Machine Head goes Bananas over
it feels right, we do it"
REUNION NURTURED IN GREEN MOUNTAINS
Author: By Steve Morse, Globe Staff
Date: 02/28/1985 Page: 10
The quiet resort of Stowe, Vt. might be the last place you'd expect to find a rock band the Guinness Book of Records has called the loudest in the world. Yet Stowe's upcountry setting was exactly what appealed to the English group Deep Purple, which lugged tons of equipment into a ski house last spring to record the album, "Perfect Strangers." The album has sold more than a million copies, helping the band launch a totally unexpected comeback tour that stops at the Worcester Centrum for three shows starting tonight.
"In Stowe, people accepted us as just a bunch of long-haired idiots that rented the house up the road,"
recalls Purple's bassist, Roger Glover. ''Stowe is a small town and most people didn't give a damn who we were."
It was in Stowe where Purple, authors of such high-decibel classics as ''Smoke on the Water" and "Highway Star," picked up the thread of a career that had snapped in 1976 when the group quit from mutual boredom.
Glover and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore later formed the group Rainbow and rehearsed in Stowe, so the Vermont town seemed a natural site for an attempted reunion with former bandmates Ian Gillan (vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards) and Ian Paice (drums). Another factor was that Purple had never enjoyed the usual urban rehearsal spaces where groupies, journalists and record label types hang about.
"The initial idea was just to go to Vermont and jam around to see if we had any music to make,"
Glover said by phone last week from Detroit. "But in fact, we enjoyed it so much we decided to stay and do the album, because once we settled into one of those big ski basements it seemed pointless to move everything to some strange studio location. So we just put the mobile (studio) in and did it. Sometimes the line of least resistance is the best one."
Before going to Stowe, there was endless pondering about whether to have a Deep Purple reunion at all. Singer Gillan, it turns out, was the catalyst. He won out over the objections of Glover and Blackmore even though
"he nearly blew it" by getting drunk at an early meeting, Glover recalls.
"But he just kept saying, 'Reconsider, reconsider,' so we finally gave into him in the end. He just made more phone calls than anyone else,"
Glover laughs. "And now he's the happiest man in the world. This was his dream and we just didn't see it for a long time.
"There was always a very big question in my mind about a reunion, because I've fought against one for the last six years," Glover adds.
"I thought we might be an anachronism. I thought we might not belong in 1985 and that the so-called legend had become bigger than the actual band was. But all these doubts were completely dispelled by the first jam we had."
"After two minutes of that jam in the ski house," Glover says with emotion rising in his voice,
"there was a big grin on my face and a big grin on everybody else's face, because it really was a moving experience."
"I'd played with a lot of musicians and I'd never really thought of how much importance is attached to the word 'team' or 'group.' Playing together is just not like playing with anyone else. It's very difficult to define and it sounds trite, but there was something there - a spark, a chemistry, a magic. You can use all those words. And from that moment on, I thought: I don't care what anybody thinks about us, whether they think we're an anachronism or not."
"All I know is we have fun together and we can make music together. That's the bottom line."
The recording of the new album, which has yielded the hits "Knocking at Your Back Door" and the Led Zeppelin-ish "Perfect Strangers," deepened this rediscovered camaraderie.
"We also found an English pub run by a mad Englishman," Glover chuckles about the watering hole known as the Pub at Stowe. "We used to hang out there most nights. We spent many an evening in there, sipping English beer and reminiscing about old times. It was a very enjoyable album to make. If there was any pressure, it was well-concealed. We tried to make it as natural and non-pressured as possible. Several people brought families and children over, and we basically spread ourselves around the town and rented condos and houses or whatever. But most of the time we spent together."
Deep Purple's reunion has not escaped the wrath of cynics who feel they're just out to make money. Glover has heard these remarks, but denies them with brute frankness.
"If a cynic wants to say it was lack of money that brought us together, then there's nothing I can do to change his mind except to tell him that it's not true,"
he says. "It's not that I'm being hypocritical. I certainly will enjoy making money - show me the person who doesn't - but it's not the priority. The main reason is music."
The band's recent success has not only flabbergasted many outsiders but also the group itself.
"To be successful in one generation and successful in the next is something I never would have dreamed of, but we seem to have it,"
Glover notes. "Many kids are coming to the concerts who have never seen us before."
So the crowds are pretty young, then?
"Of course, there are the old people, er, the older people, I should say," Glover laughs.
"You know, the ones who want to remember what they did in college. People all the time come up and say, 'Hey, I used to smoke pot and listen to you guys in college.' Or 'I grew up listening to your music.' And I usually say, 'Yeah, so did I.' But most of the crowd is young. I think they just want to see what all the fuss is about."
Some of them, no doubt, also want to see just how loud Deep Purple plays. Is the volume still at a
"Well, that was never something we really advocated," he answers. "We just happened to like playing loud. That old Guinness Book of Records stuff doesn't mean anything. I even like to listen to classical music loud, simply
because it has more power. Loudness is not a bad thing. We've always played loud, but we don't play to the point where it's crushing. We like to put little dynamics in our music, so therefore loudness is used intelligently as opposed to how some bands use loudness to cover up faulty technique."
The return of Deep Purple also means the return of good old-fashioned spontaneity on stage, as opposed to the cautious, overly rehearsed programs of many modern hard-rock bands.
Glover candidly admits that Purple, when it left Stowe to then rehearse its stage act in the tiny English market town of Bedford, had to send the roadies out to buy the old albums so the group could remember the old songs. Most Purple songs shift around from night to night anyway, he says.
"There's always something different going on," he says. "I can't stand to see bands that have rehearsed to such perfection that they're like machines. You know, at a certain point in a song - maybe halfway through the chorus - they'll walk to a certain spot on the stage and then they'll be picked up by one of the lights. And they'll always acknowledge the crowd at certain points, or the lights will be put on the crowd at certain points. It's too worked out. I've seen too many bands like that, and that's really only cabaret. That's not live music."
"I think rock 'n' roll is live music. It's living and breathing as you play it and is subject to change."
The band's freewheeling nature no doubt helps explain why it has sold out three nights at the Worcester Centrum.
"The joke on the tour is that we should come and do a month of shows there," Glover concludes.
"Maybe we should even buy houses and live there. It's wonderful."
"When we first heard the news about Worcester, it blew us away. That one show sold out in what - 43 minutes? And that 2000 to 3000 kids were camped out for tickets? There's no way you can express how you feel about something like that. It's just great. I'm just really thankful, and gratified by those people. They're the people who are doing it. We just make the music. That's the easy part. They're the ones that make it successful."
Transcribed by Maurice Dagenais