Jon Matsumoto of The Mercury News recently spoke to DEEP PURPLE frontman Ian Gillan about his current tour in support of his solo album, "Gillan's Inn", which celebrates his 40-year career in rock. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
On touring solo:
"I'm having more fun than a butcher's dog on this tour. Stepping out of the PURPLE tour for a couple of months and playing these little places, where the people are right in your face, is fantastic. I'm having a great time. I've got a great band with me."
On his new version of the DEEP PURPLE anthem "Smoke on the Water", featuring a vocal choir and an electric violin:
"Johnny [violinist Johnny Rzeznik] was working in a pub near a recording studio in England. We went there for a bite to eat, and he was playing behind this pillar, so I couldn't see him. I thought, 'There's a great guitar player.' Somebody said, 'It's not a guitar; it's a violin!' I couldn't believe it. So we had a couple of beers with Johnny, and he ended up jamming with us. Since that day, his career has kind of taken off. He's touring around England and having a great time."
On DEEP PURPLE's new level of popularity:
"The late '80s-early '90s were a very bad time for us. Everyone was playing badly. The audiences were diminishing. Suddenly, Ritchie [Blackmore] left the band, and the clouds disappeared. Joe Satriani toured with us for a year. Then Steve Morse joined us. (Keyboardist) Don Airey took over for Jon Lord, who retired. This has been the best period for the band since '69-'70. The places are packed, and we've gotten incredibly young audiences around the world."