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INTERVIEW – Roger Glover, Deep Purple – June 2013

| 16 August 2013 | Reply


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100% ROCK: Roger, how you doing?

Roger: Hello, hello, hello I’m fine thanks how are you?

100% ROCK: Excellent, very good indeed today actually. Thank you for your time, much appreciated.

Roger: Not at all.

100% ROCK: Where are you calling in from today?

Roger: We’re in Bulgaria.

100% ROCK: Of course you are.

Roger: Doing a rock festival tomorrow I think, or the next day, I don’t know. Today’s a day off, so it’s a good day.

100% ROCK: Excellent, that’s nice. This must be the crazy life of a rock ‘n roll star eh?

Roger: You know it’s as crazy and then not as crazy as you can possibly imagine. It’s actually very mundane at times… it’s just a weird existence

100% ROCK: Definitely.

Roger: You know, you travel altogether on a plane and then you get to the hotel and everyone goes to their solitary confinement.

100% ROCK: It’s definitely a life less ordinary I would imagine.

Roger: It is, yes. Yes it is.

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100% ROCK: So your new album is excellent, it’s certainly got some great reviews and for myself, I’ve had it on high rotation for a week or so now. I’m loving it. It’s really really good. How do you and the band rate it amongst the canon of Deep Purple’s work?

Roger: I think actually we rate it pretty high. Sometimes the banter in the dressing room, or after show they’re having a beer somewhere, talk to various members and all of a sudden we’ll talk about the album and how great it is and how we enjoy listening to it ourselves.

100% ROCK: Excellent.

Roger: Yeah, it’s very nice to get an album like that.

100% ROCK: For sure. The late Jon Lord’s keyboard sound is so integral to the personality of Deep Purple and Don Airey does a wonderful job channeling that character right through this album. When he joined the band did he have to alter his natural style of playing to emulate that sound a little bit?

Roger: [laughs] It’s strange. I mean the Hammond organ is the Hammond organ and it obviously sounds the same whoever’s playing it. But what they’re playing is totally different. Don first came in … Jon was ill for a tour and he was going to come in … Don was going to replace him for four days of the tour. And then Jon, when he got better, was going to join us. Well Don ended up doing the entire tour as it turned out.

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The first night we played was in Denmark I believe, Arhaus or something like that, and Don just had a couple of weeks to learn from a tape and learn the parts. We didn’t really have time to rehearse; we just had a sound check, so he was pretty nervous. We got through the show and he played great. There were lots of, you know, come in now, here’s the chorus … lots of little nods to the arrangements.

Afterwards, I went up to Don. I said, ‘Don you did a great job, that was fantastic man!’  He said, ‘Well, I tried to be Jon for about a minute and then I realized I just had to be Don.’ And actually, that’s the best thing he could’ve said because you can’t replace anyone. You can only replace the position. Don and Steve have both done stellar jobs with doing that.

100% ROCK: That’s what I like about it. There’s just so much about their own personality there, though, despite Steve being around for 20 years, Don has been in the band for over 10 years now. They both still, certainly the eyes of some fans or the public at large, are a little overshadowed by Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore. Do you think that will ever change in the minds of the public?

Roger: Probably not because it all comes from the 70’s, that period of amazing success in the 70’s with Smoke in the Water and Made in Japan and so on. That is really the core of what Deep Purple is as far as nostalgia goes – and it’s great. You can grow old with it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think people will always think of us as Smoke in the Water and Highway Star and so on.

So yeah, it is difficult. We’re determined … Actually the only way to circumvent that is not become a parody of yourself and actually feel the music that you’re feeling right now without any reflection to the past. In this album it’s pretty much recorded live, very much like we used to do. And it’s got a certain honesty about it that reminds me of that.

100% ROCK: Very much. I did read that you whacked it out really fast with Bob Ezrin producing.

Roger: Well you know we’ve played together a lot so we know each other a lot. We tour all the time so as a band we’re a pretty cohesive unit. And everyone is a quick learner. When you are quick learner, your first take or your second take is going to be the one – after that you start thinking too much.

The instance of making a record is capturing that moment. If someone fluffs up, you do it again and again, and by the time you’ve done it eight or 10 times you’ve lost the spark. It may be perfect, but you’ve lost the spark of that initial [thing] that we’re trying to capture.

100% ROCK: Yeah, cool.

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Roger: All those recordings were done in one or two takes. It didn’t take long.

100% ROCK: Excellent. It sounds it … as you say, it’s got that energy and that spark to it. It’s really cool. The album’s been dedicated to Jon Lord and certainly there are some lyrics in there which you could definitely take on aboard that that spiritual afterlife side of things, especially Above and Beyond is a beautiful lyric. Knowing that he was ill when you all went into the recording studio, did that influence the approach to the songs at all?

Roger: No, actually. Yeah, of course we knew he was ill, but we thought he was doing well. We thought he was … He was full of optimistic talk. I called him before we went to Nashville and had a nice chat. And none of us really knew what was going on – we thought he was responding [to treatment]. He was full of plans. He wanted to do this and that, projects he wanted to work on. He wanted to get back to playing the organ in a band kind of thing. He was full of good optimism.

I think it was only Ian Paice, who is closer to him than anyone else because they married twins, so Ian Paice and Jon were brothers-in-law. I guess a couple of weeks into his sessions Paice said to us one day … He said, ‘Oh Jon’s not doing too well’, you know. Oh dear. Two days later he died. We were expecting it, but you can never expect it.

100% ROCK: Very sorry for your loss as well as everyone’s loss.

Roger: Yeah, everyone’s loss, but you know he was a friend and that’s hard to lose.

100% ROCK: Absolutely. There’s some fantastic lyrics on the album. Does Ian Gillan write all the lyrics or do you guys chip in as well?

Roger: No, we write them together.

100% ROCK: Well, there’s some great lyrics on the album there.

Roger: We collaborated. Thank you, thank you. It’s always the singer that gets the credit for the lyrics, but Ian and I do write a lot together. This was actually a really good meeting. I went down to his house in Portugal and we spent a week there just jamming them through. It was a great experience. I really have fun with lyrics, we enjoy writing together.

100% ROCK: Yeah, some of it … There’s that dry wittiness to some of them and some of them, like I’ve already mentioned, Above and Beyond is just a beautiful lyric from start to finish. It’s wonderful, really, really good. When you guys write, does the music come first or the words come first or is it each song’s a bit different?

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Roger: It’s always been the music first. It’s the way we’ve written since our younger days. It’s an instrumental band. It’s a band full of really good players. The music has to sort of dictate the feel and the groove and the direction. [The lyrics happen] only after we’ve finished a track – we will leave spaces for verses and choruses and whatever.

It’s only after the track’s finished that we will sit down and listen to the track and then try to figure out, what is the melody going to be over it, is it going to be a soft song, a moving song; you know that general mood. Then we have conversations about life’s about, what’s in the papers, about experiences we’ve had. Out of that there comes tons of ideas of songs. As long as you have a focus for a song then you can just have a bit of fun with it. I must admit, we both like to write rather ambiguously.

100% ROCK: Yeah, there’s some nice nuance there.

Roger: Because everyone makes their own meanings up if it’s transparent enough, or if it’s not transparent enough maybe that’s the better word. Like Dylan’s lyrics, you listen to a song and think, what’s he going on about? They’re actually all about things; it’s just that you make up your own truths to it.

100% ROCK: Musically speaking, it’s obvious when listening to the record or any Deep Purple record really, you’re all virtuosos. You’re magnificent players. Is it a really fine line to keep pushing each other musically like that? Is it a tight rope that you could fall off at any moment?

Roger: Gosh, that’s a good question. [laughs] The thing about … I don’t know about other bands, but this band … It feeds on music. You can’t stop it. It’s pouring out. Don would go the gig three to four hours before everyone else just to warm up and play. You’ll always find him with headphones on, practicing the keyboards. Steve practices all the time he can. He couldn’t let a minute ago by by wasting it. Paicey and I are a bit more laid-back in that respect … you know, in practice like that. When we play together it all just clicks and the love of making music is really what drives everyone forward because there’s no fear. [pauses] It’s the talking part that’s harder to deal with! [laughs wryly]

100% ROCK: In the 40+ years that you’ve been playing with some of these guys in the band has the way you work together shifted in this dynamic at all?

Roger: That’s an interesting question. I’ve never actually thought about that. You certainly get to know each other. Paicey and I together … and I know when I first joined the band I started trying to push the music thing on Ian … And he got up from behind his drums and walked past me and said, ‘Oh by the way,’ he said, ‘I lead and I don’t follow, okay.’ [laughs] and it’s pretty much remained that way.

He’s a force unto himself. He’s a complete rhythm section on his own. So the best I can do really is just complement him. And yeah, I got to know him … I know when he’s going to do a fill or where he’s going to do a push note and I’m usually there with him, which is surprises both of us at times. He’s a wonderful drummer to play with. I couldn’t wish for anything better, he’s great.

That’s the main key to the band; we all enjoy playing. We really, really get off on it. It’s all the other stuff we have to deal with; the travel, the loneliness in the hotels, and the weird situations you find yourself in on the road. Playing on stage: that’s the magic moment; it’s great.

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100% ROCK: That almost telepathic connection that you just referenced; do you just fall into that or do you have to keep rehearsing so much? Or have you guys played together so much that you don’t need constant rehearsals, you just go out and do it?

Roger: We’re not a band that enjoys rehearsals much…

100% ROCK: That sounds very diplomatic!

Roger: [laughs] The thing is we all play. Once you know what the arrangement is, all the certain little details, you do your rehearsing in front of people. You actually score it in front of people. There’s a difference between being in a room by yourself and being on stage in front of thousands of people. You play differently. You have a different attitude. Then that’s when the song really works is when you’ve got that adrenaline going through. All you can do in rehearsal is just tidy up endings and beginnings and arrangements and stuff. It’s really when you play it live that the test is there.

The phone line from Bulgaria drops out, but we are quickly reconnected…

100% ROCK: Roger, I’m sorry about that. I could hear you fine then, but you couldn’t hear me, apparently.

Roger: No, I couldn’t hear a thing.

100% ROCK: Okay. Let’s blame Bulgaria for that one.

Roger: I’m glad you’re back.

100% ROCK: Thank you so much. I was asking that…

Roger: You ask some very interesting questions.

100% ROCK: Well, that’s good. Thank you for saying that. After being interviewed by every man and his dog for so many years. There’s always the fear that as an interviewer, you’re not going to be able to do anything interesting and discuss questions that everyone has asked before.

Roger: Well, you’ve succeeded.

100% ROCK: Well, I’m going to have a glass of wine after this to celebrate. Thank you. [laughs] I was just about to ask you. I believe Bob Ezrin approached the band to produce this album. He’s more well-known for more conceptual records, or progressive rock records, rather than a straight hard rock thing. Was there much to-and-fro between you, the band and him, in order to confirm that you’re both in the same page, so to speak.

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Roger: It was. Yes, there was. It was pretty instantaneous. He [initially] wasn’t sure that he wanted to produce us, apparently. He said at one point, that he didn’t want to be the guy known for doing old acts, older acts. Anyway, he came to see us in Toronto, and I guess seeing us live energised him, and we had a meeting the next day and he said some wonderful things. He asked us what we thought and what we wanted out of a record, and so on and so forth. We hit it off. He suggested Nashville. We said, ‘Great, why not.’ During that, the whole process, he gave me a lot of credit as a fellow producer. It was fascinating to watch him work, knowing the way I work, as well. We’re on the same lines. He referred to me a lot. It was nice to collaborate with him. He was wonderful in the studio. His mix is really… it blew us all away.

100% ROCK: Well, the album does sound fantastic as well as being full of good songs, yes, it’s got that real vibrancy to it.

Roger: He was great. And we’ve become good friends, so that’s nice.

100% ROCK: Excellent. I don’t mean to be morbid, but with the passing of John, has it made the band more aware of your own mortality, and of the band’s mortality?

Roger: Um, no I don’t think. I think you’re aware of your mortality all the time, regardless of Jon. It’s only that you get to an age when friends start dropping off, it’s quite alarming. You realize what age you are, no matter what age you think you are in your head, which is, for me, 19. You do realize your age, of course. But I don’t think about it. It’s not a morbid thought. I don’t dwell on it. I don’t think any of us do.

100% ROCK: There’s no more sense of urgency …?

Roger: No one knows what’s in the future. You could see Deep Purple with long grey hair or no hair sitting around and playing the old songs in their 90’s. [laughs]

100% ROCK: Very good. There’s no extra sense of urgency other than the natural one that’s there, in order to say something creative or artistic, before your time runs out then?

Roger: Yeah. No. I don’t think we do on that level.

100% ROCK: You’ve been described as the “all around nice guy” in the band. After so many years of getting chauffeured in limousines from hotel to gig, to press conference, and have fans falling over you, and your face in magazines and newspapers, left, right, and center, is it difficult to keep your feet on the ground and not let your ego get carried away?

Roger: No, it’s not difficult. My feet are certainly on the ground. It’s a strange life because on the one hand, life is extremely normal. I have children, and a family, and etcetera. And then, you sort of get on a plane, you get off, and you have to turn into some kind of rock star. It is a bit odd, but it’s a dual life. It’s two lives in one, in fact. We have two families. We have a family in the road. It’s a wonderful thing. I highly recommend it.

100% ROCK: Well, look, it’s been wonderful speaking with you. I’m sorry for the drop out in the middle there. Good luck with the album and the tour. We’ll look forward to when you get back to Australia.

Roger: Thank you very much, Shane. Pleasure talking to you, mate.

100% ROCK: You too. Thank you, Roger. Have a great day.

Roger: Bye.


Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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