Hello Master (RCA)
An interview with singer/guitarist Mikey Heppner
by Craig Regala
photos by Chris Casella
Despite half a dozen “rock is dead” statements over the years, (the first being in the early ’70s, and it did seem kinda unhealthy at the club level), the stuff ain’t going away.
One of the reasons is bands like Priestess. They play hard, catchy rock and roll with a strong kickass component using the classic drums/bass/two guitar/singing thing straight-up without consciously trying to “revive” anything. They started in ’03 and came out of the gate strong. The LP’s reissued and out on RCA. It’s named Hello Master.
My buddy Brian got a book to review composed of pictures of ’70s-looking Swedish nudes and drink mixes. Can you relate to this as part of the Priestess “way”?
Uh, yeah… (laughs) We’re not against either of those things.
So the record got picked up straight, right?
It’s been remastered, but it’s the same songs in the same order on RCA, so it’ll have major distribution.
You have a pretty good grasp on letting the songs breath and letting the hook settle in, reminiscent of early ’80s jean jacket kickass stuff. Very tuneful. Does this era mean much to you? Like ever go, “Man, I’d like this to have a Lizzy ‘Renegade’ vibe”?
No, not really. We like strong songs and rocking out. There are bands from all time periods we like, but not all of it comes out in the songs. There are bands from that era which we like and bands that are in that general terrain. Like when we wrote “Time Will Cut You Down,” we weren’t thinking of anything like what you said it was like.
(Note: This refers to an early part of the interview where I mentioned the tune reminded me of early RIOT or Def Leppard. The band is in the continuum of say – scanning the decades – ’70’s Rush, ’80’s Cult, ’90’s Manic Street Preachers, today’s Wolfmother.)
You guys grew up outside of Montreal. Do you think coming from the same geographic area influences you much?
Not as much as what music we like. It’s more about that. We did get to see good bands and have Much Music in Canada.
You guys are road hogs; how hard is it to tour in Canada? Ever see the movie Hardcore Logo? (One of the top five rock movies of all time. It concerns a “classic” punk band in Canada – maybe loosely based on DOA? – that does a short reunion tour.) There’s a couple great scenes concerning the sheer distance involved.
We tour a lot. First in eastern Canada, and the East and Midwest down there. Then the tour with Early Man and The Sword; that was a good one. We play with metal bands a fair amount.
Yeah, Hardcore Logo, that’s a classic, man. It’s kinda like that.
Have you heard the Live WFMU- Terre T. 5/06 broadcast? Live, you keep the space and pacing of the recorded stuff. Do you mind if people’s first impression of you is from online videos or mp3s?
That show came off pretty good. We had a good time.
I don’t care if people get mp3s or check out the myspace page for videos. We make those videoes for that purpose. We just want to get people into the band, and those gives’m a chance if they can’t see us.
“Talk to Her” could work with The All-American Rejects or My Chemical Romance’s audience and still not lose the rock guys.
That track’s been getting some attention in Los Angeles.
You guys ever do any covers?
Yeah, we used to do “Call Me Animal” by The MC5. Great song, and less obvious than “Kick Out The Jams.”
Being from Canada, you ever play with Kill Cheerleader, Puddy, or The Illuminati? I really like those bands. Did the audience on the Nashville Pussy tour go for both bands?
We’ve been crossing paths with Kill Cheerleader and miss playing with them. Those are good guys. We’ve played with The Illuminati, yeah, and know Puddy, but those guys have been gone for a bit now. The Nashville Pussy audience and ours cross over quite a bit, and we get some of their fans, and they get some of ours.