In a new interview with Greg Prato of Songfacts, DEEP PURPLE frontman Ian Gillan was asked what the "few red lights and a few old beds" are that he sings about in the band's classic song "Smoke On The Water". He responded: "That's the hotel we moved into — the Grand Hotel — after the casino burned down during the Frank Zappa concert we were at. And that's what the song is all about. We ended up at the Grand Hotel, and it was very bright, so we changed the light bulbs. We got some red light bulbs, and we used the bed mattresses as sound baffles. We set the gear up in the hallways and the corridors of the hotel, and THE ROLLING STONES' mobile truck was out back with very long cables coming up through the windows. We tried to re-create an atmosphere in a technical sense the best we could. And when we went to write the lyrics, because we were short on material, we thought it was an 'add-on track.' It was just a last-minute panic. So, the riff and backing track had been recorded on the first day as a kind of soundcheck. There were no lyrics. The engineer told us on the last day, 'Man, we're several minutes short for an album.' So, we dug it out, and Roger [Glover] and I wrote a biographical account of the making of the record: 'We all came out to Montreux...' et cetera, et cetera.
"That's how it ended up on the album," he explained. "It never got played on the radio for a year because it was too long. It was only when a guy from Warner Bros. came to see a show and saw the reaction of the crowd. He ran back to the studio and did an edit of three and a half minutes, and it got played for the first time on the radio. That was a year after the album release. It would never have gotten played if we hadn't done the edit."
Asked how he feels about that song today, Gillan said: "Like all the narrative songs, you can place yourself there. It's fantastic — I love singing it. It's such a groove. And the important thing is everyone in the audience is so involved in the song, and of course, they know every word and the groove. It's a shared experience. It's like a congregational euphoria. It's amazing. It's fantastic. I love it.
"When you asked earlier about what songs do I feel for, in a way, I love them all," he added. "I have no trouble getting up for it just about every day."
DEEP PURPLE will release its new album, "Whoosh!", on August 7 via earMUSIC. The LP was once again helmed by Canadian producer Bob Ezrin (KISS, PINK FLOYD, ALICE COOPER), who also worked on the band's last two studio albums, 2017's "Infinite" and 2013's "Now What?!"
"Whoosh!" will be available as limited CD+DVD mediabook (including the one-hour feature "Roger Glover And Bob Ezrin In Conversation" and, for the first time, the full live performance at Hellfest 2017 as video), 2LP+DVD edition, limited box set and digital.
Gillan told Fox News about what it feels like to be releasing a new album at this point in PURPLE's career: "It's nice, to be honest. I feel like we're back in the '70s. There's this energy that’s quite fascinating to me. How does it feel? It feels good because we had a lot of fun making this record. We spent five or six days in Germany earlier this year. Then we went to Nashville for two and a half weeks where we did the writing and arrangements. It was remarkably quick. Then I rented a cottage on the banks of the Cumberland River, overlooking the Grand Ole Opry. So I can hear the music floating from across the river until the early hours of the morning. And then I would sit up all through the night and write in this magical atmosphere. How do I feel? Pretty good. It's nice when you finish a project and you're happy with the result."