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Roger Glover

Roger Glover
Albums Are A Losing Proposition

09.09.2011

Архив интервью | Русская версия

While the whole world has been anxiously waiting for a new studio album by Deep Purple and the band itself has been thinking whether it’s worth to release an album at all under current circumstances, bassist Roger Glover has answered this question positively at least for himself and is now coming out with a new solo record wonderfully titled “If Life Was Easy”. The record may not be quite what a regular Deep Purple fan would expect from Roger, since the bassist covers a vast variety of styles not always having anything to do with hard rock, but it’s an interesting piece of music for anyone with an open mind. And for us it’s a great opportunity to talk to the man whose powerful bass notes formed the foundation of many of rock music’s most famous songs. It’s a pity we were only given a 15-minute slot, but as you can see below, we tried to make the most out of it…

It was reported that “If Life Was Easy” was originally recorded in 2007, but it only comes out in mid-2011. Why did it take you so long to release it?

(laughs) It took me a lot longer than that actually. I started writing this album probably nine years ago. I’m not pressured to making an album every two years or three years, it doesn’t really matter, it’s whenever it’s done. My main priority is Deep Purple, and the other main priority in my life is my family. Between those two things there’s not actually a lot of time to concentrate on something. I’ve been through a very turbulent decade, I’ve moved countries, I was getting divorced, the separation with the children – there was a lot happening in my life. Between all that writing songs sometimes takes a back seat. To me it’s not too long, 2007 is a couple of days ago really.

Do I get it right that the album was recorded in 2007 and was only waiting to get released for all these years?

It’s nothing like that. It was being recorded in bits and pieces over the last nine years. I wrote a lot of songs, I think if you’re a songwriter, you’re a songwriter 24 hours a day, because your antenna is tuned to pick up interesting things you hear about, you see, people say or happen to you – good things or bad. I tend to write lots of ideas. One of the problems I had with this album is I couldn’t stop writing. At last my daughter Gillian told me about a year ago, when I said I’d written some new songs, “Dad, you gotta stop writing songs and finish this album!” And I really suppose she’s right. I’d go on writing and writing and trying to improve and improve, but sooner or later you just have to stop and get it out of your system. Some of the songs I’ve written I didn’t use on that album, maybe I’ll record them for the next album. It wasn’t one single recording session, it was bit by bit over the years.

Some of the people that play on this new album also played on your previous solo effort, “Snapshot” (2002), and others are new. For instance, how did you get to know guitarist Oz Noy? How did he end up playing on your record?

Actually it’s because of the drummer, Joe Bonadio, he’s a New Yorker. I met Joe through my engineer Peter Denenberg, he’s my co-producer and engineer, I said to him one day, “I’m through with my drummer. Are there any drummers you know?” He said, “Well, there’s a guy called Joe Bonadio”. That was on “Snapshot”, and since then Joe and I have become very good friends. And he knows a lot about the New York scene. When I called him up and said, “I’m starting another album”, he said, “Great, I’ve been waiting for this!” because he really enjoyed playing on my album. I said, “I’m looking for a guitarist, do you know anyone?” He said, “Yeah, I’ve got a couple of ideas”. He knows me and he knows what I’m looking for, I’m really open to experimentation, trying different things, because I don’t have any standing procedure, I’m looking for creativity. So he introduced me to Oz Noy. When we went into the studio to just try him, I had no idea what he’s like. But he turned out great, he’s a very unusual guitarist, very inventive, especially with the boxes, he knows how to handle them, he’s very clever with that. If you listen to the opening track, “Don’t Look Now”, the guitar work on it is quite startling. That’s also what I like, I like original, unusual stuff.

You mentioned your daughter Gillian who is singing on many of the tracks. How is it like playing music with your daughter? Did you encourage her to become a musician?

No, that was entirely new to her. When she was 12 years old, I did a demo with her, trying her 12-year-old voice, and it wasn’t that good. She’s been actually studying hard, she wants to be an artist, a painter, and she’s a very good painter, too. But after she finished college, she went to Egypt for a year, she became a diver and a dive guide. I called her up one day, I’m used to keeping in touch with her once in a month or something, and she said, “Oh, I’ve joined a band”. I said, “You?” She said, “Yeah, I’ve joined them, and I’m doing this band”. A little while later I went to visit her in Egypt, and that’s when I first heard her, she was 21 at that time. I was just amazed that she’d found a whole different voice to the one I remembered from when she was 12. She had matured, she had grown up, and now she has this great jazzy sexy voice. And she wrote beautiful words, I love her phrasing, so I became a fan. In a way, it’s very easy to associate with her as a daughter, when you’re in the studio working, you’re just two people. She’s the right person, she’s my equal in the studio, there’s no father-daughter thing going on really.

You sing some of the songs yourself, which you don’t do very often and which you’ve never done in Deep Purple. How did you discover your singing talents?

I don’t think I’ve got singing talents! (everybody laughs) But after I sang one song on “Snapshot” a lot of fans, a lot of friends and a lot of family said, “Oh, you should sing more”. I said, “Yeah, but don’t have such a great voice.” They said, “Yeah, it’s different, but it’s a lovely voice, you should do it more, don’t be scared.” So I took that road. I’m not a rock singer, I don’t have that high bluesy kind of voice that I hear in my head, the voice that I hear in my head isn’t the voice that comes out of my throat. So I took the right songs that my voice can handle, the songs that suit me. And if I write a song that I like but I don’t wanna sing it, I get someone else to sing it, Gillian or Dan McCafferty or anyone else that’s on the album. But I did try to find a voice of my own, even though I still don’t know what it is.

The “Snapshot” cover artwork was very memorable. The new album has an eye-catching cover, too. What is the meaning and the story behind of it?

Actually the “If Life Was Easy” cover is a photograph… The same is for “Snapshot”, that was a photograph of me made by my father when I was three. I like photographs, I like paintings, anything creative, and when I’m on tour, I go around and take pictures of interesting things that I see. And that was a photograph I took about six or seven years ago in Poland, I can’t remember which city, but I saw this quite big heart on the wall. I’m not interested in graffiti as such, but I’m interested in the effect that time has of surfaces. That happens to graffiti, too, it is affected by erosion with the passage of time. And that great big heart is plastered in a way that it looks like broken. That is the image I discovered, a broken heart. I didn’t think about it when I started working on the album, for years I thought, “What is the cover gonna be like?” I was trying to think how to call the album, the usual things that you go through in your mind when you’re searching for an image. And something came to me one night about three o’clock when I woke up in bed and said, “Oh God, that photograph is a broken heart, it sums up the situation in my life in the last 10 years!” Broken hearts is a big part of my life right now. I thought, “That’s a good style!” When you do a solo album you have the freedom to do what you like, you don’t have to get the rest of the guys to agree with you. This makes it a lot easier in a way.

By the way, have you played this album to your Deep Purple bandmates?

No.

Why not?

When I get copies of the album, I’ll probably give them a copy each. But it’s a strange thing, we don’t really tell each other’s solo careers in between us. I listen to what they do, and maybe they listen to what I do, I don’t know, we don’t talk about it that much. Ian Gillan really likes “Snapshot”, he told this to me, he said it’s a really good album. But it’s not something that you have to do. Right now I don’t have copies of the album. It’s interesting – talking to people like you who have it, and I don’t. Anyway, I will give them a copy of the album, but I won’t play it for them, because I don’t want to be in the same room when they listen to it. This is an uncomfortable thing – if someone plays you a piece of music, you are expected to say, “Oh, it’s great” even if you don’t like it. And I want to give them the freedom to dislike my album without feeling uncomfortable.

You already have quite a few solo records. Have you ever considered playing this material live? Maybe doing a solo tour or selected shows?

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind doing a solo tour. Time is one problem, and the other problem is that I’m not that well-known that I can do a tour. I did investigate doing a tour when “Snapshot” came out, I tried the musicians that I wanna work with and I tried the venues I would be able to play, and I found out that I’d be paying tons of money to those musicians. In fact, it would cost me an awful lot of money to do that. Unless there is real interest from the public and suddenly the record started selling a lot, or one song started getting a lot of attention, there’s more of a trust that I would do that. Right now time is very tight for me, but the idea of doing a live thing, yes, I’d love to do that. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, it’s just that it’s not gonna happen right now.

In a recent interview you were asked why is it taking Deep Purple so long to release a new album, and you answered that there was disagreement in the band about whether you should be doing an album at all these days. Have you made any decision on this matter since then?

Yes, we have. The whole thing about doing an album is that we live in different parts of the world. When we don’t tour, we go home to our families, and it’s very difficult to get everyone to agree to come out and do something when there’s no particular reward. Albums are not the support that they used to be, they are basically a losing proposition. However, I’m of the opinion that whether it’s a losing proposition or not, we should do it. Although I said there was disagreement in the band, it wasn’t meant to say we argue. We have this rift all the time, and we’re still good friends. It’s not a bad thing to disagree. But some people in the band say, “You know, times have changed, it’s now the era of MP3 and iTunes, we should just put out a song or two via the Internet.” It’s not that we don’t want to work or that we have lost our creativity. It’s just that we couldn’t figure out which way to go. But we did actually make the start this year – in March we went to a studio in Spain and had a writing session for about nine days. And it was very productive. Every day we’d go to the studio and we’d just jam and jam. We got out of it a dozen ideas floating around, they are not finished, they are just ideas, some are more finished than others. I think later this year or certainly early next year we will be getting together again somewhere to finish those, and it’s gonna be cool. I’d hope that we will have an album to come out next year. But we’re not gonna release it until it’s finished. (laughs)

It’s been announced that Jon Lord is re-recording his “Concerto For Group And Orchestra” in the studio, to make some sort of ultimate version of it. And with today’s technology, projects like this should work out much easier. And you personally – have you considered completing the “Butterfly Ball” cartoon with today’s technology at hand? Back then it was too effort-intensive, but what about now?

Yes, several people over the years have suggested that I should update it or re-record it or turn it into a musical. Those things are entirely possible, but I think it’s not something that I can do, it’s something that I can contribute to. I can see it as a musical on the stage, but to do it properly would take an enormous amount of money. Have you seen the musical “The Lion King”? It’s a fantastic musical, it’s a spectacle, it’s a wonderful piece of theatre, but that cost more than 16 million dollars to do. For me to sit down and start thinking about “Butterfly Ball” in those terms – I couldn’t possibly do it. It would require someone to come along. Over the years a few people would come along who were interested, but nothing recently. I don’t know if that’s a project that will ever get off the ground, even though it would be very nice, I would like to turn it into a musical or a movie. I think it’s an interesting piece of work, and I’m very proud of it. But who knows? It’s really not down to me, it’s down to other people.

You apparently know that the Dutch political party CDA used the song “Love Is All” in its election advertisements in 2006. What is your opinion about this move? Did you approve it?

I didn’t know it. And I’m not very happy about that. I’ve always tried to be not political in my career, a person’s politics are his private things, and I don’t wanna influence the people to think the way I think. I’m a-political, if you like. So to have something of my musical work used for a political purpose actually doesn’t please me very much.

Well, but let me ask you one more about political question. Deep Purple recently met with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and this meeting got a very mixed reaction among your fans. Some of them felt that you sort of betrayed the rebellious aspect of rock’n’roll by attending such a meeting. What are your personal feelings about it?

(laughs) Nothing like that. He’s a fan, he’s a fan like anyone else. Yes, I understand he’s a president, but to me it doesn’t send any messages apart from the fact that we have a fan who is the president of Russia. That’s all it says, there’s no political meaning behind it al all. And rock’n’roll revolution – excuse me, what’s that? I don’t think we’re revolutionaries. We’re just entertainers and we’re musicians, that’s all. If people want to think that we are part of some kind of underground movement that’s against the society as it was, it’s bullshit. We’re just musicians, and he’s just a fan, and that’s all it was.

I understand, but in Russia the perception is a little bit different, especially among the older fans, for whom rock’n’roll was a tool of rebellion in the Soviet times…

You’re talking 40 years ago. Things have changed.

Not quite 40 years ago, in more recent times, and those people are still around anyway…

It just tells you that perception is greater than reality. You can’t change what people believe - if they wanna believe that, then fine. I don’t agree with that, but if they believe that, they believe that, I can’t change other people’s ideas.

One more question about Russia – I’ve read your report about the Russian tour you did in 2004, and it seems like you were not particularly happy about anything, but the fans. You have visited Russia many times since then – has anything changed for the better?

Yes, it has improved, absolutely! Forget the fans, forget the music, just the infrastructure of moving gear around and setting up things and traveling was not very well organized. There are still things going on in Russia that wouldn’t go on in any other European country, you really don’t need them. I won’t go into details, there’s no point of going into details, but the Russian promoters of the last tour made a decision on their own, which didn’t make any sense whatsoever, and all they were trying to do was to save a bit of money. But in fact, it ended up costing them a lot more money. That kind of things is just plain stupidity. It’s not only in Russia, we get that in South America as well. All over the world you don’t always have the guarantee that everything’s getting off smoothly. But during the earlier tours in Russia there were a lot of things around that made our life a little difficult. It has certainly improved, the last time we were there it was easy, it was just like touring anywhere else.

It’s great to hear that the situation is improving. We would be happy to see you back in Russia some time soon, both with Deep Purple or as a solo artist!

I’m sure we will be back in Russia. The Russian people gave us a wonderful welcome. Anything I say about Russia has nothing to do with people, they’ve been very good to us, and we’re very appreciative of that. We’ll be back!

Roger Glover on the Internet: http://www.rogerglover.com/ 

Special thanks to Maxim Bylkin (Soyuz Music) for arranging this interview

Interview by Roman Patrashov
Live photos by Natalie "Snakeheart" Patrashova
July 19, 2011
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