May 24, 2010

Mike Heap, THE LEGENDARY CLAMPETTS

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MIKE HEAP is bassist and songwriter for The Legendary Clampetts from Springfield, Illinois. Mike talked to Ceri Shaw for Welsh Steel and AmeriCymru



CERI: How long have The Clampetts been playing together?


photograph of Mike Heap
MIKE: The band's been together about 3 years. We originated from a project that Matt (Erley - drums) and I were involved in called 'Banzai Kitty'. The Legendary Clampetts was more or less the moniker that Matt and I chose as an inside joke after our original guitarists left to start another project, and it just sort of stuck. We've actually been recording and performing as The LC's for about 16 months now.


CERI: How would you describe your sound?


MIKE: Our sound is really a 'mash-up' I suppose. I know there's punk, funk, progressive metal and a lot of old school classic rock sounding type stuff in there. It actually depends on what I'm trying to convey in the song. For example; 'Riot In The Hospital' has a straight up punk / rockabilly feel to it. The melody and progressions were written to capture and express the tongue in cheek outrage of the lyrics. All of our material is meant to 'stand alone' and tell a story or express an idea or opinion, so we don't really pay any attention to, or try to stick to any particular 'genre' or label.


CERI: You are the main songsmith for The Legendary Clampetts. What inspires your lyric writing?


MIKE: Lyrics, to me, are the most important part of songwritting. So, I take a lot of time with just that aspect of the song writting process. Everything I've ever written starts with expressing a story, an idea or an opinion. The subject matters are diverse, 'Cry Havoc' is an anti-war protest song, while 'Bird Thing' is a song about growing up and leaving home and how scary, exciting and sometimes sad that can be.



CERI: Who would you count amongst your musical influences?


MIKE: Wow, musical influences. Okay, here we go....I do this in a couple of ways. As a bassist, my all time 2 greatest influences are John Entwistle and John Paul Jones without reservations. As a lyricist and composer, I really admire Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull. As far as bands go, Blue Oyster Cult, Queen, Thin Lizzy and Genesis top a really really long list.


CERI: Any tours or live appearances in the near future?


MIKE: We're currently in our home studio working on some new material at the moment, so other than the possibility of appearing on the Ernie Ball Stage at The Warped Tour stop in St. Louis, MO , we don't have any shows scheduled until late August in the midwest.


CERI: Where can people go to hear/buy your music?


MIKE: You can hear us at several different sites - We're on ReverbNation and of course Myspace. On both Myspace and ReverNation, you can stream all the songs there and the ReverbNation site has some special free downloads available to anyone that becomes a member of our fan base. I'd like to take this opportunity to announce that we'll be launching a new website this coming fall where among other things friends and fans will be able to 'rent' and 'recommend' (R&R) our material ( songs and videos). Long story, short answer - we believe the old methods of 'selling' music is dead, and we're approaching this is a new manner that befits the digital age.....stay tuned for more, is all I can say at the moment. You can also find us twitter at ww.twitter.com/clampettsspfld, on www.imradio.com/theclampetts and our youtube channel


CERI: Care to tell us something about the Ernie Ball Battle of The Bands?


MIKE: The Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands is an annual contest that the Ernie Ball company conducts in conjunction with the Vans Warped Tour. The concept is to give a platform for undiscovered bands to showcase their talent to a larger regional or national audience. The contest has launched the careers of several major artists over the last 10 years or so. We're currently in the running for one of 5 available slots during the tours stop in St. Louis, Missouri. At last glance, we occupied the # 2 position after having spent 20 days as the number one contender. Fans must create an account in order to vote, but don't let that stop you - you won't be inundated with junk emails from either the Ernie Ball or the Vans companies or any other sponsor or participant. What we've seen thus far, is that a lot of the bands involved have their fans go 'trolling' for return votes from other bands and fans in order to benefit their chosen band.....and it seems to work. We'd certainly appreciate all the help and support that we can get. We've been discussing offering logo t-shirts to any of our friends and fans that are helping us out, not only in this contest, but in any of our efforts.


CERI: On your AmeriCymru profile you describe yourself as a first generation Welsh american. Care to tell us a little about your Weslsh background?


MIKE: My dad was born in Swansea. He and his mother moved to New Bedford, Mass. when he was 7. My brothers and I were constantly exposed to our culture and heritage from my dad, but more so from our grandmother. She insisted on speaking to us in Welsh as much as possible. My dad was a history nut, and had an extensive library of Welsh history and social traditions, which he 'tutored' us boys on....he went so far as to insist that we watch the movie Zulu at least once a month....why? Well, as he put it, and I'm paraphrasing here - ' the most glorious victory in the british army belongs to a Welsh Regiment'. My Welsh heritage was and still is the most defining aspect of who and what I am....I even have the goch ddraig with the words Wales Forever tattooed on my left arm.


CERI: Are there any Welsh or Celtic influences on your music?


MIKE: I couldn't claim that my writting has any more Welsh or Celtic influence than anyone elses music I do, however, like to image myself as keeping alive the old bardic traditions of my ancestors in some remote fashion.


CERI: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru and WelshSteel?


MIKE: I'd just like to say to you Ceri, thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and speak to the members of AC and WS and connect with them via these forums and websites. And, on behalf of The Legendary Clampetts, thank you for taking the time to give us a go, we hope you enjoy the music.


Interview: Ceri Shaw Email



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