© 2006 Deep Purple Hub and Purplehound Productions.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by kind permission of the Deep Purple Hub: http://deeppurplehub.proboards31.com
Brent (Administrator of Deep Purple Hub site): The year 2006 is rapidly coming to a close, 2007 is right on the horizon, and Deep Purple continues to forge ahead with "Rapture of the Deep", which is absolutely brilliant, and following it up with an extensive world tour. Fans have noted that the band seems to be having a great time and are putting in some really enthusiastic performances. Deep Purple seems to be a very happy place to be right now, especially considering the past difficulties of the late 1980's and '90's. What is your estimation of the current state of the band as a creative entity and as a "family unit"?
Roger: You have just stated the obvious. Rapture has been a great album for us in many ways. It seems to have captured the imagination of a whole new generation of fans, particularly in Europe and South America but in other parts of the world as well. Increasingly we are seeing fans that are in their early twenties, teenagers and even younger people at our shows. And all singing along to both new and old songs, very refreshing. It seems to me that in the late 80s we lost a lot of credibility - something that once lost is extremely difficult to regain. It is almost like trying to get an ex-lover to fall in love all over again. When Steve joined the band we started on an odyssey of recovery by just sticking to the course, recording new albums and playing wherever we could. We are very lucky to have a name that has spread all over the world, starting in the 70s, and that creates a curiosity for people to get away from the TV, the internet and whatever else that occupies their lives to make the effort to come to a show where they see not only a band playing the well known songs but a vibrant bunch of musicians having a lot of fun. The musical content of our shows, the virtuosity, the improvising, is something out of the ordinary and energizes an audience and it this in turn energizes us every night. It's reciprocal. This band feels like a family to us.
Brent: Can you give one or two sentences about each member of the band that sums up their best quality or their funniest personality trait?
Don Airey: Has a wonderful ear and amazing technique, all fueled by an eccentric sense of fun. Knows things that not many other people know. Fits into the band as if he was born to it.
Ian Gillan: A character who is unafraid of being himself, unlike most preening, prancing singers. His energy and enthusiasm are invaluable. He has found his new voice and revels in the sheer enjoyment of singing.
Roger Glover: No comment.
Steve Morse: A stunning ability on the guitar, a brain that can think in fourteen directions at once coupled with a caring personality make him very special. He is a fixer, a healer, and very supportive.
Ian Paice: The drums is the most difficult instrument with which to display a personality but if you played me any number of drummers, I could pick out Paicey's playing easily, he's that unique. That to me is his greatest achievement; he has character. He plays with an indefinable swing that typifies what true rock and roll 'feel' is all about. Knows how to cook too.
Brent: Deep Purple: Live At Montreux 1996 was recently released and is available for purchase right now. Can you discuss how this particular show came to be released? Why this show and why now?
Roger: I hardly ever look at or listen to our own music. I just remember feeling honoured to be asked to take part. It was the first time and we've done it three times now. Montreux will always be a special place for us.
Brent: Two bonus tracks from Montreux 2000 are included on this release, "Fools" and "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming". Why those tracks instead of a good mix of "Long Time Gone" from the same show?
Roger: Long Time Gone was a song that was never completed to our satisfaction. I don't really know about the other two - that was a record company decision.
Brent: Any chance of ever seeing "Long Time Gone" released either in its current live context or recorded by the band for as part of a new studio album?
Roger: I doubt it.
Brent: I was a bit taken aback by Michael Bradford's production work on Bananas. On Don's first studio outing with the band, the keyboards very definitely took a back seat on that record. I was worried about it during the recording of Rapture of the Deep (ROTD) and sent him an e-mail while y'all were in the studio. I explained to him that Purple's sound was always driven as much by that fat distorted Hammond sound as it was the guitar. He agreed with me but was quick to point out that Don is quite different in his approach to playing the instrument than was Jon Lord. All the same, I was quite pleased when I first popped ROTD into the player and heard Don's Hammond leading the way. Are you pleased with the final sound on ROTD? How would you compare it (the sound, not the album) to Bananas?
Roger: I don't like to compare albums; they all have their particular flavour. Michael is a very intelligent and astute musician and has our respect. Being a producer myself it was and is difficult to comment. Simply put, if you put your trust in people you have to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them get on with it. Of course, there are things I would do differently, but that would no doubt be the same whomever was the producer.
Brent: Having an outside producer has given you an opportunity to step back and view the band from a different perspective. What kind of insights have you gained from this experience, from both a production and performance perspective?
Roger: My experience with producers throughout my career has been minimal, therefore it was interesting to see how someone else works - dealing with the foibles of individual musicians in particular. It's not always easy to produce - each band has its own dynamic and a producer has to learn very quickly how to proceed with the most efficiency. One might think that with a band as experienced and talented as Deep Purple it would be easier, but think again. The easy part is that the players are all so adept and used to each other that the working out of arrangements is at least done quickly. It is the creative part can sometimes be a bit sticky, although our respect for each other always overcomes what differences we may have. The thing I liked most about not producing was the opportunity to relax and concentrate more on writing and performing, both of which tend to take a back seat when the pressures of being the producer are on my shoulders.
Brent: Would you consider going back to wearing the producer hat again after having Michael Bradford produce the last couple of records?
Roger: I would consider it, yes, but it all depends on the rest of the band.
Brent: I was quite happy to see the ROTD Tour Edition despite the delay! It's great being able to hear studio versions of "Things I Never Said" and "The Well-Dressed Guitar". What brought about the release of the Tour Edition?
Roger: The tour itself needed a fresh burst of promotion and that seemed the best way to do it. We in the band all disapprove of holding tracks back from certain markets - it's a painful process to decide what songs get the chop, so I was also glad to see TINS and MTV get universal release. The music business - an oxymoron!
Brent: Fans of the band have been wondering if we'll be seeing an official live cd or dvd, or both, documenting the ROTD tour. Has there been any discussion about that?
Roger: Maybe, but due to certain contractual concerns, we can't just record stuff and release it just like that. Montreux 2006 will be the official tour DVD but there may be something else, we'll have to see.
Brent: This is a bit broad, perhaps. However, if you don't mind, can you please compare and contrast Deep Purple's records from Purpendicular to Rapture of the Deep?
Roger: Well, I know quite a bit about broads.... oh, I see. I don't care to compare recordings any more than I compare cups of coffee or hotel rooms. Of course there are differences but each is of its moment. I learned long ago that whatever misgivings I have about any album, to just let it go. It is whatever it is and fretting about it won't change it. I look back on albums and judge them to a certain extent, like anyone else, but I don't like to broadcast my conclusions. I often get asked what DP album is the most important (journalists are so fond of wanting get at the extremes of anything - worst gig, biggest audience, funniest moment, etc.) but for me the pivotal albums were those that signaled the start of an era - DP In Rock, Perfect Strangers and Purpendicular. With Steve joining the band, the latter was a wonderful time of healing and adventure for us, followed by an extended period of flux with the Concerto, Abandon, and Jon's departure. With Don joining the band and a change of producer we seem to have become more efficient, albums taking comparatively little time to complete and our touring schedule thereby getting extended somewhat. The things that Michael Bradford brought to the table was his encouragement for us to be ourselves and a work ethic that was decisive and concentrated, both Bananas and ROTD were done quickly and benefit from the freshness.
Brent: How has the creative process changed or evolved during this time?
Roger: Not a lot actually, we still start with no fixed objective other than to write a set of songs and the way we do it is to jam on several ideas until something presents itself. There's a kind of indefinable group consensus on what is acceptable. It's uncanny really; we nearly always know when an idea is a good one just because it's fun to play.
Brent: I'm curious about the onstage improvisation with DP. It certainly seems very restrained compared to the days of those huge jams during "Space Truckin'" and "Mandrake Root" although it has also become more sophisticated. Was this a deliberate decision or is that simply how the band has evolved? Can you talk a little about the evolution of the onstage improv from 1972 to 2006?
Roger: The late sixties was the time of progressive rock, a kind of music that requires a musical dexterity that most pop bands would be hard pressed to muster. Therefore there was an emphasis on playing ability, much as in jazz. This led to gigs being billed as 'so and so in Concert,' (DP's first studio album with IG and I was called, ironically, In Rock, for that reason). We were thought of as a progressive rock band, the term hard rock was not really yet fully part of the parlance. Seated audiences were treated to extremes of musical virtuosity, which they seriously studied and absorbed. Our music however, was quickly becoming far more aggressive and louder, while the musical expansion of songs went unabated. Solos might go on for half an hour or more, but audiences loved it, being transported via a long, spontaneous exploration of the instrument to a sort of musical bliss. Attention spans have shrunk since then and most of our latter day audiences would not accept this. We also recognize that these long solos became exercises in pure self-indulgence and so we find ourselves confining these moments to set areas - organized spontaneity, if you will! Sure, we play things differently each night but the overly long individual displays of virtuosity are no longer viable, to either the crowd or us.
Brent: Many US fans are concerned that there have not really been any tour dates scheduled thus far. Are there plans for an extensive tour of North America?
Roger: We would like to tour the US and there's a good chance that the summer of 2007 might see it.
Brent: The track "MTV" from ROTD is wonderful in its satire of the music biz today. I love the very sharp-edged humor. Mr. Grover, just what the hell is wrong with the American music scene today and is it as bad in the UK?
Roger: Strangely enough, at the moment the two weakest areas, for us at least, are the USA and the UK. All of Europe, from Spain and France in the west to as far as you can go in the east, seems hip to DP. In Britain and the States it is not uncommon to hear, "Oh, are you still around? Or, have you reformed? Or, I thought you were dead." That doesn't happen across Europe, Russia, South America, India, South Korea, or anywhere else on the planet where they seem more fully informed. I think much of that has to do with the way media promote their wares, mainly on television and to a lesser extent, radio. If you don't fit that kind of market you are virtually ignored. I don't know that there's a 'scene' any more. Around the world there are a lot of scenes happening, many of which I'm unaware. I sometimes feel totally unconnected with the music business.
Brent: In January, Hub members were delighted to see tracks from Purpendicular making their way back into the set. Many fans were not happy as the setlist changed to exclude "Living Wreck" and a couple of the new tracks from ROTD. I know the issue of selecting a set list must be a prickly one, but many fans want to know why the Steve Morse era of DP is not more fully represented. Can you speak to that?
Roger: The set list debate!! Simply put, we choose songs for their strength in the stage show, which has to flow and move and build. Each song occupies a spot that feels good for us to place it. Believe me, I would love to be able to change the set more and include songs from other eras but the sad truth is that for most people seeing the show, they want to hear what they know, and as good an album as I think Purpendicular is, it doesn't have a high enough profile with the public. Although popular with the hard-core fans, it wasn't a big hit. It's as simple as that. Still, we will try from time to time to include it and things like it. For all Ian Gillan's insistence that we are not a classic band, the perception is that we are. I know what he is trying to say; we feel contemporary and still vital and find it frustrating when radio stations, especially in the States, barely acknowledge that we have new albums out and blithely insist on playing Smoke for the billionth time. Not that I'm complaining.
Brent: Any chance of seeing songs from PS, HOBL, and TBRO make their way into the set? Fans are asking about songs like "The Battle Rages On", "Bananas", "Gypsy's Kiss", "Bad Attitude" and I know that fans would absolutely kill to hear "Wasted Sunsets" performed live.
Roger: See above.
Brent: Any chance of Purple maybe moving to a two-hour show with a 30-minute intermission? The set could then be divided evenly between old and new material.
Roger: What do you want, blood? Actually I wouldn't mind that but would a promoter go for it? Springsteen might be able to get away with it because a) he can do what he likes, he's huge, and b) he doesn't need the money. What promoter could afford to put on a risky show like that for DP?
Brent: One further question about the setlist and then we'll move on. When there are 6 to 7 Machine Head songs out of an available 8 being played in a single show, outnumbering even the new material, it seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that "This is the best we ever were. This was our peak. Nothing we did afterward can measure up to this." Of course, fans of the band do not agree and I doubt the band sees it that way either. Many would prefer to see "Fingers to the Bone" or "Clearly Quite Absurd" substituted for "…Blind Man" and it seems that "Pictures of Home" and "Lazy" could be benched for awhile and replaced with some of their lesser-played brethren. I don't mean to put you on the defensive about this, but can you address this disparity between Machine Head material and… well, everything else?
Roger: See above.
Brent: I also love the cover art for ROTD. It speaks to the introverted spirituality of the record. I've heard Ian say that "we decided to write serious lyrics this time, because who wants to hear old men going on about their dicks." However, I can't think of too many instances of the sex/drugs/and rock and roll cliches creeping in until after you and Ian left. I best remember tracks like "Fools", "The Mule", "Child in Time" of course, "Mary Long", the mournful and excellent "Super Trouper", and the melancholy of "Our Lady". These were certainly songs that made one think a bit. Sure, sometimes the lyrics were good old-fashioned fast cars, fast women, and rock n roll, but I've always considered DP to be a thinking person's band. I know you and Ian are a team when it comes to songwriting. Can you please talk about this a bit?
Roger: When Ian says, 'we decided..." what he means is that as we worked, a vague spiritual direction was becoming apparent in the lyrics, at least to him. We don't plan an album to the point where decisions like that are made beforehand. Ian and I are a team but that doesn't mean we do everything together. Some songs are co-written, of course, but if he has something in his head I encourage him to run with it because we end up with a better result. Sometimes, one mind is better than two. I thought No One Came was one of Ian's better lyrics and that came entirely from him and couldn't have been improved with any help from me. He is the singer and as such must be comfortable with what he sings. Some of our happiest moments are when we are writing lyrics together; we talk about everything and anything and end up discovering songs.
Brent: I must ask, how do you feel about bootlegs? By that I mean fans sharing unofficial recordings with other fans with no money exchanging hands. I exclude piracy of commercially available albums because that's obviously wrong and we (my staff and I) do everything we can on the Hub to prevent that (quite successfully, too!).
Roger: It's reality. Whatever I think won't change that, but I don't condemn it - as long as it's honest, if you know what I mean. I have enjoyed a few things from the past that otherwise I would not have heard. At the very least it's flattering to the band. Thank you for your efforts.
Brent: Other bands, such as Pearl Jam and Dream Theatre, sell their own soundboard recordings on their official websites. Has Deep Purple ever considered doing this?
Roger: Not really.
Brent: Do you have plans to write an autobiography? If so, are you already in the process and when might such a book see the light of day?
Roger: A book has been on my mind for several years and I've written a couple of chapters but to finish it would require more time than I have to spare right now. I'll keep on working away at it but I doubt you'll see it soon.
Brent: "Snapshot" was a brilliant piece of work and is well regarded by fans. Have you been working on material for another solo record and when might that see the light of day? Is your personal creative process different from "group work" in that you think in different musical terms? Can you talk about the differences?
Roger: Thank you. During rare moments of spare time over the last three years I have stockpiled about thirty songs and ideas. I am planning to start recording in February 2007, working with same of the same musicians as on Snapshot. Writing songs for myself is a completely different process to writing with DP. At home I have total freedom to explore, given the limitations of my abilities and equipment, and I can dabble and build over a period of time. With DP it's an instant thing, we jam, we arrange, run it a couple of times until we can play it all the way through and then record it. The writing can hardly ever be preconceived. In terms of music, there is no difference - it's all music.
Brent: Do you have plans for a new solo album in the near future? If so, can you discuss the project, what it might be like conceptually, and what musicians you would like to have performing with you?
Roger: I will continue with roughly the same modus operandi as Snapshot, but who knows how it may turn out? Many of the lyrics deal with emotions I am going through at the moment, maybe it's my therapy? Joe Bonadio, Gillian Glover and Randall Bramblett will be involved, Joe Mennonna will be there along some others that will be new to me. Peter Denenberg will again co-produce.
Brent: Deep Purple fans, of course, want to see a new studio album as soon as possible. Can you discuss any plans for any future creative outings for Purple?
Roger: I doubt whether we'll be thinking about that until towards the latter part of 2007.
Brent: Creativity seems to have fallen by the wayside for many of Purple's contemporaries. Yes last had a studio album in 2000 and have now announced that they are on hiatus; there has been nothing new from the brilliant Jethro Tull besides a Christmas album since 2001; and there has been no new material from Black Sabbath since 1995. They continue to tour but their show have taken on the quality of being "nostalgia" outings. First off, THANK YOU to Deep Purple for continuing to produce new music and release new albums! What can you say about Deep Purple's continuing relevance in the rock world?
Roger: Our relevance in the rock world? I have no idea. I suppose our popularity, or lack of it, determines how many people we reach, and that possibly constitutes certain relevance. Are we relevant as groundbreakers? In the general scheme of things, not like in the early seventies, but maybe we are, on another level, by being just what we are - a band of musicians with a long past who still rock. In a large part of the world our audience keeps getting younger as well as wider and that means something. Or maybe we're just curiosities...
Brent: Lastly, I have a question that I like to ask everyone I know who, by the nature of their profession, have "seen it all". What is the strangest, most bizarre thing you have ever seen? This can be spooky, funny, or just plain scratch-your-head weird.
Roger: Checking out of a hotel somewhere on the last tour in South America, our tour manager, Spider, had packed and sent his suitcase to the airport only to find that he'd left himself without any shoes to wear. Wearing only socks on his feet he appeared in the coffee shop, ready to leave. Bruce was sitting at the same table having a coffee. He had also packed his suitcase and sent it off but then found he had left a pair of shoes out! He therefore had to carry them with him, the shoes were sitting right there on the floor as he spoke. Needing something to regain his dignity, at least to the airport, Spider tried them on - and they fit! What are the chances?
Brent: Finally, I want to thank you for all the years of great music and great performances. It's been an incredible ride. On behalf of the Deep Purple Hub, and myself I offer you a very sincere thank you.
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