Another shade of Purple
Q. Whose idea was it to tour with an orchestra? You’ve done it before, but never in the US, correct?
A. No, we haven’t done it in America. But really, symphonic is a bit of a misnomer because although it’s strings and such there’s also horns and there’s a leaning toward the jazz side of things rather than the overblown orchestral thing. So, it’s not as symphonic as it sounds. However, we will be playing a lot of the songs that people know and a few that they don’t. It’s a challenge. This is in no way a quiet gig, this is a Deep Purple gig.
Q. Were you excited to choose certain, maybe different, songs because of the orchestral for-mat?
A. There’s one or two of those, songs we haven’t played for a while that are getting an airing again. Getting excited at this stage of my career is difficult. (Laughs). Actually, I’m really looking forward to it. And the challenge is, there are some groups of cities where we’ll use the same orchestra, but by and large it’s going to be a different orchestra every night.
Q. You’ve been doing this a long time. What’s different for you these days on tour, do you derive different pleasures from it?
A. We have better hotels now. (Laughs). When you think about the distant past, it’s amazing. When Deep Purple started we had one 10-ton truck and one car and only four of us could ever fit in the car at any one time. We had two roadies and they set all the gear up and did the lights and sound and it was all very haphazard and fragile as hell. Anything could’ve gone wrong and frequently did. But then you get a little bit of success and all of a sudden they’re not roadies anymore, they’re technicians, and your friends are not friends anymore, they’re legal advisers. Things do change.
Q. Speaking of change, on your website this incarnation of Deep Purple is referred to as Mark VIII. This is one of those bands that fans argue about which lineup was the best. Do you do that kind of comparing or is it just evolution to you?
A. It gives [people] something to talk about, doesn’t it? People need that. People need to compare their football teams. It’s pointless, there’s no such thing as the best. What’s the best poem in the world? What’s the best cup of tea you’ve ever had? The thing about all the lineups is that everyone that was in those particular lineups had something to offer musically. And the best is just purely an opinion.
Q. So it’s OK with you if someone thinks the best lineup of Deep Purple was one that didn’t include you?
A. No, of course not, when I was in the band [it was the best], that goes without saying. (Laughs)
Q. That did seem very magnanimous of you.
A. I get my opinions from the Internet and most people seem to think that the Mark II lineup was the classic lineup, because it was the band that spawned all the big hits. But that’s if you measure success in terms of sales. To me success is actually just finishing an album. (Laughs)
Q. Which leads to the question: Where are you in the process of making a new album?
A. We’ve had a writing session in Spain in March. We had nine days of nothing but jamming and getting ideas down and it was great. It will get worked on later this year and hopefully we’ll have an album out next year.
This interview was edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com.