Having recently reviewed “Gillan’s Inn” the latest album from Ian Gillan, “legendary singer from Deep Purple”, I was offered the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Unusually for me, it was a favourable review, so I was pretty hopeful that Mr Gillan would be favourable to me and my questions. I jumped at the chance – here’s what I asked:
Do you ever get tired of being called the “legendary singer from Deep Purple”? (I’m guilty of doing this myself, I must admit – but only so lay people would know who you are). Even when you bring out your own solo album, you can’t seem to get away from this label, is this a frustration?
Well, I’ve been called a lot worse. Sure I have done a lot of other things in my life but – essentially – Deep Purple is the most fulfilling and continuous.
Someone asked me if I felt that I had lived my life in the shadow of Deep Purple. That was a shocking question because I have always – well mostly – considered that I have been bathing in the sunshine of Deep Purple, not lurking in the penumbra.
As for the legendary bit, I had a chat with King Arthur the other day and he said ‘Not to worry lad, you keep at it!’
This is one to reassure the fans, and the last mention of Deep Purple, I promise; no doubt you are already sick of this question – are you splitting from Deep Purple again?
No. If you could be a fly on the wall in our dressing room, the tour bus or the hotel bar you wouldn’t need to ask the question. All is well; I made a record and will – maybe – do some dates. Look who’s playing on my record.
Right now I have twenty to thirty songs – in various stages of completion – lying around looking for a home. None of these will end up on the next Purple record – that’s not the way we work – so what do I do? Wait for a break and have some fun doing something different in order to keep my palate fresh; we all do it, it’s called a bit on the side!!!
Why choose now for a career retrospective? It has a kind of a finality to it – or is this the beginning of a new chapter?
Last I heard it was an anniversary album, celebrating forty years of hard road. You are talking to the wrong guy when you mention ‘finality’. Every journey ends at the start of another and no two people can see things the same way.
What’s on the cards for the future – are you touring with the album? Or would this be a bit of a logistical nightmare considering the guest appearances?
Logistical nightmare – hmm, now where have I heard that before? If I can find some space I will do some dates – fer sure!
I recommend in my review that people should give “Gillan’s Inn” a listen for its sheer professionalism and production standards. Some people are never satisfied; how pleased are you with the finished product?
It’s very good in all departments; you can’t avoid that when Nick Blagona is at the wheel.
How and why do the songs on “Gillan’s Inn” differ from their original versions – now I know you’re going to say “Well…they’re better!” – but in what way? Some folk still believe if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…
You seem to know a lot more than I do. There was no intention to improve or even challenge the originals. They were all treated with the respect they were due as stepping stones along my journey and as the set list for a party. Apart from obvious freedoms the only intentional change was to ‘Loving on Borrowed Time’ where the sotto voce intro/outro was dropped into the basement and the dreaded ‘Phil Collins’ drum break was ritually assassinated.
From listening to “Gillan’s Inn”, it seems that you enjoyed recording the album – was it as much fun as it sounds, or were there any moments where you thought “I don’t need this?”
There was not a negative moment. With no lyrics or arrangements to write it was the most ‘relaxed’ project I have ever experienced.
Now’s your chance to impress us all with your ‘Rock Star’ credentials – have you ever demanded anything as befits your status? Do you have an extravagant rider, for example? Underpaid lackeys, or hangers-on?
Well I did have a ‘Dirty Old Roller’ once. Also, get this; a snotty journo came to my undressing room before a show somewhere and started gurning over the deli table that had been laid out…’…ALL THIS!!’ He spat out, whilst flipping his speechless fingers along the generous display of food and drink etc. ‘FOR YOU?’ So I gave him the cold eye and explained that, first of all we paid for everything that was ever put on a rider. Secondly, I personally never ate before a gig. Thirdly, this was some sort of gesture called ‘hospitality’ laid out for visitors like him, and finally – I was going to offer him some refreshment before we started but would he please now bugger off quickly and stick his interview up his unlubricated portfolio.
As a direct result of this experience, no journo or bigwig has since been offered a drop or a morsel in my room, and no amount of ogling my two beers and the dried apricot will make me weaken – Moronica can starve or die of thirst for all I care.
I travel around and see a lot of bands and acts at various gigs and ‘Open Mic’ nights – what advice would you give to somebody starting out playing to a half empty smoky pub? How do you keep going?
It’s not that easy to explain; music can be a good friend to you but it sometimes takes a while.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, and best of luck with the album and the future.