MP3 Doc Heide And The Pills - Peaceful Kingdom
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11 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Hard Rock, METAL: Progressive Metal
On the liner of Doc Heide and The Pills' new CD "Peaceful Kingdom" is a quote from psychologist Otto Rank.
"Life is just an experiment for discovering the secret of death," runs the quote.
"When you take Marketing 101, they probably tell you not to put a quote like that on your CD," laughs Doc, who is a psychologist himself as well as an award-winning professional actor, playwright, and singer-songwriter. "But it really seemed to capture the theme of the album."
Doc, who splits his time between Northern California and his home state of Wisconsin, wrote the 11 songs on the CD during a period when he was thinking alot about mortality.
"When my Mom got a terminal illness, I began reflecting more about what I was doing with the brief time I'd been granted in this world," he said. "Writing songs was a good way to sort that out."
The songs range from exploration of near-death experience ("Sweet Peace") to a tale of Death taunting a cowboy ("Hell That I Know") to examinations of the political implications of spirituality ("Where Angels Fly" and the title cut).
And they rock.
"I'm not sure how to describe it," Doc admits. "'Transcendental metal'? 'Existential rock'? My girlfriend calls it "Angel-banger music'."
"I know it sounds heavy," he says. "But it's never depressing. Most people seem to find it uplifting. There's humor, and even a blues song about Ralph Waldo Emerson that proves I didn't entirely snooze through college."
The Pills include bass player Paul Sowinski and drummer Pat Judy (of the hard-driving R&B band "Big Mouth"), vocalist Andy Ratliff, and lead guitarist Eric Lewis. Eric won the Best String Player Award in 2003 from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) in Memphis.
"Eric is phenomenal," Doc reports. "He can play so fast that he's been known to finish a song before he starts it."
Doc and Eric have worked together for years through American Folklore Theatre (AFT), which Doc co-founded on Wisconsin's popular Door Peninsula vacation area in 1990. "Money" Magazine recently described AFT as "one of the top regional theatres in the country."
Doc has dealt with the theme of mortality previously in "Belgians in Heaven", the hit "metaphysical cheese-curd musical" he wrote with James Kaplan and Lee Becker. The show has been produced 6 times by AFT and seen by over 30,000 people.
But his interest in the bigger questions goes back to his childhood.
"I grew up in the sandy flatlands of central Wisconsin, a region best known for beer, papermills, and potatoes," he says. "It was only natural that I would get interested in the meaning of life."
Doc's Episcopalian upbringing also fostered a curiosity about spiritual issues.
"When I was a kid, we were always heading off to church or church suppers," he recalls. "Some of the strongest memories of my childhood are the smell of cigarettes, coffee, and tuna noodle casserole."
Doc went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay in 1974 and to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 1981.
For decades he has carried on a double life. During the school year he teaches doctoral students at the San Francisco campus of Alliant International University. Then during summers, he performs music and theatre in Wisconsin.
As a performer, Doc has been a New Folk Finalist at Kerrville Folk Festival and has backed up folk legend Tom Paxton. In 2005 he was named one of the top actors in the Door Peninsula by "Door Voice" Magazine.
As a psychologist, he has won teaching awards as well as the Outstanding Research Contribution Award from the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT). Lately he has also taught expert nonverbal behavior skills to psychiatrists through the Medical College of Wisconsin.
"It probably sounds like a crazy life," Doc admits. "But if I ever go around the bend, at least I'm professionally qualified to shrink my own head."
"Peaceful Kingdom" is a substantial departure from Doc's previous folk album, "Lessons I Learned From The Moon", which has been described as "a pristine work graced by extraordinary guest instrumentalists" (Mitch Ritter, "Dirty Linen" Magazine).
"This one is a bit less pristine," laughs Doc. "But it continues that album's interest in the really big questions, which have always been the ones I find most intriguing."
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