-7 albums and you grew with the label and the label grew with you. There seemed to be an investment in the creative process that is sadly missing today. Back then there was only music, fashion and sports and these were pretty much interlinked but now there is so much for people to get involved in.
Brian Rademacher: Let me get into some questions that are not redundant to all the questions you had over the years.
Mick Box: Okay
Brian Rademacher: Tell me what Mick Box was like growing up in Walthamstow, East London England?
Mick Box: I was a Tottenham Hotspurs football (soccer) fan and loved to watch the games. I played football for my school team and then the London Schoolboys and then it all went terribly wrong and I picked up a guitar and that was it. My first interest in music as a guitarist was jazz but then I soon moved on to Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochrane and then the explosion of THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES. Along the way were THE SMALL FACES, THE KINKS, THE WHO and many more who just reinforced in my mind that I wanted a career in music. Walthamstow is in the East End of London and a tough place to be brought up but the good thing is that it makes you streetwise. There is a fantastic sense of humor in the East End that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. I had on the whole a very happy childhood bought up by my Mother as my Father died when I was very young.
Brian Rademacher: How were your school years?
Mick Box: I passed all of my exams. I loved the sports but some of the teachers left a lot to be desired in the inspirational stakes. I picked up my exam certificates and left with high hopes of achieving something with my guitar.
Brian Rademacher: What are some of the things you would do after school?
Mick Box: Rush home to my Grandmothers to watch her black and white TV, as we did not have one. Go to the park and play football. In those days it was so much safer that you stayed out playing until it got dark and then you went home for dinner.
Brian Rademacher: What is some of the things you miss from your childhood?
Mick Box: No financial worries, spending time with my Mother who has passed away. She made the best toad in the hole, roast dinner and shepherds pie dinner in the world and was so supportive of me pursuing a musical career. Even when the rest of the family were asking her when I was going to get a real job.
Brian Rademacher: Did you have anything like sports figures or rockstar posted on your walls at home?
Mick Box: I have a small picture of Neil Young on my wall given to me by a photographer friend and that’s it. That was only put up this year.
Brian Rademacher: Do you remember the first concert you attended and did it have an impact on you?
Mick Box: JOHNNY KID AND THE PIRATES and they had a song called “Shakin’ All Over” with a great guitar riff. The guitarist was Mickey Green and he played a Fender Telecaster.
Brian Rademacher: Do you remember the first guitar you ever got?
Mick Box: It was from a Pawn Brokers in Walthamstow High Street where there was a mile long market full of stalls. It was 12pounds 10 pence old money and it was a massive expense to my Mother but she still bought it for me. It was called a Telston and could double as a bow and arrow as the action was so high. I slept with that guitar under the bed and it went everywhere with me.
Brian Rademacher: The first time you stepped on stage in front of an audience what were your feelings?
Mick Box: I like this. This is for me!
Brian Rademacher: What was the worst thing you did as a child that your parent got pissed at you for?
Mick Box: am sure there are loads but they escape me right now.
Brian Rademacher: I mean your career as a musician is staggering? At the height of your fame in URIAH HEEP EP what was on your rider?
Mick Box: The world with chips twice! It was pretty extravagant. Champagne, Brandy, Vodka, Wine…….and on and on!
Brian Rademacher: What release of the past did you have the most fun recording and why?
Mick Box: That is very hard to say so I will pick out a few. I guess “Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble” was cool as it was the first and we were so innocent. It was fantastic hearing the songs back in the control room on the biggest Hi Fi in the world or so it seemed. “Demons & Wizards” because we knew we were on to something and “Wake The Sleeper” was probably the easiest and most fun.
Brian Rademacher: I still have my original “Wonderworld” and “Return to Fantasy” records I got from Colombia house, those were the times for me. Those are classic albums in my mind. Could you have ever imagined vinyl being obsolete?
Mick Box: Certainly not at the time and it really is a shame. There is a great loss there in every sense of the word. Universal were kind enough to indulge us and release “Wake The Sleep” on vinyl.
Brian Rademacher: What is the feeling like today when people come up and ask for an autograph, is it still fun or is it part of the business?
Mick Box: I never forget the importance of giving a little bit of your time to anyone that wants an autograph. It is fun and a good thing to do!
Brian Rademacher: You played with some great bands headlining and supporting, bands like BOC and Rod Stewart. What band treated URIAH HEEP the best and why?
Mick Box: DEF LEPPARD and NAZARETH. They are a great bunch of guys that leave the egos on stage like we do. We are kindred spirits in that regard.
Brian Rademacher: When KISS came on the scene back in the seventies what were your thoughts about them?
Mick Box: Well they supported HEEP on one of their first tours. Those roles quickly reversed but they had something that was original and no one else was doing. They bought the show to show business and to the max and then some. There was never any doubt that they were going to be huge.
Brian Rademacher: Now let’s fast forward to today, yeah I know that is a huge jump we have the new CD, yeah CD a small plastic silver-ish disc. And we have “Wake The Sleeper” the new URIAH HEEP CD. Plus will be issued on a 12” Vinyl with Gatefold?
Mick Box: I am very happy “WTS“ is on vinyl! A tip of the hat back to the old days!
Brian Rademacher: Damn Mick, who came up with that. You are going to have vinyl collectors creaming for this?
Mick Box: We try to do this with all of our products but to be honest it is the final say of the Record Company. Thankfully Universal were behind the idea.
Brian Rademacher: One song really stands out in my mind is “Tears of the World” and with the world as it stands and the way the world is, what are your feelings on the direction the world is headed and what can be done in your mind? By the way great song!
Mick Box: These are difficult times that we live in and that song is a reflection of it. It is very hard to change your own psyche let alone the worlds so it is a difficult issue. If we all take note and do our best as individuals then that is all we can ask for. Big business will always have its own agenda.
Brian Rademacher: Listening to the new CD it seems about a lot of hurt in this world and looking to God and the future? Would you say that is a good synopsis of the lyrics?
Mick Box: There are songs about, computers, waking the sleepers, shadows, women pirates and the like so it is pretty varied. I think the topics of God and War seem to hit a nerve though. However there is a lot of God and War around us in these times which inevitably find there way into some of the lyrics.
Brian Rademacher: Were there any songs that you wrote for the new CD that didn’t make the cut?
Mick Box: They are still on my Sony Walkman at home and in my notebook.
Brian Rademacher: Also by the way love the cover, very cool. Who came up with that?
Mick Box: A cover artist called Loannis. He is originally from Greece but lives in the USA now. He did a wonderful job and we are very happy with it. It works on a number of levels.
Brian Rademacher: Will URIAH HEEP tour in the US Next year?
Mick Box: We are hopefully looking at mid Jan or mid Feb 2009. Our USA agent is trying to put this together now and we cannot wait.
Brian Rademacher: So on a normal day what does Mick Box do from wake-up to bedtime?
Mick Box: I will take today as an example. Wake up at 6.10am and get my boy (7years old) out of bed for school. I see him off and then I drive my wife to the railway station to go to work. I come back have a quick breakfast and read the papers and maybe do a quick Suduku. I then have a shower and turn on the computer. I will answer all the mails that have come in overnight. This morning I am writing the questions to your interview. When this is finished I am off to rehearsals as we are putting together the new show for WTS for approx 7 hours. I will come home, eat dinner, finish off the day’s emails and maybe do a few telephone interviews. I go to bed approx 11.30pm.
Brian Rademacher: Do you still enjoy touring?
Mick Box: It is the best job in the world.
Brian Rademacher: Well Mick it’s been great and wish you continued success, would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Mick Box: Thanks to every one of you that have bought “WTS” as we do appreciate your support. We look forward to coming the USA and Canada next year and if you want to see a good honest rock show played from the heart with passion we would love to see you at the shows. Until then ‘Appy Days Mick Box.