20 April 2011

Steve Morse of Deep Purple on The Songs That Built Rock tour

Throughout their career, Deep Purple – who formed in England in 1968 and released their debut album that year – have sold over 100 million albums worldwide; their iconic rock hits include "Smoke on the Water," "Highway Star" and "Woman from Tokyo." After a four-year hiatus from American shores, the band’s upcoming tour, called Deep Purple: The Songs That Built Rock, finds them returning with a symphony orchestra.
In this exclusive interview with Steve Morse, the group’s guitarist since 1994, about the tour, which kicks off in Boston on June 7 and carries on to New York, L.A., and everywhere in between.
So Deep Purple is touring with a symphony orchestra?
Yeah. It’s not exactly like the symphonic tour that we did where we’re actually playing symphonic music that Don [Airey, Deep Purple keyboardist] had written and some Deep Purple songs. We’re going to play our set, basically, and have accompaniment on some songs, sort of like if you imagine some of the old Motown songs where they added strings and horns to a song to spice it up. And that’s the approach [the band] want[s] to take on this tour. So we’re arranging things as we speak.
Where did this idea come from?
I’m not exactly sure, because like many people, there’s probably a misunderstanding about what we’re doing, thinking that it’s going to be an orchestral version of the band. I sort of felt that, too [originally] ... When we played the Olympia in Paris [in 1996], we had guest musicians from France that were really good, and did what they were doing. So we had a horn section, a guest soloist and backup singers, and everyone liked it because it was something different. One of the things we’re trying to do is give people a reason to come out, and play some nicer places. It also gives us an in to nicer halls that wouldn’t allow a, quote, “rock and roll show.” If you have a bunch of people carrying a violin cases, I guess it opens the door, you know? (Laughs)
Is this going to be similar to the shows that Metallica did with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra?
I don’t know exactly how they did it. We’re trying to keep the energy up and not change to fit the orchestra, which is different from [the late ’60s] when [original Deep Purple keyboardist] Jon [Lord] wrote that orchestral piece, and we recreated it in the ’90s with Jon Lord, going around with a symphony orchestra. That was the kind of thing we’re doing now. It’s us doing our thing, and then some arrangements with horns and strings. I don’t know what you’d call it, but it sort of ended up that way. It’s like what we did in London [at the Royal Albert Hall in 1999], but with American musicians and more orchestral players.
Do you guys still keep in touch with Jon Lord on creative contributions, particularly with this upcoming tour?
Well, he’s welcome to come anytime. We love when he does, because he always sits in and plays a little bit. He doesn’t say, you guys should do this or that, because he knows the people in the band too well (laughs). We love seeing him, and I think when we play Albert Hall [in July] we’ll be seeing each other over there.
Will you be playing with different orchestras in each city?
I’ve heard that they’re going to be original.
Are there any other new surprises that you have in store, like resurrecting old songs?
Probably so. There’s some of them that we haven’t done in the States, some of them that will just go over really well live, will be resurrected and, of course, we’ve got a whole bunch of new material. Whether or not we can pull that out for the tour depends on how fast the record can get done.
How’s it going so far with the new album?
The material’s sounding really good, actually. We’re giving a little time to [Deep Purple vocalist] Ian Gillan to get caught up on his lyrics and stuff, rocking out.
What’s it like being the only Yank in the band?
It’s actually more disorienting than you’d think. On one level, I totally feel at home with everybody and all the English expressions and even the Cockney rhyming slang to some extent. But when they start talking about things that interest them, it pretty much goes into different things than I would talk about with my friends, you know? Like for instance, soccer. Soccer is a big deal to Brits, and that’s pretty much — if you’re not up on the different soccer teams in the league and thePremiership, and especially the World Cup chances of every team, then you’ve got nothing to talk about (laughs). I’m sort of from another planet in that sense, but onstage is the most important thing, and we all communicate very effortlessly, and everything’s fine.
But it’s a little bit weird, just culturally, you know? They can make a joke about somebody that’s in the news, and somebody in Britain that’s in the news, and they can and bring up somebody else’s name in the news [from] 25 years ago, and they all laugh and get it. And of course, I have no idea what they’re talking about, because I just don’t have the history that they do. And the same with me: I can make a joke to them that would actually be funny to an American, and they just totally don’t get it at all.
You’ve been with the group for a while now. Is there any kind of cultural influence that they’ve had on you, or vice versa?
Yeah, they’ve taught me a lot. It’s really taught me a lot about how Europeans live, how they see America, how they see the world, and how different it is: the little village concept versus our big city [view] … and you see where they’re coming from. But I remain the staunch pro-American (laughs). So every time we have a political discussion, it gets ugly fast. I jump right in there (laughs) if they even start to think of them.
The important thing is, the band, politically, has no politics. We were just talking to the president of Russia, and that was one of the points that we were talking about, was how Gillan said how different everybody is for politics, and if he has a political thing he ever wants to say, he has to hide it in double entendre in his lyrics. And I said, the good thing is the band is not political, which is how we can play Lebanon one week and Israel the next. We’re playing to people that want to hear music, and I think that’s shaped me more than anything. The experience of being in the band has definitely shaped me more than guys telling me what I should think, which hasn’t done a whole lot (laughs) in my case …
The experience of traveling is something everybody should do. It’s so enlightening to see people from all over the world with the same wants, needs, concerns, and frailties. Government's different and customs differ, but people, basically, are the same. And that’s the thing we’ve seen more often than not: It’s the similarities, not the differences.
Regarding the recent catastrophe in Japan, is the band planning to do any special shows or benefits at this point?
No, we haven’t gotten anything that we’re privy to at the moment. I think the thing in Japan is, they sort of differ from a Third World country that just totally doesn’t know what to do. The people of Japan are so incredibly organized and capable, I don’t know how anybody can help them that isn’t right there. They need all kinds of support. The logistics of getting what they need to them is obviously the problem — it’s not being able to afford it, as far as what I’ve seen. And don’t forget that at this time I’ve got a limited view, because I’m working all the time [Morse was touring with the band in Eastern Europe during this interview], and I can’t just turn on the TV and get anything set to a certain very narrow international news station.
So from my point of view, it looks like they need more logistical support than moral support to raise more money for food or anything. I could be wrong, but it looks like they’ve got that part covered, and the government is willing to do whatever it takes to get the people back on their feet and working again. But they’re handling some really amazing problems right now, and one last thing that I get from that is how incredibly dignified they are in such a time of stress.
Of course Deep Purple has a long relationship with Japan and its people, making live albums recorded there something special long before bands like Cheap Trick came along. What’s it like when you go over there as a member of the group?
Deep Purple has very old acquaintances, like promoter Mr. Udo, and everybody knows people there, so it’s a friendly, familiar place. And like I said, it’s so organized and dignified, it’s just wonderful. It’s wonderful to see a guy driving a cab that’s spotless, with white gloves on, and that’s any cab you get into.
The trains, they come exactly on time, they leave exactly on time, and they go really fast. So a lot of times we just ride the trains, because it’s the best way to go. And when you’ve got mass transit that’s that organized, even in an earthquake zone, it’s still the way to go. It beats traffic, you know? And whenever we get mass transit that’s that organized and that cool and that fast and that reliable, I think then America could really cut down on one person per Suburban, you know? (Laughs.)
Deep Purple plays a lot of countries around the world. Are there any places that you look most forward to playing to year after year?
Every country has its charms, you know? I’m a private pilot — I have been for most of my life — so I go places where I can’t fly. A lot of times, in South Africa, there’s people that will get me hooked up to flying, or in Australia. A friend in Israel is going to hook me up, too. And in Greece I did some flying there. So of course I like those kinds of places. In Norway, too — I went flying on a nice summer day. For me, that’s most interesting.
Is there any place that you haven’t played yet that you’re looking forward to?
Oh, yeah. I’d like to see — and this is not a joke — Antarctica. Because I’m fascinated with technology and how people cope with things. Since I’m a member of Deep Purple, and have played outside in the snow on top of a mountain, in a desert (laughs) and in a monsoon in Korea, I think, outside, getting drenched, it seems like if we can play anywhere, we might as well go to the most extreme gig possible, and that would be Antarctica. Maybe even the North Pole, I don’t know. But there’s some parts of Africa that we haven’t been to, and that would be interesting, especially if they were able to accommodate all the power and logistics for the band. The adventure never stops.
Out of curiosity, why does Ian Gillan perform barefoot?
It’s hard to say. It could have been just a manager. Like maybe one time he came out and his feet were hurting and he came out with bare feet and the manager says, “What are you doing going out in bare feet?” That guarantees that for the next X number of years, he’s only going to go out in bare feet, just to prove a point that he doesn’t take advice from anybody. I think he’s just more comfortable doing that; he’s a very visceral person.
Do you know how long he’s been doing that for?
No. But I can tell you, when we played Live 8 in Toronto, it was summertime. The stage was black plastic — dark gray, but it acts like black in the sun. It was the end of the afternoon, and we were going on right before Mötley Crüe. You don’t get a chance to check things out; they just switch bands and then — bam! — you’re on. So we just kind of ran out, and we started “Highway Star” right away. And I looked over and Ian was walking out, and all of a sudden he started dancing. And I thought, “That’s weird.” Then he just dances offstage. Then he comes back onstage with his shoes on, and he’s not dancing (laughs). [He] was being burnt from the stage; that cured it.
Any other messages about the tour?
If anybody hasn’t seen the band, we don’t get to the U.S. very often, so I would suggest this is the time. And the band is a live group; It’s all about the energy vibe. We have one of the best keyboard players in the world [Don Airey], and just a fantastic rhythm section. You know, the icons of rock and roll. So check it out if you’re ever kicking yourself for not seeing the classic artists when they come around. Deep Purple doesn’t hit the States very often.

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info :  examiner.com.

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Formasi VIII (2002-saat ini)

Formasi VIII (2002-saat ini)
Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Don Airey & Steve Morse

Formasi VII (1994-2002)

Formasi VII (1994-2002)
Steve Morse, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice

Formasi VI (1993-1994)

Formasi VI (1993-1994)
Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Joe Satriani, Roger Glover, Jon Lord

Formasi II-c (1992-1993)

Formasi V (1990-1992)

Formasi V (1990-1992)
Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Lynn Turner & Ian Paice

Formasi II-b (1984-1990)

Formasi II-b (1984-1990)
Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Roger Glover & Ian Gillan

Formasi IV (1975-1976)

Formasi IV (1975-1976)
David Coverdale, Jon Lord, Tommy Bolin, Ian Paice & Glenn Hughes

Formasi III (1973-1975)

Formasi III (1973-1975)
Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes & David Coverdale

Formasi II-a (1969-1973)

Formasi II-a (1969-1973)
Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore & Jon Lord

Formasi I (1968-1969)

Formasi I (1968-1969)
Rod Evans, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice dan Nick Simper

Pengikut

1967-1969

Salah satu pelopor musik Hard Rock kemudian berkembang menjadi Heavy Metal ini pada awal berdirinya merupakan ide dari bintang pop tahun 1960-an dan telah memperoleh kebesaran dengan band-nya, THE SEARCHER, dialah Christopher Crummy atau yang dikenal dengan nama Chris Curtis (Oldham, Lancs, tgl. 26 Agustus 1941).

Curtis melihat semakin berkembangnya musik Rock Progressive sehingga terbentuk suatu ide bersama rekannya di bisnis musik yang bersedia menolongnya.

Curtis mulai mendiskusikannya dengan Tony Edwards, yang bekerja di bisnis textile milik keluarganya di West End, London. Mereka pun diperkenalkan ke Vicki Wickham, seorang asisten produser acara TV : Ready, Steady, Go Pop Show.

Setelah setahun berjalan, secara formal Curtis lalu meminta pertolongan manajemen dan Edwards pun menghubungi teman bisnisnya, John Colletta, yang saat itu memiliki agen periklanan diatas perusahaan textile milik Edwards. Mereka lalu membuat keputusan untuk menggabungkan bisnis mereka dengan melakukan promosi band yang akan dibentuk Curtis.

Seiring dengan waktu, mereka sadar bahwa Curtis hanya memiliki mimpi besar yang hanya berisikan gagasan dan gagasan belaka. Sedangkan bagian yang paling nyata terletak kepada keberadaan teman Curtis yang juga musisi yang tinggal satu flat (Fulham's Gunter Grove) dengan Curtis, dialah Jon Lord.

Curtis pun masih bersemangat untuk membicarakan proyeknya tersebut dengan menampilkan kumpulan musisi terbaik. Salah satu musisi yang sangat diinginkan Curtis adalah Ritchie Blackmore, gitaris terkenal di Reeperbahn dan saat ini bermukim di Hamburg bersama kekasihnya, Babs.

Saat itu band telah terbentuk dengan formasi : Ritchie Blackmore (gitar), Jon Lord (organ), Chris Curtis (vokal), Dave Curtis (bass) dan Bobby Woodman Clarke (drum). Clarke merupakan referensi dari Blackmore berdasarkan promosi Melody Maker yang dibayar 25 Pound setiap minggunya. Sedangkan Dave Curtis tidak ada hubungannya dengan Chris Curtis.

Setelah melakukan jam, Blackmore melihat kelemahan Band terletak pada diri Chris Curtis sendiri, sehingga (sangat ironis) akhirnya Chris Curtis harus keluar dari Band disusul oleh Dave Curtis, sehingga Band hanya terdiri dari Blackmore, Lord dan Clarke saja.

Tak lama berselang, rekan Jon Lord semasa di The Flowerpot Men, Nick Simper (bass) ikut bergabung. Sedangkan untuk posisi vokal, Band telah melihat nama Ashley Holt, Rod Stewart dan Terry Raid.

Dari sekian pelamar, harapan terbesar terletak pada diri Mick Angus. Inkarnasi embrio ini ditambah lagi dengan saran Simper dan Lord untuk memilih Ian Gillan. Saat itu terjadi dilema apabila Gillan masuk ke dalam Band, sedangkan saat itu Gillan masih bergabung dengan EPISODE SIX.

Setelah kembali ke Slough dengan saat itu telah diberikan kepercayaan oleh Band, Angus mereferensikan teman akrabnya, Rod Evans.

Entah mengapa justru Rod Evans (ex. The Maze) bersama rekannya Ian Paice masuk kedalam Band. Dengan masuknya Paicey otomatis Clarke harus keluar dari Band.

Begitu banyak nama Band diusulkan seperti Orpheus dan Concrete God, namun Management mengusulkan nama Roundabout dan nama ini dipakai dalam tour.

Dalam tour di Tastrup, Denmark tgl. 20 April 1968, nama Band pun berubah menjadi DEEP PURPLE, yang diambil dari nama sebuah lagu favorit dari Neneknya Ritchie Blackmore.

Debut album Deep Purple, Shades Of Deep Purple direkam di bulan Mei 1968. Dalam relatif sangat singkat, hit single Deep Purple, Hush (dirilis bulan Juli 1968) menembus tangga lagu Amerika, dengan menduduki posisi no. 4.