A Hero's Welcome! Let's start at the start. How did the two of
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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 MP3.com. What are your thoughts on digital music and the Internet as a
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
Which is your favorite Hero song -- and why?
Jo: Difficult, personally I like Take Care of my Heart
Fi) Cos bob wrote it all, and wrote it for me.
But to sing I like "I still love you"
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"
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 MP3.com Top 10 Soft Rock favorite "Tonight"
Fi) Hero blends melody with smooth rock stylings. Just $8.99!