Heart’s past and future are both beating strong these days, with a box set, a memoir and a new album all coming this year. The Wilson sisters are so busy you’d think it was the late 70s all over again.
“Yeah, it feels like that, but it’s pretty different, too, because now we have some clue as to what we’re taking on,” older sis Ann Wilson tells Billboard.com. “Back when we just came out, we were just kids, not understanding what was involved in the music business or going on tour or any of that stuff, what it’s like to have people know about your life and be invested in your music. Now we kind of go, ‘Whoa, OK, here it comes…’ ”
First up for Heart was the June 5 release of “Strange Euphoria,” a three-CD/DVD box set loaded with rare and unreleased outtakes, demos and live tracks, as well as an early career 1976 concert filmed for KWSU-TV in Pullman, Wash. The Wilson sisters personally curated the 51-track set, unearthing demos of hits such as “Magic Man,” “Crazy On You” and “Dog & Butterfly” plus “Through Eyes and Glass,” a pre-Heart 1969 recording by Ann Wilson & the Daybreaks.
“We’ve always wanted to put out a rarities collection,” Wilson notes. “Going and finding them was really interesting. It’s not that easy; there’s so much stuff, and you have to weed through it and find stuff that’s meaningful — not just rare but actually cool rare. So that took a while. And we wanted to represent our kind of wacky side, too, along with the musical side. It was fun, but it was a lot of work, I’ll tell you that.”
Wilson says she and her sister hoped to offer more pre-Heart material than just “Through Eyes and Glass,” but the rest of what they found “either weren’t able to be transferred to sound good enough or they weren’t long enough to really take up space. They were maybe 30 seconds long or something. We just thought ‘Through Eyes and Glass’ was the best representative of that super-early stuff.”
Heart will bring fans up to date this fall, when the duo releases “Fanatic,” its 13th studio album and the follow-up to 2010’s “Red Velvet Car.” Like that set, “Fanatic” was produced by Ben Mink and recorded in Los Angeles and Seattle, with Sarah McLachlan guesting on a track called “Walking Good.” Wilson expects 10 songs to make the final cut from 20 that were recorded and says “Fanatic” is “pretty rock heavy. There are only two ballads on it. It’s got a lot of edge. I spent a lot of time riding around on a tour bus the last couple of years, just way out in the middle of the country where the poetry speaks really loud. I had a notebook. I wrote a song about Pennsylvania. There’s one about Vancouver. It’s a fiery bunch of words. There’s anger. There’s passion. That’s why it’s called ‘Fanatic,’ because it’s love fanatic.”
Wilson says the additional songs recorded for the album will be used as bonus tracks for various editions of “Fanatic.”
Meanwhile, a first draft of the book the Wilsons are writing with music journalist and author Charles Cross has been turned into Harper Collins, with a second draft soon to arrive. It’s on target for a fall publication to accompany the new album, and Wilson says it’s frank but not necessarily a tell-all. “Of course they want as much (dirt) as possible, but they also want it to be a good book and not just another thing thrown in the pile of sleazy rock books,” she says. “It isn’t going to kill anybody or paint anyone out to be an a**hole.” Wilson says Cross interviewed some 80 people to corroborate and flesh out the tales.
“It’s a rock story, and there’s way ups and way downs and triumphs and a lot of vulnerability,” Wilson says. It’s also a women’s story of women coming into a business without any rules to protect them or help them understand how to proceed. And we were young. I think a lot of people who knew us are going to read it and go, ‘Oh, so that’s why those girls acted that way.’ They’re going to come to understand a lot when they read this.”
Heart hits the road on June 29 for a summer tour, with more dates expected during the fall after “Fanatic” is released.