Stuart Smith is an English guitarist who emigrated to America in the early 1980's. Since then he has obviously made friends with an impressive number of musicians if the guest list of this album is anything to go by. On vocals their are the talents of Joe Lynn Turner, Kelly Hansen [Hurricane], Glenn Hughes, Ritchie Sambora, Paul Shortino and Al Mirikitani, Bass is handled by Chuck Wright [Impellitteri] amongst others whilst Mike Terrana and Carmine Appice throw down drum tracks. An impressive list. The style of the album is mainly Hard Rock with some blues here and some classical bits there. The album is dedicated to Ritchie Blackmore [with whom Stuart is great friends by all accounts] and that is a good indication of what to expect - well played Rock.
Q. All the vocalists you worked with on "Heaven and Earth" really fit the music with many giving their best vocal performances in years, what made you decide to work with these particular artists?
SS: Richie Sambora, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes and Kelly Hansen have always been four of my favorite singers in the world so it seemed natural to me to ask them to be on it. I do agree that it's some of the best vocal performances they've done in years and I think that was because they put their heart and soul into it to help me out. It certainly wasn't because of massive amounts of money I was paying them. It was more a labor of love on their behalf.
Q. Did you write each song thinking that will be good for Joe or Kelly, etc.? Or was it a case of having different vocalists sing a variety of the tracks and then deciding which voice suited that track best?
SS: I sat with Pat Regan, the producer and listened to the songs and we decided who'd be best for each track. Luckily, I think we picked just right.
Q. "Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree" has a very medieval sound to it, and for me, one of many highlights from the album, any plans to further explore this type of music (like Ritchie Blackmore with Blackmore's Night)?
SS: I don't know yet, that's really Ritchie's territory now and he does it so much better but I do enjoy playing medieval music which has always been one of the reasons we were friends in the first place. I've a long way to go to catch him up on this one but I expect we'll do some more tracks like this simply because it's another facet of my personality, as it is his.
Q. Indeed the four tracks with Joe Lynn Turner were some of the best stuff I personally think he has done in years, do you have any plans to do a whole album with Joe as you obviously have a killer writing partnership?
SS: Funny you should mention that. As soon as I've finished this album Joe Lynn and I are going to do an album together for Frontiers who've been a great company for me. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. I have heard a rumour that one of these tracks was co-written by you and Ritchie Blackmore, is this correct? If so what style is the track in?
SS: That's a song called "Prisoner" which I had kicking around for a few years, is in the style of "Stone Cold" and "Street Of Dreams." When Ritchie heard it he was like Mozart in "Amadeus." When it got to the bridge he turned round to me and said, "It doesn't really work does it" and said, "How about this" and then proceeded to add something off the top of his head which just blew me away so it became the new bridge. As we wrote that in the 80's it sounded very dated so I gave it to Jaime Kyle who I've been working with and she updated the melody.
Q. You and Ritchie Blackmore are good friends, do you ever envisage you and him working on a whole album together?
SS: Sure, I'm a glutton for punishment. I would love to embarrass myself just to be on an album with Ritch.
Q. You are a Strat man, I believe your main Strat is one of Ritchie's old guitars [the one used in the "Stone Cold" and "Death Alley Driver" videos, have you modified this guitar in any way other than the mods RB did [scalloped neck etc], what model/make p/ups do you use?
SS: It's actually my second favorite which is the one in the picture inside the Heaven & Earth CD cover. My first guitar is the very first Strat I ever bought. I have changed the one Ritch gave me a bit though. I've taken out the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders which were in there and replaced them with Seymour Duncan Hot Rails but they're going to be changed soon for a pick up I designed with Seymour which is a cross between the two. I've also added Sperzal machine heads, Graphtech nut and saddles and had the scallops cut right the way across the neck. Ritchie has his cut at an angle so that they only really effect the top three strings.
Q. What make/model is your amp? And your favourite effects?
SS: I've always used the old Marshall Major amps but I went to see Jeff Beck recently at the Universal Amphitheater and he had the most incredible sound I'd ever heard. I know Jeff and he gave me four passes with seats four rows from the front, dead center and I took Richie Sambora, Howard Leese and my drummer, Richie Onori with me. We just sat with our mouths open the entire show. Afterwards Jeff and I had about 50 drinks together back at the hotel in memory of Cozy Powell who introduced us, and he told me he was using the new Marshall DSL 2000 50 Watt amps so I called Marshall and they sent me one and I've got say that this is the best amp they've made in a long while. I now use one of those for the sustain and the Major for the bottom end and bite. The only effects I use are a Chandler echo unit and a Morley JD10 to overdrive the Marshall Majors.
Source: Rainbow Flames Metal Domain 2000