Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night
BURRN Magazine October 2004
First, tell us about the musicians you are playing with on this tour?
Candice: Me... and, you are participating, too, right? (laughs)
Ritchie: Oh... (laughs). We have Bob, the bass player.
Candice: We call him Sir Robert of Normandy.
Ritchie: He's also an excellent guitar player, a real professional, but every time he's going on tour... No, that's enough.
Candice: We also have keyboardist David.
Ritchie: He plays in the church, when he's not with us.
Candice: And Squire Malcolm.
Ritchie: He's a British drummer. I don't remember his full name. I met Malcolm in Lumley Castle in England. It's a wonderful castle. Once we performed there, and that's when we started communicating with him.
Candice: And, of course, we have our two ladies Madeleine and Nancy, the Sisters of the Moon. And then there's a new band member, Rose Tudorov.
Ritchie: Why do you call her like that?
Candice: She asked me to do so. (laughs) She plays the violin and the shawms. In fact, her name is Tina and before she joined us, she played in a band called "Hesperus".
Ritchie: She's a very experienced musician playing medieval music.
Candice: We have an album of her in our CD collection.
Ritchie: She has played in six groups, and in each of them she performed academic medieval or Renaissance music. However, she wanted to play a little more rock music, so she joined us.
So she's the only new member?
Ritchie: We constantly change our violinists. It's maybe due to the fact that they have to play a bit of an unusual style in this band.
Candice: At our last visit to Japan, the group consisted entirely of other music.
Ritchie: At that time, we were still not sure of ourselves. Now everything is much clearer and better, we've grown with the music. We are constantly improving. In 100 years we'll have reached the ideal composition of our band. (laughs) After that, it will be pointless to play.
Seven years have passed since your last tour in Japan. What has changed since last time?
Candice: Now we are completely different musicians. The Japanese concerts were my first performances, where I had the role of a frontman, so I was very afraid. I think that also for Ritchie this concerts weren't easy. Also for him it was a completely new music, and looking back, I think that it was too early to go on tour at the time.
Ritchie: I wouldn't say that. I think that these first shows were very sincere and simple. Many musicians arrive in Japan only when they are fully confident in their performance, but we were just starting at this point, so the performances were very fresh. People thought: "Why doesn't he play Smoke on the Water?". And I remember people in the audience looking at me like thinking: "What's become of you?". But music should always be fresh and interesting, and I believe that for this sake it was worth the risk. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been any progress, and you'll just repeat the same thing over and over again on stage.
Candice: Now we have expanded our repertoire, not only from our own songs, but also from Ritchie's back catalogue, which we love to play, too. In this sense, I think we are much better now than 7 years ago.
Ritchie: At first I planned that this would be an entirely acoustic project.
Candice: We try all possible options. It seems to me that now we have our own style, we have fun on stage, even Ritchie starts to enjoy it. (laughs)
Ritchie: What are you talking about?
Candice: I've noticed that you became much calmer. Don't you think so?
Ritchie: I'm never calm. It always feels like someone is watching me from behind. Therefore, I always follow what is happening around. Otherwise, your enemies will beat you. You can never be satisfied with yourself, because instead of admitting that you have done something magnificent, people will always grab you on the head. Don't you agree?
Candice: I always get nervous before going on stage. However, in comparison with our first performances, I'm much more confident now with performing.
Ritchie: It keeps getting better. Every year, things that seemed to be difficult, seem to be less serious. I learned how to play medieval music using amplifiers, I realized how to attract the attention of our listeners. When I first started playing this particular music, it felt like committing suicide. While performing in Japan it felt like that. Everyone looked at us with such a look: "What are you doing?".
Candice: I think it's hard to please the Japanese fans.
Ritchie: I think you're right. But we were treated very well.
Candice: The Japanese are so attentive watching what's happening on stage, that they can't be deceived.
Ritchie: Yes, we like to deceive. (laughs)
Candice: Maybe you can do it, but it doesn't work out for me. The Japanese public very closely assesses your skills and talent...
Ritchie: That's right. When you don't have any talent, you have to rely on fireworks (laughs). Burn the scene, cut your fingers... (laughs)
Candice: I was pleased to learn that all the tickets for the concert in Tokyo have already been sold out, and we decided to add one more. That shows that people are interested in our music.
Ritchie: Seriously? (laughs) I don't think it has anything to do with music. It often happens, that very good musicians can't sell any tickets, and tickets for awful musicians are bought up completely. It's the plague of the music business, fashion determines which musicians people should listen to. So I distrust everything that happens in this business. I'm very surprised that so many people go to our shows, as it's not very famous music. And, of course, it's not new or fashionable. By the way, everything that is declined as new music now, in fact, isn't. I stopped listening to so-called "modern" music back in the eighties. Judging by television, only groups with musicians not older than twenty-one years are in fashion now. I'm not interested in such music television. All the newest groups consist of small children, but, unfortunately, almost none of them play their instrument properly. They only know how to strum on the guitar and run around on stage. They are not enganged in music, just in dancing around shaving their hair, and all that. This makes no sense.
People are confusing the notion of "new music" with "the music of a new band".
Ritchie: Yes. All these new groups consist of young beginners. They play terrible music. It's so disgusting. Their songs are hard to name, the singers are only yelling, there is no point to listen to that. And record companies try to sell these bands, just because they are young. A guitarist at the age of 50 or 60, playing in a band with a terrible singer, will never get on TV (laughs). Twenty years ago on David Letterman's show, you could still see a band with people being older than fifty years old, or a young twenty-year old violin player performing classical music. That was interesting. But now all you see are 21-year old guys, repeating everything that The Who did back in 1964.
Candice: When Ritchie gives you an interview, he always walks away from the questions... (laughs)
Ritchie: I just wanna talk to him like an old friend.
Thank you very much (laughs).
Ritchie: Music should give fresh emotions. In my opinion, there is no point in doing the usual routine. Sometimes I hate the fact that so many bands are doing the same programme all the time. Nothing new... I just think that music should come from the heart. Many groups are doing everything to sell tickets - groups like Aerosmith. We also play Deep Purple and Rainbow songs, but we do it from the heart. In a way, it's also a risk, but fortunately, many people say that although our versions are very different from the original ones, they are still great, and they accept the way we play them. I'm interested in playing even for hundred people, if these people like what we do. I used to think that if they're not at least 50.000 people in the hall, then there's no need to play (laughs). For example, if we play "Smoke on the Water" in Tokyo, the whole hall will immediately be delighted. But there is no risk. I like when people don't come to our shows to hear me play "Smoke on the Water". Sometimes we play it, but only when we want it. If you really want to play something, you need to do it. Unfortunately, many groups are afraid to play what they like. They don't take any risk and just play safe game. I can understand when this happens during reunions, which are done only for the sake of nostalgia. But, it seems, many people began to confuse nostalgia with creativity and talent. I would also like to see the performances of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles or Buddy Holly again. However, you can't always play the same music all your life. I think that if you're playing the same music every year, it will be a hoax for the public. You can compare that with a comedian, who's constantly telling you the same jokes. Many groups are only engaged in nostalgia. They are sure that if they play all their old hits, fans will be happy. But in fact, they only play all their old songs, because they can't come up with any good new music anymore. Some groups are even afraid the change the rhythm slightly. It's easier for them play it same way every time. If you ask them, why don't try anything new, they will respond, that their fans might not like the new songs. But that's exactly the point! Now I'm the total opposite of what people are used to hear from me, and they still come to our shows, and like it.
Because you are loved not only for nostalgia.
Ritchie: I still would go on stage and play Smoke on the Water, it's a good song, but I can't play it all my life. Do you understand which group I'm talking about right now? (laughs) They always play the same bunch of songs. They know that if you play all the old songs, then the audience will be happy. If there was a reunion of the Beatles, I would also like to hear them play their classics. However, musicians should understand that you can't always play the same old songs. Of course, not every group has the courage to change their direction. They seek to create a comfort zone. It irritates me. If you continue to play your old hits and have big shows, your managers, agents and promoters will be very happy. For them, only the money is important. They try to make big money, they don't care about the music itself a lot. They like to their bands doing big shows with explosions, big light work, and playing the old songs. I think I wouldn't be able to do that anymore. I'm sick of it. Gene Simmons frankly says that Kiss fans don't want to listen to new songs, so he releases his music on solo albums. Gene Simmons is a very smart person, I would be interested in talking with him. He's very experienced, and not a fool at all. He's very well-versed in the situation and owns it. That's why prefers to express himself in solo music. He probably feels like me that he has to create music which has nothing to do with Kiss. You can teach five monkeys to run around the stage and play "Smoke on the Water" (laughs). I don't think it's too complicated (laughs). I don't understand how these groups manage to play the same programme all the time. Do they take any pills? Meditate?
Candice: Well, many people also get up every day at 9 am, go to work, finish it at 5pm. For many musicians, this is the same kind of work.
Ritchie: I think that music should be dangerous. I need tension and I like it when I don't know for sure if the audience will accept our performance. Some groups just do what their managers, promoters or agents are telling them and are playing the same show on the whole tour. For the sake of their managers and agents, they are ready to skate all over the world until they're dead. They send them to South Africa, then to South America, then to Japan. That's why play the same 10 songs in every country. They don't have time rehearse or write new music, so they always rely on the same songs. It's a pity that many musicians allow themselves to get into this trap. I don't blame them. It's all because of managers and agents. They put lots of pressure on musicians. When a band tells their management, that they're going to play a big load of new songs, they tell them that it's impossible to do that.
Candice: In fact, such managers only think about their 20% of profit.
Ritchie: That's right. They are mostly concerned about how much money will earn. The Rolling Stones get a lot of money, too, but they always play the same songs.
Ian Gillan, for example, said that many managers don't understand the musicians or their fans.
Ritchie: You mean that Ian Gillan told you about their manager? (laughs) Managers and company representatives are not able to understand their fans. They only understand how to make money with the groups. When you tell them that you just want to make a record without big touring, they will tell you: "Just a record? Play your new music at home, this is business!" (laughs). This isn't only going in the groups I've been in, but also in many others.
Even if the fans want to remember, that doesn't mean the musicians themselves want the same... Ritchie: Yes, fans love to play experience nostalgia. That's true. I think the problem is that groups are often mistaken for nostalgia, not because they want so, it's just because of the managers.
Many musicians have become puppets of their own managers.
Ritchie: Right! I understand why fans want nostalgia. I'm talking about groups that are playing the same programme in every country, and even when they return to those country's a few years later, they still play the same programme. How can they do that? When you have a creative mind, you can't always play the same thing. Many musicians generally prefer to go for golf or horse riding. Especially in big bands, they are more interested in making money. Music is a way of earning money for them, but in itself it doesn't interest them. They don't feel any passion for it. Every night they play the ten same old songs, and in the morning they play golf. Maybe golf helps them escape from their family problems. No one takes his wife and children to play golf. (laughs) By the way, about six months ago in the news I watched a report in which a wife watched her husband from the helicopter - he went to play golf with prostitutes. He told her that was just going to play golf, and along the way, he took prostitutes with him. (laughs)
But many people really like to listen to the same famous songs. Perhaps your dislike for this format is due to the fact that you were doing it too much in the seventies and eighties?
Ritchie: For me, what matters most is what I think about myself. I can't play any music that I don't like. Of course, it's great when people like your music, but first of all I think of what I like to play. For an artist, that's the most important thing, if you want to be honest with yourself. When Bob Dylan threw the acoustics away and picked up the electric guitar, everyone was kind of shocked. Guitarist Robbie Robertson, who played with him back then, even told that at each show for the first two weeks on stage always something was thrown by furious fans. However, Bob Dylan, was sure about what he was doing. Everyone was expecting to hear him play songs like "Blowin in the Wind", but Bob Dylan played what he wanted to play. And two years later everyone realized that what he was doing was actually very good. He is a genius, he continues to do what he thinks is right, and as a result his ideas are always accepted. Interesting, isn't it? First of all - an artist has to do what he believes in. If people like it, then it's good, but that's only the second most important goal, first of all you need to satisfy yourself. The artist is always more important than the listener. I can't imagine a real artist who lives on public demand. If such artists existed, they wouldn't be able to offer anything to society. The groups I mentioned earlier are not really creative in that sense. If a creative artist is giving a show with no new material, the audience will notice that. Japanese viewers are just like that. They are very attentive to what is going on, so artists really have to work hard. Americans like to scream at concerts, the Japanese people are quiet listeners. At least it was like that 25 years ago. At that time, the Japanese didn't miss a single note. With Deep Purple and Rainbow, we often played in Germany and Britain, and there was no need to put on a big show. But in America it was necessary to organize a big party, involving the crowd shouting: "Do you want rock n roll?". And the audience started shouting: "Yes!". I like it when it's a little bit more calm. Especially in America, where there are always lots of drunk people in the crowd, climbing onto the stage and yell loudly. But it seems that the Japanese crowd starts to be like that, too.
Well, yes, especially our younger people...
Ritchie: Don't you think that's the influence of MTV?
No, MTV doesn't have a big influence in Japan.
Ritchie: Interesting. In the seventies, the Japanese were very well versed in music, very disciplined and had a good education. I liked that, but now it's kind of changing and more Japanese are imitating America being more drunk and noisy.
Ritchie: In the seventies I listened to Japanese folk music. Very unusual, isn't it? I like your old folk songs, music performed on stringed instruments, there was something really catchy in that music. I can't listen to it all the time, but it's mysterious, not contrived. I don't know if people listen to their folk music in Japan, but I wouldn't like the Japanese to forget about that. In many countries people have already forgotten about their music - in Sweden, Germany, Britain... MTV had a big influence. Teenagers in all countries wear the same baseball caps and dress like blacks. In Britain they invented the dance of Morris, even Henry VIII wrote music. In Sweden, they wrote music back in the days of the Vikings. But people there are more into Britney Spears and Eminem. There is nothing wrong with the fact that they don't like folk music. But in fifty years they will only remember Britney as a girl who publicly took off her clothes. Not their real music. I wouldn't want that happen to Japan, too. Same with China and India. If you watch TV in Europe, for example, in Sweden, then all you see is people like Eminem, or whatsoever.
Candice: In Sweden and Germany, no one plays baseball, but everyone wears a baseball cap. (laughs)
Ritchie: It is clear that the new generation wants to be different from the previous ones.
Candice: But it still doesn't make them special. Especially if you take into account that all these sixteen-year-olds look the same.
Ritchie: Everyone thinks he's the coolest.
Candice: I think half of your readers will hate us after reading this. (laughs)
Ritchie: That's not important. Guys with piercings in their nose won't come to our shows anyway. (laughs)
Blackmore's Night is the first band in which you've worked with the same vocalist for 7 consecutive years. Looking back, is there something you didn't have time to do over the years?
Ritchie: These seven years have flown by as if they were two or three years. We still have a lot of songs, and a lot of energy, which we will devote to the development of the band. Someone may think that we aren't quite successful commercially, but it's still interesting to play this music. I would play this music even if we wouldn't sell any CD's.
Candice: We never quarrel, while creating music. Although sometimes we're arguing a little bit. (laughs)
Ritchie: Sometimes I argue with her when she's at home, and doesn't want to play music with me. She does other things or sits on the computer, and when I tell her that we should do music, she answers that she will come up a little bit later.
Candice: Ritchie gets up at noon, has breakfast, plays the guitar and goes for a walk. When he returns, he dines and plays again. Sometimes he thinks that the food will prepare by itself. (laughs) So he's very surprised when he sees that I have no time to compose music with him (laughs).
Ritchie: I just don't understand why you spend so much time doing that.
Candice: Because someone has to do it.
Ritchie: I don't think you should do this.
Candice: I have to. (laughs)
Ritchie: Back to the topic. We don't argue a lot, I just think that we should devote more time to music.
Earlier in your career you've changed the vocalist every two-three years.
Ritchie: Music should be interesting, intriguing and exciting. Therefore, when someone starts to contradict me, I, naturally, am very angry. For example, Doogie White was a big fan of Iron Maiden, and he wanted the band to sound like Iron Maiden. It made me mad. Of course, Steve Harris is a great footballer, but is that enough to make me copy the sound of Iron Maiden?
Candice: I will never forget Doogie's reaction when Ritchie asked him to sing one beautiful melody in perfect harmony. He replied: "I can't sing it - it sounds like Joe Lynn Turner". (laughs)
Ritchie: Exactly, as far as I can remember, it was a harmony in A minor - F major - G-major. Doogie could perfectly improvise, so it was always very easy with him. He was a great improviser, which isn't an easy thing to do. And when he sang at full power, he had a really beautiful voice. The next day his voice got tired, and he started to sing very low. If we had a day off after that, then his voice came back, but he couldn't sustain several concerts in a row. Interesting, isn't it? However, he was a wonderful improviser, that made me really being interested in playing with him. Unfortunately, we both had completely different views on music. I'm a fan of medieval music, and he loves Iron Maiden. Another one of many reasons that my relationship to him fell apart. The first time I talked to him on the phone, I asked him: "Where do you live?", and he answered that he was sleeping at home with a friend. A year later, when we stayed in four and five-star hotels, he constantly quarreled that he had a room on the top floor, or that the air conditioning was too powerful. A man who's been sleeping on the floor in a friends house is complaining about a luxury hotel... Isn't it frustrating how fast people can change? So when the tour was over, he was sleeping at his friends home again. I don't blame Doogie, I just couldn't understand him.
Joe Lynn Turner sang brilliantly on "Can't let you go". His voice is just perfect on that. He was an incredibly strong vocalist, but he had lost his voice in Deep Purple. I think everyone recognized the change in his voice, but it's his fault, he destroyed it. I wanted to hear his old voice, but it didn't exist anymore. And then he left the group. But I didn't fire him. The others wanted to replace him with Ian Gillan, who in comparison with Joe couldn't sing at all. Everyone wanted Gillan to return, but it wasn't about the music, it was about the money. The agents and promoters wanted to see Ian Gillan back with us, not Joe.
In this project you can do whatever you want.
Ritchie: Are you trying to get away from the topic? I thought we were discussing my past vocalists.
Ok - go on...
Ritchie: It's always been easy to blame me: "Ritchie is crazy, and all that...". But I always changed musicians, because I wasn't satisfied with them anymore. The same thing with singers. Actually I would like to work with the same singer all the time, but nothing good would come out of it. Just a few months after they joined the band, they already built an ego.
You've also said that a lot of singers are limited - one can sing hard rock, but can't sing a ballad or vice versa.
Ritchie: Many of my past singers were too fond of Jazz, fame, drugs, alcohol and all that. When they came into the band, they behaved very softly and offered good ideas, but six months later they suddenly changed. It's just awful how people change! When a person becomes famous, he changes dramatically. He starts to think of himself as a star. I don't know if that's such a good thing to do.
What do you like about Candice as a vocalist?
Ritchie: Candice has a very recognizable voice. I hope that she won't loose it. Now she also likes to sing rock music, but I hope this doesn't affect her voice in any way. She can sing rock, but I would like her to have the same angelic voice. If you sing too much, the voice changes as from smoking. She has her own voice. Very warm, angelic, it has a lot of touches. When I offer her songs to sing, I try to make them not too heavy. She always says she can sing them, but I don't want her to sing too heavy songs. It's not for Candice. I don't like it when singers sing in lots of different voices. Candice has her own type of singing. When you hear her voice, you immediately know that it's her. I recomment that she sings more often. She has a very low voice, but now it is getting louder. The only thing that I could critize about her voice is that I'd like it to be a little bit stronger. Although I like it when she sings in a low voice, I would like it to have more power. But it keeps getting better.
Can we talk about the new songs in your repertoire now?
Candice: Let's start with "All For One". This is a song of the Renaissance. We were introduced to it by musicians of the band "Des Geyers", whom Ritchie loves.
Ritchie: It's a melody from the 16th century.
Candice: Initially, it was sung in German. When I wrote the English text, I wanted to create an image of the Three Musketeers. When we first heard this song performed by the Geyers, they performed it in Musketeers costumes. The song is about unity, when the soldiers appear on the battlefield together. Or firefighters who are coming together to beat the flames - so this song would be a good one to advertise your magazine.
Candice: Their magazine is called "Burrn" (lauhgs). We often play this song as an encore, and the reaction of the audience is always amazing.
Ritchie: It's one of our busiest songs. Candice plays a very complex instrument in it from the XV Century, called Rauchpfeife. Many musicians are afraid to use such instruments, because it's not fashionable. The German version by Des Geyers is just played on these old instruments, but we added a little bit of rock n roll to it. There's no version like ours out there. That's why many people like our version. Funnily Des Geyers don't like it that much. (laughs)
Candice: Now that many soldiers are going to Iraq, this song reminds me of them. It's a hot topic...
Ritchie: Soldiers in Iraq... Yes, "All For One" fits quite well. They fight together. Soldiers on the front don't know what to expect. It's a song for them. If I was going to sacrifice my life for the sake of a country, I would like to hear something encouraging.
Candice: Billy Joel has a song about the war in Vietnam.
Ritchie: "Good Night Saigon".
Candice: Maybe, we'll move on to the next song, for example "Written in the Stars"? It sounds almost like a Rainbow song to me. Maybe this is due to the harmony and the electric guitar parts. We haven't played this song in a long time. Usually we were using it as an intro for our show.
Ritchie: I think it's a great song and it has a nice melody.
Candice: This song needs an electric guitar, but, when we're doing it in concert, it's hard to put it there.
Ritchie: Maybe we'll play it.
Candice: The setlists are Ritchie's thing. He decides what to play depending on his mood. For example, it would be very difficult to perform a song on electric guitar, and then do a song like "Shadow of the Moon". So we usually play more acoustic stuff in the first half of our show.
Ritchie: We have the same problem with "Way to Mandalay". Many people want to hear this song in our shows, but it has a heavy guitar sound, which makes it hard for us to put it into the program. It's a pity that what are not able to play certain songs that our fans love. But we did it as an encore a few times.
Candice: Can we talk about "All Because of You"?
Ritchie: By the way. Did you hear the new version of "All Because of You"?
I've heard it. Very catchy, it sounds great. I like it.
Ritchie: It turned out great. It sounds exactly as I intended it. Producer Pat Regan constantly asked me: "Now everything is just fine"? (laughs)
Candice: There's no rhythm guitar in this version.
Ritchie: Pat suggested adding guitar parts, but I didn't want to spoil the song by adding the guitar. In this version we showed that we also love the disco world. I have a lot of favourite songs in that genre, for example, ABBA, and so on... If I had added a guitar there, the song would more like a rock song, and the whole disco feeling would have been lost. Pat was surprised that I didn't want to record a guitar part. He probably thought I didn't like the song, but in fact, I really like it. He was amazed that I didn't want to add any guitar on it, but sometimes I just prefer to listen to the music, without adding a guitar on it. I just thought that it didn't fit the song. If the musician has nothing to offer, it's better not to bother at all. There are people who aren't interested in music at all, if they don't play it. But music is the expression of your feelings, it's not always necessary to play it yourself. So I decided that I didn't want to play on that song and I did so. There's only synthesizers on there. In a sense, that's my way of showing that if I want, I can write music for MTV, in the spirit of Clive Davis. But I really like this song, it's a great melody.
Candice: The harmony reminds me of classical music.
Ritchie: Yes, you can play this melody with a violin. So I thought it would be better to record it in a disco style without a guitar. I think this version could easily become a hit. Of course, that's not Renaissance music. I only did it to surprise those who think that we only play Renaissance music - in fact, it's not quite like that (laughs). I like to get people into a stupor (laughs). Reminds me of a game of chess.
When I interviewed you the last time, you said that you had recorded three different versions of "All Because of You".
Candice: That's right. There was also a version with bagpipes...
Ritchie: The melody of that song can be played on bagpipes, too. I love the melody! I don't like to praise my own tunes, but it seems to me that this is one of the best melodies I have ever written (laughs).
Candice: In this new version, which I call the version in the Spirit of the Pet Shop Boys, there are horns and all that.
Ritchie: I like the music of the Pet Shop Boys. I think many people will surprised about me saying that, but I think that their music is very good, they are very clever musicians. Have you heard their song "It's a Sin"? Beautiful song. It reminds me of "I Surrender". When I first heard it, I thought: "Hey, I think I know this song". "It's a Sin" is one of my favourite songs.
Candice: Were there bagpipes on the original version?
Ritchie: I love real Renaissance music, but a synthesizer sounds out of place in it. They are not very suitable for Renaissance music. If you play a song only on wood instruments, it sounds good, but if you add a synthesizer, it just doesn't sound right. I've learned this during the last 5 years. I learned a lot about all these particular instruments from that time and how to use them.
Candice: So now we have 4 versions of that song.
Ritchie: The new dance version is just a great song, and I want everyone to hear it. I think our fans will like it.
Candice: One of our versions with the bagpipes sounded Scottish (laughs).
Ritchie: The English and the Scots don't like each other. Like the Japanese and Chinese... Okay, enough of that (laughs).
Candice: We also play "Writing on the Wall"... It's based on Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake".
Ritchie: Tchaikovsky at one time played in our band. But it was in the very first line-up. We have been working on this project since the XIX century (laughs)...
Candice: It's a song about fantasy, intuition, disappointment...
Ritchie: I thought you were singing about me!
Candice: It's a song about intuition. I think that's the most amazing ability given to a person.
Ritchie: There you have the "Swan Lake" (laughs). I have liked that tune for a long time. Well, let's move on to the next song (laughs).
Candice: We also play "Under a Violet Moon".
Ritchie: My mothers name was Violet. And in my family there were relatives with the surname Moon. Before her marriage, my mothers name was Violet Moon. So the name "Under a Violet Moon" could also be called: "Under the auspices of my mother". It's very interesting.
Candice: I think we already played this song seven years ago in Japan.
Ritchie: You have a good memory.
Candice: Yes, I remember it well. On "Shadow of the Moon" the songs are mostly quiet, there weren't any fast songs, which the audience could sing to. This is very important, but we didn't have such songs at the time. So that...
Ritchie: When I played with Deep Purple and Rainbow it was already enough to play with the bass pedals to attract the attention of the audience, but in this group that's not possible.
Candice: There are no barriers between us and the public, so our concerts are more like a party at home.
Ritchie: Candice sings this song in C minor, so I have lower the order to play the chords that I usually play on the guitar in D minor. She has an unusual female voice with a lower tone, so it's easier to sing for her like that. So for this song, I have to tune my guitar down. By the way, during the Renaissance, the guitars were also tuned quite differently.
Candice: Do I have a lower voice than Joe?
Ritchie: Yes, a little lower than Joe's. We're still playing "Under a Violet Moon", it's one of my favourite songs. It's a very natural song. Naturalness is the most important thing for me. Good songs are easy to compose. It seems to me that you can write a good song in five minutes. When I have to carry a song for more than five days, there's something wrong with it. We composed that song very quickly. Candice asked me which words came to my mind, but when I write music, I rarely think about lyrics. However, with this song it was different. It was the first time I wrote lyrics for a song.
Candice: What's great about that song is that it has small solo sections for each instrument. Ritchie has a solo in the middle, then the violinist plays a solo, and then the keyboard player.
Ritchie: It's one of the songs that everyone likes. It's very suitable for a party with friends. And it also has a very fast tempo, which makes it fun to play it. However, it's a very simple song. I always recall the words of Pete Townsend: "Music should be simple".
Let's move on to Shadow of the Moon...
Ritchie: It all started with this song. We represented ourselves as druids. Druids are a bunch of mysterious people from the Celtic era. The Druids were the first inhabitants of Britain, they built Stonehenge and they were living under the moonlight. When we recorded this song in our home studio, and left the studio, the moon shone over the forest. It looked incredible! I was thrilled to go down to Pat, shouting: "Pat, there's the moon, look!". And he didn't understand, and only asked: "What are you talking about?" (laughs). For us this song means a lot. Everything started with it. The song is based on innocence, creativity, risk, it's not one of the songs that's created by some exact formula. It's a song about nature. For us, nature is of great importance. It's our idyll. When we sing under the moon or in the forest, we feel a connection with nature. We can be called pagans! Paganism isn't a religion, it existed before Christianity, and it's based on faith in nature. Nature protects and nourishes us. In addition, nature doesn't require money. In that sense, it differs from religion. Religion is based on money in many ways. It's like God needs all of our money. (laughs) But I think we won't play this song on the upcoming Japanese tour. We played it too often, although I like it. I really don't know... Maybe we will play it. (laughs)
Candice: I think that in terms of music, it reminds me of "Temple of the King".
Ritchie: Oh, it sounds the same as "Temple of the King" and "Soldier of Fortune". The thing is, we play all these songs in A-minor. (laughs)
Candice: We also play "Gone with the Wind", an old Russian song.
Ritchie: Tell us more about it...
Candice: The music is based on the Russian song "Polushko-Pole". It's a very famous song about patriotism in Russia, but we didn't know about it until we first got to Russia (laughs).
Ritchie: It's a military song, which was very popular in the end of the 19th century. I remember that I had already heard the melody, but at the time I thought that it was just a folk tune. I didn't know that this song had a political meaning.
Candice: For us, good music is just good music, but it's a song about the Red Army...
Ritchie: Many people were worried about it in Russia: "How can you play this song?". It seems that Russia still has big problems with the Red Army. (laughs)
Candice: However, the Russian theme of the song reminds me of my own roots. My ancestors first lived in Russia, and then left for Poland. When my great-grandmother was still a child, Russian soldiers burned the whole village where she lived. A similar incident also became the basis for a film, as well as for a production on Broadway. Russian soldiers organized pogroms in the houses of Jews, burned entire Villages. That's what happened to my great-grandmother and her parents, and they could only wander around the surrounding villages, fighting hunger and cold. Then my ancestors reached Europe, and from there they moved to the United States. I always wanted to write this story down based on the experience of my family.
Ritchie: It's a wonderful song, one of my favourites. There is a band called Europe. I like their song "The Final Countdown". When we were working on the arrangement, it turned out that some parts of the song were very similar, so I even wanted to ask them for permission. But in the end, I just changed some parts a bit.
Candice: Ritchie wanted to contact their vocalist or someone else to ask them to listen to the song and give him their opinion. But then Ritchie just changed a couple of notes and said: "Now we don't need to ask anyone". (laughs)
Ritchie: But it's true. The introduction to the song is reminiscent of "The Final Countdown".
Of course, I noticed it too...
Ritchie: I like Europe, and also their singer is very good. He has a great voice. This song is one of my favourite from them. I wanted to do a little cover of that in Deep Purple just for fun, nothing serious, maybe for a B-Side or something like that, but the others just said: "Why should we listen to that?". I said that it was a good song, but they just answered: "We can't make any money with this song, so let's forget about that".
You once told me Paicey doesn't like melodic songs. How did Jon react?
Ritchie: Jon just said: "Oh, not bad".
Candice: At the time Roger listened to the "Nine Inch Nails" and Ian Gillan to Reggae music, right?
Ritchie: Yes. Jon and myself founded Deep Purple, so I have special feelings for him. It would be great to see him again. If Jon wanted to go out and play for one or two weeks, doing some shows for the fans, I would be up for it. But with Roger... I would like to beat him! (laughs) I would probably hit him. Do you know what I mean? He changes my solos. (laughs)
I'm happy that Jon Lord left the band. He is such a good musician and he doesn't need to waste his time with Deep Purple. He has his own view of music, and doesn't need to play "Smoke on the Water" for the rest of his life. Paicey is a nice guy, but the other two... I couldn't keep playing the same material for so long. They always say that they're enjoying it so much and that everything is just fine, but to be honest, I know them long enough now and I'm not sure if they're really proud of what they're doing. It's like they want to prove themselves something, whatever that is. Do they have nothing else to do? They also like to badmouth me when they give interviews to different magazines, and they're removing my images from the covers. I don't understand why they're doing that.
Many people call the current composition of Deep Purple the Ian Gillan/Steve Morse duo.
Ritchie: Steve Morse is a great guitar player, but he shouldn't waste his time with Deep Purple and play "Smoke on the Water" for the rest of his life. It's too simple for him.
Candice: He has an excellent technique.
Ritchie: I've heard from people in the camp that Steve Morse is thinking about quitting. Apparently, he's at odds with their manager.
Everyone I spoke to, whether it was David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner or Glenn Hughes were shocked by the name of their new album "Bananas". What do you think of it?
Ritchie: I have no idea where they got the idea from. It's probably some kind of joke. But it sounds like an Ian Gillan joke. But I don't know anything about this album, neither the music on it, nor about it's name. Ian Paice is an excellent drummer and Jon is an excellent keyboard player. I also consider Ian Gillan a good singer - when his voice is in good form. And Roger is Roger, he's always the same.
By the way, Roger once told me that before Graham Bonnet you were auditioning a guy called Peter Golby for Rainbow...
Ritchie: That's right. He had a very good voice, but he couldn't reach certain notes. That was the problem. I think after the Rainbow sessions he did something with Uriah Heep. His voice reminded me of Paul Rodgers. However, it's hard for me to write music when the singer isn't able to reach certain notes I want him to sing. So I told Roger to say him: "We have to fire you, we're sorry, but that's it", and bought him tickets for the plane. At that time, I appointed Roger responsible for working out stuff like that.
Don Airey told me that after Peter you've tried another vocalist, whom you liked very much, but you also fired him, because you thought he was too nice.
Ritchie: I don't remember that. After Peter, we listened to four or five more vocalists, so I don't know which of them he's talking about. I really liked Peter, but right before we wanted to start recording I found out that he couldn't take the upper notes. Then I very quickly had to look for another singer. We listened to a lot of vocalists, among them were very strange personalities. The guy from Krokus... What was his name?
No, Don was talking about a certain Ralph Thompson.
Ritchie: I don't remember that. But If I really said that, then, probably, it was sarcasm, something like: "In order to sing in our group, it's not enough just to be a good guy". I remember one time a big guy came to the audition in this French castle, who thought of himself as a great singer, and everyone was so afraid to tell him that he couldn't sing at all. (laughs) He sang two songs, and it was terrible, but he had some illness, so we were totally afraid to tell him about it, even Roger refused to talk to him about it (laughs)... Then Colin Hart did it in the end. We asked Colin to tell him that he wasn't the right guy and went to the bar. He was a big guy, with a very thick neck. Before that, he was serving in the navy. Did Don tell you anything about that? He likes to remember stories like that.
Don even worked with Jethro Tull, although he never really played with them. I think he played with every band in rock history (laughs). He's a great musician. However, I always thought his playing is missing something, especially when it came to improvising. You know, for instance, you immediately know that it's Jon Lord playing, or Ozzy Osbourne sings like Ozzy, but can that be said about Don? When Cozy Powell and myself were arguing whether he should join the group or not, Cozy said: "He's a wonderful musician, he's able to play anything you want him to."... But he's one of those guys who do a great job, but at the same time, there is something missing. There wasn't any character in his playing.
Don Airey was a member in a lot of groups…
Ritchie: I played in some of them myself (laughs). It’s like he knows everyone in the industry, his catalogue is so extensive. I don’t know of any group in which Don Airey hasn’t played yet (laughs). But he’s an excellent musician. He’s able to remember certain pieces, which everyone else forgets. For example, I didn’t remember that after Peter we had another singer for some time. However, at the time, we didn’t have a lot of time in the studio, so I needed to find another singer as soon as possible. When Roger asked Graham’s manager about his range, he was told that he would easily hit notes which the others couldn’t hit. Then I thought: “Wow, great!”, but the others weren’t very enthusiastic at first. When Roger asked Graham if he had any shortcomings, he was told: “No, no…”, and I expected to hear: “Yes…”. However, after six months, the strangeness began. Graham complained about an abdominal pain, and when we asked him what he had eaten that day, he said: “I didn’t eat anything”, and then he realized that it was just a famine (laughs). I think Graham has earned quite a lot of money in this genre, but he didn’t like rock music at all.
Candice: Maybe we should return to discuss our songs? “Way to Mandalay” is a song about Graham Bonnet (laughs)… It has two meanings. Mandalay means a spiritual journey, as well as the name of a city…
Ritchie: And the massage parlor (laughs).
Candice: In the UK there’s a place called Dartmoor. It’s a swampy terrain, and everyday there’s such a strong fog, so that it’s easy to get lost in it. When we travelled there, I saw this fog, and that’s when I developed the idea for the lyrics. What inspired you to write the music?
Ritchie: Graham Bonnet (laughs). My ancestors lived in Cornwall, near Dartmoor. From there comes the name “Blackmore”. The phrase “Misty Moor” in the lyrics of that song come from that foggy field in Cornwall. Cornwall used to belong to Wales, and there’s a lot of mystery in the air. For example, nearby there is Stonehenge, the local people are interested in such things. That’s where my roots are.
Candice: When we walked there, there was such a strong wind that we were literally knocked down by it, and nothing could be seen because of the fog.
Ritchie: You probably are experiencing the same now? (laughs) I can’t believe that you’re doing this interview with us after such a long flight from Japan. If I can also feel so good after arriving in Japan, I will be happy. (laughs)
The video for this song shows that Ritchie still doesn’t like to shoot videos (laughs).
Candice: We’ve shot it in a castle near Krakow, in Poland.
Ritchie: So, what are you talking about?
Candice: About the video, in which you almost don’t show yourself (laughs).
Ritchie: The woman who shot the video was full of piercings, from head to foot. She also wasn’t prepared in any way. When we asked her how many cameras we had, she answered that there was only one! Asked whether she had any idea what she was going to do, she replied: “No”. But she still insisted that I should get up at 8AM for filming. People from the record company were very disappointed when they the final clip, they said: “Where is Blackmore?”. I’ve heard on the phone that they were saying: “Ritchie is being moody and difficult again”. I was very pleased to hear that. (laughs)
Candice: Record companies are always telling us to shoot clips, but they don’t wanna spend any money on the production.
Ritchie: We always have big problems with that. The director said that she wants to make a video, but she had no plan! When I see that attitude in certain musicians in our band, I usually fire them. I will work together with people who are pleasant to me and are diligent, but I can’t work with people like that.
Did you enjoy playing the Salt Mine?
Ritchie: When we played there, I was going crazy. I've had 20 guitars with me, and they were all out of tune. The audience probably didn't even notice what was happening. All my guitars were out of tune, it was awful.
Candice: And we were attacked by some insects while we were playing...
Ritchie: The insects were flying right in front of me, and I couldn't concentrate on playing, so I had to endure their bites until the end of our performance. After all this, the polish promoters weren't happy with us, especially me. I've heard that one of them said that it was very difficult to work with Blackmore's Night. After these shows they stopped communicating with us.
Candice: Let's talk about "Spanish Nights"?
Candice: I just wanted to go to the next song.
Ritchie: I thought we would play Spanish Nights in Spain, but we didn't do it. Let's start with the negative side of that song. It's a good song, but the melody is based on Jewish motives. Didn't Graham tell you that? (laughs) He told me about it. (laughs) It's and old Jewish song. I had to play it in F-sharp key. At first I played it in another key. It was very easy to write on the guitar, but the key I wrote it in originally didn't really fit Candice's voice. So then we made a compromise and played it in F#. The song isn't easy to sing, it's very focused on the guitar. By the way, our current drummer has finally learned to play this song at the right pace. The British usually play anything, but not what's required of them. (laughs)
Candice: For some reason he couldn't keep up the tempo of the song. I watched a recording of one of our old concerts in Bulgaria, where Alex played drums, he comes from Columbia, and he played that song a lot better.
Ritchie: Now he works with Dido.
Candice: I think before he worked with Dido he worked with Eminem. I don't understand why does that, he's such a great musician.
Ritchie: When we stayed in European castles, he had a habit of stealing all sorts of things and taking them back home. Once he stole a whole bunch of glasses, and set them up as a tower. He put one glass on the other until it became so high that all glasses fell down and broke. He was an unpleasant person. Once we talked with him about God, and I told him that we actually don't know anything about God. And when we started to discuss historical events, he said: "You also don't know anything about that". And then, during another conversation about other topics, nobody knows anything about, he got drunk and said: "One thing I know for sure - If I jump off this balcony now, I'll land on the bushes", and he jumped from the balcony in room! It was pretty high, so I thought he was hurt. He was alive, but didn't look well. No one understood why he did it. I just told him that people don't know anything about God. I know very little about myself. People can't fly to Mars, and believe that everyone knows about God. Is Space infinite? Or if it has an end, then how does that look like? People are not able to answer even such simple questions. I think people are unable to understand certain things and because of that, Alex jumped out of the balcony (laughs). He's a very good drummer. However the problem was that he was constantly stealing things. Even when we stayed in once castle hotel in which the owners provided us with free accommodation, since they knew us well, he started looking for things which he could take back home. It was impossible to stop him! He enjoyed doing that. I wonder if he's still doing that now, working with Dido.
Candice: Malcolm learned to play Spanish Nights, listening to the recordings with Alex. It took him two and a half years to master this song! He's British, and he's a very straightforward style of playing. But now he finally learned to play it right, so we can return it to the program.
Your song "No Second Chance" is actually a very old song, right?
Ritchie: When I played this melody to Roger Glover, he thought it was a Jethro Tull song. It was sometime in 1979, I asked him if we could use this melody in any song. But the voice of Graham, Joe and later even Gillan wasn't really suitable for it. I wrote this music long before we recorded it with Blackmore's Night, and it's one of my favourite songs. I think Candice sang it very well.
Candice: It's a pity Joe didn't sing it.
Ritchie: The melody is a little bit similar to "Heavy Horses" by Jethro Tull.
Candice: I really like the lyrics.
By the way, since we're talking about Jethro Tull - their song "Rainbow Blues" also made it onto your last album...
Candice: I think it's one of the best Jethro Tull songs, but just a very few people have heard it. The text can also be interpreted in different ways.
Ritchie: It's a strange song in it's original form. Ian loves to write complicated songs, and I'm trying to make our music as simple as possible. All Jethro Tull members said that he just wants to record complicated things. It's his way of making music - but sometimes it seems that his songs are a little bit too complicated. I think he almost forgot how to compose a simple piece of music.
Candice: Next song "Waiting Just for You"... Recently we played this song at a wedding of my best friend. It was the first time I sang at a wedding, and I was more nervous than going on stage (laughs).
Ritchie: We played with Candice and her sister, it was very nice.
Candice: I think it was a very special day for my friend.
Ritchie: But Candice hasn't spoken to her since then. (laughs)
Candice: It's based on Clark's music.
Ritchie: Clark is a composer of the 17th-18th century. And now let's move on to the next song.
"16th Century Greensleeves" is one of your old songs...
Ritchie: I wrote it with Ronnie James Dio.
Was it the first song you wrote with Ronnie?
Ritchie: Yes. Hugh McDowell of ELO played on the cello. Hugh was a close friend of mine. He taught me how to play the cello, and I invited him to play on our first album. I wanted to record that song with Deep Purple, but for some reason, that didn't happen. Then later I recorded it with Ronnie, but that was already the beginning of the end of Deep Purple. I thought: "Why should I play with these egoists, that the other Deep Purple guys were at the time, if I can play with friends, who want to do the same music as I want to play?". When I met Ronnie for the first time I just asked him: "Do you want to record this song with me?" and he just said: "Yes, let's do it". It was so easy. In Deep Purple we had all these meetings , I was so tired of that.
Was it your first Renaissance-rock song?
Ritchie: Yes. At that time, I was already interested in Renaissance music. I sat down in 1974 to listen to Renaissance music for the first time. Before that, I was just interested in blues and rock music... When Ronnie asked me what this song should be about, I explained to him what I imagined this song to be. He immediately understood what I wanted, but didn't start singing until he had ideas for the text. But when he started to sing, he sang exactly what I wanted to hear. For the other singers I always had to sing the melodies myself.
You've also recorded a new song called "Once in a Million Years".
Candice: It's one of my favourite songs. That's how we wrote it: We have a satellite dish installed at home, so Ritchie can watch German television. American music channels are always playing the same stuff. So we mostly watch the music channels of other countries, and one day on a German channel we saw a woman sing a beautiful song. It had a very strong and touching melody. She sang it in German, the entire programme was in German, and her name wasn't mentioned anywhere. That was back in 1998, right?
Ritchie: That's right.
Candice: After that, we started asking fans in Germany whether they know this melody. But no one knew which song it was. Not knowing who wrote it, we couldn't record it without the permission of the authors... A few months ago, Ritchie saw this woman again on the same channel. He recognized her immediately. Then I wrote down her name, and found out on the internet that she had released several albums. I was hoping that this song was on one of these albums, so I bought them all. And on the first one of her records we found this song that we had been searching for so many years. The melody is amazing. It's a romantic song, and it's perfect for weddings.
So what kind of set are you going to play in Japan?
Candice: It's a secret. (laughs)
Ritchie: The same as in Europe.
How did you spend this year?
Candice: We had some concerts in America. Now it's time to prepare for the European tour. At the beginning of the year we worked with Pat Regan. In addition to recording "Once in a Million Years" and the new version of "All Because of You", I also re-recorded the vocals for "Ghost of a Rose" and "Now and Then", and we also recorded three Christmas songs.
Ritchie: That was very interesting. Everything turned out just fine. I'm very critical of my own work, but I really like these three Christmas songs. Sometimes I think that I could have done better on many of recorded songs. Listening to my own music, I often get angry, because I'm so critical with myself. But, strangely enough, I'm very pleased with how I recorded "Christmas Eve", "Emmanuel" and "We Three Kings". Maybe it's because I was drunk, or I have reached a certain age at which I can work normally in the studio (laughs). I play music to get pleasure from it, but sometimes it's very difficult to reach that. Have you heard these songs yet?
Ritchie: "Christmas Eve", which we wrote ourselves, could be a number 1 hit on the British Radio, if the DJ's wouldn't know which kind of group we are, and that it's my music. If they see that I'm playing it, they will never play it on the radio, but that's how it is. It's a catchy song. I developed it from a guitar riff, and it all went very well. In this song there's not even one fragment that I would like to change. These songs were very pleasant to record. Many times I leave the studio being angry. (laughs) But when I finished the recordings of these three songs, I thought that "Christmas Eve" is good enough to compete with the songs of The Beatles. So that means that I'm very pleased with it! (laughs) "We three Kings" and "Emmanuel" are very old Christmas songs. People listened to such songs back in the 18th Century.
Are you going to put these songs on a new album?
Ritchie: I don't know what will happen to these songs.
Candice: We don't know yet. Maybe we'll put them on the next album, or we'll release it on DVD. Now we are discussing the possibility of releasing a DVD, I hope that will work out.
Ritchie: It's not easy to release a full-length DVD. SPV doesn't want to release something like that.
Candice: It's very difficult to convince them to release a DVD. Now we are negotiating with Yamaha to shoot one of the concerts in Japan for release.
Ritchie: Is it not better to shoot one of the concerts in a castle?
Candice: We need to convince them to shoot one of our concerts in a European castle.
Ritchie: Because our music is mostly based on European culture.
Candice: It would also be better from a visual aspect.
Ritchie: I can't imagine that we'll record a concert in an ordinary room in Japan. For a DVD we should record a concert in a castle.
Candice: SPV didn't want to release a DVD for quite a long time, because we constantly change our musicians. (laughs)
Ritchie: I don't think that releasing a DVD is such a big problem. Luckily, we don't have to worry about DVD sales, since I finance this group with my own money, and the revenues from it don't go to outside managers. Thus, being the only investor in the group, I don't have to work for someone. If I would sign contracts with large companies, I probably would have to do things I don't like. But thanks to the internet we have more opportunities. You can freely search for music that you like. Music should be natural. I don't want to release albums or give concerts just for the sake of profit. That's why I don't want to release anything, if I'm not happy with it. It's wonderful to be able to present music to fans, which isn't controlled by the record company.
Our magazine has it's 20th anniversary this year. Looking back, how do you feel about the last 20 years?
Ritchie: 20 years ago was 1984... At that time I was still playing with Rainbow, but my manager came up to me and asked: "What do you think about a Deep Purple reunion?". Rainbow then just started getting big in the US, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back to Deep Purple. However, his proposal embarrassed me, and I agreed. It was my laziness, it had nothing to do with creativity. At that time, Rainbow had the opportunity to become more popular than Deep Purple, but I did it anyway. It was only about money. Various companies offered us contracts. I was tempted by them to do it, isn't that awful? I did it only for the sake of money... So, in 1984 I returned to Deep Purple.
But you wrote some great songs.
Ritchie: Of course, we came up with songs like "Perfect Strangers". But the idea for that was already written back in Rainbow. We just didn't have the time to turn it into a full song. "Knocking at your back door" was also a song I already had written back in Rainbow, but I didn't use it at the time.
After that, you recorded two albums, and then replaced Ian Gillan with Joe Lynn Turner. But didn't you have any thoughts by then to leave Deep Purple yourself?
Ritchie: Yes, I had. Everyone thought after the first album we would split up again, but I liked what we did, so I decided to record another album with them. The second album was a big setback. Everything went wrong, then we re-recorded it, and it got worse, the band completely lost the enthusiasm. And the problems started... Ian lost his voice, and I thought that if I wanted to carry on properly, we should find a new singer. That's why we replaced him with Joe. I admired him for his singing and was confident that he would come up with great ideas. The other guys also agreed. You know, Joe is a real singer, not just a screamer. I really enjoyed writing Slaves and Masters. In America, people didn't like it, but I love it! Everyone has his own opinion. I learned to listen to my own thoughts. People can't even agree about the weather. One says it's good, and the other one says it's bad, so it's important to make up your own opinion. And I think that Slaves and Masters is a great album in comparison with a lot of our other records.
Instead of Joe, Jimi Jamison should take the vocal part first, right?
Ritchie: That's right. He came to the audition, sang only two songs, but we were all immediately amazed of his voice. We just asked him: "Jimi, please join us!", and then went out to drink and celebrate him joining the band. A few days later his managers said that he couldn't join us, because they were planning to put up a solo career for him. We were shocked! He really could sing anything. He sang in a similar style as Joe, but his voice was better. But it didn't work. Jimi had a beautiful voice, and he was very angry himself that he wasn't allowed to join us. When was that?
Somewhere in 1989.
Ritchie: After that we got Joe. But all of us wanted to work with Jimi Jamison. He had the best voice. A strange story. All of us listened to his voice and were sure that he would be the new guy. We were so angry when we heard the response from his management. He sang only two songs, but that was enough. One of them was "Going Down" I think. He told us that he was sick at the time, and asked: "Is it okay If we leave it at that for today?". But that wasn't a problem, as he had already convinced us. So I was very upset about the whole thing. It was like in 1974, when we asked Paul Rodgers to join us, but that didn't work out either. At one point Paul refused to join us. Someone told a newspaper that he would be our new vocalist. He read about it, became very angry and refused to join us.
But then Paul Rodgers was about to sing in Bad Company.
Ritchie: It turned out that he decided to sing in another group, but initially he wanted to join us. It was the same with Jimi Jamison. Paul Rodgers is an amazing singer. We were a straight hard-rock band, but I thought that Paul was able to bring blues elements into our music. I remember that he listened to "Highway Star" and said: "Sorry guys, but I can't sing like that".
Why don't you record a blues album with Paul Rodgers or Jimi Jamison?
Ritchie: Right now, I have Candice, so that's no longer necessary.
I meant outside of Blackmore's Night...
: Blackmore's Night has a mystical and easy sound. Paul Rodgers sings the blues. We create moonlight music - it's much harder than playing in a blues band. It would be very easy for me to put together a blues band. But not so many musicians are able to play "Shadow of the Moon" for example. It could have been sung by Maggie Reilly - she's Candice's biggest rival for me. She has a beautiful voice. With Mike Oldfield she sang like an angel. Her voice is higher than Candice's, there's something mysterious about it. There are just a few singers who possess this mystery. Candice can sing in a mystical style, but also hard rock. Paul Rodgers sings blues only, his voice doesn't have that mystical element. In addition, he's also a complicated person, like me, so I think that we wouldn't have fit together anyway. (laughs) When I first heard Bad Company, I was amazed, I was really touched by this music. In different periods of my life I listened to different music. At first I was impressed when I heard "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix, then Vanilla Fudge... And when I first heard Bad Company, I recognized the singer immediately. Of course, it was Paul Rodgers. Free wasn't one of my favourite bands. It was a good band, but their songs were a little bit too simple. Sometimes blues music can be very boring. But when it's played with feeling, it's fine.
If Paul Rodgers would have become a member of Deep Purple, would Burn be a completely different album?
Ritchie: No, it would be the same. I think nothing would have changed, except that I probably would have had a big fight with Paul Rodgers. (laughs)
The last 20 years... Did they pass quickly or slowly for you?
Ritchie: Very quickly, especially after I met Candice. Musically, I switched to mystical music. It was great to finally meet someone with the same kind of mindset. She understood what I was searching for. When I played in Deep Purple, the focus of most discussions was money. When I wanted to play acoustic music under the moonlight, I had to play Smoke on the Water again. Trees, the moon, birds... Try to talk about something like that with Ian Paice... He will only say: "Are you nuts?" (laughs) I'm happy that I met Candice. With her, I can talk about the moon and the trees. Recently, many Europeans and Americans, especially women, have started to go crazy about such mysterious music. Women do understand these mysterious feelings that the moon causes much better. I like pseudo-renaissance music, like Enya or Mike Oldfield, too. Do you know the song Moonlight Shadow from the 80ies? In Japan, it wasn't very popular, but it's just a beautiful song. When I heard it, I thought: "I also wanna play such music!"
Which Blackmore's Night songs are your favourites?
Ritchie: It's hard to say. Sometimes we go to a local bar and it happens that they play "Shadow of the Moon". When I hear it, I think: "Great song!". Maybe it's because it all started with that, but I think that "Shadow of the Moon" is one of my favourite songs. When I wrote this song, I just felt good. I had a lot of ideas when we started this project, which I've collected during our gatherings under the moon. The Rainbow songs are very melodic, they can easily be integrated into our sound. Candice sings these songs excellently. But If I would have to choose our best album, then I would say Shadow of the Moon or Fires at Midnight. But I can't listen to my own albums, if not at least two years have passed since they've been recorded.
Candice, which songs of Ritchie's musical output do you like the most?
Candice: I have a lot of favourites... It's hard to choose, because there are so many different vocalists, too. I think his best song was "Perfect Strangers".
Ritchie: For "Perfect Strangers" I just wrote the music, Gillan wrote the lyrics and the vocal melody. He did a great job!
Candice: I also like "Miss Mistreated". I like "Mistreated", but I prefer "Miss Mistreated". And I also like the first Rainbow album. Ritchie thinks Paul Rodgers is the best rock singer, but for me the best voice in rock is Ronnie James Dio.
Ritchie, and what are your own favourites?
Ritchie: Deep Purple "In Rock" is one of them. We recorded a lot of good songs at the time, although the record was pretty short. But most of all I like "Machine Head". I don't really like the albums from the Made in South America series (laughs).
Candice: I also like "Wasted Sunsets".
Ritchie: Another song I wrote. It's based on Chopin's music. Also I have a lot of memories of the recording of Rainbow's album "Long Live Rock n Roll" in a French castle. We stayed there for about two months, and it seemed like we were taken to the army. In the district were only a few local cafes. There wasn't a lot around. So most of the time we just stayed in that castle got drunk and started playing. It was fun. We didn't have our women with us at the time, and I think that made it a little bit difficult. Because if we had a disagreement, they would be there to cool things down. So our women were actually a very important of the band. (laughs)
Candice: It's difficult to manage a group. Married musicians don't want to leave their children, wives, dogs, cats at home... By the way, I changed my mind. My favourite of his songs is "Stone Cold" (laughs). Thank you very much.
Ritchie: Thank you for dropping in. (laughs)
© BURRN - October 2004