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Deep Purple are having fun on stage again

Sydsvenskan, Sweden, Sept 9, 2003:

by Håkan Engström

A windy August evening in 2001, Deep Purple enters the stage on the "Hamntorget" square in Heslingborg. But something is missing: Jon Lord's moustache. Not only the moustache by the way, the entire Jon Lord has had to cancel and is for the evening replaced by organist Don Airey. The only musician on stage that has been in the band throughout it's long history is really Ian Paice, still it sounds unmistakably like Deep Purple.

The same can be said of the band's new album "Bananas" where Don Airey is a genuine member. How do you explain that? How do you really define Deep Purple?
- Everything is pretty mysterious, admits Ian Gillan, who after two long periods out in the cold has taken a firmer grip of the old hard rock institution.
- When everyone is relaxed and acts with self-confidence we all reach this which is Deep Purple, whatever that is. Less mysterious of course, is the fact that the band has a recognisable voice and a rhythm section that is welded together well. And that the audience has accustomed to guitarist Steve Morse and accepted him.

Deep Purple of today is as far as we can tell a very harmonious band, a band that communicates and are having fun on stage. But it has certainly not been that way all the time.
- No... some periods has been hard, Ian Gillan says with a laugh. When Ritchie Backmore left the band ten years ago it felt like everything hit rock bottom. It was a miserable period. Ritchie is a brilliant guitarist, but he has this entire guitar hero status to deal with. These things easily become strained.

But the miseries seems to be over. Gillan no longer has any real rival in the band; the moderator Roger Glover can entirely devote his time to playing bass. With Don Airey's entry into the band, the enthusiasm has gone sky high.
- We were sensing that Jon was leaving, his commitment was only half-hearted. That was a important reason the new album was late. But you don't kick out Jon Lord from Deep Purple, it had to be his call to leave the band. But if you haven't fallen out over anything it's hard to end such a long relationship. Finally he squeezed out that he wanted to do orchestral music from now on.
The choice of a replacement was pretty easy.
- Above all we wanted a good Hammond organist, and there are very few that plays Hammond really really well. Not the least important was of course that we get along fine together. We have known each other for many years and we share the same sense of humour.

More sensational was the band's choice of a producer, Michael Bradford who earlier has worked with among others Run DMC, Kid Rock and Uncle Cracker[sic!].
- One can not be prejudiced, that won't get you anywhere. He has entirely different talents that don't show in all contexts. Above all, he is a brilliant arranger.
- The hunt for Michael Bradford probably begun when I said to our manager four or five years ago that I wanted to work with Quincy Jones. He would be a fantastic producer. "He is a jazz producer", the manager said with a dry voice. But think of what he accomplished with Michael Jackson, fantastic stuff. Quincy Jones is an intelligent musician, focused, with an eye for the end result. Michael Bradford is the same type, a young Quincy. Besides, he was a Purple fan, that helps.

This is the first time since the reunion 1984 that the band has brought in an outside producer. Roger Glover used to have that responsibility.
- It's hard to produce a band you're a part of. Roger could never be that catalyst who contribute with his own perspective. We are habit people, together we easily fall into a setting that is comfortable. With Michael we were forced to be more disciplined and really keep a deadline. A lot was about looking after the spontaneous, care about the simple things. These musicians are so sharp, if you let them have their way they flip out on the most intricate stuff. That is just unnecessary. Better concentrate on playing the simple and necessary things with style.

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