Legendary Deep Purple have released their twentieth record and recently embarked on their “last” world tour. Roger Glover is strictly against specifying, when the end is going to come, but he feels, it’s not far. However, no matter what topic we were discussing, it was a conversation with calm gentleman, whose voice reminded me few times of Michael Caine. You could have read dozens of interviews Roger gave, but the main benefit of a talk with such a legend is that he will always tell you something you didn’t read anywhere else. You just have to let the discussion go and add topics, which you have in common.
Full audio interview:
I would like to congratulate you on the amazing new album Infinite. I spoke to Ian Paice about Now What?! album four years ago and I must say, both releases show great energy within the band. If we start with artwork of the album, does it represent a long and sometimes a bit complicated journey of the band?
As you see, you can interpret it whichever way you like. The thing I like about the image is the fact, I fell in love with it, the first moment they showed it to me. I remember saying: “Oh, that’s absolutely great!” I didn’t know why, but when I looked at it, I knew it looks great. Next to that, the more you look at it, the more stories it can tell. We are not saying anything. It’s up to you to tell them. (Laugh)
I would like to relate it to a work of Norwegian artist Ihsahn, who was explaining to me, for his latest album Arktis., an importance of motivational travels through arctic destinations. Do you agree these sort of travels are mentally helpful?
Absolutely. But I feel I can relax and be calm even in the most stressful situations. I don’t know how, but we all have inner conversations with ourselves. Mine are all necessarily private but I guess I reached a level, where nothing bothers me that much. One of the things I like to do on tour is, If I am in the city and I have couple of hours to spare, I walk around the backstreets. I don’t want to see the main sights and attractions. I want to get lost in the real world a bit. It’s almost like I am an invisible man. As you are walking by houses, you realize people’s dreams and families are all invested in one house, you are passing. It’s fascinating to realize how much is going on around you without your knowledge.
I want to get lost in the real world as an invisible man
I definitely agree with you on that, as I love to do that in Prague, where I’m living now and I did that a lot during my marketing studies in Barcelona. Have you personally experienced the small streets of these two beautiful cities?
Yes, I’m sure I have. Barcelona, probably not so much, because I haven’t spent so much time there, but Prague more recently yes. First two times I went to Prague, I didn’t even see the city. It was very frustrating. This is back in the eighties. We were staying in a big modern hotel outside the town and we went to a gig by bus and then flew out. I was desperate to see the city, so the third time we came to Prague, we luckily stayed in the hotel in the center. It was simply WOW! I did a huge walk and it was really beautiful.
Next to that you played a number of times in my hometown Ostrava, but I am not sure if you were interested in discovering the beauties of its industrial heritage.
(Laugh) When I hear name “Ostrava”, I think of the time we played there, we got stuck in the blizzard. I think we had to cancel a gig or postpone it, because the truck got stuck in the snow. It was quite a traumatic time, I remember that. I don’t remember much, but I know Ostrava and that a blizzard go together. I did actually buy some champagne glasses in Ostrava, because it’s famous for its glass.
We actually don’t know, when we are going to stop
Well, I must say, you have a massive fan base in this rock oriented city. That’s why I have to ask, not only for all of my uncles, if this is truly the last Deep Purple tour?
Well, we never used term “last”. We used a word “long”. We actually don’t know, when we are going to stop. I think that will become obvious sooner or later. Either for various reasons, people give up, don’t want to do it, someone’s health goes or whatever the reason it may be. We know, it’s around the corner somewhere. It could be a year, it could be two and if it’s two, great. Maybe even three. As Ian Paice says: “This is probably the last time, we will do a really comprehensive around-the-world tour. How that works out, I don’t know. This year we are doing Europe, bit of an America and UK. Next year, we will see what happens. I don’t know what agents and managers are planning. I never get involved in that. But there are lots of places, where we would love to play before we hang up the guitar strap.
When I was talking about rough areas and dedicated rock fans, I spent Easter in East Slovakia, where I was getting to know my girlfriend’s family. Next to discovering local beauties and having numerous drinks, I spent a lot of time checking vinyl collections. One of the albums I found there, was The House of Blue Light released thirty years ago. What are your memories of that classic album?
The House of Blue Light was a follow-up to Perfect Strangers, and I remember it was quite a difficult album to do. We started in Vermont and we spent three months there, not getting very far. Then we de-camped to Munich and we spent ten weeks there finishing it. It was not an easy album to make and I would much prefer to work quicker than that. I was producing it, but it was out of my hands. There was not much I could do. You just can’t force things. Anyway, I think there are some good songs on it, but personally, I would like to remix it. I think I was getting stimulated by the eighties sound. MIDI came in, same as sampling, drum machines and all that kind of crap. I think we sort of indulged that little bit too much.
When I was looking at footage from the recording of the new album Infinite, I got the feeling the process was much faster and more pleasant now…
Well, these two albums with Bob Ezrin were very enjoyable. We never felt any stress or pressure. Bob takes the stress off us, because he is quite stressful, go-ahead, getting-it-done kind of guy. And that’s great for us. Because we will argue until cows come home about some little things. Bob will go: “No, we’re not doing that! We are doing it this way,” and we move on. He energizes us, if you like and lets us relax at the same time. Both albums were very nice to do and I have enjoyed them very much.
We will argue until cows come home
You are talking about his influence on the direction, but I also believe you were free enough to expose any part of the spectrum of your taste, whether it was hard rock, or prog rock…
Yeah, I mean we are a band of musicians and it’s very difficult to tell them to stick to one thing. They are capable of playing jazz, classical, prog or whatever. We have a lot of choice and as I said in the movie: “What is a Deep Purple song? Well, it’s actually, whatever we play.” If we try to replicate whatever people thought of us, mostly from the seventies, we wouldn’t exist now. We had to undergo a real change when Steve joined the band. It can never be, like it was. Someone asked me some time ago: “Why don’t you write song like Highway Star anymore?” Well, we have written it!” (Laugh) You can’t do it again. And actually, we do write songs like Highway Star, they just don’t sound like Highway Star. We didn’t know this song would have the future, it had, when we wrote it. Because that’s what you do: You write songs, throw them against the wall and some stick.
Could you please explain the writing process on let’s say the song The Surprising?
We were in a writing session one day, where there were old noodles, jams, cups of tea and also endless discussions. Somewhere in between that Steve started playing that opening guitar figure. It just sounded very nice. When somebody starts to play something and others say: “Oh, that’s nice,” they join in. We don’t talk about it, we just start playing with him. At the end of that jam, it didn’t go anywhere particularly at that point, but it was a good start. On the other hand, we needed a working title, so I called it “The Surprising Mr. Morse”. (Laugh) You know, what he played was surprising for us and quite beautiful. Anyway, we worked on a track and then arrangements came. Well, not all of it, as the last bit of the arrangement appeared just before we started recording it. We worked out the main part of the song, not the solos, but just the verses and the structure of the song. Then, when we got to Nashville, we spent couple of weeks with Bob, playing him, what we have got and him making suggestions like: “How about you do this here or that there and bing bang,” until the whole thing appeared very quickly. Even jamming in the studio helped. When the whole thing was finished, we still didn’t have a song. We had a backing track and then it’s down to me and Ian Gillan to figure out, what’s going on top. So, we get together alone, where I spent a week with him there and one week there. We basically write the words for the songs. How we do that is, we listen to the track many times, trying to figure out what the emotion of the track is and what it is trying to say. We don’t want to write a really heavy riff for a love song or vice versa. So, we were just looking for ideas, angles and targets we can focus on. Sometimes the working title of the song becomes the title of the song. “The Surprising Mr. Morse” got abbreviated to “The Surprising” in our notes and we thought: “It’s actually a nice title. Let’s keep it.” But, what do you write about, with the title like that? I think Ian Gillan did most of these lyrics. Well, I did a lot of lyrics, but he did this one and it’s sort of impressionist song. It doesn’t say a lot but it says a lot. It’s ambiguous and you can make your own meaning up to it. But it’s a mysterious track and I think it’s a lovely. Steve came up with that solo in the middle and Don with the main theme. So everyone did take part in the writing of that song eventually.
Another interesting track on the album is the cover of Roadhouse Blues from The Doors. You usually don’t do many covers, so I guess, it was a result of a great atmosphere in the studio…
Well, that’s exactly right. We did one for Now What?!, which was one of the bonus tracks. The great thing about a cover is you don’t have to learn it, nor work at it. We wanted to do something from our past, when we were kids growing up and cover something which turned us on over the years. The first one we did, was a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’s song. When it came to this album, Bob said one day in the studio: “Do you fancy doing another cover, just for fun?” We said yes, but we didn’t know what to do. Paice played it with a tribute band once and thought it was pretty good, so we went with that. Well, after a discussion which was ten times longer than usual. (Laugh) Anyway, it was done absolutely live. We got the words from the internet, went through couple of riffs together, to make sure we are playing the same thing, then red line went on and we did it. However, whether to put it on the album or not, that wasn’t really my decision. I thought it would be another bonus track, like the one from Now What?!, but majority decided to make it go there.
In general we can say, Don Airey had a very crucial role in this album. However, how do you feel about his input?
Oh, I feel it was too much! We are going to sack him! (Laugh) Don is really coming to his own in this band. Jon Lord’s shadow is very long and Don has done his best to be himself. Gradually, I can see over the last few years, to be precise he has been with us for fourteen years, but during let say last five or six years, he has been coming to his own. He started to feel really comfortable in the band and we are very comfortable with him. He is not only great, but he is the only we can think of, to fit the bill. He is fantastic. I don’t know whether he is more dominant, but his presence on this album is very much felt, yes! He shines on it.
Nothing is a waste of time
I will ask a bit sensitive question, if you don’t mind. Deep Purple were finally included in the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame, but would you change something about that evening?
(Laugh) That’s a loaded question, because I know what you are refereeing too. That was actually not our choice. Ritchie said many times he was not interested in going. So, we never thought, he would go. I mean, you never know Ritchie, because he is unpredictable. But he said, he was not interested in doing it. So, where do we go from there? We go to Glenn and David being there! But we don’t do their songs and if we are going to play live, there has to be a current Purple line-up. Otherwise, we are not going to play and they said: “It’s a good compromise, fine.” That’s it. Now, Ritchie says he was told not to come, but I don’t think it’s true. It’s certainly not coming from the band and I don’t think it’s coming from the management. So, who knows? It’s just a little fleck in the eye. It’s not serious. It wasn’t something we particularly cared about. We did it for our families, fans and friends. It’s more important for them, then to us. It hadn’t change my life.
This next question is coming from one of your fans in Germany, asking if there is a chance that you may do an album soon with your lovely daughter?
(Laugh) She and I talk about it a lot, but we are both very tied up. Time is the essence right now. But certainly, I’m always writing stuff and she is still performing. Sooner or later we will do something, I just don’t know when.
What about your latest music discoveries? Anything that caught your attention lately?
There is a lot of good music out there, but I don’t listen to pop radio. I am aware of it, when I am in the car, but it’s nothing for me. I listen to a lot of African music, jazz and classical. Really a lot of singers and songwriters, as there are some amazing musicians around. But the nature of the world right now is that it’s very difficult to get noticed and get a traction, as they say. Basically to get recognized and therefore musicians are suffering. The whole music business industry has become so corporate. It’s not a business, it’s an industry and it’s geared to selling crap. There is a lot of good musicians and songwriters, but you can’t find them. You have to go through a lot of trash to get to them.
That’s what I love to do, but I was just wondering, if you are trying to help these talented people in any sort of the way? Let’s say, sharing their music on your social media profiles, to help them at least a bit…
I don’t have social media profiles. I don’t believe in that and I don’t have time for that. Where I live, I found some musicians, who are doing this sort of Americana Irish folk music. Not electric, all acoustic and I go and play with them and write songs for them. But I don’t know where that’s going and if that will be an album one day.
For the final question, I would like to get back to the beginning, when we were talking about having a peaceful mind. What are your other tricks to calm you down in our busy world? Personally, I have been practising meditation for about a year, next to running and a healthy diet.
Well, it’s difficult in a household with children, as you will always be aware of them. To “leave” this, I always love to do, and it’s very odd thing: washing up! I cook a meal, we eat the meal and I say: “I am clearing up!” Washing up gives you a little sense of satisfaction and in a way, it’s a form of meditation. Also like mowing a lawn. Idea really is, if there is a job, you don’t want to do, you’ll learn to love it. Not thinking about it as a waste of time. Nothing is a waste of time. There is no such thing as a waste of time. So, when you are mowing a lawn, it might seem as a waste of time but you go into sort of meditative state. I know I do anyway. I guess it is all about being a calm person. There are of course different types of people in the world and some people can’t calm down. They are constantly hundred percent. I’m not like that and maybe I am lucky.