Progsheet - A Few More Words With...Amanda Lehmann

Interview by John A. Wilcox

I was sitting on a chair just the other day thinking it was time to check in on Amanda Lehmann again. I dropped her a note & she was happy to talk once more. She's on the new Steve Hackett record - Wolflight. In addition to that, Lehmann is doing her best Nancy Wilson in a UK based Heart tribute band called Reckless Heart that also features Lisa Fury of Karnataka fame. Give a listen in to our fine little chat...

PS: What led to you joining Reckless Heart?

AL: Quite simply, I received a message over Facebook from their agent. Basically, the lady who had been playing the part of Nancy Wilson had had to leave and they needed somebody to see them through their summer festivals. On the off chance Kim sent me a message saying would you be interested? I've always really loved Heart, I used to listen to some their sort of older stuff as well as all of their eighties stuff, so I thought "Ooh, it's a bit tempting!" But, as you may know, I have a problem getting away a lot because of my family situation with my son. So I said "I'm really interested but I can't do touring, as such." They said, "Oh no, that's fine. It's just a one-off." After some thought and discussion I said "Yes, I'd love to!" Basically it's fine because it's just one or two gigs in a row rather than literally being away from home for chunks of time, which is the problem I have - that I can't really do that at the moment. At the moment I'm continuing with them because it's doable and it's great fun.

PS: What did you take away from learning Nancy Wilson's parts?

AL: I learned what an extremely good guitar player she is. Actually, when you listen to a lot of Heart you probably wouldn't think that it's particularly complicated - and some of it isn't, but some of it is! Certainly her acoustic playing. She does it with such ease, it sounds like there's no effort. Actually a lot of it is very fast and there's a lot of coordination. I had to really brush up on my acoustic playing because I'm primarily an electric player. You can hear the roots in her music that she's played for a long time and that she must have grown up with that music. It's quite complex, some of it. Certainly, I have a lot of respect for her as a player.

PS: What's been the most difficult so far?

AL: I think really the bit that in a way is the most difficult is the little acoustic intro to Crazy On You. You want to do it justice, you want to play it quickly, but with ease. It was a whole new style for me, so that was a real challenge. It's given me lots of other ideas - which is nice - for my own sorts of music. If you learn other people's styles and you try to do it the way they did it, it broadens your own style which is well handy.

PS: What guitars / effects / amplification are you using for the shows?

AL: I use the same setup as for the Hackett shows, which is:
Electric Guitar: Ibanez 1200 JS Series
Amp: Peavey Classic 50
Pedals: Boss GT 10
Acoustic: Faith

PS: How deep into the Heart catalogue does Reckless Heart delve?

AL: It depends on how long the set is. If it's just an hour we just go for the hits, although we do include the earlier material which isn't as well known as the eighties - Alone and What About Love. If we have longer we do travel a little bit more into the lesser known music and we also do some of their more recent stuff as well. Obviously there's a lot of Led Zep songs they did as well which we sort of delve into. It's nice to be able to do one or two that are a little bit more unusual and not so well known but come across really well live and the band really were enthusiastic about it.

PS: What's it like working with Lisa Fury?

AL: It's crazy, we have a laugh, we really do have a laugh. I think we work well together, we know when to be serious and we want to get things right. The whole band - they're a great bunch really, we just really get on. I think it's the kind of music that's very, it's kind of extrovert music so you can pose to your heart's content. It's very sort of outward music. We do have a laugh at the same time as getting it right, it's a good balance.
Lisa - she's a fantastic vocalist. She really has got a superb voice. She does such a good Ann Wilson!

PS: Sounds like it's a fun and different situation for you.

AL: It is. It's very different to the more prog angle where you're much more absorbed in your instrument. There's more to do in a lot of ways, but it's not just that. It's the whole feel of it, really with the Heart stuff. As I say, it's very extrovert and it sort of requires you to pose and move around and all that stuff.

PS: Will you be part of Steve Hackett's upcoming tour?

AL: I can't be a permanent part of it, much as I'd love to be. Because of my commitments at home, I can't tour a large amount of time. I'm going to try and get at as many as I can.

PS: With the many styles he plays in, I've always thought of Hackett's work as chameleon music. Always changing.

AL: I certainly wouldn't say it's introvert music, it isn't. It is very chameleon-like. It goes through so many different phases. It takes you on a journey, it's a very different animal.

PS: Are you singing and playing on his new Wolflight album?

AL: Just singing on this one, just harmony vocals. It's just the way it went that there aren't any lead ones on this album. I'm kind of part of the orchestra I think, more than the sum of the parts. You can hear me on it and I do quite a bit on it. A lot of it is very choral, what I'm doing. It's very much part of a choir sound, the way I see it - like a watercolor, splashes of acrylic or something. A little bit different. Some highlights.

PS: In what way does it differ from Beyond The Shrouded Horizon?

AL: They both have that big "World" feel to them, but this one delves deeper into some more unknown territory. This one has more traditional instruments on it, it's got more of an Eastern feel even than Beyond The Shrouded Horizon had. It's also got a lot more angry dark to it, but not in a negative way, in very much a breaking out sort of way. It's quite a dark album. But, as I say, it's not dark in a depressing way, it's dark but breaking out, it's about freedom. Very metaphorical, that's not really describing it musically of course.

PS: Are there new Amanda Lehmann songs in the works?

AL: I am still writing, yes. Unfortunately nobody gets to hear it, do they? Because it never gets to that point. (laughs)

PS: Too busy?

AL: I'm always busy doing one thing or another. I tend to prioritize projects that I'm currently working on, whether that's live or other recordings, I do just sit with my acoustic and create my own music. I think the problem with recording my own stuff is that I really do require large chunks of time to do that. Creatively I get into a mindset. I find it very difficult just to do one or two hours and then stop. Once I start, I just have to go on. When you've got so many calls on your time it's kind of difficult to do that. So at the moment it's all in my head. I don't forget it, I record it on my phone, playing it live, and then it's there, or I put the camera up to the guitar so I can see what my fingers are doing in case I forget how I played it. I have most of the material ready, so now it's time to make the time to be my own engineer and record it all!


Photos are by Lee Millward,, Dave Scarlett, and used by kind permission

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