Fireworks Magazine Online 57 - Interview with Moritz

MORITZ

Moritz guitarist Greg Hart is a man that lives and breathes rock and roll. With the release of the new Moritz album ‘SOS’ he is on a mission to put the band back on the UK melodic rock map. Having missed the boat in the eighties with only a very well received 12” EP to their credit, Moritz have returned with their first new recording since the critically acclaimed ‘Undivided’ in 2010. Now with shows booked and the band writing better than ever, Ray Paul had a chance to talk with Greg about the past, present and future of Moritz.

Congratulations on your superb new release, 'SOS'. Can you tell me how long it took to put this album together and are all the songs newly written?

’SOS’ started out as some iPad demos in late 2011. We had started to get some ideas together for the follow up to the ‘Undivided’ album which was so well received. All the songs are brand new ones, no remakes! As always, I tend to bring around half an album of complete songs to table then we go from there. We collaborate, and I write alone too, so it mixes things up, Moritz have always worked this way and we find it works for us.

Mercury Falling’ is a tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen, right down to the guitar solo. Were Queen a big influence on you, and what other bands or musicians influenced you? 

Queen, oh yes! They were, and are, a massive influence on me personally. I was lucky enough to have an older brother who got me into real music very early, so I remember ‘Queen II’ being released in '74, and it has stayed with me always. I think everything about Queen for me is perfect. Freddie Mercury is simply the finest entertainer and all-round musician we have ever had.

I could go on forever about my thoughts on where Moritz is going musically, but basically I always wanted to explore some of those classic ways that Queen wrote in the early 70s and Moritz, if I do say so myself, are good enough musicians to bring this theory to life.

What I really enjoyed about the album was the diverse styles of music, from the powerhouse rock of 'Fire', to the beautiful west coast blues of 'Soul of Fire'. There is something for everyone - is this something you set out to achieve?

Absolutely. We made a rule for ‘SOS’ – no limits! We wanted to make an album that was a true ‘album’, not just to write eleven attempted hit singles like so much of the AOR in the late 80s.

We wanted the listener to sit, look at the artwork, read the words and let the songs tell the tale and create the mood.  

Is it hard balancing your art business, your other band Supersonic (formerly The Jackie Generation) and Moritz?

It is a mental ‘seven days a week' life I lead and I am very proud to be able to say I can do it full time. I enjoy hard work, and I have worked like this now for over twenty-five years. Not without problems however, both personal and professional that at times were quite harrowing, but the good outweighs the bad by a yard or two! The music business these days, in every shape and form, is so tough but if you dig in and believe in yourself and work really hard, clichéd as that sounds, it can pay dividends. I genuinely love what I do, and I am very lucky to like what I do too!

My art is on the backseat at present, as the music is so busy. I have sold over 750 original canvasses since 2003 all over the world and I still get commissioned regularly. It’s my little release from the grind of the music business.

Our theatre show ‘The Supersonic 70s’, which I co-manage, is just the best thing as I get to re-live my 70s past, playing the best songs ever with some incredible players and friends, and my girlfriend Janey Bombshell, who is the star of the show. We are about to start mixing her debut album too, so I am even busier.

Moritz is like being with my brothers, where magic happens. Sounds soppy but we all really do get on so well and we are still in shock that people seem to hold us in such high esteem. Nothing beats Moritz at the end of the day, as it was, and always will be the band that I wanted to be in.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


For anyone not familiar with Moritz, give us a little history lesson on you guys and how you got back together?


Moritz were formed in 1986, and we did the usual stuff like so many bands back then. Marquee gigs, writing demos, managers trying to get us 'the record deal’, but alas we never cracked it. We split in late 1988 leaving behind a little legacy of one 12” EP. We were a mess in the end, and sacking some people through stupid decisions didn’t help. We seemed to endlessly rehearse until we lost the drive to make it happen. We needed serious management which never happened for us. So I formed the core band that became If Only with Ian, and the two Andys from Moritz. Pete went off to join Samson and Mike, like me later on, went into the tribute market.

Fast forward to 2007, through Myspace I had a chance meeting with Rob Evans who interviewed me for my then solo album ‘Hartless’. He asked me about the possibilities of putting out the Moritz back catalogue, the demos and one 12” vinyl EP, on CD, as there seemed to be a demand for it. After the initial guffaws I tested the water and it caused somewhat of a ripple. I jokingly remarked about putting the band back together. Rob flipped, insisted I do it and in a nutshell through some very strange coincidences, within a couple of weeks we were sitting down with all five original members discussing a new album. I had half an album ready to go. Pete wanted to do a version of a song called ‘Who Do You Run To’ from my solo album, and we agreed to record two old songs that we felt were good enough. That's how 'Undivided’ happened. That album was really a test for us to see what would happen, and now look where we are. Rob, we owe it all to you son!

Production can make or break the best of songs. I thought the quality of the sound was excellent. Are you happy with the result?

Immense! Ian Edwards, our bass playing genius, has been paramount in making this album what it is. Our engineer Ian Caple, recorded all the ‘big stuff’ on an analogue desk in a big old studio like in the old days – it was magic! That has helped to create such a sound. Everyone played 100% on it and Ian spent ages mixing it, hence the delay in the release. But we knew we had such a good album and we wanted to leave nothing to chance.

How would you describe the music of Moritz?

Classic rock with a commercial vibe! We are AOR and always will be. With ‘SOS’ we are hoping people just see us as a damn good rock band with all those legendary bands we have talked about steeped in our roots. We will never do stuff that isn’t full of hooks, big choruses and stonking vocals. We get a buzz out of what we do and that’s how we always will be. Simply a ‘Classic Rock’ band? Maybe the readers will decide?

Finally, what are your touring plans for this year and have you any message to the readers of Fireworks & Rocktopia.

We are gigging for the first time in twenty-five years and have a few festivals lined up. We want to keep this new found presence out there on a regular basis by keeping our hands in the live circuit. We are playing so good together and it has been twenty-five years!

On behalf of Moritz, I can honestly say we are all so touched about what's going on around us. It's early days, and we hope that ‘SOS’ gets the break it deserves. It's 100% down to the good folk of your magazine, the other rock magazines and the internet. That’s what makes things happen for bands like us.

My message is simple; I urge everyone to support bands, support music venues, support theatres. Believe me, I know better than most how many are closing, how hard it is out there. But it’s not all doom and gloom as there still is the market for rock music, more so now than in the last 20 years - fact! Bands need people to go and see them, no matter where they are playing. Please do so folks. We salute everyone of you - keep rocking!!

Moritz-Interview

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