After the release of “inFinite”, the newest record of Deep Purple, BassplayerRoger Glover had time to visit german Radiostation SWR1 having an exclusive Bass2Bass-Talk with Thomas “Chuck” Tscheschner, german bassplayer and editor at SWR1 in Mainz.
Thomas Tscheschner: This is “SWR1 Bass2Bass” with Thomas Tscheschner and I’m very pleased and honoured today to have a fantastic bass player from the legendary band Deep Purple at our station – Welcome Roger Glover!
Roger Glover: The honour is all mine, thank you.
Thomas Tscheschner: Thank you. Roger, when you started to play music, has bass been your first instrument?
Roger Glover: Almost, you know growing up in the 40’s – I was born in the mid-forties – so when we were growing up music was pretty boring and when skiffle and then Rock’n’Roll happened, well – it changed everyone’s lives including mine and well I just fell in love with it. I wondered what it was like to write songs. I really wanted to know, so the only way to do this was to climb inside and work it out. So yeah, the first thing was to buy a Spanish guitar, with an action that you could shoot arrows from … and then I got a better guitar. After you’ve gone through the learning of the basic chords and learning to play Lonnie Donegan songs and early Rock’n’Roll songs, when I was about 13 or 14 years old we formed a band in school and one guy had a real electric guitar, so he became the lead player. Another guy actually could play an F chord, with a bar which I couldn’t, so he became the rhythm player and so low and behold I’ll be the bass player. I took the two top strings off, put a pick-up on, and that was that.
TT: Do you remember your first bass guitar in your first professional band?
Roger Glover: Yes, well actually, my first bass guitar, I wasn’t professional yet – I was still at school – it was a Höfner (a german bass) – it was kind of like, yes in those days it was very difficult to get any American stuff in England because of the Marshall Plan and so you could get Italian and German instruments very easily. It was a Höfner, it was sort of like a copy of a precision but smaller. But the most important thing was that it was red. Yeah, I think we had to have a red guitar.
TT: But later you played a lot of Fender Precision Basses, I guess?
Roger Glover: A Fender Precision was the first real instrument I got and I was very proud of it. I remember it was second-hand when I bought it and I remember getting back to my bedroom and I leaned it up against the wall and just laid back in the bed and just gazed at it for about two hours, letting it sink in, every detail of it, a beautiful, beautiful guitar.
TT: Have you been inspired by any bass players?
Roger Glover: I suppose so, yes. You get inspired by everything you hear … people ask me which bass players I admire, and of course you listen to people like Jaco Pastorius. I mean he’s from another planet. I come from the Rock’n’Roll world and I suppose certainly Paul McCartney is a stand-out bass player. And if you listen to the bass parts, to some of the Tamla Motown stuff, that was a learning experience. I remember learning a lot from a group called The Meters (US-Band). George Porter Jr. was the bass player and he taught me what not to play, the band would be playing a rhythm and he’d play one note, go and have a cup of tea, and then the next note would come. It was a very sparse playing and that was a good learning lesson.
TT: The Meters were a good band, they have opened for the Rolling Stones on their US-Tour in the 70’s. Do you have a favourite bass song of all-time, like for me my first bass song was “Come together” from the Beatles. The bass line playsan important role in the song. What is your favourite bass-song?
Roger Glover: There was a song called „Talking about you“. I think it was Chuck Berry, but I heard it by the Redcaps or someone like that. The verse went along and everyone stopped for the punch line except for the bass player and I thought that was kind of neat. And also The Shadows had a song called “36-24-36”, which had a very recognizable bass riff to start off with, “dum di da di da di da” etc., something like that, so yeah …
TT: If you had to choose Deep Purple Songs for a radio show, which ones would you suggest to us, which songs should we play?
Roger Glover: One of them would be “Hard lovin’ man” from “Deep Purple in Rock” which is when the live experience came into the studio. We were getting pretty crazy live and yet the studios are very calm, that was a kind of break-through point. “Into the fire” from that record probably … ah Ritchie said “How about a riff with a chromatic scale in it?” I just started to play the first thing that came into my head, and there it is. “Maybe I’m a Leo” – it was my riff and yeah, it’s hard to be simple, that’s the thing, it’s very easy to make complicated music, but playing simple music and without sounding too easy or trivial, that’s more difficult. And, what else, one more from the old days, it would probably be “Pictures of home”, probably ‘cause it’s got a bass solo in it …
TT: Very good!
Roger Glover: These days “Purpendicular”, I got to do some from “Purpendicular”. “Loosen my strings”, and the way that happened … well I changed my strings, in the studio and yeah I was doing this little pattern just making sure that I was in tune, and all of a sudden I heard a noise, and I turned round and Steve had joined in, no one else was in the room with me and so it happened. At the beginning of that session I took an acoustic guitar down with me to Orlando and forgot to unwind the strings before I flew, so when it arrived in Orlando it was broken. There was a crack in the bodywork, I had to get that fixed, and then everyone was making fun of me “You should loosen your strings next time you fly mate“, “Make sure you loosen your strings”. This became a little phrase, and when me and Ian Gillan were trying to find out lyrics like we would normally do, this story came up, and we thought “Loosen my strings”, and it’s a song about a guitar singing to its owner. What else, “Uncommon man”from “NowWhat”…
TT: … You still play that song live, right?
Roger Glover: Yes we do, and yeah, it’s one that Don Airey came up with. That riff, it’s such a pleasing bass part to play. So I just love playing that.
TT: That’s very good, I always loved playing “Black Night”, ’cause the people moved around and danced to it. They were happy and we were happy, so …
Roger Glover: … Happiness is a sound reason.
TT: The credits on your records list all members of the band as composers, that’s a very fair way of handling this writing theme. Did you always do that with Deep Purple?
Roger Glover: Yes, right from my tenure with the band from ‘69. We were aware that we were making music that wasn’t the mainstream, the BBC would never play music like we were coming up with and there was more to it than just a set of lyrics and just a melody. It seemed that the whole band, the way Ian Paice played the drums, was as much a part of the writing process as was any riff or word. And so everything came out of jams anyway. We just all jammed together and you can’t remember who wrote what and if you start portioning percentages like “Well I wrote the middle eight”, how much is that worth? You know all of a sudden you would have a big argument, so we just thought it was easier just to say we all write. It didn’t stay that way unfortunately, when Ian Gillan and I left the band it reverted back to who writes gets. Cause I think Ritchie felt that he was writing more than anyone else but that was his point of view, and it stayed that way really up until when Steve Morse joined, and that is now 23 years ago. And when he joined, we all said let’s revert to what it was. We’re all equal and the music comes from all of us. So let’s share it.
TT: … and it’s been keeping the band together for a long time.
Roger Glover: It’s the only way for us to work, really. You know we’re not a band that has a leader. We don’t have a band that has one or two songwriters that stand out like Mick Jagger/Keith Richards or Pete Townshend or something. It’s always been a collaborative effort.
TT: It’s really fair. In the sixties you played with “Episode Six” with Ian Gillan, then you joined Deep Purple. When did you have, for the first time, the feeling, oh I’m in a really absolutely top act, in Superstar-Rockband?
Roger Glover: No, I didn’t have that feeling, but I certainly had the feeling that I was in the presence of some amazing musicians. My first experience was when Ian Gillan had decided to join Deep Purple, they asked him, but not me. However Ian and I had some songs and Ian called me up and said, this band I’m joining, they’re looking for songs, but I’d never heard of Deep Purple. Deep Purple was not big at that time in England, despite “Hush” in the States. So I went along with Ian just to meet Jon Lord and play him some songs, and he passed on our songs, but he said we’re recording tonight, would you like to play bass on this song called “Hallelujah”. So that was my introduction to the band, I have to say walking in the studio I was totally intimidated by the musicianship I could hear coming out. Jon and Ritchie and Pacie (Ian Paice) just blew me away, I’d never met musicians like that. So I was aware of that it wasn’t till then. When you get huge success it doesn’t sink in right away, because it’s out of your hands. All you did was spend a few hours in the studio making a record, but all of a sudden it’s taking a whole life of its own, out in the world somewhere, and that’s a pretty humbling experience actually. Something’s happening out there, but what is it you know?
TT: In the recording sessions sometimes you have everybody playing right and perfect, you have a first take, and then sometimes you are working like days or weeks on a track. When you were recording “Smoke on the Water” in Montreaux for example – what kind of track was this?
Roger Glover: We don’t spend a long time on tracks actually, unless they come very quickly, we don’t keep banging away at something. “Smoke on the water“ was really a sort of thrown together jam in a new place, because the Casino had burned down, we had to move somewhere else and we spent, I suppose, the day, getting sounds together making sure the microphones were working. We went out to have a meal, came back around nine or ten o’clock at night and then Ritchie started playing that riff. We didn’t recognize it for being the riff that it was to become, it was just a mid-tempo sort of song and we all sort of joined in, threw together to places where verses would be and solos would be, and actually during the first take of that, unknown to us, the police were outside the door trying to stop us because it was round midnight now, and we were keeping the town awake, and then we moved on five days later we managed to find the Grand Hotel and recorded all the other songs. It was a kind of last minute thing, we were one song short. “What about that jam we did at the other place” and so it was one take. Very little was added to that, except obviously the words, we didn’t have words, and I think Ritchie did a solo as well. That’s pretty much live as it happened, and that’s the way we work ’til this day actually.
TT: After recording “Smoke on the water”: did you have a feeling like “Oh – this is going to be a big hit”?
Roger Glover: Not at all, the opposite. We had no idea that that was going to be the song that would catapult us into the stratosphere somewhere.
TT: We’ve just been talking about Montreux, you are living in Switzerland by now. Isn’t it a too quiet place for a rock musician – don’t you miss busy London?
Roger Glover: No. I mean the kind of life we live on the road is busy, so we need a antidote to that. So yeah peace and quiet is what I’m looking for.
TT: The pictures on your album are made by a German Photographer Jim Rakete and it looks like you’ve been in a really cold location – was it Alaska or Siberia?
Roger Glover: It was Hamburg. It wasn’t in a studio, it’s actually on a beach, where the river comes in. It was actually quite cold, because we found out that the vintage clothing they’d got for us was not very warm. So how the real explorers survived is beyond me, because they weren’t warm. Give me a ski-jacket anytime.
TT: And my last question is: Beatles or Stones?
Roger Glover: Beatles. Well, it is both of course, you have to recognize talent and success, but I saw the Stones twice before they got famous. Once was in the R’n’B Club in Ealing, which is a basement, a legendary blues club, and I went there to see Alexis Korner. I was a big fan of Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated, and he announced “we’re going to have an interval band now to entertain you while we take a break, and here they are: ‘The Rolling Stones’”. And I listened to maybe I think half a song and thought that’s just crap, I’m off. And the some months later I was at the Richmond Jazz and Blues Festival. It must have been ‘62, maybe ‘63 maybe. I went there to see Mose Alison and I saw this band The Rolling Stones, they were playing in a side-tent, so I thought I’ll go and have a look at them again and all I heard was badly played Chuck Berry, so I dismissed them yet again, and then within the year they were the darlings of the charts and I thought they were great, what a transformation. So in a way I started off disliking them, so they had to prove themselves to me. But Beatles was instant. “Love me do” – I thought that’s amazing. One of my favourite Songs is “Hello Goodbye”.
TT: Thanks a lot for visiting us at SWR1 – I hope, you have a fantastic and “neverending” goodbye tour!
Roger Glover: Thank you, to the whole staff at SWR1 and all of our fans in Germany!
Thomas Tscheschner – SWR1
SWR1 – Blitzlicht Spezial: Bass2Bass
SWR1 – Bass2Bass mit Roger Glover