Heron is an English folk group founded in 1967 featuring Roy Apps, Gerald Moore, Tony Pook, and Steve Jones. Coming together at a folk club in Maidenhead, England all those years ago, the band is eventually making its first trip to play in Japan where their first two albums have been re-released. KS spoke with Steve Jones to find out about the upcoming trip and also a little about their unusual early recording experiences.
The two albums Heron and Twice as Nice and Half The Price are being re-released to coincide with Heron’s first visit to Japan. How did this latest Heron venture come together?
Yes, this is our first time in Japan. It’s been a long time coming but it’s very exciting, after all these years, that there’s still a following of Heron fans who want to see us. We had arranged a mini tour some years ago, in fact the year of the tsunami, but because of the disaster it had to be cancelled and it looked as though we would never get the opportunity again. However, Wasabi Records was keen to release a Heron album and contacted us to see if we were up for it. On the strength of the failed mini tour we had, in fact, recorded a new album with the original Heron lineup. This album was Simple as One Two Three and Wasabi released it a couple of years ago. When the label heard about the Dylan tribute album we were working on they asked to hear the rough mixes. They liked it so much they agreed to another Heron album release. Titled Jokerman it was on sale last year. They then wanted to know if we would consider doing a mini tour in Tokyo and Kyoto and we leapt at the idea.
Will the set-list for the Japan dates be showcasing Jokerman?
Although Jokerman was the last Heron album to be released by Wasabi records, it’s not the only album we will showcase in the concerts. The first two albums (Heron and Twice as Nice) are also scheduled for release to coincide with the tour, so we will include songs from the past as well as the present. A bit of nostalgia never goes amiss and it gives us a rare chance to enjoy all our back catalogue.
The first Heron album was recorded outdoors in a field by the River Thames. What memories do you have from that time and the actual recording process?
We recorded our maxi single Only a Hobo at Pye studios in London. We didn’t find it very relaxing, so when we heard that there was a Pye mobile recording studio, we suggested doing the album at the farm in Berkshire where Tony Pook was living. It was an unusual idea and presented a number of problems, not least of which was the noise of the farm, trains, and passing boats on the river. The weather was fantastic – perfect for recording – so we sat in the middle of a field, enjoying the sun, and listening to the birds and the odd tractor, train, or boat.
Fortunately, the unwanted noises didn’t interfere too much, in fact, we were disappointed that the birdsong couldn’t really be heard. So the engineers set up an extra mic about 50 metres away in a little wooded copse to capture the birdsong and rustling of leaves. When we came to mixing, we decided that honesty was the best policy and to keep any extraneous noise. The album was recorded in two afternoons and is probably the quintessential Heron album.
Classic UK folk rock band since 1967 • Folk rock • Taku Taku, Kyoto • 7pm • ¥5,000/¥5,500 • Tel: 075-351-1321