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A songwriter that happens to play bass

Here is the second part of the interviews from the Japanese Burrn! magazine Deep Purple special, courtesy of Akemi Ono who graciously supplied us with the reverse translations.

Burrn! August 2020 edition

Roger Glover Interview

Roger Glover considers himself very lucky. At a bass players conference, he said “If you want to move forward, find 3 talented musicians and never let them go. I really meant it!” Roger took the interview over his phone in Switzerland. He sounds 20 years younger than his age.

Burrn!: I think Whoosh is one of your best albums in recent years. What are your thoughts?

Roger Glover: I am glad to hear that. Not many people have heard the album so far. There is always a danger that someone with a glorious past creates a parody of yourself, but I think we have avoided that. People ask us why we don’t write songs like Highway Star any more. We write songs the same way we wrote Highway Star. It just doesn’t sound like Highway Star.

B: Is it difficult to create songs with Deep Purple in recent times?

RG: Practically speaking, yes, as we live in different parts of the world. When we were younger, we all lived in London. But when we get together, there is magic. I never bring a complete musical idea, because I look forward to inputs from other members.

It is a great joy for me to play with such talented musicians. Even if you wrote the basics of a song, it could change completely with other members’ input. That could be a joy and a hardship. When you have 5 creative people in a room, of course there could be friction. That is helpful, unless it destroys you.

B: How has your song-making process changed over the years?

RG: It hasn’t changed. It’s been the same since I joined in 1969. As Ian Gillan says frequently, Deep Purple is an instrumental band with vocals. We cannot control Deep Purple’s sound, because it depends on how each member plays. The sound is the end product of how we play. We don’t have a defined style. We find the verse, we find the chorus, and when all the items are there, we finally add the vocals.

People ask me to analyze our music, but I cannot do that. We just do what we do. When Steve Morse joined the band in 1994, he asked us what we wanted him to do. We just told him to be himself. You can’t succeed in a band if you are not yourself. Band is not work, it is an “impact”. When we created Purpendicular, Steve played in his natural style, and our song-writing took a completely different direction. Some people may say that our albums in the last 20 years don’t sound like us, but that is fine. It is great to go on a music adventure. That is the essence of music.

B: You have spent a long time with Whoosh as the release was delayed due to the corona virus. Has that changed how you think of the album?

RG: The biggest difference is that as I talk to you, this album is already a bit of an “old” topic to us as we recorded it last August. It is a magical time for us, that people have not yet heard what we created. It is just ours. It’s like delaying the opening of a treasure exhibition.

B: Are you satisfied with your work from 12 months ago?

RG: I am very strict with our work. I remember that when we recorded In Rock in 1970. I was sitting next to Jon on a train to northern England headed for a gig. We finished the final mix 2 days ago, and I told Jon that we could have done better. Jon told me “We couldn’t have done better. If we could, we would have done it. Don’t think any more.” I find that difficult to do, decades later. Maybe because I am a producer.

B: You have produced Deep Purple in the past, but now Bob Ezrin is the producer. Do you like it this way?

RG: Yes. It is very difficult to produce your own band. As a team member, you try to satisfy everyone, but a producer’s job is different. The producer needs to determine what is required of a song and look at the big picture. There is a big risk of creating an “average mixture” when you produce your own band.

B: Your first album with Bob was Now What?! You had not released an album in a long time.

RG: Yes, we hadn’t created an album since Rapture of the Deep. We did tour a lot, but I wanted to make an album again. But I did not want to produce it myself. When we met Bob, he told us that he didn’t want to be a producer of a rock band that was past its prime. He said we should capture the magic of our live shows in the album. Don’t think about creating songs that will be played on the radio. Then suddenly, we were full of ideas. I think it meant a lot that Bob told us we could be as creative as much as we wanted to. I think Bob loves us as much as we love him.

B: Whoosh has captured the ability of the band completely. There are moments that the band’s technical skills are shown, and others songs that are simple and catchy. What is your favorite song on Whoosh?

RG: I could forget that I am a band member and listen to the album as a fan. As a fan, I do have favorite songs, but I can’t tell you because it changes.

B: Please tell us what is your favorite now.

RG: Well, today I like Power of the Moon and Nothing at All. I met Don at a bar the day after we recorded Nothing at All. I told him I can’t get Nothing at All out of my head. He said he was the same, that he keeps on singing the riff. It is very catchy. When we create an album, we don’t have a plan. It’s like having a blank canvas and a palette with paint. We start throwing the paint at the canvas, and see what happens. Sometime it could be a disaster, but I don’t think that was the case for Whoosh.

B: Why was the album named Whoosh

RG: Titles could be tricky. From the early stages of recording, Ian said that title was going to be Whoosh. It’s a phrase that the actor John Cleese used in the British comedy Fawlty Towers. John (playing Basil Fawlty) is thinking about how life goes by so quickly and says “Whoosh! What was that that went by? That was your life. It went by very quickly. Can you live it again? No, unfortunately, that was it.”

Ian has that kind of edgy thinking, and Whoosh has a distinctive sound. If we named it The Destruction of the Morgue, it would sound like we were full of ourselves. I remember thinking that the Beatles would never choose such an album title. We were capable of naming our album Bananas, so we can give whatever title we like. By the way, Bananas was my idea.

B: Please tell us about your relationship with Ian Paice as the rhythm section of the band.

RG: We’ve played together for so long, we know each other inside out. When I first played with Paicey, I was astonished. I am not a bass player at his level. During my first or second rehearsal with Deep Purple, Paicey came up to me and told me, “By the way, I won’t follow your lead. I will lead.” So I said, OK. I’m not a bad bass player, but he is a master player. I am a realistic person, and I didn’t want to be kicked out of a band I just joined, so I tried to follow him. And it worked out really well.

B: It seems like you preferred to be called a “musician” rather than a “rock star”.

RG: That is true. It feels good to be part of this band. We have been together so long, we know each other very well, for good or for bad. I am used to being noticed, but I do not feel good about being treated as a special person. In Switzerland, where I live, people do not notice me, so it is great. Once before the lockdown, there was an occasion that I had to print some pictures of myself and went to a local print shop. The store clerk asked me if that was my photo, so I said yes. When I went back to pick up the prints, 20 people were waiting with a print for me to sign. I know I should get used to this, but it is not what I want. Selfies are not good, too. Now they want proof that they actually saw me. This may not sound polite to the fans. And of course, I would be complaining if we had no fans.

I get noticed mostly when we are touring, but no so much in my daily life. Once, around 1988 or 1989, I was living by myself and went to a convenience store to buy some milk. It was Sunday morning, and I was in the line with other unshaven folks. All of a sudden, some one called “Deep Purple”! I thought I was noticed, but actually someone just said it because I was wearing a Deep Purple shirt, not because he noticed me. Then he said, “Deep Purple is not as good as they used to be.” That was what I was thinking at that time, so I said yes, without telling him who I was. It was good to hear an honest opinion.

B: Has lockdown given you time to think about your life and music?

RG: It feels like I am rehearsing for a future time when we are fully retired. People ask me when I will retire, and I tell them I’m already retired. The last time I had a job was when I was 19. Being in a band is not a job. I am very thankful that I could be in the same band for such a long time. But it is equally important to live each day now, as to be proud of Deep Purple’s legacy. We just have to make the best of each day. A bit of a zen feeling. When you get old, you understand that every day is important.

B: Do you feel sad that you cannot tour?

RG: Yes. It is difficult to face the reality that we cannot tour until 2021. I play the bass at home, but I cannot learn much. I need to play in the band, giving everything. The current situation makes us understand how lucky we were to be able to play on stage every night.

B: You have many loyal fans, but do you think there is a new audience out there waiting for Whoosh?

RG: Before a gig starts, I notice that many in the audience are younger than 20, and most of them have never seen us before. That is my recognition, and I am happy about it. But I have never asked myself whether we need a new audience. I have learned over the years that teamwork leads to success, including management, record company, good distribution, although when I was younger, I did not appreciate that. Many people “plan” for success or hit songs, but once you start planning, you start struggling to do things according to the plan. What happened to us, happened naturally. Our commercial success happened because the music was created naturally, not according to a plan.

I am a songwriter that happens to play the bass. I think my true passion is to create songs. I am proud of songs that I created in the past, and I am proud of the songs included in Whoosh. And I will be happy if people feel the same way. But I do not have expectations. People are free to have their own opinion about this album, and that is fine.

Comment to “A songwriter that happens to play bass”:

  1. 1
    Renzo Veneri says:

    Solo poche parole per dire ;

    Vi seguo da sempre e vi sono grato !
    Grazie infinite ..

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