Entertainment behind the scenes
Heart hitting promo trail for first album in six years
Ann and Nancy Wilson, the pioneering duo behind Seattle rock band Heart, have taken time out from their busy touring and family schedules to record the group’s first album in six years. “Red Velvet Car,” which comes out on Aug. 31 through Sony’s Legacy Recordings division, is the follow-up to 2006′s “Jupiter’s Darling,” which quickly disappeared after being under-promoted by now-defunct label Sovereign Records.
The sisters (Nancy, 56, at left; Ann, 59, right) previewed three songs from the new album, dusted off the hits “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda,” and shared anecdotes about their career during a Q&A session at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday.
They collaborated on the album with Heart guitarist Craig Bartok, and also brought in k.d. lang’s songwriting partner Ben Mink to co-write songs, play on and co-produce the album with them. They described it as an autobiographical project, and Ann said the process was “was pretty darn easy.”
The title track, she said, is “about that night when maybe you’ve hit bottom or you’re stuck some place out in the rain, and you have no recourse but to get on the phone and call your best friend and say, ‘Help! Come get me!’ And the person comes, in a red velvet car.
“That type of thing is what we’re dealing with on this record,” she added. ”There aren’t a bunch of real lacy, lily love songs on this record.”
Another song, “Sand,” was inspired by Ann’s gardener who died of AIDS, and asked that his ashes be scattered in her garden. She duly complied. “Hey You” is a love song 10 years in the making to Nancy’s husband, director Cameron Crowe. Ann’s 19-year-old daughter, Marie, with whom her mother has had a difficult relationship in recent years, is the object of “There You Go Again.” “She will not conform,” Nancy said with a hint of irony.
“As a parent now I can say that the scariest thing is to watch your kids float, to not really know what they wanna do,” Ann said a little later. “To be 18, 19, 20 and still feeling like, … ‘I don’t wanna do anything except smoke dope.’ We were just focused, you know-”
“-Even though we smoked dope,” Nancy interrupted to big laughs.
They recalled being dumbstruck by the Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964, and Nancy vowed there and then that, “we didn’t want to be the girlfriends of the Beatles, we wanted to be the Beatles.”
But their first encounter with another British band was less inspirational. They were still, as Ann put it, “young maidens” when Led Zeppelin stopped at Seattle’s Green Lake Aquatheater during their second U.S. tour in May 1969. The girls were appalled by the sexual innuendo of “The Lemon Song.”
Said Ann: “We ended up leaving because we were so shocked … They were challenging to young girls.”
Added Nancy: “They had tight jeans!”