Ritchie Blackmore

BURNN Magazine - January 2003 issue


Tell us about your impressions of the 2002 tour?

Ritchie: We've been bombarded with eggs a lot this year (laughs). Now we have a mixed audience, many fans are divided into two types, from thirty to one hundred years old, and from three to twelve. Rabid teenagers rarely come to our concerts, so it's quite interesting to watch the audience's reaction. Fans of Deep Purple and Rainbow also come to the shows, they seem to really like our music too. So we have both new and old fans. This in itself is wonderful. When I look from the stage at the audience, and they are all over forty, I say: "Today we have a large audience," and they usually answer me: "Anyway, they are not as old as you" (laughs). Yes it is!

It's true that we have a large audience, people come to our concerts to listen to music in peace. They do not come to turn their heads, jump, fight and stab someone with a knife. I'd like to think they want spiritual satisfaction from our music. For a musician this is a big difference. The audience is polite, they listen quietly and carefully to everything we play. At rock concerts, few people usually listen to the band play! We try to play the best we can for our audience at every concert.

We don't have this kind of thing: "Well, yes, another concert, I don't care." We don't perform very often, so we try to make each concert as high quality as possible. With Deep Purple and Rainbow we were performing every day and I was just exhausted. I didn't think about the show anymore and nothing came into my head. On tour I was so tired that I couldn't think about anything normally or play anything. In this band, we take one or two days off between shows, so we play with fresh energy at each show. So, we can play for up to two and a half hours.

When you perform in different cities, do you feel a difference in the reaction of the public?

Candice: Of course! It's a huge difference. In my opinion, the most unusual performance for us was the concert in Moscow. We played in a huge stadium, in such a hall it was very difficult to establish a connection with the audience. Richie probably prefers concerts in castles?

Ritchie: Right. Promoters have to make a lot of efforts to arrange a tour of European castles for us. You need to find a castle, put a stage there... it's not easy to organize a concert in a castle! Many bands just play in small local clubs. The same promoters and agencies rent the same clubs for this, which is why, of course, all concerts are held the same way. In many places where we perform, no one has played before us. Organizing such shows is not easy. Roadie has to carry the equipment up the mountain with his own hands.

Because of all these difficulties, agencies are very reluctant to organize our concerts. First we need to find a castle in which we will perform, and then we also need to set up a stage in it. Regular bands never wonder what awaits them at the club.

It's been 5 years since you created Blackmore's Night, has the public's reaction changed during this time?

Ritchie: I read a review in my favorite magazine "Renaissance": "The first Blackmore's Night album was a good "Shadow of The Moon", but the new album "Fires At Midnight...". They rated it five stars out of five - something they had never done before. Interestingly, the critic wrote: "The first album was not bad, the second was better, and the third is their best work." I like to think that the third album turned out to be such a significant work, but for me in general the opinion of critics does not really matter. What do these critics even like? Everyone has different tastes. If you think about it too much, you can go crazy and become dependent on other people's opinions.

A long time ago, during Rainbow, I tried to find out what fans thought about the concert. When I asked, "What songs do you like?", they all expressed opposite opinions. When I asked how they liked the new song, one said: "Just great!", and the other: "Terrible." Two people saw the same performance, but they had completely opposite opinions! When I asked how I played today, one said: "Excellent," and the other: "Couldn't be worse." In other words, everyone has their own opinion, and I noticed that no one agrees with this opinion one hundred percent. Maybe the viewer had a toothache or a headache, or he met a girl during the show and therefore liked everything. On the other hand, if, on the contrary, he had quarreled with a girl, he would have been dissatisfied with everything. So I stopped communicating too often with fans about this topic. I try to trust my feelings. Otherwise, you can go crazy from all these opinions.

Are audiences different now?

Ritchie: These are all the same people. Absolutely the same (laughs). I don't know what to do with this. In Germany, someone tried to explain what kind of concert there would be today. When he said, "This is the guy from Deep Purple," they replied, "Deep Purple? Never heard of". "Well, then he was still playing in Rainbow"... However, when they said: "This is the group Blackmore's Night," he replied: "Oh, Blackmore's Night, I know them." For me this is a big compliment and an important step forward. The person who told me the story didn't think it was pleasant and said something like, "I felt sorry for that guy who had never heard of Deep Purple," but I said, "Sorry, but I don't think so at all." this is bad". Sometimes it irritates me when people only talk about my old work, even though I'm proud of it. It's funny that people began to appear who knew my new group, but had never heard of the old ones.

You once said that it's not easy for you to find musicians for Blackmore's Night.

Ritchie: Elton John said that he would like to play with us, but we turned him down because he was too old. Paul McCartney from The Beatles is a good musician, but he said he wasn't right for our band and refused to play with us (laughs). I don't like the fact that I have to constantly practice the same songs with different musicians. When a band plays full-time, like Deep Purple, it's easier to maintain a consistent lineup, but when a band only plays six months out of the year, the musicians have to find other jobs to make money. Because of this, before every tour it happens that one of the band members leaves. Every time we have to hire new musicians for a six-month tour, and the remaining three or four months of the year they have to do something else to make money. This is the biggest problem.

Candice: Can you tell about the new violinist Lord Marnen?

Ritchie: Yes. You raised an important topic. I learned from Bill Clinton how to answer awkward questions; "This is an important topic," "It's a tough question," "I need time to answer this." That's better than, "I don't know what to say," as George W. Bush might have done. His policies amaze me!

Candice: How does all this relate to Lord Marnen?

Ritchie: As I said, it's hard to find musicians who would like to play in the style of Blackmore's Night, at first people joined the group because they thought they were going to play Rainbow, and I had to explain to them that this was not Rainbow at all. Many of them were not happy about this - they really thought that they were in Rainbow.

Candice: They should have gone to Yngwie (laughs).

Ritchie: Five years have passed since we created this group, and finally there are musicians who are interested in this kind of music, who love the medieval and Renaissance music that we play. This is cool. In addition to the violin, Lord Marnen can also play the flute, and indeed all instruments. He is a strange guy, he walks without shoes. He doesn't have a TV at home. He is a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism, where they listen only to medieval music and have duels with medieval swords.

For the first time in the group there were musicians who want to play this kind of music. They don't expect me to take them to Rainbow. They don't have to explain what Renaissance music is. I think we'll have to find a new keyboard player. The previous keyboard player, Carmine, had to juggle our tours with other work, and he can't do that anymore. Carmine is a good musician, but he didn't quite understand our music. Chris Devine, violinist, also left the band for the same reason.

Sir Robert will remain in the group. Robert also worked in the Backstreet Boys and is a good musician. He's a much better guitar player than he is a bass player, but he has a great sense of rhythm so I can rely on him to play the guitar freely. Before I didn't have a bass player who could keep the beat well, so I had to play chords and keep the beat, but now I can really focus on the guitar.

Before that, we didn't have syncopation because the bass players just followed the drummer's rhythm - bam-bam-bam - and hit the root of the chords. Music without syncopation sounds meaningless. With the right emphasis and phrasing, two notes will sound good. Five years ago we had terrible problems with phrasing. I'm sorry we played so badly when we first played in Japan, but we're starting to improve now. At that time I didn't quite understand what needed to be done. I walked at random, darting from side to side.

Candice: The twin singers Sisters of the Moon also appeared in the group.

Ritchie: Candice sings with them like three sisters. They are excellent musicians and excellent singers, trained in opera singing. They also really like the music we play. Before that, all the backing singers we had wanted to take Candice's place and were jealous that she was the main singer - I didn't like that. I wanted to have singers in the group who would sing with Candice without any envy. Nothing like this happens with the Sisters of the Moon, I have never seen them get angry or throw anything out. On tour, everyone is always unhappy about something, but they are happy all the time. They have a positive influence on us, and with them we all become happier. Can I say this?

Candice: Tell how we met them.

Ritchie: Which version?

Candice: Maybe the truth?

Ritchie: You mean that story about transsexuals?

Candice: Okay (laughs). My father is a doctor, and one of the twins was his patient. My father is our best advertising agent, he tells everyone about our albums and concerts. When my father told her about us, she told him that she also sings and gave him her album. We were just then looking for a backing vocalist, but we didn't know that she and her sister were singing in a duet, so at the audition we got two girls instead of one (laughs). One of them is right-handed, and the other is left-handed. They are real musicians, they don't just memorize their parts, but they always offer something, so there is a new aspect to our songs.

Do you have a set program at your concerts, or do you choose songs on the go?

Ritchie: At each concert we play three or four identical songs, and then we take on either quiet and musical songs, or louder ones, with the participation of the whole band, in which the whole audience sings along. Depends on what the public wants. When the audience is quiet and wants to listen, we play deeper music, and if they shout: "Richie, come on!", then we play loud things.

After these three or four songs you can already understand what the audience wants. We also ask fans directly what they want to hear. When someone shouts, "Play "Temple of The King!", I start playing "Temple of The King." The band members start looking at each other, thinking, "We didn't learn "Temple of the King," but we're playing it anyway, and then the musicians breathe a sigh of relief. By the next show they're ready to play "Temple of The King" again, but this time I'm going for "Since You've Been Gone" (laughs)! The group is terrified! I like to torture musicians.

Candice: You also fire them all the time!

Ritchie: The song "Fires At Midnight" is actually called "Fired At Midnight". When I play "Fires At Midnight", it means that tomorrow someone will leave the group (laughs). All this helps maintain tension in the group. Yes, maybe it's nerves, but good musicians can cope with these difficulties. It's interesting to see what songs the audience chooses, we have a fairly extensive repertoire, but during rehearsals we add something new every time, and sometimes we even play "Shadow Of The Moon" in a different key. The participants don't really like it when they have to learn all these songs in different keys (laughs).

Candice: When we performed in Japan, we did little preparation for the tour.

Ritchie: Actually, I didn't want to play in Japan at all then. I didn't want to perform in front of the Japanese until we got our music sounding right. That's why we canceled the tour last year. In fact, I wasn't sick, although this is considered the reason for the cancellation of concerts, I did not want to perform in Japan with an unplayed and uncertain band. I didn't want to go to Japan until I was sure the band was good enough. Although Mr. Udo had already started promoting the concerts, we canceled them. So we are in his debt. I want to repay the debt to him, and I'm waiting for a new call from him.

Our concerts usually last three hours and twenty minutes, which is quite long in my opinion, but I love performing. When everything goes well, it's a great feeling. I used to play for one hour and ten minutes, do an encore and end the performance. At the time it seemed normal to me. Now I rehearse a lot, but in the past I hardly did any rehearsals, if in Rainbow we still prepared a little, then in Deep Purple we did not rehearse at all. That's why every time we played the same songs, I didn't know what I was going to play.

In this band, the only problem is the repertoire - when we give such long performances, we play almost all the prepared songs, so if we play in the same place a year later, we end up with the same program. This is a big problem.

Candice: We also add new instruments to the music.

Ritchie: Yes, we are changing arrangements. In the past, I would feel depressed after every show. Even when the concert delighted the crowd, I was still unhappy. I guess I should have been happy, but when I repeated the same songs so many times, I stopped speaking from the heart. One fan once wrote to me: "I am your admirer, but your songs now only have eight bars of solos, you stopped doing long improvisations for your fans." It was like I had been hit over the head - he was right. That's right - I played the same songs, the same eight bars of solo, the same riffs, and then the next song.

Now I want to convey my thoughts to the audience. It is important to open up with all your heart. Many groups just shake their heads, giving food for the body, but leaving nothing for the soul. Improvisation is a way to say something from the heart, to convey something to the audience. It's great when it works out, even if it doesn't work out, I still don't regret it. I go on stage without hiding anything, without thinking about what I should do.

At home I just play the guitar, but when I go on stage I show tricks - it turns people on, especially when the music is loud. But sometimes repeating all this every day does not make sense. For example, bands like Kiss play the same concert every night. For those who are only interested in fashion and visuals, this may be more important than the music, but I doubt these bands have anything as amazing to offer musically. So when I read, "You don't express yourself, you don't give anything to the listener," I thought he was right and felt guilty. His words about the same songs and eight bars of solo touched me deeply.

After you left, Deep Purple began to say that it was because of you that many songs could not be played, and that you always wanted to work according to the same program.

Ritchie: Yes, they blame me for the fact that we always had the same program. Strange story. Of course, the other members suggested something, I didn't agree with their choice because I didn't like those songs. I never really liked Roger Glover's taste in music. He wanted to play some meaningless songs. I don't mind changing the set list, but they kept offering to play terrible songs. I would rather play good songs that people like, even if they are repeated, than play songs that no one likes.

Deep Purple keep playing the same songs - it's not my fault. I left the group nine years ago, so they have nothing to blame me for. People who have seen Deep Purple perform recently say they play the same songs all the time. I don't go to their concerts. I once asked a friend of mine why he didn't want to go to a Deep Purple show, and he said they always play the same songs, so he decided not to go.

I remember that when you left Deep Purple, you said that Jon Lord would leave after you.

Ritchie: We knew each other well. Jon likes to play rock and roll, he is a great musician, but he loves classical music more. He stayed in the group for a long time after I left, and I couldn't understand it. When I left, he thought for a long time about leaving the group too, but remained in it for several more years. He is a sincere person. Jon Lord was the closest person to me in the band and I still talk to him every Christmas. Soon he will be in America again, maybe we can do something with him.

We brought Joe Lynn Turner into the band because Ian Gillan couldn't sing the way we wanted. I talked to Jon Lord about it: "What do you think of Ian Gillan? He can't sing a single note properly," Jon Lord replied, "I think so too." This was back in 1986, long before Joe Lynn Turner was in the band. Jon and I decided that we should find another singer who could sing better. Jon and I liked melodic music. He likes it when the vocalist sings correctly, performs his parts smoothly, like a violin, he is not interested in listening to all this screaming. That's why we thought of Joe, he listened to his songs and thought, "He can sing melodiously." The album on which Joe sang...

"Slaves And Masters".

Ritchie: Yes. Joe Lynn Turner sang very melodiously, I think this is one of our best albums. Many Americans also liked this album. But then Ian Gillan reappeared in the group instead of Joe. Ian can't sing melodically, so Jon and I had a conversation. Like me, Jon likes melodic music; for him, melody is the most important thing in music. He also believed that our music needed melody, but at the same time he said that the group should earn money and obey the manager. Then I decided to leave the group, but he stayed. I was surprised how long he stayed in the band, given his sincere approach to music. However, I think the reason is very simple. I guess it's the big name of the band, but it's a little strange.

Regarding Jon's departure, Roger only said that it was due to the group's heavy schedule. He also said that despite the fact that Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord are no longer in the group, the next album will still be great, it will finally be real music. I didn't really like this remark.

Ritchie: Typical Roger. Roger is the most unpleasant person in the group. Yes, Ian Gillan and I had a love-hate relationship. He loved me, I hated him... of course, this is a joke (laughs). Ian had the courage to say everything to your face. "Who do you think you are!" He and I were open with each other, and this helped us respect each other. In the 1970s he sang in Jesus Christ Superstar, which was great. But Roger Glover - he made me the most angry. Roger releases absolutely terrible Deep Purple records on his remix albums, all just for the money. Real rudeness is the same as publishing altered poems by a famous poet instead of releasing the version that suited the author himself. After this it is difficult for me to believe that he is a good person.

I have always noticed his penchant for self-praise. He constantly pointed out the incorrect pronunciation of English, even when communicating with English people! Both on the radio and in communication with fans, he taught everyone how to speak English correctly. When they told him: "You are a legend!", he began to indicate how to correctly pronounce the word "Legend". I tried to teach the English to speak English! This is typical of him - he thinks that he is smarter than everyone else, so he should teach those around him how to speak correctly. Although Ian Gillan and Jon Lord were the smartest guys in the group, Roger always considered himself "Mr. Intelligent", which is why we constantly made fun of him. Anyway, Roger shouldn't have released all these remixes, he's just doing it for the money. EMI pays Roger a lot of money for these remixes for collectors.

The band had a great drummer, Ian Paice, and a great organist. Ian Gillan also had his own style, he is a wonderful vocalist. I did something too. What did Roger do? I just worked behind the scenes all the time. I completely lost respect for him.

When you took Roger into the group, he came along with Ian Gillan, right? You just needed a bass player at that time, and you took him, since he was already working with Ian.

Ritchie: Exactly. I didn't want to take Roger into the band. In 1970 I asked Ian Paice: "What do you think of this bass player?" He replied: "Nothing good."

Roger once said: "Richie, you have your style, Ian has your style, but I have nothing." It seemed strange to me, but he was worried about the fact that everyone in the group had their own handwriting, and he had nothing of his own, so he tried to find his own individuality. Every week when I met him at the airport, he was always a different person. One minute he walked like a cowboy - in a hat and blue jeans, the next week he dressed up in an Arabic costume, with a keffiyeh on his head and sandals, like a resident of Saudi Arabia. When I asked him: "What is this?", he answered: "This is my style." And then he returned to the cowboy hat and jeans (laughs). Roger can be a good guy when he's not being arrogant, but that doesn't happen to him often. It seems to me that this is some kind of defense mechanism, he is trying to emphasize his importance, without any need.

When Roger joined Rainbow, was Jack Green still playing bass?

Ritchie: Green... I really liked him. He played very musically, had a good voice and a pleasant personality. I thought he would be a very good fit for the band, although he certainly wasn't a great bass player. But I was very sorry when he left the group, because I really liked him as a person. Don Airey was very insistent that we cast Roger Glover. Cozy Powell also agreed to take Roger because he believed that if another member of Deep Purple appeared in the group, it would only benefit from it.

Was this before Graham Bonnet appeared?

Ritchie: Yes. The group then could not find the singer, as usual there was complete chaos.

Candice: Roger was just a producer at first?

Ritchie: Roger overestimates himself.

By the way, Don Airey is now playing in Deep Purple.

Ritchie: His goal is to play with all the existing bands (laughs). He hasn't succeeded yet, but he has already played in 15.000 groups. The list of his works is endless! He is a very skilled musician, a good performer, but he comes to bands as a session musician, plays his parts and leaves. He's a very boring person, but not a bad guy. He just has no musical ideas. He can perform the required parts well, but you can't ask for more from him. But music is not only about performing your parts. Perhaps Don lacks style. I don't know what's wrong with him. I didn't think much about it.

Don Airey then said that he did not like the hard rock music of Rainbow.

Ritchie: Right.

After that, he immediately went to Ozzy Osbourne's group (laughs).

Ritchie: That sounds like Don. I think Don loves jazz. I don't like it when a musician doesn't work in the style he likes. He only plays with hard rock bands because they are popular and he can make money working in them. If he could make money from jazz, then I'm sure he would have played jazz. I don't like people like that. I can play jazz, but I would never work in a jazz band while listening to other music at home just to make money. Don agrees to play in all these bands just for the money.

Yes, I think what I say is fair. I'm trying to remember why exactly he was fired... It seemed to me that he didn't feel our music. In Rainbow he played as if he didn't like this music and was doing it only for popularity and money. This is the wrong reason to be in a group.

There were also rumors that Don didn't work out with Joe Lynn Turner.

Ritchie: Exactly. Don really didn't like Joe. Don thought Joe was an idiot. Joe really did do stupid things sometimes. Don hated it all.

Jon Lord recently said that he really likes your acoustic project and would like to work with you in this style.

Ritchie: Right, either Jon will play something in our songs, or I will play something in Jon's music. We are still friends, although our friendship takes a strange form. I'd like to meet Jon for Christmas.

Candice: Jon is a very nice, charming person.

Ritchie: It was Jon and I who created Deep Purple, we have respected each other for a long time. I then wanted to play in a band with him, he also liked my playing, so we created a group and found the rest of the musicians.

Fans will be delighted if you and Jon work together again.

Ritchie: Jon will be the vocalist, Candice will play the drums, and I will play the keys (laughs). I'm sure that Jon and I will work again, I wouldn't even be surprised if we record a song with him soon. If he is recording something now, then I may well play something for him. I would like to maintain our friendship. It would be great to meet and have a drink together. With Roger Glover it's impossible (laughs). I don't know which of us will start a fight first with Roger you always have to be on your guard (laughs).

But he said that he never had problems with you.

Ritchie: We didn't have any problems, we just played together in the same band for too long. That's why Deep Purple became so unnatural, everyone was great musicians, there were a lot of ideas, but we achieved everything too quickly by 1974. Everyone's ego grew, everyone stopped rehearsing, everything just became terrible. Musicians have to constantly rehearse, think about what they're going to do next, and in Deep Purple no one gave a damn. When we were going to the studio, I asked what we would do there. They all said, "We'll just play." What the hell are you going to play? Ian Paice responded: "Yes, something."

I play naturally in my own band. With Deep Purple and Rainbow you couldn't just play acoustic in small venues like this restaurant. Candice and I often sing and play - this is real music, playing in small halls for ten people is more interesting to me than performing in a stadium in front of 250.000 people. I did both, now it's more pleasant for me to play for a small audience than to run around the stage like a clown in front of 250.000, just raising the volume and adding feedback. The crowd begins to roar. "You are the best!", but you hear nothing. When you play for ten people, you don't have an amplifier, only an acoustic guitar, you have to offer the listeners something serious. I like it. It's like it helps you find the strength to rise up and get out of this hole.

You recorded a live album in the Netherlands, why did you choose this particular place?

Ritchie: At first we thought of recording it in the Czech Republic, but the engineers were unable to record it due to problems with the equipment. Then we performed in Germany, there were the same problems. Equipment broke down during recording. In the end, I was able to record only in the Netherlands.

Candice: We still had problems. At first my microphone didn't work, so I had to finish recording these parts in the studio.

Ritchie: This was the only song that we finished in the studio. In general, there were no special problems during recording. Many bands do overdubs on live albums, or stitch together moments from different concerts. In fact, I haven't heard this live album in its entirety, only individual parts. I get tired of listening to myself play for a long time, and I always feel like I could play better, so I don't really like listening to my own albums.

Candice: Many songs had to be removed because they didn't fit on the album.

Ritchie: We cut a lot, I can't understand why we played so many songs then. I haven't heard the entire album, but when you release a live album, there is always a greater chance that it will include a mediocre concert than a great one. Not only the best performances can be caught on film, but also the worst. There are some mistakes on the recording, but that's normal for a live album. If you hope that you will be able to record a live album perfectly, you can wait for this for several years. There were concerts that I would have liked to record, but that is life. I think the concert in the Netherlands was overall quite good.

Didn't you want to correct mistakes in the studio? Pat Regan could handle it.

Ritchie: Of course he could do it, but it would take time. Of course, Pat could correct all the mistakes. When I listened to the recordings, I noticed mistakes here and there, and I could point them out to him, but if you start doing this, there will be no end to the work.

You said that you decided not to put some of the songs on the album. How did you choose which songs to keep?

Ritchie: We decided to leave songs that differ in arrangement from the album versions. "Shadow of The Moon" has a solo improvisation that is not on the studio version, and "I Still Remember" and "Past Times With Good Company" are also quite different from the album versions. "Renaissance Faire" sounds a little different. We didn't put "The Clock Ticks On" on the album - I played the hurdy-gurdy, Candice played the shawl, it sounded great, but we didn't put it on the live album. Maybe next time. Maybe we'll release live albums for fans after each studio album. Sometimes they become successful. Made In Japan was an important album for Deep Purple, but we only released it because we couldn't finish our next studio album. Unexpectedly for us, it became extremely popular. I think "Machine Head" is much better... (laughs). It's a strange world, I never cease to be amazed by it!

In music, it's very difficult to capture a good moment to record. I always have problems in my studio. In the studio I start to think too deeply into my playing. When I record in the studio, I start to get very nervous. When they ask, "Is something wrong?", I answer, "No, everything is fine," but in reality I feel like everyone is looking at me. When you make a mistake on stage, all these notes go away, but in the studio the mistakes have to be corrected, and in the end I start playing too tightly and uninterestingly, I choose the simplest path. This is my biggest problem.

It seems to me that for other musicians it's the other way around. In the studio they all light up - "I play great!" But in my case, I begin to dive into myself: "You can't make mistakes." My producers always told me, "I can't believe you're so nervous!" Candice's work in the studio is incredible. It's very easy for her to sing in the studio. I'm starting to feel constrained, I can't drink whiskey either, and as a result I'm starting to hate my notes. Maybe it's because of my father, because he never praised me, even when I did something well. I think I still have that fear of "failing the exam" in my head. That's why I started drinking.

Now there is only one person working with me in the studio - Pat Regan, and I am not very comfortable working with him. He's not the funniest person... He's a nice guy, but he's not the type to inspire me. Even when I manage to record something I really like, he says, "Try again." I ask him: "Isn't it good enough now?", he answers: "You can do better." One day during recording he asked me to re-write something again, and when I asked him what was wrong with the current take, he replied: "I can't work with it." I sat with my headphones on, listened to the take again, got angry and left, shouting: "I won't play this again!" The next day I returned to the studio and was ready to re-record this part, but when I asked him what he thought of yesterday's take, he said: "Everything is fine." I asked him: "Do you want me to rewrite it?", He replied: "That's great." I thought, well, what the hell was he talking about yesterday? This happens often in my studio.

When I'm recording, I constantly start to overanalyze everything, so I either have to resort to some kind of therapy or alcohol. Many musicians in the studio can play and sing freely, but I just seem to become a different person and my fingers stop moving freely. Sometimes I feel like I'm delirious. Same thing with Jon Lord. When he started recording a solo, he also got stuck, Martin Birch asked him: "What's the matter?", Jon answered: "I can't play a solo now, we'll try tomorrow," finished the recording and went home. And the next day he played perfectly. As far as I understand, he has the same problem. He suddenly starts to tighten.

Some musicians get very nervous when they have to play in front of an audience. I think that doesn't happen with Kiss, who stick their tongues out at the audience and drench them in blood. I heard that this happened with Andres Segovia, as well as with the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin - he was so nervous that sometimes he could not play. Of course, when you know how to play, it helps to cope with nerves, but in front of an audience I still always get nervous. As far as I know, Chopin did not like to play in front of an audience. Instead of concentrating on playing, he began to think about what the audience would think. It seems to me that real artists always go through this. Unlike guys like AC/DC...

You also included "Soldier Of Fortune" and "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" on the album.

Ritchie: We played these songs well. Especially "Soldier Of Fortune", which we perform at every concert. I'm also playing "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" more and more often. This is a heavy song, so when there is an attentive audience, it is best to perform it towards the end of the concert. When the crowd gets loud, we play it in the middle.

Did you choose these songs because you are most proud of them?

Ritchie: That's not the point. Of course, these are my favorite songs. But I also think about how they would suit Candice's voice. I don't want to put songs into the program that I like, but which sound tuneless and harsh. I think these two songs suit her voice best. When selecting music, I always think about its voice and tone. Tonality is very important to her. You need to adjust to the right tone. For example, I wrote "Spanish Nights" in E, but I had to change the key to make the song sound better with her voice. In the past, I have never chosen keys for singers. With Ian Gillan I never thought about key at all, even if he had difficulty singing, I just said, "I can't help it," but with Candice it's very important to find the right key. I used to record backing notes, and when Gillan started singing, sometimes it turned out that the key was too high for him. I went out to drink and said: "I can't help you" (laughs). "It's your problem," that's all.

Candice: Naturally, you couldn't get along with each other (laughs).

Ritchie: And he had to dodge and change the melody.

Candice: We also recorded our version of "Street Of Dreams"...

Ritchie: Exactly. Some songs with her voice sound very feminine. "Street Of Dreams" generally sounds feminine, that's just how Joe sang it. There is generally a lot of femininity in him. We called him the "Fairytale Fairy" (laughs). When we recorded in Canada, he rented a separate house. He gathered a bunch of people there, drank, shouted, had fun all night long, and all the other musicians lived together in another house, only he lived separately in a small house in the garden, where he constantly held night parties. So we started calling this house the "Fairy House" (laughs). Sometimes he would bring girls to his house at about two in the morning, and all the other musicians would go out into the garden and start throwing bottles and all sorts of rubbish at his windows (laughs). He, of course, was having fun with the girls at that time, and when the bottles hit the target, we heard shouts: "What is this?!" It got to the point where he started hiding under the bed (laughs).

Did you play "Street of Dreams" in the Netherlands?

Ritchie: Did you play?

Candice: I guess so.

Ritchie: But it didn't have a guitar solo, so we didn't put it on the album (laughs).

Did you finish writing anything in the studio?

Ritchie: "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" and "Street Of Dreams". I wanted "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" to be on the album, but when we recorded it live, I had problems with the equipment, so we recorded it live in a New York studio. Even while recording in the studio, I was unhappy with my amp, it kept cutting out, and I had to get another one. I didn't like playing with someone else's amp, it wasn't my sound. But then I had to use this amplifier. At home it's difficult to set up an amplifier normally, and at concerts something doesn't work all the time.

On "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" from that album I played on a Marshall amp. I haven't played the Marshalls for 20 years. It's unusual for me to hear "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" with a different amp, the sound is completely different. And we will put "Street Of Dreams" on the next album. We still have a lot of live material left.

Are you going to visit Japan in the near future?

Ritchie: Um, do you think we still have fans in Japan?

Candice: Would he fly so far if they weren't there (laughs)?

I heard that you are already preparing to record your next studio album.

Ritchie: We already have 12 ideas for songs ready. We're planning to go into the studio in December. I'm thinking about bringing in producer David Rosenthal, but he's very busy, so it depends on his schedule.

Is there anything that you would like to change in the history of Blackmore's Night?

Ritchie: I often think about the musicians in the first lineups of the group. It seemed to me that this was very simple music, and I thought that it would be easy for the musicians in the group to perform it, but it turned out that it was complex and strict, demanding of the musicians. Unlike rock and roll, here the participants must first of all be good musicians. I thought completely differently. It seemed like very simple music, but it turned out to be difficult to play. Playing quietly is not at all easy, and musicians require certain technical skills.

If you look at the harmonies, they may seem like simple progressions like Do-Fa-Sol, but these Do-Fa-Sols need to be played quietly, and not just strummed chord after chord. When we created the group, I thought: "What musician can't handle this kind of music?" But this is not simple music at all. Musicians who are used to playing rock and roll find it difficult to perform; they are used to playing with mistakes. And in our music, mistakes are immediately noticeable. In quiet music, any mistake immediately comes out.

So I still regret the first lineup. I should have waited and looked for top-notch musicians, but I didn't understand that. I thought it was simple music, so I just invited my friends to join the group. I spent time on this. They couldn't play properly, so we had to teach them! I dreamed of playing on summer nights in German castles under the moon, and not in rock clubs, even if only 200 people came to our concerts. The music in the castle sounds incredible, it touches the soul. Echo sounds natural. Of course, playing in castles can be difficult; sound problems often occur. A lot also depends on the weather.


BURNN Magazine, Japan - January 2003 issue