[% META title = 'Deep Purple, Interviews' %]
Part 1-Ian Gillan
Interview by Mark Foster
The new album seems to have revitalised the original members of the band?
"Yeah, when I came back into the band a couple of years ago I remember saying to the manager that I only had one dream and that was for all of the individual guys in Purple, who are fantastic musicians, to regain their confidence."
Had they really lost their confidence?
"Well wouldn't you? Put yourself in their position, you can only be Ritchie Blackmore's backing group for so long."
Do you think that Ritchie wasn't happy?
"It had been building up a head of steam. He wasn't happy I was back in the band. I was back because the record company rejected the last album and said that they wouldn't release it unless they (Purple) got me back in the band."
So what happened?
"I had a bunch of tapes that they'd taken the voice of and I just had to work on it. I mean it was a work of art to be honest. "The Battle Rages On" was a very difficult job to do."
How could you work like that?
That's life mate, it does happen. You do the best you can. It's like a lot of marriages, you know?"
So did Ritchie tell you he was leaving?
"Well he (Blackmore) didn't actually speak to me, he hadn't spoken to me since the first day of the tour. It's like you blow up a balloon and forget to tie it up and it just farts off up into the sky."
What was your immediate reaction?
Did you consider not continuing?
"I didn't personally, no."
How long did it take the others to make the same decision?
"Three or four minutes. It was that easy after all the frustration and also after sitting down and hearing a few straight words from the management I think they all felt betrayed in many senses having given their loyalty and support to Ritchie for all those years. But anyway, these things happen and there's no denying he's a great guitar player."
Do you think Ritchie thought you wouldn't continue?
So who came up with Joe Satriani as a replacement?
"I think it was actually our Japanese promoter. We decided to go on with the band irrespective and it was Mr Udo who suggested Joe Satriani. So we gave him and he said that he'd love to do it."
Did it work well?
"Stunning, yeah. There are some bootleg tapes out of Japan that tell the story. Joe was no way a long term replacement but in the short term he filled the boots and then some."
Was he ever considered as a full-time replacement?
"No, not really. It was a stop-gap arrangement and in those terms you couldn't get much better than that".
So what type of guitarist were you looking for?
"It was more of a personality than a guitar player. We were looking for a great musician. If we wanted a Ritchie clone there are thousands of guitar players from Yngwie to who knows what, but that wasn't the deal really. Quite simply, the deal was five pieces of paper which we were all asked to submit with guitar players on so that we could then have a conference call a week or so later. When the manager phoned up he couldn't believe that there was one name on all five pieces of paper. That was Steve Morse. We were just drawn to him really, I mean, I've had Dixie Dregs since god knows when. I think he is a very tasty guitar player as it happens. He's a nice bloke to."
Did you know straight away he was the right man for the job?
"He's intelligent, he's got a sense of humour and he wanted to do it if it was right for all of us. You can't ask more than more than that."
Did Steve know much about Deep Purple?
"He grew up with Deep Purple music and whereas everyone else was still finding their feet again he would say `Hey, why don't we do something like Speed King!'"
Steve told me "Purpendicular" was a relatively easy album to make.
"Of course it was easy for him, he only lived an hour down the road from the Studio, the rest of us had to travel 3000 miles to get there!"
Why did you decide to record the album in Florida?
"We'd been at this studio three of four times before and Florida is a nice location. If you're going to spend a long time in one place then it's very good. It's easy to rent houses and there are lots of other activities going on."
How long did it take to record?
"The overall project took from February to September, which was quite a long time. It was basically like going to work every day. We'd start at noon and work `til seven o'clock. Hard work for a bunch of musicians who've got that creative bug back."
When was the last time Deep Purple worked like that?
"We haven't done that since 1969."
Was it a continuous process?
"No, we took a break and went off and did a couple of little tours (Korea, Africa and India) to try out some of the material we had been writing and when we came back from that we started recording. In the end we had to be dragged out of the studio. I think we had something like sixteen songs or more, so we were in pretty good shape."
Do you always come up with more material than you need?
"Well it's never happened before!"
Would you agree Jon Lord hasn't sounded this good since Machine Head?
"Since before then. Machine Head was actually quite a refined album. I think Fireball was the last time Jon Lord played like this."
I guess he must be pleased?
"Yeah, it brought a smile to the old boy's face!"
Who produced the album?
"We produced it ourselves, same as we used to. We haven't done that for a long time either."
You can hear absolutely everything that's going on.
"Well you're hearing the instruments without any overdubs, without any cultured add-ons or refinements. Without any fairy dust and without anyone in the background going `Oh my god, how can we make this sound good'. When the songs were recorded, they were recorded with the band playing as a band. Before you'd have the drummer putting down the basic track and then everyone would add their bits after it had been written. Then you have 96 guitar solos and Roger Glover would sit up all night taking a bit from this track and a bit from that track in order to make something presentable. It was a piecemeal production, a cold hearted professional and ruthless job. Never that bad, but never that good."
So it was much better this time?
"Yeah, it was. I don't think there's any substitution for free expression really."
Did you know that you were still capable of producing something as `Purpendicular'?
"Yes, otherwise we wouldn't have carried on. If we didn't know we had something like that left in the future I think we would have packed up a long time ago. There's always the knowledge that it's there, it's just the frustration of getting it out."
What do you mean by that?
"I made an album with Roger Glover after we'd finished the `House of Blue Light' album that came about because we hadn't got it out of our system. You're supposed to be drained after finishing an album, if you've got anything left in you then you haven't done the right the right job as far as I'm concerned."
Did you write all the lyrics on this album?
"No, Roger Glover and I wrote the lyrics."
I noticed that you're back to your storytelling best.
"They reflect an awful lot of adventures I've been through. I may have given focus to a lot of the stuff because I've had a lot of adventures. If you see a door with "Danger" written on it you don't go trough it then you're missing something. I hope there are two or three layers of understanding in those lyrics."
Where do you start?
"First of all they are written for the sound of the words, just so the words fit in and make a nice noise with the band. The stories come after that."
Did you ever worry about running out of material?
"There was never any shortage of inspiration. The only reason it took so long was because of the amount of music we had to work with."
So how do you rate this album?
"It's a breath of fresh air, that's all I know. It'll have to stand the test of time. We can only look back in a few years and see how it compares to the others."
How do you think the image of Deep Purple has fared recently?
"Faced of with onrushing middle age and beyond, it's been very difficult for the band to maintain their dignity and stop falling to pieces under the continuous bombardment. I think a lot of bands from our area have had to deal with this sudden turn in the minds of people who had been friendly up until the onslaught of ageism and `dinosaurs' and that sort of thing. Pretty thrusting personal attacks which you can survive for about ten years until you start thinking, `bloody hell, maybe I should quit'. And then you think `Well, let's just relax and have some fun.' `If that's what they think we might just as well enjoy ourselves.'"
It certainly sound like you have been enjoying yourselves?
"I feel fulfilled with this record, like I did with Fireball and no other record in between."
Has the friction in Purple always come about as a result of the class between you and Ritchie?
"I think if you can visualise a see-saw, Roger John and Ian would stand around the fulcrum trying to keep things balanced while Ritchie and I would stand on each end and every once in a while one of us would jump of."
Is Ritchie as difficult as he's reputed to be?
"In a word, yes. I used to room with Ritchie for the first year I was in the band and he was a really good friend. I know everything about Ritchie. He is difficult he is complicated and if and if he doesn't get it his way he won't do things."
Hence his departure?
"He's happy now, he's got his band again. If you listen to `Slaves and Masters' and the latest Rainbow album you'll see exactly what's in Ritchie's mind and the direction he wanted to lead the band in and as far as I'm concerned that's not a bad direction, it's just not Deep Purple."
Do you regret not parting company with him long before now?
"Some one said we should have kicked his arse twenty years ago an everything would have been alright . But it wouldn't have, you know, life just isn't like that . And I'll tell you something else, no matter what it's been like, and it's been sufference for all these years, the world would have been a much poorer place without people like Ritchie. It's just that Deep Purple is a better place without him."
So why did you all put up with him for so long?
"Well everyone else loved the band so much they got sick of the upsets and just started swim with the tide."
Would you say he's a bully?
"Yeah, he is a bully but let's face up with it, it was our fault for letting it happen. Anything for a quite life you know?"
Do you ever see Ritchie being involved in Deep Purple again?
"Yeah, quite possibly, but not when I'm in it though!"
What about the new line-up, do you think you'll make another album together?
"I think so. There's a real feel-good factor about this album but I guess we'll have to see how everyone survives this tour."
How long do you plan to tour with this album?
"For a year or so. I thought it was very important that we did a long English tour to get us back to our roots. It's a very quaint country England, there's no other country in the world with venues we have and I wanted us to take advantage of that. You can play to between 1,800 and 3,000 people in all these places and they're right in your face. They don't have to travel to London or Birmingham to the big venues as we're coming to there home towns . As soon as we get to Europe we're playing in venues five times the size, so the tour really kicks off in a mega sense once we cross the channel."
Will we still got to see Deep Purple improvise on stage?
"Yeah, much more so. Steve has played with some of the best jazz musicians in the world and he can't believe it. He said he's never played with a rhythmn section like the Deep Purple rhythmn and Jon Lord knows what he's gonna play before he plays it and responds before he's finished. I don't think you can ask for a much better endorsement than that."
Part 2- Steve Morse
Interviewed by Mark Foster.
Steve Morse was in New York putting the finishing touches on his latest solo album (due in March) when he made the call. After a brief chat about dentistry and rediculously tight interview shedules we got down the serious business of finding out just how he got involved with Deep Purple?
"I don't know who in the band was responsible for suggesting me but I know that Roger Glover had seen my band play and Ian Gillan had some (Dixie) Dregs records. As for the approach, my manager was quite crafty about it, he called me up and said `What do you think about Deep Purple?' and if I hadn't said something good I guess he would just gone on to another topic. But of course I did, so he said `Well there's a possibility of you guys working together, what do you think?' I said let's give it a shot and so the band designed a mini tour and rehearsal in Mexico to try out `the new guy'. Turned out that it worked real well because we were coming up with new ideas without even trying. Plus we all got along easy."
You can actually hear that on the album.
"That's exactly what I think. Chemistry is almost a luck issue, y'know."
Do you think they were nervous about taking on a new guitarist?
"The rest of the band finishing the tour with Joe Satriani was really good for me because it showed them that they could play with another guitarist and the audience would still love them. That was an important step for them and one that got there confidence back so they could fine tune their desire when it came to finding a permanent member for the band. I think that enabled me to be chosen rather than the biggest name hotshot , do you know what I'm saying? I don't mean that in a bad way, Joe Satriani was a great choice."
What did you think when you heard that they had got Joe Satriani to replace Ritchie Blackmore?
"I thought it was really cool when they hired him, I thought it was a bold step. I was encouraged by that especially as I think what Joe Satriani represents is a lot of guitar power, y'know, and I think that was a cool approach to take."
How did you approach the role as Deep Purple's new guitarist?
"With any project I do I try to fit in. Whatever the tracks needs, y'know. I don't care about anything else because it's a team thing."
How long did it take you to fit in?
"I felt good about the band and Roger (Glover) is such an eclectic guy that I was instantly at ease. When I got together with the band and jammed it was just too easy."
When did you know it was going to work ?
"It was a variety of things. First of all Jon Lord instead of saying `What was that?' when we were talking about a new part, instantly knew it. Whatever I played he instantly had something perfect to go with. The same with Roger and Ian Paice."
Did the knowledge that Deep Purple like to improvise sway your decision at all?
"That's what I love, in fact I improvise more with Deep Purple on stage than I do with the Dregs."
Are you sure?!
"With the Dregs we were so out of control that we needed some structure!"
Your arrival into the band seems to have had a positive effect on Jon Lord's playing in particular?
"Yeah, and I was really pushing for him to get back some of the sounds he had on Machine Head. So one day we were writing in rehearsal and I brought in a guitar effects box and put it on the distortion setting and stuck it inbetween the break between his organ and the Lesley. It turned out that he liked it and was switching it on and off. Then we took one of my guitar amps like Ritchie had done long ago and ran the organ through that as well. It blends great with the guitar I think."
Many of the songs have a live, almost jammed feel to them?
"That's exactly right . The parts that are recorded didn't take long at all. A lot of them were done live as a band, in fact `Rosa's Cantina' is just a demo that felt so good we thought `Hey, are we gonna do it again just for the sake of it?' If it feels right, leave it."
You were in the studio for quite a time according to Ian Gillan, why was that?
"The main thing that took time was the writing of the songs and figuring out which ones to do and which ones not to do. It also took time for Ian Gillan to come up with enough stories for the music."
`The Aviator' is instantly recognisable as a Steve Morse tune and a complate departure for Deep Purple, what happened?
"I'm a big fan of Led Zeppelin and I've always loved Irish folk music and that's always been a part of my roots. I just thought Deep Purple could use some of that feel to get along with all that heavy stuff."
How did you approach them with it?
"I think at first they were kind of `Steve's noodling in the background again', but then somebody said `That could well be something we could work on.' And that's a key element of this album-they've been open minded about everything."
How many of the new songs do you think you'll be playing live?
"I imagine about for or five at least."
Which ones would you like to do?
"I'd like to do ` Feel Like Screaming', `Cascades' , `Castle full of Rascals' and `The Aviator' or something like that."
What about the Purple classics, any new additions to the set-list?
"The most exciting thing for me is that we're doing the full version of `Woman From Tokyo' including the spacey middle section which is my favourite part."
How have you approached reproducing the solos on some of the classic tracks?
"Some of the solos like `Smoke ' and `Highway Star' have a shred of theme which I stick to but other than that I get to do my own thing. The same goes for `Child In Time', we stick to the guitar and organ theme that climaxes the song but outside of that I have free reign."
Finally, what do you think of Ritchie Blackmore as a guitarist?
"He doesn't go for a lot of distortion. Part of that has to do with the Stratocaster and part of it is to do with the fact that he doesn't like an overdriven sound. It sounds like he plays a tube amp very loud but on a clean setting where it's just the power tubes that are breaking up. He's a strong player and it seems like he's got a lot of fire inside and that's what I've always liked about him. He's got a very fiery, kind of angry, fast vibrato which I've also been accused of having. I don't think that's a bad thing, I think it's a cool thing!"
Transcribed by John Garmland.