First up - congratulations on the new album - Heartland's best yet!!
Chris Ousey Interview.
So, it sounds like a lot of work has gone into this record - when did you start writing and then pre-production for the album?
We began writing and pre-production for Communication Down about three months
after the release of the previous record.
We don't tend to let the grass grow too much between releases and like to keep the ball rolling. It can be harder to get into the flow of writing again if you leave too much of a gap between projects.
And how long were you in the studio making it?
We do a fair amount of master recording as we go along at Steve's place. This helps to cut down on the time we spend in the studio later down the line. The vocals were recorded over a four day period in Liverpool. A lot of the backing vocals I had already laid down during pre-production. There were then a further couple of weeks in Vancouver to lay down drums and bass guitar.
Before you went into this, when you talked with Steve, did you have a set plan in mind for this album and/or the style, or did it come later as you were recording?
We did feel the time was right to toughen up the sound and direction with this record. We went for a more live feel and I think the music on this release will lend itself well to being played on stage.
I hear a noticeably tougher/harder edge to your vocals on this album - how did you approach that?
The vocals do have more edge and are left a little more in your face and without too many softening effects. It felt quite easy to go along with a heavier backing track.
The challenge was for me to retain as much melody as I could.
Was it tougher on the voice to do? I mean, did you always have this in you, or did you have to work a little more for the results!!
It can be tough to push the voice on the more aggressive songs. You have to learn how to relax and let the emotion of the lyric take control.
The band has progressed with each release and this one is mightier than the last - where do you go next? What are your thoughts?
I don't tend to look back on previous records or to look too far ahead. The songs tend to carve out a style and production slant all of their own as you progress through the process of getting the albums together.
I love the guitar, keys and vocal mix on the album. Were you present with Paul Dean when he did this? Great job!!
I was busy on other work when the mixes with Paul Dean were being completed. I have worked on two Distance records and a Heartland mix in the past at his studio in Vancouver, so I know how he works and have a lot of confidence in his methods.
The process took a little longer with mixes being sent back and forth but the result was worth it.
How do you write normally? Was there anything in your mind you were conscious to do this time around, or was it all from the heart?
I tend to allow the basic feel of the rough baking track to steer me in the right direction.
Do you have any idea why the Japanese have altered the running order? I thought the Euro version was a better running order.
The Japanese have a good feel for what their fans go for. It is a different market place and we're usually happy for them to make any small changes to running orders or cover artwork.
You also have The Distance underway - how do things sound with that album? What can we look forward to?
No definite plans for a new Distance record as yet but I hope to get into that in the not too distant...ouch!! future.
What else has the always busy Chris Ousey got lined up for the rest of 2002?
Some possible co-writes coming up though when and who are a little shady at the moment.
Any particular favourite songs of the album?
My faves from the album tend to change day to day but I have a soft spot for the hidden last track Rise With Road.
You are in one of rare breed of bands - the English AOR/melodic rock band. Is there any way things are going to improve for the scene? Any suggestions from experience?
For me, I think good music will always have the last laugh.