Dio Message Board Interview February 2004
Well here we are again.
please find on the next few posts the full interview with Tony Carey (keyboard wizard).
I'd like to personally thank Tony for doing this and for our chats on the phone.
This is a REALLY extensive interview which will answer a few old questions for you.
Hi Tony, how are you ?
Hi Warlord. I'm keeping pretty well, all things considered – thanks for asking.
I'd like to know who and what inspired you to go out and play a keyboard!
Ray Manzarek of the Doors was a definite inspiration to me – my father got me an organ for my 14th birthday, and I learned the first two Doors records note-for-note. My first electric band had a fairly narrow repertoire – Doors only – but we'd play 'light my fire' 3 or four times a night and it seemed like a lot of material. This was in 1967 or so. I learned a few other songs later.
I understand that Blessings was your first and only band before joining Rainbow. Considering that the music of these two was completely different, or so I hear, did you find it difficult to adjust to being in a hard rock band. By the sound of it, you didn't lol.
No. I had lots of bands as a kid, my first was a duo, I was 11, and we played guitars. 'California Dreamin' was another one that always got 3 or 4 plays. Not in a row, though... We had a great change-of-pace number, 'Gloria', from Van Morrison and Them. To your question: there are only two kinds of music – interesting and dull – and if you find something challenging, you just jump in and PLAY IT. It's important to figure what your part of the whole picture is. My part of Ritchie's band – (as opposed to what it would have been in say, Yes, or Jethro Tull) was to support his guitar parts, and give him support while he soloed. He played a lot of open 5ths on the guitar – 'man on the silver mountain', etc. and I basically doubled his parts, on organ and clavinet – loudly – and once in a while got to show off with a solo. I used all the synths popular at the time, but the real deal was Hammond organ. I don't think I played a major chord in all the time I was with the band, as major chords NEVER sound in tune between a keyboard and a loud guitar, and open 5ths sound, uh, HEAVY. As the band developed we showed flashes of being a pretty good think-on-your-feet jamming band, not a bad thing to be in the seventies. We did some blues stuff once in a while that I liked, and Ritchie liked to noodle around on fake-classical Bachlike stuff that really didn't sound like anybody else. Ritchie's habit of firing people every few months pretty much ensured that any development in this area died in the crib though. I always felt that Rainbow could've been pretty good, but never got comfortable or relaxed with the music or with each other. I mean, don't blink or you'll miss the arrival (and departure) of a new bass player, keyboarder, singer, whatever. RB fired me twice, and, third time's the charm. I finally left on my own in a blaze of... something. So while it's okay that people still like what we did all these years later, all that was just the tip of the iceberg. We could've been better, and after that it didn't matter anyway 'cause the band turned into a pop combo.
I'd also like to know if you played all the keyboard parts on Long Live Rock'n Roll or just part of them before your departure as there seems to be some uncertainty about this. I've listened to many live bootlegs with both you and your follow up David Stone who and I think the keyboards on the album have your stamp all over them, especially Gates Of Babylon. I hope you got the money even if you were not credited.
I don't know how much of the 'Long live Rock and Roll' lp ended up with my keyboard parts. I never listened to it – no sh*t. I do know that at the time of my (rather abrupt) departure I had played 6 or 7 songs. To your comment about the money – I never got a cent from ANY Rainbow recording, not 'Rising' or 'on stage' or any of the re-releases and compilations that keep popping up. That band was my first lesson in f*ck-you rock-and-roll economics (not my last though), oh well.
Any spooky stories about Le Chateau?
Actually I do have some spooky chateau stories, and I'll take them to my grave...
I'd also like to ask about the orchestrations on the Rainbow albums, how involved were you or other members in the process or was it all realized by Rainer Pietsch? I consider Gates Of Babylon and Rainbow Eyes as probably the best orchestrated pieces I can remember on any rock album. Have you worked with orchestras since?
Eberhard Schoner orchestrated 'Stargazer', I believe, which was a pretty cool song. Some orchestra in Munich... I don't know Mr Pietsch, I think has gone by the time he arrived. I've generally used sampled orchestras over the years. I'm a heretic who thinks samples usually sound better than a bunch of violin players sawing away. They're more direct, manageable, cheaper, smell better (ever smell an oboe?) and you don't feel guilty about erasing them because the arrangement cost 10 studio days and $60,000.
What album of your long body of work are you most proud of...so far.
'Proud' wouldn't be the right word. More like 'which records don't sound embarrassing later'. 'Pink World', (Planet P Project) which was at the time the follow-up to 2 quite successful records, was commercial suicide in 1984. Some of the songs are pretty cool, though, and if you go to www.truebeliever.de you'll see I'm still making career-killing Planet P Project concept records. With the slight difference that now I give them away. What do you mean, you don't hear a single?
To finish off, who are your musical inspirators, past and present? Do you have any interest in ambient or world music?
Any music that's done with conviction, humor, passion, and complete disregard for the consequences (will it make money/get me laid/get me on MTV) is an inspiration to me, especially these days when there's so much plastic around. I like hiphop a lot, some pop music is great and most of it isn't (nothing new there), and an old cowboy like me still likes his Country. I don't pay much attention to hard rock anymore... If you ever run into a copy of my 'Gerfangen in Yemen' film soundtrack (probably e-bay) there's a definite world touch there. Hiphop Arabs.
How would you best sum up your time with Rainbow, looking back now, and is Blackmore really such a wicked prankster? All the best!
My time with Rainbow? I was a kid, and hadn't found my own thing yet, which didn't turn out to be hardrock keyboards. I just stumbled into the gig 'cause I was there and could play.
Later I got into writing and singing, which were two skills that Rainbow didn't need or want. It was exciting, certainly, and I learned a lot... I wouldn't call Ritchie B a 'prankster' – enough people have called him enough other things. Mostly, I expect, people who didn't or don't really know him (myself included). Whatever he was or is, the man's talent and presence were astonishing, and he was never boring. Ps I bet he STILL can't play the f*cking cello.
Was there ever a time when you guys "got lost" during an improv? From the early boots I've listened to, you guys made it all seem too easy and I've not heard a single instance where it seems like anyone got left behind.
I am usually lost. The goal is the journey – getting there is what it's all about. I won't get into Shirley Maclaine territory and 'channelling', but music fuels itself and could go either way, and if everything's working, the whole band manages not to crash, and 'A' leads to 'B'. Now THAT'S a clear answer.
What was it like to record it, did you know/feel whilst recording it that it was destined to be a classic?
We recorded 'Rising' quickly, the band 'felt right'. Sometimes you just don't ask too many questions. It was my first time in Europe (Munich), and Germany was a real Foreign Country in the seventies. The world was a huge place at the time, pre-internet. I was on Mars. Everybody seemed to be locked in and there was never much discussion, (I mean musically, personalities were another story). Martin Birch was producing, and he was a great calming influence. Jimmy Bain and I spent time together at the time, and he was cool (cooler than me, anyway) and helped me out a lot, emotionally. As far as the record being a 'classic' – I don't know. I just know that the record was REAL, made for the right reasons, and got something down on tape that was unique to THAT band at THAT time in THAT place. Cozy played like a madman, Ronnie knew what he wanted to sing about and how he wanted to sing it, Ritchie seemed sure of what he was doing... Bullseye.
"Tony, do You ever play the intro to "Tarot Woman" nowadays or when was the last time You played it?"
The ONLY time I ever played 'tarot woman' was the day I recorded it. Minimoogs through a Pignose guitar amp, by the way.
Do you think the overall Rainbow sound would have changed as much as it did if you have had stayed in the band?
I've answered that one obliquely a couple of times here...
The Rainbow reunion has been speculated for years and years. It apparently came quite close in 1997-1998 when Cozy was still alive. Were you approached by Ritchie or anyone concerning the possible reunion at that time? What is your feeling, will this ever happen or not?
Nobody ever asked me or sounded me out about participating in any reunions... I haven't had any contact with anyone in 25 years. As far as it ever happening, sure, why not, but there are about 30 ex-keyboard players available... Some of 'em might even be pretty good. It'd be fun, though, if RB ever decided to be in a ROCK band again for a while. I wasn't crazy about the later stuff. I'd need combat pay to play 'since you've been gone'...
I was curious if you'll also be releasing a best of compilation including your solo material as well Planet P Project songs as well?
A 'best-of' is tough. I've recorded for 6 or 7 different record labels... hard to co-ordinate.
Hi Tony! Chris Hudson here, I am a longtime fan of yours, and enjoyed seeing you at South by Southwest in Austin Texas a couple of years ago. Would you consider touring the states again, possibly with a full band backing you?
Hi Chris, nice to hear from you. What's a nice guy like you doing on Ronnie's website? Right now I'm trying to do this trilogy – 'go out dancing' – and I have to see where that takes me. I'd love to tour America again, though. I wouldn't be a big enough draw, though, to play the places I'd like – live in Central Park, etc.
Tony, are there any bands or artists you have followed since your teens, or maybe even longer, and still enjoy listening too? Who?
I saw Elton John in 1970 or '71 Bridgeport, Connecticut, when I was in high school. He was great. Still is. Love those songs and that voice – his last studio lp was back-to-the-roots analogue recording, had a song on it, I think 'Wyoming', blew me away. Plus His Bobness is still the Man. Don't forget Bruce either, or Van, or James Taylor, or Steely Dan. Or...
First of all, thanks for making the new Planet P album available for download! It's fantastic, and I keep hearing new layers in the music the more I listen. The lyrics are also very good - were they written by you or the singer?
Love this question. The Planet P singer – who would rather remain anonymous - not only writes his own lyrics, but plays most of the instruments AND produces. I'll tell him you like the lyrics... I don't care for them, myself (all those nazis).
Do you still record with the old synths, or do you use some software synths as well? From the CD liner notes, it seems your studio moves around a lot, so I am assuming it's computer based. What programs do you prefer for recording?
I use software synths and samplers pretty much exclusively. I record with Logic Audio/Mac and have a huge sample library that I'm still exploring. The unbeatable advantage to Logic (or cubase, or whatever) is the total recall and automation of practically all the functions and parameters – I tend to edit a lot, or replay sections while keeping most of a take, and find that the graphic reproduction – SEEING the music – is, once you get used to it, the only way to work. Even if I record something on 2" tape – drums, usually, or vocals – I'll fly the recording into Logic asap - best of both worlds, because tape still sounds great... Logic 6 is a very intuitive, idiot-friendly program, and no, they don't pay me anything to say that. This answer will read like Greek to most people.
And lastly, any US tour plans in the future?
I'm open for anything... no tour plans at the moment. Ask Ronnie if needs a keyboard player. Just kidding.
How has the 1931 album been received in general? Has it worked making it available as a free download on the net? Will we get to hear the second part of the trilogy? And What's next for Tony Carey?
I saw some online reviews that were pretty fair, and I've gotten a lot of mail – I don't know, why don't you review 1931 on Ronnie's site? I've given away several thousand as free downloads, which was the whole point, so I guess it's working... I'm working on the 2nd and 3rd records (1931 is the first part of a trilogy) a lot of the time – as they're finished I'll make them available. Planet P project is something I do for ME, though, (it wasn't always so), so I'm not in a hurry, don't expect a hit single or MTV video, don't want to be famous or popular, and am grateful when someone finds it entertaining.
I do a lot of production work for German and Spanish artists, every so often a film soundtrack, and am busy though... One new thing I'm exploring is a Trance remix record featuring 12 or so of my songs. I'm working with a German DJ – DJ Shah – who's very fresh and creative. First results sound great to me.
(See you at the Love Parade)
Thank you again to Tony for agreeing to do this and spending a lot of time on this for us all. Cheers bro.