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We don't listen to records together anymore, it's not a social event

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We've been waiting for this interview for over half a century, because that's how long it has been since the release of “Machine Head” – the legendary Deep Purple album. It is called the hard rock equivalent of van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The riff from it ignites the imagination of subsequent generations of guitarists and after 50 years it still sounds great. On the occasion of the anniversary, there is a special edition of the album with previously unknown concert recordings. Paweł Laskosz talked to Roger Glover – the band's bassist.

Paweł Laskosz: You have been on the music scene for over 50 years. You are still touring and now you have prepared something special for your fans. “Machine Head” – one of the greatest albums – this time in a super deluxe version. Why is this album so great, so deluxe?

Roger Glover: We've been playing for so long that we somehow miss album release anniversaries. We've never really celebrated it too much, but now our record company has noticed that 50 years have passed since the release of the song “Smoke on the Water” and the album “Machine Head”, and we can celebrate it somehow. So it wasn't our idea, but it's cool that we're releasing a new version of the album.

Why is the new version of the “Machine Head” album special?

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TUL: Could you tell us more about this unique collection? We know that it contains previously unreleased live versions of songs, remastered songs from the album, and the whole thing was mixed by Dweezil Zappa, Frank Zappa's son.

RG: Although we had already refreshed these songs for the 25th anniversary of Machine Head's release, Dweezil now took to them and did it really well. He performed with us on stage – I don't know – five or six years ago. We improvised on a few songs, including his father's song. Dweezil played guitar on “Smoke on the Water”. It turned out that he was a great guitarist. We didn't talk much before mixing the record. When he finished, he sent us the finished material. We sent it back to him with our comments and small suggestions, but we quickly came to a conclusion and the album is ready.

TUL: “Smoke on the Water”, “Fire in the Sky” – “Smoke on the water”, “Fire in the sky” – these words, as well as the guitar riff from this song, are probably known to every fan of not only rock music. “Smoke on the Water”, called the hard rock equivalent of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, as well as the entire “Machine Head” album, left their mark on music. Yet this album was created in unusual circumstances. What was going on in Montreux, Switzerland?

Fire on Lake Geneva. Roger Glover on the behind-the-scenes of “Smoke on the Water”

RG: We were thinking about recording the album somewhere other than the studio. We wanted to give it a bit of a concert sound and liven up our music a bit. In those days, it was difficult to achieve this in a closed studio. The sound seemed trapped. There was a casino available in Montreux. We went there. We rented a mobile recording studio from The Rolling Stones. Generally, everything was planned. However, the evening before the recording session began, during a Frank Zappa concert, a fire broke out in this casino. We saw it. The fire spread quickly and was huge. Terrifying scenes unfolded. I was amazed that no one died.

Two days later we found a small theater nearby. It was called Pavillion. We did a sound check and started recording, but the police told us to stop because we were playing too loud. We had the mobile studio for three weeks, time was running out. For the next five days we looked for a place where we could record. We finally found the Grand Hotel. It was closed this time of year. It was winter. We were desperate. We arranged the corridor so that the sound would be decent and we started recording. Up to this point, we only had a short motif that we managed to record in the theater. This was the basis for “Smoke on the Water”. I came up with the title a few days after the fire. I just had this smoke rising over Lake Geneva in my mind. We wrote a song about what happened to us. I didn't think this song would make us feel so will define. Most of the lyrics of the songs on “Machine Head” were written on site when we were recording. We didn't come there well prepared, but we worked very quickly. We recorded the entire album in less than two weeks. It's a really big achievement.

“Although there is a lot of good music, the way it is perceived has changed a lot”

TUL: Deep Purple is considered one of the greatest rock bands. Your music includes hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, but you can also hear influences from classical music. How do you manage to combine such different styles?

RG: I think it's important to constantly improve your playing of your instruments. John Lord and Ritchie Blackmore knew the basics of classical music, but music is music. We don't have to divide it into genres. We just instinctively played what we liked and went in that direction.

TUL: What is your opinion on today's music? Do you see anything interesting and significant in it?

RG: I hate complaining like an old man about new music. The real problem is that while there is plenty of good music out there, the way it is received has changed a lot. We don't listen to records together anymore, it's not a social event. Now there are streaming services, a huge business. Music is immediately available to everyone. Recording albums and selling them is different. There was a time when one song could be a worldwide hit. Now this world is divided into thousands of worlds, it is as if diluted. The music industry has changed, how you achieve success and become famous. But it's not about music, it's about the entertainment industry. There will always be great musicians, but the chances of them leaving a significant artistic mark are now much smaller. Let me give you an example. If a song doesn't catch your ear within 15-20 seconds, it's out of circulation. It's a matter of lack of focus and attention.

TUL: Do you think that rock music still has a chance to be as significant as it once was?

RG: Of course, it can be significant, but it is a niche market. In general, most markets are becoming niche, maybe with the exception of Taylor Swift or Beyoncé. We are part of a niche, but we do what we have always done. What brought us to where we are. We don't record singles to climb to the top of the charts. Our goal is to make music the best we can. That's all we can do. We are not a politically involved band. We do not preach how people should live. We describe the world, we tell stories without telling people what to believe. It is important. We are not a team that changes the world. We are happy to do what we do.

“They say we all want peace, but apparently there are those who don't want it.”

TUL: You said you were an apolitical band, but you reacted to the war in Ukraine.

RG: This is not politics, this is a discussion about humanity. If someone attacks you, it's hard not to respond. I was born just after World War II, so I was aware of what the war was leading to. I grew up among bombed places and destroyed buildings. I still have this image from my childhood in my head and in front of my eyes, and now I see it happening again. This is disturbing. They say we all want peace, but apparently there are those who don't.

TUL: The Rolling Stones released a new album last year. You are going on another tour soon. You are in great shape, you give your fans a lot of emotions. You prove that rock is not doing too badly.

RG: A long time ago, a journalist asked me if we weren't too old to play rock'n'roll. I thought I was going to hit him. Of course, I didn't do that. I replied: “so what music belongs to young people today?” Blues is played by older people, jazz is played by older people, classical music is played by older people, so why shouldn't rock be played by older people? I don't take anyone's space, no one invades my space. People think that if music is loud and furious, elders shouldn't play it. Let people say what they want and we will continue to do what we like.

Memories of the band “Deep Purple” from concerts in Poland

TUL: You were in Poland last year. You will come again in autumn. In total, you played with us over 20 times. Do you remember anything special from concerts in Poland?

RG: We will remember one concert in particular. Just before it, we played in Prague and after that performance, Ritchie Blackmore announced that he wanted to leave the band. We didn't have time to digest it because we had our next concert in Poland. When we arrived, people welcomed us as if we were the Beatles. We loved this place. The irony is that the night before Ritchie announced he was leaving the band, the concert promoter in Poland told us: “never change, you're great.” He knew so little.

TUL: Is there a chance that Ritchie Blackmore will play with you again, at least at single concerts?

RG: No, I don't think so. Of course, it may be different, but it is unlikely.

TUL: Is it true that Deep Purple is preparing a new studio album?

RG: I can not deny. Yes, we have already recorded some, but the process is still ongoing. Maybe we will release the album this year, but I can't say much for now. We're still recording.

TUL: Thank you for the conversation. I wish you and the entire team all the best.

RG: Thank you very much. Mutually. We all need such wishes now.

Author:Paweł Laskosz

Main photo source: TVN24

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