To Be or Not To Be: Prime’s Lee Heir Shares His Views on Music, Acting and More @PrimeUKBand

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Lee Heir, right, singing with Prime at the Indie Lounge Birmingham/photo courtesy of Prime

The other night I got a message from Lee Heir, frontman of the Nottingham-based pop rock band Prime asking for a chat to preview the band’s next big gig — playing a support slot for Electric Six on Dec. 1 at the O2 Academy 2 Sheffield — as well as a movie project he is involved in.

As usual, the chat took many twists and turns, spanning various hours over the weekend, and covering a great range of topics. Lee isn’t shy about speaking his mind and sharing his opinions.

Join me in an always entertaining and informative conversation:

So, what are we talking about? The Dec 1 show?

That would be awesome. Got some sexy new T-shirts coming too, plans to play Leeds and Manchester in the new year and just got offered a Belgian tour last night as well as trying to set one up across Scandinavia!

Wow, that’s a lot going on! OK, why don’t we start from the top? Last night was the Musicians Against Homelessness gig, right? Tell me about it.

OK, will do. Shall we say “Hi” first and I’ll tell you about this friend of mine?

Of course … Hi! Who is this friend of yours?

How are you on this balmy winter evening?

It’s raining here …

I see you’ve been preparing for Christmas?

We are starting, getting the tree set up today and we saw Santa yesterday.

Close your eyes and you’re back in Leeds. How was the big man?

I would love to be! He was really nice … Shane (my son, almost 8) enjoyed talking to him.

A shame that it’s not Christmas time, yet though, ha ha. I think they start everything early these days. Glad your lad enjoyed it though! I can’t quite get into the spirit yet I was sticking two fingers up at some students singing “White Christmas” so they shouted back “Respect Bing and Respect the Classics!”

And I’ve just got off the phone to a so-called friend who has added to my bad mood! Actually, I was in a very good mood before the call, that soon changed.

What happened?

It’s a friend of the family, who I have known for many years, a local musician who I have always try to support but it’s dawned on me completely today that he’s never returned the favour with anything helpful. And he has been a drain my time and energy for a long time with his constant schemes that amount to nothing. Sad to see a talented man who could contribute so much just drifting … but he’s been drifting for many years. He was getting pretty negative so I said to him, next time you want help and are going to be disrespectful don’t bother calling. He told me to grow up so I told him to fuck off and blocked him! Life is too short.

Oh, wow …. What a shame. People can be so self-centered and uncaring sometimes.

I would call him the epitome of self-centered but I won’t go that far… He has narcissistic and self-centered tendencies sadly, which means he’s happy when you’re in the basement alongside him he’s happy but when you try to grab the ladder to go up a notch and escape he drags you down. I’m not putting up with that crap anymore. Have had anyone like that in your lifetime?

Yes … Actually I just ridded myself of a “businessman” exactly as you described! He would promise the moon and always fail to deliver. I want to work with people who are reputable. He was definitely not!

Well you’re talking to one now. I got accused of that by the Velcro Teddy Bears today! Having a laugh with their manager Neil about them not getting paid their expenses, they left without asking so I thought, “That’s nice of them to offer their expenses to charity.” Ha ha. They’re a bit moody, but Griff is a lovely bloke and a stonking guitarist. They’re a pretty good unit and got a bloody good reaction, as did all the bands. Swolves and Hijinks are well worth keeping an eye on as are Cherry Hex and the Dream Church, Sanjee Anand and of course my band Prime, ha ha. Eric from Nottingham Trent University is really trying to push these bands and events to the front as I get the impression that many SU’s don’t know their arse from their tit.

And Eric Robinson knows good music when he sees it as his band The Deep (formerly GTR – Rebecca) were an excellent indie band. Shame the rest of them were pretty miserable. Charm is a big part of being in a band … Well it works on me anyway!

I thought everyone knew that event was for charity?

Yes they did, but we’d agreed terms before the full details were confirmed and Griff always has us on at RS Bar, which the band run. Cool place right near Sheffield train station. The new sign fell off the front of the building and turns out there was an even cooler vintage sign underneath. So I think they’ve gone back to the old one! Bands from all over travel down to play there and the sound man is a lovely chap.

Sounds like a great place to visit next time we are there.

Yes definitely! You didn’t touch on Sheffield did you? One of the most musically switched on places in the UK.

I’ve found a few good Sheffield bands lately, it’s high in the list next time — maybe Tramlines next year!

There’s actually a mini festival called Outlines, I think someone from Sheffield mentioned that we should play it last time we were there. March time maybe?

You should come! Maybe the undiscovered talent would get more of a chance to shine at that one too.

I’ll keep my eyes open. Who knows between now and then? I’ve got so much happening alright now, with a move and job search and starting my website next month … And the holidays!

Busy gal!

Busier than I’d like, but it can’t be helped. So, O2 details? It holds around 500?

Yes, Prime will play the O2 Academy 2 in Sheffield, UK this Thursday (Dec.1) with Electric Six and We-Are-Z , tickets are £14. “To Be Or Not To Be” is out now on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon MP3, with the new single “Bye Bye” out in February 2017.

The room holds around 500, yes. It’s the biggest show I’ve played since Prime started playing live the year before last.

That’s awesome. How did you get that gig?

From our booking agents Jo Gray and Steve Goodburn, two of the nicest most down-to-earth people you’ll meet. Their company is called ComRock and are booking shows in London and elsewhere too.

Do you know the other acts on the bill?

One is called We-Are-Z, seems like quite strange indie pop, quite jaunty, bit of a Ska vibe in parts too. It should get them dancing after we’ve knocked their socks off!

I’ll have to check them out. No, not heard of Electric Six either.

The Electric Six are a pretty big cult band here and had a few massive hits, one called “Gay Bar” which has a great video. Do you know them in America?

Nope, I’ll have to check them out. I like the Ska aspect, always good.

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(At this point in the conversation, we had been chatting for quite a while and took a short break for a snack)

Now, where were we?

Lee wrote, “I pause for food, Lee returns and tells me he has just eaten a very English supper whilst watching the soccer on Match of The Day: Crumpets with Lee and Perrin’s Worcester Sauce on them with a side of prawn cocktail crisps/chips.”

How was the game?

Not too bad, Chelsea had a bit of a comeback, and their manager Antonio Conte is as beautiful as ever, he has a bit of the young Castro about him. Very sad news today about Fidel!

Yes, I saw about Castro. So many deaths this year.

His probably the biggest. Did Ali pass last year or this year? And this is coming from a Bowie fan — and a Prince fan, a Leonard Cohen fan and a Leon Russell fan.

Yeah, Prince was one of the hardest to believe.

Yes I suppose it was. I get the feeling although there are lots of rumours — probably silly ones — that he overworked himself. I think when you’re in your fifties you can’t be the athlete you were in your twenties and thirties. And if you’ve seen the “Sign of The Times” film, probably the best live performance ever, he was definitely an athlete, that is a fact.

He was probably in better shape than most athletes too. So sad.

I know … Am I mistaken or did one of your legendary athletes in the US die after a race? I was thinking Jesse Owens but I’ve just looked and it says lung cancer from smoking a pack a day.

I’m not sure. I’m not really up on that stuff.

On the subject of Prince, I was watching lots of footage of him online after his death, such an intelligent man. We need more brave musicians like him, people who value their art and the part they play in people’s lives.

We do. He was so innovative and brilliant in so many ways. I think there are musicians around like that today.

I think musicians have less power now though, that’s why we are in such a bad state, and the likes of Spotify and the governments doing nothing to prevent illegal downloading is not helping that fact.

And sadly many of the musicians I know act like a bunch of peasants that are grateful to be thrown a few scraps.

I’ve just looked online — JV Cain of the Cardinals, Joe Kennedy the baseball player, both 28 and collapsed on the pitches. And Charles Frederick Hughes of the Lions is the only player in the history of the NFL to die on the field, in 1971. So it could have easily happened to Prince after a strenuous gig.

It’s a shame the state of mainstream radio too … so how can you guys get ahead? What is it going to take?

I’m not so sure as I don’t listen to it. Hasn’t mainstream radio always been crap though? I think we’re looking at it through rose-tinted spectacles.

Perhaps it has been, but our eyes have been opened to quality music created by musicians who actually have talent, not manufactured by tons of producers.

I said on the Gabbie Cabbie radio show the other week, and I firmly believe it, that the musicians who get into a position of power need to make the internal changes to the industry. We dropped the ball massively here in England when we had the likes of Blur, Oasis, Coldplay and their likes making massive headway. I think they — with possibly the exception being Noel Gallagher — did absolutely nothing to help new bands.

Sadly, unless we as musicians work together with some sense of purpose and logistics, and stop acting like selfish arseholes, we aren’t going to achieve anything. So to answer the question, it’s not a case of what my band Prime can do, it’s a case of what we can all do. I get your point, but people like us have always been in a minority, there has always been manufactured crap, first the likes of Jonathan King and then the likes of Pete Waterman, who I actually think was a talented and very funny man.

Like I say, the people like us need to become the businessmen and women too. People like Alan McGee and Tony Wilson came close, but fucked it up in the end. Or did they? It depends what perspective you have. As long as someone somewhere is passing the torch there will still be good music being made somewhere.

Is that part of why you are trying to get your hand in other parts of the music equation?

Partly, and partly because I am very interested in it. I would make a pretty good manager. Watching Hijinks last night in Nottingham made me think I could iron out some of their creases and get them looking like the top, top live outfit that they are. Saying that, I need to do that with my band Prime first!

Well, you know what you need to do, so that’s a great start.

Have a vision of what you want to do, and stick with it. Seems simple, but many fail to get it right.

Talking of getting things right, Donald Trump’s wife has just flashed up on my screen as I was “researching athletics.” Very pleasant woman! You think Mr. Trump will do a good job?

I think if Trump can do for this country even a bit of what he has done for himself, our country may get out of trouble. He is a very good businessman, so it could help the economy. I believe he needs to practice being a diplomat though, so as not to alienate any countries. His wife is lovely, and I’m sure she is pretty smart. I’m curious to see what they can do. I don’t think it will be as bad as some people are worried. I am glad he will take away Common Core education though, it is awful!

Now as if music wasn’t enough, you were filming something today – what was that?

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Lee Heir

I’ve been finishing my part in a surreal short film my friend Bad Friday is making. I got to get stuck in the boot of a car with fake blood all over me … good fun!

Eeew!! That’s yucky! Fun acting though, I bet.

Yes, low-budget filmmaking is great fun, especially the look on people’s faces when they see stuff like that going on!

Where will this film be released?

I think my friend will possibly look at getting it on his site and probably get it shown in some Midlands based film events.

So Mr. Trump eh ….. ? I agree with you I think he might do a better job than many predict. He certainly won’t be boring.

Haha, no … Certainly not boring …

So what about new music? You are working on some, right?

Yes, we’ve got three brand new songs, two that we played at Spanky Van Dykes on Friday.

Sounds fun. So, new tunes — tell me more …

We’ve got one called “Walking (Dream Song)” which is a quiet / loud number based on a dream I had one morning about a girl I used to know many years ago; and the other one is a rock stomper called “Let It Lie” about a broken down relationship — my favourite line in it is “Dreaming of the time when you supported me / Dreaming of the time when you reported me,” he he.

Got any demos I can hear?

Possibly! I’ve just checked my emails and there’s a recording in there … If they don’t sound like garbage I’ll send them over in a minute!

So what’s coming up in the near future?

We are currently arranging a series of gigs for mid January through to February; just confirmed something with Joe Symes up in Liverpool; and a slot in Cardiff, Wales a place we haven’t been yet, with Bandicoot — who are an awesome band — we had them up in Nottingham in the summer for an all-nighter. Someone should sign them up while they’ve got the chance … and my friend Joe from Breakdowns has tipped us off about a series of shows in Belgium.

I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a really good year for us. Thanks so much for all your support.

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Lee Heir, right, singing with Prime at the Indie Lounge Birmingham/photo courtesy of Prime

You can find more on Prime on Twitter at @PrimeUKBand, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ukprime/, on the web at http://www.thepublichousebrand.com/prime. “To Be or Not To Be” is available now on Spotify at https://play.spotify.com/album/2srH2MdRU1YHp6ewpMY35g.

 

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