Shockwaves: What is the mood shaping up to be for this record?
I can't find the words for it, it's instantly recognizable as Purple. A big range of stuff. I've never been into bagging things so I don't know. How do you see Deep Purple fitting into today's marketplace? Haven't got a clue. I'm not being evasive, I'm just giving you an honest answer. I have no ambition and I have no idea where we fit in. I am very content and full of energy. What can I say, the band is cooking! That is all I know - steaming!
Shockwaves: When do you know when a record you are making is a success?
When we sign off - I mean that artistically. Commercially I don't know. I'll tell you a story. I have kind of a child in here (points to chest) and friends come around to drink beer or play pool or whatever to my house. Of all the records I have done, the one most in demand, the one we listen to the most, is the least successful commercially. The States is one story, it could be a totally different story to the rest of the world. The average age of our audience in Europe is about 18 years old, more today than in the early seventies! When we opened up a couple years ago on an 18-month world tour in England I took my daughter to the first six shows, and on the last show I said, 'Who let all the kids in?' She said, 'Dad, you just don't get it do you?' Only old fat audiences in the US? (with laughterÉ) Generally older - it's different here!
We haven't been around for a long time, and therefore the cool factor is missing. We haven't had a successful record in America for a long time, and therefore you are not on everyone's list. We have been toddling along underground quite happily. I'm very pleased with that. If we coincide with public tastes then you get a hit record. It doesn't affect the quality of the record.
Shockwaves: Do you think there is a different mentality here in the States as opposed to the rest of the world?
No, no I don't. It is the way that the business turns over. You know, you get a thing happening in Seattle or Manchester and there's a shark attack; you know? The whole industry just throws blood on the street and they sign everything that moves. And then one or two will be successful and the rest will have their careers ruined because they will always be remembered or defined with that kind of sound. I am trying to avoid that sort of thing. One of the secrets of survival is being quick on your feet. Trying to avoid that kind of categorization. Just run for the hills every time someone tries to bag you.
Shockwaves: When Deep Purple first started in 1969, was the environment more productive to a band's creativity?
Yes, but I think things are turning around for the better again. I sense the industry is becoming aware of the fact that there has to be more creative input, and it's not just production, and it's not just marketing videos and stuff like that. I feel quite a coming out of good talent in the next year or so, in the States, at least from what I've been able to pick up.
Shockwaves: You also did a solo record last year called Dreamcatcher, how does that fit into the Deep Purple scheme of things?
It doesn't really, it is another picture. Same as when Steve Morse does his solo record, Jon Lord just did something as well. If you got the idea for a song, you write it. If they don't fit with Purple, or if Purple isn't doing a record, then you work on another project . We've never had any problem with that. I've done hundreds of different things with different people. I just enjoy the change of pace. It keeps you alert.
Shockwaves: Finding new talent, producing, is that something you are interested in?
No, I'm a lousy producer, but I want to do everything myself. I do appreciate new music, and I do appreciate other bands - anyone with talent. I don't just like one kind of music. When I'm in Spain, I like Spanish music. When I'm in Georgia, Ukraine or Pakistan, I listen to the local music. Each music has it's own flavor.
Shockwaves: I think Dreamcatcher shows that quite a bit.
God knows where it comes from! Some of it is from Scotland, my father is Scottish. I didn't want to do a rock band kind of thing. I wanted to have some acoustic instruments, hand drums, hand pipes. Again, I have no game plan, it wasn't meant to be a formulated thing, the key to it all is to be expressive. That is your job as an artist, to be expressive, to say or write what you feel. When I was a kid I used to stand at the front of the stage watching Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, they were my favorite band of all-time. I was watching the singer and I wanted to stand where he was. It wasn't because I wanted to be doing his job, it was because he was nearer to the band than I was. That was where I wanted to stand when I was a kid.
Shockwaves: So it is still fun, not a job?
Of course! Working with strong individuals like Blackmore, Tony Iommi, or now Morse - has that helped or hurt your personal creativity? Everything is an education. When I worked with Sabbath, 50% of it I enjoyed, 50% was okay, and 50%...oh, that was three 50%! So 150% of it was divided into three segments. Part of it was good fun, part of it wasn't and part of it was an education. It was very interesting for me to be in a position that, for example, David Coverdale was in when he took over for me in Deep Purple in the '70s. Singing songs by Ozzy wasn't too different, I could relate to that. But the stuff that Ronnie Dio had done was a little too much on the structured side for my liking. That was hard to do. It didn't feel natural. The roots of the music didn't come through. Ozzy and I grew up in the same environment. The reason I got into Sabbath wasn't engineered at all; they just needed a singer, we got drunk together, and I ended up in the band for a year.
Shockwaves: What happened when you left Purple in 1990-91? When Joe Lynn Turner stepped in?
I got fired in 1989!
Shockwaves: Clarify that - Why?
I was about to leave, I didn't like the way things were going. It was like in 1973 - we were going down the wrong road, and I said so. So I was fired. We were in a nosedive approaching terminal velocity. We were playing poorly, Ritchie was throwing tantrums all over the place, which is funny once or twice, but we hardly ever finished a show. It just gets weary, you know? People get pissed off. Purple ended up working like a backup group for Ritchie. It was not nearly fulfilling its potential as a band. But that's ten years down the road. We are in a much stronger situation now. This is a very prolific group of people. There is a lot of writing. I can't tell you how many projects I am working on at the moment. It is so nice to move from one project to another. I have an outlet for all my ideas.
Shockwaves: Is Deep Purple still the main creative outlet then?
I wouldn't say the mainÉ Deep Purple is the main thing in my life. I think it always has been. At times Purple has gotten out of whack, a bit eccentric, and I think we're back in a good phase now. Certainly I try organizing my own projects around Purple. I am very passionate about the band, in a very English sort of way.
For up-to-date information on the band, visit their home page at www.deep-purple.com or visit their label at www.cmcinternational.com.
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