BURRN Interview 2001
Blackmore's Night's third album "FIRES AT MIDNIGHT" is coming soon, how long have you been working on this CD?
RB: We usually write songs all the time. The disc contains 16 ideas that we have come up with over the past 18 months. The first two albums... Before this CD I wanted to take some rest, because I released "Shadow of the Moon" and "Under a Violet Moon" in a big hurry. Although the songs were ready, I wanted to focus on the tour and make the band more famous, and I also wanted to make it more comfortable for me to perform on stage. Candice has now gained experience, and among the members of the group there were previously those who did not understand what I wanted. So I think I have a good band right now. Many of the former members started to get lost after six months, when they realized that this was not what they were waiting for, it seemed to them that I was starting a new Deep Purple or Rainbow.
I demand naturalness from musicians. I need more than just musicians who can play bass and drums. They must also be able to play the tambourine, and bass players are required to play acoustic guitar and sing. They must perfectly understand the music of the Renaissance. Although we do not play 100% Renaissance music, this element is very important in our work. It is extremely difficult to find suitable musicians because this is not really a rock band. There are a lot of rock musicians now, but I don't really need them. Rock makes up 20% of our music, but most of it is real music of the Renaissance, the music of nature. It really needs people who understand this kind of music. We don't need musicians who just make a loud noise and shout: "I want rock !!!".
I am looking for empathetic, well educated people. People over 35 years old, not 18-19 year old musicians. And it is important that they understand what we are doing. Since we are trying to convey the meaning of five hundred years of music, the appropriate costumes are naturally suitable for this. It's fun to put on a show in medieval costumes like this instead of casual clothes. We also often party with our friends in these costumes (laughs).
This is a lifestyle. I don't always wear these kinds of clothes, but I like them. Sometimes musicians who want to play with me say, "I don't want to wear tights," to which I reply that they do not understand what we are doing. They have problems with imagination. We play early, organic and natural music. It is born from earth, trees and air. There is nothing computer, no hi-fi and internet in it, it seems to take you to the forest. This works great for the guitar because the strings and trees resonate beautifully.
Of course, I like rock and roll too. However, having played rock for thirty years, I started to get tired of it. Rock is limited in many ways, it lacks the dynamism that exists in nature. The wind blows in the forest, swinging the trees back and forth, the moon is shining. In rock and roll, everyone just makes a loud noise and shouts: "Do you want rock ?!"! And everyone yells: "YES!" in response... Isn't that so? It's great, but I want to take a break from it.
How does the audience react to Blackmore's Night concerts and how does it affect your studio work?
RB: When we started touring after the release of "Shadow of the Moon", we played mostly ballads, but over time I realized that everyone wants to hear something more rhythmic. So on "Under a Violet Moon" we recorded some Spanish and faster things. Today we have a wide enough repertoire to choose from fast songs and ballads, but they were all born after observing the reaction of the audience. These are subtleties. I wish the audience liked the ballads better, but I can't play them all evening. The concert also requires tension.
CN: Ritchie is good at changing the direction of a concert, judging by the reaction of the audience, as well as depending on where we play. For example, if we perform in a church, we play songs that resonate with the walls of the building. Every concert is special, so fans come to our shows over and over again. Even the band members don't know what to expect from Ritchie. That's why everyone is always watching him (laughs).
RB: The sense of risk makes it clear that I am alive (laughs)! I like to say, "Stop! I'm going to play now" when the band members finally learn the songs. Everyone says: "What should we do?", To which I answer: "I will improvise." When I do this, they start thinking, "What is this?" The grimaces on their faces are insanely awful (laughs)! The drummer looks at me with such an expression, as if he wants to say: "What are you doing?" But even in Rainbow, when Bobby Rondinelli was playing a solo, I would go up to him, show him this gesture (holding my palm at his throat), he would stop, and I would start a solo. And again, when I gave him the appropriate signal, he would start playing the drums again. But I'm not rehearsing this. It seems to me that it helps to keep the group in good shape.
However, many musicians continue to play as planned, even when I give them signals. For example, when I point out to the drummer that I want to play a solo, I do this gesture, he continues to drum in the same rhythm, so you just have to come to terms with it. And then they tell me: "If you want to solo, you have to rehearse it." But solos are not rehearsed! I play them spontaneously when I have the urge to do so. I play solos out of inspiration or when I'm having a lot of fun on stage. When I don't feel like it, I don't play solo. However, it all depends on the musician, someone plays the same thing all the time in a prescribed form. Of course, there should be some structure in music, but, for example, when you sit down at a table, you don't plan how the conversation will go, do you? If you do this, the communication will be terribly boring. It seems to me that it's the same in music.
This gesture of yours also always seemed a little aggressive to me, as if you were threatening other musicians.
RB: In a way, you are right. This gesture means that the musicians have to stop because I want to play solo, but if they don't stop, they will be fired (laughs).
This is your first album that you did not record at home, but in Germany, in a castle. What is the reason?
CN: We recorded 99% of the material at home. Home for us is a shrine. We have been living in a house built in the medieval style for a long time. Therefore, home for us is the most suitable place for creativity. It's just... it's just that Ritchie's father died recently, we flew to Britain for a funeral. Because of this, Pat did not have time to finish the album, it remained to complete the mixing, as well as add some parts. Then we decided to go to this castle, which we had already visited. Some years ago we had a small concert in this castle...
RB: This castle was built 400 years ago and has a special atmosphere. Our music has an old soul, so the castle suits it. In the castle, you can feel as free as at home. There is a wonderful echo, the sound has a good effect. In addition, the castle is secluded and very quiet. It is difficult to find a quiet place in the modern world. More often than not, noise is everywhere. But in a quiet castle, you can deeply think about music and life. And... jump out of the window. Sometimes I want to commit suicide (laughs).
The walls in the castle are very thick, and in modern American houses the walls are terribly thin, so you can hear the neighbors all the time. And the neighbors, more often than not, include pop music. Even in small cafes in America, they always play the same thing that sounds on the radio. The same music. But the castle is calm. There are no bass drums. It's damn hard to find a place where you can't hear the bass drum noise! Now in America it is everywhere. Musicians put this beat into any music. Record companies have spent a lot of money to train people to use and listen to this sound. Everyone in the US feels this tension. There are too many people in the business there, too much competition, too much advertising. I don't want to be in that kind of environment. It seems to me that the Americans have not actually been to the moon. Otherwise there would be ads like "SONY" or something like that (laughs).
During the recording of this album, did you have the same problems as with the recording of "Under a Violet Moon"?
RB: Working with Pat Regan, I can safely leave the studio knowing that Pat will continue to work. Sometimes he gets too hard, but I know Pat is always working to make the songs better. However, Joe, when working on "Under A Violet Moon", left five minutes after we left the studio. Once he asked me: "Do I need to finish something else or change something?", I replied: "No, it's okay," and after two months he disappeared, leaving us nothing of the recorded material. There were no files left, nothing! When he left, he said he didn't want to work with us anymore, but when we started checking the tapes and files on the computer, there was nothing left. Some songs lacked cello parts, some had no violin. Others had only drums. He did not leave normal files, as a result we only had tracks with drums and bass parts. Because of this we had to record everything again, work in the studio again. For our music, this is too much. Working on this album was terrible stress. I don't remember how we finished it. I love playing music. Now I can leave the work to Pat, saying, "I'm going for a walk." I like that.
Were there any problems with Jeff Glixman, who finished work on "Under A Violet Moon"?
RB: Everything was fine with him. He was able to bring it all to mind. Joe left a big hole behind him, which Jeff Glixman and Roy McDonald had to fill. They handled it well. In music, I have no patience. I want to play everything quickly, and then go have a drink, look at the beautiful places, play with the cat... I'm not kidding when I say I can't use a computer! I can only send a fax or email. I don't even listen to incoming messages on my phone - it doesn't matter to me. I believe that you need to stay away from such things. All this spoils people.
Can you tell us about the songs from the album "Fires At Midnight"?
CN: "Written ln The Stars" is like rock and roll. I think this song is in the spirit of Rainbow. It has Ritchie's wonderful electric guitar playing.
Ritchie: It's a good song. We always start our concerts with it. This song perfectly attracts the attention of the audience, because it is somewhat similar to rock. It has a tough nature. The title track, "Fires At Midnight", was written by the Spanish king Alfonso X in the 13th century. Candice rewrote the lyrics, and now it's about a witch. This witch hails from the Harz mountains in Germany, that gathers for the annual meeting of witches at the top of these mountains in Brocken. That's partly what this song is about.
CN: In this song I played the harp, wheeled lyre and string tambourine.
RB: The string tambourine is a strange instrument. I play it with my lower jaw.
CN: Also do you play two different guitars in this song? Although this is medieval music, there are blues notes in the middle.
RB: I love playing slow things on the guitar. There is time for phrasing to unfold. Candice also played an old instrument called the shalme. This is a very loud wind instrument, invented a thousand years ago. It comes from the middle east. The shalme is very difficult to play, you need a lot of air. Its sound little resembles a bagpipe, but only the key of E is available on it, so we recorded all the songs with it in E. Because of this, she had to sing in an uncomfortable key, and I think it was not easy for her. I also play the wheeled lyre, although not very well. If I didn't know how to play the guitar, I would like to play the wheeled lyre. This is a great tool. When connected to an amplifier, it will sound more powerful than a guitar. The sound of the guitar is simply loud, while the sound of the wheeled lyre is very dense and powerful. The sound on it is taken through the handle, and the notes are clamped with the keys. I don't play keyboards, but the tuning of the wheeled lyre reminds me of a guitar. It is very difficult to set up. It is strongly influenced by the weather and temperature, the lyre gets upset, even if you just take it out of the room. The guys at Led Zeppelin also used a wheeled lyre, they even hired a professional musician for this, and even he had problems with tuning it. If it is tuned correctly, it can produce great sounds, but if a few strings are not in tune, the sound will be terrible.
Candice, when did you start playing the harp?
CN: This was my first time. I'm just a beginner. I was told that this harp was made in Pakistan. I had to tweak it a bit to play "Fires At Midnight", but it turned out great.
RB: Also, the middle east riffs are on the song "The Storm"...
CN: It's a very fast song.
RB: For this song I used a 12-string guitar, it had some difficult parts, but I would not say that it is a fast thing. It's more tense than fast. Speed doesn't mean anything. The most important thing is the sound. When I first got the idea for this song, its melody, I tried to record it with an electric guitar, but since it sounded too tense, I tried playing an acoustic guitar. It's fun to play rock and roll on acoustics. You have to take care of yourself.
There is also a song on the album where you sing in old French...
RB: You are talking about "Midwinters Night". This is a folk Christmas song from the 17th century. I collect records of old Renaissance music, and I have a CD of a band playing this song, I liked their version, so I asked Candice to sing it in French like they did. I knew that she would not refuse me.
CN: So they say in the French province.
RB: Yes, this is not pure French, the poetry is intertwined with the local dialect, it seems to me that there is something from the old Spanish in it. Such a language was spoken before a clear border was drawn between France and Spain. She sing half of the song in this language. For the rest, she sing about a winter night, from the perspective of a person who is trying to sleep in the middle of a winter night. The electric bagpipes part played by Candice sounds interesting. This is a German instrument and it was very difficult to get it. Instead of extracting sound with air, they only work with your fingers. It has an amazing sound. She had to play all the tunes, but it turned out just fine. Of course, she had never played bagpipes before (laughs). I just told her, "So, take the instrument and try to play something."
CN: I also sang a Bob Dylan song. As you know, Ritchie adores him...
RB: "Times They Are A-Changing" I made more renaissance stylized. It turned out just fine. The good thing about Blackmore's Night is that I can fire anyone and record any song I like (laughs). Even if it's a Bob Dylan song or some unusual band's music. I can do whatever I want. Even medieval music from the Czech Republic, if I like it. I used to play in a band where I could only record songs written by the band itself. It was very strange. Even if I said: "This is a good song", the musicians stupidly answered me: "It is pointless, because we do not get copyright for the records, if we do not write these songs." When you play an instrument, you want to play whatever you like. I want to perform all the songs that I love.
Do you mean you couldn't record the song "Black Sheep of The Family" with Deep Purple?
RB: Absolutely correct. Since this all started. It is impossible to imagine that they will record anything other than their own songs. They will never do it.
There is a song on the album called "Benzai-Ten" which is especially interesting for Japanese listeners.
RB: I came up with this riff about 25 years ago, and Ian Gillan really liked the melody when I played it to him in 1987. I think I played it also to David Coverdale. So I had the idea for such a song for a long time, but I had no opportunity to use it, since Ian Gillan and David Coverdale do not sing such melodies. But it fits perfectly to Candice's voice. So I decided it was time to use this melody. This song is kind of a thank you to our Japanese listeners. I've always wanted to record something in the Japanese style. Japan has interesting scales. However, when Pat started to insert some Japanese instruments into the arrangement, I stopped him and said: "This is too much." It seems to me that the Japanese will be pleased to hear something Japanese, but it would be pointless to record the whole thing in this spirit. Pat was surprised, he said, "We have to record it in real Japanese style!" But I insisted that too much Japanese would hurt this song. Pat was not convinced, but I think the result is excellent.
Which of the new songs are based on Tilman Susato's melody?
CN: "I Still Remember" and "Crowing of The King".
RB: "I Still Remember" uses a piece from Susato's "Mon Ami". Susato is a Dutch composer who published music in the 16th century, and we often play his music. We like to play his works because no one else plays them. Everyone is afraid to touch this kind of music. It doesn't play on the radio and doesn't have a bass drum. This is why what we play sounds so fresh. We are not doing this for commercial success. There are many things in life that are more important than fame. The main thing in life is to be yourself, for me it means just playing music. Many people think, "Why are they playing this?". "Crowing of The King" is a typical anti-commercial song. Sometimes it comes to the point that I play non-commercial music on principle, even if I don't like it (laughs).
Tell us about the instrumental compositions from the new album?
RB: There will be two such songs on the album, one of them is called "Fayre Thee Well". I wrote this thing in our beloved Waldeck Castle, not far from here. This composition reminds me all the time of the beauty of this castle. Another piece is called "Courante" and was written by the 16th-17th century composer Michael Pretorius. I love this tune, so I decided to improvise a little on its theme. This composition is written in D major, which I really like. Most of my songs are written in minor keys, I have a lot of sad, serious and mysterious things, but these two songs are recorded in major, and it's very unusual for me to play them. It's like taking off your dark glasses. I guess I'm Monty Python in music.
Speaking of funny songs, there is a song about friends on the album that would be good for singing in bars.
RB: "Good To Be Back Home Again". Living in the USA, I always think with trepidation about how I will return to Europe. Hungary, Germany, Romania... Strangely enough, I cannot say this about Britain. Britain is a wonderful country, but I like Germany better. Maybe it's because everyone speaks German there. I'm not the most sociable person, so it's easier for me in Germany, where everyone speaks a different language. In America, everyone talks too much, and in Britain they whine. When I first came to Germany, I did not understand a word. It was very convenient for me, since I did not have to talk to anyone. You just had to play. Even when I was asked about something, I answered: "I do not understand the language, I am an Englishman." So I felt calmer. Now I know German well, but I still don't like to talk a lot, I like to be alone. This is why I look forward to coming back to Europe all the time. I love fields, farms, castles, history.
For example, there are many bars in Germany, and life is full of more important things than a celebrity. The music I play is always fresh and interesting. There is no need to do what is disgusting to the heart. In Europe, I can have a drink in a bar in peace. And in the US, every bar has a TV, and everyone shouts while watching sports. Why do they gather for this in such a place? The music is screaming and it's always terrible. However, in Europe there are many places where you can calmly think, have a quiet drink. I like it. "Good To Be Back Home Again" has a kind of European tavern friendliness, with an atmosphere of 20th century Hungarian music or even earlier. When there was no TV and cigarettes in the bars, and people talked to each other. The musicians played the accordion. In such a friendly atmosphere of these taverns, new songs were born. Simple songs - sailors entered the tavern and began to sing along with them. These songs can be remembered after a couple of listens.
For me, simplicity is important in music. However, some musicians make their music very complicated. When the music gets as complex as Dream Theater, I stop understanding it. Some people think that if the music is not difficult, then it is not interesting, but this is nonsense. Playing slowly and clearly is much more difficult. Eric Clapton taught me this. When I heard him play, I did not understand why everyone admires him so much. He plays very slowly, doesn't he? To play fast, you just need to practice a lot, develop muscles. Playing thoughtfully is much more difficult.
It is very important for me to play simply and to care more about the overall sound of the music. As I get older, I think more and more about what not to play. It took a long time. It is important. People listen to music. Inexperienced musicians always want to play as fast as possible. It's probably great to be able to play fast. However, all this will be meaningless until you learn to express your emotions at a slow speed. When it comes to speed in music, I always compare it to sex: who needs 2 seconds of sex (laughs)?
When I was 18-19 years old, I also played very fast, but somehow the members of Mott The Hoople asked me: "You play very fast, so what?". At that time I thought, "What are you talking about?" But later I understood them. It's like sports achievements, but that's not what people are interested in. Since then, I've started telling myself to play more slowly. However, I still find it difficult to play calmly. You need to have a good vibrato, but when you're nervous, it doesn't work. All the time you want to return to your usual style of playing, forgetting about the general sound.
Writing simple songs is not easy, and I've always liked that kind of thing. Although I do not like the Rolling Stones, I cannot play so easily. There are only three chords in any of their songs. But people understand this. I saw many bands with incredible technique, but the audience was not interested in all of this. But when the Rolling Stones come on stage and start playing "Brown Sugar", everyone starts screaming "YES!" Probably, it's a matter of simplicity. There is no song easier than "Satisfaction".
In 1964, I listened to guitarists Les Paul and Wes Montgomery, and only thought about technique. But then The Who came along, and I thought, "I can write such simple songs too." That's why I changed direction. When I was writing music, I listened to Pete Townsend a lot. But it took 4-5 years to learn how to write simple songs. Things started to work out with Deep Purple in 1969-1970 when I finally got some good songs coming out. I wrote music back in 1968, but it came out bad. In 1970, I was already able to think on the level of Pete Townsend. There is no point in playing if you do not have your own audience that understands you. I'm not talking about "Smoke On The Water", which was deliberately created with a mindset for simplicity. Do we have a simpler song? It's the same with "Satisfaction". Finding three or four notes that fit together perfectly is art.
When you talk about simplicity, not only "Smoke on The Water" comes to my mind , but also "Black Night".
RB: And "Whole Lotta Love" and stuff like that.
Same with "Paranoid" - it's the simplest Black Sabbath song.
RB: Tony Iommi also plays simple and recognizable things. There is no point in playing riffs if they don't sound simple. Not everyone in this world is musicians. First, why should only musicians understand music? Everyone has to work from nine in the morning to five in the evening. When I'm finished, I'd like to relax and put my feet on the table, rather than listen to the incredibly complex riffs that praise their creator.
It's hard to create simple yet catchy music.
RB: Difficult. When I first came up with the melody for the song "All Because of You" on the new album, I thought it would be easy to finish it, but we still recorded three different versions. So it's really hard to write songs like that (laughs). At first we tried to record it in disco style, but Pat was not happy with the result. I thought that adding a guitar to the arrangement would diminish the disco flavor a little, but it turned out that there was no place for the guitar in the arrangement (laughs). When I added the guitar part, everything else started to sound worse. Then I decided to record a different version. We ended up with an acoustic version with trumpets and my guitar, as well as a rock version with powerful drums. In the future, it will be necessary to pay more attention to the arrangements. I am very upset, especially since the melody was very good. Pat Regan was also unhappy because this song is different from all the others. When I listen to the disco version, it makes me laugh. If Madonna released such a disco-style thing, it would be a big hit. But when we were recording it, the producer told us, "Why are we doing this?" Pat imagined a completely different arrangement, I think he wanted to make it more fatal. But in my head it was acoustic, not fatal. That's why we recorded three different versions.
CN: There is also the song "Waiting Just For You" on the album, which is arranged with trumpets.
RB: This melody was played on trumpets in the 17th century, it is a very romantic female song. It seems to me that you will not like it, but the girls will love it very much.
CN: It would be great if men liked it too.
RB: The girls will definitely cry. They will say they love this song. And the men will say: "I don't like this at all. When will you play "Smoke On The Water" (laughs)? No, actually, it's a good tune. Most of the ideas come from me, but when people hear such soft tunes, they start saying, "Candice makes Ritchie play this! It's all Candice! "
CN: They always blame me. But getting Ritchie to do what he doesn't want to do is impossible (laughs). On the album my favorite song is "Hanging Tree", let's talk about it.
RB: Some tunes not only sound good on the guitar, but I love to play them because you can practice well with them. Melodies can be applied to different harmonies based on the same scale. I can play a melody with different chords, and it will sound completely different. I play the same melodies, but always use different chords.
"Hanging Tree" is such a song, in the first verse I play one harmony, in the next I play another, although the melody remains the same. This is a good exercise and I really like it. The first time I heard this was by Hank Marvin of The Shadows, when they played along with Cliff Richards. I was 13 years old then, I heard his guitar solo. He played the same phrase, which sounded great in itself, but then the chord changed in the song, and he continued to play the same phrase. I thought, "What is this?", you can play the same phrases on different chords! Then I decided that I needed to remember this musical technique.
CN: Can we talk about Again Someday?
RB: You remembered a very difficult song... Last year was not easy for us. My cat died and my father died a few weeks before. Of course, the death of a family member had a big effect on me, but when Bamboozler died, I wanted to write something in his memory. However, I couldn't think of anything deep enough. There were some melodies in my head, but none of them reminded me of him. I thought it was pointless to start writing music if it wasn't special. I wanted this music to burst into my heart like a knife. Only six months later I got a melody that produced the desired effect. When I played it to Candice, she almost cried. Everyone who heard this song experienced the same. This is a short song, it only goes on for a minute and a half, but it conveys the feeling of everyone who has lost someone they really loved.
I called it "Now You're Gone" at first, but Candice said the title "Again Someday" would be better. Since the song tells about the sad side of life, it seems to me that my title is better... People are not able to be happy until they experience intense grief. I believe that in order to understand yourself, you need to go into a deep depression. I don't want to hide from sadness. You have to be honest. Hiding your depression is bad for your health. Each of us sometimes experiences sadness.
I believe that there is a big spiritual problem in society: everyone is trying to lie to each other. Everyone tries to laugh or joke when they don't feel joy in their hearts. It may not be so pleasant, but it is better to communicate with honest people who do not hide their feelings. It's better than chatting with a guy who jokes all the time when he actually feels out of place and worried. When you are sad or when you are depressed, you need to think about exactly what is upsetting you and why you are feeling this sadness. You don't have to pretend to be happy when you are unhappy. I have my own philosophical view on this topic.
People who are dissatisfied with their lives will understand me. However, most often they lie and say: "I'm fine," and start drinking. When you feel bad, you have to admit it. Why pretend you're happy? When you hide all the trash in your soul, sooner or later you will have to clean it up. And this is not easy at all.
I would like to know about the musicians who took part in the recording of this album...
RB: I mocked them (laughs)! It's a pretty good band now, because I've been working with the same musicians for a year and a half. Or is it just a year? Maybe two months (laughs)?
We are on the same wavelength with our music, and we are just trying to find the most suitable musicians. But this is not easy. When I first started making this music, I thought it was so simple that anyone could play it. But over time, I began to understand what some musicians were capable of and what they weren't. I realized that in order to perform this kind of music, a musician must play very sophisticatedly. Our music is very quiet, so you can't just beat the drums in it. Now we have gathered good musicians.
CN: When we first created this group, we presented it in a different way.
RB: I thought there should be 2 or 3 people in the band playing acoustic guitars, but this turned out to be more difficult than putting together a rock 'n' roll band! Usually a rock and roll group is created according to the following scheme:
- Are you going to wear leather pants?
- Can you drink a lot?
- Yes (laughs).
But now we need musicians who can absolutely feel the music. I never thought it was so important how hard the drummer hits the drums, or how softly the bass player touches the strings.
CN: Also, these musicians must agree to tour with us.
RB: When we first flew to Japan, we had a girl in the group who wanted to go home immediately upon arrival (laughs). I myself always miss home for the first day. And those who have children at home always talk about this! Interestingly, many during the tour lose all self-control, although in a normal home environment they behave very differently. So with new musicians, I'm not always sure that on tour they will not get on drugs or something like that.
For example, when I first took Doogie White to Rainbow, he slept on the floor of a friend's house. After some time on tour, he began to stay in five-star hotels, complained that the keys to his room were slowly brought to him, and constantly changed rooms. This is what happened to the guy who was sleeping on the floor after the first tour (laughs)! Or another situation: we had a vegetarian in our group, I have nothing against vegetarians, but we need to prepare separate dishes for her, since she eats only plant foods, and these are unnecessary problems. During the tour, you have to eat everything that comes to hand. But she still complained constantly about the food. When all seven members of the group are gathered, it is very difficult to spend time with them. Someone is always in a bad mood, someone constantly does not like something.
I noticed that after people get into a group, they change a lot. I still don't get it. Back in Rainbow, there was a situation where one keyboard player who played in the group, at first gently said that he was a simple keyboard player, and after six months began to behave like a king. Suddenly he changed. Then I had to say goodbye to him. If such problems are not solved immediately, then the group will simply fall apart. I talked about it with Pat, he told me that all the musicians of the bands he produced hate each other, live in different hotels and lead their own lives. I believe that if you do not get along with someone, you need to immediately end the relationship.
For example, everyone knows that in Deep Purple some of the members disliked each other. In fact, everyone there hated each other! But they continue to play in this group because they want stability. It seems to me that many bands continue to play together just for the sake of stability. But I don't believe that I need stability. When I feel that something in life is bringing me unhappiness, I must stop doing it. It is foolish to be afraid to leave the group just because you will find yourself in an unstable situation. There is no point in doing what you don't like just for the sake of not changing anything. I know a lot of such bands. Many musicians cling to the famous name. Of course, it's nice when everyone knows the name of your band, but actually we try to enjoy the music first of all. I don't want to do Blackmore's Night just for the money. With this attitude, it would all be pointless.
Will the concert group be different from the one you used for the recording?
CN: No. Everyone who plays on the album will go on tour with us.
RB: I like it when the band takes part in the recording of albums. I understand well the life of musicians. They are all deeply unhappy people. This is true, everyone makes a profit on them: managers, lawyers, representatives of record companies... It seems that this is the most unhappy way of life.
CN: Although, without musicians, they all will not receive any money.
RB: So I try to involve every member of the group as much as possible. But Candice and I do many songs together, and when only we are in the group's photo, some musicians are unhappy with this. Then you have to say goodbye to them. If they want to control everything on their own, why not then put their own group together?
But the current members suit us, so I decided to include them in the recording of the album as well. Pat is an excellent musician, he can play everything from cello to trumpet. Candice and I are working on all the ideas, so the three of us can do all the work, and the presence of other musicians is not necessary. But I wanted to involve the group in the work.
When I was young, I wanted to play in a group where everyone would have equal rights. It was unusual for me to be the leader of the group. This is unnatural for me. I'm an introvert and I don't feel like speaking on behalf of the band, even though I can play that role. It's easier for me to play than to give interviews. However, this does not apply to this interview, because I know that you respect me. But there is nothing worse than giving interviews to American journalists who know nothing about us. I don't want to do this, I just want to play. I'm not a sales manager! Some people do it. They say: "This is our best album! Buy it! " But I am completely different...
Firstly, I started making music because I was very shy. I started playing the guitar because I didn't want to communicate with anyone at school. This was my way of expressing myself. And now I am often asked to come to the show, and when I ask what kind of show it is, they answer me that it is a talk show. I don't want to talk, I'm not a politician! However, chatting musicians are in vogue these days. Quiet and serious musicians like Brian May don't like to talk. We prefer to play.
Can you tell us about the musicians of the current line-up of the group?
CN: Carmine Giglio...
RB: He is Italian. What to expect from him?
CN: What to expect from him (laughs)? He's our keyboard player. We also have drummer Mike Sorrentino.
RB: He's a good drummer.
CN: Then Bob. We also call Sir Robert Norman (laughs). He plays both guitar and bass very well. But we don't know what his real name is (laughs).
RB: So we will call him Sir Robert of Normandy. He is a very sophisticated and wonderful musician. There is also a guy in the group named Chris Devine, he can play anything. He can play mandolin, violin, viola, flute, pipe, trumpet, keys - whatever! And Marcy Gellar on backing vocals. She's great.
Do you think the album will be released on time?
RB: After the delivery of the work, I do not follow the deadlines for its release (laughs). I go into the studio, record music and leave. When I'm recording something, I always want to start on the next song, because it seems like I've been working on the same thing for a whole year (laughs). Pat likes everything to sound perfect. Probably, if in 1000 years the Martians dig up our disks, they will say: "This is perfection." For me it is not so important, but he strives for such a result.
CN: But we still have certain deadlines that we have to adjust to. Besides, there is also a tour. This time we will go to countries that are rather unusual for us. In some I have never been, for example, in Israel and Turkey.
RB: Where the war is going on all the time.
CN: Exactly (laughs).
RB: Hungary, Russia, Scandinavia... When I was just creating this group, I wanted to play in small halls and release several discs. We are now releasing our third album and the tours have become a little more difficult. I don't like touring a lot. In Deep Purple we toured too often, it felt like some kind of curse. I toured a lot and ended up hating touring. I don't think you need to have concerts every day. After the concert, you need to take one day off, after two - two. Music won't work if it's not fun. I used to get too tired, to the point that it was impossible to imagine that I was playing at full strength. I was very tired. And he was ill all the time.
Even at Rainbow, we had a lot of work to do. It's easy for managers to call musicians and tell them where to go. They don't need to go anywhere to receive only 10% of their earnings, as a group does. By the way, Yngwie has an incredible schedule. He gives concerts every day for three months, and then takes ten days off. And also constantly flies from Europe to America. I don't know how I could handle this. How can a person travel, play and drink so much?
I know Yngwie loves to drink. But he needs to be on his guard. He works too hard. I don't know who his manager is now. It's not Jim Lewis anymore, is it?
Yes, now his wife is his manager.
RB: Oh, that's good. Family members are the best managers (laughs). Because the managers will drink all the juices from the artist, unless they are relatives. The more you work, the more they profit from you. I want to choose for myself where to play, even if it would be more profitable for me to arrange a tour elsewhere. I want to perform in places of interest to me. I don't like to just come to the city and give a concert there, I want to relax and see the city. And so on. Then I can give my 100 percent in front of the audience. I will have a fresh head. In Rainbow and Deep Purple I was so exhausted that sometimes I myself did not realize that I was playing. I was too tired and I just wanted to sleep. I could no longer constantly work, fly planes, or travel on trains. With this group we don't have tours longer than three months.
CN: We would like to perform in Japan in November.
RB: Do you think the Japanese want us to come? Many people ask us: "Why is Ritchie still popular in Japan?" Maybe we should think about it... Anyway, in Deep Purple we also wanted to tour less, all the members discussed it at dinner, but with the manager, Bruce Payne, it was impossible. The problem with Japan is that it is difficult to get to. You will have to fly in an airplane for 12 hours and breathe the same air with the rest, and someone gets sick all the time. If it was possible to get to Japan in an hour, then I would perform there more often. I hate flying. When the flight takes more than five hours, I start to feel like I'm in hell. What I just didn't do, but I don't understand how to deal with it.
Are you currently setting the tour schedule yourself? How do you manage to do this side of the business yourself?
RB: Because I have the best manager. Speaking of which, I don't understand why Yngwie worked with Jim Lewis at all. He is a typical manager. When I think of him, I immediately think of Bruce Payne. He played incredible tricks.
A musician, a creative person who devotes all his time to music, is not able to do paperwork himself. And then the manager decides that he will take all the money for himself, leaving only a small part of the profit to the musician. It's great - the musicians write songs, tour and take care of the band, but the managers don't do anything.
CN: For example, Joe Boyland and Janice Rouge of Legend, who were formerly Ritchie's managers. Ritchie just recently won a case against them in court. But even when you know that you will be able to prove the wrongful actions of your partners in court, you have to pay a lot of money to a lawyer. All this takes about a year, and here lawyers are already making money on it.
RB: Since the "Legend" process is over, I am thinking of filing a lawsuit against Bruce Payne from Deep Purple. I wouldn't mind doing a few gigs with the band - not for money, but for fun. But this is impossible, primarily because of the manager. I don't want to contact this manager anymore. He knows it. For the fans, we could put together a classic Deep Purple lineup for a week or two, for the sake of nostalgia. The members of the group always argued with each other, but if we had a couple of beers, we would have been able to agree on everything. But I will never work with their manager. This is out of the question. I will not take part in such an event if Bruce Payne is involved.
Since I know that Bruce Payne is now managing the affairs of the group, I will not take part in such a project. I know that I will be condemned for this. But this is just ridiculous. For example, any Beatles fan would dream of seeing the band reunite at least one concert. Imagine fans discussing the headline: "The Beatles Can't Reunite Because of Managers." How is it possible that managers have such influence? But managers know how to create a certain situation. They are the ones who communicate with agents and promoters. If you ask Ian Paice or Jon Lord, you will find out that they would not mind getting together and doing a couple of concerts. But Bruce Payne won't let that happen. If they say, "Let's do this," Bruce Payne will just go berserk.
In this group I do what I like. But as far as Deep Purple is concerned, I will never go into the studio with them, however I would not mind doing a few gigs for the fans in a couple of weeks. Play "Highway Star", remember the music from 25 years ago. Isn't it silly that I can't do this because of someone who has nothing to do with the band's music, even if the members themselves want to? Awfully funny story. I'm sure the band, after such a long hiatus, would be happy to do it with a couple of beers. It would be great to give 3-4 such concerts, everyone would be interested. But the manager doesn't want me to take any part in the band, and doesn't want me to play with them. In general, all this has nothing to do with music.
CN: What's good about Carol, she is very enthusiastic about her work. She works 12 hours a day and often does not get enough sleep.
RB: And she's very honest. Many people offer her contracts, thinking that if they give her money, she will make Blackmore's Night sign them. But she replies that it is impossible, it is not fair, and that we are artists. Nobody understands her. Why does she take the side of the musicians? She is not a manager, but our representative. I don't even pay her the regular manager salary! She does not receive even 10 percent of her income. I only pay her a small salary. But she does 100 percent better than all of my previous managers. Due to her honest work, the group is gaining more and more fans. Also, our audience has a very wide age range. It can be divided into two age groups, three to 12 years old, and 25 to 75 years old. Aggressive youth are not very interested in what we play.
Our fans... I don't like these words, but they are more cultured and intelligent. They are looking for something more than ordinary music. They are interested in something different, different from the groups that shout: "Do you want rock ?!" Performing such quiet music, you have to play well. This is difficult for me. In Deep Purple I played the same songs, and I thought I couldn't do it anymore, all the songs sounded the same dull. All the songs sounded like one, so I felt like I was playing the same thing. I felt that something was missing in my life. I was surrounded by people making money from my music, and because of this attitude of mine, they were very angry. But I just wanted to make music.
At our concerts we play very light music, Candice sings softly, and we play for several hundred spectators, and not for tens of thousands, as it was in the days of Deep Purple, but thanks to this, our music makes more sense. Plus, it wouldn't be possible if we didn't know how to play. In such an environment, you will not be able to say: "I am a rock and roll player!" and get into a pose. You have to play well. So we can say that now we are putting ourselves to the test. I used to be mad about a lot. But now I always have a guitar in my hands. Ten years ago, I did anything, but I didn't play the guitar - I played football, whatever. Even then, I was tired of just plugging the guitar into the amp and extracting some sounds from it. You can get tired of this in thirty years.
You can't hide behind a loud sound on acoustics, so I have to practice. In addition, people aged 60-70 come to our concerts, thinking: "Can he play?". This is not the same as what I did when I was 18 when there was smoke and a light show on stage. At that time, no one gave a damn about the music, the main thing was that you could get drunk at the concert. But for me it is more interesting to study the guitar. Now I am in love with the guitar again. Twelve years ago I did not experience this.
Our current music world is small and cozy, different from Deep Purple's huge rock business. I especially enjoy playing in halls for 500 people. I even like to play for 100, 50 or 20 people. Can you imagine Deep Purple playing "Smoke On The Water" for 20 people? Nothing good will come of it (laughs). Their songs are not played until a crowd of 20,000 people sing along in the hall. If you play this riff in front of an audience of 20 people, you will realize how weak it sounds. It just doesn't make sense. Of course, I am proud of this song, although I prefer to do other music.
I want to say that the music we are playing now can be performed for a couple of people. It will still sound just as good. And Deep Purple's music had to be played in front of a crowd of excited people. It was impossible to play for 10-20 people. It's the same with Kiss. Personally, I respect Kiss, but they don't always succeed with music. However, they play for 20,000 spectators, use explosions, light shows that dazzle and deafen, and everyone says it's a great show. But what if you put Kiss to perform for an audience of 15 people? Without light and other tricks. If they find themselves in such a situation, no one will like their concert.
In Deep Purple, I felt the same way. Even when the audience liked everything and they were happy, I was ashamed. When you play the same old things, the freshness disappears from the music. When I remember the band now, I realize that I could never say that I was satisfied with the music and the band. All the time it seemed to me that something was going wrong. However, the others were very pleased. The audience applauded, the halls were packed with people, and the money was huge. Everything was wonderful, but I felt that everyone had forgotten about music. However, now I feel freshness in the music again. It is necessary not only to go on stage, but also to play well all the time.
Recently Deep Purple flew to Japan with Ronnie James Dio and an orchestra...
RB: I know what you mean. I was very surprised that Ronnie agreed to work with Bruce Payne. Ronnie disliked Bruce Payne even more than I did. So I don't know why he did it. Maybe for the sake of money or purely out of respect for Deep Purple.
When I interviewed Ronnie, I asked him about the possibility of renewing cooperation with you, and he replied that he talked with you on this topic, but you did not go for it because you are very pleased with your current project. After the interview, I told Ronnie that I was going to do an interview with you in Germany, and he asked me to say hello to you. It may be rough, but please tell me if there is a possibility for you to put Rainbow back together with him or with a new vocalist?
RB: No, not now, as I am too passionate about my current music. As I said, I could work with Ronnie for a couple of weeks, as with Deep Purple, for myself and the fans. For me it is something like: "Let's remember the past, we'll have a drink." But I'm not going to go into the studio with a rock band. It's pointless. The music I am creating now comes from my soul. It's quieter than rock music, but I'm very happy with it. It would be great to get together with Ronnie and play Rainbow songs. The fans deserve it. I agree to this if Bruce Payne is not the manager, and if it does not apply to studio work. This should be a lot of fun. I would be interested, and hopefully the fans too. Remember the music a hundred years ago (laughs)! Entertaining nostalgia.
My current music is not in such demand, but I like it myself. This is the most important thing for me. Of course, everyone is surprised that I play such calm music, but this is what I want to do. To be honest, I put my desires above all else. Fan wishes come second to me. It would be great if the wishes of the fans coincided with mine, but I won't let them control me. I am also pleased that I am not driven by money. In short, I don't like being controlled at all.
It's great to have money to do what you love. I don't have to sell my house to do what I want to do, but I love having my audience. The promoters try to organize concerts in large halls all the time, but I try to perform in halls for 2,000 people. In Russia and Turkey we will play in halls for 5,000 people. But we will still play the same music. Our music is very personal.
I'm sure I'll call Ronnie someday. Maybe I'll even call Jon Lord and Ian Paice and offer them a couple of weeks to work for the benefit of the fans. Even with Ian Gillan, I don't have that much problem. We could work together for two weeks. I just don't communicate with him. He is not a bad person, we just have a different view of things. But I can't work with Bruce Payne. It's impossible. Ronnie's manager is still Wendy Dio, right? I think it's because of her that we stopped working with Ronnie. She knows it. But Ronnie needs her.
Right, I should call Jon, Ian and Ronnie. I will do it someday, but not now. To be honest, Wendy tried to organize something like that, it got to the point where Ronnie and I started texting about doing something together. I contacted Polydor and started discussing contracts. Nothing came of it then, but then again, maybe someday we will put together Rainbow again with him to please the fans. After that, we will return to what we like ourselves...
Then the interview continued after a short break, during which the journalists were able to listen to the album "Fires At Midnight".
I really liked "Written In The Stars"...
RB: I don't remember such a song... What is it?
CN: You don't know anything about your songs all the time (laughs)! This is a song about the power of destiny.
RB: If something bad is in store for you, it is better not to know about it. By the way, there is also a French folk song "Smoke On The Water" on the album... Why are you laughing?
CN: Someone has already recorded it (laughs).
RB: Oh, exactly. The Scorpions (laughs)?
The title track "Fires At Midnight" also sounds very cool.
RB: In this song I played on a wheeled lyre. It's quite difficult to play, but when it works, it sounds great. However, there is not much I can play on it.
CN: I would not say that, he is very good. He often plugs it into an amplifier at three in the morning and goes outside to play. Then all the neighbors start looking out of the window, not understanding what kind of sound it is (laughs).
RB: Everyone thinks it's some kind of ghost playing the bagpipes. We live by the water, because of which the sound of the amplifier spreads all over the coast, and it seems to them that this is some kind of devilish music coming from the depths of the ocean (laughs).
I really love to go to shops where they sell old instruments: shalmeys, crumhorns, wheeled lyres, bagpipes... It's amazing that such instruments are still on sale. In regular rock 'n' roll shops, buyers are more interested in leather pants than musical instruments (laughs).
By the way, at dinner you told me about some rare instrument.
RB: It's called nai, it's a wind instrument. I tried to play it, but it didn't work out for me. Candice has too.
I really liked the lyrics on "The Storm".
RB: I wrote this song, and I can say that this is a song about... a storm (laughs).
CN: You're right (laughs). This is a song about how much more powerful nature is than us. When the wind hits their faces, many feel pain, it seems as if it will take them somewhere. But at such moments I feel that he gives me freedom. We had an interesting incident at a castle in the town of Neuhaus not far from here. We were performing in the courtyard of the castle, and suddenly the sky seemed to burst, and a storm began such as I have never seen in my life. Lightning struck every second, so that the sky became completely white. I've never heard such a thunder! We are all soaked to the skin. And in such conditions we had to play!
RB: It was like we got into a movie about Frankenstein. Because of the thunder, we could not be heard. There was a terrible downpour. We fled to the castle and watched in admiration.
On "Midwinter's Night", do you sing in a mixture of old French and Spanish?
CN: This is a story about a girl trying to sleep. She lives on a farm and sings for the cows. When I sang it, all the time I imagined how cows were mooing, and I could not sing normally (laughs).
RB: Then we changed the text (and now Ritchie began to hum).
CN: I can sing about it (laughs).
RB: This is one of my favorite songs. She is very sincere. In it, Candice plays on the electric bagpipe. When I first arrived in Germany this year, I wanted to buy us an electric bagpipe. It is best to buy them in Germany. I had to tinker with it a bit. I have a friend who understands these things, and we had to drive three hours to buy it. They are made by a very strange person. When you want to buy yourself a guitar, you go to the store, ask for a guitar and pay for it. However, when buying a bagpipe, you have to wait three years for its manufacture, despite the money. Even if you pay in advance, they refuse, and say that they will accept the money only after three years. When asked what the problem is, the answer is that they still need to make bagpipes for other clients. Finding bagpipe masters is not easy at all. They seem to be hiding (laughs)! I don't know what is so difficult about making a bagpipe. It's just a wooden pipe and a bag. But most of the craftsmen when buying say that the client will have to wait... Even the best craftsmen. This is strange.
You also played a Bob Dylan song, which suggests that you are not limited to medieval music.
RB: You can't limit yourself. If you put a bird in a cage, it will try to fly away. In music, I needed to get out of the cage. It's the same in a love relationship, you need to give a person freedom if you don't want to harm him. We don't see a problem in playing other people's songs.
I'm surprised that you wrote the riff for "Benzai-Ten" many years ago.
RB: This song sounds mesmerizing, it has an almost hypnotizing sound. I'm glad the Japanese like it. When I hear it, I always remember Japan. Are we pronouncing "Benzai-ten" correctly?
RB: Sounds like Iron Maiden! I would like to record a song called "Iron Maiden" (laughs).
CN: For this I have to wear a leather suit (laughs). There are many legends on this topic, but I read that Benzai-Ten is considered the dragon's daughter. She belongs to the seven gods of happiness, and among these seven gods she is the only woman. She is the goddess of happiness, abundance, family well-being, music and talent.
RB: Seriously? I thought it was about Mr. Udo.
CN: No, it's not about him at all (laughs). I'm glad we finally recorded it.
RB: We planned to put it on our first album.
About the song "Home Again"...
RB: Remember we also had the song "Masa Itoh's Home"?
CN: It's about March The Heroes Home.
RB: Really? Are they marching at Masa's house?
CN: This is exactly how we imagined it (laughs).
RB: How do you like it? "Home Again" is a song that everyone remembers about their home.
CN: There are people who travel to India to meet with the guru and awaken the spirit within themselves, but in reality this is not necessary. The most important thing is to be aware of yourself, so that all this can be done at home. I feel best at home.
RB: When I'm in castles like this, I want to walk around them for hours and look at every nook and cranny. I love to walk around the neighborhood. And Candice loves to travel all the time.
CN: But the most pleasant feeling I get is when I return home and open the front door. For me it is a shrine, the place where my heart and soul are kept...
RB: No matter how much you tour, everyone always wants to come home in the end. Unfortunately, not everyone has a home to return to. This is a song that you can sing while drinking in a Romanian bar. The music is written for everyone to sing along, it's a tavern song so the audience can join us and sing it with us.
It seems to me that concert performances should be built based on the psyche of the audience. It is very interesting to listen to a technical game, but after ten minutes I start to want to hear simple melodies. Viewers do not want their heads to be constantly attacked by technology. They need a soul, they need a heart.
CN: "I Still Remember" is also a good song. According to the text, this is a typical love song...
RB: In this text, she recalls her past lovers (laughs).
CN: I also love the song "Hanging Tree". Not far from our house, in a field, we found a very unusual tree: it was very old and bent, and it looked very impressive. In ancient Europe, there was a terrible execution when people were hung on trees, and then thrown with stones, corpses were burned and other monstrous things were done to people. The same execution took place in the United States. Travelers passing by often saw corpses hanging in the trees. Hanging Tree is the story of a tree that survived this time. It was born innocent, but people turned it into a tool for killing. The song is sung on behalf of this tree. It talks about how grief it feels, it has to kill people, and it cannot do anything about it. However, time passes, he manages to survive, and now happy times have come for him when he no longer has to kill anyone... So this story has a happy ending.
RB: She loves to give people hope. That's why she renamed my song "Now You Are Gone" to "Again Someday". I don't know if this is good or bad. Perhaps kindness helps you realize the truth.
CN: But it seems to me that hope and happiness are also sad feelings.
RB: She looks happy all the time, but I am very quiet, and sometimes I feel very unhappy. And what do you think?
CN: You and I balance each other. Ritchie and I perceive our relationship as yin-yang. He is such a dark and mysterious person that he needs someone who will bring light and joy into his life.
RB: I love to complain. It's like a hobby! I also like to pick my nose. I love it! Candice is constantly saying, "I'm sick of your complaints, and stop picking your nose!", But this is typical of most Britons. I don't like it when something is wrong in my nose!
CN: If you continue to talk about it, then you will cease to be mysterious (laughs)!
RB: When I return to England, I notice that everyone around me is constantly whining, and it annoys me.
CN: Do you understand me now (laughs)?
RB: Americans talk too much and British whine too much. The Japanese... I don't know. The Japanese are very secretive and do not show their feelings to other people.
CN: Yes, the Japanese look even more mysterious than you (laughs).
© BURRN, Japan - June 2001