"How Recovery Helped RICKY BYRD Navigate the Pandemic" - an insightful new interview now live on ASCAP.com
November 11, 2021
How Recovery Helped This Creator Navigate the Pandemic
This article is brought to you as part of the ASCAP Wellness Program.
Since making landfall in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has lorded over us like a menacing storm spanning far and wide, merciless and indiscriminate. But in March 2020, New York City was its lightning rod. For the first couple of weeks, residents of the Big Apple quite literally didn’t know what had hit them, and by the time they did, it was already too late for many.
“Last March in New York was scary,” says Ricky Byrd, an ASCAP member and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer best known for his decade spent as a guitarist and backup vocalist for legendary rock band Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Byrd likens those first few weeks to a Steven Spielberg movie: “There were sirens everywhere, people were dying, there were morgue trucks…I remember sitting on the couch and thinking, ‘Man, I am so grateful I am not that person anymore.’”
He’s referring to Ricky Byrd, the addict. That version of Byrd hasn’t existed for about 34 years, but the Ricky Byrd of today – the “Recovery Troubadour,” as he’s become known for his unique brand of recovery-centric music – is confident he wouldn’t have made it this far in life, and certainly not nearly two years into the pandemic.
Ironically, however, it’s his hard-earned pivot from that self-destructive version of himself, now long gone, that Byrd credits with the resilience and tactical toolkit that he possesses today and has found particularly useful in navigating the pandemic with confidence, composure and event contentment.
Ditching drugs and alcohol 34 years ago wasn’t easy, but it prepared Byrd for every challenge he has faced since, including this one. “When the pandemic hit, I went into ‘recovery automatic,’” he says, describing a sort of psychological autopilot setting that kicked into gear when things started to get rough last year.
It’s easy for Byrd to imagine how the pandemic could have gone the other way for him, had he not had the confidence to seek recovery nearly four decades ago.
“I can imagine convincing myself and my family that I’ll be back in 15 minutes,” he says, referring to making a drug run, “even though we’re in this freakin’ movie where you don’t want to even see anybody. I remember, we were washing cans every time we went to the market, yet I could imagine convincing myself that it was fine. That’s how I would have thought as an addict. You justify stuff that you do, in spite of knowing the consequences. Even though you didn’t want to leave your house and people were so sick – and dying. I was just so grateful that that wasn’t me anymore. I would not be here today, for sure.”
Of course, Ricky Byrd is here today, in all his glory and then some – louder, badder and shredding harder than ever. “My guitar playing got so much better when I got clean,” he says. “I got more consistent, and I wanted to learn again.” For evidence, look no further than Byrd’s most recent release, Sobering Times. “The lyrics speak to addiction, recovery, hope and inspiration,” Byrd says. And for anyone in need of recovery or interested in not only its life-saving potential but its life-proofing benefits, simply read on.
How Recovery Helped Ricky Byrd Navigate the Pandemic
1. It taught him that he didn’t have to struggle in silence
Similar to this pandemic, ubiquitous as it is, recovery can be a challenging, personal and sometimes isolating process. However, also not unlike the pandemic, recovery is something that many of us are going through together, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
Putting his recovery out in the open for all to see was instrumental in helping Byrd get to a place of consistent sobriety. As he puts it, “I got high in front of everybody, didn’t I?”
Byrd’s megaphone of choice was the one he already knew well – his music – and his recovery-focused songs and albums – like Sobering Times and 2017’s Clean Getaway – have since inspired countless others to follow his lead along the path to getting sober.
So when the pandemic took hold and the country went into lockdown, he knew that this was not a battle he needed to fight alone. Almost immediately, he joined a Zoom group that took place at noon every single day. “I just fell in love with it,” he says. “There were a lot of different kinds of people in there, and I wound up going to that meeting every freaking day for maybe the first seven months of this thing.”
“I became part of the group,” he says. “That was unbelievably helpful – to me, and maybe stuff that I said to the other people. It really carried me through the worst parts of this.”
2. It allowed him to rediscover childhood joy
As the haze of addiction cleared, Byrd’s true passions came back into focus. “Baseball is the only sport that I watch. Period,” he says.
Growing up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, Byrd found the sport at an early age and became instantly obsessed. “There’s just something about baseball,” he says. “People who don’t understand it, they watch it and they’re completely bored, but I understand the technique and what’s happening behind the scenes – and I love that.”
While the pandemic isn’t over yet, baseball is back and with every game he watches Byrd is transported out of this dark chapter and back to his childhood, along with the feeling that hooked him on America’s Pastime in the first place. “I think that is probably the most important thing,” he says. “I just sit there and then I’m 12 years old again, and nothing else matters for like three and a half hours.”
3. It showed him there’s more than one way to get to where you’re going
One of the most frustrating things about this pandemic is that it is not a problem with a simple solution, or even a single solution; from vaccines to masks to social distancing to all-out isolation, there are myriad ways to be safe and even more opportunities for missteps. But Byrd hasn’t thrown his hands in the air, because he’s learned that life rarely throws us a challenge with just one solution, including getting clean.
“There are 100 different ways to get sober,” he says. And switching to a wide-angle lens allowed Byrd to place his drug problem into context and see a new path forward.
“Someone suggested I focus on the alcohol instead of just the drugs, and I started thinking, ‘You know, every single time I drink I end up picking up other stuff; maybe if I cut the head off the snake, as they say in mob movies, I could fix this thing.’”
It’s one of the most important lessons he teaches today – that the last thing anyone should feel is pressure to recover in a specific way. “You want to go to church? You want to join a bowling league? Whatever works and makes it happen for you is the way to go,” he says. “Whatever keeps you on the right side of the grass.”
4. It taught him not to panic every time something unexpected happens
When Byrd thinks back to how he dealt with unexpected challenges in the fog of addiction, he shakes his head. “I had lousy coping skills back then. Panic mode,” he says. “I made a lot of decisions out of fear before I got into recovery, and that never works out well.”
He describes his outlook before recovery as always waiting for the other shoe to drop – fearing the inevitable, yet plowing ahead with his addictions nonetheless. He remembers living afraid of what was around the corner – especially in an industry like music, he says, which is “up and down and sideways.”
Thankfully, recovery changed all that, or at least the way he perceived that instability. “Over time, it taught me how to deal with things,” Byrd says. “Now I very rarely go into panic mode. I’ve grown to believe there may be something great around the corner.”
So when the pandemic threw Byrd, along with the rest of us, into deep, uncharted waters, he was ready to confront the challenge head-on. Simply put, he says, “I’ve been in training for this.” He doesn’t claim to have all the answers. But he’s learned to accept the things that are out of his control, and to take ownership of those that are within his reach.
“It’s a scary world to live in,” he says. “There’s a lot to be afraid of. But, with that said, you can’t have that rule your life, where you’re like a deer in the headlights and you’re afraid to do anything. If recovery taught me nothing else, it’s to keep my eyes and ears open, not panic, and realize that everything happens for a reason.”
5. It revealed that anything is possible when you take it one step at a time
When Byrd first started on his recovery journey, like anyone, he had a lot more questions than answers. Fortunately, he found an ally who would serve as a guiding voice through the early stages of his process. That said, the answers he received didn’t make a whole lot of sense, at least in the beginning.
“I’d ask, ‘What do I do?’ My guy that I was working with back then, he would always respond with, ‘Just do the next right thing.’ Do the next right thing? I’d ask, ‘What does that mean?’ And again, he’d say, ‘Just do the next right thing.’ I’d say, ‘Okay, I have no idea what you’re talking about. What is the next right thing?’ And then he’d say, ‘More will be revealed.’ I’d get so angry!”
“But the point is,” Byrd says, “more was revealed.”
The longer he stayed in recovery, the more he learned. “It’s just like you have to learn how to roll a joint or make a good martini,” Byrd explains. “You learn how to be in recovery.”
It’s an easy parallel to draw with the pandemic, and a lesson that has enabled Byrd to trust the process and appreciate the progress that is being made day by day. “Don’t expect everything to happen in one day,” he says. “Just keep doing the next right thing.”
ROGER GLOVER discusses DEEP PURPLE'S new album "Turning To Crime" with Forbes - read here!
November 26, 2021
Roger Glover On New Deep Purple Album ‘Turning To Crime’
Deep Purple released their 22nd studio album 'Turning to Crime,' a collection of 12 covers now available via earMUSIC ALBUM ART COURTESY OF EARMUSIC
With live performance off the table for nearly a year and a half amidst pandemic, and a pair of tours rescheduled, English hard rock stalwarts Deep Purple entered a remarkably creative stretch.
Today’s release of the new album Turning To Crime, the group’s 22nd, marks their second full length studio album in 15 months, a clip they haven’t recorded at since the early 70s.
While 2020’s Whoosh! was made up of original songs, Turning To Crime consists of covers, a ridiculously fun affair which puts a Deep Purple spin upon everyone from Ray Charles to Bob Seger.
The new collection of twelve tracks was born out of necessity. Deep Purple, who’ve sold more than 100 million albums, typically record together with new songs born out of live jam sessions. But amidst the quarantine of pandemic, getting together was difficult. This time around, producer Bob Ezrin presided over cuts which grew from demos recorded in home studios.
“The whole idea came about during the lockdown. We didn’t want to twiddle our thumbs or anything. What could we do?” said longtime Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover. “It was a challenge getting the sound. But Bob was a mastermind. When he did the mixes, he just made it sound as if we were all in the same room.”
I spoke with Roger Glover about recording Turning To Crime, putting a unique spin upon familiar songs and a February return to the road for Deep Purple. A transcript of our phone conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below.
Evolution is a word frequently associated with Deep Purple. Even on a project like this, the idea of tackling covers is a first for the group. How important is that idea of evolution to this band?
ROGER GLOVER: Evolution. Yeah, I guess we’re evolving all of the time. We’re living all of the time – day by day. And you can’t go backwards.
And it is a first for us. We’ve covered songs before of course. “Hush” was a cover. But doing an album of covers with the intent of messing with them and having a bit of fun with them is very new to us.
STERLING HEIGHTS, MI - AUGUST 04: Roger Glover of Deep Purple performs at Freedom Hill Amphitheater on August 4, 2015 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)
How did you guys go about selecting these songs?
RG: The whole idea came about during the lockdown. We didn’t want to twiddle our thumbs or anything. What could we do? We thought about having a jam like on Zoom or something like that – but that didn’t go down very well. And we couldn’t write songs. Because we don’t write songs for Purple. We just jam together. That’s where the songs are born really – coming out of the jams. But we’ve got to be together to jam. So we couldn’t write. Well, we’ll let other people do the writing. We’ll cover songs. Then all we’ve got to do is perform it.
So we started thinking. Bob Ezrin was our kind of conductor if you like. We had all sorts of conference calls. We all started giving ideas. We had about 50 ideas for things we could cover. But we weren’t just covering them straight. We wanted to add something to them, Purpleize them if you like.
So from those 50 songs we took a vote basically. We’re a very democratic band. And what you end up with is on the record.
I know you guys typically record together live. It sounds like that wasn’t possible this time around. How did the recording process work?
RG: We did it remotely. Once we’d chosen the songs, a few of us in the band did demos of them – me and Steve Morse and Don Airey. We sat down with a drum machine and a couple of keyboard or guitar parts, or whatever it may be, and did a very basic demo – which kind of went into a pool in Nashville governed by Bob Ezrin and he farmed it out to all of the people that needed to put solos on or this that and the other. Since we’ve all got home studios – in this day and age your computer is a home studio – that’s how we did it. And it took quite a while to do it.
The one person who didn’t have a home studio was Ian Gillan. So somehow we had to find a studio somewhere where we could do all of the vocals once all of the backing tracks were done. After several attempts, and with no travel, we couldn’t really do anything. Finally, Bob Ezrin called up Peter Gabriel on the phone and we got a studio in England. It was a home studio in a way, it just wasn’t Ian Gillan’s home studio that’s all. But I flew over to England in April and met Ian Gillan. Four days in the studio and we banged out all of the vocals very quickly.
It was a challenge getting the sound. But Bob was a mastermind. When he did the mixes, he just made it sound as if we were all in the same room.
I remember Ian Paice telling me that Whoosh! came together pretty quickly, that it was recorded in like six weeks. How long did this album take?
RG: Well, a lot longer. Once you’ve done the demo, you’ve got to wait for a couple of weeks at least – guitar parts are coming in and keyboard parts are coming in. So it took probably about six months.
We did kind of have a deadline. We wanted it out really this past summer – because it’s kind of a summery album. It’s upbeat and fun. But that couldn’t happen because of the slowdown of the pandemic again.
Obviously, some of the songs on this album are songs with which fans have a certain level of familiarity and are accustomed to hearing a certain way. How do you go about taking songs like that and really make them your own?
RG: By using your imagination really. We have a great respect for the originals – because it’s the song. That’s the way it was born. But the other part is playing with it – and we do that with love.
Steve and Don did some amazing arrangements. I remember when I first heard Steve’s version of [Fleetwood Mac’s] “Oh Well.” It’s pretty similar to the original recording —and then suddenly he goes off into space. It was like, “Wow!” And that’s really what we were trying to do.
Not all of the songs are quite as severe as that. Take “Watching the River Flow.” I was doing “Watching the River Flow” and I didn’t really want sort of the bluesy version that Bob Dylan did with Leon Russell. I just wanted a different kind of feel to it. And I just hit on that.
Actually, I kind of wanted it to be a sort of ska beat. I thought that would be pretty original. But Paicey said, “I’m not playing ska. Sorry.” He plays what he plays. But it’s great. It was a lot of fun to do, I have to say.
“Oh Well” and [Huey “Piano” Smith’s] “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Plus some Freddie King in the closing medley. There’s definitely some bluesy moments on this record. Was there a concerted effort to sort of flex that muscle, showcase that element of the band?
RG: The blues is definitely there. Rock and roll is based on it. You can’t get away from it. But, no, we didn’t think of anything like that. We just picked songs that were close to us or that we liked very much. There’s some emotional moments. There’s some moments from our history.
We were all born in the 40s and 50s. So the early part of rock and roll is all a great part of it. And what happened after that, from The Beatles and Stones to west coast music, there was a huge kind of fantastic glut of brilliant songs coming out. And they get to you. Once you hear something like that, they get stuck in you – they’re in your bloodstream.
Things like [Little Feat’s] “Dixie Chicken.” And “Rockin’ Pneumonia.” All of those Love songs. I used to play Love songs before I joined Purple. Very into Love. And there’s a skiffle song there. I know in America it was by someone else, but I had heard it by Lonnie Donegan – “The Battle of New Orleans.” Which is maybe an odd pick for a rock band to play but it’s fun. Why not?
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: (L-R) Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, and Roger Glover of Deep Purple pose with Lars Ulrich of Metallica on stage in the press room at the 31st Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
You’ve said that word fun now a couple of times. This album just sounds fun. When I hear you guys start jamming on something like Ray Charles, it’s just fun. Was Turning To Crime as fun to make as the finished product sounds?
RG: Yeah. Yeah, it’s great.
The thing is, when you’re working to a drum machine or a click track, it’s very easy to get too precise. And the thing that I think is really nice about this album – and Don especially – it’s very loose. He sounds almost like he’s doing a warmup track – but it’s the finished track. It’s not perfect. But that’s what makes it so… happy I guess. That’s a funny word to use, happy.
Well, as best I can tell, the last Deep Purple concert took place March 14, 2020 in Mexico. You guys have dates coming up finally in February running through most of 2022. How excited are you to get back on stage?
RG: Yeah, I’m gonna wear a piece of wood around my neck and wonder what it’s for, you know?
Doing the covers album really actually got us playing a bit more. I’m not one to practice. Practicing bass on my own is not much fun. We’re the kind of band where if you give us a day to warm up, we’ll be fine.
We’re hoping there will be a lot of touring next year. The last two years’ worth of tours have been rebooked. So we’ll be around Europe in the summer doing festivals and stuff. From about May or June through the end of the year, we’re pretty busy. Which is good. Keep your fingers crossed.
IAN PAICE tells ABC Audio that DEEP PURPLE'S new album "sounds like five guys in a room having fun" - read it here!
December 1, 2021
Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice says band's new covers album "sounds like five guys in a room having fun"
This past week, British hard-rock legends Deep Purple released their first album of cover tunes, a 12-track collection titled Turning to Crime.
Founding drummer Ian Paice tells ABC Audio that impetus behind the project was the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept the band from touring and from working together on new music in a studio.
"So what do you do? You just can't sit on your a** all day long, all month long, all year long," Paice notes. "And if you can't get together with your pals to write new music, then play some old music…and choose pieces which were important to you for different reasons."
Paice says the band members settled on the tunes democratically, and recorded the album remotely.
"I was worried at first that it would sound like five guys in different parts of the world, but it doesn't," Ian admits. "It sounds like five guys in a room having fun. And once I realized it was gonna have that collective feel, I was really happy with just getting the project as good as we could get it."
Turning to Crime features Deep Purple putting its own spin on such songs as the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac gem "Oh Well," Bob Dylan's "Watching the River Flow," Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken," Cream's "White Room" and more.
Paice says "Dixie Chicken" was one of the songs he picked, noting, "I love the band, but also, [I'm a] great fan of [drummer] Richie Hayward…[He's], just a feel-groove merchant."
Ian also was quite happy with Deep Purple's version of "Oh Well."
"I think [guitarist] Steve [Morse] did a wonderful job," he says. "He married…the Peter Green bit with a bit of Jeff Beck-ism at the end."
Here's the album's full track list:
"7 and 7 Is"
"Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu"
"Jenny Take a Ride!"
"Watching the River Flow"
"Let the Good Times Roll"
"Shapes of Things"
"The Battle of New Orleans"
"Caught in the Act" (Medley: "Going Down"/"Green Onions"/"Hot 'Lanta"/"Dazed and Confused"/"Gimme Some Lovin'")
IAN GILLAN chats with Ultimate Classic Rock about DEEP PURPLE'S "Turning To Crime" album - read here!
November 26, 2021
Deep Purple's first big hit was a cover — Joe South's "Hush" back in 1968 — and they've recorded a few others over the years. But the thought of a full covers album wasn't on any of their minds when producer Bob Ezrin introduced the concept during the pandemic's early stages, resulting in the new Turning to Crime.
"There was a conference call one day, and Bob said, 'I've got an idea,'" singer Ian Gillan tells UCR. "He said, 'You can't get together to write. Why not get together just to play?,' meaning virtually. And we were all like. 'Hmmm ... .' Gradually a few tapes were sent around and we started adding our parts, and the whole thing came together very quickly. It was no effort at all."
It did take a little convincing, however. "We had a long discussion about this," Gillan recalls. "You can never improve on an original, so it's a challenge. But Deep Purple primarily is an instrumental band. It always has been. The music comes first to us. So the songs we selected were songs we could Purple-ize. I think I wasn't looking at it that way, but the guys were, and I'm so glad they did. It was really a chance for the guys to stretch out a bit after all those months locked up.
"Including renditions of Love's "7 and 7 Is" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well," with videos for both, Turning to Crime comes just 15 months after Deep Purple's most recent studio album, Whoosh! — their quickest turnaround since the mid-70s. Gillan says about 50 songs were considered and ultimately whittled to the final dozen, adding with a chuckle, "I'm very pleased that not one of mine was chosen for the final choice."
What will surprise many fans is the album's range; Hard-rocking tracks such as Cream's "White Room," Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" or Bob Seger's "Lucifer" — even Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels' "Jenny Take a Ride" — are perfectly in character, but the likes of Huey "Piano" Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken," Louis Jordan's brassy "Let the Good Times Roll" and Jimmy Driftwood's "The Battle of New Orleans" are nothing any Purple devotee would expect to hear from the group.
"When I joined Deep Purple [in 1969], I left what was called a harmony group, or a West Coast harmony group, into what became a hard-rock group, a heavy rock group, a heavy metal group," Gillan remembers. "Everyone was fixated on having a damn label for everything. We never signed up for that. All of that music, across the board, we thought of as rock. Anything that was not Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra, it was rock. There was grown-up music and kids music, that was it. And [rock] was kids’ music. So everything on [the album] is what we would consider rock."
Well, almost everything.
"I think [drummer] Ian Paice had a few worries about 'The Battle of New Orleans,'" Gillan says with a laugh. "But Roger and I used to sing that song in a balled called Episode Six back in the '60s. [Guitarist] Steve Morse, being American, was like, 'How can you guys sing a song about the British getting beaten by the Americans?' I said, 'I know you wouldn't do that, Steve.' [Laughs] You've got to understand that British humor; we laugh at everything, including ourselves — and particularly ourselves. It's just a great song, so we had a lot of fun doing it."
Also of interest is the album-closing "Caught in the Act" medley, which features bits of the Jeff Beck Group's "Going Down," Booker T. & the MG's' "Green Onions," the Allman Brothers Band's "Hot 'Lanta," Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" and the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'." "That’s just an example of what we do when we come back on for the encore," says Gillan. "Don Airey starts playing a tune; nobody knows what it's gonna be, and that's the fun. Sometimes it's two songs, sometimes it's six. There's no plan. We just go through, and it's a bit of fun. So [the medley] was Bob's idea: 'Do that thing you do onstage.'"
Watch Deep Purple's 'Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu' Video
Gillan says that a second volume of Turning to Crime is not out of the question — possibly, he adds, as something that could be done between studio albums. Right now, however, Deep Purple are looking forward to getting back on the road, with dates currently planned on the Rock Legends Cruise in February out of Florida, then Europe during the rest of the year, with Asia and Australia following in 2023. Nothing is planned for the Machine Head album's 50th anniversary next year ("We've done that about six times already," Gillan notes), but it's clear that Deep Purple are no longer saying the "long goodbye" professed a few years back.
"That was a bit of a dodgy moment," says Gillan, who also used the pandemic lockdown to write a book, although he's not yet saying whether it's a memoir or something else. "We were at the end of our relationship with our manager at the time, and two or three of us weren't very well, had illnesses and operations and stuff. All kinds of crazy things were suggested about gimmicks to promote a tour. Someone said, 'If we make it the farewell tour, everyone will think it's the last tour.' None of us liked the idea, but there was pressure from the office. So we said, 'Let's call it the Long Goodbye, and that leaves it open-ended.'
"But it's not ending after all," he adds. "We're not going anywhere — yet."
ROGER GLOVER discussed new DEEP PURPLE album "Turning To Crime" with Bravewords
November 26, 2021
ROGER GLOVER ON NEW DEEP PURPLE ALBUM - RITCHIE BLACKMORE WOULD “EITHER THINK IT WAS BRILLIANT OR AWFUL”
“Don’t tempt me,” chuckles Roger Glover, on what Ritchie Blackmore would think of Turning To Crime, the band’s new covers album. “I’m not going to talk about that. You know, who knows? He’d either think it was brilliant or awful. So there you go.”
Then again, The Man in Black hasn’t been in the band for close to 30 years, having been replaced by Steve Morse, who can count this trip down memory lane as his eighth studio album with the band. But of course it’s got an asterisk next to it because it’s Purple doing “Jenny Take a Ride” and “Oh Well,” an old Bob Seger called “Lucifer” and more old classics until we get to a medley called “Caught In The Act” where we hear… even more very old classics.
“Because we’re a band of musicians, not just hard rockers,” reflects Roger, on the surprise batch of songs the band picked to make black and blue and purple. “You know, our reputations belie the fact that you can actually do other things. And I guess we’re lucky enough to have a band that can we really play well. It all comes down to music. We’re musicians first. We’re not sort of pranksters thinking about the stage or picking songs based on what other people want. We’ve always kind of gone out of our way to be ourselves. And all that music is what we grew up with. And even Lonnie Donegan, skiffle, that’s represented in there. Ray Charles. There was no difference in music back then. Now it’s all, you know, genre, genre, genre. We’re multi-genre-ed to death; it’s crazy. But to us, music is music. A good song is a good song.”
The Purple guys definitely play well, which can be heard—and seen; there’s an excellent Youtube video of it—on the band’s cover of Love’s “7 And 7 Is.”
When asked why they picked that as the first single, Roger notes that, “the record company wanted a different song. But I felt that that was fresh enough and new enough and ferocious enough to grab attention. And I think I’m right. I still think I’m right. They wanted the Cream song, ‘White Room.’ Probably because it was a more well-known song. I think that’s what they were after: having something that might get some radio play or whatever. But I didn’t agree with that. ‘7 And 7 Is’ showed a sort of hard rock side to a song that very few people have heard. It’s been covered a few times, but still, not many people have heard it. In fact playing the album to people younger than myself, 20 or 30 years younger, or even ten years younger, they don’t recognize half the songs.”
Offering a bit of pushback, I note that people definitely have heard, many times, “White Room” and “Shapes Of Things” and “Oh Well.”
“Sure, except, I mean, I played it for someone the other day, and it was ‘Who did “Shapes Of Things?” I’ve never heard that.’ ‘It’s a very famous song. The Yardbirds.’ ‘Never heard of it.’ So unless you’re in the business, or in the business of really being into music, you know, loving music, it’s likely that when people are born in the ‘80s, or the ‘90s even, that they’ve got no idea what half of these things are. It’s all old-fashioned stuff to them. Not to us, but to them it’s still very fresh and maybe it’s an education for a few people. All the songs are very much part of our lives. ‘7 And 7 Is’… before I was in Purple in another band, we used to do Love songs on stage. It’s unusual writing. And that whole thing from the West Coast was an eye-opener, the San Francisco scene. But we had thought, well, should we do something from the last ten or 20 years? But nothing came to mind. I mean, yes, we are aware of stuff, but nothing came to mind. And what really came to mind were the songs we loved and became a part of us.”
Speaking of “Oh Well,” Roger, plunker of the fat strings in the band, cites this one when asked about favourite bass parts. “‘Oh Well’ was quite a challenge. Yes, I know the song is difficult enough anyway, but Steve did a demo for that and inserted a sort of phantasmagorical piece that required lots of scales. And I’m actually at heart a simple bass player. So he’d presented me with a lot of hard work to do. But having done it, I realized, you know, what he wrote was great.”
And it’s not surprising to see Little Feat covered here, Roger having been turned on to them by the guys in Nazareth. “Yes, they’d told me about them, basically. I hadn’t heard anything. And by that time I think they’d had Sailin’ Shoes out. And of course I absolutely fell in love with them. Later, I had been in a desperate mood one day, having fought with my then girlfriend—or wife; I can’t remember what year it was. And I was driving around London in an angry mood, having left the house, and I sat outside the Victorian Albert Museum with no place to go. This is two in the morning. And I just sat there in a depressed mood and I stuck this eight-track in that I’d just got: Dixie Chicken. And that song just blew me away and my depression lifted immediately. I went home, sorted everything out. So you know, that one has an emotional context to it for me.”
(Photo - Rene Tr)
Given how bluesy and traditional the album is—or let’s call it kind of boogie woogie, more like—I asked Roger who in the band is indeed most blues-adjacent.
“Well, Paicey is the jazzer. He kind of grew up with swing music. Which turned into jazz and therefore jazz and blues go together hand in glove. So I guess probably more so Paicey. Steve is certainly capable and Don is certainly capable. I played in blues bands. We’re all connected in a way. Maybe Ian Gillan is probably slightly less than anyone. It’s not that he doesn’t like it; it’s just a different style for him. But I don’t even know what blues is. You get to defining it and you get lost. It’s a happy album. That’s what I think about it. As I listen to it now, there’s a happiness about it. There’s a contentment. The whole idea was that we weren’t just going to copy songs. In some places we were going to add to them, put solos in them where they didn’t exist, do arrangements of the song. The song is still obviously what it is, but I like to say it’s Purple-ized. It was really an experiment to start with. We didn’t know if it would work, and after a song or two we realized we were onto something that was good.”
Turning To Crime is in fact a product of these Covid times, and for a pretty interesting reason that is quite unique to Deep Purple.
“Yes, well, we can work independently of each other in some form of another,” explains Glover. “We all have home studios. Well, home studio… a computer is your home studio. And I have a computer and ProTools and stuff like that. And so does Don and Steve and Ian Paice. Ian Gillan was the only one without a studio. So we waited until all the stuff was finished before we took four days and did all the vocals. And that was in a friend’s studio—Peter Gabriel’s private studio. Because Bob Ezrin knows him well, and he allowed us to use it.”
“But the problem is we can’t write together,” continues Roger, “and writing has to take place when we’re all face-to-face—it’s a group effort. So we can’t write songs… in fact, we don’t write songs—they just jam and they appear. So for a next record, being together to do that might be difficult. We don’t know. We’re planning on touring next year, but if that doesn’t happen, sure, we’ll be working on another album of some kind. Someone suggested recently we should do a trio of covers albums. I mean, who knows, it might be end up being that way. We have to be pliable. That’s all we can be.”
DEEP PURPLE'S "Turning To Crime" reviewed by Associated Press - read here!
November 22, 2021
New this week:
— Deep Purple have been covered plenty of times so it’s only natural that they turn the tables with “Turning to Crime,” their first-ever covers album. The band take on Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” and Ray Charles and Quincy Jones’ exuberant “Let the Good Times Roll.” Elsewhere, the band tackles Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow” and Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels “Jenny Takes a Ride!” The album is out Friday and fans can check out the video for the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.” The album finds the band in a well, purple, patch following the release just over a years ago of their 21st studio album, “Whoosh!”
ELMORE MAGAZINE on ERIC CLAPTON'S "The Lady In The Balcony": "This is the best album Eric has done since Derek and the Dominos, and is a must-have package for any music lover. Needless to say, Brit Eric Clapton has done his job in Saving American Music."
November 29, 2021
This stunning release is three great items in one package*: CD or vinyl music, DVD or Blu-ray video, and physical photo book.
Let’s start with the book.
The book is terrific—worth owning for any Eric Clapton fan. The same size as an LP, the 12 X 12 book contains photos of all the musicians in the session: Eric Clapton, Chris Stainton, Nathan East and Steve Gadd, as well as Melia Clapton. Boasting both individual and group shots, the photos were shot in both black and white and color, with natural light and unposed shots; overall the collection truly captures the session.
The video, available both in Blu-ray and DVD, takes things a bit further, giving you a little bit of chatter in the session, plus it give you a feel of Cowdray House, the Victorian country estate built in 1875. It gives you a fly-on-the-wall-experience to a lush environment far removed from the recording studio .
Last but certainly not least, the music. This session came about after Covid hit the UK in March of 2020 and both Clapton’s Royal Albert Hall show and his European tour were cancelled. What musicians want to do is play music. So, Eric put together his band and recorded this acoustic album with lone spectator, his wife Melia, aka The Lady in Balcony. The music is mostly Eric Clapton standards, “After Midnight,” “Layla,” Bad Boy,” “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Tears in Heaven,” “Key to Highway,” etc., 17 songs in all. However, the two songs that make the album for me are the two Peter Green compositions “Man of the World” and “Black Magic Woman.” They are both dedicated to Green, the man who replaced Clapton in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers band.
This is the best album Eric has done since Derek and the Dominos, and is a must-have package for any music lover. Needless to say, Brit Eric Clapton has done his job in Saving American Music.
*2 LP yellow vinyl, deluxe DVD+BD+CD photobook, digital video and digital audio
ROGER GLOVER discusses "Turning To Crime" with Bass Magazine
December 22, 2021
Throughout their 50-year career, Deep Purple has consistently recorded together live, in the same room, and crafted original material out of jam sessions. That is, until now. The pandemic, much like with the rest of the world, forced the band into unexpected downtime. This delayed the debut of their previous album Whoosh! — finally released August 2020 — and postponed the subsequent tour. Isolated and with nothing else to do, they decided, at the behest of producer Bob Ezrin, to upend their decades-long modus operandi and embrace the unexpected.
And so, two things immediately set Deep Purple’s latest album, Turning to Crime, apart from anything they’ve done in the past: It’s an album of cover songs, and the band members recorded it independently of one another. And it works. Smashingly. Turning to Crime is a surprisingly brilliant, peek-behind-the-curtain look at the music that influenced them in their youth. But more than that, it really puts the spotlight on two things. First is the band’s sense of humor. Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan always had a knack for the tongue-in-cheek with his lyrics, so songs like “Dixie Chicken” (originally by Little Feat) and “The Battle of New Orleans” (Johnny Horton) feel right at home within the canon of his wit. Even the performances sound like fun. I dare you to listen to Don Airey’s Southern California surf-style keyboard solo on “Jenny Take a Ride” (Mitch Ryder) and not let out a chuckle.
Second, Turning to Crime clearly demonstrates the band’s virtuosity. As much as Deep Purple’s spin on these ditties will change your perception of the tunes, the songs may also challenge your perception of Purple. Their decades-old tradition of blending rock, prog, folk, and jam never fit neatly into the heavy metal/hard rock category, and so, hearing something like Roger Glover’s commanding and swinging walking bass on the big band-styled “Let the Good Times Roll” (1959 Ray Charles version) is further evidence of the massive depth of Purple’s musical knowledge. They can play anything. And on Turning to Crime, they do.
According to Glover, under normal circumstances when they do collaborate, they don’t even really write songs. “We jam, and songs appear,” he explains. “But we have to be together to do that. The covers album was a way to take the songwriting out of the way. All we had to do was arrange and perform.”
Deep Purple along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath form the holy trinity of British hard rock, credited with creating and inspiring the entire sub-genre of heavy metal. In 2016, they finally joined Zeppelin and Sabbath in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, after being eligible for more than 25 years. Ironic, since Purple contributed “Smoke on the Water” to the musical canon, arguably the most universally recognized guitar riff in history. BM spoke with Glover to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of Turning to Crime.
How does it feel to finally be a criminal after all this time?
[Laughs.] I think I got away with it. Who knows? They might knock on the door any time. I’m accused of stealing, but all we did was borrow, mess around with it, and we’re giving it back. That was the crime.
I like that you put your own spin on the songs. Things pop up out of nowhere, like Don Airey’s little dissonant keyboard comment on “Smoke on the Water” in “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Did that happen organically, or was it talked about?
That happened organically, in Don’s mind. It certainly made me laugh when I heard it. The fact is, there’s a big difference between playing in a studio together with musicians and doing it entirely on your own. When it’s entirely on your own, you actually have more freedom to have fun and try things without getting the wrath of the band. You can try anything. I think what Don brought to it is a looseness. Of course, everything has to be done to a click. He and Paicey [drummer Ian Paice] have really gotten into playing with a click and making it sound natural, and that’s really hard to do. It takes quite a bit of experience to do that.
Ian’s drumming on “7 and 7 Is” is just off the charts.
Blew me away. Don has the ability to make it sound loose, even though it’s got to be tight. You don’t want it so tight that it’s not moving, that it’s unemotional. Just to play the right notes is not the effect you need. You want to play them with something else — some performance quality.
When you talk about having the freedom to play around with stuff on your own, was there anything you experimented with, recording this way?
I did a demo for “Watching the River Flow,” and I didn’t want to do it the way Bob Dylan originally did it with Leon Russell, doing a slow blues kind of thing. And I also didn’t want to do it like Dylan had done it live, which is really fast. I was just playing around with tempos, and I came across a ska tempo. I thought, Hey, Deep Purple are doing a ska song — doing Bob Dylan but doing it in ska. I thought, That’s actually a great idea. Fortunately for me, I sent it to Ian Paice first, and he said, “I’m not playing ska.” He said, “I’ll play something that’ll fit.” Of course, what he played sounds great anyway. I tried to push the envelope a little too far.
Did you get demos from anyone else that challenged you as a bassist?
Three of us did the demos: me, Don, and Steve [Morse, guitar]. The ones coming from Don and Steve, they had bass lines that I would never have thought of. Probably just a keyboard bass, just fooling around, but they hit on a few things that I used. Sometimes I just played exactly what they sent. But that was not always the case. Sometimes I played what I felt. I had a new appreciation for how they thought of the bass, especially what Steve writes. He interweaves things so they become a mesh. It’s not just simple, straight-toned, electronic notes.
I’m not used to seeing you playing a Music Man bass. Was there anything else that you used, in terms of software or interfaces that helped you dial in a sound?
Pro Tools, of course, and all of the gadgets that come with it. All my main guitars are packed up in storage on the road. I only had three or four guitars here. Some, obviously, wouldn’t work. I have a Vigier and a Squier Precision, and I tried those first. I couldn’t get used to it. Then, I realized I had a Music Man that Steve had given me about 20 years ago that I hardly ever used. It seemed to be a bit clunky for me, and my style. I picked it up and it records great.
Did you use plug-ins or anything to get a sound that you liked? In the documentary [Deep Purple: From Here to InFinite, 2017] you mentioned you had a little amp, too. Did you stick a mic on the amp, or did you just go strictly direct?
I’ve got a TC Electronic combo. I did try putting a mic in front of it, but it was better going straight in and using what Pro Tools had to offer. The compression and the EQ are very good. I recorded a flat track and one with extra stuff. Bob, when he’s mixing it, could use one or the other or both or neither. It was harder getting a sound than in a studio with Bob. I listen to it now and there are some parts of some songs I cheated better than others. You naturally think that. Self-doubt. Insecurity. It’s all part of it.
Speaking of Bob, since you’ve produced your share of great records, too, is it easy for you to defer to him as a producer? How does that relationship work? Do you like having somebody else produce Deep Purple, since you’re a player and a songwriter?
Well, when you’re trying to produce the band you’re in, it’s an impossible task. People don’t listen to you as a producer. They just listen to you as, “Oh, you’re only the bass player.” I’m very happy. I’ve worked with a couple of other producers before, but Bob recognized that I was a producer and welcomed me, warmly, and talked to me about what he was doing — if I felt the same way, and he made me feel very comfortable about it. I’m very happy not to have the responsibility to produce a record. I can concentrate more on writing and playing. It has freed me up.
He has well-deserved praise for you in the documentary. He says you’re his favorite bass player, and he articulates what’s so great about your playing.
He was just pressed. He’s praising other people in the band. He’s got to find something good to say about me. The thing is, he doesn’t want to get a reputation for producing classic bands [only]. When he saw us play, he changed his mind. I think he actually really enjoys working with us. We work fairly quickly, we’re all good musicians, we don’t fool around. He just generally enjoys it. He started out as our producer, but he’s ended up as a close friend. He loves working with us, and we love working with him.
He almost seems like a sixth band member at this point.
Yes, he is. Which, a producer is, in a way.
Do you know what it was about the live performance that made him change his mind?
The spontaneity and the musicianship. He said, “I was sitting in the audience just being wowed by how good you were, being free enough to do things so spontaneously.” He wanted to bring that into the studio. There’s a song called “Uncommon Man” [Now What?!, 2013] that’s got a long, slow intro, but nothing was worked out. He said, “Right. I’m going to press play now. Go on and do whatever you feel like.” One take and we captured that. He succeeded in what he set out to do.
That kind of spontaneity in the studio and performance is becoming a lost art.
Yes. I produced a guitarist once, and when we were doing a guitar overdub, I said, “Okay, that was good. Let’s take another one.” He played one exactly the same. I said, “No, I meant with a different ending.” He said, “But I’ve learned the solo.” That’s when the penny dropped. I’ve had the luxury of working with people who cannot play the same thing twice [laughs].
Turning to Crime gives us insight into your musical influences, but who were your bass influences when you were younger? Did particular bass players inspire you, or was it more songs and groups?
I’m more into songs than anything. I started life as a songwriter, before I did anything. I wanted to climb inside songs and find out what made them tick and see if I could do something like that. Bass playing was just a way to be in a band and write songs. I come from the skiffle era [a genre of folk music], so it’s the basis for everything. [Then] you get into Chuck Berry, and then the Beatles come along, and Paul McCartney was great — he took that early rock & roll feel and made it more melodic, fluid, and beautiful. I listened to him a lot. There are bass players who I admire but have no desire to emulate — Jack Bruce, people like that. Of course, the bass was always such a huge part of the feel of the Tamla/Motown sound. That’s when you realize how important the bass is, because if you take it away you notice it’s gone, but you don’t notice it when it’s there. The New Orleans thing — the Meters. I learned a lot about bass playing from the Meters. Actually, about what not to play. You play sparse and spare and make it count. It’s all in service to the song.
I’ve always appreciated that about your playing style. Your tone has changed over the years. On Machine Head , you had a really overdriven sound. Now, your tone is warmer and a bit cleaner.
Yes, I think it is. I did the 25th anniversary Machine Head remaster, and it was the first time I’d actually heard the bass on its own since we did it — it was distorted. I always felt it was too distorted, but I had a setup, I guess it was a Marshall [amp], that always distorted things. Yet, I loved the American sound. It has real depth and clarity, and that’s what I wanted. The engineer said, “You’re joking about that Machine Head sound, right? People would give their left arm to sound like that.” I don’t know what it was I did. I never know what I’m doing. I just go for whatever happens to feel good at the time.
There are hundreds of boutique pedal companies out there trying to re-create that Machine Head sound.
It’s just a combination of the Rickenbacker and the Marshall, I guess. I heard, a couple of years ago, “Space Truckin’” on the car radio. I thought, “Oh, who’s this?” It was the middle of it. It took me a couple of seconds to realize it was us. Life is funny.
That’s an awesome discovery. Can you listen to your own stuff without judgment? Is it hard to do that without being critical?