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Progressive Rock Interviews

Bernie Shaw and Dale Collins

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Dale Collins and Bernie Shaw of Bernie Shaw and Dale Collins from 2020

MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

Dale Collins: I have been active in the music industry for many years.  For the first few years I toured with cover bands, as most of us probably did. I have been in the recording side for about 25 or so years. One of my recording projects is called "Sleeping Dogs Lie" (SDL).  SDL has released a few singles. and for a few years we did a lot of live shows.  Other than that I have done tracks for other projects as a hired gun, so to speak. 

I have done about 4,000 to 4,500 live shows over the years and am still looking forward to more.

MSJ: How did you link up with Bernie Shaw for your new project?

Dale Collins: In 1996, while I was living in Victoria, British Columbia, I got a call from Don Restall (our drummer) and was asked if I would like to play guitar for a temporary band with the lead singer from Uriah Heep.  Turned out Bernie was visiting family in Victoria and wanted to stay vocally sharp while in Canada as Heep were to record an album upon his return to the UK. The band was called "In Transit" and did covers. We played a few shows including a New Year's Eve show, and during this time I began talking to Bernie about his involvement in the Heep writing process... which at that time was none. 

So I asked him if he wanted to do some vocals on some songs I had written. In the end we recorded four songs during his next visits to Canada. Three were released as our EP  Picking Locks and one single the following year. 

We had planned to follow up with an album all along but between the Heep schedule, and my moving away from Victoria, it was not easy to coordinate the timing.  Then one day, nearly 20 years later, I got an email from Bernie saying we had been offered a deal to make this album ... and here we are today.

MSJ: What was the songwriting and general creative process like for that album in terms of distribution of duties and such?

Dale Collins: I generally write all the music and lyrics as well as arrange the songs and instrumentation. 

On this album, however, Bernie co wrote the lyrics for one song ("So Many Times") and Trevor Richardson (SDL Singer) co wrote the lyrics with me for "Alone."

I recorded all guitars, bass and keyboards (except for the organ -  Steve Rispin - in "So Many Times" and the two piano tracks -  Jason Gardenits) The drums were done by Don Restall except for two songs on which guest drummers Mark Ammar ("Just A Little Bit") and Kelly Studola ("Alone") played drums. 

I also compose all vocal melodies but Bernie injects his interpretation to them and writes all his own harmonies.

With my being in Canada, and Bernie being in the UK and indeed on tour much of the time, we did not have the ability to work together except via messages and file transfers. The songs were basically written and recorded and then sent over for Bernie to listen to. On a couple songs small changes were made and re-recorded.  Once all the final instrument tracks were finished, they were sent to England, where Bernie did the vocals in another studio.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Dale Collins: Hmmm...good question...I would probably be an architect. That has always fascinated me, and I have designed several homes as a hobby.   

Bernie Shaw: I think music would have been a part of my life in some aspect no matter what else l might have pursued. My original professional goal was to be a chef in some big chain or hotel as that’s what l trained for throughout high school, but rock n roll gave me a “right turn” back in 1974, and I've never looked back since..(though cooking is still a deep passion of mine and paid many bills when l first moved over to the U.K.)

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Dale Collins: Oh there are so many...Early days would have been Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, Queen .... and many more.

Of late, the Foo Fighters are one of my faves.

Bernie Shaw: Early Flo and Eddy for sure. Made me aware of my falsetto! Burton Cummings, Terry Reid, Tommy Shaw, Sammy Hagar...to name just a few.

MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?

Dale Collins: Well I suppose the most meaningful things come from those who purchase or listen to it and enjoy it. No one statement comes to mind, but it has been very nice reading some of the reviews that mention the value and strength of the songwriting.  I am humbled and very grateful for those kind words . 

Bernie Shaw: A Russian fan said that when he listened to my voice, all his worries and troubles disappeared, he just got lost in the melodies. I thought that was pretty powerful. Very humbling....

MSJ: What's ahead for you?

Dale Collins: I very much want to do another album. I am in talks with a couple people to sing on the album...Unsure at this point as to whether Bernie and I will do another album. Heep is still very active, and there are other considerations as well. I suppose if there is enough response to Too Much Information, we will definitely consider a follow up.  

Bernie Shaw: Same direction, no deflection! Touring, recording, taking it to the people...wherever they are!

MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Dale Collins: Hmmm...well, firstly I would simply say rock music...guitar-based rock. 

I do not write for any "style or genre."  I can not work that way. I basically let the songs tell me what they want or need and try to stay true to that. 

Some say my music is of the classic rock type, others say AOR or prog. I have never really tried to fit into to any genre/category.  I just write what comes to me as honestly as I can.  So my answer would be straight-up rock music with a variety of influences...but I guess melodic guitar-based rock sums it up best. 

Bernie Shaw: My voice is best suited for melodic rock - be it with a hard edge, or soft ballads, but a good song l can get my teeth and passion into.   That’s where working with Dale's songs suited me down to the ground. He wrote the songs and let me be the "narrator."

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
Dale Collins: Wow...like hundreds!  There are a few singers that I would love to work with...Michael Vdelli, Darby Mills, Robert (the great) Plant, Stevie Nicks and, of course, there are others .

As for musicians there are many, as well. Steve Morse, David Gilmour, Frank Marino, and frankly i think Heep's current drummer Russell is one of the industry's greatest. 

This would be a long list if I tried to include them all. 

Bernie Shaw: Duet time - Sammy - The Man! Best damn voice in rock n roll! But honestly, that list is pretty long and diverse. Let’s just say, "yes, there are."
MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Dale Collins: Hard to say.  This is an area that is frankly a mess in our industry. Exposure is great, but artist compensation is equally important. Seeing as none of the major labels, by their own admission, are willing to invest in the infrastructure needed to properly track and compensate artists, in the digital realm,  I think there is much work to do still. 

Bernie Shaw: It’s theft. It’s my livelihood. It’s criminal and should have much heavier penalties for anyone doing it. The musician and songwriter is totally ripped off for all their efforts and talent. How the Hell are we supposed to survive when people are blatantly allowed to continue stealing our music? It’s bad enough you have to have millions of hits to make a few dollars these days. Records don’t bring anything like they used to cash-wise for the musician or composer. No. It’s wrong.

MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?

Dale Collins: "Bootlegging" has been around since Woodstock, and I do not see that changing much.  It's much easier now, of course. Since nothing is like actually being at a show, these recordings can never capture that and so are, at best, semi-decent reproductions. 

On the other hand, I completely understand the frustration of some bands with this. After all, they are copies of our work that we are not compensated for , being distributed amongst the public. 

Bernie Shaw: Wrong! It’s piracy! It’s stealing my performance! You buy a ticket. Enjoy the show. You don’t own it, or have any rights to my shows. Bootleggers are so f***ing corrupt they should be made example of...throw them in f****in' prison. If you steal a car, rob a bank, embezzle money, you do. Well, it’s exactly the same thing.

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Dale Collins: Never been a "superhero fan" so not sure how to respond... but I guess I will say this:  It would be any who sell out to the "cookie cutter" mentality of writing and releasing in a certain genre simply because it is the flavour of the month commercially.  I hate that. Music should be honest... not premeditated...only my opinion, though.

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Dale Collins: Wow!   not an easy question. Firstly, it would be so difficult to choose ... for instance, guitarists ... 

Both the lads of Aerosmith would be on the list as would David Gilmour, Steve Morse, and a few others.

A dear friend of mine from Italy Marco Lord Cossu on keyboards. 

Chris Squire on bass...period .

About ten different drummers ... at least half dozen singers including Bernie. 

And the back up singers from Dark Side Of The Moon

Bernie Shaw: They’re kinda out there already.... The Circle..Sammy’s band just about fills all those boxes. Bonham on drums! Come on! Anthony on bass and vocals! Come on! Vic Johnson on guitar. I’ve been on the same bill as these boys, and the goose bumps are still there.

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

 Dale Collins: Zep, Supertramp, Steve Morse Band, Yes, Frank Marino, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Max Webster, Rush, Fleetwood Mac, Kings X, Gentle Giant, UFO, Queen and about 20 others...lets rock!

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

 Dale Collins: I honestly do not recall the last CD I bought. I have a lot of music. The Foo Fighters intrigue me.  as do Pretty Reckless, Vdelli, and a few other newer bands. I am seeing a return to good ole "rock music," as well that I love to see because it always comes back around to the top. 

And there is an interesting sound coming from some bands now that mixes some of the heavy guitar sounds of metal with a more classic songwriting style and orchestral instruments...very interesting genre developing there, at least to me.   

Bernie Shaw: Cadillac Three on the playlist this week, as well as Derek St. Holmes. Steve Lukather and Larry Carlton live.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Dale Collins: Not really. I get so little time for reading that is just for pleasure.  I still actively study many things and so spend a lot of time reading to learn something. 

 Bernie Shaw: My tour itinerary...

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Dale Collins: The last "big" concert I was able to attend was some time ago. It was Eric Clapton with Jan Arden opening.  It was a great show.

My fave concert was Supertramp back in the Crime of the Century days...what a show! Incredibly great sound...wonderful performances...it was just amazing, and I shall remember that night my whole life.   

Bernie Shaw: Judas Priest.. Fire Power tour...
MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Dale Collins: Rush and Max Webster.  Did not know who they were and was just blown away. 

Bernie Shaw: Not really...was either Chilliwack at UVic, or a local band called "Holy Smoke."

MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
Dale Collins: Only one that intrigues me...someone has duplicated the board (features) that was used on Dark Side Of The Moon . I believe it is the mastering desk. They have painstakingly recreated it in digital form as a DAW plug-in. Came across an article while doing other research, and would love to hear more and try it out.
MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Dale Collins: Fortunately I have not really had one...touch wood...closest would be a strap breaking and catching my SG by the horn just about one inch from the floor. I kneeled and finished the song.  Close call, though, and my heart was pounding as I saw my SG headed for the floor. 

Bernie Shaw: Too many to mention! As the keyboard player at the time of the pilot was filmed, was John Sinclair, Rob Reiner managed to get the inside stories of a lot of early Heep "misadventures." Getting lost on the way to the stage is still a major concern on some shows! Cleveland!  

MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

 Dale Collins: Wow! There are so many. I am a very inquisitive person, and there are a thousand questions I would ask of so many people. 

I suppose, keeping it in a musical perspective, I would think probably they would all be songwriters, and the discussion would be the art of writing. Or three very savvy music producers/business managers .  

Bernie Shaw: My dad. We never talked enough. That would be enough for me.

MSJ: What would be on the menu?

 Dale Collins: Anything they wanted. 

Bernie Shaw: Liver and onions...lots of gravy.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

 Dale Collins: Only that I am extremely grateful to the fans who have reached out to me on social media and shared their thoughts of the album and for the wonderful warm response it has received from them. Much love, folks! 

Bernie Shaw: Just to say "thanks" for the interest in this album. It was a long time coming together, but that’s just rock n roll timing. I’m sure Dale has many, many more songs up his sleeve, and they’ll be worth the wait.
MSJ: This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.
 
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