Retirement isn’t coming any time soon for Uriah Heep

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

After 50 years and 25 albums, there’s only way to oust the guitar out of the hands of the band’s long-time leader Mick Box.

Rip it out of his cold dead hands.

Box said he has no intention of kicking back and taking it easy any time soon.

As long as his health holds up, and there’s no indication that it won’t, Box and Uriah Heep are going to keep pushing on pushing on.

To that end, Uriah Heep – which is now Box on lead guitar, Bernie Shaw on lead vocals, Phil Lanzon on keyboards and vocals, Russell Gilbrook on drums and vocals, and Davey Rimmer on bass – is touring the U.S. as special guests of Judas Priest. And the group recently released a new album, “Living the Dream.”

Uriah Heep and Judas Priest perform at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday, May 16.

In a phone call from the U.K., Box said there is really no reason to stop performing.

“The audience appreciates what we do,” said Box.

Plus, said the lead guitarist, “A happy band is a working band.”

Most bands would be satisfied to hit the road armed with classic material that the fans know and love. But Uriah Heep is not resting on its laurels, having released “Living the Dream,” a new album with all new songs.

“I never could be one of those bands that play just the hits,” said Box. “You lose your heart and soul.”

“It’s in our blood (to write new music),” said Box. “We love to do it.”

Besides being satisfying to Uriah Heep’s members, Box said new music is also important to its fans.

“A lot of bands don’t want to release new material because they won’t get money for it (in the current music business environment),”said Box. With streaming services like Spotify, Box said musicians are “have their art stolen from them.”

So decisions to not release music isn’t about artistry, said Box. It boils down to the money, said Box.

There was no grand plan for Uriah Heep to release a new album at this time, said Box. The group always tries to release new material every two years. “Everything happens in Uriah Heep naturally.”

Plus, said Box, “(A new album is a) great calling card to start touring the world again,” said Box.

With “Living the Dream,” Uriah Heep is living with the highest praise of its career, said Box.

The fans and press are hailing the effort as the best album of the British band’s 50 year career,” said Box.

“It’s great to hear those accolades,” said Box.

The tour with Judas Priest finds the two hard rocking contemporaries (Judas Priest is also celebrating a half century mark as well) on tour together in the states for the first time since the 1980s.

“We happen to be the perfect fit (to be a guest artist),” said Box of the Judas Priest tour. “You’ve nearly got 100 years of hard rock and metal on stage.”

Box said many critics and fans are saying Priest’s latest album, “Firepower” is the best in their career. And people are saying “Living the Dream” is Uriah Heep’s best ever, said Box.

“You’ve got two bands at the top of their game,” said Box.

As the special guest for a metal band like Priest, Box is aware audiences are looking to rock hard. So, for this tour, Box said Uriah Heep is leaving behind its more progressive material and acoustic tracks (which they made famous on albums such as “Demons and Wizards” and “The Magician’s Birthday”).

“We’re going to give them a rock show,” said Box.

“It’s going to make for a great night,” said Uriah Heep’s leader.

Uriah Heep will perform with Judas Priest at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville on Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m.

For more information, go to MoheganSun.com or Uriah-Heep.com.

Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.

Uriah Heep is a special guest on the Judas Priest tour that stops into Connecticut next Thursday.

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