[% META title = 'Ian Gillan, Interviews' %]
The interview was carried out by Doug Anderson, and a local journalist. This is the full transcription of the tape, and was originally presented in Purple People Paper No. 1
Any memories of past visits to Morcambe, Garth?
GR: I've got fantastic memories of Morcambe. 1964 was the first time I played Morcambe, with a band called Episode Six. we played on the pier during Scottish Fortnight (Morcambe was a popular holiday destination for Glaswegians during the 2 week trades holiday . DM), and it's the old thing of when the fighting starts, the band keeps playing. Within minutes there were wrestlers, that were working here as bouncers, and I'll never forget this, it was the biggest fight I've ever seen in my life. There was between one and two hundred people, and a scrap that looked like it came straight from a Popeye movie. Clouds of dust, hands and legs coming out of this huge thing, and the wrestlers walking around, with their gloves on, pulling guys out, popping them, laying them down and the old boys in their uniforms would drag them away and lay them out in rows! It was sensational. Coming back here was so different to then. Tonight there was such a genuine warmth, and you're meeting the sort of person who never got to Wembley or the N.E.C. It's sort of ironic that the last show I did with Purple was at the Giants Stadium in New York with 75,000 people, and I gotta tell you that I got more of a buzz from tonight than I did from that night. 'Cos you're wearing the audience, you can smell them, you can taste them, you can feel 'em, you can touch 'em. It's just one of those things I miss desperately.
That's the main reason for getting the Moonshiners together, then?
GR: Yeah, Deep Purple is making an album this year. We start in a couple of weeks, writing in Vermont, (the voice fades a little at this point and lowers to continue) and it's going to be a sort of on/off sort of thing. The album is going to be out in January of next year. So between all those recording sessions, once I get rid of this cold, I know these guys in Liverpool, we can just phone up and book things at a couple of weeks notice, and go out and do some shows. There are also songs emerging that means I may be doing a solo album alongside. Two songs in the show, particularly "Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos" and "Ain't that loving you Baby" are looking good as far as the basis of ,er, perhaps my first solo album.
Is that going to be with the Moonshiners or Roger Glover or just yourself?
GR: I don't really know yet. Roger and I did the arrangement, we were talking about it for ages, but if I do it as a solo album, I would like Roger involved just on that song, you know. He's busy doing production and stuff at the moment. He's doing the new Purple album, we're doing other things, you know, everyone's busy.
Do you find that your band tend to get left behind or do you try to give them an equal share of the spotlight?
GR: No, we're working this with these guys starting of as a kind of backing group, but I think they felt, it's kind of difficult working with a guy from Purple and that they have to kind of do this, and I'm having to hold them back and say "Listen guys, just groove, you know, just stand there and relax", and everyone's trying to go crazy. Mark, the keyboard player, is a natural showman, so I let him do that. Everyone else I'm saying just stand there and get in the groove, and do this music. You don't have to make any effort apart from musical effort, and let your personality come through. Smile and play your music. That's what we're here for. We're not trying to play Wembley Arena or anything like that, we're playing Rock'n'Roll music, so let's do it right! So there's a great atmosphere, we share the same dressing room, we share the same drinks. They are a backing group, but I think as time goes on the audiences, they spend the first couple of numbers looking at me, and then they start looking around at the rest of the guys in the band, and the chicks say "Well, he's a good looking guy", you know, look at him. That's the way it goes.
You are playing mainly Northern gigs, is there...?
GR: The guys are based in Liverpool and can't afford the bus fare to go further South.
So there's no chance of playing in Scotland then, either?
GR: Yes, absolutely. We had some people yesterday saying are you going to come up and play Ayr Pavilion, which would be an ideal gig for us, absolutely superb!
What about further North?
GR: Yeah, well, what I think we'll do is as we have gaps, we will select an area and put together a little package in that area, instead of doing a nationwide tour. We'll do it the way we used to in the old days - do a few gigs in a certain area, like Scotland, or Yorkshire, up to Newcastle, Midlands, Cornwall, Portsmouth, Southampton - great Rock'n'Roll areas. You'll notice that I'm not mentioning London very much, because the trouble with London is that nothing's real in London. It's all fantasy land. Nothing is real at all. And so when you get there, you're not prepared to be dealt with like a fantasy, so you've got to be like, strong. No good. As far as I'm concerned, the whole reason for all these things is meeting people, sitting in the dressing room, jawing away.
You're obviously trying to keep it low key?
GR: Well it starts off, it's on two levels. the persona of Garth Rockett is humorous, and the kids who come along know. They've read the biographies, and they know that when I was a kid, when I was 16/17 years old, I went out, my name was Garth Rockett, the band was the Moonshiners. So, the true fans know all about Garth Rockett, and when we start doing the program we're doing, and enjoying our music, it's not going to be in the national press, it's not going to be anything else, "What's he doing?", whatever. They know what we're doing and as we go along the road, gradually, I guess, Ian Gillan will emerge from the Garth Rockett thing. But only when we've done enough to make ourselves feel comfortable.
So the gigs are going to be in between laying down vocals for the new Purple album, or do you go in at the end to record the lyrics?
GR: Normally, I get presented with an idea, a groove, a rhythm, a riff, whatever, and then it's normally Roger and myself who write the words and tune. And we've got to that stage now, where we have to sort of get on with it.
Do you know if Jon Lord is actually doing a new solo piece, as in a recent Metal Hammer interview he denied it, though a friend who has been in touch with him has mentioned it? Was he just keeping out of the light, so as not to spread any more rumours about a split
GR: He's been commissioned to write another orchestral piece, but that's the last that I heard. What will happen with that I don't know! Jon's, if I could use a showbizy expression, Jon's a Darling, and absolute Darling, and a man of extraordinary talent. I love dearly. Whether he's going to do that I don't know. Jon Lord's the kind of guy who goes jogging with a book in his pocket, runs out of sight of his wife and sits down on a park bench to read the book, and then sprints the hundred yards back home with a sweat on his face, and pretending he's lost ten pounds in weight. But he's a diamond. I shouldn't have said that should I? (laughs). Inside information!
Is there any reason for not including a Purple track in the set?
GR: Yeah, absolutely, and it goes hand in hand with the Garth Rockett thing. If I'd announced these shows as "Ian Gillan" then... It's funny, talking to promoters I say, "Announcing this things as Ian Gillan, well a lot more people would have turned up", and they're saying "Yes". But a lot of people would have turned up knowing me to be the singer with Deep Purple, and would have expected to hear Deep Purple songs. As Garth Rockett, only the people in on the joke, or in on the original story of Garth Rockett, in other words my true fans, are turning up, and we'll build it from there. And they're not disappointed, not one person, doing it the Garth Rockett way. Not a single person in the audience is expecting to hear a Deep Purple song. If I'd done it with Ian Gillan you would have probably had a lot more people queuing up for tickets, but they would have been a lot more confused about the situation.
And how did you find your visit to Morcambe?
GR: Well, it was great. We were in Manchester last night and we found our way out of Manchester. Manchester is really, um...I've never really come to terms with Manchester. It's not like Liverpool, or Southport, or Morcambe, Oldham, Preston. It's not like that. Manchester's like a right snotty town. It's very difficult to find exactly where the people are, the right people. So we came out of Manchester and headed up to Morcambe, and we didn't know where we were staying. We didn't know where the gig was. "The Gardens"! The last Gardens I played was Madison Square Gardens, so I realised it wasn't going to be a big gig. So we were driving up and down, was it Marine Drive?, or something, and there it is or whatever, and right across the road was this beautiful, I mean what is it, 1930's?, architectural wreck of a hotel (The Midland Hotel). Is the pier closed yet? I need to know this as I'd like to do a gig there if it's possible. I'd like to do a session there during Scottish Fortnight. Scottish Fortnight on the pier, it would be wonderful. We can finally...We could wreck it...We can do it... We can put it into the ocean. So we cruised up and down, and it was a windy day today wasn't it? That's all I'm going to say (Laughs again). Let me say that on the wind of fortune, things blow into your life, and a few things blew into my life today, which I won't go into...
This place has grown as a rock venue. How does it compare with some of the places you have played?
GR: These are the places I love. it's got the same atmosphere as famous places like the Marquee, in London. These are the places where people can reach you and touch you, sweat, they can talk to you afterwards, you van have a pint with 'em, and they all know what the music is about. They know, they can see if you're bleeding. The great thing is if you've got a really snotty cold, you can actually say "Stand back, I give diseases". They laugh and they understand. You try saying that at Meadow Lands, or Giants Stadium, and they won't know what you're talking about, 'cos there you have to deliver the image of a showman. Here you can deliver a real show and it's very special. I love it, a very special place!
Getting back to Purple, is there any chance of an official video of a whole concert, I know you've done...?
GR: I'll tell you a story. there's a fantastic video which is under wraps that we made two years ago at Newhaven, and it was seven cameras, 48 track set. I saw the rushes after the show and went down to the basement, watched it. It was fucking brilliant, and it's on ice because of contractual difficulties, and consequently will probably never get shown. it's sensational.
I know this one track from the Providence show on the EP...
GR: Providence? Maybe it was Providence. Providence, Newhaven - same neck of the woods, New England.
It was really well put together..
GR: If it was live, it was Providence.
What about the earlier stuff? '72? I think there's a video from Copenhagen going around. I think it's available in Japan - a black and white film. I don't know if you know about that?
GR: You've lost me totally there.
What do you feel about the Stockholm album from 1970 being released, I don't know if you know about that either?
GR: Well, I actually thinks it's...
I know you don't like live albums as such..
GR: Ummm, I've changed my mind. I love 'em all now, but I prefer bootlegs.
Well, this has been a bootleg actually, and I think that's why they released it, 'cos it was quite popular
GR: It's been released has it?
Officially , yeah, that's why I think there's mention of releasing the Copenhagen video in Britain as well, even though it's only in B&W.
GR: I'm not being rude, but I haven't a clue what you're talking about (More Laughs).
At that, a voice says "Give it a rest", and the interview ends. A second interview was planned, going into a bit more detail about Ian's career, but had to be canceled when Ian's sacking from Purple in May '89 meant he couldn't give any interviews for a few weeks.
On a final note, Gillan, or rather Garth Rockett, never did get his wish to trash Morcambe Pier, and it has since been demolished... In saying that, the town is becoming popular again as a holiday destination, and there have been some mention of building a new pier, so maybe Garth'll will just have to trash that instead.
Typed up by Doug MacBeath