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Singer John Sloman, perhaps best known for one Uriah Heep album, has had a long, varied and oft overlooked career. With a new acoustic album due, he's playing a date or two and from previous experience well worth checking out.

1. How's the new tour going?

I'm not currently on tour - though I am doing selected solo acoustic dates, playing both old and new material.

John Sloman

2. Any new material in the pipeline?

Aside from the entirely acoustic album 13 Storeys, I've written material for a new electric album, which I'll start recording soon, with a view to putting it out before the summer.

3. Your Dark Matter album (issued on Majestic) a couple of years back was pretty good. How do you feel about it now?

I think 'Dark Matter' was a good album. I had an excellent rhythm section in Jonathan Thomas and Steve Wyndham, and a talented undiscovered engineer by the name of Loz Williams manning the board. My memories of working on it are very positive - the wilds of Wales - John Payne's menagerie of dogs, cats and parrots.

It's just a shame it didn't receive more coverage at the time of release. But that's in the past now, and I'm focused on what's next.

4. Lone Star were a good band, Did you record anything before then?

Before joining Lone Star, I played with a lot of bands on the local scene in Cardiff. Back then (mid seventies), it was a real feat to get inside a studio to record some of your stuff. I remember recording a demo session with one band I was in - and a home recording with a couple of other guys. These tapes are still kicking around, and I keep meaning to track them down just for the hell of it. But there's usually something more pressing to do - thank goodness.

5. How did the Uriah Heep gig come along? And why was it so short lived?

The Uriah Heep gig came out of nowhere. I'd been living in Canada - gigging with a band out there. I came home for a visit and was told Uriah Heep had been trying to contact me. I'd had some of their albums back in school, so I already knew about them. Anyway, after a couple of rehearsals, I became the new vocalist, and almost immediately went into the studio to work on the material which became ‘Conquest'.

There were several reasons for my stay in the band being ‘short lived' - some of which I'd prefer not to mention here. But the main reason for my leaving was due to the fact that I wanted to do my own thing, and couldn't do that within the confines of such a long established band, whose sound was so well defined. I did agonize over it for a while as friendships were involved. But I know I did the right thing in the end for all concerned.

6. That Conquest album was excellent but it's often overlooked. How do you feel about it?

I thought ‘Conquest' was a good album - and reviews at the time were really positive. However, it was not without its problems - what with Lee Kerslake parting company with the band just as we were about to start recording. There was, nevertheless, a sense of optimism around the studio once we got into it.

Why the album is often overlooked (or worse) is probably due to the negativity surrounding that particular line-up. But the truth is - Conquest was 70% complete when Chris Slade and I joined the band. The only tracks we worked on from scratch were my two songs (No Return & Won't Have to Wait too long), and Ken's track ‘Out on the Streets'.

7. How come Badlands (with John Sykes and Neil Murray) was so short lived?

There were several reasons for Badlands hitting the buffers. But the two main reasons were firstly; John Sykes being offered the job with Thin Lizzy. He'd been sleeping on my floor, so I suppose Phil Lynott's offer of his own bed turned his head. And secondly, Neil Murray going on tour with Gary Moore (I think it was Gary?). But it had such potential. I remember the world and his wife coming down to the Marquee for our first gig. Problem was, our second gig was our last one. I have a couple of tracks we recorded kicking round somewhere which I might put on the website some day.

8. Praying Mantis' Nowhere To Hide album was another strong project. How did that come about?

The Praying Mantis album came about through Dennis Stratton, who I used to run into quite a lot back in my serious drinking days during the early eighties.

9. You've played with a lot of big names, including UFO and Gary Moore; what have been your highs and lows?

My high point, artistically, would have to be ‘13 Storeys'. It wasn't recorded on some massive budget - or on some Tropical Island. I did it at home. But I've been true to myself on it - and that's all that matters.

I would have to say one of my all time lows was the tour I did with Gary Moore. Gary and the band were great, of course, but on the eve of the tour I contracted the worst bout of flu, which destroyed my voice.

That first British tour was fifteen dates with one night off. What made it even worse was having to capture my illness on a live album recorded in Japan, with my voice hanging by a thread.

10. What are your next plans?

My immediate plans are to do the current batch of acoustic gigs, as well as recording a new electric album for release this year. I'm also working on a screenplay based around some of my experiences in the music business. I've also sung a few tracks on the next Highlander movie - and just heard that Steve Lukather has covered a song from Dark Matter - ‘Jammin'with Jesus'.

11. What would be your 3 Desert Island Discs?

My Desert Island Discs? I always find these questions difficult - because the list keeps getting longer. But if I have to pick just three, it would be: Led Zeppelin Four, Arizona Bay (Bill Hicks) & Inner Visions (Stevie Wonder).

12. Message for your fans?

A message to my fans? I'm not done yet.

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Interview © 2007 Joe Geesin. All rights reserved.

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