Richard X Heyman Interview
Richard X Heyman Interview
WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Richard – I’m from Plainfield, New Jersey, now living in New York City. I began playing drums when I was five years old and later in my teens started playing piano and then guitar. Besides music, I love animals and have done a lot of cat and dog rescue work here in the city. I’ve been a vegetarian (and now vegan) for many years. I’m also interested in American history, especially the Civil War.
WSR – You have just created your 10th solo album X, there are many reasons why the album is called X. Can you tell our readers all those reasons please?
Richard – The number 1 reason is it’s my middle name. #2 – it’s the Roman numeral for 10 and this is my 10th album. And #3, the songs are mainly about loss, so ex-lovers and friends.
WSR – You have received many an accolade over your many years as a musician, but what one stands out the most to you?
Richard – Nothing can top the first Rolling Stone magazine review of my first album “Living Room!!”. Back in the days before the internet, Rolling Stone was the bible for rock music lovers.
WSR – You are a one man band, but what happens to the one man aspect when you perform live. Do you collaborate with session musicians to help out on stage?
Richard – I mainly concentrate on recording and don’t play out that much. I will be doing one show here in New York on October 4th at 7 PM for Sirius/XM Radio, “From The Living Room To The Loft” which airs on The Loft channel. My wife Nancy is an excellent bass player and our nephew Russ Kaplan is a great keyboard player, so it’s kind of a family thing. Andy Resnick will be joining us on guitar and Wayan Zooey on drums. The live thing for me is very different from the recording. I don’t attempt to replicate what I did in the studio. The musicians all add their particular strengths and talent to the songs.
WSR – You started out as a drummer with The Doughboys, when did you realise you have a natural flair with music? What was the first instrument you learned to play?
Richard – As I said, drums came first and I consider the drums to be my main instrument, though I play guitar live. For some reason, I knew I should and could play the drums at an early age, so I begged my parents to purchase a drum set. At first they just got me some bongos, then eventually a snare drum and finally when I was 7 a full kit. I taught myself the piano when I was in junior high and the guitar when I started college when I was 18.
WSR – Is there any instrument that you play that isn’t a well-known instrument and how many instruments can you play?
Richard – I play the standard rock’n’roll instruments – drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and harmonica. I have done sessions on harpsichord which is a very demanding instrument, especially on the left hand. As well as an assortment of percussion instruments like a dombek, talking drum, tablas, etc.
WSR – X was mostly recorded in your home studio and is engineered by your wife Nancy, why did you decide to set up a studio at home and has Nancy always had some part in your music?
Richard – With the new technology it just seemed logical to record at home. We have Logic Pro and a decent analog pre-amp compressor and tube mic. I built a wooden box with an 8” speaker and microphone that I use for electric guitar. The box is lined with sound absorbing foam so I can blast my Fender Vibrochamp amp and not disturb my neighbors. Nancy is very good at engineering this system which can be quite complex at times. She also has great ears and guides me through the various takes. If she says “do it again” I don’t debate it because she hears stuff that I don’t.
WSR – When did you realise that Nancy had a talent for engineering sound?
Richard – When we first started recording at home, we had ADATs and an analog eight-track board that Nancy figured out. When we began using Logic, she learned the system and just had an aptitude for the technology.
WSR – You have collaborated and played instruments for many famous musicians, can you tell our readers who you have worked with over the years please?
Richard – I have played drums for Link Wray, Brian Wilson, Jonathan Richman, Billy Squier and Mark Lindsay, among others, and I recently played guitar for Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las and keyboards for Ben E. King.
WSR – Technology has made it a lot easier to make music, do you prefer modern technology to make your music or do you prefer older and in some ways more refined instruments?
Richard – I have accepted the new digital way of recording because of its practicality and convenience. Nothing can compare to the sound of analog recording onto magnetic tape, but you have to have access to that equipment, which means going into a studio and paying an hourly rate. As far as instruments are concerned, I do prefer real instruments over sampled sounds if possible, certainly guitars, bass and drums.
WSR – Are there any current young artists that you could consider as influences or that you feel are extremely talented and deserve a mention?
Richard – I’m a fan of Sufjan Stevens. I like a band called Beach Fossils and one called White Fence. I listen to WFMU when I’m driving and I often hear songs I like but I often miss the artists’ names.
WSR – As a child what music did you grow up listening to and what band or artist that really impacted on you and inspired you to start playing music?
Richard – I listened to the records my parents bought, mainly Broadway shows, classical, Sinatra, big band jazz and the records my three older sisters had – early rock’n’roll like Elvis, Chuck Berry, Everlys, Ike & Tina Turner, Dion and the Belmonts, James Brown, and so on. And then I eventually got into Dylan, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, the Byrds, Motown, Stax, etc.
WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Richard – I wish you and your readers well. Thanks for the opportunity to spread the word about my music and new album X. And enjoy your life – it’s a one of a kind.