Heir Apparent is for sure one of the greatest US metal bands of the 80s. Recently, they announced a reunion tour with the original line-up and the brain of the band, guitarist Terry Gorle, was kind enough to share with us many important things about past situations and the history of this great band.
Heir Apparent are back and announced special shows with the original "Graceful Inheritance" line-up. How did this happen and why now?
Ray and Derek had talked about wanting to do some gigs. Ray contacted me, and I contacted Paul. It all came together quickly. I contacted a few people in Europe who immediately expressed interest, then I started a Facebook page, and everything took off from there. Within a matter of days, we had offers from several people, and now a small reunion tour. It's a dream come true for me.
So, which are the confirmed shows until now and when are you coming to Greece? Which are your memories from the past show in Greece?
The itinerary I received today is this: Jan 14 - Wurzburg, Germany; Jan 15 - Thessaloniki, Greece; Jan 16 - Nicosia, Cyprus; Jan 17 - Athens, Greece.
The 2006 trip to Greece was great. I was very happy to be able to bring a group of guys with me who had never experienced anything like it. I remember visiting the Texas Club several times, the Harley Bar, exploring the subways in Athens to tour the city, and the train ride from Athens to Thessaloniki... it's a beautiful country. The fans are incredible. I had a great time and I'm really looking forward to returning with the original members. It will be their first time in Greece and it will be a special memory for all of us.
Are you reunited just for these shows or there will be new material? Have you written anything all these years?
We are just planning on doing these shows for now. We live 100 miles apart, so continuing on a steady basis would require some of us to relocate our families and rearrange our lives. It's a tough thing to do with jobs and other responsibilities. However, Paul and I have made plans to record a new album, so we will fill in the band lineup as the situation develops. Hopefully it can work out for everyone. I've written a lot of ideas... I can pick up my guitar and improvise new songs, so it won't be a problem. The main issue has always been finding other musicians/vocalists who want to spend the time and do the work.
Lets go back in time... What do you remember from your early days and how did you sign with Black Dragon Records for the first album? Did you had other offers and which was the response of the fans and press for "Graceful Inheritance"?
In the early days, 1983, I bought a PA system, rented a house with a basement and built a soundproof rehearsal room. Then, I started writing songs and looking for other musicians. Kim Harris (Queensryche's manager) had heard some of my tapes, sent them to EMI, and said he wanted to produce a solo guitar album. I was more interested in creating a band. Eventually, I found players who were interested. My house had 5 bedrooms, so Derek and Paul moved in. That allowed us to rehearse almost every day, and it was a great environment for being creative and spontaneous.
We booked time in the studio to record Graceful Inheritance in July of 1984, and Kim Harris was going to produce the album for $20,000. Queensryche demanded Kim's full attention, so he backed out of managing Heir Apparent at the last minute. So, I borrowed $3000 from my parents, and we cut the studio time back and quickly recorded 5 songs. Two of the songs, "Keeper of the Reign" and "Tear Down the Walls" received some local radio play, and so I started sending tapes out to magazines. In August of 1984, the drummer (Jim Kovach) quit, so we replaced him with Ray Schwartz and kept writing songs. By 1985 I was able to borrow another $5000 from friends to begin recording the album. I sent those tapes to more magazines, and eventually Black Dragon made contact with me. They provided the additional $5000 that we needed to complete the album and "Graceful Inheritance" was finished by October of 1985. The album was released in Europe January of 1986 and the response from most of the European press was great. We toured France, The Netherlands and Germany in May and June of 1986. During the tour we began to see problems with the relationship of Black Dragon, they breached our contract and they didn't pay us. Then, it was over... we came home with no jobs, no rehearsal room, no management, no US record deal and nothing on the horizon. Derek quit and moved to LA. I regrouped and started writing one on one with Mike Jackson on keyboards in September of 1986... Essentially, I started over. Within 6 months Derek had returned and we found Steve Benito and started a new chapter. But, I can't help but wonder how much different our lives would have been if we would have been able to keep the original plan of recording "Graceful Inheritance" in 1984 with Kim Harris... twice the recording budget, a US deal, and professional management with major label contacts.
Which are your strongest memories from that tour and the US metal scene of the 80s?
We toured three countries in Europe in 1986 for 6 weeks, the Metal Hammer Roadshow, with Savage Grace. We started the tour as the opening band... we ended the tour as the headliner. I think the 80's metal scene is my most favorite period of music and musicianship during my lifetime. There was a lot of candy ass garbage on the radio in the US, but we all loved the bands who influenced us and never received the Hollywood hype.
Which ones were your favorite bands back then?
Rainbow (w/Dio), Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath... those were the bands who inspired the whole Seattle Metal scene starting in the early 1980's.
In 1989 "One Small Voice" was released. What happened in the meantime and why vocalist Paul Davidson was replaced from Steve Benito?
By early 1987, we had recorded "We, The People" and "Tomorrow Night" with Paul. The bassist for the sessions was Randy Nelson. We were renting Studio B at Triad to rehearse. Paul began losing his voice, and it appeared that he wouldn't be able to continue for long. He came to me one day and told me that he needed to leave the band. It was sheer coincidence that we heard a voice coming from Studio A during that time that sparked our interest... and we then located and recruited Steve Benito from Portland, Oregon, 180 miles away. Ray and I drove down to Portland, and I paid Steve $400 to settle some debts he had so he could move to Seattle and join Heir Apparent.
There was a strange situation around this album and maybe you can clear the things. They cut you from the album photo of the band and you name is mentioned seperately from the other members as "guitar parts performed by Terry Gorle". What was happening, who had the rights of the name and who is responsible for the final choice of these songs? Are you happy with those songs and the production of "One Small Voice"?
To make a very long story short, I am the owner of the trademark/trade name Heir Apparent. I've owned everything, including the business license since 1984. As you can see from earlier comments, I was the founder of the band. It was my dream and my philosophy behind it. Out of necessity to make life as easy as possible for the other bandmembers to become involved and stay motivated, in addition to writing most of the songs, I needed to be the manager, the studio provider, the equipment provider, and the primary person responsible for finding investors (who ultimately were people who believed in me. Friends of mine who were willing to loan the band money to record and promote ourselves). I also provided a place to live, and I found a job for Steve when he moved here (he is still involved in a related business after all these years). I consistently wanted Heir Apparent to be a partnership of shared responsibility, shared profits, and shared debts. I tried this in 1984, and the band refused... Paul was the only member who would make a partnership committment. I tried this again in 1987 with the new band, and they again refused... By 1988 I was under increasing pressure to repay band debts. All the debts were in my name and we were borrowing more money all the time to pay for new demos and promotional expenses. My wife and I were personally paying for almost everything. I negotiated the album contract with Metal Blade/Capitol for 9 months. I was in debt about $20,000 in the name of Heir Apparent by the time we finally signed the recording contract. It was a 7 album deal with $600,000 in recording advances. Our first album advance was $25,000. I went to the band with another plea to form a partnership and become a true business, and I stressed the importance of taking $5000 from the recording contract advance and making a good faith gesture to our investors who had been very patient for several years. The band refused. Instead, they conspired to avoid any responsibility to pay the band debts... Behind the scenes during the recording of One Small Voice, they were plotting to remove me from the band when the album was finished. They voted their choices for the songs that would be recorded for the album, they removed my influence as much as possible, minimizing the importance of the guitar parts in the final mixes, and removing Questions and Cry for Rome from the track list. Then, Steve took the entire project $5000 over budget to add more vocals and keyboards. I was outraged at his arrogance.
A week after we took new photos for the album cover, I received a phone call on March 10, 1989 from Julie Hines (a girl acting as the band manager in LA) telling me that I was being removed from the band. I was devastated, and I was forced to file a lawsuit to regain my name and my rights. They stole my dream, my band, my publishing credits, my record contract (where I am specified as bandleader and the sole person to make band decisions), my trademark, and my hope. I received a phone call from a friend to tell me that One Small Voice was in record stores. I drove to the store to buy my own copy... I never received anything from Metal Blade/Capiltol or the band.
Looking back, I perceived their actions against me as pure evil, not to mention totally illegal. Their intentional actions caused me a great deal of pain, and they knew it would. I was forced to sit quietly on the sidelines for 18 months while they toured and reaped the rewards of their coup. I won my lawsuit in settlement on November 14, 1990. But what did I really win? I was still devastated. The others were found guilty of Copyright Infringement, Trademark Infringement, Breach of Contract, and Tortious Interference. But, by then they had destroyed everything I'd built. The Metal Blade/Capitol contract had been terminated and the debts were still unpaid. Technically, Metal Blade breached the contract with me as well. I never sued them.
Over the years it has become clear to me that the best path is to rise above the circumstances and forgive them. I have taken it upon myself to repay several thousand dollars to as many of the original investors I could find since signing the reissue deal with Hellion in 1999. Now, we are grown men... Ray and Derek have apologized for their part and we are moving forward. I have not seen Michael or Steve in 21 years. I remain hopeful that we will be able to reconcile at some point in the future. I wish them well.
What kind of person was Steve Benito?
There is no denying Steve is an extremely talented vocalist. He is very intelligent as well. Unfortunately, he would sometimes be extremely brash and offensive in public situations when he thought he was being funny. He was very opinionated, and very used to getting his way. I consistently asked him to scream less and add some Dio power to his style... I think that my suggestions offended him, although I can hear that he eventually followed my advice in the demo recorded while they were still illegally using the name Heir Apparent in 1990. The only time I confronted Steve with my outrage was when he belittled a very good friend of mine who had gone out of his way to be a roadie and photographer for the band. Steve expected the world to be given to him on a silver platter... that was his biggest fault. He lacked appreciation or empathy for others. But, I excuse all of that now, expecting that he has learned and grown from his experiences over the years.
There was only one live show with this line-up? What happened after the release of "One Small Voice"?
Heir Apparent played several shows in 1987/1988. We played a large pavilion in Lacey, a club in Seattle, a club in Lynnwood, a high school in Maple Valley, and at our last gig we replaced Poison to open for David Lee Roth in the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1988. I have no idea what happened after the release of One Small Voice, because I was totally removed from having any contact. I only know what I have read from reviews and rumors.
What is your occupation?
In the late 90s, "Graceful Inheritance" was re-released from Hellion Records along with a great compilation entitled "Triad", including amazing songs like "Tomorrow Night" and "Cry For Rome". Do you have other material from that era or there is any other material under the name Heir Apparent without you from Benito and the guys, after "One Small Voice"?
There is a 4-song demo that was recorded in 1990 when Steve, Derek, Michael, and a drummer from Steve's old band in Portland were illegally using Heir Apparent as a name, which I've already referred to. There are some live tapes, videos, and rehearsal things recorded with Paul and Steve during the legitimate period of the band. In short, most of the material is already available and the rest will remain in its place for a while... ;-) I remastered the "One Small Voice" album in 2000, I added the song "The Haunting" and "Two Hearts". I also re-recorded my guitar parts in several songs, mixig them over the stereo master to return some of the missing power and energy of the original 1989 release.
How did you decided to come back in action after a while, for those live shows a couple of years before?
As long as people want to hear Heir Apparent, and I'm able to play, I'll be there. There have been several band lineups since 2000. My goal was always to find people who would make the effort to record a new album. But, none of the lineups was dedicated enough to make the time and energy committment required for new music. So, we played gigs of the old material. Now that Paul has expressed interest in writing a new album, he and I will proceed with a new plan.
I still play the Kramer Stagemaster American that I bought in 1987 and loaded with EMG pickups... the same guitar used on One Small Voice and in Greece in 2006. I also have a Charvel Model 5, and a custom guitar of zebrawood and black limba I designed in 2000. I have been using Johnson Millennium amplifiers since 1998. They were discontinued in 2002, and I own two of them. The Johnson Millennium is a digital modeling amp with twin tube preamps. It's the only amp that can emulate all the sounds and effects from the two Heir Apparent albums.
So, what should we expect from Heir Apparent now?
All I can promise is that I will do my very best to perform to the very best of my ability and to record new music for the fans of Heir Apparent. I just need a little help from my friends... ;-)
Can't wait to see you in Greece, add anything else that you want.
I'm very excited and thankful for our opportunity to return. The last trip was great and I have every reason to believe this next trip will be even better! Thank you, and thanks to everyone for their dedication and support over the years!
It is a true honor for me. I hope to have time to meet and visit with as many fans as possible during this trip. Don't be shy, come up and introduce yourselves.