Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night
METAL EXPRESS RADIO INTERVIEW
Q: You are part way through your European tour ... how have the shows been going so far?
Ritchie: Serious, but not hopeless.
Candice: I think the bond between band and audience grows with each tour, some of the countries we are going to are new ground, so they're still getting used to us and tend to watch, yet still be attentive. But the places we've frequented more often get involved. Everyone's on their feet and singing, hundreds of people in garb at the shows, the unity is so beautiful.
Q: Are you playing traditional concert venues or are you trying something more historic like you have in the past?
Ritchie: We try both wherever possible. It depends on the logistics and wetherr or not we're new to the market.
Candice: It also depends on the promoters -- some are great, really involved in the music and how the right venue can really transport the audience. Some don't care about anything but money and want the easiest path with the least amount of work for them. We always prefer specialized venues, but we don't want to sacrifice going to a country if they are not offered to us -- it's a hard decision to make.
Q: You must almost feel like a medieval minstrel when you look at the ornate surroundings of some of the venues then look out into the crowd and see fans in period costume? Do you find that the shows in castles give you an extra lift as a performer and give the overall feel a touch more authenticity?
Candice: I think when you are singing in a castle courtyard, cobblestones beneath your feet, the ramparts around you, the moon is rising overhead, and a few thousand people are dressed as you are -- singing the same song -- there is such a positive energy there, its unparallelled. It is the true essence of harmony.
Ritchie: The historical venues remind people that it is a bit of an event, and not just another rock show at some club. The venue puts people in the proper mind set. You can't help but be swept away.
Q: Which country would you say that the fans get more into the spirit of the show?
Ritchie: Each country has such a different reaction. Some are more passionate, some more reserved -- but ultimately the outcome is the same. A strong camaraderie. Some audiences are there to listen more intently, some want to get involved so we change the set list accordingly.
Candice: I used to think Germany got into it the most, mainly because we've been there so often -- they know when to get up on their feet and dance! But since the release of the DVD, now it seems all the audiences we play for know that it's ok to get up and dance since they've seen it done on the DVD.
Q: I see you have played a few dates in Scandinavia ... have you had much opportunity to see some of the beautiful scenery?
Candice: This time it's been difficult for us to get out and enjoy the scenery because we're playing the big cities. I always find that to see the beauty of a country you need to get away from the big cities, the traffic noise and big buildings, to see what the country is really about. Our last time we had to take a boat through the fjords to get to the venues so we know the majestic beauty of Scandinavia.
Q: I would imagine that if you did, it would be quite inspiring on an artistic level. Do you often write new material on the road when you've seen somewhere of particular beauty or interest?
Ritchie: Sometimes we do, we just as easily get inspired by our own backyard, though. We live on the water with a forest to one side of our home and a bonfire pit in the garden. We surround ourselves with the elements and are very inspired by nature.
Candice: Although almost the whole of our last album Ghost of a Rose was written in different castles while on tour. 3 Black Crows was composed in Schloss Waldeck and Queen for a Day in Schloss Rabenstein. Maybe it's the energy of the castle walls and the spirits within them.
Q: Do you still look forward to playing shows in the U.K.?
Ritchie: Of course we always look forward to coming to the U.K. - it's my home after all.
Candice: I think the U.K. has more magical places than any other place in the world. What, with Stonehenge, Woodhenge, Avebury, Avalon/Glastonbury, Mother Shiptons Cave, and the list goes on. It's amazing.
Q: Do you find the set lists change from country to country and do certain songs get a better reception in certain countries?
Ritchie: More so by night than by country. Some audiences are ready for party time, some want to listen. We change the set accordingly. We have a large repertoire to choose from for that reason. I like to be predictably unpredictable!
Q: Are there any surprises in store for U.K. fans?
Candice: We may play some songs off our new album that is due to be released early 2006 called The Village Lanterne - but we'll see ...
Q: I think when the Blackmore`s Night project started, the general consensus was that it was a side project, something for Ritchie to get out of his system before embarking on his next Hard Rock record. You have obviously shown that this is not some flash in the pan and this is a band that is very close to your heart. Is Ritchie enjoying himself in a way that he had not for many years before forming Blackmore`s Night?
Ritchie: I have a new found freedom in this band because we have no boundaries. We can play whatever we want to, whenever we want, whether it's Folk, Rock, Pop or Renaissance music. It's a liberating feeling to not be stuck in a box or to have a neat little label stuck on your style of music.
Q: People would say it must be difficult living AND working with your other half. What do you do to get away and maintain your own space? Do you have separate interests or do you still do most things as a couple?
Candice: We are a really good balance for each other because his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa, so where one falls short, the other comes through. It's a yin-yang situation. We spend almost all of our time together and have the same interests, but we also know when to give each other space. He'll walk through the woods and I'll go for a movie night with the girls. But we don't take much time away from each other. We enjoy and understand each other completely.
Q: Spill the beans!!! What really gets on your wick about each other!?
Candice: Ugh, Ritchie picks his nose - I hate that!
Ritchie: And she doesn't!
Q: To those who see the band live it's clear that this band is more than just about Ritchie. Candice, you have certainly come into your own as the front woman and focal point for the band. Ritchie do you feel that she is now stealing some of your limelight?
Ritchie: She can steal all the limelight she wants because she spreads so much light herself. It also takes pressure off me, so I can concentrate on the music and not feel I have to worry about the "show."
Q: At the start of Blackmore`s Night, people seemed to be a bit cynical thinking that Candice only got the position of singer in the band because she was with you, Ritchie. Candice, do you feel that you have won over the doubters and do you feel you have grown in confidence over the years?
Candice: When we started this I just wasn't ready. Confidence is something that takes time to grow and I'm working hard on my craft. I feel as if I'm growing more into it with every tour. I'm in a more comfortable place now with what we do compared to where I was when we started.
Q: Candice certainly seems to be able to get away with making cheeky comments to Ritchie on stage in a way that previous lead singers would not!! I think this adds to her charm and to the general easy going nature of the show. Certainly the crowd seems to love the on stage banter ... how do you feel about this? It certainly counters the "moody" tag that Ritchie acquired many years ago!!
Candice: Ritchie's still moody. I just enjoy poking the dragon! Actually, how we are on stage is exactly how we are at the dinner table, so we're just being honest and real, it's just us!
Q: Do you feel that many of your old fans from previous bands have come along and supported you in Blackmore`s Night and do you think some have come to shows purely to see Ritchie play on the basis of his history and been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the music?
Ritchie: I think many have. Then there are those that you can never please. The same ones that when I was in Rainbow wanted me to go back to Purple and when I was in Purple wanted me to be in Rainbow! I don't care about them. At the end of the day, I play what pleases me -- no one else.
Candice: I think a lot of Ritchie's fans have followed him since the beginning of his career. They're now older and maybe not as into the hard music anymore. But they know the Blackmore name is synonymous with skill, so whether Ritchie's playing electric, acoustic, or the Hurdy Gurdy -- it's going to be great. Now they're married, so their wives like the music because it's softer and more romantic. Their kids like the music, because they're still innocent and like to dress up like Robin Hood or a princess. So we bridge generations and gender in our shows with our music.
Q: Jon Lord recently said that he would like to get all of the surviving past and present members of Deep Purple together for a one-off show. Would you be up for that?
Ritchie: It would be fun to get the MK 2 line-up together for a one-off, but I wouldn't be able to deal with their management.
Q: How did you feel when you heard about Cozy Powell being killed and when was the last time you spoke to him?
Ritchie: Last time we saw Cozy was in Denmark. He was doing an interview beneath my window in the garden of the hotel. I couldn't resist but to throw water out of the window and onto him. We always played practical jokes on each other. Cozy went too soon, but that's the way he'd have wanted to go, in his car. Last time we spoke to him he was making copies of the first Blackmore's Night album for his friends!
Q: Do you keep in touch with any of your old band mates from Rainbow or Deep Purple?
Ritchie: I bump into some from time to time. We may be doing something with Joe as a guest vocalist on one of our tracks.
Q: Out of all of the bands you have played with, if you had to pick a "dream" band who would be in it?
Ritchie: They're all a nightmare! You have to take into account not only musicianship, but a personality for everyone to get along with ... there's no easy answer.
Q: On Under a Violet Moon you did an inspired version of a Rainbow classic, "Self Portrait." What made you choose that song?
Ritchie: Candice can handle any song with a strong melody. That's the basis for us choosing a song ... secondly, if we can add something new or different to it. Same reason we covered "Wish You Were Here," "Diamonds and Rust," and "Ocean Gypsy." It was the strong melody content of the song.
Q: Have you considered any others ... "Catch the Rainbow" and "Rainbow Eyes" spring to mind, but I also think Candice could do justice to stuff like "Loves No Friend" ... what do you think?
Ritchie: "Rainbow Eyes" would be a good one. And we do "Soldier of Fortune" and "Child in Time" in concert. We're always applying a new approach to songs. There are many that I could hear her voice on.
Q: Are there any new bands or new guitarists who particularly impress you?
Ritchie: The bands I'm impressed by you would never hear on the radio or see on TV because they are not 16 years old. There are plenty of amazing bands and guitarists who you'll never hear of and it's a terrible shame.
Q: You have just released a lavish 2 DVD set. What do you think that this offers that other music DVD's don't?
Candice: I'm not sure; we don't watch many other DVDs. We just did what we wanted to portray from our world. We were really pleased with the concert footage -- the castle, the medieval market in the afternoon, and the magic between the band and audience, so once we had that we knew all the extras would just be cherries on the cake. We were very "hands on" with the whole procedure so it took longer. But ultimately we now have a product that we are so proud of that we feel it really represents the band and where we are right now, very well.
Q: What made you release a DVD at this stage of your career?
Candice: We just felt it was time. We also felt that with all the other incarnations of this band, we had finally assembled a line up that is the strongest one we've had to date. We feel more comfortable and stronger with our band mates and our catalogue of songs. It seemed the perfect time for a DVD release.
Q: What plans have you for recording new material? Will a new album be released next year?
Candice: We just finished recording 15 songs and our new album will be released probably in February 2006. Its name will be The Village Lanterne.
Q: For many people, Blackmore's Night will be their first taste of Renaissance music ... who would you recommend a newcomer should listen to if they wanted to explore this area of music further?
Ritchie: Des Geyers - a German band that has greatly inspired us, Wolgermut, Owain Phyfe, Dansereye, David Munrow and the early music consort of London.
Q: In the past you have declared a love of Blues music. Would you consider doing a wholly Blues project?
Ritchie: Maybe if I was drunk!
Q: In the past there has been some striking artwork for albums you have been involved with. Was it your idea to work with Ken Kelly and Peter Pracownik?
Candice: Actually we've only worked with Johanna Pieterman, who did the Shadow and the Ghost album artwork, and Peter who did the Violet artwork. Yes, it was our choice to work with these artists. Johanna has been a friend of mine for years now. The cover art is important as it should give you an immediate visual representation to what you are about to hear. We are involved in all stages of our CD's.
Q: Do you feel artistically liberated now that you are free from a major record label and you no longer have to bow down to the corporate demands of such a label?
Ritchie: I can play whatever I want to and tour wherever I want, whenever I want and not be worked to death by promoters, managers, and record companies.
Candice: It's just a shame that those corporate labels have such a stranglehold on the radio stations and music TV shows. But I think there's more people now than ever before looking for something different.
Q: To what extent in the past have you had to relinquish artistic control to outside forces?
Ritchie: Very little. I've been very lucky I never got involved in the big record company manipulation.
Q: How do you write in Blackmore's Night? Does one of you come up with a melody line and another a lyric or chord progression, or is it really a team effort?
Candice: Ritchie usually comes up with the melody line and will ask me to sing it to see if the range works. Then I'll go into a room and close my eyes and try to channel the song -- see where it takes me, I see what pictures the melody paints in my mind. Then I'll translate those pictures to words and rhymes and it becomes a song.
Q: In a world of reality TV and Pop Idol "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" Pop Stars, why do you think that you have lasted so long in this business?
Ritchie: By not following fashion. Fads come and go so quickly -- but unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. I ignore what the "in" fashion is and follow my own path.
Q: What does the future have in store for Blackmore`s Night and how long do you think you will continue?
Candice: We'll have to consult our Crystal Ball and get back to you. Right now we are still buzzing from the DVD release, enjoying our current tour and looking forward to the new CD coming out next year. And we'll do it as long as we love what we're doing.
Mick Burgess, Metal Express Radio
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