SS: It's the club lounge
JL: If you pay $50 extra for your room, you get to come in here and drink free coffee.
SS: The Website is quite good
JL: Highway star it's called
SS: The gig last night - you video'd it?
JL: Some reason - somebody thought it might be an idea. I forget within about two minutes of being on stage. Coz in the end - a live show - you're there because people are paying money to see a live show, and if you allow a camera to interfere with that, you are doing yourself no favours and you are doing the people who payed money no favours.
SS: It was a great show.
JL: We told the camera people to shoot in the light - no extra lights for the cameras - normal stage set up
SS: And the crowds are enjoying the show - the youngies
JL: There's a few youngies - not quite so many as we are used to - mainland Europe and South America - it’s a very young audience. We just did a month in South America ten days before we got here. And I would say 90-95% of the audience was under 19 7,8,9,10,000 people. It's a less "sophisticated" audience for a rock gig as say Europe or North America. Where there are less sophisticated audiences, they tend to be younger audiences, because they are just plugging into it.
SS: And they are more open to the energy of it.
JL: Very much so - it was a very noisy audience, whereas here there are a lot of people who saw us last time round in 1984 or were too young to see us in 1984 and so it tend to be more of a sit-down audience, which is a little disconcerting when you come out of three or four weeks in a straight on rock and roll place. But it's alright.
SS: The new album, Abandon - it’s a very classic deep purple sound - all the things that people expect to hear from deep purple, I guess
JL: Yeah, well, it was made - we've done two since Steve's been in the band. The first one was made over quite a long period of time. We wrote an enormous amount of material, coz we were trying to work out what we could do with Steve in the band. How he would change us, and how
Takes sunnies off
Ali: There's a filter on the lens, so don't worry about it (note, it's called a lens cap! None of the photos taken by the photographer hired for this interview turned out)
JL: Bless your heart!
SS: With each line up change you must go through some kind of metamorphosis.
JL: Yeah with something as fundamental as the change in guitar, and not just a change in guitar - but a change of Ritchie Blackmore a founder member along with me, and a man who has arguably invented a style of guitar. It was a huge change and we did some gigs with Steve at the end of 94 and um, to really see how it was Coz he said "I don't want to join the band unless I feel happy and I don’t want to join the band if they don’t feel happy
SS: He's got his own thing, but it's also a hard act to follow
JL: Absolutely, he had and he still has his own life as a guitarist
So we did these gigs with him, and it was great - and we loved it. And so when we went into the studio, we tried to do the same thing, which was to explore.
SS: He's certainly fitting in well.
This is a very long answer to a very short question..
Whereas with Abandon, we did it very quickly - two reasons
1)We wanted to see quite how a very straight ahead rock and roll album sounded
Yeah that’s really what it was - just jammed songs, very quickly done, quickly written, quickly recorded -
2)because we didn’t really have much time anyway coz the management had us out on the road again
SS: So you are still being whipped along by the record companies?
JL: Well, it's coz we allowed it to happen. Because we like it. The best thing about rock and roll is playing the live gigs.
SS: So you still using the hammond leslie thing?
JL: Yeah - Yeah I got a C3 which I've had for 24 years, two Leslies
SS: And you are going through distortions and that sort of thing..
JL: Well Ive got out of that. I did it in the 80's. I put preamps in, and modified the Lesllies, modified the organ - the whole 9 yards, But I realised in the end what I was doing was trying to Gild the Lily. Coz what I actually do is turn the leslies full up and play with my foot down quite hard, you know and that gives me what people call the Jon Lord Sound, but really all it is is just a hammond turned up. OK theres a way of playing a Hammond, there's a different… a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that you can play a hammond with a piano technique. Well, you can, but it sounds like you are playing a Hammond with a piano technique. What really you have to learn how to play an organ - it's a legato technique, it’s a technique to achieve legato on a non legato instrument. There is no legato, there is no sustain.
SS: On and off
JL: Exactly, so you want to achieve a seamless effect. You have to learn how to finger that to get that effect. And a lot people who come from piano are surprised and horrified when they hear themselves on an organ.
SS: Any other gear that you are using?
JL: I use a master control keyboard which fires up a couple of synthesiser type things.
SS: Do you have a techhie guy who kinda takes care of that.
JL: Yeah, he kinda presses buttons in the corner.
SS: Do you have him off the road as well
JL: Yeah he comes into the studio.
I used to use a lot more gear in the 80's
SS: I remember when Burn came out, like A200, you were getting right into the synths and all the knob twiddling and all that stuff.
JL: In the early days of synths I was a convert.
SS: Did you kind of lose that.
JL: When we reformed I still had all that gear, coz I was in Whitesnake for four or five years - I usually refer to it as what I did in my holidays.
SS: That band kicked
JL: They kicked. I thought the early Whitesnake. Was a wonderful band. The big Whitesnake - the big hair - is good stuff, but I prefer the R&B Whitesnake.
SS: Sweet satisfaction
JL: Yeah, ready and Willing Come and get it - I thought those albums were good albums.
So that was very much end of 70's beginning of 80's. I still had that stuff when we reformed Deep Purple, I still had it so I was using it. You can hear it quite heavily not so much on Perfect Strangers but on the House Of Blue Light. It was really when Steve rejoined the band he said "whats that kind of stark screaming distorted hammond" I said well its still in there I just havent used it. And he kind of led me back towards discarding all that stuff. So I sent the organ back to this guy and I said "take everything out of it except what's Hammond" Take all the modifications out. Take the leslies back to ordinary Leslie Speakers and Ordinary Leslie Amplifiers. We just upgraded the horns so they don’t blow up so often. And there we are
SS: So in a way, you're saying technology has come to the point that people are looking back to the old gear and finding that the raw chemistry of people playing together has actually got a chemistry of its own that cant be replaced
Well thank God that's coming back. No it cant never could be never will be. You cant synthesize emotion. The thing about Synthesisers was that you needed a great player to make them live. An Emerson to make a moog synthesiser. One of the great moog players was Stevie Winwood. He had the feel for that style - to make em sing.
SS: So as far as the new people that are utilising this technology. Are you finding any that is inspiring to you?
JL: Oh yeah. I think that the last few years of the 90's have been incredibly productive for music - for popular music. It was a bit sterile out there for a while. But I see a lot of things that make an old man very happy.
SS: Anyone in particular?
JL: Its very difficult to say, you'd have to ask my daughter. She'd tell me what I like. I'd say "what's that one I like, darling?" and she'd say "that's so-and-so, Dad"
SS: Theres a band called machine head that uses live playing and digital domain..
JL: Well you know what happened? Its really easy to point up how it happened. At the same time as the big technological revolution where in a way the keyboard took over the well the revolution was in the keyboard almost to the level of the guitar. So you’ve got this huge technological revolution, and at the same time you got a decline in live music, and the spawning ground for music is live. That’s where you learn how to deal with a good audience, how to deal with a bad audience, being booed, being greeted with complete silence. You know it's going to school. And the whole training ground of bands being able to find a place to go to school was taken away by the technological; revolution, and other factors as well.
SS: Of course, economic………
JL: But that's come back in quite a big way certainly in Europe and I presume so here too
SS: Slowly here, here we've taken up a lot of the… the nightclubs and discos… we've got a lot of cover bands' playing redoing the old stuff.
JL: Even that is a training ground. What were the early british rock an roll musicians doing but covering what the americans were doing…. Had done. But it was a symbiotic relationship. It one fed the other. We in England were listening to American music, playing it our way and sending it back to America. They were hearing it done our way, reinterpreting our version of it… And doing it again..
SS: Yeah well its kind of happening here. There are a lot of people with the baseball caps, but they are turning it into a uniquely australian thing and they are going back there and doing well with it.
JL: The problem is whats happened since MTV is that rock and roll has become a visual art as well as an audio art, which is fine except that in a way what you are getting now is attitute as much as music, and again that’s cool, providing that somebody realises why he wants to be a musician, because in the end what you’ve got to communicate is music not attitude.
SS: You guys in the early days you had attitude - …
JL: Yeah but it was attitude based on our knowledge of our ability to communicate our music. It was not the knowledge that we looked good in baggy pants or that I was an incredibly handsome man
SS: Which of course you were.. hehe
JL: I think it was about the music more, and the great thing about what's happening now is its becoming about the music again, and that's terribly important to me
SS: Yeah like the front cover of Made In Japan. You’ve got this live shot which is basically just five guys on a flat stage playing their instruments, but the power of that affected everybody, it was like a huge album, because it was pure chemistry, energy, if that can still be around that’s a good thing..
JL: I'd like to think so
SS: On that album, made In Japan, you guys were doing stuff that at the time would have been seen as being a part of the technical revolution coz you were pulling out sounds that had never been heard before, Lazy, the intro
JL: That was a ring modulator.. a little box about the size of a small palm top. And it was actually a company called gibson, and I just plugged the organ through it and it made some amazing noises. And really as a trained musician, I had been trained to listen to as much music as possible, so I listened to all kinds of music, like Music Concrete, Avante garde, Classical music, some of it I thought was crap. And others I stuff which I thought gfreat sound just noises, So I was just really using the stage as an experimental ground. Trying to express myself in ways beyond just pure music. And I began to love that sound more than the synthesisers
SS: Its funny that now with all the technology and all the limitless potential that some of the stuff that you were doing back then is still in a way cutting edge, because you are actually doing pure expression, because they are all copy paste sample, they are not actually going what am I trying to do here, and they are not doing what they really want to say, maybe they havent got anything to say.
JL: Probably, but even if they have, perhaps they have lost the ability to say it. To me I believe in music, Ive never been a great one for dressing it up.
SS: So as far as the visual side of it, you haven't really explored computer graphics and video and effects and all that sort of stuff.
JL: No not really we never did. There doesn’t seem any real reason to start now. And if you look back at old photographs of us, we were never into fashion, ever. The only one who made any concession at all to any kind of something extra-musical was Ritchie, who used to wear those silly hats.
SS: If you were the same age you were when you started right now, confronted with all this stuff at that age., what do you think you would be doing with your music now.
JL: Interesting question, if I were a keyboard player now I would be I think confused by the amount of things available to do as a keyboard player. I am really thankful that when I started the only two options were the piano and the organ. But music is… the music business iby definition is kind of incestuous. It grows, it feeds on itself. It comes out of whats around you. And what takes it forward each time is a band that has the courage to take what they hear and then to reinvent themselves based on what they’ve heard.
SS: Which is what you did back then, so I guess you would do the same sort of thing now.
JL: I'd like to think I'd have the courage to do the same thing now.
SS: But do you think it would be harder now?
JL: I think it would because as a cynic said, and I forget who said it said it's all been done. The trick now if it is down to being a trick, that's what's so sad. The trick now is to make it sound like it's not been done before And that really is hard.
Uh we , I think we had the best of it, I don’t mean we deep purple, I mean we my generation. I think we had the best of it because we had a clean canvas on which to paint and uh, pretty clean anyway. A few smudges there but it.
And the ability to be able to say "can we do this?" yes we can that was wonderful
SS: You can't have someone saying such and such already did that, or that sounds like so and so you cant do that
JL: That’s right, and don’t forget we also came out of the 60's where we had record companies that would give you a five year contract, I mean that would be like gold
SS: A five week contract
JL: What they get now is a one album contract with an option. And that’s a big deal to get the option. But record companies had the courage then to allow you to grow.
SS: In the old days you'd buy a record, you'd listen to it and go wow. Now you buy a record and you listen to it while you are playing your computer game. So music in a way has kind of shifted not in its importance but in the effect it can have on you, because there is so much else trying to have an effect on you at the same time.
JL: Absolutely, it become almost like audio wallpaper. It’s a background thing very often. But its become the soundtrack of modern living, whereas it used to be the alternative it was what young people turned to to revolt against what they saw as dull old fashioned middle class values and middle class music.
SS: Which brings me to my next question about your new solo album. Pictured within
JL: It came out some time last year.
SS: Now that sounds like in today climate of music, what you are doing there seems to be at the same level of not so much rebellion, but in your expression within it, you are actually doing something that’s saying "hey stop all this.. have a look at this and move more inward..
JL: "Thank you for bringing it up by the way. I think quite early on I realised that in my own way I didn’t ever want to be pigeon holed.
SS: Which is hard to do when you are the keyboard player and everyone knows smoke on the water.
JL: Yeah but even before I was the keyboard player of deep purple, I was experimenting with a way to play the Hammond organ, which was one way of going, plus I had been classically trained, I had piano lessons from the age of 5 till the age of 17. I had a whole world of music which Id been brought up on parallel to rock and roll I was lucky that my family - I discovered rock and roll later of course. I was lucky that my family didn’t try and suppress one against the other so I grew up with a love of music with a capital M. As wide a spectrum as possible. I've always had that, I'm really really lucky not clever, just lucky to have that. I've never figured that any or hardly ever figured that any influence should stop me from trying to express myself as a musician in any way that seemed appropriate, and in some ways didn’t seem appropriate.
We did the concerto for group and orchestra, which was an idea I had based on something Id seen. There was an album called Brubek plays bernstein plays brubek, which was the dave brubek quartet with the new york philharmonic. And I thought that’s cool, one day Id like to do that with a rock band.. and then I found myself in deep purple, a band that I figured was capable of doing it, so we did it.
So in a way.. and then being in a band that got famous, I was allowed to indulge myself two or three times over the years, so when it gets to this time of my life when I realise, I have realised for some time that I cant be a rock and roll musician forever, I just can't. There's a physical limitation that’s going to start happening eventually. Touch wood it doe…Im a fit healthy middle age man but at some point theres going to be a physical limitation but there may even be a mental thing where I say I just don’t want to do this anymore. Again touch wood that hasn’t arrived yet. But theres a whole side of me that needs to be expressed which I cant express in Deep Purple thus this solo album - which is the first one I've done since 1981, its not like Ive littered the world with them
SS: So have you been doing some other projects?
JL: I've done some TV music Ive done some film music. Every now and then a) when the right project comes along coz again deep purple has always paid the bills, so Ive been able to pick and choose so I've been very lucky.
SS: Do you find that because you are in deep purple you cant take some things that you might want to do but some pe/…. You might want to do some music for a circus or a kids show, but they go hang on that’s not Jon Lord that’s not cool
JL: No, Ive only been restricted by two things one my own sense of adequacy for some things and inadequacy for others, so what I'm trying to say there is that I've self censored myself
On a couple of occasions. And the other limitation has only ever been time because since 1983 purple has taken up a huge amount of my time, so I've had to turn things down that I would have like to have done.
SS: So your life has been quite involved with the band.
JL: Yeah but over the last 15 years I've been writing an enormous amount of what people continue to call classical music its not, its orchestral music - I write an enormous amount - I've got reams of the stuff, and I'm trying to move myself into the position where I can be considered, where I can consider that I can make my living as a composer when I finally stop spinning around
SS: Well if you send me a few scores I'll try and get an orchestra together and we'll put on a gig in sydney.
JL: It's a deal
SS: Well you'd better not say that
JL: I just did.
SS: Are you using computers to compose
JL: No I used a computer to record pictured within. I recorded it with digidesign
SS: With a technical guy saying hit play and off you go.
JL: Yeah I had the benefit of a stunning engineer who understood the computer world and we were able to when needed we were able to cut and paste.. we did all that. But I used it really for the benefit for being able to make em… coz there are several long pieces of music on the album. What I did was I did a map if you like of a piano track. So I just recorded me alone at the piano - a really beautiful Steinway on my own in a big studio with wooden walls wooden floor and a great woody piano sound. and I recorded that into the machine.
SS: The entire album
JL: Pretty much track by track
SS: From written out scores dots and lines
JL: Yes I've always used manuscript paper always. I find it almost as much of a compositional aid as anything else Ive ever used because it becomes and audio visual thing with the paper and the pencil. I can see it on the stave and I can see a line I can see a shape to it which pleases me or not. And it’s a very personal thing but it seems to make sense to me. And also it doesn’t pin me down. Sometimes when you write a piece of music when it comes out of your head, you know and it comes straight onto the paper Its got a form in your head but the form is not necessarily 1,2,3,4 or crotchet =140 or whatever, you might feel like it's somewhere in that so you put moderato on it and you know roughly what ..
And you put it to one side and a year later you come to it and you start to play it, and some memory of what you meant when you wrote it down comes back, but then other feelings come too like the way it feels then at that moment you play it. So I actually like to write it down.
I am putting a home studio in and in that home studio I will have the ability to do my scores on computer
SS: But are you putting someone in to do that so you don’t have to worry about it
JL: I think I’ll have to do that because I'm not.. I'm in my 50's I don’t think got time to learn it all..
SS: So Jon Lord at home is basically a piano and a pencil and paper.
JL: That’s me, I've got a beautiful piano at home in 1982 I treated myself to a 7ft6 Steinbeck and its my pride and joy - I adore the thing cant pass it, in fact my wife gets pissed off with it, in fact my wife gets pissed off with it. If she wants me to do something she says "don’t go past the piano" So you know Manuscript books tons of pencils, and the piano and Im a happy pussy
SS: And you are getting on the internet occasionally?
JL: I get on there and put a few people right. Theres a newsgroup alt……… and I read it and sometimes I look at it and I go now these people have got it wrong Ive got to tell them how it was
SS: So you actually go on and make postings yourself
JL: Yeah occasionally or I just cruise around and have a look but the people in the newsgroup know that I post so sometimes they tend to send me email which is a little intrusive.
Well sometimes its difficult to find private moments - being a travelling musician, you get a lot of people want a lot of you, and the older I get the more I travel the more I tend to value my privacy.
SS: So you log on with a nick name
JL: Yeah I've got a handle that everybody knows and I've got another one that I can just go round and make my postings
SS: Are you using the net for research and creative personal reasons
JL: I have done Ive looked things up
Im quite a tactile person I actually like looking things up in the encyclopaedia britannica and I find that a more rewarding search for knowledge than the net somehow, but that’s a generational thing and I don’t expect that I will ever plug into it the same way that my daughter does.
SS: Well, they have reduced the whole thing down to one button, it's like there is a barrier between the user and what is out there
JL: I think that anything when its young and new and still cutting edge is going to produce almost a kind of a mania about it as everything does. I think that as the Internet comes so much more part of our lives it will stabilise Im sure. People will treat it less as a kind of a wow factor and more of a kind of a ho hum factor. It's going to be there like the refrigerators there
SS: If you project forward and think that fortunately for you got there with mass media and big record companies, but up and comers today might only expect a tiny slice of a totally fragmented pie.
JL: You may get less than the famous andy warhol 15 minutes of fame. I don’t know it could go either way. I was speaking a few months ago to the head of international of EMI in Germany. He was an old friend of mine he started as a tea boy, hes now head of international. I like to see that happen.
And he said that they are completely and utterly geared up for dispersing music through the net so the only problem at the moment is safeguarding copyright of the musicians and the record companies. The record cos are in a bit of a spin at the moment. They don’t knoww quite which way to turn, and some people are saying too bad they’ve had it too good too long but record companies, as we discussed about 15 minutes ago, played a huge part in the success of popular music.
There are countless bands who wouldn’t have been able to have achieved anything were it not for record companies. So I think that to try and snip them out of the equation just because theres a revolution in dispensing of information would be a mistake.
SS: They should be able to hang on though
JL: I think they will. I think everything will find its level. At the moment everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off coz they don’t quite know whats going to happen. You made the point earlier - we got there before all that happenned and I really rather glad we did.
SS: I started playing live music in 1979. And things changed almost straight away. By the time I got good enough to make it, discos took off, and the live music scene died. Now it has all changed. Now you don’t get anywhere unless you got a business plan. You need a marketing plan to market your product
JL: Its kinda weird isn't it. It really is the music business.
SS: I started off thinking if you just go out there with enthusiasm and energy, someone would see that and pick it up.
JL: Its like when I went to do that solo album, the last one, I almost had the same thing. I had the head of classical. I am signed to the classical division at EMI, which is really nice because it gives me a separate existence to being the guy from deep purple.
SS: Same name though
JL: Im not schizophrenic to that degree although I am a gemini - but at least it gives me a feeling of being succoured by a different level of the record industry. It’s a quiet place to be - but even they were saying - german accent - So what kind of record will it be?
I can show you the dots and I can play you the little bits on the piano, but that doesn’t tell you anything
SS: So they wanted to know which demographic it was going to appeal to
JL: Exactly, and what are we going to file it under
SS: From the excerpts I heard on the net - it sounds very nice.
JL: It's very quiet, very introvert. Its like nothing I've done before and like nothing Ill probably do again.
SS: Well in a way that is kind of like another revolution..
JL: It may well be as a writer and composer I tend to be very autobiographical I tend t o write better about things that have affected me reasonably recently as well. I lost both my parents just before I started making this album and that coloured it very strongly. Its quite a melancholy album, although I like to think its also uplifting because I tried to write my way out of my sadness.
SS: There are some very sweet sounds in there, not too dark
JL: No no no it's not too dark I don’t think, I think its slightly nostalgic, slightly melancholy. But I love the sound of a string quartet. That kind of woody sort of stringy sound and mixed with the piano and I found a lovely mix too of the string quartet and I found a lovely JV2080 stunning machine - theres an orchestral card you can buy for it and they had some marvellous sounds but particularly it had a very nice string sound and there's also a general GSM sound a warm pad and I mixed this warm pad with the string sound and the string quartet and I found this lovely sound it lives in a lovely place it’s the kind of sound that you go oh yeah it feels good.
SS: You’ve got a sound check to go to.
JL: My tecchie guy handles that.
Its not coz Im a luddite, its just that I don’t understand it. I started with one of the greatest mechanical instruments known to man, and thats the piano and Ive always remained a mechanical instrument player. And that what I love about the Hammond. You cant just pull out a few drawbars and expect it to make a good sound. You have to get over the thing and talk to it. It’s a mans instruments. Actually theres a stunning german jazz hammond player. Ever heard of Barbara Denelein? Shes a very beautiful woman This is not a sexist remark but . Shes an incredibly sexy good looking woman, and she gets on the Hammond and she sounds like Jimmy Smit. And she plays great bass pedals too.
SS: Do you use bass pedals much
JL: I used to but I got out of the habit As with most things with music if you get out of the habit. My piano technique - for this last solo album that I did coz its all piano I really had to practice four or five hours a day for a few weeks to get my piano technique back, coz the hammond organ is a totally different thing.