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An Interview With Hero - July 2000

A Hero's Welcome! Let's start at the start. How did the two of you meet?

Bob: Well thats simple, we needed a singer so we advertised in the local paper and then auditioned in a local club. Jo auditioned, shone above the others so we took her on. The songwriting came later.

Okay Bob goes by the equity name of Bob Mapler because Robert Palmer belonged to that guy Addicted to Love. Mapler seems to be a letter jumble of Palmer -- is Jana Cain's last name really I Can?

Jo: Ha! Ha! No Cain is my real name. Jana was a nickname my brother used to call me as a child.

Bob: And just to clarify the name thing, Joanne is her real name Jana is her nickname and JoJo is my affectionate name for her.

Your music is amazing and smooth. But unlike many soft rock bands, your message appears upbeat and not folksy or downbeat. Has life been that good or are you one of the rare bands that can write better about the good memories than the bad?

Bob: It has more to do with the way we feel. We have both, as you guys would say, been around the block a few times and had it rough. We had both had difficult relationships in our past and the band and being with each other cultured a closeness neither of us had experienced. We both felt as if life really WAS worth living and tomorrow is what you make it not just what happens.

Jo: Anyway we wanted to write about the way things were for us then and the positive way we saw our lives for a change. Like many other song writers, our love songs were written for each other.

Well, they're not all cheery of course. "If Only" takes a sharp stance on drug use. "If only I hadn't danced with angels there in ecstacy," the song goes. That's a reference to the drug Ecstacy and the song was inspired by the drug overdose of teenager Leah Betts. Who was she and what do you want your listeners to take out of the song?

Bob: Yea well this is a tough one, If Only was written a while after the other songs which is why it is not on the original Crack of Dawn album. Leah Betts died in November 1995 and we decided to try and write a piece to counter the wave of Pro Drug songs around at the time. We are both parents and like many were shocked at the Tabloid reports at the time. So we wrote the song. The true story of Leah is more complex and can be read at

Here's a short piece.

The Leah Betts story

In November 1995 the British media went to town over the death of Leah, a girl whose stepfather was once in the drug squad and whose stepmother goes round schools warning children about the dangers of drugs. The parents cooperated with the media to produce powerful emotive anti Ecstasy images of their unconscious daughter dying behind them as they were interviewed, with the noble aim of getting the message across that Ecstasy is highly dangerous and can kill. This was followed up by billboards showing her in intensive care with the caption "Sorted. Just one Ecstasy tablet killed Leah Betts".

It was not for two weeks that the cause of death was given as due to drinking too much water, and then only at the bottom of page 5 of The Times. Although the official inquest confirmed this, it was revealed that she had also had several strong alcoholic drinks and had smoked cannabis along with the Ecstasy. Later it emerged that Leah had taken Ecstasy at least four times before, and that she and her friends had planned in advance to take Ecstasy at her birthday party. The media preferred to keep the message simple: Leah died from taking a single tab of Ecstasy. To say she died from drinking water is not a good story, and the fact that she was a regular Ecstasy user might lead to the suspicion that her death was due to a panic reaction brought on by her parents being in the next room with their intolerant attitudes...........

Yeah, well as you can see not all you read is strictly true but we still felt the message in the song was important Drugs can, and DO Kill!.

Jo's lyrical strength is shown to its ultimate with If Only, cleverly knitting 7 street names or references to drugs into a meaningful anti drug song.

Songs like "It's a Miracle"  and "Crack or Dawn"  wax positively about the future. That's in sharp contrast to naysayers who say we're all doomed. What's your take on the optimism, or lack thereof, of tomorrow?

Bob: Well you can take 2 perspectives on life. Be a manic depressive or be optimistic. As we indicated before, because of our pasts we've every reason to be optimistic. We found each other, and a light came on! I guess the world's so full of s**t that we felt we wanted to try and pass on some of that optimism in our music.

Bob, you rarely see bass players as songwriters but you are definitely capable in your craft. Do you compose on the bass or do you write on other instruments?

No, sometimes on 6 string acoustic but mostly on a piano. I feel more expressive on the keys and anyway with midi I can choose a vast range of voices which helps with mood and colour when I compose.

Most of your songs have cracked the Top 40 chart in their respective genres on What are your thoughts on digital music and the Internet as a distribution medium?

Jo: Beats conventional record companies! We're knee deep in thank you but no thank you letters from every record company. We did have one spark of hope when we received a HAND written response from Chysalis asking if we could send in more tracks, but it was a dead end.

Bob: We recorded, engineered, produced and published "Crack of Dawn" ourselves but after sinking every spare cent we had into our studio and paying for 1000 tapes we had no money for promo and with only a few local radio appearances it became impossible. Where we live we are surrounded by hundreds of working mens clubs who have acts on every weekend but the punters only want to hear covers. The Indie scene is confined to pubs with no money in it. If MP3 had been around in 1995 (or had we known about it) who knows. But the future for music is definitely the Net. Just watch the record companies in the next 5 years!!

Which is your favorite Hero song -- and why?

Jo: Difficult, personally I like Take Care of my Heart (Hi Fi - Lo Fi) Cos bob wrote it all, and wrote it for me.

But to sing I like "I still love you" (Hi Fi - Lo Fi) because it was real fun to record, went together easily and allowed me to use a different expression and I suppose voice.

Bob: I have 2 favourites as well. "It's a Miracle" because at the time I thought I'd written a hit!! And personally "It's Easy" (Hi Fi - Lo Fi)  because I still feel it's one of the nicest melodies and it really did flow from the keyboard and pen. We performed this track on BBC local radio recorded live with just 2 acoustic guitars and 4 voices and it really sounds almost as good as the full studio version.

You are breathing new life into the album rock genre with sophisticated ballads and catchy pop songs. What lies next for Hero?

We have written over 50 songs and recorded 20+ We are compiling and recording a new album "Changing Tides" which will still have the up beat message as in Crack of Dawn but a different emphasis. If we can put the time in it will be released in Autumn (fall)


Crack of Dawn is Hero's breakthrough digital debut. Featuring the Top 10 Soft Rock favorite "Tonight" (Hi Fi - Lo Fi) Hero blends melody with smooth rock stylings. Just $8.99!

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