antiMUSIC: It's surprising that you're
the only one from that big triumvirate, Sabbath, Zeppelin and yourself
and you've not survived but thrived. Some of the other bands had things
that made it impossible for them to continue but it's strange that creativity
is still not a problem on your part.
Ian Gillan: Well, I think so. I
hate to say it because I don't want to bang on about Ritchie, but listen
I've had some great times. And quite honestly I hope, we've reached that
age now. I hope he finds some happiness, and I hope he's enjoying what
he's doing. I really hope so. But once that monstrous ego was removed from
the set up, and everyone gets up…there's no leader in this band, and we
just enjoy what we're doing. It's a rotational leadership, not on a weekly
basis, but if somebody's got a good idea, we'll all listen, ya know. I
hate to say it, but there's a thing called enthusiasm. It's an unknown
factor. For some reason we grew up in an age of tremendous enthusiasm and
optimism and it's just the way the way we grew up when we were kids. It
was post-war situation. And the dynamics of society were completely different.
I guess it was only recently it started, I guess around the grunge period,
which started with punk really, with what I call the long guitar strap,
when suddenly everything became very pessimistic. Very self-centered. Very
focused on the inner me. "I hate you, I hate society. I hate all of this."
It seemed to be almost inarticulate as far as I'm concerned, as far as
music, the stuff I grew up with in the '60s and '70s. Which seemed to be
able to criticize and be constructive at the same time. In other words,
I was told at school, unless you've got a better idea, shut up.
antiMUSIC: You've been partners with
Roger going on 40 years now. What symbiotic elements are present in your
Ian Gillan: We came from similar
parts of West London. We came from a similar environment, although our
approach to life was different. He was a stinking hippie. Went to art college
and I was a rock 'n roller. Jack the lad. Hard drinking. Women and all
that sort of thing. I guess we rubbed off a bit on each other. What I can
say is that over the years, he's the nearest thing I ever had to being
antiMUSIC: Gillans's Inn is now out.
I have not yet had the good fortune to hear it. What can you tell us about
recording with all these guest artists?
Ian Gillan: A couple of years ago,
I was having a chat with my manager on the phone and during a lull in the
conversation he said: "Look I've been thinking. You've been a singer now
for about 400 years. It's about time you did an anniversary record or something
special don't you think?" And I thought it was going to be an easy thing,
because I thought he was talking about a compilation, I got to work burning
a few CDs from midi files and played them in the car and realized very
quickly that this wasn't going to work for two or three reasons. The older
songs were incompatible sound-wise, They were different eras, different
musicians, different studios, and different approaches. Although the underlying
element, I suppose was that I was involved on every one of them, but the
extraneous factors were quite significant and made it uncomfortable to
listen to no matter how I put them together. The other point of course
was that there was no Episode Six or Javelins recorded material which was
suitable to go amongst this stuff. Then I began to realize what a nightmare
it was going to be licensing all this stuff…all the hundred of record labels
I'd been over the years. Then I made a few phone calls and with a beginning
of an idea, and sent a few email messages and I think within a day I got
a reply from Joe Elliott and Tony Iommi and Joe Satriani and Jon Lord and
all the guys in Purple. And they said, "Yeah count me in. I'd love to do
it. Brilliant." So we then changed the entire concept around. And I had
this imaginary pub called Gillan's Inn, and you walk in and it's a free
bar and there's a stage bar with all the equipment set up and all our mates
are there and we just get up and have a jam and each one gets up and plays
for 3or 4 songs and we all mix up amongst each other. And so of course
it all turns into this most amazing thing because I'm suddenly trying to
select the material and I'm going well if Tony Iommi's coming We've got
to do "Trashed" which is the opening track on the Born Again album.
And I said, "This is perfect because I have Tony Iommi, Ian Paice and Roger
Glover all together, which is what we did. Sounds awesome. Similar thing.
"When a Blind Man Cries". I really wanted Jon Lord play the Hammond solo
on that one because it's very much him. Now who could we get who is not
on the list already, that's got a nice blues touch. And my producer says
"What about that Jeff Healey." Bloody brilliant. He said he's right here
in Toronto so we phone him up. And said "How you doing. It's been a long
time" because Jeff used to jam with us a few times. So I explained the
concept and said "Would you like to play on "When a Blind Man Cries", hoping
he'd understand the irony and he said knew the song and respect the lyrics
a lot, Jeff being blind and all. So we ended up with him in the studio
with us having a riot for three or four…I've got a hand-held camera on
most of the stuff. I mean I had to hear Joe Satriani on "Unchain Your Brain"
which is from the Glory Road album. And we just got to San Francisco,
chatting for half an hour and he said "Right, now what would you like me
to do"" So I played him the track and he jumped straight in and at the
end, there are 36 bars of outro, and he hadn't even heard it (laughs) and
it was just some of the most exciting improvisation.
There's another twist here because it's
a dual disc because I had wanted to do something more. I have missed very
much the days when you could open a gatefold, final album and flip through
the pages and look at all the beautiful photographs, candid shots, the
anecdotes the lyrics, the extension from the studio through into the design
of the product that draws you into it, and acts as a some kind of conduit
between you and playing the record for the first time when you're introduced
to it. It's somehow seen to be a class thing, and yet over the years with
have these, since the digital age, we have these CDs which always arrive
in broken bits of plastic for some reason or another. I actually met a
guy a couple of weeks ago, who can actually open a new cd in less than
10 minutes! Quite remarkable. Because of the packaging….I've thrown more
cds out of the window, having not played them.
So I wanted to do this book and so I wrote
this book and had all the parts, so I was talking to John Trickett who
is the CEO at 5.1 Entertainment / Immergent Records which is my label in
California, and he said "Well you know you've still got a problem because
the stores aren't going to rack it. You've got to be a conventional size
in the stores. We could sell some in bookshops and we can sell some on
the Internet. We could do that. Why don't do that all that you want to
do it electronically. Since then for the last six months they've been working
their nuts off in the studios there. There's a guy there named David Cates
(?), he's the designer. He's a big fan and he just put the stuff together
and we've been going back and forth. And I'm actually thrilled with it!
I've never had a record company work so hard on a product. SO all in all
it was a thing of joy, and of course a time to meet up with some old friends
and have a few beers that was good too.
antiMUSIC: I've heard Ronnie James Dio
is on one cut. Why would you invite another vocalist?
Ian Gillan: Well, it was basically
a party and I'm inviting mates. Ronnie said 'You fancy popping over for
a glass of wine?" And I said to Ronnie, "While I'm over there, why don't
you just exercise your tonsils on a couple of these things. (laughs) It's
very simple. It's not even harmonies. It's just straightforward backing
vocals, and I'd love to have you on the record just to say you were there
and to show the world we're good mates." And he said he'd love to. He's
on two or three songs just singing along. Same with Joe Elliott, except
a little more, he's doing harmony.
antiMUSIC: At this point in your career,
your back catalogue is so enormous, how is it possible to remember all
the lyrics to your songs. I know you get into the rhythm of the set after
awhile but have you ever, at the beginning of a tour, come out some nights
and just gone blank on a certain song?
Ian Gillan: I work very hard on
my words. But the answer to that is yes (laughs). Which is why for the
first 2 or 3 shows I always have a prompt book on the drum riser, open
at the page, just in case, hopefully nobody sees me but they do sometimes
spot me now and again taking a quick glance at the next line. Once I’m
set on the song, I’m alright. The funniest moment of all time, was the
opening of the Black Sabbath tour, doing “War Pigs” or “Iron Man”. For
some reason these words are like toxins, they would not burn into my brain
(laughs), just wouldn’t absorb. Ozzy was the singer and obviously his stuff….I
had to learn it and I could not. And these are the simplest of words but
it wouldn’t sink in. My brain was “Reject, reject”. So I had a prompt book
that I had put on the front of the stage, and I practiced in my kitchen
turning the pages of this plastic display book with my feet, so I could
do it, sort of…
Ian Gillan: Uhm, yes, inconspicuously,
yes, in front of 12, 000 people, but that would have been all well and
good but we were laughing so much at Stonehenge and the disaster with the
dwarf and all that, that I completely forgot. And the cheapskates had spent
millions on the production except at the rehearsal the day before they
hadn’t used the dry ice, which came billowing out at a shoulder high cloud.
And I was racing to the front of the stage because I had forgotten the
first line of the first song. And it overtook me. So I squatted down at
which point the floor lights came on and blinded me, so I was just trying
to swat away the strobe and poking my head out every now and then. You
know what an auspicious way to start off a tour. Very lovely. It was wonderful.
Longest party I’d ever been to. (laughs)
antiMUSIC: It’s still amazing to hear
you scream on the new record. I’ve heard that you’re not one to pamper
your voice by any means. To what do you attribute your fantastic
voice remaining intact with the amount of touring that you guys do? Just
Ian Gillan: Yes it is. I mean I
have used my voice everyday of my life and I grew up in a musical family.
I was a boys soprano in the choir, when I was a very young boy. And you
know when you do something every day, you kind of get good at it. On concert
days I still get tickles in my tummy. I have to keep my adrenalin levels
low by meditation and other things. And I walk on stage I’m just completely
relaxed. And yet exploding with energy. I think it goes back to that enthusiasm
thing. But I remember the days when I wasn’t singing well at all, so I
think it’s just as important to be in a mentally good frame of mind as
it is to be in a physically good shape. I keep a reasonable eye on myself,
I mean I drink. I would say moderately, as compared to what I used to.
I don’t have a drink until after the show. I’ll have a couple of beers
during the show. I walk miles everyday with my dog when I’m home. Not that
flat level walking, It’s more of a hill and cliff walking. And I swim miles
too. So I keep myself in reasonably good shape. But I don’t like gymnasiums
and things like that. I don’t like the smell.
antiMUSIC: Believe me I could talk to
you all day. But I know you’re busy. Thank you so much for taking the time
to speak with us and continued success with both your records.
Ian Gillan: It was my pleasure.
Thank you for your interest. All the best.
Morley Seaver and antiMUSIC thank Ian
Gillan for the pleasure of this interview.
Ian's official homepage
the official Deep Purple homepage
Gillan's Inn DualDisc Online
Gillan's Inn @ Gillansinn.com
and Purchase Deep Purple CDs online
a friend about this review