MUDKISS FANZINE

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HEIDI JO HINES: A ROCK N’ ROLL PRAYER SET FREE – INTERVIEW BY LORRAINE

It’s a dark, wet, miserable June evening and I am making my way to the home of singer, songwriter and guitarist Heidi Jo Hines along with mutual friend Simone Stenfors. When it comes to having rock n roll coursing through your veins few have better claim than Heidi, being the daughter of ‘Moody Blues’ founder and former member of ‘Wings’ Denny Laine and the beautiful model, actress and singer Jo Jo Laine who died tragically in 2006. Life experience may have given Heidi a voice that seems to be growing stronger by the day but it certainly hasn’t detracted from an inner warmth and beauty matched only by her outer beauty which soon brightens up this dull night. Just nights before I had watched Heidi and her band ‘Earth Prayer’ perform their debut album, ‘9 Days’ in Kentish Towns ‘Heroes’ leaving no doubt as to Heidi’s talent as a rock singer. The three of us sit down for a relaxed chat while Heidi’s husband Jeff entertains their daughter and son, Jaylie and Jesse in the family home also shared with Heidi’s brother Laine. 

LORRAINE: The album party was fantastic, I thought it was a great success, were you feeling at all apprehensive before?

HEIDI: No, I mean we were so excited, we’d been waiting seven months and we were just dying to get the album heard. We’d been rehearsing quite a lot. We were super excited.

LORRAINE: How do you feel now? What has been the general response?

HEIDI: We’ve had amazing feedback from so many different people. Every gig that we do we get so many more different people that find out about us. We’ve had people sending us messages on facebook saying “we’ve listened to the album four times on the way home”. People you don’t even know and they had come to the Underworld gig. It’s really cool to know, even if you just pick up one more person. What was the other question? [Laughs]

LORRAINE: How did you feel after the show?

HEIDI: It’s a big comedown afterwards though, as we don’t have any more gigs booked right now. We’ve got two that we’ve just been told about, possibility ones. The Rich Mix we may be playing on the 22nd of June. But yeah, right after the gig it’s a comedown. We want more and more. We wanna go on tour and things like that so…that’s why we’re getting a booking agent.

LORRAINE: The album is called ‘9 Days’; what is the relevance of the title?

HEIDI: Because it was recorded in nine days. [Laughs]. We thought it was going to take months but we were so shocked, literally shocked. We got everything recorded on the ninth day and were in there and we were like sitting amongst ourselves with the producer and we said we should just call it ‘9 days’. We were laughing about it at first and then we just thought “why not?” It sounds cool too. You know, nine days….Earth Prayer. It’s got like that world sound and it was recorded during the Tsunami and all these great …well not ‘great’ things, these really depressing things happening, like memorable times, so it sounded good.

LORRAINE: The album is about relationships, particularly emotional gulfs between people. Can you tell us a little more about individual songs and where the inspiration came from?

HEIDI:  Yeah, it’s hard because Ian and I both go in and write it. He’ll come up with the riff and he will have a story in his head already. He’s gone through a break up in his marriage and all sorts of things, but then I will come in. Sometimes he’ll come up with the riff and I’ll come up with the lyrics. I’m trying to think of a song that both of us wrote together….’Hallelujah’ is a good one. ‘Hallelujah’ is about setting yourself free and being in love and stuff like that. He thinks about this bird, a condor bird flying through the sky, being completely free and when I’m writing it I think of being in love and set free finally, you know. When you make an album you want to give it to the world, you feel on top of the world. That’s the one that I think is the most spiritual to me and it relates to Ian as well. He’s finding himself. We’re all finding ourselves at the same time within the band. So yeah, that’s a good one. ‘747’ is really cool too as it’s about jetting off and leaving all your troubles behind. Getting on the plane and letting go of all your fears and worries. It’s like a real rocky song. Yeah, that’s one of my favourites.

LORRAINE: So usually Ian comes up with the music and you then write the lyrics?

HEIDI:  Yeah, well...or he’ll come up with a riff during rehearsals as well and it won’t be all completed and we’ll all join in and I’ll add a melody or maybe the lyrics or sometimes he’ll already have some lyrics, a couple, and I’ll fill in the pieces. So we’re all very much a team when we write. Even when the other guys aren’t there in the room sometimes me and Ian will go to his and me and him will write. So that’ll be just me and him, but he makes up the majority of the riffs because I have put my guitar down for this band. I only have the guitar for writing my own stuff. It’s more like he’s more rehearsed on all the good riffs. If I took a few more years out I might be able to do it, but it works well now. Also he does quite a lot of the lyrics too. I think half and half. I would say five songs him, five songs me. Who knows in the future what may happen. When we jam after gigs and stuff I’ll have the guitar and I’ll have a riff but I’ll forget about it but he’ll say “Maybe we should bring that in”. So it’s going to happen but at the present time he is rocking the riffs. (Laughs)

SIMONE: And Geoff is great.

HEIDI: Yeah, he’s such a great guy. They call him the “Journey Man”. And Pete our drummer, he’s fantastic as well.

LORRAINE: How did you all meet?

HEIDI: Well yeah, it started off…well Ian and Geoff were already together in a band years and years ago, then I came in after I’d known Ian ten years before that. We met up after by chance and we clicked instantly. Then we went through two drummers but they were never ‘it’. They were good at the time and they did what they needed to do but Pete’s just like an all class drummer and we’d been searching for ages. The way he ends songs is like a true rock n roll drummer that reminds me of someone from the 70s. And he’s funny and he’s crazy, so he’s all the things that you need in a drummer.

LORAINE: How long did it actually take to write the whole album?

HEIDI: We’ve only been together coming up to two years, probably not even that long, a year? Ian had a couple of songs before hand and it happened real quickly with us. That’s what’s so magical about the band. We start something and it will be done in a few days. But it took us ages to prepare and rehearse with the whole band, but the song writing is quite quick.

LORRAINE: Although it’s the bands debut album you have worked on several projects over the past few years; what has brought you to this point? What sets this project apart?

HEIDI: This brings me to the true me. All the other things I’ve thought about as a singer/song writer, that was just kind of getting to know my feelings and what was happening around me growing up. But before that I was always around rock n roll. I would jam in the basement with my brother and we would jam to Creedence Clearwater and Led Zeppelin and stuff like that. So, inside it was always there but I had to go through this whole journey to say goodbye to all the other things to make sure this was it. So then I joined all different types of bands. I was even in an RnB group, a girl group ‘cos I love harmonies and things like that, then I went to Holland. I had this band, they finally got my singer/song writer songs and they brought them to the stage and that gave me more confidence. I was like “Wow, once my songs have a good band behind me maybe I could actually have that whole piece”. Then I stopped the Holland thing. It was amazing ‘cos it was such a great experience but then I thought “I need a band. How am I going to get a band from England?” Then I bumped into Ian after Id known him ten years ago and it just….he knew all the songs I liked. We all like the same stuff so it was amazing.

Now I am finally finding my voice is getting bigger and bigger. It’s just a great journey. I mean I’ll always do the singer/song writer stuff ‘cos it’s personal stuff. At home I’ll sit and write but ultimately I like to have the microphone with the band. People sometimes say “You should play guitar on stage” but I can’t be free. Maybe one or two songs in the future I may pick it up. But yeah, this has brought me to the true me. I just love rock n roll. I’ve got a few songs with the band from Holland that they’ve put out on their album so…I’m always going to have me on one side and the rock n roll. It’s like two personalities I would say.

LORRAINE: You do have a voice that is suited to both slower more soulful melodies and to faster paced, gritty rock n roll, would you say that one is a truer reflection of you?

HEIDI: Yeah. I feel in a way though, because I can be very sweet and quiet and shy, but that’s the innocent me. Like when I write my own songs all by myself, they always end up sweet and I don’t know….God like or whatever?

LORRAINE: Angelic?

HEIDI: Yeah, I guess. I like it because it’s inspiring for other people and for me. And the rock thing….inside it’s passion that has to come out. That’s why I like writing with other people ‘cos it’s…if you’re writing on your own sometimes it can get a bit boring, to me anyway. Not boring as in not good or anything. You just want to work with other people, so I’m torn between the two. I’ll always share the two things. It can never be just one.

LORRAINE: You’ve been surrounded by music throughout your life, who were your earliest influences?

HEIDI: Yeah, Creedence Clearwater, I just love them. It was never a female singer per se it would be more male singers. But Janis Joplin was an idol for me but only because of the way she let herself free. It wasn’t necessarily her voice and also she didn’t take care of herself. I don’t idolise that side of it, but I like aspects of different bands. I like Led Zeppelin because they’re the ultimate rock gods, but I don’t have every album of theirs either. But Creedence Clearwater, their whole albums just through and through, every thing they make. It’s just fun and bluesy and they sound great. Also Tina Turner, the way she is so ballsy on stage. I love her and Janis Joplin for girls. But now, Deep Purple I’m into. It’s just listening back from the olden days. Ian and all of them have in the car all the CDs that I always want to hear but never had the albums, but now it’s all coming back to me at this time. Its perfect timing!

SIMONE: You must have grown up with all of those?

HEIDI: Yeah, and The Who and stuff like that. The lead singer of The Who [Rodger Daltrey] would be in our house and I’d see pictures and I didn’t know at the time. You just get brought up in a musical surrounding and you think “this is normal” and when you get older and it all goes….’cos it went so long, so hopefully we’re bringing it all back. You miss that life. It’s all you ever knew and when it gets taken from you it’s….you have to strive for it until you die. To get back what you always knew.

LORRAINE: With parents such as Jo Jo and Denny Laine I think people would assume that your early life was one of opulence, wild parties and a constant stream of celebrities, how close is that to the truth?

HEIDI: [Laughs] To be fair, pretty close. I don’t remember a day that there wasn’t people in the house, because it was such a good buzz. It wasn’t always like craziness; it was fun times, the pool parties and lots and lots of family. It wasn’t all musicians but there would never be a dull moment, let’s put it that way. Because they had a lot of money we had horses, lots of cars and we had a memorable house, so people wanted to be there. Everyone who lived around the corner, all the friends, would just come in and there’d always be a musician at some stage. But then there would be days when my mum would make sure that we were all sitting around the table and make sure she would cook us a meal. I never saw her like slumped over or off her head or anything. It was only until the later days and she was drinking that you could see the signs of bad stuff, but when we were growing up it was beautiful.

SIMONE: What was the house like?

HEIDI: It was amazing. It was the old ‘Winnie the Pooh’ house. They call it, you know Pooh Corner in the story, Yew Corner. It was in Laleham Village. It was right on the corner. It was one of the best houses in the village. It was like a two storey and it had a library. It looked Spanish...the stone? It was gorgeous, the biggest garden ever. The swimming pool was in the shape of an ‘L’ for Denny Laine and a water fountain and stuff and little ponies. When you’re younger it seems so much bigger and when you go back…..it’s still quite big. They’ve only just sold the house again. We used to sit outside the front of the house, me and Laine would dress up as cowboys and cowgirls and we used to shoot people. That’s how we met our first friends. They told us these stories and I remember sitting there. Yeah, so many good memories!

LORRAINE: You moved around quite a bit as well, it sounds quite nomadic. You lived on a houseboat at one point. Did that affect you in terms of forming relationships and making friends or schooling?

HEIDI: Yeah I think so. I do remember a couple of best friends. I always remember my best friend and when we were younger. I think it’s good though because then you get to have a friend in each different….you know, you have girlfriends around the world. I don’t ever remember it being “Oh no, I don’t want to leave”. I don’t remember me doing that. If we had to leave it was never a problem to us. We were like gypsies anyway. We were used to that, a boat and we lived in a caravan. Dad would always take us caravanning when he wasn’t on tour. That would be the only memory I would have, like caravanning and well, you know… Even if we had a beautiful house he would teach us the basics, like having a swim in a cold stream. He didn’t care. He was like “Get in there!” And not having any hot water, I liked that. So it was very down to earth in that way.

SIMONE: And touring with Wings?

HEIDI: Yeah, yeah, that was great. I remember going to Paul’s house and he had a stage in the back of his garden and we’d all run onto it and it would lift off the ground. It was just amazing. And we’d go to the farm on the Mull of Kintyre. We’d be in the back with Paul, sort of…what do they call those things that hold the caravan?...like a trailer and we’d just be bouncing around the back and the back would open. It would just be so fun and at night we’d go into the hills. Those are the best memories.

LORRAINE: When did you realise your own talent? Can you remember when you first sang?

HEIDI: Yeah, I have one good memory. It was up here and I was about 8 or 9 and I was upstairs and I think my dad was visiting once and he had a piano up there. He was like “Heidi sing”. He would try and teach us piano. We would learn little things and then I opened my mouth and my voice - it wasn’t very strong. I was very shy and I was “Aahh” singing very falsetto. I didn’t realise the strength I had until I think I was about 18 and then I was like “Wow” and every time I would sing it would just come out. I just got more and more confident and, well, a lot of bad things happen and you become stronger. I was very shy and then I became tougher with experiences. Yeah, so 18 and then I would be with different sorts of bands. But only just now I think I’m coming to the true voice. Like even a year ago my voce was different. I wasn’t confident enough to hit the high notes. I would, but I’m learning even now. I was never trained, I did it all by myself.

LORRAINE: So a lot of it for you comes down to inner confidence and being able to project that?

HEIDI: Yeah and just saying “Fuck it!” and don’t give a fuck about what people think and just do it. Because I was always worried about, you know, being on stage is the hardest thing, being looked at and stuff, then finally you become free. My mum taught me that. She didn’t care.

SIMONE: She was a singer too wasn’t she?

HEIDI: Yeah, she was a singer but she had a more softer and pretty voice. She would always sing beautiful harmonies, a very harmonising nice voice. But she never got the chance to do it so she never explored that field.

LORRAINE: How old were you when you began to learn to play the guitar?

HEIDI: Laine taught me. We were living in Boston at the time, we were teenagers. I actually learned at about 10 at school over here but I never pursued it. It was just a thing that you do in school. But I remember Laine, he would just teach me a few chords when we used to live on the beach. We were probably about 15 I would say. Yeah, because I was so much more into singing I never concentrated too much on it. I learned enough so that I could write my own songs and even now I’m still picking it up, gradually back up again. Since the band’s been around I haven’t picked it up and now I’m more inspired to. I’ve got more inspiration to write again. Laine is a fantastic guitarist, he spends hours playing. I wish I had that. I would like the piano, that would be one thing that I would like to learn and it’s good for writing songs as well.

SIMONE: Didn’t you and Laine do something together?

HEIDI: We did yeah. Over ten years ago he was in a band with Ian and me but we all went our separate ways. Laine’s more of a blues man. It wasn’t the right timing. Actually me and Laine are doing something with Marcia. Do you know Marcia? It’s a blues song. We’re going to record it this week. It’s going to be a one off thing. It’s going to be exciting.

SIMONE: Where are you going to record it?

HEIDI: A friend’s got a studio in West Hampstead, before she goes back to Boston, that’ll be good. It’ll be the first time I have worked with Laine in over ten years.

LORRAINE: It’s clear that you and your mother were very close and that she strove to give you and your brothers the best in life and to be there for you. Firstly, how did she feel about you pursuing a career in music?

HEIDI: Yeah, she always…I don’t know. I think deep down maybe she always wanted me to, but she always wanted me to do art. She wanted me to go to college and probably do something different and I never knew why she was always like “Oh, do this instead”. I was like “No, but I really want to sing”. But I did go to college just for her, and me too, but it was only for a year and right after the first year. I went to music theory and changed my courses and did music instead.

Right before she died she was hearing this album that I had made with these girls and it just made her life. She was just so happy, and I knew she’d be so happy. She always wanted me to but I think she thought if my dad wasn’t around helping she felt bad that we didn’t have the support. But as the years went on, I’m thinking this now that she was probably just worried for us because she knew what had happened to her. But we’ve proved her wrong and I know that she can see now. It’s gonna be ok.

LORRAINE: Secondly, not only are you a singer, song writer and musician you are also a mother to two young children. Have your own experiences affected how you balance the two?

HEIDI: Oh yeah, 100%. It’s always a good challenge to prove that I can do it. Like when I had my first child I used to put her in a cot while I’d be rehearsing with my friends and I’d have the headphones….I would take them everywhere with me ‘cos Jeff would be at work and stuff. I just did what I had to do ‘cos I knew I had to sing and I was doing it to the point that I wanted to support...even my mum. I wanted to take care of her because I knew that she didn’t have the support either, so I did the music specifically for that. Yeah, I wanted to help everyone and I’m still trying to help. Hopefully one day it’ll pay off. You do what you got to do to provide. And it’s a good outlet obviously because it’s helping me to become some-one.

LORRAINE: Are your children musical?

HEIDI: Very, unbelievably musical. They’re more musical than I ever was at their age. Jaylie, we’ve already sang with her at her assembly and she’s more confident than I ever was and her voice projects the way I wanted it to but never did at that age. I know that they’re just going to be fine. I’m kind of scared for them too because you want them to go to college so I do understand that side of it, but you have to leave them to it and have faith and if they do that they’ll be fine and I’m helping them, training them. They’re tough as nails anyway. They’re tougher than I was, so I know I don’t have to worry. But they are…they’ve instantly got those notes they’re singing, like they hit the notes. Jesse is a dream, the way he moves to music. He’s just so natural it’s crazy. He mimics a piano and even a guitar. It’ll be interesting what they do turn out to be. But Jaylie likes theatre and she’s always singing. We went to see Wicked and she plays it over and over. I think that will be her thing ‘cos she’s so confident and she likes to act as well, so who knows.

SIMONE: You have lots of fancy dress and costumes here.

HEIDI: Yeah, my God, we’re always role playing. I’m like a kid with them I swear to God. They always say “Please mummy sing to us” at night and sometimes I’m tired but then I do and it sends them right to sleep. So I need to do that more often. [Laughs]. And they write. They write songs as well and poems. It’s really nice. They both have it and I’m really happy.

LORRAINE: You look so young yourself Heidi, I hear you still get asked for ID in the local shop?

HEIDI: I do, like yesterday. I get so annoyed because I want to be able to go in there without having to carry a friggin’ passport or something. [Laughs].  When I was younger I used to say “Fine, when I’m 21 I won’t have to worry, I’ll have some ID”, but now I’m 36 for crying out loud. They’re even laughing going “Ha ha well who’s that in the picture?” and I’m like “IT’S ME!” [Laughs]. I feel like whacking them because they’re all giggling behind the thing and they know, they’ve just asked me, they know who I am. It’s just a wind up, but one day, when it stops, I’ll be like “Why aren’t they asking now?” So I have to learn to accept it and be happy.

LORRAINE: So what’s next on the horizon for the band?

HEIDI: Well, like I said, we’ve got these two gigs in the pipeline. We’re going to be doing this party for someone, but we haven’t got it confirmed yet, but hopefully in this venue in Shoreditch called The Rich Mix. It’s like an art gallery. We’re excited about that. We’re waiting to hear about this booking agent. We want to start doing support slots for bigger bands and we’re going to arrange a tour. That’s the goal. Of-course we want to do a festival this year but I think it’s a bit late right now. So next year will be the festivals but right now…and a video. We’re trying to get a video sorted for one of the songs off the album. It was going to be originally Civil War. Civil War is the first song we play at gigs, It’s like “Come on, this is who we are”. We’re not into politics and stuff. We’re very much into the peace side of things. We wouldn’t; be very political in the video but people think that at first. So Civil War would be the one. We’re deciding where we wanna do it right now.

LORRAINE: Who ideally would you like to support?

HEIDI: I don’t mind The Foo Fighters. I love the lead singer of the Foo Fighters. He’s someone I’d like to go backstage and hang out with. I don’t know, there are other bands, like you know, classic rock. You know Thin Lizzy’s playing.

LORRAINE: Finally, if you could be granted one wish right now, what would it be?

HEIDI: To be onstage at a festival. That is literally what I’m dreaming about. It’s the time of year when I just want to be out at festivals. That would be it!

Interview by Lorraine 05/06/11         
Main photo of Heidi and naked shoot from 'Getting Down With Nature' photoshoot by Mel 16/09/11

Band photo by P.T. Madden

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