Lord press conference in Hell
Station, Norway - September 13.9.03 - 14.01pm
photo © Rasmus Heide
by Rasmus Heide
his press conference on the platform of Hell railway station, Jon
Lord arrived in an open Cadillac. The assembled crowd of journalists
experienced a relaxed Jon Lord, who offered witty, insightful and
high spirited answers to questions about his visit to Hell, his departure
from Deep Purple, his future recording plans and much more.
Lord travels Cadillac style - photo © Akiko Hada
founder and PR chief Knut Morten Johansen compered the proceedings.
Lord: Hey everybody. It's very lovely here, isn't it?
Knut Morten Johansen: I don't know if you've all been told
about the time limitations we have. Jon has to be back at the rehearsal
room at three o'clock.
Jon Lord: Well, [looking at clock] we've lost one minute!
Knut Morten Johansen: Who's the first?
Jon Lord: Sorry, let me just make it go quiet. [fiddling
with his mobile phone]
Metal Express Radio: I planned a couple of warm up questions
but there's one thing that would interest our listeners the most.
After you left DP you talked about planning a reunion with past and
present members of the DP family. Do you have any good news on that?
Jon Lord: It was very interesting. It was a marvellous example
of how the internet can blow a glass of water into an ocean. It was
an idea. Somebody asked me in an interview, "Would you ever play
with these guys again?", and I said I'd love to, of course.
Most of them are my friends and no one's an enemy, and I said, "Wouldn't
it be fantastic if..." And that was the construction I put on
it. It would be marvellous if we could all play together again. Five
minutes later it was, "This is Jon's plan..." I can't take
responsibility for it.
It seemed like a good idea. I think the one who will get it to happen
is Ritchie. He'll be the one that calls everybody up and says, "Let's
do this, guys."
Metal Express Radio: So it won't happen now?
Jon Lord: I think not, no. It's interesting because of the
way it goes around the world so quickly. I've already had David Coverdale
call me and he said, "I'm in! I'll do it." Glenn Hughes
said, "I'll do it." Ian Gillan said, "Not in a million
years!" So I think it's already been shit upon from a very great
height. I don't think it's going to happen, but it's a nice dream.
© Rasmus Heide
at the House of God
Metal Express Radio: You played in many different places from
hangars to stadium arenas and now you're playing tomorrow on the 14th
of September in a catholic cathedral in Norway. What does that man
to you on a personal level, playing in the house of God?
Jon Lord: It's actually quite a nice thing. I played in churches
before. I suppose I am a reasonably spiritual person. I'm not "a
Christian" [forces point] although I wear a cross [in
a chain around his neck]. I don't go around preaching, I just
have my beliefs and I keep them reasonably quiet, so to play in such
a wonderful space is...
The great thing about cathedrals and churches is the space talks to
you. There's usually hundreds and hundreds of years of people's hopes
and dreams and sadness and happiness, and it's where people go to
to get comfort or to get in touch with something that they might not
be aware of.
And that's something in the same area that music can do. Music has
that spiritual quality as well. Even the heaviest rock music can touch
people in a way that mere talking can't. So I'm really looking forward
to it and it's a privilege to be in such a beautiful space.
Metal Express Radio: There'll be a lot of people there only
because you are a former member of Deep Purple, and they probably
don't have a lot of classic records in their collection. What do you
think about that?
Jon Lord: Well, they're missing something. [laughs]
This is not classical music. This is part of me that is the other
part. I've said this before, I'm a very schizophrenic musician. I'm
a Gemini and it shows in everything I do. I love rock music, I always
did. I love orchestral music, always did. When I found one it didn't
push the other out and vice versa. Then I tried to put them together
and occasionally succeeded and sometimes failed, but I had fun doing
it. Now I've left the band it's time to pursue that side of my career.
So I would say to them, "So long as you have open ears..."
It's an old saying, keep your ears open, your heart open and don't
come with any preconceptions. It's not Smoke On The Water, but then
not everything is.
Metal Express Radio: It seems you're enjoying what you're doing
now, but did you enjoy playing Highway Star and Smoke On The Water
the last 100 times you did these songs?
Jon Lord: I don't honestly believe that there's been a single
time I haven't enjoyed playing Highway Star. That's a great song to
play. It's got a marvellous organ part - I don't know who wrote it!
[laughter] Smoke On The Water occasionally got a little tiring
because it's not very interesting to play. [mimics playing riff
on edge of the table] It's a damn fine guitar riff, it's one of
the best. But occasionally that one got a little old. I can't honestly
believe that there's anything else I played in Deep Purple that I
didn't thoroughly enjoy. I had the best 35 years a man could get.
[a train horn interrupts] Same to you! [laughter]
© Rasmus Heide
string tingler's future
Monster Magazine: What is Boom Of The Tingling Strings?
Jon Lord: Ah! Good question. It's a piece I wrote for piano
and orchestra. I was asked a few years ago whether I would write something
for the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra to play. But because I'm
not the quickest musician in the world when it comes to writing stuff
down - it takes me a long time, I like to take my time - the deadline
came and passed. But I had these ideas and I read a poem by an English
poet called D.H. Lawrence called Piano, which was about remembering
being a young boy and listening to his mother play and a lot of other
things like that about the past. That affected me very deeply and
in the poem is the line: "Sitting under the piano, in the boom
of the tingling strings", describing the sound you would get
sitting under a big black grand piano. That sort of shaking.
That's what the phrase means I think and it sounded like a good title
of a piece of music. So I took what I had been writing for Luxembourg
and made into a piano concerto - which I can't play. It's my revenge
on concert pianists, to make them work hard. It got its premier in
February in Brisbane with the Queensland Orchestra and it was played
in Luxembourg in May. Short question, long answer.
Heide: Will there be a recording of it?
Jon Lord: Yes. I'm negotiating at the moment with a couple
of record companies to find their good young lions. Young 24-year-old
piano players who are so good it makes me sick [laughter] to
play it, so yes, it will be recorded.
Rasmus Heide: So is that your next recording project?
Jon Lord: No, not really. That's a kind of a side thing. Now
I've got the time which is something I had been asking the band for
for the past few years, but that's not what they wanted to do. Their
vision was different to mine. They wanted to tour. Ian Gillan doesn't
ever seem to want to go home! [laughter] I don't know why that
is... But now I've got the time that I didn't have. I have a little
more time to pick and choose the... I'm very lucky because Deep Purple's
given me a... excuse me... [clears his throat] ...has given
me a cold! [laughter]
Purple's given me a reputation and a name - of sorts - which I'm able
to use to open a few doors. It makes me very lucky. And as long as
people remember that and have that in their minds I intend to open
those doors, and to shout at people to get things done that I didn't
have time to do before.
Heide: What would that be?
Jon Lord: I want to go on holiday, Rasmus, so I'm opening the
door of a travel agent! [laughter]
No, I want to make another solo CD which I've written most of
and should be in the studio with before Christmas I hope.
There's a possibility that I might also use the Trondheim Soloists
on two or three tracks because we've talked about that and that seems
like a reasonable idea. So I'd like to make another CD. Perhaps a
little bit less melancholy than Pictured Within. It was very deeply
felt music. I intended every note of it but it came from a time of
my life when that's what came out.
I think I'm a little happier now than I was then so maybe the music
will reflect that.
And I want to continue to write for other people. I'd love to write
more songs. I want to write more with Sam Brown because she writes
great lyrics - and I don't. It takes me forever to write a set of
lyrics. The ones I'm most proud of is Pictured Within and that took
me about four years before I was absolutely convinced that I had a
decent set of lyrics. So there's quite a lot of things that I'd like
I'm sorry I'm talking a lot - you stop me with a question.
© Rasmus Heide
Carl Alvin: You know that black box you used to have on top of your
Jon Lord: Yes.
Carl Alvin: In the beginning of the 70s.
Jon Lord: Yes.
Carl Alvin: Which you don't use anymore.
Jon Lord: Right.
Carl Alvin: Can I buy it from you?
Jon Lord: If you can find it! I think it's at the bottom of
the Hudson River just outside New York City. It fell to pieces and
the people who made it stopped making it. It was a ring modulator
made by a company called Gibson. Not the guitar manufacturers but
a small electronics company. It was a great thing and I bought three
and they all died. Rest in peace.
But I can't find... I mean, there must be a digital ring modulator,
but digital's not got that oink that this had.
That's what it was. But as I say, if you find it, you can have it.
Come look in my attic.
Journalist: It's strange to hear this story because you always
treated your equipment so nicely.
Jon Lord: Of course I did. I was very gentle with the Hammond
organ. [laughter] I think the Hammond organ was very, very
happy when I started to get older. [laughter] "Thank God
he's left me alone now!" [laughter]
Journalist: You started with classical music 15 years old...
Jon Lord: Five!
Journalist: Five. Then 35 years with Deep Purple and now you
play classical music. Do you feel that you have come full circle?
Jon Lord: [thinks] It's a thought, isn't it?
No, because in a way the circle's still open because what I tried
to say before, what Deep Purple did for me was immeasurable, beyond
price, beyond any dreams that any young man might have had. It took
me around the world, it gave me a great living and as I said, it opens
So no, there's still work to be done. It's a nice thought, but I'm
not ready to retire yet. Everybody's said, "Oh, Jon's retired,"
but I haven't retired I just left the band and there is life after
Purple. Well, I hope there is, touch wood. [laughter] [looks
for wood] Any wood about? Yes, there you go! [knocks side of
own head] [laughter]
Journalist: Are you still going to write rock music?
Jon Lord: If it comes to me. I was never a great rock writer,
you know. I write well with other people. I enjoyed co-writing with
Ian and Roger and Ritchie, but you leave me alone with a piano and
a mind and I won't come up with a rock song, I don't think.
I would never have come up with the riff to Smoke On The Water in
a million years, because it doesn't sit well. Well, it didn't until
I found out how to play it. That was one of the most fascinating parts
of my life, trying to make the Hammond organ sound like a rock instrument
rather than sound like a jazz and blues instrument. And I think I
did in the end. I got there.
The size of the fish Jon caught last weekend?
photo © Akiko Hada
Journalist: When you chose the Nidaros Cathedral to play in,
why didn't you choose the church in Hell?
Jon Lord: We were going to do it but it wasn't big enough.
If you put the Trondheim Soloists in the church in Hell there's no
room for any audience. [laughs] The original idea was to play
here in the church [in Hell], and then - I'm not going to say
whose idea it was to go into the cathedral because he's standing just
over there [points at Knut Morten Johansen] [laughter]
and he can explain it for himself. But it was a wonderful idea I thought
because, as I tried to explain before, it's a beautiful space. It
has an amazing feeling and I'm very much looking forward to doing
to leave Deep Purple
Rasmus Heide: Was it a tough decision to leave Deep Purple
and how long did you have to think about it?
Jon Lord: Again, if you believe the internet you might find
that I've been thinking about it since 1967. [laughter]
But not really. I actually first had major thoughts about it just
before the Concerto Tour at the end of 1999. I wrote a letter - because
it's easier with that lot to write letters, because then it's in black
and white. Although as an Gillan sang, "It ain't right just because
it's in black and white," but I wanted it on the record that
I really believed that the band could tour less and diversify its
members' activities more.
I misread the situation as far as the band is concerned. They honestly
didn't believe that and that's fine. There were no fights about it.
We haven't really had a fight since 1986. It's quite boring really.
[laughter] No more spaghetti in the face, none of that. It's
gone very quiet.
So, that's when I first started thinking about it. And during the
tour with the Concerto at the end of 2000 I had a moment where I was
sitting in a bar taking to Bruce, our manager, and I said, "I
really got to think about moving on at some point." At some point!
Ian Gillan and Roger were sitting on the other side of the bar without
me knowing and they saw this and they must have read something on
my face and they rushed out: "Jon's leaving! He's leaving! Aaah!"
And it all sort of went pear shaped and stupid and there was 24 hours
where it was crazy.
We managed to get that back down to earth, but at that point I said
I really, really want to leave, but I want to do it warmly, with friendship,
with love, and with timing - at exactly the right moment.
And that's what we were going to do and it was all going very well.
Until we all got the flu and we had to cancel my swan song tour, which
confused the issue even more. And you know the rest.
That's why we decided when we came back to redo those concerts that
Don Airey should not step out again. He was like he was on elastic
going in and out so that's why we came up with... I think it was Ian
Paice who came up with the idea of Don playing the first part and
then me sort of popping up like a magic puppet halfway through the
set. [mimics puppet popping out of box] [laughter]
photo: Jennifer Stokes
Rasmus Heide: What are your feelings about the last show in
Jon Lord: I don't think there's been a more emotional night
in my life.
It was, err... [thinks] I could even burst into tears now thinking
about it. It was very, very, very difficult indeed. It's been my life,
you know. Every second from 68 to 76 and then from 83 until last year.
So it was hugely difficult.
But very warm too. Because the audience were fantastic. Wonderful,
wonderful warmth came from that audience. I can't tell you. If I could
bottle that and sell it, I'd give you all the formula and we'd all
be millionaires. If you just knew how to recreate that feeling. It
was fantastic, Rasmus. It was wonderful. Very, very happy.
Lord's opinion on Bananas
Metal Express Radio: You've written a couple of the tracks
on the new Deep Purple album, but have you listened to the rest of
Jon Lord: Yes I have, yes.
Metal Express Radio: What do you think?
Jon Lord: It's not what I expected, to be perfectly honest,
because it's not what we were writing when I left.
I think it's very good, but I'm not... You see, it's not my job to
criticize that but I will give you an opinion if you remember that
it's only an opinion.
I don't think the sound is very good to be perfectly honest. I thought
Roger would have done a better job producing it, but there you go.
That's just me, and Michael Bradford is a rather large black chap
and he's going to sit on my head now, I know that, and hurt me. [laughter]
A couple of the songs surprised me. Err, I can see why they put
it on, but... Never A Word, is it? It's lovely but it just starts
to get going and it stops, so that worried me slightly. But it's in
the same area I suppose as The Aviator and Fingers To The Bone and
that kind of thing.
I think the opening track's fabulous. Obviously I like the two that
I was involved in writing because I was involved in writing them.
Generally speaking I don't think it's the best Purple album ever,
but I think it's better than Abandon, which to me had no sense of
direction. I don't think it's as good as Purpendicular, which I thought
was probably the best Purple album along with In Rock, Machine Head
and Perfect Strangers. I thought Purpendicular was right in there.
I was immensely proud of that album and still am immensely proud of
But I've got a feeling in my bones. These old bones of mine are telling
me that this is going to be a successful album. The time feels right
And it's really strange to say "them" and not "us".
Metal Express Radio: For how long do you think they will continue?
Jon Lord: Until the battery runs out.
I know Ian Gillan's views on this, which are very strong, and I endorse
his views. There is no reason why rock music shouldn't be played by
people as they get older. It's the music that belonged to them when
they were kids and why shouldn't they take it with them as they get
You wouldn't say to a jazz musician or a blues musician or a classical
musician that they couldn't play it because they were getting older.
So I don't see any reason at all why they shouldn't go as long as
the intent is there.
I hope they keep the faith. We always used to say that when we didn't
believe what we were playing anymore then we'd stop. And I hope they
remember that, because no one understands the fact that a band doesn't
have its heart in it better than an audience. An audience knows like
that. [snaps fingers] So long as they remember that then they'll
do just fine.
Express Radio: Will they survive another lineup change?
Jon Lord: I wouldn't have thought so and why would they bother?
If they're not happy with what they've got now... If it ain't broke,
don't fix it.
Steve is an astonishing guitarist and has done just the most generous
job I can think of. It's been misunderstood in some quarters. People
say, "Why is he playing Ritchie's thing there?", but he
meant to do that.
For example, the parts in Highway Star, people say ,"Why doesn't
he do his own thing?" It's because that's part of the song now.
It's down in musical history, that's part of Highway Star.
He's a very generous and wonderful player and I miss playing with
Steve enormously. He was great to play with.
Metal Express Radio: Will it never happen again?
Jon Lord: Well, if Don gets sick, you know... [laughter]
Knut Morten Johansen: There's five minutes left so why don't
we have some words on what you're doing now in the cathedral?
Jon Lord: Well, thank you, Mr. PR Man, that's... [laughter]
Do you have anything to do with the festival by any chance? [laughter]
It's the kind of music I've played before. I did a small tour in Germany
three or four, five years ago. It's much of that plus some few new
bits and a much bigger string section, that's about it.
It's music very close to my heart and it's music that I genuinely
believe has a home. And it's the kind of music that is very difficult
to get people to understand unless they come and hear me do it.
And again, the reason we have music and those little dots is so that
I don't have to sit here and explain what it's all about. [smiles]
I play it to you and then... I'm not getting at you all, I'm just
getting at the world in general. It's difficult to explain music.
Music makes its own case. It gives you its own argument. All musicians
would ask, is that people come with an open heart, an open mind and
open ears - and an open wallet. [laughs]
I can't resist it. It has to have a joke at the end. [laughter
think... [train approaches platform] I think I'm going to get
drowned out by this train is what I think! [laughter] [long
freight train slowly rolls up the platform]
© Rasmus Heide
Morten Johansen: This is our answer to Jean Michel Jarre's backdrop.
[laughter] It happens every year. This is the only time of
the year we see this train! [laughter]
Jon Lord: This is what I want to do with my life, so I'm going
to keep doing it, and the only hope is that I can convince people
that there's more to life... [train brakes to a screeching halt]
than the sound of a train! [laughter]
There are many kinds of music and I'm really trying hard to take the
labels off. Let's just have a nice big spectrum that says "Music"
and you can dip in anywhere you like.
You can go in here and find Thaikowski, you can go in here and find
Jimi Hendrix, you go here and find me, you go over there and find
Ken Hensley. It's a huge playground and people should be encouraged.
I'm going to do my damnedest to encourage people to keep this open
mind that I keep talking about. Enough said.
Thanks for some good questions, I appreciate that.
© Rasmus Heide
Knut Morten Johansen: [holds his plastered arm and
a pen out towards Jon] Shall we start the autograph session?
Jon Lord: You cheeky bastard! [laughter] [signs plaster]
at a photo from the 60s taken in a bar of himself with the other
members of The Artwoods, Jon ponders:
- Bloody hell. Who were those young men? It's a strange thing
being in a position where you've been photographed all your
life. It really does bring it home to you about the passage
of time, I tell you.
© Rasmus Heide
Alvin who asked for Jon's ring modulator plays Hammond with The
Elements, a Norwegian DP tribute band. He has brought the reverb
box from his Hammond for Jon to sign. Someone else has brought
two keys from a piano.