[% META title = 'Ian Gillan, Interviews' %]
2MMM: First of all Ian welcome back to Australia. This is
about your 3rd visit now?
2MMM: Tell me about your new band.
IG: It's a 3 piece, first time I've ever worked with a 3 piece, um, 4 including me, I should include myself. That's 2 Americans, the wishy-washy rhythm section as I ca11 them from San Francisco. Leonard Hayes plays drums and Brett Bloomfield is the bass player. The guitar player is Dean Howard.
2MMM: He's a change isn't he from the current album isn't he, from the Toolbox album.
IG: That's right, we changed the guitar player at Christmas. Steve wasn't hacking it on stage. Nothing personal but the chemistry just wasn't right, you know and, um, things have just slotted into place since Dean's been in the band. He's got music in his body. I like a guitar player who sits himself down on one hip when he's playing. I think you can tell someone who's going to get the groove, you know, 'cause it's the body language, the whole thing.
2MMM: Now, the day we're doing the interview, the listeners won't know this, but it's the morning after England beat Australia in the one day game so I don't mind now reminding you this year's your 30'" year as a professional singer. That's just to get you back a bit. But what's significant about that is, on the Toolbox album, I mean the singing is really exciting and there's a song called "Don't Hold Me Back" where you hit those high notes just with ease. I mean, you must be very pleased with the way you're singing after such a long time?
IG: Yes. I think there are 2 or 3 things that have happened that have really kicked me up the j ack so and make me pull out the stops again. One was getting squeezed out of PURPLE .... Which made me sit back and take stock. Um, another one, I quit smoking last year, um, approximately 9.25 on 2" December 1991, give or take a minute or two, was when I had my last cigarette. And the .... fact we dispensed with the keyboards has got a lot to do with that, strangely enough. 'Cause keyboards were becoming such a dominant part of the music, such a, that even when they weren't soloing there was this wash of sound.... Uh, and you sit in the studio and hear things sounding as good as that and it kind of makes you lazy, you know, you feel that there's no gaps for you to do anything. You don't, there's no need for you to drive it along. Whereas, you dispense with the keyboards, um, first of a11, your guitar player gets a lot harder 'cause, you know, he's got all this space. The rhythm section takes off, and it's an area, and then you get the feeling ofhow it used to be back in the early 60's, how you used to have to drive the band along.
"Don't Hold Me Back" played.
2MMM: On the Album Show tonight on MMM and K-ROCK my special
guest is former DEEP PURPLE singer Ian Gillan. Just mentioning the
60's as you did then, what led to you getting the job singing on the
original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar?
2MMM: 'Cause you were unknown to most people then.
IG: Yea, that was, it was Tim Rice heard me singing, um, with Purple in the clubs in the early days when we were recording Deep Purple In Rock. And I think he came along and heard the set and they were just putting this thing together, um, and they were out ofbudget so we settled for a royalty (laugh).
2MMM: Bad move. Those 4 years, your first stint in DEEP PURPLE you recorded 2 of the, well, best hard rock albums of all time - Deep Purple In Rock and Machine Head. Were they happy times and exciting times for you then, looking back?
IG: Very. Yea it was wonderfully exciting. I think, you know, if all the ingredients are there you work for years and years and, you know, the formula changes - you try and replace people and improve the band all the time.... Until you get something that's settled and then something like Purple comes along. And it's not only a great band, it's happening at a time when it's cool to like that sort of thing. So, you're doing something you really want and it's coinciding with public taste. That means you're going to have a lot of success.
2MMM: What got you to leave in 1974?
IG: 73. 30'" June. In Osaka. When I'd given my notice in 9 months beforehand...
IG: I was getting bored out of my brain. I thought it was getting really boring. They hadn't changed the set for about 2 years. Um, it wasn't the band I joined, simple as that. Rock music is not, for me, um, there's that sort ofbig rock and roll freeway, you know, and everyone's sort of drawing ahead here and there, and going, it's just a, I'd like to get out in the hills every now and then and take the scenic route and I think it's important to come back refreshed, you know, back on the highway. Um, I think if you try to, um, try to recreate the formulas that weren't formulas in the first place. It was just human chemistry. If you try to recreate those, um, you get this vast machinery around you - advisers and producers and managers and record labels and they say "Well, look, you know, this was a hit record - Woman from Tokyo was, and Black Night was and Smoke on The Water. And you should be doing that sort of thing." Now Ritchie's very alert for that kind of thing, I mean, as you can tell with Rainbow, I mean, he's very, he's got a good ear for a pop hit, you know, um, but I think DEEP PURPLE is far more than that. I always believed that completely that those songs were there by fortune as much as anything else. Um because they were the radio playable songs off of the album. Um but there was a far richer sort of tapestry to the music. Um and in the early days it was great because of the excitement in the rehearsal room that's how the songs were written, um there was no question of lyric or melody. It was just a question of the arrangement was there almost before the song was and, um, that was Ritchie's big mistake I think – refusing to share the song writing. Um, he thought it was just a question of notes and tunes and guitar solos. But to ostracize someone like Jon Lord from the creative part of the band is beyond my comprehension.
"Highway Star" played.
2MMM: The album show here on MMM and K-ROCK. Was it a mistake to
re-form or get back with the others in 1984?
IG: Not really. No, I thought it was pretty good. I thought, you know, for one album, it was OK and then the whole sorry mess surfaced again. I mean, (pause - laugh) maybe it was a mistake I don't know (laugh). I enjoyed it at the time - I was so excited. I had the thought that at least we may have been able to put the problems behind us, you know, and with maturity that some, that some of the problems that we couldn't understand would have been dealt with a little easier the second time around but something about human beings that separates us from all the other creatures on earth, you know, we learn from our mistakes (laugh).
2MMM: Did you enjoy your year with Black Sabbath?
IG: Loved it.
2MMM: Did you? Was Tony Iommi good to work with?
IG: Tony's great. He's a real, dear friend of mine and I have got, I think, more (pause) wild rock and roll memories of that year than I have of the other 28, 29 years - all put together. The wildest year I ever had of my life - crazy. And the only negative thing about the whole year was the fact we allowed Geezer Butler to produce the album or to finish the mix which made it unplayable because if you leave a bass player alone in the studio you're going to get terrible results as far as the sound is concerned. But I thought the album was really good actually and if you can hear under the muffle, under the blanket of bass, there's some great songs on the album I think.
2MMM: This is the last thing I'11 ask you about DEEP PURPLE but what did you think of them getting Joe Lynn Turner backes a singer?
IG: (pause). That was very hard to answer when it first happened. It's like watching your old lady with another man, you know, it's very difficult to, well I don't know how good he is (laugh) - don't ask me that question. And so it used to be quite a sensitive area. But as time goes along and confidence creeps back in and that sort of thing, I suppose, I've got to say it doesn't sound like DEEP PURPLE to me. It sounds like a fine professional band but, you know, I think it really is Rainbow under a different name. Politically it's Rainbow. I mean, the power of the band, it's in Ritchie's hands and the management of Purple, throughout that whole Perfect Strangers period, was Rainbow's management. And so, it.. there was a political bias there. Um, but you know, my dearest friend in the business is Roger Glover. I've worked with him for 25 years on and off, and, so, even if just for his sake, I hope it does well. But I think it'11 take a record or two to re-establish their sound and I think the traditional Purple fans will find it difficult ever to swallow. Um, but, there's always new people coming along and they'11 make a new audience for themselves.
"Smoke On The Water" played.
2MMM: Former DEEP PURPLE singer Ian Gillan, Do you get people, I'm
sure you do, yelling out for THAT song during your performances now
- for Smoke on the Water?
IG: Which song is that (laugh)? Smoke on the Water?
2MMM: American Pie.
IG: American Pie? Err....
2MMM: Do you do any DEEP PURPLE songs in your set?
IG: Yea. I think it's vital to do that. I mean, DEEP PURPLE is a big part of my life and I'm very proud of having been in it and I think (pause) if I was in the audience I'd want to hear some Purple songs. So it's very difficult to strike a balance between, um, sort of a nice gesture to the past and relying on it, you know what I mean? Um, I was talking to Robert Plant about this at the Marquee and he wasn't doing ANY Zeppelin songs at all at that time, and it's very, very hard to make that break and I don't think I ever will make the break. I don't think it's necessary if you get the balance right. So we're doing 3 or 4 songs. We're doing "Black Night" and "Smoke On The Water". Um, and a couple of less, um, well known songs, things I always wanted to do with Purple. "Maybe I'm A Leo" - we did that once or twice. Um, and a song we only ever did once with PURPLE, "When a Blind Man Cries". And Ritchie got sick for about the 3' or 4'" time and we had to cancel a Canadian tour and there was a lot of pressure not to cancel the tour. So we got a replacement for Ritchie. He was only going to be off for a week or so and we got Randy California in and it was great, absolutely phenomenal. And we did a show at the Maple Leaf Gardens and, uh, he said "Do you mind if we do the song "When A Blind Man Cries?" He said "I love the song?" Yea, sure, so we did it. And it was killer, just killer. And I mean the show went down so we11, it raised the roof. And I could see all these tense looks back stage as I came off and I thought "miserable load of sods!" you know. And he was fired after the show 'cause he went down so well. Ritchie phoned up. I guess if we had failed miserably then.... Ritchie didn't have any threats to his position, he didn't have to feel worried or anything like that, but, so the tour was cancelled anyway, till he was well. So, and that was the only other time I did it.
2MMM: Look, it's been great to talk to you this evening. It's great to have you back in Australia. You know you've got a tremendous lot of fans in this country that love the DEEP PURPLE music and love what you're doing now with your 4 piece. Continued good luck with your recording and thanks for all the great music.
IG: Cheers, mate.
"Hang Me Out To Dry" played.
2MMM: Ian Gillan's new band, named after himself, Gillan, and a
track called Hang Me Out To Dry. And the opening track of our
interview tonight was called "Don't Hold Me Back". As you can hear,
he's in fantastic voice for that long and if you'd like to win a
Interview transcribed by Colin Hadden
Slightly edited and transfered to HTML by Andreas Thul