Tough guys may not dance.
Occasionally, though, they eat salad.
That's the startling news that Patch just discovered about Phil Lanzon, keyboardist for hard rock giants, Uriah Heep. This seminal English band will be blowing impressionable, musical minds at The Ridgefield Playhouse tomorrow.
But today, he's on line at Wendy's.
"Hi mate," said the affable Lanzon, amidst what sounds like the lunchtime crowd. "Let me just get my order in and we can talk about the new record and the old days."
Lanzon does just that. Asks for the "Chicken salad. White meat. Spicy apple dressing." Then, English gentleman to the end wonders, "How much is that, luv?"
And is soon away from the cacophony that is Wendy's at noon. And into the relative calm that is their parking lot.
"This is our 23rd album," said the delighted-sounding Lanzon, as proud as a new father. "That's not counting bootlegs, DVDs, compilations and all the other stuff. We've been at this for a while."
That's for sure.
Since exploding onto the music scene in the early 70s, with their Dickensian name and their scorching brand of loud, inventive, progressive rock, Uriah Heep has enjoyed a long career and loyal fans. They are also mentioned often, along with brethren like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, as having helped create that undying beast known as Heavy Metal.
But, as with Sabbath, they are different from some from some of their noisier acolytes. How?
"It's all about the melodies, man," said Lanzon. "It doesn't matter how loud you play or how intensely. If you don't have a good song at the core of all this, it's not going to last. Plus, with our songs, we try and put a little depth in the lyrics, as well."
Tuneful new headbangers like "Nail On The Head" (an ode to Rock) and "I Can See You," attest to both Lanzon's statement and his band's enduring strength. Both are fist-pumpers, with great hooks and choruses. Music that'll make you want to put on your leather-studded arm bands and punch the air.
And according to the band's keyboardist, the Heep are still gathering up fans 40 years on.
"We do a lot of gigs still," said Lanzon. "Festivals, especially, in the summer. And it's amazing to see the age range of the fans. We've got about 3 generations I think, since we began in the 70s."
Even this veteran of the hard rock scene can't believe what the past year has been like.
"We've done about 7 or 8 months of shows in a row," Lanzon said, laughing at how the word keeps spreading about his band. "Obviously, word of mouth helps, but the crowds are still amazing to me. I mean, our kind of music is not going to knock Hip Hop or Dance music off the charts, but some of those kids like this type of thing, too. Appreciation for hard rock can bleed through all sorts of other music."
A few more dates, says Lanzon, and then home for a spell.
"It's great to get all this attention and we love playing live. But you do need to learn to balance things a bit. We all have families and we try to get home to see them. So they remember what we look like."
He laughs and says he must be going. But not to the car. Not quite yet. There's something very important he forgot to do at Wendy's. And luckily, he's still in the parking lot. Then he makes what almost could be a Mission Statement about the sort of groovy, if not always well-respected, music he plays. Even if he says this indirectly.
"I knew I should've gotten chips," Lanzon said. "Maybe they're not good for you. But you have to admit, they're delicious. Can't live without them. Right? Cheers, mate!"
And with that, he's gone.
INFO: Uriah Heep will be at The Ridgefield Playhouse Saturday at 8:00 PM, with Special Guest, Whitewood. Tickets are $50. For more information call 203-438-5795