Heartland (2005)

Heartland: Moving On To Better Things

Heartland's Steve Morris and Chris Ousey discuss the band's cracking new studio album Move On. Steve is highlighted in green and Chris in blue.

G'Day Chris and Steve,
Great to take this opportunity to talk to you about the smashing new Heartland album - one which I have a lot of enthusiasm for.

Chris - to you first - not too many people are still in the business closing in on 20 years since their debut album. We all know this business doesn't work on talent alone - how have you managed to stay in it for so long?

Has it been that long? That's truly scary, but I don't think a passion for music can ever be discarded. I also class myself as very lucky that there's always been people interested enough in what I do, to want to help and encourage me to continue.

I know I certainly hold this opinion, but do you consider yourself unlucky not to have broken into a wider audience and acclaim? You have a great standing within the melodic rock community, but with a voice such as yours, I think you are unlucky not to be a household name.
It's nice of you to put it like that, and it can be a little frustrating at times not to reach a wider audience. However it's impossible to be in control of that side of things, so you soldier on and hope the ripples will continue to spread outwards.

Steve - you have had an equally colourful career working with major labels and also major names such as Ian Gillan. You have also tasted success - do you prefer life as you have it now - busy always on different projects, but somewhat less intense than life under the pressure of a major label or artist?
I really enjoy working with Ian Gillan. I have written 3 albums with him, and a fourth is ongoing. Recently I played some guitar on a project with him, that looks back on his 40 years on the road. ['Gillan's Inn'] He's re-recording his old classics with such people as Joe Satriani, Jeff Healy, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Don Airey and a host of other names, so it was an honour to be asked.
I re-recorded 'Loving on Borrowed Time', a number I co-wrote with him on the
'Naked Thunder' record. And also played 'Smoke', as did all the guitarists.
It's gonna be a killer record.

Or do I have it wrong - is it equally as pressurized no matter who you are creating for?
There is no pressure at all doing things like that, as all the people are so cool to work with. With 'Heartland' it's a different thing as not so many people will hear it.
Which is a shame as it's such a good record. So any positive vibes from it is a bonus.

Chris, you started out with Virginia Wolf on Atlantic and then Heartland on A&M Records in 1991, do you think your career and perhaps even your sanity were saved by the advent of the Independent label?
When Heartland parted company with A&M I did consider going to college to study psychology. At that time Khalil from Escape Music approached me and it seems I didn't need much persuading to get back in the saddle again.

What do you think might have been an alternative path for you after Heartland were dropped from A&M?
There's no way I'd still be writing and recording this style of music, if I'd had to continually rely on the support of a major record company. It's made it more possible for writers to have a greater say in their direction.

You have been with Khalil since Wide Open on Long Island Records and with Escape Music since Heartland 3. It's obviously a very strong relationship. I love sparring with Khalil, he is one of the most passionate music lovers in this business - what about you - do you creatively spar and argue over the direction of the band?
Steve and I have worked with Escape for a long time now, and though there are always going to be differences of opinions, I'm always right!....only kidding. The main thing is we always put the interests of the band first.

How about you Steve? You work with Khalil on several projects for Escape - you also seem to have a good understanding of what is required and/or desired by the label.
I have to say I prefer working at the very top, because of that fact. But playing guitar and recording music is no problem at all. Whoever it is with.
I enjoy working with Khalil, because he is so enthusiastic about our music. Sometimes we have to rope him in a bit as his passion obscures things particularly if he doesn't like the sound of some of the demos. But on the whole he sees the broad picture, a lot more than a regular A&R guy at a major.

Chris, you have been working with Steve for some time now - how would you describe what he brings to the band?
Steve is a truly accomplished musician and is the more organized side of the writing duo. When he sends me a backing track there's rarely any need to juggle the thing around. It's usually all there musically. I hope I then bring emotion to the proceedings and I like to think I've a good ear for a lyrical and melodic hook. After working together for this length of time, we have a good idea from the start where a song is heading.

What is the song writing process for you guys - separately or collaborative?
Steve sends me a few musical ideas and I work at my place to try and flesh out the tunes lyrically. Then I'll travel up to the studio and we'll rough out a demo. If it's working at that stage Steve will refine things and then it's into the main studio for drums, bass, vocals and guitar overdubs.

I always come up with the initial musical idea, which Chris will then add a rough lyric to We will then record a demo, to see how it is shaping up. If it looks promising we will then arrange it and polish it before re-recording a master.

To jump forward, I think each album has shown slight improvements each time, with Communication Down a highlight - but Move On seems to be a major jump forward again.
As regards 'Move On', we didn't set out to record anything in a different way, but the sound of the record changed when Tommy Hansen mixed it. He brought a freshness to the sound. But I also think the songs are stronger.

When formulating a plan for this album - what did you guys discuss?
We wanted some strong band sounds and heavier grooves on this record. I wanted to sing out a little more and we where looking for some gritty, ampy guitar sounds. Other than that I think an album kind of has a life of its own.

I must give huge props for the energy of the record. It seems the band gets a little heavier each release, but this one seems tight as hell. Credit to whom for that?
I'd say a lot of the credit for this being a tight album has to go to Steve for setting up some very strong guitar grooves from the outset. Also Mathias really holds down the bottom end on bass.

And best of all I think - some of the best songs ever on this album. And choruses!! Great choruses, which is something I have previously mentioned you guys could improve on. But this album has some killer choruses. What's your secret? :)
I tried to keep verses and bridges simpler on this record, leaving the strongest melodies for the main chorus lines. I think the contrast between the two make the songs work.

Something that stands out for me is the delivery of the choruses - the vocal arrangements and the extra pomp and harmonies surrounding all the vocals on the album. I'm told the guys from Grand Illusion helped out in this regard. Can you walk us through that?
Had a lot of fun recording the backing vocals in Sweden with Peter and Per (Grand Illusion boys). I'd finished all my lead tracks which always brings a sense of relief, so the sessions were very relaxed. In the past I've tended to do most of my own harmonies, and maybe not always given them the attention they've maybe deserved.
Anders did a great job directing and arranging.

I mentioned that the band has got increasingly heavier - or at least tighter on recent albums. Do you envisage yourselves getting any heavier?
There may be a limit to how far you can go and still pack a lot of melody into a song. Don't think I'd want to compromise on melody just to heavy things up. Having said that, if the two things can walk hand in hand then there would be no problem.

This is a myth. I have this argument with Khalil all the time. I don't care about getting heavier, but I do care about writing good songs, and if the song requires a bit of beef, all well and good. But not for the sake of making a 'heavy' record.

Chris, your vocals on the new album are some of your best and most powerful ever. Especially the extended high notes towards the end of several tracks. How did you warm up for this album?
I recorded all my lead vocals in just over four days, so I had to be careful to warm up well before heading off to the studio. I use a warm up tape which takes me around half an hour and usually freaks out the maids cleaning the adjoining rooms.

Have you Chris ever thought of returning to the style of the Heartland debut, which remains the only album you have recorded in that lush keyboard drenched AOR style?
I'm pretty happy with where the band are right now musically and don't really see the point in trying to recreate the first record.

Now...Heartland HAVE to perform live...this album is too good not to at least give it an airing via a few shows...is there any possibility of this happening? Perhaps a live CD/DVD at some stage?
I miss live work a lot and I for one would love to get out and gig. I'm going to be pushing hard for some live dates to promote this album.

Chris, what do you work on in the down time between Heartland albums? Do you have anything coming up in 2005 or even next year?
I'm working at the moment on what may end up going out as a solo record towards the autumn. It's early days with it but I'm enjoying getting the material together.

What are the chances of a new Distance album? Kenny has been locked away for far too long...time for him to get out again.
Well I'm going to be busy getting songs together for my record for a little while…I hope to be able to confirm some live work in the not too distant future also.

Steve - you are always busy...tell us about your current work on the new Change Of Heart album. I'm told it's going to be a good one!
I am in the middle of writing the new Shadowman record with Steve Overland. It's sounding really good. Strong songs with a different approach than the last one. A bit more rockier. I am also finishing off the 'Change of Heart' production of their new album which is sounding very good indeed.

What are the immediate plans for Heartland and the long term plans?
Heartland is always my major project so Steve and I will continue to write together, and look towards our next release.

Does it frustrate you both at all to see such great music ignored by mainstream media? There are so many great albums in this genre that you just know so many people would dig - but never get the chance to hear.
Do you just accept that and do what you can, or does it still bug you? (It bugs me!! haha)

I think I've probably accepted that there's always going to be a lot of great music out there that won't always get the airing it may well deserve.
On the other hand it's gratifying to get feed back from fans. It's what makes the effort involved in writing and recording worth while.

I don't get frustrated at all about mainstream media neglecting melodic rock. Why should they. People who buy CD's (10-18 yr olds) aren't interested in a form of music that has had it's heyday. So I accept that if we can reach anybody under the age of 20, we're doing bloody well.
But what bugs me is England. Its so fashion oriented. I was talking to Birgitt from 'Rock it' [German rock mag], and she says the German charts are much more objective. Now that really annoyed me.

It's been great catching up again and I appreciate your time to do the interview. Look forward to doing this again!
Thanks for your interest


SNAKECHARMER - Second Skin (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Release Date: 
Musical Style: 
Classic Rock
Friday, May 12, 2017
Well it’s a lot better than the one-paced and rather bland debut, that’s for certain. Tighter production, clearer mix and much better songs. And the band has moved away from the Whitesnake heritage, swinging into a more straight up classic rock vibe. Maybe because Neil Murray is the only snake left after Mickey Moody departed.
Chris Ousey as usual sings his heart out, belting out his best on tunes such as the rocking opening Sounds Like A Plan and the sweeter feel good That Kind Of Love and the fast moving Follow Me Under, which continues a more varied tempo than the debut.
The blues kick in with some hard edged riffing on Hell Of A Way To Live, continuing into the slow burning ballad Fade Away.
The acoustic driven pop/rock ballad Punching Above My Weight is a tail end highlight amongst a few songs that don’t carry their weight.
I’d still much prefer Chris Ousey fronting The Distance, or teaming again with Mike Slamer like he did for his debut solo album. Still, it’s always good to hear his voice.
Snakecharmer have lost a little of their ‘snake’ and gained a little more ‘charm’, but they are still a ways off a classic album. More work on hooks and choruses next time – everything else seems to be in place.



SNAKECHARMER Deliver 'Second Skin' May 12

Friday, May 12, 2017
News Feed
Frontiers Music Srl is pleased to announce the release of Snakecharmer’s sophomore album, “Second Skin” on May 12.
The British hard rock supergroup Snakecharmer was originally founded in 2011 by former Whitesnake/David Coverdale members Micky Moody and Neil Murray along with the perfect mix of high calibre musicians including Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash), Harry James (Thunder, Magnum), Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne), and Chris Ousey (Heartland).
The band’s debut self-titled album was released in 2013 and musically the record showed a finely crafted hard rock style mixed with blues and melodic overtones, akin to Micky and Neil's former band and Bad Company, with hints of early Foreigner as well.
Snakecharmer played live shows regularly in support of the album’s release and built a solid fanbase in the UK and Europe. In 2016, Moody left the band and was replaced by the Irish-born Simon McBride on lead guitar. Simon was hailed “among the best blues-rock players anywhere in the world” by Guitarist Magazine and has built up an impressive resume playing with outstanding rock, soul, and blues artists.
“Second Skin” is the hotly anticipated second effort from Snakecharmer and brings the listener straight back to the good old days of real rock n' roll played with heart and soul. Slightly harder edged compared to the debut, but with roots still firmly planted in the classic hard rock vibe with a hint of late '70s AOR, this new record sounds fresh and crisp.
Bassist Neil Murray says “It’s been a rather long journey, but finally I’m very pleased to announce that Snakecharmer are soon to release our new album, Second Skin. The band has now found its own unique musical identity and in particular Laurie Wisefield and Chris Ousey have contributed some very powerful and melodic songs, which still have the Snakecharmer blues-rock distinctive trademarks. The band works in a very democratic and collaborative way, which means that sometimes there is a lot of discussion before decisions are finally made, and it was great to have a more objective viewpoint from producer Gary Stevenson, who also fired the band up with his ideas, enthusiasm and sonic skills. We can’t wait to get out on tour and play some of the new songs, together with the best of our established classics, both Snakecharmer and Whitesnake, and showcase our new virtuoso guitarist, the brilliant Simon McBride.”
Strong, passionate, rocking, and blues-laden, “Second Skin” is quality British hard rock at its very best!
1. Sounds Like A Plan
2. That Kind Of Love
3. Are You Ready To Fly
4. Follow Me Under
5. I'll Take You As You Are
6. Hell Of A Way To Live
7. Fade Away
8. Dress It Up
9. Punching Above My Weight
10. Forgive & Forget
11. Where Do We Go From Here
Chris Ousey - vocals
Laurie Wisefield - guitar
Simon McBride - guitar
Adam Wakeman - keyboards
Neil Murray - bass
Harry James - drums
May 05 Cardiff, The Globe
May 07 Bingley, Bingley Arts Centre
May 10 Hull, Fruit
May 12 Sheffield, The Plug
May 13 Tavistock, The Wharf
May 14 London, O2 Academy Islington
May 18 Glasgow, 02 ABC2
May 19 Newcastle upon Tyne, 02 Academy
May 20 Alva, Scotland
May 24 Preston, Guildhall
May 25 Milton Keynes, The Stables
May 26 Frome, Cheese And Grain
May 27 Holmfirth, Picturedrome



CHRIS OUSEY - Dream Machine (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Lars Chriss
Release Date: 
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Friday, April 22, 2016
Veteran British vocalist Chris Ousey already has a wealth of impressive material to his name with such acts as Virginia Wolf, Heartland and The Distance.
His debut solo album was a long time coming, but was everything a Chris Ousey fan could possibly wish for, made even better with the production and musical nouse of the great Mike Slamer.
For his anticipated sophomore solo release, there’s no Slamer, but there is drummer/producer Lars Chriss and he has done a very good job maintaining the big punchy sound of the debut.
That album was truly outstanding, so I wasn’t expecting as much from this album, but still hoped it would come close. It does.
While the guitar playing and overall production style isn’t as impressive, the sound is still intact and the voice of Ousey makes it all worthwhile.
And there are several more absolutely fabulous songs on offer here. A couple of fillers too, but for the most part, this is a high energy, uptempo melodic rock must-have.
Opening with the Deep Purple-ish barnstormer This Is The Life, Chris shows he is still the vocalist we’ve loved since the 80s.
Another Runaway is a classically 80s sounding anthem, with a tasteful moody verse before one of the best choruses of the album.
War is possibly the most aggressive track on the album – fast, furious and packing a powerful punch.
Dream Machine continues the fast pace of the album with a funky twist. Not a favourite, but it depends on my mood how much I enjoy it.
Tearing It All Down is yet another fast flowing track with another great chorus. Classic Chris Ousey/Heartland here.
The fun continues with Into Your Dream, featuring another strong melodic AOR chorus over a solid groove.
Moment of Madness continues the blistering pace of this album with another great song. A less impactful chorus, but it still does the job.
Gone Long Gone is one track that fails in the chorus department for me; the verse is more impressive as far as vocal melodies.
Better Time to Come kicks the album back into overdrive, with a fast moving melodic rocker featuring another great vocal and chorus.
The slower rocking Eager To Please is perhaps another track that doesn’t have the immediate catchiness of other songs.
Return To Me makes up for that with enough melodies for two songs. Another fast and furious rocker.
Flesh On The Bone is a bonus track that wasn’t serviced to media, so I can’t comment on this one.

What strikes me above all else is the quality of Chris Ousey’s vocals. He truly is a wonder and anyone that appreciated Heartland or The Distance needs this album. Fans of the last album might miss Mike Slamer in the same way I am, but the quality of the songs and vocals ensures that the album repeats the ‘must buy’ status of the debut.



CHRIS OUSEY Launches New Solo 'Dream Machine' April 22

Friday, April 22, 2016
News Feed
Heartland/Ozone vocalist CHRIS OUSEY will release his second solo album 'Dream Machine' via Escape Music April 22.
Track list: This Is the Life / Another Runaway / War / Dream Machine / Tearing It All Down / Into Your Dream / Moment Of Madness / Gone Long Gone / Better Time To Come / Eager To Please / Return To Me / Flesh On The Bone (bonus track)
Chris Ousey: Lead vocals and backing vocals
Chris Green: Lead Guitars
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards
Andy Loos: Bass Guitars
Lars Chriss: Drums
Backing vocals: Ged Rylands and Paul Hume
Tommy Denander: Lead Guitars, Rhythm Guitars and Keyboards
Produced by Lars Chriss and Khalil Turk
Mixed and Arranged By Lars Chriss
Mastered by Mike Lind
Executive Producer Khalil Turk
All songs by Chris Ousey and Tommy Denander except track 9; Better Time To Come by Chris Ousey, the late Christian Wolf and Tommy Denander.
Chris Ousey has had an excellent singing career that goes way back to the times of Monroe, Virginia Wolf, the fantastic Heartland an outstanding solo recording and more recently Snakecharmer. He is nicknamed The man with the golden tonsils and that is a fine accolade indeed for he has earned it. His effortless vocal range has gained him a top spot in the world of classic UK hard rock.
Chris has already delivered us a fine solo album in 2011 called Rhyme and Reason with Mike Slamer at the production helm. It was very warmly received by fans and critics alike and featured some fantastic songs.
The New CD Dream Machine is an extension of the foundations laid down four years ago: we have huge choruses, great songs and a production second to none. Chris further cements his reputation as one of the UK's greatest vocalists with an effortless performance that will attract new fans to his already strong fanbase. With guests such as Tommy Denander, Adam Wakeman and Lars Chriss the scene is set for a great melodic rock album which will be a prime contender for album of the year. Chris is like a mature wine, his voice gets better with age…

OZONE - Self Defense (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Mike Slamer
Running Time: 
Release Date: 
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Release Year: 
Friday, September 25, 2015
The pairing of the great Mike Slamer and Heartland/Virginia Wolf vocalist Chris Ousey produced one of 2011’s best albums in Rhyme And Reason.
Why it has taken 4 years for the pair to work together again I’m not sure, but Ozone is the result.
The “O” zone of course is “O”usey working alongside Steve “O”verlandFM vocalist and fellow British AOR crooner.
This album is everything I expected – super slick Slamer production and guitar playing, pristine mix and the “O’s” absolutely killing it on vocals. And you know the sound already – fans of Production-by-Slamer will get another dose of his production magic and layers upon layers of harmony vocals – even bigger here given the vocalists involved.
So as expected I played this album to death in the first couple of weeks. But something I did not expect – a certain disconnect with a few songs that have failed to draw me in for the long haul.
Ousey’s album I still play today – it’s just superb.
But I think the songwriting here is a little safe, a little predictable and for that reason there are patches in the album that haven’t ignited my passion such as albums like Seventh Key, Steelhouse Lane and Terry Brock/Slamer had.
In the superb category come the opener Tiger By The Tail; the big ballad So Blind (positioned too early in the album though); the fast moving Save My Soul and Evolve and the equally fast moving but even better Self Defence and Smile Before You Lie and perhaps the best track of all, the anthemic rocker Practice What You Preach.
In the “oddly not that compelling” category are the tunes Let The Good Will Out, Destiny and Lifeline (all a bit one-paced); Shadow On The Sun (annoying chorus) and Visionary Man which rocks, but just doesn’t blow me away.
Interestingly, while this is credited to both vocalists, it is Chris Ousey who has the most dominant role throughout the album.
I’m hoping the songwriting isn’t spread too thin for is long awaited follow-up solo album due in the next several months.

Another great sounding album for all involved and another production winner for Slamer, but not quite the musical home run I was expecting as far as songwriting goes. Still a lot to like though.



OZONE Offer 'Self Defense' September 25

Friday, September 25, 2015
News Feed

Escape Music is pleased to announce the release date for the much anticipated OZONE debut album, titled Self Defence.
Release Date: 25th September 2015

Track List: 1-Tiger By The Tail 3:38 / 2- Let The Good Will Out 4:11 /  3- So Blind 5:31 / 4-Destiny 3:50 /  5- Shadow On The Sun 3:32 / 6- Save My Soul 5:02 / 7- Evolve  4:27 / 8- Self Defence 3:42 / 9- Smile Before You Lie  4:21 / 10- Lifetime 4:05 / 11- Practice What You Preach  4:06 / 12- Visionary Man 4:34

Chris Ousey - Lead Vocals and backing vocals.

Chris Ousey has had an excellent singing career that goes way back to the times of 'Monroe', 'Virginia Wolf', the fantastic 'Heartland' an outstanding solo recording and more recently 'Snakecharmer'. He is nicknamed 'The man with the golden tonsils' and that is a fine accolade indeed for he has earned it. His effortless vocal range has gained him a top spot in the world of classic UK hard rock.

Steve Overland - Vocals and backing vocals.

Steve Overland is a legend in his own lifetime. Is there anyone out there who is not familiar with his name? He has a history that goes way back into the late seventies, his first major recording was with the band 'Wildlife' in 1980. After the demise of 'Wildlife' Steve went on to form the cult British melodic rock band 'FM', a band that released many great albums throughout the eighties and nineties and right up to 2015. Their popularity has always been at the forefront of British Hard Rock. Steve has also fronted many great bands in recent years, such as 'The Ladder', 'Shadowman' and of course he has recorded three fine solo albums.
Mike Slamer - Guitars / B3 Organ / Keys / Bass
Ronnie Platt - Backing vocals
Billy Greer - Backing vocals
Kerry Denton - Drums
The Late and sadly missed our dear friend Christian Wolff  - Guitars and Keys on 'Evolve'
Erik Sabo - B3 organ
All songs written by Chris Ousey, Steve Overland, Mike Slamer.
Recorded and Mixed at Shattered Studios Valencia CA except for Steve Overland vocals recorded at Tremolo Recording Studio in Cheshire, UK.
Produced and mixed by Mike Slamer
Mastered by Mike Lind at Masterplant
Executive Producer: Khalil Turk for Escape Music Ltd.
The two 'O's' have joined forces on a collaboration that has been whispered for years now and the rumours have all been true as this great union is about to be unleashed on the world. This is just beyond a dream, even the thought that two of the finest melodic rock vocalists in the UK would come together and record an album.
We all know the work of Mike Slamer (City Boy, Streets, and Seventh Key) and his amazing production expertise, well here he outshines all of his previous work with a razor sharp explosion of talent. Mike has a knack of making great music sound even better and this is all the evidence we need. Check out songs like 'Smile before you lie' and 'Practice what you preach' for superb examples of melodic hard rock. On top of it all you get some great backing vocals from Kansas members Ronnie Platt and Billy Greer just like icing on the cake!
This album is dedicated to Christian Wolf R.I.P.


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