It’s hard to believe, but it's been four decades since Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart exploded onto the American rock scene. Throughout those years, their musical metamorphoses have been evident not only by the various band members that have come and gone but also through their transition from hard-edged, rock-folk tunes in the 70s to their more pop-leaning fare in the 80s.
Although these days Ann and Nancy have returned to their rock-folk origins, evident in their 2010 release of Red Velvet Car, by and large, their charismatic presence—along with their emotionally layered songwriting and Ann’s powerhouse vocals—have been reassuring constants to their countless fans, who’ve helped them sell over 35 million records with memorable hits like “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You,” and later, “These Dreams,” “Alone,” and “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You.”
To celebrate the sisters' recent release of their career-spanning boxed-set retrospective, Strange Euphoria, and in anticipation of their new album, Fanatic, coming out this fall, Biography.com reached out to YOU huge Heart fans out there and got Ann and Nancy to answer some of your burning questions.
So without further ado, here's Part 1 of our interview...go ahead, Heart Mongers, eat your Heart out.
Q: In previous interviews, Ann has said that there are the songs they want to do and songs they HAVE to do (“Crazy On You,” “Magic Man”). If they could put a set list of songs together that really pleased them, and really enjoyed, what would it consist of???- Bill Thomas
ANN: To be clear, we NEVER do songs live we really don't want to do. It's crucial that when we get up there to play, we are enjoying ourselves; otherwise, we may as well be on a treadmill. Making music must never be confused with financial slavery. We always include several of our newest songs and a sampling of songs from throughout our long career. We always balance the heavy rock with the acoustic side. We always include at least one surprising and thrilling cover, and we have been known to play a Zep song or two. We always try to keep it real!
NANCY: A dream set would include songs by other artists like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and other favorites. More obscure Heart songs like “Wait For an Answer” and “Nada One” would be fun, plus fan favorites like “Love Mistake” and “Language of Love.” Endless possibilities.
Q: Do they ever get sick of being together? What do they do with their down time? (And, have to say the concert in Boulder @ Folsom Field in 1982 with George Thorogood and the Destroyers and the Rolling Stones was a killer..................I was there both days!! It made my summer!)? - Terri Nelso ANN: I never get tired of being with Nancy, and the older I get, the more I love her company, musical and otherwise. She, on the other hand, is a free bird and needs lots of space from me. I get that and try my best to not crowd her. The moments are precious. As for our downtime, that's easy...we have none.
NANCY: We don't get sick of being together. We have such big separate lives off the road that it's a blessing to be together playing music!
The story behind 'Barracuda':
Q: Would you ever release 70's-80's era live concerts commercially (i.e. on Amazon as mp3's like other artists have done) or on your website??? - Mary Vilhelmsen ANN: Our new box set (Strange Euphoria, released June 5 ) contains a live “Dreamboat Annie” era performance. There is endless stuff from [the] 70s and 80s for potential release in the future.
NANCY: The more rarities like live performances from other decades the better!
Q: Although it's natural for you to perform and record together as Sisters, do you have any thoughts or desires of working on any solo projects?? - Carol Caissie ANN: Nancy and I each have done a solo album in the past, hers is Live at McCabes, and mine is Hope and Glory, both released within the last 10 years. Nancy has done great movie scoring work in the past, too. I know solo work is in both our futures.
NANCY: I have done a few solo projects that I really enjoyed and would love to have time to do more. Key word here is TIME!
Ann in the 1970s Q: Who did you write “I Want You So Bad” about??- Michael Halley
NANCY: “I Want You So Bad” was penned by other songwriters. Only Ann can say who she might have been thinking about when she sang it...
ANN: …I was dreaming of my sweet puppy back home.
Q: How was it working with Grace Slick in 1985, and who are your current favorite female artists? :-)??- Richard Chaffins ANN: Grace was a kick to work with. Very sharp and funny and a great singer. She sounds like no one else, and since I was raised on Airplane and Starship, it was quite an honor to have her sing on one of our records! My favorite female singers at the moment are Brittany Howard and Rita Chiarelli. Wow on both!
NANCY: Grace Slick was a total TRIP to work with. Lots of jokes and opinions. A strident individual and super talented!
Ann and Nancy perform 'Barracuda':
Q: I'm a big Heart fan here in South Africa. My question: Is there any chance Ann and Nancy could come and do some live shows out here? We've had so many big bands from the 80's and present doing live concerts here, and we've got all the right venues. - Justin Chamblee
ANN: We are dreaming of breaking out of the States in 2013...we finally got to Australia for the first time last year (Can you imagine that, after all these years??) Would love to see South Africa.
NANCY: It would be beautiful to come and play there! We hope it's in the stars sometime very soon!
Q: When issues arise, how difficult is it to separate business from family?? - Sandy Lofdahl
ANN: Separating business from family is never completely possible since Nancy and I run “the family business.” We just try to keep our heads about us and stay true to our original intent...and we have great management!
NANCY: We have employed good communication skills to sort out the big problems. And love is always the glue in our family.
Check out Part 2 of our Heart interview TOMORROW and discover Ann and Nancy's take on Seattle's grunge scene of the 90s, who'd they love to duet with, and what each sister feels is their biggest accomplisment!