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The drill sergeant you love

Steve Morse, Toronto, Feb 12 2012; photo © Nick Soveiko cc-by-nc-sa

Steve Morse spoke to Innerviews, which resulted in an interview that is as interesting as it is long. Set aside some time and read it in full. Meanwhile here is a morsel to wet your appetite — Steve talking about Bob Ezrin:

This is the third album in a row Bob Ezrin has produced for Deep Purple. You also worked with him on Kansas’ In the Spirit of Things in 1988. What does he bring to the table that serves the band so effectively?

He’s like the designated chairman of the board when it comes to discussions. He throws in his opinion, but it carries a little bit more weight because he’s done so many great albums. He’s also one of the smartest guys you’ll ever meet in terms of memorizing the complicated details of a tune and what you played within it. He can hear all kinds of possibilities in his head. He’s always willing to jump in there and help you if you can’t come up with an idea you like. But in general, we write on our own and then he comes in and says “Here’s what I like. Here’s what I don’t like.” That’s been helpful to us, because it helps improve the arrangements.

Behind the scenes, when the rest of the band isn’t there, Bob seems to really get a lot out of Ian Gillan. One story I love is when Ian and Roger Glover were talking about lyrics and melodies amongst themselves in the rehearsal room, a voice from across the room, 50 feet away, would go “I’m not liking this.” [laughs] Bob would be looking at his iPad or laptop and typing and look up and tell you what he thinks with that big city, no-nonsense voice he has. But it’s serious enough to definitely make them stop and rethink what they’re doing. It’s also simply frank and inoffensive when he does that. He’ll do that to me too when I’m trying to do a line, melody or solo. If it’s too complicated, he’ll say something like “Morse, save it for your solo album. Give me something solid.” [laughs] He’s sort of like the drill sergeant you love.

As for how he’s changed across the three albums, I think he knows what I’m going to do before I do it now. And he wants me to play more like David Gilmour would and less like I would. In other words, he wants something spectacularly melodic and simple. That’s a huge challenge. What ends up happening is I do what I do and to some extent, I do bend to his wishes. He’ll take out a couple or even several solos. He’ll cut out pieces he thinks sound closer to what he’s envisioning. So lately, I end up with solos that are more clean and simple.

It’s a trust thing. I have to trust that his decisions make the song better. In a band in which everybody’s throwing in ideas—and I throw in a lot of ideas—you can’t be right most of the time. People will have their views. It’s more comfortable for me to just play in my style and relax. That’s what I do. But in a band, you have to take the support role most of the time. Everything I do is based around what’s going to fit the song in the eyes of the producer.

There is more in that vein, about the current pandemics, how it affected Steve’s life, music business, and society in general, how he sees his place in the band, his osteoarthritis, the 2018 Dixie Dregs reunion tour, the Flying Colors, how to do mixing in the garage with a toddler crawling around, and many, many other things. Read it all on Innerviews.

Thanks to Anil Prasad for the info.

4 Comments to “The drill sergeant you love”:

  1. 1
    Aireight says:

    Great interview. A lot of things about which I wasn’t aware. The new album is really good, including the remake of And The Address. It’s interesting to hear where that “came from”.

  2. 2
    mike whiteley says:

    From the Bob and Rog chat on the DVD, it’s obvious that BE takes some credit for, and delight in, reining in Steve’s solos.
    Not to mention…..is there ANY rhythm guitar on Whoosh ?? I certainly can’t hear it.

  3. 3
    Attila says:

    Uplifting reading:


  4. 4
    Buttockss says:

    @3…. No USA….Go figure, everthing is hip hop, rap @ pop music. They must all think Deep Purple are all dead by now!

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