Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night
BURRN Magazine - March 2006
The DVD "Rainbow Live in Munich 1977" is coming out soon in Japan. Among fans this has become big news...
Ritchie: A concert in Munich from 1977?
You don't know anything about this DVD?
Ritchie: No, I don't. Tell Carole about this (laughs).
This show was recorded for television, and broadcasted in Germany at the time. Do you remember the show?
Ritchie: I had spent 4 days in prison prior to this show, so I hadn't really slept at all. I tried to play as best as I could. Other performances had to be cancelled, and when they asked me if I would play on the day I left the prison, I told them that it would depend on my mood. But I was so happy when I was released that I decided to go on stage.
Why did they put you in jail?
Ritchie: I hit the police officer from the stage.
Right during the concert?
Ritchie: Yeah. Because he hurt a girl in the crowd. I saw this and hit the policeman with my foot in his face.
There was a rumour that you were arrested, because you hurt that girl...
Ritchie: That's not true. Everyone who was at that show saw what was happening there.
On the DVD there is a bonus video interview with the then manager of the band, Colin Hart.
Ritchie: Colin Hart? Yeah, he was there, too.
On the same tour in Paris, you hung your promoter Eric Thompson naked over the crowd.
Ritchie: Yes, that's true. I recently heard that he was hospitalized with a brain tumor. When we were in Paris, I decided to play a joke on him, tied him with a rope and fastened it over the ceiling so that he hung over the stage like in a musical about Peter Pan. I played on stage, and six of my people grabbed Eric, undressed him and tied him up again the ceiling, completely naked. His girlfriend was watching the show and she was like: "That's my Eric?". French people weren't too surprised about it. They probably thought: "Pink Floyd had pigs on stage last week, what are they trying to surprise us with? A naked man over the stage?". Later, Eric Thompson told me that when Eric Clapton played in Paris a week after us, he wanted to do the same - he read about our joke in a British newspaper.
At the end of the show in Munich, Ronnie Dio left the stage during "Do you close your Eyes", thinking that you would start to break your guitar, and then realized that he was mistaken. So he ran back on stage with a cigarette, went to the Bob Daisleys microphone, realized that it wasn't connected, so he looked at you - and you had a good laugh about it...
Ritchie: (Laughs) I remember that.
I was at one of the concerts of this tour, and I was impressed by Cozy's drum solo. Did you tell him to arrange such a solo?
Ritchie: No, it was Cozy's idea. He was good at that. The drum solo always was the most successful part of our show. Cozy came up with an installation that rises above the floor of the stage and moves closer to the audience. Twenty years later, Motley Crue did this, too. Cozy came up with the use of dry ice and smoke, which made it seem as though a spaceship was taking off. He invented drumming to the music of Tchaikovsky. Cozy was amazing. When he did his thing, we left the stage to have a rest. For me it was a rescue, because I could go behind the scenes for some time, take a rest and go back on stage. Cozy played wonderful and exciting drum solos. Drum solos are usually very boring. Even John Bonham, the drummer of Led Zeppelin played the usual stuff. Cozy really know how to make it exciting for the audience. So the drum solos have always been a highlight of our shows back then. His solos always left people happy, no matter how good the rest of the show was. (laughs)
When I met with Cozy a few years ago, he told me that other drummers did that kind of solo already way before he did it.
Ritchie: I didn't know about that. I saw and heard it from Cozy for the first time. It was amazing.
At that time in Rainbow Ronnie, Cozy and you were probably the most important members. The others were more like session musicians.
Ritchie: No, for me the keys were very important. We had some great keyboard players in Rainbow. For example, Tony Carey. He was great. But we always had problems with him in the recording studio. As soon as the red light went on, he was just complaining and couldn't play well anymore. (laughs) When we recorded "Tarot Woman", he played a great solo on the first take. I asked Martin Birch: "Please leave this particular solo", although Tony said that he can play a better one. And of course, he didn't. Tony went to the keys with a glass of Whiskey in his hand, and started recording again. And of course, he couldn't play a better take than the first one, no matter how many times he tried.
Then I told Martin: "Do as I said and let's keep the first take". There were also times, when I wasn't able to record a proper guitar solo, no matter how many times I tried. But most of the times, the first take I did was also the best one with my solos. The first take was usually the best one. I once tried to record a solo from 10pm to 6 am. However, the best one was still the first one I did, because the later I played, the more I became drunk (laughs). Martin and myself started talking about religion and all that. When I was drunk, I always started talking about religion. In the end, I was so drunk and tired, so that all of the solos I did sounded horrible. But on the other hand it was great. It was great to sit in an old castle with a guitar, drink and talk all night (laughs).
Why did you fire Tony Carey?
Ritchie: Why? He often took drugs, and it didn't even bother him. People around me were always complaining: "Ritchie doesn't allow us to take drugs." But that wasn't quite right. I just wanted us to have no problems while recording or on tour. It's his body. The fact that he ruined it with drugs wasn't my problem. I like to drink, other people prefer drugs... That's the freedom of choice. Why did I fire Tony? Long story. We were joking a lot about him. In the lobby of a hotel, we even fought against each other... I think it was in Southampton, when we toured Britain. When I played a quiet song, he for some reason started to scribble on the keys. So I went up to him and said: "What are you doing, you're ruining my solo!" So after that, I stood in front of his keys for the rest of the solo.
Right during the concert?
Ritchie: Yeah. This led to a fight. When we returned to the hotel, I told him: "You're fired!". He just got me, I wasn't going to forgive him that. He then replied: "You need me, my career goes up, and yours is rolling down". I hit him in the face. It seems I had a bad habit of hitting other people in the face when I was angry (laughs). I said: "You will regret it". He fell to the floor and went away. But Tony was a very talented musician and an interesting person. However... He drank too much. I don't remember what else I did with him, but it was all very unpleasant. He was very talented, but he was convinced that I was the devil.
Ritchie: He thought I was the devil. The guy had problems. I joked about him a lot in this way, but he didn't understand it. Cozy and I made many jokes when we stayed in an ancient castle. It's a long story, it's hard to explain... Cozy and I arranged practical jokes together, but we made a mutual agreement, that we won't play tricks on each other. Because, when I did something to Cozy, he took revenge for me twice as bad (laughs). So I said to him: "Cozy, let's promise right now that won't do anything to each other, otherwise we'll have serious problems one day". When we stopped at this old castle near Paris, which was converted to a hotel, Colin Hart locked the lock of his door while we all drank on the first floor. We all drank alcohol, but he always got drunk the fastest. There was a room with a large fireplace, and we sat there every day, discussing our songs behind our drinks. But we didn't really play anything. We often met together, discussed music, but never played any. That evening, I said that I want to light a fire. So Cozy collected all the wood and threw it into the fireplace. It was impossible to light all this wood, it was too much.
I was surprised by what happened next - at one point the fire went out of the fireplace and it flared up in the castle. It smoked so heavily that we had to get out of the room. Even one of the walls burned in that room. Cozy just threw too much wood into the fire (laughs)! He also loved to climb into other people's rooms, pulling out all the furniture. When I left my room, I always locked the door with a key. Nobody trusted anyone. (laughs) One night, Cozy climbed onto the roof. It was quite high there, the roof was about 100 feet high, he climbed out of the window to Colin Hart's room and pulled out all the furniture. It was an incredible sight. I thought it was Spider-Man or Batman. "Who's there on the roof?" "What? It's Cozy!" "What are you doing there?". "Stealing furniture"! (laughs) When I came back to the fireplace another night, Colin Hart drank a liqueur. He looked at me and said: "He thinks I didn't notice anything, but I saw everything that poor Cozy did!" (laughs) When Cozy, having finished his business, came back to the fireplace, Colin said to him: "So, let's return all the furniture to my room now, ok?" Cozy was like: "What the hell?" and Colin said: "I saw everything from another window".
He spent several hours trying to play this joke on Colin, so he was shocked to hear that Colin knew everything. I remember that this particular castle was called Chateau d'Herouville. We had several ghosts in that castle. One of them was Chopin. Everyone was so afraid of the ghost of Chopin that they didn't to sleep at night. We gathered at the fireplace and drank until the sun came up. "Is it already 6AM?" "Yes - OK, time to go sleeping". In addition to Chopin's ghost, I also observed lots of other strange things. We even went to the toilet in pairs. It was really scary there. No matter how much we wanted to sleep or how tired we there, we never went to our rooms while it was dark.
I heard a story that during the recording sessions at that castle your cook constantly struggled with cooking the right food for Cozy.
Ritchie: I don't remember. Where did you hear about this?
Like Cozy eating up all the cheese or something like that...
Ritchie: Do you mean that Cozy had his own separate food? There was a widow, Mrs. King. She looked for Cozy every five minutes. "Have you seen Cozy?". Don Airey was always looking for him. Mrs. King and Don kept looking for Cozy all the time. They constantly asked: "Have you seen Cozy?", to which I shouted: "I don't know where he is, what's wrong with you?". Here's the story with the cheese. Mrs. King cooked all the food for Cozy, but just what Cozy liked. Mrs. King was gorgeous. She was hiding food from us. Once Jack Green, our bass player at the time, opened the refrigerator and tried to take the cheese. Mrs. King arrived "Put it back, it's Cozy's cheese!" When I tried to drink milk, she shouted: "This is for Cozy". Once I asked her: "Well, what remains for me? We can eat everything we pay for!". She replied: "Put your stuff aside again. This is all for Cozy.". All the food was meant for Cozy. That was cute. Jack, then, after a couple of weeks, was afraid to even open his mouth. I couldn't even take a bottle of beer. Mrs. King was an interesting woman.
There were many funny stories. Colin Hart and I recorded them. I even thought about writing a book together with him. When we lived in that french castle, there was always something weird happening, so I started keeping a diary. Another funny story was when we were looking for another singer. I got up early in the morning and wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. And yes, of course, Mrs. King was there too to ask us where Cozy was. (laughs) After we had breakfast and played a little bit soccer, I thought: "So what kind singers are we going to listen to today?". We listened to different vocalists almost every day and there were some really strange personalities that showed up. Once at breakfast, one really weird guy joined us. The others thought: "Who the hell is this?", and he said: "I'm a singer. I came to the audition". He looked like a wrestler, but he didn't fit our group at all. So I asked him to leave, but he said: "I want to sing!". But it turned out that he didn't know how to sing at all. He shouted with the same loudness as I usually talk. I couldn't listen to him and escaped to another room. He remained singing. Roger and Cozy stayed with him. I was laughing so heavily. Colin also asked him to leave. It was a pity that I left because I would have loved to laugh with Cozy. Roger tried very hard not to laugh! It was simply ridiculous to see how they were playing with a guy who couldn't sing a single right note. He sang "Mistreated", it was the worst version I ever heard.
When I wanted to ask Colin to tell the singer to leave, I thought: "Mhh, he will kill me if I ask him to do that". I didn't want any problems, so I left the room, leaving Colin to deal with this guy. But he insisted on singing "Mistreated" alone. Colin reluctantly said: "Well... please come back again later... You can sing with the band some other time, we'll give you a call". He asked him not to be worried (laughs). Colin was very angry I think that I just ran away and left him alone. (laughs)
In the Munich concert, you had David Stone on keyboards. Why did you fire David Stone?
Ritchie: David Stone was the weakest keyboard player we had in the band. He was very unpleasant to me as a person. Tony Carey liked me I think, but David Stone was a real snob. He was a terrible cynic. I didn't like him.
And there was one other David. David Rosenthal...
Ritchie: He was a great musician. A very talented guy. I even invited him to be the producer for our Blackmore's Night record. However, he lives in New Jersey, and didn't have time. He is a good person and an excellent musician.
Candice: I think he's currently working on Broadway, isn't he?
Ritchie: That's right. He works with Billy Joel. When I wanted him to be our producer, he was going to come to our house.
In the Japanese edition of your new album "The Village Lanterne", Joe Lynn Turner is also singing on "Street of Dreams". How did that happen?
Ritchie: We contacted him via the Internet. I thought it would be great to record a duet. "Street of Dreams" is one of my favourite Rainbow songs. Candice sings it perfectly, but I thought that with Joe we could double that magic. So Pat Regan went to Joe's home to record his vocals. I wasn't there, but during the recording we got a phone call from his wife. She told us that Joe was very angry with Pat. Pat escaped from there (laughs). When I asked Pat if he managed to record his vocals, he said: "Of course, but there were a few problems". Joe was sick and ill at that time, so he thought that his voice sounded bad. It took only an hour to record the vocals.
Candice, what do you think about all this?
Candice: If Ritchie thinks that my voice will fit to a certain song, I'll gladly sing it. There is also a version where I sing that song alone.
Ritchie: I wasn't sure who should sing the first verse, and thought it would be great if Candice sang it, but I was told that Joe refused to sing the second verse (laughs).
Candice: Joe has a beautiful and very melodic voice. He will be playing a show in Japan this week.
Ritchie: No, on the day of this show we will be in New York.
Candice: Two songs, which he managed to record for what was to become "The Battle Rages On" were perfect...
Ritchie: I wanted Joe to stay in Deep Purple, but the others wanted him to leave. They wanted Ian Gillan back. Well, it was all about money. The record company wanted the return of Ian Gillan.
Candice: The guys from New York at that time constantly changed their mind.
Ritchie: Weren't they Germans?
Candice: Yes, but they were living in New York.
Blackmore's Night are especially popular in Germany. Is that why you released your new DVD on a German label?
Ritchie: That's right. We value the German market. I love the Germans.
What about the British market? You don't like to make business in your homeland?
Ritchie: I like England. I love playing for the British, they also welcome us very warmly every time. But as for business, working in England is unrealistic. In Britain, you can't achieve any success when you are over 19 years old. Only young people go there, even if they don't know how to play.
Candice: We recently returned from a tour in Britain. Almost all shows were sold out, many people cam in Renaissance clothing. But the people standing between the band and the fans create a lot of problems...
Ritchie: They treat us with a pungent irony. Artists from America don't like to there because of the terrible British press.
Candice: Why don't we talk about our new DVD?
Candice: We tried to release a DVD like this for two years. I will never forget the shooting at Solingen Castle - it was raining, electricity was cut off. And this time it was a wonderful concert, there were no problems at all. So we remembered this show for a long time. Later we sat in a bar, and an engineer came running to us: "Everything is fine on the video, it's a great sound, but there is one problem...". He said: "It wasn't possible to record the electric guitar". When Ritchie heard that, he immediately ordered himself another beer mug. (laughs)
Ritchie: I needed one more beer to recover from the shock (laughs).
Candice: When we returned home, it turned out that during the show we forgot to turn off the microphone, which recorded the sound of the Hurdy Gurdy.
Ritchie: By mistake.
Candice: Yes, thanks to this mistake. Pat managed to get the electric guitar sound out of the general mix.
Ritchie: It doesn't sound the same as usual.
Candice: Better than nothing.
Ritchie: He tried very hard. But it still doesn't sound like I wanted it.
Candice: I don't understand how they could miss the recording of such an important instrument.
Ritchie: We didn't pay them enough money it seems.
(Christmas Eve is playing in the background...)
Ritchie: I love this song. I rarely like my own songs, but this one is amazing.
A video of this song is also on the DVD. There is so much material on there. It took me an entire evening to watch it.
Ritchie: They named me as the producer. I don't understand how that happened...
Have you watched the DVD?
Ritchie: No, I haven't.
Candice: The record company made a few problems. A couple of times I had to tell them what to cut and what to leave.
Ritchie: Candice worked hard. It's all done on the computer, but I don't know how to use a computer. I'm an old school man. Computer don't interest me. Candice always sits at the computer and does something there. Sometimes she asks me: "Hey, what do you think about this?". But I leave everything to her. I don't like watching how I play. When she's on the screen, I love to watch it. But every time I see myself on the screen, I get a strange feeling: "Is this really me?" And I can't evaluate how I played. I always want my appearance and playing to be better than it actually is. I'm never happy with it. When you watch yourself on video, it's hard to concentrate on the music. So I didn't watch this DVD. However, there was a moment that was important for me on this DVD, so I had to watch it. A helicopter flew near the German castle, and I thought it would be interesting to film the moment from the helicopter as we go to the stage.
In my head, I already imagined this beautiful scene. When I asked them about it: "Where is this scene?", I was told: "We just a little bit of it". "Why just a little bit?". "Well, it didn't go down too well". I knew it. When I asked them why, they told me: "Er... the camera broke down". Broke down? How did break down when you repeated this scene 16 times? I thought, our fans had to wave their hands up to the camera about 20 times in a row. They were like: "Why do we have to do this so often?" (laughs) It was supposed to be a really beautiful scene. The helicopter had to land by the time of our arrival, but they spoiled everything. And that was the only scene I was waiting for! And suddenly they tell me: "In short, we lost the footage". But it was just an excuse. So I got mad and said: "Without this scene there won't be any DVD". And believe it or not, suddenly the video footage appeared again! For whom do they take me? In short, someone was just too lazy to edit this scene properly for the DVD.
I thought you liked the scene with the carousel the most?
Ritchie: They wanted to leave this on the cutting room floor, too! We're speaking about the scene, where I'm riding on a carousel. When I asked them why they didn't include it, they said: "Because it ruins your image." So I said: "No, I don't agree to release a DVD without this scene". But in general, Candice was watching and approving all the material. I don't know a lot about it, because I haven't checked the end result. So blame her. I'm just playing the cats. I often play with our cats. They're always sleeping on the side of our bed.
Candice: We love them.
Candice, were there any overdubs done vocally for this DVD?
Candice: More than 90 percent of the live vocals are in this movie.
Ritchie: I overdubbed the guitar in some songs. It just didn't sound right in some parts. I immediately noticed that when I sat down to check the sound in the studio. "Hey, what's wrong with this band?". A few moments sounded just awful (laughs).
Candice: There were also problems with the violin in "Under a Violet Moon".
Ritchie: Some violin parts there were so badly played that I had to cut it. It was terrible.
Candice: It seems the violinist didn't hear herself. We had several such problems.
Violinist Rose and drummer Malcolm didn't take part in the recording of your new album...
Candice: Yes. Since the drummer lives in England and the violinist in Virginia, we used other musicians to record. Do you know the David Letterman show? Anton Fidge, the drummer there, played on our record.
Ritchie: Excellent drummer.
Candice: He lives in New York, so he could come. And the violin was played by Sarah Steining, who lives nearby.
Ritchie: However, despite the fact that she's very well versed in the music of the Renaissance, there are just a few violin parts on the new album.
Who will be with you on tour then?
Ritchie: The same personnel as before.
How did you get in touch with Anton Fidge?
Ritchie: I saw him on TV always thought that he was a great drummer. However, I never thought that he would agree to play the drums on our album, because he really belongs to the elite of the industry. Usually, it's impossible to work with such musicians, because they never have time. But when we contacted him, he, to our surprise, immediately agreed, came to us and recorded the drums on all the songs. I really like his playing. Most drummers on Long Island don't know how to play a swing, but he played superbly. There are a few drummers who can play a straight swing. Almost everyone can arrange a great show, but when it comes to a simple straight-line swing, they can't cope with that. The best in this regard was John Micelli.
What can you say about your other drummer John O Reilly?
Ritchie: He plays straight. He's got a good shuffle. John is one of my best friends.
Candice: He's a wonderful person.
Ritchie: Yes, sometimes it's more important than the drum technique. The older I get, the more I appreciate people for their human qualities, and I communicate with musicians less and less.
The album "The Village Lanterne" will be released soon. Let's talk about the new songs.
Candice: The first song on the album is called "25 Years".
Ritchie: It's an interesting song. It all started with the fact that I heard one song that the shepherds played on bagpipes. I like to collect unusual music. In one of these songs, I heard this melody. It was a folk song, I don't know who wrote it. In this song I played the hurdy gurdy, although I haven't yet learned how to play it normally. I tried to play something, but it was terrible, so Pat Regan had to collect everything that sounded acceptable, and put these pieces together. If you listen to the song, you might think that I can play the hurdy gurdy, but in fact, I don't know how.
Candice: You're playing it very well.
Ritchie: Very dirty. I made so many mistakes that can't listen to this song without laughing.
Candice: It has a great sound.
Ritchie: Yes, it was perfect for the song. At first I tried to play the part on an electric guitar, but it didn't fit the song. So I cut it all out and put in the hurdy gurdy. A heavy rock guitar isn't suitable for such songs. I tried to do it, but it was useless.
Why did you decide to make that the opening track?
Ritchie: To annoy the listener (laughs).
Candice: At first, the first song was another one.
Why did you change the order again then?
Ritchie: Because of the pace. This time it took us a lot of time to work on that CD. Six months? It's good that we finished. At the end I already started to feel sick of it.
Candice: From this song? Or from the album?
Ritchie: From everything. I thought: "I've had enough, thank you".
Candice: It happens when you constantly listen to the same song. Besides, when you sit in the studio with Pat for six months in a row, it's hard to hold back (laughs).
Ritchie: Pat always spends a lot of time down there. Usually, it takes him 5 days for something that can be done in 5 minutes. In the end, I stop understanding what I'm doing. He does his job well, but it takes a lot of time for that.
Candice: Maybe we should talk about poetry?
Ritchie: Poems don't mean anything. It's not Bob Dylan.
Candice: A typical guitarist's response (laughs). The second song on the album is "The Old Village Lanterne". The German television company was working on a film called Nimloth, and asked us to write a song for the film. In the end, we liked the result so much that we decided to leave the song for our album. (laughs)
Ritchie: The idea for the title came from a painting that a friend sent to us. On the painting was a big lanterne, in a sense: "Friendship is a lanterne in the night". I liked it. I hung it in my home bar. Then, when we were recording this album, a friend from Germany accidentally sent us the same picture. I thought: "That means something". For me it expresses a meeting of friends in a bar - communicating and laughing. It's great to play music in front of a crowd of 15.000 people, it helps to raise your ego. But I like to play music for friends in a bar or near a fireplace. That's what's catching me. I played in huge stadiums. But when I play an acoustic guitar in the corner of a room, I get the greatest pleasure of making music. It's easy to go on stage and behave like a monkey, put some amp on full power and play fast. Maybe it's cool, but it's pointless in terms of music. Music should touch a person. In the past, people who came to my shows were only happy when I played loud and fast. When the lights were on me, everyone went crazy. And I thought: "What would they say if I played the same music on acoustic instruments in a small room?". I think to touch a person all the equipment isn't nessacary.
But during your last Japanese tour in 2004, you picked up the electric guitar, and everyone went crazy.
Ritchie: I like that. But playing an acoustic guitar is much more difficult. I like working in both styles.
I'm glad that you still like playing electric guitar. Although you say that it's easy, but in the world there is no one who plays the electric guitar the way you do. Of course, I love your acoustic playing, too...
Ritchie: In the past, acoustic guitars seemed boring to me. Now I'm faced with a dilemma. In my head I always have sounds of medieval, Renaissance music. And I play the guitar. But sometimes I feel that the guitar isn't a suitable instrument for such music. It seems to me that I should play it on a mandolin and bagpipes. But I'm a guitar player. It upsets me. I play the music that I hear in my head on the guitar. I also play a little bit hurdy gurdy, but I mostly play the acoustic or electric guitar. Therefore, it's hard for me to listen to my own music, because it always comes out differently than I imagine it.
At home I listen to medieval music, the hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, all these wonderful medieval instruments. Now I'm doing a crossover. In my music there is something from rock, Renaissance music and a little bit of folk. Of course, that's not bad. We aren't like anyone else. We're trying new ways. I can't work in just one direction anymore. I'm really annoyed when someone asks us to play "Smoke on the Water". It was a great song, but it's impossible to play this riff all the time.
I think when you're being asked to play the electric guitar, you don't necessarily want to play "Smoke on the Water"...
Ritchie: Recently, journalists started to ask me: "Are you going to play hard rock again, because everyone is waiting?". Who are these "everyone"? I often communicate with fans, many of them are writing me letters, but none of them says: "I want you to return to the old hard rock music." Those who say that, should be aware that it's worth listening to all the other music out there. Young people often say that the music I'm doing now is better than the rock stuff I played in the past.
I think it's difficult to compare different periods of your work. People who like your old music, but don't like Blackmore's Night, don't necessarily listen to your new work.
Ritchie: Let's take the next question.
The name of the album "Village Lanterne" comes from the song "The Old Village Lanterne"?
Ritchie: Yes. The lantern symbolizes a light in the dark, as well as the meeting of people attracted by this light. But at first it was a song about a pirate ship. It was a slow song about the legendary pirate ship. It was about pirates facing their death on that ship, but then we changed the lyrics completely.
The third song is "I Guess it doesn't matter anymore". After a short introduction, the song moves on to a fast rock song with Candice singing in a very strong voice.
Ritchie: The melody reminds me of medieval music. I came up with this catchy melody when I played some medieval music in an ancient castle. In the introduction should have been a shawm, but when I listened to it, I didn't really like it, so I played it on the electric guitar.
Candice: The idea for the lyrics came from Chicago - there is a story about "Risen Mary", a seventeen-year-old girl who died in a car crash. Her ghost asks passing drivers to bring her to the cemetery, where she gets out of the car and disappears.
Ritchie: People from our former record company found the song "Under a Violet Moon" too weird, they didn't like it. After that, every time we had songs with such lyrics, I'm joking: "Maybe these lyrics are too weird". (laughs).
I really like the instrumental "The Messenger".
Ritchie: Because there's no vocals in it?
Because of the melody. When I heard it, I thought: "That's the Real Ritchie Blackmore".
Ritchie: That's right. I reminds me of some instrumentals that I wrote down in the past. But it's played on acoustics.
It's somewhat like "Maybe Next Time".
Ritchie: Yes, the harmony is reminiscent of "Maybe Next Time". It's melancholic and sad, but I wanted it's name to carry hope. That's life. Nobody knows when we'll die. But, in a sense, we all are trying to deny that we're gonna die one day. You start loving a person and he dies. He begins to suffer from illness, and then dies. That's why I'm interested in paranormal phenomena. I try to learn more about the soul, because I want to learn more about death. Many people are trying to ignore it, although everyone will experience that tragic experience one day. I was also inspired by the movie "The Messenger" about Joan of Arc, which I saw five years ago. It seems to me that the name is more interesting than the music itself. (laughs)
Please record more such things...
Ritchie: I have a lot of instrumentals in my head. Some are ready to record them, some aren't. At first I wanted to record this song with the electric guitar, but when I tried it, it didn't work out. So I erased it and switched back to the acoustics. Sometimes it's amazing how some instruments don't fit a song. I was sure that it would sound great being played on the electric guitar, but it was useless. However, maybe one day I will write another version with a completely different arrangement, where I will play electric guitar.
Working on a record is always a lot of stress for me. It's like going back to school. You need to play each note very carefully in the studio. Only when I'm all right, I can go home. Everytime I listen to my records, I think: "Well, shit, I could play better, I think I played the wrong notes.", and I don't feel any satisfaction. But it's possible that I will play this song on an electric guitar in the future and make a completely different composition. It would be great to play it with an orchestra, unless, of course, Yngwie Malmsteen doesn't do it first (laughs).
Once you said that you could record an instrumental album, but you weren't sure if anyone would buy it. But many fans are in fact just waiting for such an album of you...
Ritchie: Nowadays, many people are releasing instrumental albums. I don't understand it, although I could really release an album like that. It would be nice to put some old and some new compositions in there. For example "Beyond the Sunset" has a beautiful melody, but it wasn't played well by me. It sounds so nervous, there is no life in it. When I listen to that song, I can't understand why I played it so innocent. On stage, I play it completely different. It's hard for me to play it like that in the studio. Brian May, for example, knows how to work in the studio much better than I do. I can't replay my solos. I still haven't learned to cope with this.
In "World of Stone" there are bits and pieces of a Gregorian chant.
Ritchie: That's right. It's a traditional Gregorian song. When someone asks me about the authorship, I tell them that Gregory wrote it (laughs). It's music from the XV century. The Geyers called it "All Voll". When Candice sang it, it turned out so good, that I decided to write it down and record it. The song has an unusual harmony, so I changed it a bit. The riff is somewhat like "Smoke on the Water". By the way - I heard that "Smoke on the Water" was written by Roger Glover, without my help (laughs).
Candice: The song sounds like pure Renaissance music.
Ritchie: Yeah, real Renaissance music.
Then we have "Faerie Queen".
Ritchie: Many people think that's a traditional song, but it's not. We wrote it ourselves. I listen to a lot of Renaissance and medieval music and study the harmonys. I'm proud that this song turned out so good. By the way, this is a complex tonality for Candice. It's pretty high to sing for her.
Candice: What can you say about the second part of the song?
Ritchie: And, as I said, our music is designed to play it with friends at the fireplace. The second part is more dance orientated. The tempo changes. Doesn't it remind you of a Gypsy dance?
Right. By the way, before moving on to the second part of the song, Candice really sings in an usual high voice here.
Candice: Ritchie writes all the music, so it's all more suited to the guitar. In Deep Purple and Rainbow he composed the songs with the vocalists, so the songs were more focused on the vocalists range.
Ritchie: No, I also wrote the melodys in Rainbow. But in Deep Purple I didn't care about the vocals at all. I told the singers "Here's music for you, and now I'll go and have a drink" (laughs). When I returned, they usually already had a melody for the vocals, but I had nothing to do with it.
And how did you write Faerie Queen?
Ritchie: I don't know. It just came to my mind.
Next comes the cover of Joan Osborne's song "St. Teresa" with a wonderful arrangement.
Ritchie: We already played it on stage a few years prior to recording it, but I like how it sounds now.
Why did you decide to record this song? Did you hear the song and just decided to cover it?
Ritchie: Oh, that's the best thing in this group. In other words, if Candice and I hear a song which we like, we can play it. Unlike the other bands I used to be in... Songs that didn't bring any royalties weren't needed there. I never understood this. So I had to compose all the songs myself, despite their quality. And then I still had to divide author rights into five equal parts. (laughs)
So the author rights were so important?
Ritchie: For some of the other guys, yes.
Next we have a wonderful instrumental composition "Village Dance".
Ritchie: I composed it by just doing some guitar exercises. There's no middle part in it. I like the basic melody, but the other parts aren't so great. But since I didn't have any other ideas for that, I left them. Candice wasn't at home at the time. So I was in a hurry to finish this thing, while she wasn't at home. That's why I didn't have time to come up with a middle part. (laughs)
Candice: I should have stayed away longer.
Ritchie: No, it doesn't matter, I still can't think of a melody for the middle part.
Candice: I was away for three days. That wasn't enough? (laughs)
Ritchie: No. Basically, it was just improvised. I had six different ideas for that instrumental, but I didn't know which ones I should choose. So I played them to Pat, and he chose them. I have that problem with many of my instrumentals.
On the Japanese you already performed "Mond Tanz/Child in Time". I liked the idea and it's great that you included it on the album.
Ritchie: The tempo is slower on the recording than in our concerts, but it turned out great.
Candice: You probably didn't expect us to play "Child in Time"?
Yes, it was great.
Ritchie: When we play it on stage, I follow the reaction of the audience, as soon as we start playing this song. Everyone is looking at us with a look: "Oops, that's Child in Time". Interestingly, the further the song goes, they start to think: "How will Candice sing this?" (laughs). And they start listening more and more attentively. Of course, at the end everyone is applauding with delight.
It works great for many people in the audience.
Ritchie: Yes, I hope that they will like it. Don't always be serious. When we played it in the rehearsals, it sounded very good. It's funny how different the voices of Candice and our backing singers are. They can't sing like Candice, and Candice doesn't know how to sing opera. This song needs an operatic approach. So we thought about including our backing singers at the end.
I really like the song "Streets of London". I've never heard the original version, but it's a beautiful song with excellent lyrics.
Ritchie: Roger Glover wrote it (laughs).
Why did you decide to play it?
Ritchie: Roger threatened me (laughs). Once we arranged a home party, and one woman from Poland...
Candice: From Estonia.
Ritchie: From Estonia. She sang this song to us, and we thought that it was a beautiful song. Later I heard Candice singing this song, and I had the same feeling again. I think this song contains the best vocals on the album. She is more of a ballad singer, so this song fits her voice very well. Sometimes I force her to sing rock, too. This song was a very big hit in England. Everybody knows it there. I heard this song just when it was released. I think there are around 25 verses in that song.
Candice: And this girl from Estonia knew them all.
Ritchie: When she sang that song, I thought: "What a long song". When it came to the fifteenth verse, the surrounding people began to look at her with disgust. After the twentieth verse, people started to leave the room (laughs). But she continued to sing. She said: "It's okay, I'm almost done". Everyone was tired and started to leave, but she still sang all the 25 verses.
Candice: That's why we wrote "25 Years". It's a song about a woman that spent 25 years singing a song until it was finished (laughs).
"Just Call My Name" is the most commercial song on the album.
Candice: As you know, Ritchie is very influenced by "ABBA". So we thought that there wasn't anything wrong with recording that song.
Ritchie: ABBA is my favourite band, it's the best band in the world. No bands are better than The Beatles and ABBA. There was something so beautiful in their melodies. Their music is so well written that it's almost scary. I think here it's worth to return to the stories with Cozy in that French castle, when we were sitting by the fireplace in this ancient castle... By the way, by that time we had already stopped leaving a bunch of firewood (laughs). When Cozy and I were sitting by the fireplace, we discussed music and listened to different tapes.
Once Cozy, having drunk a little bit more alcohol than usually, asked me: "Do you know what my favourite band is?". When I asked: "What?", he said: "You will laugh". I asked: "What's so funny?", he replied: "Well... I adore ABBA". And suddenly we all started like: "I also love ABBA"... He revealed his secret, which was common to us (laughs). Because at that time, you couldn't admit that you like ABBA. It was so good when Cozy finally said it. "Let's listen to ABBA!". Cozy brought an ABBA cassette to the fireplace and we listened to it until the next morning. Everyone was happy.
Candice: Today it's the same. One only has to say that he likes ABBA, and everyone around agrees.
"Old Mill In" is a funny song.
Ritchie: We wrote it as a joke for friends. They own the restaurant "Old Mill In". So when we came there, we thought: "It's necessary to devote a song to this place".
Candice: It's a great old bar. There's also a large fireplace.
Ritchie: By the water. I think it's a very good song. We composed this song just to make people laugh, but when I listened to the result, the song didn't leave my head anymore. In other words, for me that means that this song is very good.
Candice: It's our version of Billy Joel's "Piano Man". We used the same kind of approach when we wrote this song. By the way, last year in Germany we played this song before the shows, and noticed that the audience started to sing to this song.
Ritchie: I was surprised by their reaction, because they actually they were hearing it for the first time without knowing the words.
Candice: They also sang "Ritchie will pay" instead of "Bill will pay" (laughs). Ritchie didn't like that (laughs).
Ritchie: Their reaction was beautiful. We are planning to release it in Germany as a single.
Candice: I like it when there's a story in a song. I'm not a big fan of abstract lyrics.
Ritchie: She's discussing her lyrics every night with Roger Glover (laughs).
It's not easy to write good lyrics.
Ritchie: The main thing is to not make the lyrics too complicated.
Candice: I like to play with words.
Ritchie: It's not easy. By the way, what do you think about Green Day?
About the group?
Ritchie: No, no. About tea.
Do you have a tea called Green Day?
Ritchie: If it tastes the same as the group plays, then there isn't anything good in it. Last night I watched them on VH1. Did you notice that in their song "American Idiot" the melody is the same as in the song "Summer of 69" by Brian Adams? And the other part reminds me of "My Generation" by The Who. They even stole the idea for their video from Bob Dylan. Dylan has the same clip. Do you know his video where he sings right in front of the camera? They do the same in their video. I was amazed. They are just stealing from Brian Adams and The Who, but everyone praises them and says it's a great band. But let's return to our songs. The next one is "Windmills".
Candice: My favourite song.
Candice: Yes. By the way, do you remember that you came up with the melody when you were in Japan?
Ritchie: I don't remember.
Candice: I think you came up with the melody in Japan, and I wrote the text later on vacation in Hawaii. Ritchie completely forgot about the song, but I really liked it and didn't get it out of my head again. When I was on the beach in Hawaii, I thought about that song and composed the text. It's a song about Don Quixote. Once I persuaded Ritchie to come with me to Broadway to see "The Man from La Mancha"...
Ritchie: It was terrible.
Candice: I adore you.
Ritchie: It seemed to me that time had stopped, I was looking at the floor all the time. It wasn't interesting. And the music... Candice then asked me If I liked it, but there was the same melody all the time. I'm like: "Hell!". And they sang as if they were reading a newspaper. It's the same with Phantom of the Opera. They always sing the same things there, some rubbish. I heard that such things inspired the writing of "Bohemian Rhapsody", but I rather think that it's based more on classical music. Queen is a great band.
Candice: I really liked the story in this musical.
Ritchie: What's the use of Broadway if there's no melody?
Candice: When we left the hall, I asked if he liked it. And he said: "It was just awful."
Ritchie: There were no melodies! Probably, it's not easy to constantly repeat the same motif. Candice asked me: "Isn't that a great tune?". I said: "Well then, try to sing it...".
Candice: Well, how do you like the song "The Impossible Dream"?
Ritchie: Well, the melody is nice..., but too banal.
Candice: It's incredible!
Ritchie: Everything else is just awful. The song is okay, it's a good tune, but all the other stupid things from there don't make any sense.
Candice: I thought that a person who plays music of the XVI century in 2005 will be able to appreciate this direction, especially "The Impossible Dream".
Ritchie: It's no better for me than an Italian wedding. Italian weddings are ridiculously pompous. In America, a lot of money is spent on weddings. They buy expensive food and spend a lot of money to feed the guests, when they even don't know many of them. The marriage itself takes a back seat. Everyone is just amazed by the amount of money that was invested. And one year later they get divorced. Then they get married again and throw another big party.
I really like the new version of "Street of Dreams". You always said that this is one of your favourite songs. If you had to make a list of your favourite songs, which place would it take?
Ritchie: It would be in the Top 5. Joe realized what I wanted to express with the music. I came up with the melody, and he wrote the text. I remember saying to him: "Please sing those words: Do you remember me?". It was very important to me, so I asked him to try to include it somewhere. They are in there right?
Candice: There's a line called: "Do you remember me?".
Ritchie: Yes. When I suggested that he should include those words, he immediately agreed that it would have a great effect on the song. When we were composing this song, we were very pleased with the result. I wanted to write a song about the fact, that we already met our beloved friends or partners in a past life and that we remember it. In other words, I also helped to write the lyrics.
Which other songs would be on that list?
Ritchie: Let me think... I like "Perfect Strangers". Although the vocal melody of this was Ian Gillan's idea. It's a great song. Also very good was "Gates of Babylon". Right now I can't remember any other songs... Of course, there's also songs by Blackmore's Night which I really like. For example "Christmas Eve". I can listen to this song all the time. Sometimes when I hear my music, I think: "I wanna get out of this room", but with this song it's alright.
What do you think about "Love Conquers All" by Deep Purple, which Joe sang?
Ritchie: That's also a good song, but it should have a different name, which suited the song better. But I had to change it to "Love Conquers All"... Conquer is a strange word. I think it's out of place. However, the original name "Love is All" wasn't allowed to be used...
Ritchie: Because Roger already had a song with that name.
I really like the song "Lady of the Lake".
Ritchie: Well, I don't really like it. By the way - do you know that it's based on "Sunshine of your Love"?
I like the vocal part more than the riff.
Ritchie: That's right. Ronnie came up with good vocal parts.
In this song, as in four other songs on the album "Long Live Rock n Roll" you played the bass guitar. Why didn't Bob Daisley record the bass?
Ritchie: I can't remember, but I know that I played bass parts on that album. The bass player that we had prior to Bob was very bad. I just told him: "Take your hands off the bass, I better do it myself".
Do you like playing bass?
Ritchie: Oh, I've always loved playing bass, but I play it like a guitar. I constantly play fast phrases when I should focus on a more simple kind of playing, but I can't think like that.
How would you rate the playing of Roger Glover?
Ritchie: He played well, at the level of an eight year old child.
Ritchie: Glenn played good. There was a lot of syncopation in his playing. Syncops are very important.
And Greg Smith?
Ritchie: Greg Smith was like me, probably more than anyone else.
Ritchie: Great player, and he also writes very good songs. He is a wonderful person and looked great. He was a very cool guy. I always got along with him great.
Candice: He was at one of our shows?
Ritchie: Yes, he was at our concert in Los Angeles. But I didn't like his playing. He played very monotonously, like Roger Glover. I prefer Glenn Hughes and Greg Smith.
And what about Bob from Blackmore's Night?
Ritchie: Yes, Bob, who now plays in our band, is my favourite bass player. We call him Boblem, because he has a lot of problems (laughs). Every time Carole sends Bob a tour schedule, he says: "These dates don't work for me...". So we're like: "When are you able to play then?". He says: "In March". We start planning the tour for March. And then he says: "March? No, that doesn't work". Sometimes I want to kill him (laughs). But he's my best friend. I love him. He's one of those people with whom I can communicate quite openly. He also has a great musical hearing.
Candice: And you said that he's an excellent rhythm guitarist.
Ritchie: He plays the rhythm guitar perfectly. But he has a problem. His wife... He loves to play with us, but she constantly grumbles: "Now you're leaving the house again!". I wonder what he will choose: marriage or our music (laughs)?
Candice: But he's an excellent bass player.
Ritchie: He has a great syncopation. And he doesn't just play the right notes. He listens attentively to the music and thinks: "What's good to play here and there...?".
What's his real name?
Ritchie: When he joined the band, I asked him: "What's your last name?", and he said: "I told you my last name when I auditioned on Long Island but I won't use it anymore...".
Candice: You didn't answer the question!
Ritchie: I don't like to talk much.
Let's talk about the bonus track "Once in a Garden"...
Ritchie: It's a bogus track ("bogus" - "fake" - fictitious").
The song was written by Candice...
Candice: Why did you decide to record it?
Ritchie: Because I like the way you sing it. She always sings something. One day she sang this song to her mother at the airport. I think it was in northern Buffalo.
The tour in support of the new album will start soon. Do you plan to return to Japan?
Ritchie: I like playing in Japan, but I don't like long flights. I hate planes. Well, maybe.
You could take part in some kind of festival. For example, Joe Lynn Turner is often guest at such festivals. Perhaps you could play a few songs with him? What do you think about this idea?
Ritchie: With Joe? I didn't think about it...
Are you aware that your fans are very nostalgic about your past work?
Ritchie: Do you really think Japanese fans would be interested in this?
Many fans would like to see you again on the same stage with Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio and the others. What do you think about it?
Ritchie: When I think about it, I don't really like the idea. This is in the past, and I don't like to return to the past. Of course, it was interesting to see when Eric Clapton played again with Cream last year. I think it's great that he did it. He didn't have to do it, but he went for it. He did it because he was often asked about it. For me, the opportunity to play with someone from the past depends on my mood. For example, I would go for it, if it happened spontaneously. But If I had to prepare with anyone for such a concert, to rehearse... I immediately start to think: "Why am I doing this?".
It's always a step backwards. And I personally believe that you need to go forward all the time. I like to move on. I love the Beatles, especially their works from 1964 to 1965. I wonder if they would have played together again... Most likely, they would have thought: "What a stupid idea!". The hardest part is to overcome your laziness and start doing what you don't want to do. And I also would have to start drinking a lot again (laughs). To be honest, I'm constantly offered such ideas, accompanied by their promise to make a lot of money. It's basically just about money. When Cream played in London, there was also a lot of money involved. They didn't just do it for the fans.
But most importantly, the fans wanted to see this band. It's the same with the Beatles and Rainbow.
Ritchie: Sometimes it's nice to remember the past. But now I'm busy with my new music. That's what keeps me going. And it's very difficult. A very big challenge. Once I was asked: "Why don't you play blues in a local club?". But I just thought: "I don't want to play blues anymore". Everyone wants to play the blues, but enough is enough for me. Every guitarist imagines himself as Jimi Hendrix. I don't like that. I'm trying to do something that no one else has ever tried to do before. It's possible that this is of no interest to anyone. I'm walking on a very small path. It's very difficult to play so quietly on stage. It's much easier to turn up the amplifier and run around the stage, but playing quietly is much more difficult, so that's far more interesting for me. I don't like to be predictable. I don't like being like others. That's why I don't like blues. I think I need a long break until I can play it again and enjoy it.
There's always guitar players who say: "I'm a bluesman". Such people annoy me. So what's wrong with that? Blues music is totally overplayed. It's always the same three chords. And the world of blues guitarists is full of narcissism. In other words, I'm trying to approach music from another angle. That's difficult, because nobody else did it like this before. And since this music sounds so unusual, people are listening to it and get angry. They don't know what to do with it. They are like: "I don't like this music, because I haven't heard it before". When we record our albums, we sometimes don't even know how we should record the songs. When I was playing in rock bands, I knew exactly how to record my guitar properly, or the bass, drums and keys. But with this music, I basically don't know what to do and this is what attracts me so much about it. Because we have no one to rely on, and it's risky. Much of our work isn't very good. But when it works, it's great. I don't want to play "Smoke on the Water" again. I know that fans would go crazy when I play it, but it would be too easy. Sometimes life must be difficult. I need something that drives me on. I don't like to go for a drive in a limousine, playing the same old songs.
I understand what you mean. And your new album confirms your words. But it seems to me that you still haven't reached what you're searching for...
Ritchie: Oh, I'm happy with this album. It's a very good album. But it lacks something. I don't know what. When you play such instruments from a world that is basically still unfamiliar to you, like shalmei and a wheeled lyre... But the most important thing is that we are doing something new. So it's interesting and fresh. It's not just a repetition of "Smoke on the Water".
We are you looking to your future experiments...
© Burrn Magazine, Japan - March 2006