This interview were done on location by Tommy Vance in November 1984, when Purple were rehearsing for the world tour in Bedford, UK. They appeared on the B-side of the limited edition "Perfect Strangers"/"Knocking At Your Backdoor" 12" single.
Tommy Vance ran the Friday Rock Show from the late seventies to (I think) 1991 on BBC Radio One. Later it was moved to a Sunday evening slot, re-titled simply The Rock Show (with the catchphrase "TV on the radio!"). Tommy then left BBC for Virgin AM and VH-1.
Tommy Vance has been one of the oldest, most experienced broadcasters in British radio, starting out on pirate radio in the 60's, he's also done a stint as compere at Top Of The Pops, and last I heard he now works at VH-1. Great guy, big Purple fan, he always kept broadcasting BBC sessions and stuff in the 80's, plus he's the first guy Ian Gillan phoned up in April 1984 to tell about the reunion.
TV:What is the attraction of the bass guitar for a man such as yourself, because you're also a writer, and they don't normally write on the bass guitar?
RG: I don't write on the bass guitar. It's funny because bass guitar is something I've never taken seriously. I never actually think of myself as a bass player. And I know that's what I kind of got lucky with, but I've never worked at it, I've never practised much. Much to Ritchie's disgust 'cause he's a practiser. And he always used to say to me: 'If you worked at it you'd be much better', you know.
My attitude to that is that I'm as good as I can be, this is what I do naturally, and I've got no pretentions to be the greatest bass player in the world. In fact I get very embarrassed when people come up to me and say: 'Oh you're a great bass player', and I'm going: 'I'm sorry, you're wrong! You don't know what you're talking about.' Because I don't try at it! What's more important to me is to write and try to have an input on other levels other than just being a musician.
TV: It was always said of you, during the Deep Purple years, that you were the man that would be at the back of the control room, watching the engineer, watching the producer all the time.
RG: I think the production side of it has more to do with personality. It's strange that there are more bass players that make producers than any other instrumentalist...
TV: But of everybody in Deep Purple, you are the guy with the most production experience, you are the guy who's produced this album. For a while, lots of names were banded around, lots of them, which I could never quite understand because I always thought: Hang about! In the line-up there's a producer there already with incredible and enormous experience!
RG: In that very first meeting that we had, we covered a lot of points. We kind of had an agenda, and we kind of had an agenda. And we said: 'Are we gonna do it?', that was the first thing, 'Yes we're gonna do it'. 'If we're going to do it, how are we going to do it? Where are we going to record? Who's going to be the manager?', all this kind of stuff, and somewhere down on the agenda was the producer. And at this point I said: 'Well I'd like to make a statement at this point, I'd like to say that we all know that I've been the producer of all of us, I've had a lot of experience. But I don't want to do this album!
This is a reunion of what we were, and I think for me to suddenly stand up and start giving orders around or at least giving my advice or helping or whatever, I'd feel a little uncomfortable about that.' It was also that I felt a hell of a responsibility on my shoulders, and if it turned out really badly it would give everybody a kind of scapegoat. And I was a bit worried about that because I wasn't a 100 percent sure it was going to work when we first started. And so I said: 'I think we should get either an independent producer or we should all do it'. And as it turned out we decided all to do it.
And at the first couple of sessions we did, Ritchie was doing his first overdub and he said: 'Rog, do you wanna come in and help?' Sure. And then Jon Lord said the same thing, and of course Ian Gillan and I were writing the lyrics together. So consequently I became involved in the performing of those lyrics. And it was after about a week that Ritchie said to me: 'It's going to be difficult for you not to produce, isn't it?' And already I'd fallen into the role, I mean completely unconsciously. I could not stay out of the control room! So by kind of unspoken consent, I became the producer, against my wishes! But having done it I felt really good about it.
TV: Of the tracks that are available on the album, which one would you like me to play Roger?
RG: My favourite track on the album is Perfect Strangers. I don't know whether anyone knows this in the band, but to me that is one of the greatest tracks I've been involved with, either writing or producing or playing. It does something to me that is quite magic.
Tommy Vance, BBC November 1984