|TrueHeart: Southern Hospitality
by Karla Ash
TrueHeart (http://www.truehearttexas.com) is a nice band in a cesspool of jerks and back-stabbing egotists; even their name expresses warmth and sweetness. However, in the cutthroat world of rock & roll, those attributes are really isn’t considered marketable. And, for all of their folk and country touches, deep down TrueHeart is a rock band, albeit classic rock. They’re also a group that is family-run, making them even more unique. Lead singer Ross Vick explained further.
Karla Ash: TrueHeart is one of the few sibling rock bands around. Is it hard to establish a professional working relationship with your loved ones?
Ross Vick: Not all. Well, kind of. We have had the luxury of working together in our pre-music lives in our family sales and marketing firm. We were primarily focused on the toy industry, which is very much like the music business in that it is a fashion industry. It's full of old favorites and standbys and there's always someone trying to invent the next Slinky. The music industry is very much the same. There are staples and standbys and what's old is new and what's new is suddenly old. For the most part it is youth driven, but much of the time it's the adults that provide the capital. In TrueHeart, I do most of the songwriting but rely on [brother] Pat and [sister] Karen's input for harmonies and melody and execution.
Ash: How did TrueHeart form?
Vick: The genesis of current TrueHeart came from a vanity CD project that was initiated by a former band mate about three years ago. But to digress a bit further, I left our first band E-Heart Land and Cattle Company to spend all of my energies building the sales and marketing business with my parents and siblings. After 23 years of denying the musical itches - I thought the suffering of such was good for my soul, in reality it just made me lose more hair - my friend and former drummer, Jeff Howe, was interested in seeing if he could produce a worthy CD. I funded the project and Jeff produced it. The resulting CD, One by One, found its way to the Grammy folks and we learned that it was a First Round Nominee or contender in the Pop Vocal Album category. That took us pleasantly by surprise and was really the initiative I needed to focus all of my energies into my first love: music. Grammy winner Phil York heard the One by One CD and was interested in the potential of the sibling three-part harmonies and my songwriting. With his guidance we recorded a follow up CD What Is Mine under the name Ross Vick Times 3. Phil wanted us to focus on the baby boomers and we recorded that effort in a style which would sound familiar to anyone familiar with the ‘60s-‘70s approach to production. We wanted something shorter in the way of a name and settled on "TrueHeart," which was a nod to our past and acknowledgment that come hell or high-water, we'd be true to our musical selves.
Ash: Who calls the shots in the group, if at all? Is it run via democratic vote?
Vick: To mix my metaphors, I have a vision for what I'd like for us to sound like and share that with the group. They then interpret my comments in their own unique ways and what you hear is what you get. During a recording session or rehearsal, I throw songs out there and most of the time they "click." When they don't we move on. If I really believe in the concept of the song, I work on it and reintroduce it to the band. But that's not happened very often.
Ash: TrueHeart recalls both music from the '60s and the '70s - which of those decades stylistically had the most impact on TrueHeart's sound?
Vick: Well, the true answer is that the music we listened to from 1965 to 1975 was really important to us. But specifically I'd have to say the 60's. The Beatles were of greatest influence on me personally because they always looked like they were having so much fun playing music. I loved the songwriting and the harmonies. They made each other better. And the fact that there were so many different styles of music on each Beatles album is part of the TrueHeart inspiration to carry on that tradition. Industry labelers want to call them rock or pop rock, but they included elements of country, folk, classical, vaudeville, rockabilly and others into their writing and production. TrueHeart is in many ways a reflection of living in the moment and having fun with the business of being in music.