FOR THE FINAL two interviews with Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover, we adjourned from the wine bar and the interestingly-named 'Antico Room', where Deep Purple were rehearsing, to a nearby Bedford hotel.
"...I never liked what Deep Purple used to do in the old days. I never thought we were that special, I couldn't understand why people bought the records..."
GB: Most of the guys I've spoken to so far seem to regard 'Perfect Strangers' as the logical successor to 'Machine Head'. Does that hold true for you too, Roger?
RG: I don't know, that's for other people to comment on. Being so close to it, I can't really judge. I'm sure, for some people 'Perfect Strangers' isn't going to be enough of a step forward, whereas others will probably reckon it's too much of a progression. It's a very subjective point of view.
So like I say, I really don't know exactly what I think of the album at this moment in time. Normally I can't listen to any LP I've made until it's been on release for about six or seven years... only then can I start to give it any kind of serious honest appraisal.
Having said that though, I must admit I never liked much of what Deep Purple did in the old days, anyway! I never thought it was that special. I had a great time with the band all that - but I could never understand why people bought the records! But that's just me being super self-critical, I guess.
GB: Is there anything you recorded with Rainbow that you're particularly proud of then?
RG: I find that the tracks which work the best are the ones you don't really care about. There's a number we did with Rainbow, 'Jealous Lover', that was just a complete throwaway. But there's a feel about it that's priceless. It was a total surprise and it caught on, especially in the States.
I'm not a great musician myself, I've got no particular technique that I have to protect, so I tend to take more of an emotional approach. I think - and I'm speaking as a producer here as well as a musician - my prime objective is to capture a piece of emotion on record. If the inherent feeling is there on a certain track then it doesn't really matter if, say, the drum fill isn't as good as it could have been.
GB: I get the feeling from some of the other band members - Jon Lord in particular - that they wish the Mark Two Purple had never broken up in the first place. How about you?
RG: I'm not so sure. After we split, we all shot off in our own directions and pursued our own goals with varying degrees of success and happiness. In the process, we all learnt a hell of a lot about ourselves... things which we may never have known had we stuck together. And I'm sure that's got a lot to do with the positive feel behind this new record. Someone told me the other day that, listening to 'Perfect Strangers', he could hear all the influences of the various projects we'd been involved with in the intervening period: Rainbow, Whitesnake, the Gary Moore Band or whatever. I don't know if I can hear that myself, but I'm quite prepared to believe it's true.
It'll never be the same, we're not trying to recreate what we did in the past, there's no way we could ever compete with that. But if we can just recapture the spirit of the way we felt back the, then that'll be just great. And the spirit can be summed up in two word: 'F**K IT'. In those days we went, 'f**k it, we're going to do what we want to do; it's not commercial but what the hell.'
GB: Purple are/were a legendary band, and...
RG: This so called 'legend' crap just makes me sick. Sorry for butting in here, Geoff, but to tell the truth I've always been very wary of a Deep Purple reunion. I thought the 'legend' had grown far bigger than the band ever was. The danger was that we'd be overawed by it, that we'd be kind of bowing down before that 'legend' thing. But if we can regain that spirit of 'f**k it' then all will be well.'
GB: So, when you were first approached, you weren't exactly keen on the Purps joining forces again?
RG: No. You see, I was sure that the first album and tour would generate an enormous amount of interest based solely on curiosity. And, to me, for a band to simply capitalise on this 'curiosity value' is not a good enough reason to reform. What we needed was sufficient strength and motivation to go beyond that, to make people buy the second album and go see the second tour.
It sounds absurd, I know, but we're in the strange position of knowing we're going to be successful. It's whether we can carry it through the next time around, that's the real crux of the matter.
GB: So what finally persuaded you that the DP reunion was A Good Thing?
RG: Well, for six years or so I'd been vehemently against it. I went into the initial meeting we held in, at most, a kind of 50/50 frame of mind. But when we finally sat around the table, all five of us, it... this sounds stupid... but almost immediately I could detect a certain magic feeling, a definite spark of excitement in the air. And so I quickly went from 50/50 to about 70/30. And then, after we'd spent some time playing together, I became 100% in favour. Really, it felt that good.
The parting of the Mark Two line-up was not pleasant, it was fraught with all kinds of tensions, but it always felt... Put it this way, it's kind of like when you're eating a meal and someone takes your plate away and you're still hungry. I suppose I felt, with Purple, that deep in my heart I wanted to finish that meal. But in the back of my mind I thought it might be a mistake because the meal might have turned cold...
Ha! This analogy is getting beyond me. The real reason I'm here now is because I enjoyed myself when we first met and jammed together and I felt that, yeah, we had something good to say.
GB: How do you view your time spent away from Purple, playing in Rainbow and carving out a name for yourself as a record producer? Do you feel you made many positive career statements?
RG: Well, in personal terms I'd say I had a quite a successful period, I was pleased with most of the projects I was involved with. But, in the eyes of world, no-one measures success like that - it's more a case of how many platinum records you have on your wall. I suppose, once Purple split, we all felt the need to prove ourselves. But none of us ever did, really. Deep Purple was a phenomenon and nothing any of us ever did could touch it.
GB: What was it that made Deep Purple so successful in the first place?
RG: Don't ask me, I don't know what the f**k it was. I can't sit down and theorise about that sort of thing. But... yeah, OK, there was that chemistry between the five of us. Whatever it was, however many problems it caused us, it was obviously a very big reason why the band worked. Why it's working once again now.
GB: Most press reports are portraying you as five lucky geezers getting back together again to make millions of dollars...
RG: We will make plenty of money, and that's great, that's a fact. But I know the real reason why I'm doing this, and it hasn't got anything to do with my bank balance. I can't answer for other people's blinkered attitudes and prejudices.
GB: Musically, do you think you've been 'saving yourself' in any way for this Big Event?
RG: No. I've always put 100% into everything I've ever done. If you're an artist of any kind, that's what you always do, there's no holding yourself back.
There was a couple of riffs that hung around in Rainbow for three or four years that we could never quite make work. We'd try and try, but nothing would ever happen with them. They were good riffs, but they just wouldn't fit. Then, just for laughs, when Purple were rehearsing up in Vermont, Ritchie dug out one of those riffs... and, what do you know, it worked! You'll find it in the middle of the title track of the new album. Now that's not saving yourself. That just comes back to the 'chemistry' thing I was talking about earlier.
Purple is like an old love affair... and 'love' can be very close to 'hate'. We've had our good and bad times and yes, I'm sure that this will be the case once again this time around. But there's got to be friction, there's nothing worse than being surrounded by a bunch of yes men, yessing themselves to death. Friction was the thing that caused this band to split in 1973... but friction was also the thing that gave us the success we enjoyed in 1973. Like I say, it's love and hate. When it's love it'll be really good, when it's hate it'll probably be disastrous.
In fact this is probably the last interview I'll ever do as a member of the reformed Deep Purple.
Geoff Barton, Kerrang November 1984