Ritchie Blackmore

Interview Rock & All - May 2016

You visit the Czech Republic quite often, what attracts you so much in our country?

As a lover of Renaissance music and classical rock like the Scorpions, I am impressed that you have so many musicians playing in these genres. On the street you can catch the performance of Krleš, and then go to the bar to listen to medieval music. It's very nice. In my free time, I watch your bands on YouTube, it gives me a fresh impetus to create my own stuff. In America there is nothing but rap.

A large place on your albums is taken by covers of famous songs. Why is it important for you to record your own versions of famous songs?

All songs from the last album are connected with our memories, that's why the disc is called "All Our Yesterdays". Many of these songs were revolutionary at the time, although Sonny and Cher's song sounds pretty comical in retrospect. I have nothing against switching from our style to more pop stuff, because these styles have a lot in common. For example, "Moonlight Shadow" has elements of Renaissance music.

Let's change the subject. I would like to know which Czech and German beer do you like the most?

Most of all I love Pilsner Urquell, and as for German beer, I do not disdain any kind. I don't really like American beer, the local Budweiser is far from the original. Fortunately, there are several shops where you can at least buy a bottle of quality beer. Local American bars offer only American beer and show sports or music videos on flat-screen TVs, one can only dream of hearing Renaissance music there.

Is there a possibility that you will play Blackmore's Night songs like "Darker Shade Of Black" at Rainbow concerts?

The set list hasn't been determined yet, but it will definitely include "Soldier Of Fortune", which was originally performed by Deep Purple and which we have been playing for a long time. I'm seriously considering playing the song "Carry On Jon," a tribute to the late John Lord. In the next rehearsals, we will try to play different songs and see what suits us best.

How did you find Ronnie Romero?

Candice and I just watched some of his videos on the Internet, and Ronnie immediately hooked me. I knew that I needed to find someone who would sing in the spirit of Dio, but also be able to master the classic Deep Purple material. Therefore, Ronnie was a better choice than Turner and Coverdale, with whom only their songs would have to be performed. In fact, this young man is one of the main reasons that prompted me to revive Rainbow. I thought about this for many years, but I never imagined that I could find someone who could inspire me so much and give me so much fresh energy.

He resembles Graham Bonnet with his hairstyle, isn't that a problem for you?

No, appearance is not the main thing for cooperation. The main thing is music and harmony. However, I can't help but admit that I'm wondering what Ronnie would look like with long hair (laughs). In the eighties, we all wore long hair, it seemed natural to us. Today, people who still wear long hair are perceived as hippies. I would say that it is acceptable today.

Why did you decide to take Jens to the group?

Jens is not only an incredible musician, he is also a very nice person. He has great musical talent, and he can play almost anything, moreover, he does it quite naturally. I wanted to have an elite musician in the group who is able to amaze the listener with one play without putting on a show. Jens reminded me of the concept of performance I had when I was young. The band is all talented musicians, but we work as a team. I know that about this project there was talk about some famous musicians, but selfishness would destroy the entire project. I prefer playing with lesser known people who have musical taste and talent. This also applies to the drummer and bass player. I know a lot of drummers who can come up with brilliant solos, but few of them are as neat and efficient as David Keith. Bob Nouveau has an unreal sense of rhythm. I can only say that I am very proud of this team.

By the way, Yngwie Malmsteen, with whom Jens played, recorded his version of "Gates Of Babylon", in which the solo sounds like it was written on another planet.

I didn't hear it, but thanks for the tip. Yngwie is a unique and extremely fast guitarist. I've always admired him.

Guitarists often comment on the unusual sound of your guitar. Can you reveal the secret of this magical sound?

There is no magic here. It seems to me that the matter is in the musician's head, and, probably, a small amount of overdrive. Today, everyone, like madmen, tries to hide behind huge and complex equipment, but as a result, nothing comes of it. Jimi Hendrix sounded better than the rest of us put together, and for that he didn't need overload. He relied only on his soul and guitar.

How do you prepare for the upcoming concerts? Do you practice the guitar?

I need playing the guitar like air. The guitar is always in my hands. But the truth is, I mostly play acoustics. So I have to freshen up my memories of playing the electric guitar a little in order to play at the proper level, and this is the most difficult for me, because the position of the fingers is so different. The same goes for the technique of playing with a pick, which I simply have to learn again.

What do you think of the many re-releases of Rainbow albums?

To be honest, I stopped following such things. They keep releasing Deep Purple and Rainbow albums all the time, and if I were in the fans' shoes, I would just get tired of it. I take this as a sign of the companies' greed.

There is a lot of discussion among fans about the Frontiers Records lawsuit, which accused you of undermining the advertising campaign "All Our Yesterdays".

It seems to me that this is just an absurd accusation. They would also tell me what color of clothes I should wear during the interview. How can you estimate how much advertising a person does or does not? I am not very interested in all this, so I leave it to the lawyers to deal with, but it seems to me that this is just an attempt to draw attention to fictitious problems. The artist must have complete control over what he does and how much energy he puts into it. They have no right to talk about anything except the release of albums, especially since in our time their power has long gone. Maybe twenty years ago they could have behaved like this when everyone listened to what the labels were saying, but with the advent of the Internet, it all ended. I am a musician, I play music, I do not speak. Publishers won't be able to control every move I make. The last time I heard the phrase, "You haven't done enough," was in school, and then I left school. I never let anyone tell me what I should do.

Do you plan to put on some kind of show at the Rainbow concerts?

We recently worked with lighting effects, but to be honest, I hate putting on a Pink Floyd-style light show. We have prepared a very interesting stage, but the music itself is most important to me. I am sure that the audience will agree with me. As for the program, I am sure that you will hear all your favorite songs, "Stargazer", "Ninth Symphony" by Beethoven, as well as "Highway Star".

Do you communicate with Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale?

We have not met for many years, first of all, this is due to the fact that we live very far from each other. As far as I know, Ian Gillan lives in Portugal, Glenn Hughes in Los Angeles, and David Coverdale, in my opinion, in Nevada. We do not meet, but all these years we remain friends.

© Rock & All Magazine, Czech Republic 2016