Thursday, 19 October 2017
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Interview: Roger Glover of DEEP PURPLE

Photo: Jim Rakete

Antihero Magazine had the opportunity to chat with a Rock n’ Roll legend. Songwriter, bassist, and producer, Roger Glover, talks to Mark Dean about the upcoming April 7th, 2017 release from Deep Purple, titled Infinite, which marks the band’s twentieth studio album.

Mark Dean: Do you find these press schedules get easier or more difficult as the years pass by?

Roger Glover: Actually, probably easier, because when you’re young you were scared about saying the truth. When you’re older, you don’t give a shit.

deep purple infiniteMark Dean: You’ve got a new album coming out and obviously then the inevitable tour. The tour’s being called The Long Goodbye. I just wondered if that was clever marketing, or a conclusion and drawing to a close on your career as a band playing live?

Roger Glover: Well, first of all, we tour anyway, whether there’s an album or not. It’s not the tour that follows the album. Although, it is literally, yes. You are correct. All we know is sooner or later we’re going to end. We’re all either above or below our seventies.

So, you know, the writing is on the wall. Sooner or later this will end. We just don’t know when, but we’re putting ourselves and everyone else on notice that, you know, it is around the corner, we just don’t know when. I think, personally, we’re touring this year around Europe and the States, and there’s certainly other places we should go to if we’re going to say goodbye. I’d like to say hello and goodbye to lots of places, really. If we can.

Mark Dean: How much of the album will the band be featuring live? I’m thinking of these forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe.

Roger Glover: I’m sure a lot of it will be used, yes. I don’t know how much or what songs yet. In fact, I just got an email and it said, “Which songs are you going to be doing?” But we haven’t even discussed it as a band. We all live in different places, and different worlds, really. Yeah, we will be discussing it before the tour, and we’ll certainly, I mean, it was recorded pretty much live. It’s evidently doable live. If we get three, I’ll be unhappy. I’d like to do four or five. We’ll see how it goes.

Mark Dean: There seems to be a lot of vitriol and anger in the album lyrics. Have you all become grumpy old men, or is it an accurate reflection of the band’s views on the world?

Roger Glover: We’ve been grumpy old men for a long time. The only thought that Ian and I had about the lyrics is that we wanted our own lyrics of our age, not pretend to be 20 again. So, I was talking about love lyrics or sex lyrics or car/fast life or whatever. Stories. We were just looking for stories. I think pretty much every song on the album is a story of some kind or another. Sometimes true, sometimes imagination, but it’s a story. You get involved in a verse. That’s the only thing that we had in mind.

Mark Dean: There is a surprising inclusion of a cover version. In my memory, I think that’s the first time you’ve included a cover version since those early albums. I just wondered why that track appearing on the album.

Roger Glover: Actually, it’s not. The last album, Now What?!, had a cover version. A Jerry Lee Lewis song, called “It’ll Be Me.” At that point, Bob said to us, in the studio, “Do any of you fancy doing a cover version, just for fun, of something?” So, you know, you pick the easiest songs so it doesn’t require any kind of rehearsal, it’s something that you know, it’s in your blood, it’s from your youth. We just had a go at it.

Then, when we were doing this album, the same thing arose. He said, “Fancy doing a bit of fun?” We ended up with “Roadhouse Blues,” for no particular reason other than Paicey played it with a tribute band and liked it. It’s easy to do. We’re kind of a lazy band. We’re not going to pick something like “God Only Knows.” Why did I pick “God Only Knows”? I don’t know. You get the point.

Mark Dean: The band and your musical career have spanned generations. How do you retain that enthusiasm and passion about creating music?

Roger Glover: Well, it’s music. It’s music. I think, if you’re a musician, you’re always a musician, I think, and we’re lucky enough to have made a career of it. Even not, I mean, you know, musicians play all over the place, they don’t necessarily have to be famous. The music’s in their blood. I was a songwriter. I can’t stop writing songs. It’s just something I naturally do, every day I write down something. Even a line, a word, a title, a riff, a chord sequence, whatever it may be. I got thousands of them. And every now and again I go back to one or two and go, “actually, it’s not that bad.” Which makes me think … There’s a famous quote, “The older I get, the better I was.”

Mark Dean: Do you feel, because of the strength of the band’s back catalog, that every time you step into a recording studio, there’s an added weight of pressure, or is it something that you’ve become more accepting of, it’s just what you do?

Roger Glover: No. There’s no pressure in the studio. The only thought, and it’s not even discussed, really, but I know everyone feels that way, that with a past like what we have, the danger is being a parody of yourself. Of trying to emulate something. That’s really the wrong thinking. It’s tempting to do, and there’s been various attempts in the past to do that, but they’re false, when you’re trying to be something. I think it’s much better just to be yourself and just see what happens. It’ll be a Purple song because it’s the instruments we play and the way we play them that makes the sound. It’s not a formula, as such, it’s not a style that’s pasted on top of some music. It says something that that’s the way we play. As long as we don’t repeat things that we’ve done before, you know, then we can know we’re working and we’re going in a good direction.

Mark Dean: If I could just pick one, now, from the back catalog that in my opinion is a very underrated album … How do you view, with hindsight looking back, Slaves and Masters as an album? Because I felt that should have achieved far more success than it actually did.

Roger Glover: Yeah. It’s not a bad album at all. I listened to it a couple of months ago, for probably the first time in ages. Yeah, I mean, it’s a great album. It was slightly off … We were on a detour, that’s the only way I can put it. I mean, Joe Lynn Turner came in and did a great job. He’s a good singer, but, you know, Purple has a certain … The singer of Purple kind of has to be Ian Gillan. Just doesn’t feel right any other way. So, yes, it was a long period of trying to get Ian back. Slaves and Masters, I remember Paicey being asked once, he said, “What do you think of Slaves and Masters?” Which is generally disapproved of by Purple fans. He said, “No, it’s a very important album. Without that, we wouldn’t be here now.” So, that respect, it’s a very important album.

Mark Dean: You mentioned there that you listened to that album recently. Is going back and listening to your own back catalog something that you do often?

Roger Glover: No, not often, but occasionally. I think the last time was about six months ago. I saw a fan message saying that, Made in Japan‘s okay but you should listen to Stockholm 1970.” I’d never heard that. Funnily enough it’s just been released by Edel Music this last year. So, I got a copy and I listened to it, and honestly, I was blown away at what we were. But, that doesn’t happen that often. I don’t go back and, “Were we great?” moments. I don’t.

Mark Dean: How do you view your own musical legacy, then? I mean, is it something that you don’t, you prefer to move forward rather than look back?

Roger Glover: Yeah. I mean, it’s not finished yet. I hope. Of course, I’m aware that Purple’s music has obviously made a dent in musical history, and that’s very nice. It doesn’t mean anything in terms of day to day living, no. The only thing it changes in me is a vague sense of satisfaction, which, when I think about it is there, yes, I’m proud of it, of course I am. It doesn’t rule me.

Mark Dean: Can you attempt to explain the enduring appeal of the band and why you’re still around in 2017?

Roger Glover: Well, when I first joined Purple, in ’69, it was a band that opened my eyes and ears and sense to possibilities. Prior to that, I’d been in a band that played it exactly as rehearsed, and if it was a blues it was always a 12-bar and all of a sudden, I’m in this band that’s more like a jazz band. Music had no boundaries whatsoever. It blossomed from there. So, it’s a spirit of music that we still have. I think, if there’s any reason why we enjoy what we’re doing so much, it’s because of that, it’s because we’re making music which is our first love.

Deep-Purple Roger Glover
Photo: Jim Rakete

Mark Dean: Is it difficult coming up with a set list? Do you ever feel tempted maybe to drop some songs that you’ve done many, many times, like “Space Truckin’,” or, dare I even say it, “Smoke,” in favor of maybe some others that haven’t featured live?

Roger Glover: Well, you say it’s difficult with a set list, it’s actually impossible. Because, to please everyone, we’d be doing a 14-hour set. Two hours is really our limit, and I think the audience’s limit. Beyond that it gets a bit much. The show has to have a certain shape, so songs have to have a certain place in the show to make it work. I know the hardcore would love to hear lots of different songs, and sure, certainly, the last 20 years has produced songs we hardly ever do, which is such a shame. Maybe we’ll rectify that, we’ll see. But, there’s a whole lot of new songs on the new album that we want to do too.

We also have to realize, that to the hardcore fans that make up maybe 10% of the audience, the other 90% are long-distance fans, they’re casual fans, if you like. Also, a lot of younger fans who are maybe seeing us for the first time. We get a lot of young people at the shows. You have to remind them of who you are, as well. And, it’s not a chore to play those songs. It’s not as if we’re, “Oh, here we go, we’re doing ‘Smoke’ again.” It’s a fun song to play. It’s great to play. We never get tired of that. It’s always kind of fresh, anyway, because we’re musicians, we can’t play the same thing twice.

I’d love to do more of the new songs, for sure. That’s the eternal fight we have within the band. I would like to do the whole of the new album live. That’s what I’d like to do, but I don’t know if that’ll go down well with everyone else. I doubt it.

Mark Dean: There seems to be a current trend in recent years of old bands reforming, with or without old members. I just wondered if you had any views on the reactivation of Rainbow, given that it did form part of your musical career?

Roger Glover: No views on it, I mean, I wish him luck. In a way, calling it Rainbow, I thought, he’s got his own name, I would have thought he should’ve gone out as just Ritchie Blackmore and just played some really great band … I don’t want to disparage him at all, I’m a fan of Ritchie as much as anyone else is. He’s a musician. I’m blown away that I got to work with such a musician. So, yeah, I wish him luck.

Mark Dean: Producer or bassist, which hat do you prefer to wear? Which job do you enjoy doing most, producing or playing bass?

Roger Glover: Actually, playing bass and producing, they’re all secondary to songwriting. Songwriting is where I really live. I always played bass well enough to retain my place in the band, and producing I really enjoy as well, but I haven’t done much producing in many years, because to produce a band, you’ve got to find two, three months free, and that’s pretty difficult. We work so hard in Purple. Very rarely do we get that time off. No, I mean, maybe I’ll go back to it one day if my hearing’s not too bad by then.

Mark Dean: With your extensive workload with Deep Purple, is music all-encompassing in your life, do you have any time for any sort of outside interests, hobbies?

Roger Glover: Do you have any children?

Mark Dean: I do, yeah.

Roger Glover: Well, you know, then. I mean, I paint a bit, and photographs. Really, music takes up most of my life, I’ve got to say.

Mark Dean: Ever had any thoughts on writing a book?

Roger Glover: I’m in the process.

Mark Dean: Oh, please enlighten me on that. What stage is that it?

Roger Glover: The problem is, the more I write the more there is to write. I’ve got to find a way to stop. I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ve probably got about an eighth of the book written. Who knows, it may turn out to be a quarter. It’s a short book.

Mark Dean: Can you recall your first introduction to music?

Roger Glover: Well, I was born in 1945, so I grew up the end of the war, the early fifties. I remember music was pretty crappy on the radios. Novelty songs and crooners and jazzy, big-band stuff, and I found it not at all exciting. At the age of nine or 10 I moved to London, and pretty soon I heard skiffle music. That was really what got me started. I love … It’s got so much energy, it wasn’t controlled and poppy like what you heard on the radio. It was really raw, and I just, the energy was great. Lonnie Donegan, “Rock Island Line.” That’s the one song that really started me off.

Mark Dean: So, from hearing that, music was always a career that you wanted to pursue and follow?

Roger Glover: I don’t know. I mean, I went to art college for a couple of years, but I was always in a band, and gradually the band took precedence over the art. What would I have done had the band I was in never had a hit and I never had any success at all? What would have happened to me? I have no idea. Probably something in the arts. Illustration, painting, advertising, I don’t know. God knows. Design of some kind. I always had a natural affinity to music, so maybe it would have been a different musical career. Who knows.

Mark Dean: You’ve been famous for a long time. Do you feel that personal privacy is a fair price to pay? I mean, you sacrifice that when you become famous.

Roger Glover: I don’t think we’ve become that famous, actually. I know and have known some really famous people and I don’t actually envy their lives, because they can’t go out. There’s no freedom, without being talked about and whispered about and looked at and gawked at and bothered and photographed. I think the name Deep Purple is far greater than any individual member. I must admit, I live a pretty normal life. If I’m in a city somewhere where we’re doing a show, yeah, you expect to get the recognition there. But, in my normal, everyday life, no one bothers me. Or, very rarely. I do get it occasionally. I got it once when I happened to be wearing a Deep Purple T-shirt. A guy behind me said, “Hey, Deep Purple.” I thought he recognized me, but he hadn’t recognized me. He followed that up by saying, “They’re not as good as they used to be.”

Mark Dean: Oh, dear.

Roger Glover: So, yeah, I agreed with him.

Mark Dean: Yeah. I don’t know why, but that surprises me. I would have actually thought, given the level of success that the band has achieved, that you would always be recognized out and about, no matter what you tried to do.

Roger Glover: No. I mean, it happens occasionally, you know. I was in London recently to see my daughter. We went to a gig, and all of a sudden I was surrounded by about, I don’t know, six or seven Italian fans who recognized me and couldn’t believe I was there in the same pub that they were. That kind of thing. But, our profile in Italy is much higher than I think in the United Kingdom, anyway.

Deep-Purple Roger Glover
Photo: Jim Rakete

Mark Dean: You’ve seen many changes in the music industry since you’ve started. Is it a better or worse career environment these days than from when you started out?

Roger Glover: Well, it’s not very good for music. It’s one of those things where you can’t fight progress and progress is always a two-edged sword. The real problem is that there’s no appetite for music like there was in the sixties and seventies, when music ruled your life. It was the only thing. Now, you’ve got all kinds of other distractions, you know? The internet, social media, Twitter-twatter-twotter, whatever that is, Face Thing, and, you know, all those. They all take up time, and there’s still only 24 hours in the day. There’s a lot more music around, but there’s no more clubs around for bands to play. There’s too many DJs and not enough live music. I’m a big fan of people getting up and leaving the computer and their sofa and their TV and getting to a show. Whosever’s show, ours or anyone’s, and just celebrating that live thing. Live music is just magic.

Yes, it is harder. It is harder. But then, looking back, it was always hard. You know, back in the sixties we were struggling to find success. We did all the right things, we had the PR, we had the good songs, we had everything going for us and still never made it. Also, back in those days you couldn’t release a record unless it was with a record company, and to get a deal you had to be good. Now, there’s no filter. You don’t have to be any good. You can just put it out. Any old crap. You’ve got to wade through … So, people get turned off by that. Attention span gets smaller, and you’ve got more music made by one person on his computer to be listened to by one person and headphones. It’s not such a social thing any more.

I remember the days when you bought a new album and you invited your friends round. “Hey, listen, I’ve got the new Pink Floyd, bang.” You’d make an evening of it. I can’t imagine that happening now. Maybe rarely.

Mark Dean: Do you still have unfulfilled hopes and dreams? Are you still ambitious? You’ve achieved a lot.

Roger Glover: Where there’s hope, there’s dreams. Of course. I don’t know what they are yet. I’ll probably only recognize them after the event. You don’t know what’s around the corner. But, as long as you’re productive and have your heart in it … We’ll see where it leads.

Mark Dean: Who would be, if you could pick one person that you’ve worked with, most inspiring musician you’ve ever worked with?

Roger Glover: I’ve worked with a lot. Right now, the first thought that comes to mind is, I only worked with him once and in fact you can’t even hear it, was Gary Moore.

Mark Dean: A very underrated guitarist, from my part of the world.

Roger Glover: Gary Moore lived near where I lived in America many years ago. It was after he’d had Still Got the Blues. We got together and had meals and stuff, our families knew each other, and then one day, just before he left to go back to England, he was in my studio. He stayed at my house for one night, because he rented a house and it had gone. They had to stay somewhere, so we invited them. I played him a song I was working on. A sort of ballad. I had a tiny little studio with a 24-track. He said, “Oh, do you want some guitar on it?” I said, “Okay, I never thought of that.” He picked up my Strat, which had strings on it that were somewhere around Noah’s Ark age, and a little bass amp called a Polytone, and that was it. He managed to play something over this track that is just absolutely glorious. He did three takes, and then he had to run for the airport.

I sat and listened to them, and compiled the best of the moments. It will come out one day. I’ll put it on an album one day. From one moment, I saw how great Gary was. That was a spellbinding moment.

Mark Dean: How would you, Roger Glover, like to be remembered?

Roger Glover: I’d like every time my name comes up in conversations, I’d just like people not to go, “Ooh, ouch.” Do you know what I mean?

Mark Dean: Yeah, Indeed I know exactly.

Roger Glover: “Ooh. Ow.” You know? “No. No.” I mean, remembered for, I guess, being the creative struggler that I am, basically…between poetry and writing and music and art and photographs and all those things that I’ve had the privilege to spend my life doing. I tried hard to be original. I remember trying to be my heroes, years ago, and not realizing, of course, that they weren’t trying. They were just being. It takes a while before you realize that there’s no point in trying to be someone else. You’ve just got to be yourself, 100%. I’m still learning that in many ways.

Mark Dean: The band are coming over to the UK towards the end of the year with Europe. I just wondered if the package with Europe was something that you, as Deep Purple, individually or collectively requested, or was it band management?

Roger Glover: No. The great thing about Purple is we’re never involved with the business side of things. We make the music, businesspeople do the business. It’s a very distinct line, and we stay out of it on purpose. Decisions like where we play, what tour, we’re not best placed to judge that. It’s down to promoters and agents. They’re professionals. That’s what they’re for. We don’t choose.

Mark Dean: Just a final one, Roger, who would you, yourself like to interview, one on one, with you asking the questions? Maybe a personal inspiration, a hero.

Roger Glover: Boy, oh boy. Well, my all-time favorite songwriter is Bob Dylan, but I’ve got this kind of strange feeling that I don’t want to meet him.

Mark Dean: He has that reputation.

Roger Glover: Well, it’s not so much that. It’s that he is what he is, in my mind, and I don’t want that to change, because he’s so precious. I don’t want to know that he’s just a guy. I know he is. Do you know what I mean? I think the kind of questions I’d want to ask him, he’d be pretty bored with, anyway.

Mark Dean: Anybody else? Maybe a non-musician, maybe an artist? Anybody that’s sort of a personal inspiration or hero? You mentioned painting as one of your hobbies. What about an artist?

Roger Glover: Actually, David Hockney. I’d love to have a talk with David Hockney. I think he’s great. As an artist and as a man. He speaks his mind. He speaks the truth. All through his life, he’s been pure. Art for art’s sake.

Mark Dean: That’s great, then. Thank you very much. Good luck with the album.

Roger Glover: Well, thank you very much.

deep purple roger glover
Photo: Jim Rakete

 

About Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time. Photo: Mark Dean with Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver - Photography by Olga Kuzmenko

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