Roger Glover

Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Glover Speaks

Roger Glover, sometimes bearded, sometimes not, has been the bass player and producer of two of the finest metal bands. Deep Purple and Rainbow. A distinguished producer, he has worked with Michael Schenker, Judas Priest, and Nazareth, as well as Rainbow and Deep Purple, as the chairman of the studio control board. While working as a producer for Rainbow on the Down To Earth sessions, his interest in playing was rekindled. Since then he has temporarily abandoned the control room to concentrate his efforts on making Rainbow as powerful as he can.

Glover's thundering bass was a solid part of the reason Deep Purple wandered the lands as one of the great metal bands of the 'Seventies'. Now fully into the 'Eighties his playing is as strong as ever, as Rainbow seems to have found a lasting lineup for a change.

RECORD REVIEW was lucky to set up a telephone interview from Michigan, where Rainbow was just at the start of the 1982 tour. Roger Glover was a very candid source of information on the personality of Rainbow and Ritchie Blackmore, the undisputed leader and world-class guitar hero. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

Hello Roger, how are you doing?

Fine, what's happening in Los Angeles?

It's overcast and rainy, perfect weather for heavy metal bands to invade.

It's a nice day here in downtown Lansing, Michigan.

Are you playing the University there?

No, actually we're playing the Civic Center.

How is the tour shaping up?

It's actually just started. We've only done three gigs. but so far it's pretty good.

Who's playing with you?

Right now we have .38 Special and Iron Maiden.

Ah, two of my favorite words: Iron Maiden. Do you like them?

We've known them for a while, they're good, yeah.

I was of the understanding that you would play with the Scorpions here in Los Angeles.

The tour seems to be like a big long centipede with each leg a different group attached to it. It's actually a really long tour with different support acts along the way. At one point it will be the Scorpions. I heard last night that UFO will be with us for a while. It will change along the way.

At this point there's a knock on the door and Glover excuses himself to answer it.

That was Joe, our singer. He'd left his wallet in my room and was climbing the walls looking for it (laughs).

How long will this tour last?

I'm not totally sure. I know that in October we go to Japan, so I think we'll be doing the States up until then.

Rainbow won't be doing any of the European outdoor festivals this summer, then?

No. We're doing one thing in Germany but it is a television festival called Pop Rock. It will be going out live to about twenty million people. There are six bands that I know of involved, including Heart and Judas Priest. It will certainly be broadcast all over Germany and probably other parts of Europe as well.

Doesn't that seem like the wave now, with all of the videos and television shows coming out?

You can reach a lot more people that way. The only problem of course is that television is not really a rock medium. You can't control the sound. Video is not really a rock medium either but you can control the sound. WE do it because it is a necessary part of business. It's very difficult to get across that real live atmosphere. What's good about this Rock Pop thing is that it is an actual concert in this huge hall and we get to do our whole set.

Is it just a one-day show with all six bands lined up in a row?

Oh yeah, maybe even more.

Then it's going to be a twelve hour show.

It's going to last all evening and well into the morning. I think the final band goes on at four in the morning. It's a heavy-duty show.

I think with cable opening up, that will probably happen in the near future here.

Oh yeah I think so. Do you get MTV down there?

No, we don't. What is it?

MTV is great. It's twenty-four-hour music television that comes out of New York. It's all videos, news updates, tour updates on all kinds of music, but mostly rock. Joe and I did an interview with them last year and they play our videos all the time on it.

With the tour going on, are you going to have any time to get involved in any outside projects?

Since joining Rainbow I have only done one outside production, Michael Schenker, and that was only because we had some time off. Last year we were on the road for about eight months and being in the studio and rehearsing took about another three months. It doesn't give you a lot of time to do anything else except Rainbow. I'm quite happy to be where I am and any days off I'm not looking to fill with even more work. I will in the future, of course, I'll always be a producer. But right now Rainbow is my main priority.

Exactly how did you end up in Rainbow?

When I left Purple I became a record producer. and I assumed that I wouldn't be playing bass again. I'd been on the road with Purple for years and I found myself with a hit as a producer. So it made sense to me to pursue another career. I had been fed up with traveling around. Then one of the jobs I got was Rainbow, because we shared the same management. I was aware of what Ritchie was up to. We didn't keep in close contact through that six years that I was a producer, but every now and again I'd go and see a concert and say hello.

Then one day Bruce Payne said, 'Fancy producing Rainbow'?' and I said sure, that would be great. I met up with Ritchie and we got on OK and he wanted me to produce them. I came over when they were ready to start working on the album. Ronnie Dio was in the band at the time, and it all broke up. In fact, Ritchie and Cozy were the only two players left. So we started hunting around for replacements: a keyboard player, singer and a bass player. They found every one but a bass player.

We were doing some sessions in England. I picked up the bass one day and started playing along. I thought it was great and I really enjoyed it. On Down To Earth I played bass on the album even though there was another bass player there who was eventually going to be the guy in the band. Because I was playing on the album and we got along so well and I started playing well again, it started to work out. I was a bit rusty and it took about two weeks to get into the flow.

At that point the band wanted me in the group. So when they asked me in, I said yeah. I did say, however. "How are they going to take it if the bass player, suddenly in the middle of a studio session, starts telling people what to do? They said they'd live with it.

That would seem to be an obvious problem, especially with Ritchie's reputation.

Its not really a problem with Ritchie's reputation. Ritchie's reputation is something else and it doesn't really bother me.

There are so many people going in and out of that band that there are going to be certain conclusions drawn, unless someone comes out and talks about it.

That's a question that I get asked a lot; why are there so many changes? I don't really know the reasons for every change. There are different reasons for every change. There is one fact that is painfully obvious and that is that no one ever got fired for doing a good job. Ritchie's a perfectionist and he drives himself really hard. He punishes himself. He has total dedication to music and he expects that from people around him. If he doesn't get it then he doesn't respect them. As soon as he's lost his respect then you're on the way out. He's a good example to follow. He's a good leader.

Is he easy to work with?

I find him very easy to work with. Sure he's moody and demanding, but that doesn't worry me. He's also a brilliant guitar player, and because of that I can put up with anything. We get along very well. We are not alike as people; in fact in most respects we are totally opposite. That's probably why we balance each other out.

Is the band any more democratic with you in there? Do your production duties water down any of Ritchie's dominance?

Ritchie's dominance is watered down only by himself. He cares about having a good band and I think it shows on this last album. It was an easy album to make in comparison with the other two; there weren't squabbles and egos flying about. Everyone was looking in the same direction. He's interested in what other people think, and he has a vision of what he wants. The music does come from him but he doesn't dominate just because he wants to dominate. Everyone does contribute. On the first two albums I was on, I did all of the other writing. On this album Joe Lynn Turner has come out with a lot of the writing. It's a fairly democratic band although we acknowledge Ritchie's leadership.

On the new album there's some really nice smooth stuff like "Stone Cold" and "MISS Mistreated." Why was the 'Miss' capitalized on the liner notes?

Well, Ritchie had written the song "Mistreated" when he was in Purple, and Joe came up with the idea that so people wouldn't get confused with the two songs.

I thought that maybe it had something to say about whomever the song was written for.

Well, you can make up whatever you like.

What are you taking off the album and including in the show?

Quite a lot, actually. We wrote the songs in the studio with the intention of having them being good stage numbers. We open the show with "Death Alley Driver," we do "MISS Mistreated," "Power," "Rock Fever," "Stone Cold."

Are you doing anything from Down To Earth?

No. Sometimes we do "Since You've Been Gone." We do "I Surrender," "It Can't Happen Here,""Beethoven's Ninth," "Man On A Silver Mountain," "Long Live Rock and Roll," "All Night Long."

There's no Purple anymore?

We occasionally do "Smoke On The Water." We don't want to harp on that anymore. Of all of the ex-Deep Purple bands Rainbow is the only one that didn't bill itself as an ex-Deep Purple band. You'd never see a Rainbow album with "ex-Deep Purple guitarist" on it. I think that's important. Ritchie definitely wanted to establish his own identity with his own band.

Its hard for a lot of people who grew up on Deep Purple to realize that Rainbow has been a band as long as Purple was.

Oh, yeah. When we were doing Down To Earth I had only been in the band a matter of months and the subject of doing "Smoke On The Water" came up. Ritchie was adamant against it. Then when we were doing tour rehearsals the idea came up again and he said nope again. We would play a few teasers from Purple but never a song. Then half way through the Difficult To Cure tour, I think it was in Denver, he rips into the opening chords of "Smoke On The Water." It took the band completely by surprise.

We hadn't rehearsed the number and we sort of fumbled our way through it. The audience went wild. I think Ritchie realized that Rainbow had reached a point where it had a seperate identity. It wasn't just ex-Deep Purple, it was Rainbow. At that point it could afford to do a little nod to the past. That was the past. Rainbow's future is now.

During the six years you were concentrating on producing didn't you ever get the itch to play?

Occasionally I did, then. There's always a solo album bubbling around somewhere. I didn't try to put together a band because I don't think I'm the kind of character to front a band. You have to be a certain kind of personality to do that and I don't think I'm it. I'd rather be part of a team anyday. I don't have that kind of ego that demand that I take the spotlight.

Bands need people like that or it can get too difficult.

Oh, yeah. I think now I'm doing what I do best.

A lot of people don't see Rainbow in that light.

They see it as Ritchie. I can see why people see it that way, but its not Ritchie and the Rainbows. It's unfortunate that he hasn't found a lineup that's constant. People have left for different reasons. Ritchie is so demanding that most people can't come up with the goods most of the time.

I know this is a bad question, perhaps an unfair one, but does this lineup look like it will last?

I certainly hope so. When I joined Rainbow the lineup then was Graham Bonnet, Cozy Powell, Don Airey, myself and Ritchie. I said to Ritchie and the management then. "If I am going to join the band, let's change the way things have been going. Let's really concentrate on keeping this one together." And when the first change came about I was really pissed off. I had said as soon as anyone leaves I'm leaving.

In fact, though. I got used to it and it's not such a bad thing in some respects. It has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that the band is always fresh; it doesn't have a chance to stagnate. I remember quite distinctly: in Deep Purple, after four years on the road, the band had definitely stagnated. I was happy to leave when I did, which is a shame, because Deep Purple was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Do you think in Purple that you toured too much and tried to do too much?

I think we definitely toured too much.

Isn't it next to impossible to get anything else done when you're touring?

You're right. There's a right way to do it. It's not like we don't want to work hard. We want to work very hard but you have to break it up apply a certain limit. In Purple we'd go on the road play four or five days in a row, have a couple of days off and it would string out the tour all over the place. You lose a lot of money that way and the result can be being out on the road for a long, long time, making a loss. So to make up for the loss, you just tour longer.

In Rainbow we want to work our beans off playing five or six nights a week. We'll play for six weeks, go to Germany for a week to do this television thing, take a week off and go back on the road till October. Then we'll take a week off to get the equipment to Japan, play there for two weeks, take a week off and go to Europe. It will be a heavy year for us. None of us mind it though. We really want to do it. There's nothing else on our minds.

When you asked about the production and stuff I was thinking about the tour. I'm quite happy to put that on the shelf for a bit and pour all of my efforts into playing.

Didn't Purple really open up Japan for a lot of bands?

I think we did without even knowing it.

Deep Purple is considered like the God-father of hard rock over there. Me just got some news yesterday that Straight Between The Eyes is number two over there. That's the biggest album we've ever had. The last time we went there we did three nights at Budokan and we sold out, which is pretty good going. Rainbow is really really hot in Japan. Whitesnake went there and Gillan went there and they didn't do nearly the business. You still have to deliver the goods.

Are you taping any of this tour as right now? Do you have any ideas?

Were Not right now. It's riot out of the question. We certainly wouldn't start taping this early. It takes a good two or three weeks to get into the swing of things. Even though we try to put on a good show every night, the first couple of weeks is sort of a testing period. Later on we could do some taping but there are no plans to do so yet.

For personal reference, do you tape to see how the mix is coming out?

We do occasionally. As a matter of fact. I'd like to get a twenty-four track out with us to tape our sound checks. Some things that come out in soundchecks when you're just jamming around are great. I mentioned to Ritchie just the other day that if we had a twenty-four track with us, by the end of the tour we'd probably have an album.

People treat soundcheks in different ways. Some see it as a change to try out new ideas, others need it to get the sound system perfect.

Sound checks change. At the beginning of the tour we're very enthusiastic about them: 'Let's go down get the system sounding right, make sure the PA is all right! It is important to get the keyboards and drums soundchecked because they are the most complicated instruments to mike. The vocals and guitars take care of themselves after awhile. We don't normally go and jam at a sound check. The other day we did and it came up sounding good. That's why the suggestion came up from me to tape the soundchecks to see what we get.

If you had the recording machines there, maybe everyone would be a little stiffer and be less likely to let loose.

That's why they have to be there every day so you forget about it. Like when you do a live album you don't just tape one gig. I remember when we did Made in Japan live albums weren't what they are now. They were considered budget affairs. You didn't go into the studio and beef them all up afterwards. The first night in Osaka that we recorded we played very woodenly. Everyone was aware of the mikes so we did three shows: two in Osaka and one in Tokyo. Most of Made in Japan came from the second show in Osaka. Hardly any of it came from the first night.

Did you beef it up afterwards?

No, we didn't. That album is absolutely 100% honest to goodness live.

That's a rarity anymore.

I know and that ticks me off. I think live albums should be live albums because if you go into the studio afterwards and start sticking on more guitar, new harmonies, it gives more credence to bootlegs. I don't want to give more credence to bootlets. Unfortunately, everyone does it because it sounds better, and so when you're up against the competition it's very hard not to do it. I haven't been involved in a live album with Rainbow yet, so we'll see how it will go if we do it. I feel strongly that anything live should be live and that it should be much cheaper in price. We did do that Castle Donington with Rainbow, which wasn't a good live album. It was very rushed and we didn't have soundchecks with the recording people taping the show, so when I got the tapes in the studio they were awful. The only overdub I did on that was the bass because at the gig my bass cut out.

You lost it?

I was playing with half of my speakers live and when I got the tapes there was no bass on it so I had to add it. On the Rainbow session that was the only overdub that we did but by being the executive producer. I got everyone else's tapes when they sent them in. There was so much I could hear that was added in the studio. I wanted the album to be a budget project because it really didn't cost all that much and although it was interesting it wasn't all that good.

It's a hard album to listen to.

Don't let me knock it too much because I will (laughs). It wasn't meant to be a hotselling album. The idea was to have a momenta of the event. If you went to the show you'd want to remember it.

There's an incredible picture of the crowd on the album cover.

Actually I arranged all of that. I said to Bruce Payne (Rainbow's manager). 'Wouldn't it be great to have an aerial photograph of the crowd and the stages on the day of the show?' I said I'd set it all up, so I contacted this company that did that very contacted this company that did that very thing, got a quote for the picture and a commitment for the date. Then I called the record company who was supposed to be paying for it and I gave them the information, including the cost. All they had to do was give the okay. Then on the very day of the concert I got this message that the company wasn't going to pay for it. I got really ticked off because I had gone through all of the trouble to do it and it was only eight hundred bucks. That's not that much for an album cover. So I ended up paying for it and I sold them the picture at a profit (laughs).

How did it go over?

They had a little plane...

No, I mean the show.

Oh (laughs). The show was great. It was the first time it had ever been tried in that venue. The first so-called heavy metal festival. Before, these shows had always been a mixed bag. Now there's so much metal around and it's the most popular thing around, so it makes sense. They did it again a year later and from all reports (I wasn't there), it wasn't as good. It was quite a magic day and quite an experience.

They don't really have the festivals over here anymore. The biggest gigs are held in the baseball stadiums.

For the most part I'm not that big a fan of festivals because they tend to be a bit unorganized and it usually rains (laughs).

I've noticed the attention paid to the lighting at any Rainbow shows I've seen, and its use for dramatic effects.

We have a lighting guy who takes care of all that.

Does the band offer suggestions all the time?

We do, but for the most part it's up to him. We'll tell him though if we think he's screwing up.

Do you ever tell him when he's doing well?

Oh yeah. Were not dumb. We're going to have a special effect on stage when we come back from Germany. We haven't got it with us at the moment.

Is this effect available for publication or are you waiting to see it?

We're not giving away too much about it. It's something to do with the eyes on the album cover.

Do they blow up?

(laughs) I can't give too much away. Mostly because I haven't seen them yet. It can add to the show: so can most effects as long as you don't overdo it.

Do you have a very elaborate stage setup for the tour?

No, not really, just a drum riser. It's a very plain stage with a backdrop. I went to see Ozzy Osbourne a couple of weeks ago and the stage setup was just incredible.

He spent a million dollars on that stage.

Oh, absolutely. To me he has to do that. That's his thing. I don't feel we have to fork over that kind of money because we don't need it. What we have comes from the musicians on stage playing and performing, as compared to having all of the effects. Quite often the special effects can take away from the show.

Does Ritchie come in with any complete songs?

They're never complete songs, only parts of them. Ritchie will start playing a chord sequence or a riff that he's worked out and we'll all play along, offer our suggestions, and hash it out. Usually at that time the words are in a very embryonic form. They usually take some shape based on the music but they are done when we get to the studio. "Stone Cold" was obviously a song about love it wouldn't hardly be right for a song about the world's political situation.

I really love that song. The solo Ritchie plays is really nice.

It's a real good solo. That's my favorite, along with "Bring on the Night." I think Ritchie's playing better than ever on this album. I think he feels relaxed with this band.

Does he feel pressure?

Ritchie's a human being like everyone else. Everyone thinks of him as this great big monster. He worries about the records, he worries about his playing. He really pushes himself, trying to do the best job he can do. As a player he sure has a diverse source of ideas, all the way from classical structures to the hardest rock around. Some of the stuff he comes up with in the studio that doesn't go out on record staggers me. Sometimes just when he's tuning up I'll be sitting in the control room with the guitar coming through the monitors, and suddenly he'll play something and I'll jump up and say 'Ritch, what was that? It was great.' Then he'll say, 'I don't know what I did.' I developed the habit of keeping a tape recorder running whenever I'm around him in the studio.

Does he record much of what he does when he's practicing?

I really don't know because I'm not around him when he's practicing, but I know he fools around with some recording. Quite frequently, he'll come into the studio with some ideas on tape.

Many people play to a tape machine because they're afraid that an idea may get lost.

For the most part, if an idea is that good you won't lose it. If it has to be committed to tape just so you'll remember it it wouldn't be that good an idea. Taping helps, but a good riff is so obviously strong that it won't be forgotten. In fact, they are the hardest ones to write. It's very easy for most good guitarists to turn out a million riffs a minute, but writing a good one that is recognizable and simple is quite difficult. For example the "Smoke on the Water" riff is so simpleóbut try writing one like it. Well this has been quite a conversation, but I've got a soundcheck to attend, so it's time to go.

Many thanks Roger for the time and all the insight. Hope to one you when you make it out to L.A.

I've enjoyed it. We'll be there soon.

© Jon Sutherland, Record Review Magazine - August 1982