The rockin' return of Deep Purple
A new Deep Purple album has just been recorded and is due for release in April but don't expect the band to perform new material at its Auckland concert next month.
"As much as we would love to perform songs from our new album we won't be,' says lead singer Ian Gillan.
"These days you can't include unreleased material (we always used to), because within the hour of performance, it is going to be uploaded onto YouTube around the world."
"With technology some of it is good and some of it has a not-so-good, knock-on effect.
"So we have learned to take the rough with the smooth."
And while the band will be performing songs from its three classic albums In Rock, Machine Head and Fireball - the albums Deep Purple fans consider seminal recordings featuring famed guitarist Richie Blackmore - Gillan says if Blackmore had not left in 1993, Deep Purple would have died.
"It was a bad time for Deep Purple in the early 90s and reflecting on it now, it's a kind of paradox.
"If Richie had stayed, that would have been the end of Deep Purple forever.
"When he left it stopped raining and the sun came out, that is the best way I can describe it."
Gillan says he remains proud of the way the band picked themselves up.
"After Richie left, I looked around and saw the old characters come alive again.
"Keyboardist Jon Lord (who passed away in July last year), regained his composure and expression in his performance, drummer Ian Paice was telling jokes again, suddenly we all came alive.
"It was a totally inspiring feeling for us all."
Gillan and Blackmore have not crossed paths in over 20 years.
With its current line-up of veteran members Ian Gillan, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover, they are joined by former Dixie Dreggs guitarist Steve Morse who replaced Blackmore following a short stint from guitarist Joe Satriani and keyboardist Don Airey formerly of Ozzy Osbourne's band.
Morse and Airey have been in Purple for 20 years and 10 years respectively.
Gillan says this line-up is its most stable, in a 40-plus year career.
Currently on a two month holiday, Deep Purple will be 'exploding with energy' by the time it arrives in New Zealand, says Gillan.
Aside from recording and touring with Deep Purple, Gillan has also poured his talent and emotion into another project that is close to his heart, raising funds to rebuild a music school in the earthquake-damaged city of Armenia where in 1988, 25,000 people died and a quarter of a million were left homeless.
Together with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, the pair began the WhoCares project and last year released the WhoCares album.
The album also features former Deep Purple keyboardist, the late Jon Lord, Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, guitarist Linde Lindstrom and former Metallica bassist, Jason Newstead.
"The idea came as Tony and I flew back from Armenia together after being inspired by the enthusiasm of everyone there to get this thing done.
"The thing is, this project has really worked, the school is now under construction and they have already invited Tony and myself to appear at its grand opening in September, we are thilled."
Reflecting on the death of Jon Lord in July last year, Gillan says while Lord had not been a member of Deep Purple for a number of years, they remained good friends.
"We were in the studio recording our new album when we got the news about Jon, we knew he was sick, but it was still a terrible shock when it happened.
"On a more positive note, when he passed we felt his spirit kind of multiply and it loomed large in the studio.
"Certainly we can feel his spirit on the new record."
Looking back on a career that has endured 40 plus years, Gillan says it has been an adventure.
"It is such a thrill, it's not a job, it is a privilege to be involved in this for as long as I have.
"I mean I wake up every day looking forward to the concert that night.
"I don't think you need much more inspiration than that."
Deep Purple perform at Vector Arena on Sunday February 24.
Ticket giveaway: Want to see Deep Purple live? We're giving away a pass for the Auckland show for you and three mates. Send an email with your favourite Deep Purple song, along with your name, address, post code and phone number, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All entries must be received before 10am on Monday, February 4 to go in the draw. Please ensure the email subject line says Deep_Purple.