Every interview with Deep Purple is special, no matter who is on the other side of the telephone line. This time it was Roger Glover, who gave us his insight about the new, 19th studio Deep Purple album, Bob Ezrin and much more. In the beginning he sounded a bit reserved and ready to attack and question everything, but later on he loosened up, made jokes and gave us a science fiction scenario about the future of music!
Interview: Yiannis Dolas
Rockpages.gr: Well, let’s start with the obvious question I suppose everyone made. Why did it take 8 years to Deep Purple to release a new album?
Roger Glover: Well, and I will give you a flippin’ answer I suppose, which I won’t! You know, we are a touring band. We tour, whether we make a new album or not. We are away a lot and I guess after “Rapture…” after three, or four years we thought about doing another record, but we didn’t know if we were going to make it, or not. Because, making a record these days doesn’t really matter as it did. Certainly, I wanted to make a new album desperately. I was disappointed about the sound of “Rapture…”, I mean there are a few great songs on it, and I wanted to do an album that sounded good. Three years ago we decided that we should make a new album, so we had a writing session. We booked a studio in Spain for 9 days, and basically we did 9 days of jamming, and we run quite a few things. Not finished songs, but jams, ideas. And then, just about a year ago we were undecided where we were going to do it, when, how with whom… and I think Bob Ezrin came to see us in Toronto and impressed us. We had a meeting the day after the concert, and he impressed us really much. And we impressed him apparently, he loved what he saw. And the challenge was to get that in the studio, to get that feeling, that fresh feeling we always get on stage into the studio. So, I guess with him being involved it gave us a great input and we worked hard. So, we had another writing session, we finished quite most of the songs, except the vocals. Then, we went to Nashville to record the album, he lives in Nashville, which is a great studio for all music, not just country music, great rock bands too record there. Anyway, having him on board gave us that influence to prepare, so in the studio we recorded the album pretty much live. There were not much added later, just a few solos and the vocals of course. It sounds pretty well, he mixed it really good, and that’s what I wanted, I am happy!
Rockpages.gr: How is it for an established band like you to work with an also established producer, like Bob Ezrin?
Roger Glover: Well, established is one word and “human” is another, you know we’re just people. Of course we are aware of each other’s past and we get on really well. I think he is becoming a very good friend, although we know each other for a few months, less than a year. We did most of the album in July, August, that period and in that time we came very close. He listened to us, and we listened to him. He knows we are a very good band, he knows we could play, he just wanted to capture that freshness, I think he succeeded and that’s what a producer does: he brings the performance out of the band!
Rockpages.gr: What really surprised me in the new album is that you weren’t afraid to have long tracks, longer than regular 4, or 5 minute rock songs, you went a little further trying new stuff that I haven’t heard from Deep Purple again, what do you think about that?
Roger Glover: Well, history is all that we’ve got, doing something new is very important without losing your identity. Sometimes you might become a parody of yourself, there is a danger if you are playing a certain way to sounding the same. It really all comes from the writing, and of course we play the same, because we have the same lineup, the same organ, guitar, bass, drums and vocals, that won’t change and that is our identity, the characters that we are. They way that we play, that’s our identity. So, we actually feel free to explore all kinds of music. There is no such thing to us, as “a long Deep Purple song”. “Deep Purple song” is whatever we play. If we started thinking what people would expect from us, I think we’d be heading towards the wrong direction. We’d be the tail wagging the dog. We have to be the dog!
Rockpages.gr: What’s your favourite track of the album at the moment?
Roger Glover: It’s probably “Weirdistan” above and beyond, but it changes. I’ve listened to the album a lot of course, and I’ve also listened to it a lot since it’s finished. I think it’s a good album, so if I am enjoying it, I hope that other people will. When we finished a sort of jam, and we got a rough arrangement worked out, I recorded it on a hand held digital recorder. In the end I didn’t want a number for it, I wanted a name so I turned to the band and asked “anyone has a working title for this one?”, and Don who’s been working on the riff in “Weirdistan”, because it’s his riff, shouted out: “Weirdistan”… so, I looked at him and said “all right”, it’s just a word I needed to identify it when I am going through 30, or 40 versions of the song. Then, when we went to the writing part Ian Gillan and I, we are working together on all the lyrics and the tunes, thought that it was such a damn good title that we decided to keep it, but the challenge then becomes what the hell you write about! Actually we went to a couple of re-writes on that song, it was not easy to come up with a theme, but I think what we came up with is really really good. I am very happy about it! it’s a riff that once you heard it a few times is not going to leave you. You will hear it in your sleep, because it’s simple and it’s different, it doesn’t sound like any other riff… you know I hear lots of rock bands, I am given CD’s all the time, and I listen to riffs and riffs, and riffs… it’s very hard to write a riff that stands out. It’s easy to write a generic riff, which is more like a rhythm part in a song, but the riff is a musical set of notes that just stands out. “Smoke On The Water” is a prime example of that. It’s simple and yet is unlike anything else, and that’s very difficult to come up with. So, I think Don came up with a real winner there!
Rockpages.gr: How much of the new album will you be playing on the following tour?
Roger Glover: I don’t know yet, I’d like to think quite a bit of it. We are off the road now, but next week we will be working on how much we are going to play out of it.
Rockpages.gr: Actually, it seems like that most of the songs on the album are mid tempo, or they build up from a medium tempo to a faster one. How did this come up? Was it by chance?
Roger Glover: We’re trying to do all of them in the same tempo, but the drummer is no good! I don’t know! A song suggests itself a certain tempo, there is no pre-thought about “are we missing a certain tempo?”, and “should we do a faster song”… we don’t think about that. The only time you actually think about that is when you are working on the running order. But, other than that we didn’t look back and say “are we missing tempos”? Every song we worked on, we worked on it to make it as good as we could, and that’s the end of it. But, I never notice that, I just hear songs, I don’t hear tempos.
Rockpages.gr: Don Airey seems to have taken a more space in the band’s sound in this album comparing to the last ones you made with Don. On the contrary I must say that Steve Morse’s presence especially in the solos was more descript. Do you agree with that?
Roger Glover: Yes, I think he tamed himself down a bit… I think a lot of that would be going to Bob. Bob and Steve know each other from before. That was the first time we met Bob. I think there is overall feeling of the album, we wanted it to sound good, and the other was that we wanted to be a bit simpler. When you are such a good musician is hard to stop. When I am talking about good musician, I am talking about Steve Morse, and Don Airey. They always want to challenge themselves, and sometimes it gets a little intense. Most times you have on stage is when you play a good solid simple riff. So, we didn’t plan it that way, there was a talk amongst us over the months and in fact that’s why we came up with simple songs.
Rockpages.gr: So, “Now What!?” is your 19th album, do you think that there is going to be a 20th one?
Roger Glover: Oh, I’m not counting! I hope so, we had so much good time with Bob, and I think he wants to make another album with us, and he said so! The final e-mail I got from him was “when is the next one?” I think it was a good match and I’d like to do it again. We have 3 or 4 years of heavy touring ahead…
Rockpages.gr: I hope that this tour finds you in Greece for a couple of dates…
Roger Glover: I hope so, there is a great audience in Greece, really fantastic, really wild there!
Rockpages.gr: Oh, you know it’s the Mediterranean temper I guess it’s pretty hot…
Roger Glover: Yeah, I know probably because of the heat!
Rockpages.gr: Having a plain and simple cover like “Now What!?” can be a good, or a bad thing?
Roger Glover: I don’t know! The record company came up with that. We love that symbol; I think it’s very strong because it stands out amongst a lot of records. Personally, I’d like to see something a little bit more artistic, but you know that’s what I think. I still think it’s very strong. As much as “Now What!?” as a title goes… Oh, I didn’t like it at first, but I like it now, because it’s got the word “now” in it and it’s us now… and who knows what’s around the corner? Now What? What’s next?
Rockpages.gr: I really licked your new promo pictures that are out on the street. It’s great to see a band like you having such good promo photos.
Roger Glover: Well, we were lucky enough to work with a great photographer. He is a very famous German photographer, there are magazine articles about him, he’s written books, he is on TV all the time, he is very famous photographer and we spent a day with him in Berlin, in the street, in the studio, we had lunch and he kept taking photographs. And yes, I agree with you, I think they are great. The one looking down the street is one of the best photographs of Deep Purple ever ever seen. The record company set up all this for us. They are very excited about this album… and they’ve been very patient and very good with us…
Rockpages.gr: Which is something original, as with poor albums sales you’d expect from a record company to have a totally different attitude, putting pressure on the band, and stuff like that…
Roger Glover: Yes, you would, wouldn’t you? They guy who is in charge of the record company, first of all was a fan. When I first meet him years ago he was a fan, and he was a fan of music in general. He is a lovely man and he believes in us. And he’s been working hard. Of course album sales are doing bad, and it is rare. However, when you do something you have to do it 100% no matter the outcome.
Rockpages.gr: I would like to ask you something about the future and the format of music, the format we buy music. First it was vinyl, then it was cassette tapes, then CD’s now it’s downloading files. What do you see coming next in music as a product?
Roger Glover: I see that when you reach the age of maybe 9 years old, you’d be going to the hospital and you’d have an implant put above your left ear. And another implant put on your right ear. And all the music in the world that ever was around will be easy and available for you to hear and you’ll hear it! That’s a bit of science fiction here for you! I don’t know what the future is, who knows? If you do then you could be a very successful man!
Rockpages.gr: Do you think that bands are going to release their albums through their websites, or they are going to address their albums to their very loyal fans, or they will ask their followers to fund their new albums?
Roger Glover: Albums has become a niche market… albums are not written off, and I think CD’s are probably the same. Of course music is going to be internet based, it is now! I buy my music through the internet, I don’t go to a record store, because there aren’t no record stores. I was in the UK the last couple of days and walking around the shops I found a shop that was selling vinyl albums and I paused and I thought “wow! That’s a rarity!” but unfortunately I didn’t have time to go in. in fact, I can’t play vinyl albums now, because I don’t have a player…
Rockpages.gr: In the ‘70s when the “Deep Purple In Rock” album was out Deep Purple were pioneers. What are Deep Purple now?
Roger Glover: Once you been a pioneer you don’t get to be a pioneer in the same way. But, in a different way you are always a pioneer if you once were. I think that we have a view of music that what we play, and what we write, more importantly what we write, is something that hasn’t been done before, so in a way you are always try to pioneer stuff… the first time the record is set, you can’t ever replicate that, it’s only for that first time. It’s what you do after that… and we really do the same thing now, as we ever did, it’s what pleases us.
Rockpages.gr: When you were in your teens, and you started playing in bands I guess you were having a good time. Now, after all those years, do you get the same satisfaction when you play?
Roger Glover: No matter what age you are, when you play you are back at that age of 15, 16, the age you started playing. You have that same thrill, that thrill is still there, I think it’s intensified. Back then it was just a thrill, now is a thrill you still do it after every moment on stage. One day I will not be in a band, I hope it’s long before this happens, that day will come and I will certainly miss what I am doing, so I enjoy every moment.