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"It was just really a pleasurable experience being in the studio with a great producer, certainly for me. I was just being a bass player and a writer."
Interview with Roger Glover, 02.11.2002, Düsseldorf

by Andree Schneider & Lars Wehmeyer

Lars Wehmeyer (LW): The new album "Bananas" sounds like a band that is doing what they do best: jamming, having fun, playing, singing. It really sounds like you had a lot of fun in the studio. Is that so?

Roger Glover (RG): Yes. (long pause - laughter). It was done actually very quickly, which is good, because, when we're left to our own devices, we give ourselves too much time, and when you got too much time, you spend a lot of time doing trivial things, and not enough time doing the really important things. There's no sense of purpose if you got loads of time. One of the reasons that we wanted to use a producer was precisely that, to give us some discipline. Because I can't discipline the band, I'm in the band. They don't listen to me. But they'll listen to Michael Bradford. And they did.

And so we had a writing session in December, which was about four weeks, and during that time we hammered out pretty much all the songs and we came back in January, had a week back in the rehearsal studio putting the final touches to the songs, getting more familiar with them. We didn't really know what they were going to sound like in the studio. That's one of the great things, it's as much a learning experience for us as it is for someone listening to it. We don't know how it's gonna end up. Anyway, a week of doing that and then in the studio, Michael just kept this pace up, and I guess we fell into a groove, we'd come in, we'd do a song and nail it in one or two takes and then have a break, go for a meal, come back, rehearse the track for the next day, and then come in the next day, nail that track in one or two takes - it was really quite effortless. There was a lot of good vibes in the studio, yeah, Don made his presence felt, he had his corner and his keyboard sound, he was flying.

It was just really a pleasurable experience being in the studio with a great producer, certainly for me, no weight on my shoulders, no nothing, I was just being a bass player and a writer. Mind you, there were several times when I had to zip my lip because you have so many ideas and you try and get them across to people, and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. When I saw Michael go through the process of having people throw ideas at him, you know, watched how he did it, I was very impressed with his demeanour in the studio.

I'm taking a long time to answer this question, and I'm worried now that we'll be here for breakfast (laughter).

LW: You've already answered some of the questions further down...

RG: That's what I hoped.

LW: You once said: "It's great to be in a band that's happy. I'd recommend it to anybody". Is Deep Purple a happy band today? Maybe more than ever?

RG: I don't know about more than ever - ever hasn't come yet. It's a pretty heavy band, but it's not without its friction. There is friction in the band. It's inevitable, you get that. But the bottom line is that despite our differences there's a great respect and love for each other. We know we're in a good band. It may sound conceited, but sometimes you come off stage and you've had a great show, and you can't help feeling "Fuck, we're good!". Every now and again you have to feel that. I don't often brag about the band, I just let the music speak for itself really, but every now and again there's a feel that "Wow, this is it", you know.

Andree Schneider (AS): Wasn't it sometimes hard for you in the studio not to tell Michael Bradford your opinion and give him clues and hints?

RG: I'd mentioned that, I had to zip my lip. The thing about having producers is all about trust. You trust the man who's in charge. I guess we all decided that he was going to be our producer so therefore he had our trust from the outset. The thing about Michael that's most impressive is his language, is the way he explains ideas, the way he does things. He's extremely erudite. He says exactly the right thing to get his point across. He's a very clear-headed man. I admire that, he's got a strength there, and so despite the fact that sometimes we said "Oh Michael, we'll do that again, let's do that again, we can get it better". And he goes "No, that's the one". So he cut out all argument.

AS: Could an experienced producer like you learn something from Michael Bradford?

RG: Oh, absolutely. You learn something every day. You're always a student. You're a student all your life, experience means nothing, well, actually it means a little bit, but you're still a student, you're always a student. Experience just tells you what to avoid. It doesn't tell you how to do things. You have to learn that still, every day.

AS: Would you like to see Michael producing the next Deep Purple studio album?

RG: Yes, I would. I'd work with him again.

LW: Two of my personal avorite tracks on "Bananas", that's "House Of Pain" and "Walk On" have "Gillan, Bradford" as the writing credits. Should we consider Michael Bradford as Deep Purple member number six?

RG: No. He's the producer. It's a typical question you asked because you're assuming of course Deep Purple always writes its own material. That has become the norm, but it's not a rule. It doesn't have to be a rule. We did some dodgy songs at various points in the past. Early on, "Hush" wasn't written by the band, "Kentucky Woman" wasn't written by the band, there's no rule about this. One of the things that endeared me to Michael, when we first met him he outlined his vision that he had for making the record. And he said it very simply, he said: "You are Deep Purple. You ARE a trade mark sound. You shouldn't be ashamed to be who you are. People are always playing the old tracks, they're always playing the 70s stuff. And why is that? That's what they like". He said: "That's what you are still. That's the way you play, just don't be scared to be it". And in a way, he brought a vision of what Deep Purple is back to us, which is why a lot of people think this album sounds like it could have been a 70s album in some ways. And in the process he came up with a couple of songs that he thought might spark something. And they sounded like good songs, so why turn down a good song just because it's written by someone else?

LW: I said they're my favorite tracks! Bananas entered the german album charts at position three. Is it a commercially successful album, and do you get more airplay? Or do you know how much airplay you get?

RG: I haven't got a clue.

LW: I thought so...

RG: I don't follow sales figures, I don't follow chart positions, I don't follow radio play. I suppose if it becomes obvious to me that it's happening, then I'll know it's happening. I don't go looking for it. You know, "Oh, we got a play on tuesday morning on this morning station". You know, it's whatever happens happens, I'm too busy right now thinking about the tour to worry about the album. The album is gonna do what it does regardless of what I think. And it's been very good, you always want to sell more, but you kind of have to accept what you get. You're at the mercy of "the business" (does a strange face) (laughter)

LW: "Bananas", the CD is copy protected. What is you general opinion on copy protection?

RG: I know nothing about copy protection. I've seen all the emails flying forth among the fans about copy protection. I honestly don't know what it is. The CD that I've got plays fine, I don't know if there's any distortion. I still need to have it prooved to me that that's what's causing the distortion. I think it could have been something else. Could have been a bad pressing. I did see one analysis of the waveform, and it bounces beyond the limits. So maybe it's nothing to do with copy protection. But copy protection in essence, I don't think it's such a bad thing. I think it would be nice if you could copy something once or twice and then it's closed or something like that, but I don't know how you do that. Maybe there are ways to do that.

But right now the record business, the music business is in dire straits. I know people in record companies. I know executives in record companies. There's huge things happening. Titans are falling. And they all fall. There's more bad news to come. So anything that gets the balance right - I think maybe what's happening in the record business is, in a way, a kind of equilibrium finding thing, 'cause they've had it too good for too long. A top executive, one of the big five told me "The worst thing to happen to the music business was the CD". The CD came out and they just took all the stuff that was on vinyl and put it on CD and charged far too much for it. They made so much money, huge huge profits in the mid-80s and all the 90s and inflated everything. They're paying the price now. People are pissed off with CDs that only have one good song, and they're pissed off with the amount - there's so much stuff out there, you can't possibly listen to it or evaluate or judge it or buy it. It's almost impossible, it's a top heavy arrangement.

LW: Why did you decide not to put "The Well Dressed Guitar" on the "Bananas" album?

RG: Well, that's a slightly touchy subject with Steve, 'cause he would have liked to have it on. The record company and certain other people felt that it didn't belong on the album because it was a "Steve thing" rather than a "band thing". "Contact Lost" is also a "Steve thing"...

LW: That's what I was thinking...

RG: Between "Contact Lost" and "Well Dressed", the feeling was "Contact Lost" should be on the album, "Well Dressed" not. That's a tough decision, and I wasn't in favour, if it was up to me, I'd have put everything on. But it's part record company, part band. Not a popular decision with Steve, which is understandable.

AS: "Haunted" is a great song. Isn't there a way of producing a video clip for it? I'm sure with a video clip, this song could have turned into a real hit.

RG: There's only one reason to do a video clip, and that's if someone's going to play it. To spend a hundred, a hundred-and-fifty, two-hundred-fifty thousand dollars to make a video if no one's gonna play it is rather foolish. The band that we are and the class that we're in and the age that we are, as far as MTV is concerned, and the've told us this, they would never play a video by us because we're too old. So why spend so much money? It's nice to dream about it, and if it's grass roots sales out there that's warranted, I'm sure there would be some kind of video. I'm sure there would be, but until there's a reason to do so, we're not going to do it.

AS: Are there any plans about when you will take on the next studio album?

RG: No plans, but intentions. Somewhere round about the end of next year we'll go and do a writing session, or something like that, that's a vague thought. But we certainly don't want to leave it five years for the next studio album. This last one was a good experience, I think we can do another one fairly quickly.

LW: We know, and Ian Gillan says so every evening that you had some close connections with the crew of the USS Columbia, "Contact Lost", the title says it all. I saw the pictures on the web after your concert in Mexico city when you were given what remained of the CDs, and from the pictures alone it was very touching. Wasn't it somehow also a strange feeling to get what remained of such a terrible accident?

RG: Yes it is. It's odd, you see things on the news, they have to do with other people and other places. And just that little thing made you a part of someting that you'd seen on the news. It was very moving, he's a lovely man and she was a lovely woman. I can't remember if I met her, but I met him and a couple of the other NASA guys. They came to Houston to see us. I was very impressed with him, we had a very good connection, he and I. He's very calm, a very sentient man, and dealing with a very public grief, and dealing with it by immersing himself in it, he's travelling around and talking about it, doing things like coming to see us and give us these things. It was a great experience but humbling, very humbling.

LW: You've been playing with Jon Lord for a very long time. Is this certain sense of familiarity also there with Don now in the band, or does it feel different on stage today? Maybe even more exciting?

RG: Well, it certainly feels different. It feels like Don. Personality comes through in your playing. Especially in a musician's band. In a musician's band your very playing IS your personality. Don is a different personality. I can't compare the two, because they're both great, they're just different. Jon is majestic and simple and stark and bluesy, and quite eccentric. Don is equally eccentric, but he is more fluid, he has different thoughts about it. He has different voicings, his voicings tend to be a bit more jazzy. I've noticed this, that growl of the organ, you know he's not playing a straight A minor, he's playing an A minor 7th and 9th and 13th on top, he's got that mix right. He's very very inventive, he's got great ears, he can hear something happen and respond to it. He's perfect for this band, it's what this band needs.

LW: Is it true that Don is playing Jon's hammond organ? I would have thought that Jon could never give up this instrument, he's been touring with it and playing on it for so long.

RG: I think it is, I'm not sure actually. I know Don wanted to get it from him, he wanted to buy it, and I think Jon wanted to sell it, but I can't remember if the deal was actually done. I think it's still the same one, but it sounds different, because Don has a whole different approach. The famous thing with Jon is that he went through a Marshall instead of going through the Lesley like everyone else. Straight feed to the Marshall. It was really really dirty and really ugly. Don has a slightly different approach to it, I mean, Jon had lost that, actually, Jon in the last few years went back to the Lesley sound, because it's a lovely warm sound. And that roaring sound, he kind of slightly distrusted it as an effect. I don't know, maybe he didn't, I can't speak for Jon. But all I know is that Don realized that Jon's organ sound was magnificient and he's worked very hard using not Marshalls but some ...

Daniel Stasch: Hughes&Kettner

RG: Yeah, that's it, what he said. And it sounds great, on stage it sounds great, and I know it sounds great out there. So he's in a way taken up the mantle of Jon and extended it. I'm very happy about that. I recommend being in a band that's happy.

AS: It's great to finally hear some new material on this tour. "New old" songs were not on the setlist, though. Did you decide not to play any or was this never even discussed?

RG: Yes, it was discussed. There are various factions in the band. I'm one of the ones that wants to play lots of new material and lots of strange old stuff, but I'm outnumbered by people who feel differently. It's kind of expected we have to do the classics. I think it's too expected. I think I'd like to take more chances. But I'm in a minority. The setlist is a battle. Not just amongst fans, but much of the band.

AS: And the battle rages on.

RG: The battle rages on (laughter)

LW: You said in an interview with Andree in 2001 that you would like to go on tour with "Snapshot". What happened to the plans? Are you still planning to tour with "Snapshot"?

RG: It's all down to logistics. It's all down to money. It's all down to time. I wanted to do some american dates, and I had everything pretty much set to go, we were gonna do B.B.King's in New York, and Randell, and I have to appreciate his point of view here, Randell was right in the middle of a Stevie Winwood tour and he's been with Stevie Winwood for nine years or so, and so he said "I can't do it". And that was my one window. And without Randell, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I don't want to go out and just have a pick-up band do that kind of stuff. If I do another album with different singers on it, then yeah, maybe, I'll do that but for this purpose Randell is the only one. And I begged him, I said "Can you possibly do one gig, and we'll film it, you know, we'll rehearse for a couple of days and we'll go and play some good clubs somewhere and we'll film it and we'll have something", and he said "Yeah, yeah, that's fine". I can't remember why that didn't work. I think it didn't work because it would have cost so much to do that one gig, no record company wanted to know about investing in it. So it's a question of me putting up money that I don't have right now. And so I couldn't do it.

LW: Do you feel you're exposing a lot of yourself through your music and by showing your paintings and sketches on the web?

RG: It's a conceit, in a way. I use my web page to display stuff that no one has ever seen before, except for immediate family. I think to be any kind of artist you have to stand naked in front of people. You have to be vulnerable. You have to just be who you are, regardless of how other people think of you. It did occur to me I might bury my soul too much before putting this on, but I looked at them and I thought "No one's ever seen this stuff", it's been down in my basement for years and years and years, this seems like a good opportunity. So I thought I'd try it. I don't know what people think of it, I don't get that much feedback. So maybe the whole world is laughing, and I don't know...

AS, LW: I don't think so!

RG: Oh, thanks, thanks (laughter)

AS: The last question: Please complete the following sentence: "If we all stay healthy..."

RG: The End (laughter)