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FIERCE HEART – The Dynamic Duo Of Melodic Rock
Kelv Hellrazer
Metal Forces, Issue 9 (1985)

Fierce Heart (l-r): Rex Carroll and Larry Elkins

1984 saw melodic rock taking a turn for the better. Firstly, we had Legs Diamond, then Shy, closely followed by White Sister and finally Guiffria. These were all names that mysteriously appealed to both melodic rock fans and to some death metallists. So it’s early 1985 and another two may well be added to the list. First there’s White Lion, former Angel bassist Felix Robinson’s new outfit, and now the dynamic duo… no, not Batman and Robin, but the US of A’s latest export – Fierce Heart. By the time you read this article, their stunning self-titled debut LP should be released, so you will know exactly what I am talking about. With its Coney Hatch / Teaze type rocking it has the sort of infectious appeal that will even surprise the most stubborn of rockers. Ranging from the anthemic ‘Never Gonna Make Me Cry’ to the powerful riff-rockin’ of ‘Heroes’, Fierce Heart’s debut is something very special and should not be ignored.

I knew absolutely nothing about Fierce Heart’s background, so on a very faint telephone line I got Larry Elkins (vocals / bass) and Rex Carroll (guitar) to fill me in. Larry: “The band was basically formed by Jim Delehant of Mirage Records. John Doumanian, our manager, heard a tape of me down in Nashville. He also ran into Rex who was basically doing studio work and had a tape. He suggested that we both get together. We were introduced over the phone and then we took a plane to Chicago, where we met and started to work things out. Previous to our meeting, John took both of our tapes to Mirage, who had the vision and the brilliant idea of putting two separate musicians from two totally different parts of the country together.”

Rex: “So it was a highly original way in which the band got together. Instead of us searching for the deal, the deal went searching for the band. Prior to our meeting I had been in a band called Winterhawk. We did one LP which was reviewed in Kerrang! After the LP we just carried on making demos and the band eventually split due to personal differences, so I went solo.”

Larry: “I had been a studio musician for three years in Nashville. I’d also had my own bands who did demos and stuff. I also worked with Austin Roberts doing rock operas and I also wrote songs for commercials.”

Before this interview I thought guest drummer / engineer Chris Lord-Alge was in the band. How did you meet Chris?

Larry: “Well, I suppose it must seem as if Chris was in the band. We met Chris through Jim Delehant. We knew his previous record of engineering, as he’d done work for Hall & Oates and also for John Jarrett’s Tribe. So we knew he was the business.”

Rex: “We had a drummer right up to the point of recording the LP, but at the last moment we decided that he didn’t really cut it. So we used a drum machine and got Chris to do the cymbals and tom-toms.”

What happens live? Larry: “Well, we haven’t gigged yet, but it’s the next thing we have to plan for. We will go up to New York and audition some people. We will put a drummer on a salary for touring purposes.”

Rex: “What we want to get really is kind of like a floating drummer.”

What influences do you guys have and what inspires you in the songwriting field?

Larry: “I like Little Richard, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin. I like rock’n’roll with melody and a lot of soul.”

Rex: “I like Zep and Company as well. I like a lot of classical too. In fact, I have a college degree in rock music. I don’t think much of these Satan / Devil rock bands, although some of the guitar players are good. It’s mainly melodic rock for me in preference to noise!”

Larry: “Most of the heavy metal bands are going for a melodic sound these days, look at Van Halen. Fierce Heart could be classed more as traditional rock because a lot of heavy metal has no soul and is kind of flat; soul is the key element to Fierce Heart. As for inspiration from a songwriting point of view? Well, we have themes, some are personal, but we don’t have one specific inspiration.”

Rex: “Mainly the songs are about what people believe. What it takes in life to get somewhere is what makes Fierce Heart stand for from a songwriting point of view.”

I then asked them to give me more information about the numbers on the LP:

‘Echoes’ – Rex: “It was a basic instrumental idea that I had been playing around with for two or three years, and Larry suggested that I finally put it down on record.” Don’t you think it would make a good intro live? Larry: “Yeah! That could well happen.”

‘Fierce Heart’ – Rex: “This number is about a stud; this guy is the business. You know what I mean, a real lady killer. The number is based around my intro riff.”

‘Out For Blood’ – Rex: “This number has a real good melody intertwined with its riff. This number is one of my personal favourites.” Larry: “This is our songwriting off to a T. This is rebellious; someone is going out to get what they want.”

‘Lion’s Share’ – Larry: “This number we had already worked out before we went into the studio. Rex worked this one out. We just rearranged the lyrics and stuff in the studio.”

‘Search And Destroy’ – Larry: “Well, Rex was playing a lot of different chord structures on this number, and we played around with a lot of different melodies during the arrangement until we found one that stuck.”

‘Heroes’ – Rex: “This is a potential single this one, and was written in the studio. Jim Delehant collaborated with us on the writing of this number. He also helped us out on the vocal and guitar arrangements of this one.”

‘Never Gonna Make Me Cry’ – Rex: “Larry wrote this number and what a great tune it is. He has this potential for coming up with anthems, and this is Larry at his best.”

‘Bad Maureen’ – Larry: “I did this number; it’s about a girl in Virginia Beach. Maureen is a real bad ass. She would cut you right down. You know the sort of girl.”

‘Loose Lips’ – Rex: “This number is written around the drum beat worked out on the drum machine. The whole number has the same tempo.” Larry: “It’s about big mouth girlfriends. You know, the jealous type.”

So what is next for Fierce Heart? Larry: “Well, as I mentioned before we will be going up to New York to get our new drummer. We also might go to Europe as well.”

Rex: “We have to make a video for one of the numbers on the LP. So we’re gonna wait to see which track will pick up the most airplay.”

Now, if there is any justice in this world then the album should chart in the US at least top twenty, followed by a hit single. The band should break it here in Britain as well. Take it from me, dreams will come true for this band.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 9 (1985)

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