Keeping pace was once a problem for Ian Paice
LITTLE did I realise that when I was teaching myself to drum, a decade before, a man who would become a legend in rock drumming was teaching himself in exactly the same way.
Ian Paice, the drummer with Deep Purple, and last remaining original member reminisces with me.
“A lot of what I do now comes from before I was a drummer really. I used to hear a lot of Big Band stuff on the radio – my dad’s music really – and played along by hitting seven bells out of the furniture with my mum’s knitting needles.”
The big wooden Double-0 size?“ Exactly. In fact, I still hear the swing inside the music we play and I have to curb it sometimes.”
Deep Purple formed in 1968 with Ian on the drums, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, and Jon Lord on keyboards. Rod Evans was the singer, in those days, with Nick Simper on bass. But after the third album, a change was in the offing.
“Rod was a good singer,” said Ian. “But our music was going in a direction that his voice couldn’t go in. We brought in Ian Gillan as a singer, and Roger Glover on bass, and they were the last piece of the puzzle. It was a musical chemical reaction.”
“Yeah, there were two guys who I really looked up to. Firstly there was Ringo Starr; every track he played on swung – it was effortless for him.”
And the second was another Northerner.
“That’s right, Bobby Elliott of The Hollies; he just had a better, sharper sound than anyone else.”
Throughout the seventies, Deep Purple was in the Premier League of rock, having hit albums like Machine Head, In Rock, Come Taste The Band, Fireball and Burn. They also released some great singles like Black Night and Smoke on the Water, whose riff is required learning for any rock guitarist.
But, strangely, it’s not any of these albums that sums up the band for Ian.
The band had a run of seven albums, six of which made the Top 5: it’s the one that didn’t that sums up Deep Purple for the 66- year-old.
“Sometimes, live albums are not important, but Made In Japan stands out for me. It was a glorious representation of a band at the top of it’s form.”
More changes took place and in 1976 the band finally split – only to reform in 1984.
Today’s line-up features Ian still behind the drum-kit with Ian Gillan on vocals. Completing the band are Don Airey on keyboards, Steve Morse on guitar and bassist – still – Roger Glover.
Between them they have crafted a new album entitled Now What?!.
“It’s probably the strongest album we’ve done since Perfect Strangers in ’84,” Ian said. “It’s definitely a much heavier record than the last one.” (Purpendicular in 2007.)
“Every track is uniquely different. It’s an album rather than a collection of songs. They all have a connection to each other and will grab your imagination in different ways.”
And will much of the new album feature in the live set?
“There are a few contenders such as Above and Beyond, and Uncommon Man which I think is absolutely magnificent. There will also be some classics, but we won’t know which of the new ones we’ll be playing until we start to play them.
“The songs, when recorded are immortal in that form, but we’ll let the music evolve and the live versions are more ‘grown up’.”
Ian also explained why there is only a small number of dates on the UK leg of the tour.
“It’s a big world and much as we love it, Britain is only a small part of it and we can’t be here too long – there’s only so many dates we can fit in!”
After so many years drumming there must be a few highs and lows.
Ian smiled and said: “I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed 99.99% of my career and still do. I nearly gave up once though.
“There was a period when I was working with Gary Moore in the 80s, and I just lost my clock and couldn’t keep time. Eventually, I watched a video of me playing and realised that I was playing too hard – I was using my muscles instead of technique – then it all came back.”
The rock world is thankful that it did, and that Deep Purple is still at the forefront of rock.
Deep Purple appear in the UK:
O2 Apollo, Manchester – Saturday, October 12.
Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow – Sunday, October 13.
NIA, Birmingham – Tuesday, October 15.
Roundhouse, London – Wednesday, October 16.
Tickets are available from the Box Offices and all the usual agencies.