The entire interview with Deep Purple’s Ian Paice and Simon McBride in original version

What Ian Paice would say to Ritchie Blackmore

Ian Paice and Purpendicular FOTO: Peter "Beppo" Szymanski

We meet Ian Paice, the Deep Purple drummer, in a sophisticated suite in the luxury hotel Breidenbacher Hof in Düsseldorf. Sitting next to him is Simon McBride, the new guitarist of the legendary British rock band. The new album „=1“ (pronounced: equals one) will be released on July 19th. The band rehearsed for their European tour in Bottrop, near Düsseldorf. The next day they are scheduled to be on stage in Madrid. Enough time to promote the new album.

„=1“ is another real Deep Purple album with many echoes of classic, riff-oriented hard rock, which somehow also reminds us strongly of the founding member, the legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

By Dylan C. Akalin

Ian, there’s an old German hit from the sixties, it’s called, „At 17 you still have Dreams“. It’s about how all the paths are still open to you. The trees are grown into the sky, when you’re younger. What was it like for you when you start playing with Deep Purple when you were young? I think you, you’ve been about 20 years old…

Ian Paice: 19.

So you’ve been not nearly half as old as Simon. How was it for you?

Ian Paice: Well, you know, I’d, I’d met Rtichie a year before in Hamburg. He was living there and I was playing at the Star Club for three weeks and he liked the way I played. He came and introduced himself and said he enjoyed it. Then I went back to England thought nothing more about it. Nice to meet him, and about nine months later, the singer in my band, Rod Evans, he realized that our band was going nowhere. You know, it had gone as far as it could go and he saw an advert for the Melody Maker, for a band needing a singer. So he applied for the job. And Ritchie recognized him and said, you’ve still got the drummer, bro, said, yeah, bring him along. So I’m 19 years old and I’m moving out of what is basically a very good cover band into, some very, very, very good musicians, putting something together. So, for me, it was very exciting.

Sounds like a crazy coincidence… How did you feel?

Ian Paice: And as soon as I realized I had the job, well, you’re 19 years old, all of a sudden the world is looking like a different place, you know. And then once we started to put some stage shows together, I realized, that I’ve moved up a league in the quality of musicians, not because of that much better. They just knew more stuff, more experience. And then we did the first record and we had the hit in America – and now I was living on another planet. All of a sudden, I’m a rock and roll star in my head. Nowhere else, just in my head. And when you’re a kid it’s all like Disneyland.

„All of a sudden, I’m a rock and roll star in my head. Nowhere else, just in my head. And when you’re a kid it’s all like Disneyland.“

Ian Paice

Could you imagine that things would go this far with Deep Purple?

Ian Paice: You couldn’t imagine, any band lasting more than two or three years. If you look at The Beatles, they lasted six years success, you know, 62 to 68 all over. That’s the biggest band in the world. The Stones are the only one that still tour as an entity that have been around longer than we have. So, you never thought of that as a kid. You didn’t think of next week. Tomorrow was a long way away.

You’re the only constant, you’re the only one who’s playing on all records…

Ian Paice: I can get steady job. I think. I don’t know if it’s important. I think it’s nice for the fans of somebody who’s been there all the time. That’s all I think that’s nice. And of course, every record that they hear I’ve been on it so that there’s that sort of continuity but whether it’s really important, I don’t know. I think it’s just nice that there’s somebody there who can relate to everything we ever do.

You know, you’ve just been blessed

Do you still have dreams, Ian?

Ian Paice: Not the sort of dreams you’re thinking about? (laughs) No, I know what you mean when you’re a kid you, your whole life is and you’ve got this, this rock and roll thing going. Your whole life is a fantasy. Everything’s a fantasy. You know, you’re traveling on an airplane, you’re in a different country, you’re playing to different people. People are looking after you, you’ve got a few, you know, euros in your pocket. It’s a different world. Yeah. And then you kind of get used to it. If it keeps going like that, there’s nothing wrong with that – as long as you understand that it’s a privileged position. You know, you’ve just been blessed. The big finger came out of heaven and said you’re the lucky guy. As long as you understand that it’s OK and still exciting, you don’t dream of other things. No, because you’ve, most of what you dreamt as a kid you’ve done, you know, and then they’re just relaying old memories. You know, I’ve been here before. I had a great time. I’ve been here. We had a terrible time. You know, that’s it.

Deep Purple in Bonn FOTO: Peter „Beppo“ Szymanski

How does it feel for you, Simon? Is it a dream to play with a legendary rock band?

Simon McBride: It’s terrible. You know, they, they make me stay in nice hotels and private planes. It’s dreadful. It is very hard. Yeah, when I was a kid and, you know, there was always, it’s always a dream of any kid to be part of a major rock band. That’s, why we start out, you know, is to be successful at what we do. And also, you know, it’s more importantly, it’s about the music. But to be part of Deep Purple is, you know, it’s, I, I’m very honored, very privileged, you know, it’s because you know, the legacy of this band is just huge and I still have to pinch myself now and again, when I see my name attached to it. So, but it’s, now after being part of it for two years, it’s kind of normalizes. Now it’s like playing with the lads down the pub or something, having a bit of crack on stage. That’s what it feels like now to be, you know, only on a big stage, of course. But, yeah, that’s the way it happens. Your life changes and then just becomes normal after.

„The legacy of this band is just huge and I still have to pinch myself now and again, when I see my name attached to it.“

Simon McBride

Ian Paice: But the most important thing that’s going to happen to Simon is no matter how much longer Deep Purple continue, two years, maybe three, who knows? He’s a generation younger, he will go on much longer. And the point is, just a few people knew about Simon before. Now, a lot of people are going to know about Simon. So for a stepping stone for his future career, this is incredibly important, you know, because, you know, when somebody’s got that much talent, it’s right that a lot of people see it and playing in a club, only few people see it and it’s very, very hard to break out of that. And, but if you’ve got the talent and the chance comes along not only for them, but for us, for the band to be able to pick up somebody that good immediately is great for both sides, you know.

The Message in „Child In Time“

Let’s come again to the new record. You have written songs with political stance before. I’m thinking of songs like „Mary Long“ from one of my favorite records „Who do we think we are?“ That was 1973. For example. But I thought, when I listened to the last records again, well, preparing this interview, I thought that you sounded more lighthearted back then. I mean, ok, three years ago, on your current album as well as the last ones you recorded with Bob Ezrin, you can hear clear political statements also like on climate change.

Ian Paice: There are times when Ian [Gillan] wants to make a comment on the world because he writes the words on the world he sees around him, but he never tries to tell anybody what they should be doing. He said: Look, this is happening. Think about it. Can we make it better? Can we not?

No, he is not the teacher with the raised index finger…

Ian Paice: No, he’s not like a preacher, you know. And not every other songs are totally within the bounds of normal. I love you. I don’t love you. I’m gonna hit you. But when he sees something he wants to make a statement about, then he does it in a very gentle, very clever way. I think the last major statement he did said was probably „Child in Time“ when he was telling people not to shoot each other, you know, which is a pretty good idea.

The differences between Steve Morse and Simon McBride

But I have the feeling there is some more impatient in your music.

Ian Paice: I think it’s just more intense. It’s more intense in the last couple of records. And a lot of that on the new one is to do with Simon when we were writing the record. Simon was coming up with riffs, you know, riffs up, whereas with Steve, he’d be coming with melodies and top lines. So the different way of starting something leads it in a different direction. If you start with a riff, it generally becomes a little more heat or a little more intense if you’re starting with a top line or a beautiful melody that leads you somewhere else. So Simon brings riffs. So it harkens back to…

… sorry, I don’t think it’s only the riffs.

Ian Paice: No, no, but it’s more riff driven rifts.

Simon McBride: Not, but you have that element of harder music which then over the whole album gives it a different dimension.

Ian Paice: Yes. You know where Steve’s stuff were often very incredibly beautiful melodies or complex things because that’s the way these brains works. So that leads you in a different direction. But when you have a basis of four or five riff songs that influences the whole record and he gives it more intensity. And I think with this record, it’s just more intense.

Deep Purple in Bonn FOTO: Peter „Beppo“ Szymanski

I know, for example, that your music has always contained progressive rock elements, and when I heard the new album for the first time, I thought that it contained a lot more progressive rock elements than we are used to from you. Even the Sound… … there’s more synthesizer on this album. Do you see it differently?

Ian Paice: But what you describe from the past are things that happened when we were kids. And OK, I was, I was say, between 19 and 23 when all those big records were made and the guys were a little bit older. You know, you’ve got to a certain point in the talent you have and the technique you have and you can only go so far. Now, a little as you go through your career, you learn more things. And so when you say prog rock, which I, you know, I’m a bit confused about, it’s just, there are more musical points you can put in because you can do them and you know them now, whereas 20 years ago, I remember you didn’t know how to do it. So it’s an evolution and it’s a learning process.

So Deep Purple is a band that is still curious?

Ian Paice: Well, you think, this sounds really interesting. Let’s do it. 20 years ago you wouldn’t even thought of doing it. You know, there was other things you were doing very well, but it wasn’t that. But it’s not only the sound, I mean, there’s more synthesizer of course on this album.

Simon McBride’s role in Deep Purple

Simon, I know you knew Don Airey for a long time before you joined Deep Purple. You can hear it, by the way. It’s very interesting to listen to you two playing. You play very organically. How was that? I mean, did you bring in any new ideas?

Simon McBride: You know, we all bring ideas. I have about a million riffs going around my head even right now. So that’s natural for me to do. But playing with Don, it’s… I played with Don for, I don’t know, 10,15 years now. We know each other inside out, musically I know, what he’s going to play before he plays and vice versa.

„We know each other inside out, musically I know, what he’s going to play before he plays and vice versa.“

Simon McBride on Don Airey

On using synthesizers and this stuff … Don has done so much stuff in his whole career. Very musical stuff and, you know, the use of synthesizers and stuff like that is, well, it’s like me with guitar pedals and all these different sounds. It just adds a little bit of color to things. Isn’t it? Not really, you’re not changing anything but it’s just because people ask me all the time. Well, why do you use that pie? Never used that. And I go, well, yeah, it’s, I use it for one bar but for that one bar, it’s different for the listener.

Don Airey: Deep Purple in Bonn FOTO: Peter „Beppo“ Szymanski

Ian Paice: But if you listen back to some of the say the 72, 73 period of Purple, Jon Lord was using the synthesizers that were available and OK, they were very simple compared to today, but those sound was still being OK. We couldn’t do this two years ago because it didn’t exist. But now we can. But as Simon saying, once you play together with somebody for a while, you have a subconscious understanding with them, you don’t even need to say anything. It can be a movement, a look, a position. Roger and I, we sort of know what each other is going to do without talking about it.

You know, you just get to know subliminal signals or he could even be just a certain run between, you know, what he’s going to do. It’s just familiarity that comes the more you interact with a new guitarist. The only thing that changes is, is the basis of what makes that musician different.

How familiar are you with Simon?

Ian Paice: You know, we’ve always been so blessed that everybody who sat in that seat, everybody who’s ever in the band has been really good. We’ve never traded down to a lesser quality musician. So the fact that somebody is slightly different doesn’t really change. The biggest change I ever had to make was Glenn. Glenn Hughes was in the band bass playing because he was totally different to Roger. Roger leaves Spaces for me to fill. Glenn played lots of notes. So I couldn’t play so much.

What about guitarists?

Ian Paice: My job is to listen and find a way of making what they do even better by making a musical rhythmic statement, you know. But when the guys are good, you just fall into what they’re doing when somebody’s taking a solo. That’s the guy. He’s the king kitty. Everything focuses around that.

There ist one pretty metal guitar solo on „A bit on the side“.

Ian Paice: Yeah.

Unbelievable. Great solo on it.

Simon McBride: Thank you.

„We didn’t want Ritchie Blackmore number 573. And we didn’t want Steve Morse number 200.“

Ian Paice

How difficult is it to bring your style own into Purple after legends like Ritchie and Steve? Did that put pressure on you?

Simon McBride: I mean, well, I don’t really think of art Ritchie or Steve, you know, I just have to think of how would I play it because once you start down a path of thinking, do I sound like Ritchie or do I sound like Steve, you end up in a world of nowhere. For me it’s not the pressure. No, initially at the start, there was a little bit of pressure but I kind of realized pretty quickly it was like, ok, I just need to be myself here and just play. You know, I’m never going to sound like Ritchie, I’m never going to sound like Steve, you know, I unfortunately will sound like me all the time, you know. And so I just have to think like that and I just have to use my influences that I’ve learned from over the years and just that comes out in what I do like that solo you’re talking about.

Deep Purple FOTO Jim Rakete

How and when did you record the solo?

Simon McBride: I think I done it live in the studio in Toronto. I can’t remember, but I’m nearly sure it did and it was just, that’s just me coming out. It’s not me thinking about anything else going on…

Ian Paice: … but that’s what we wanted. We didn’t want Ritchie Blackmore number 573. And we didn’t want Steve Morse number 200. We wanted a guy who had the ability to play and the confidence to say this is me! This is me because if you haven’t got that, then you can’t be in the band, you know, if you’re going to try and be what was before, that’s pointless. You know, even if you were the best guitarist in the world playing some of those songs, you wouldn’t be better than Ritchie. But that’s just the perception of it. But if you don’t try and do that, if you say, OK, this is me, then you are the best at being you.

Simon McBride: Right.

Has your sound changed with Deep Purple?

Simon McBride: At some point you adapt your sound to the band…

Ian Paice: No, no, no, we wouldn’t want him to do that.

Simon McBride: Every, every guitarist has an inbuilt this…

Ian Paice: Yeah, so drying up that one.

Simon McBride: Every guitarist has an inbuilt guitar sound and, and no matter what I plug into the same sound, you know, if I plug into a fender up, I’ll still get that sign that I have. It’s a marshall, it’s, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Thinking of Ritchie Blackmore…

Did you talk ever to Ritchie Blackmore to Steve Morse and ask them about things?

Simon McBride: I spoke to Steve, which was very helpful to me, you know, to start over. I didn’t speak to him in person. I spoke to him over email but he was very, very accommodating whatever I needed any help at all. He was there, you know, which was really nice,

And Ritchie?

Simon McBride: No, no.

What about you, Ian? Have you spoken to Ritchie again?

„And I just don’t dwell on it if I see him again in the bar somewhere. I hope we’d sit down and have a drink and talk about the silly shit.“

Ian Paice on Ritchie Blackmore

Ian Paice: Not for a long, long time. The last time I had any communication with Rich was, I don’t know, about 20 years ago. He sent me a Christmas card. Yeah, but he lives in the USA and he’s doing it and we live in Europe. So it’s pretty, you know, and he’s been, he’s been away for a long time from the back, you know, he left in 93 or something 31 years. So, you know, things do change. I was still thinking of him. I still think of Ritchie from the very early days when we were pretty close friends and whatever went on afterwards. I don’t worry. I think about that too much. We see the world in a different way and we each have things that we do and say maybe we wouldn’t do later in life. And I just don’t dwell on it if I see him again in the bar somewhere. I hope we’d sit down and have a drink and talk about the silly shit. You know, because that’s the important stuff. That’s it.

The lyrics on the new album „=1“

Back to the current album: There is a song about a prostitute…

Ian Paice: It’s a song about a lady of somewhat easy virtue.

I mean, I thought by myself is that still contemporary to make a song about this kind of ladies?

Ian Paice: That song I remember in the rehearsal. I don’t really know what it’s truly about. I remember but he says it’s actually the opposite. It’s more political than anything he says. So if you want a correct answer, ask him. He’s got a crazy brain. It’s some clever lyrics though. You know that line of using the gifts that you’ve been given. It’s what she does, you know. But guys do that too, interesting lyrics. Maybe you can’t explain a song because, well, we can only explain what we think. Like Ian doesn’t tell us once we make this record, all we do is we present him with a bunch of pieces of music. They’re not songs, they’re pieces of music where there are space for a verse and a middle chorus and then he takes it away and we don’t know what’s going to happen until we hear the finished thing.

[We now know from other interviews with Ian Gillan that the song is about a lady from Berlin called Charlene, a woman Ian met in a Berlin bar and drank a few glasses of champagne with… until he realized that the lady probably needed another shave and was actually called Charlie and was from Belfast…]

Ian Paice and Purpendicular FOTO: Peter „Beppo“ Szymanski

You never discuss the lyrics?

Ian Paice: I always accept his lyrics. We trust each other to do what is right for that moment in time. He would never tell me what to do with the drums. I wouldn’t tell him [Simon] to do with the guitar. It has to be what people feel. And sometimes it’s superb and sometimes it’s something you leave you a little confused and you think, well, I probably wouldn’t have done that but it’s there. But you don’t criticize each other’s playing. You can’t do that. Each one of us are important in a different way. And that importance means you’ve got to be left alone to do it. Simple things.

Don’t you ask him what’s this about?

Ian Paice: We don’t want, we hear it. It’s like you hear it for the first time. We know the music. We don’t know what’s going to go on.

But don’t you have to understand what it’s about?

Ian Paice: No, because like you, you say what’s this lyric about? So you question, OK. And of course, if you can read the lyrics as well, you can make a little more sense of it. But half the times he won’t tell us what they’re about. He, he’ll not ask us, you know, what drum things you do in there.

Simon McBride: …Guitar, that’s all.

Ian Paice: If you over influence each other you would change the whole dynamic.

I have to ask about „Pictures of You“. Is that a critical explanation of influencers?

Ian Paice: I don’t know. Some of these questions about lyrics, you really have to try and set up an interview with Ian because, you know, we have all different opinions about what each thing make. And so do people when they hear it, the public will have their own ideas about them to make, you know, it’s not. „June loves Freddie and Freddie loves you“. I could say something about the song „I’m sayin‘ nothing“.


Ian Paice: Well, this is something, this came from a joke between Simon and myself. It’s a very old Peter Sellers record comedy, Peter Sellers, just an audio record.  And the premise is that he’s an Irish playwright in the studio with the BBC and he’s very drunk. And every time they ask him a question, he said, I tell you, I say nothing. It was all the trouble with the IRA at the time. So you didn’t say anything? And Ian Gillan heard Simon and I doing this all the time and he thought that’s a good idea for a song. So he used it and came up with a lyric in, you know, I’m saying nothing.

And there’s one song I thought,, there’s a ballad. „Catch you in my arms“?

Ian Paice: Very personal one to that one. It’s a beautiful song.

Is the song about his recently deceased wife?

Ian Paice: I think so. Yes, I think so. To me it’s a stunning piece of rock and roll ballad in that.

Oh, I love it a lot.

Ian Paice: Yes, I love it a lot too.

Is there a mysterious message behind „=1“?

Finally, I have to talk about the very simple album cover. This one, „Now What?!“ was the cover of your first album with Bob Ezra, and the new cover is even simpler. Is this a sign of something? Is it something like a circle coming full circle? Is this perhaps the last record or something? Some mysterious message…?

Ian Paice: Not that we know about… (laughs) The truth about this is that Ian Gillan usually comes up with the titles because the rest of us we can’t be bothered to do it. So it has to have a title and he’s the one that can be, he can take the time we get. Now, you think of it, you know, too lazy. And he just had this huge massive algebraic equation, huge thing and it all came down to equal one and it just looked interesting, you know, but he tell us nothing more about it than that. But then we took the idea to the record company and they came up with that simple little thing equals one. And so for each one of us again, we have our own idea about what it means.

So you have enough ideas for more Deep Purple records?

Ian Paice: I think we will probably, I think next year we might take some time and go make another record because we, we can’t tour the world all the time. It’s not that big a place. We do usa, we do Europe, we do South America Asia last year. So we might take some time and see if we can write some more songs and make another record. It’s easy. If you have the ideas, making a record is easy.