Questions - you got 'em; answers - we got 'em

72 - authorial constipation, timing, lip synching with rising bottoms,
otherness, decision making & the art of alcohol

From: Ciaran Hennessy

Mr. Gillan,

What's the longest writers block you've ever had and when? ( if you don't mind me asking)

Thanks for the words and music (and voice),

Ciaran (17)

P.S: How did you (or do you) overcome it (writers block).


Hello Ciaran,

That's a good question.

I have been working on a novel for nearly ten years now, so I guess that could be descriibed as writer's block of some kind. Although I have promised myself that I will get started soon, now that all the work has been done for the current musical projects.

There have been many times in the past when I have struggled for inspiration when working on a lyric. On reflection it seems to me that the songs that are written in ten minutes are always more effective than those that take a week. Not often but now and then the essential core is missing. In other words I'm just manipulating words to make them fit a musical framework, but I don't really know what I'm trying to say. That of course is daft, but I get away with it because I'm lucky enough to be part of something far bigger than my contribution. In the end those songs develop a life of their own and I don't remember how or why.

If I do get stuck for an idea I forget the need for words and immerse myself in the musical arrangement and develop the tune.I stand at the microphone and use my voice as an instrument. The notes and the phrasing are held together by noises that make no sense at all - total gibberish - but at least I have the tune in my head. The words can wait until later. And they come at the strangest and sometimes most inconvenient times. Which is why I normally carry a notebook and pencil.Occassionally an idea might have its origin in a bar, where a napkin or beer mat serves as well as a notebook.

Ted the Mechanic is a classic example. The notes for this song were made in a pub in Stowe, Vermont during the making of The House of Blue Light. It was some years later, as I was reorganising my home office, when half a dozen napkins fell out of a notebook and I used them for that song.

Also, I think writer's block is something to do with a work ethic. Like everything in life the more you do it the easier it gets. Steve Morse for example, practises for many hours a day, and so his improvisational work is second nature. He can express himself instrumentally with the same ease that you and I would have a conversation. I write every day and so, as the years go by, it gets easier to put thoughts down.

Cheers, ig

From: Pippa Beech

hi Ian

I have two questions for you.

When you have a solo project due for release, as you have at the moment and it coincides with a purple release, is yours put on the back burner for awhile?, so that the two don't clash. and the second question is, have you heard the russian folk type medley of purple tracks that you can currently listen to via the highway star web site and if you have what do you think of it? I rather like it because its sort of strange and quirky. though i had a few problems identifying all the songs, maybe i need to listen to it again. looking forward to all the new stuff.

love Pippa X (sorry Pippa, you've already given your identity away - steve/ed)


Hello Pippa,

Regarding the second question, I'll have to take your judgement on that as I've not had the time to pick it up yet. Most of the DP projects by orchestras, jazz combos, folk groups etc. are interesting because they give different interpretations of the music - as opposed to the direct, note-for-note, versions of the cover bands.

The most interesting version of 'Smoke' that I ever heard was by 'Yvonne the Tigress'. She was a stripper in S.America and had recorded the song with just her voice and hand drums to a samba rhythm, to which you could hear the additional cries of 'Get 'em on' from Repo Depo as we watched a gala performance late one night at her club.

Regarding my anniversary record 'Gillan's Inn' - Yes, it's true we have delayed the release until February 2006, because of 'Rapture'. It would have been daft to put them out simultaneously. In my book Purple comes first, so we'll be fitting in around as best we can - that goes for live shows too.

Cheers, ig

From:  Jemma Hansen


Just want to ask if you enjoyed making videos like Call of the wild?Also have you ever lip-synched at a live show?

thank you,


Allo Jemma,

Good question. I used to disapprove of videos because I did not feel that TV was a good medium for rock ‘n’ roll – excellent for other forms, but not for ‘rock’. Basically nothing has changed; one or two people sit at home and watch musicians acting badly to a script that’s even worse. It’s the complete antithesis of the live experience. Things have improved a bit, the sound is better for a start and you can watch it in a bar. However the whole ethos is governed by TV’s insatiable demand for image and content, and how readily do those two little devils combine to create the lowest common denominator - the criterion for couch slavery. During our recent session in L.A. whilst writing and recording ‘Rapture of the Deep’ we had MTV on in the kitchen all the time – with the sound turned off, now I get it!

The ‘Call of the Wild’ video was our attempt to satirise the form. As you can see by watching it we displayed nothing but disinterest – we did develop some respect when we saw the bill for US$250K – quite a lot in the eighties. It was all daft really, as MTV responded by saying a little later – on the record – that they would never play a DP video because we were too old. Who did we think we wuz? In fact that policy statement saved us a fortune over the years.

However, If we’d had a proper script and the right idea we’d be video stars by now. All we needed was a few of our girlfriends – sorry, bitches – offering their rising bottoms as a way of making bizarre sexual proposals to flash motor cars, some Monopoly money, a big rented house/pool, sign language indicating significant tenancy in the trouser department, costume jewellery bolted to, or dangling from, every finger, lip or septum and a morsel of bad attitude. Now that’s music - I blame the director.

Having said all that, I do get the promotional value of TV – it’s massive.

Have we ever lip synched on a live show? Er, no.

Cheers, ig   


From: Earl Rushhead 

HI!! I have Toolbox on cd and was wondering what was the other Ian Gillan (who's this "other Ian Gillan" then, eh? - steve / ed) release with Leonard Haze on drums was??  The Y&T website says he recorded 2 records with Ian. What is the title of the other record? 

Thanks! Earl


Hello Earl,

The only 'release' with The Mayor of Hell on Drums was in fact 'Toolbox'. Repo Depo, as we had become unknown, Leonard Haze (drums), Brett Bloomfield (bass guitar – his five-string basses were made from entire oak trees) and Dean Howard (guitar) was in the process of recording some more material in Holland - with The Bolland Brothers, from Holland - I know, I know – when the Purple thing reared its ugly head again and I – reluctantly at first but now oh so glad – returned to the fold. The journey back from Holland to England on the ferry was very sad for us all.

I remember one of the songs we recorded was called ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’. I still have it on a cassette back home, and digitized now of course, in my media files.

Cheers, ig 

From: Phillip Thow

Just a couple: I love your voice and vocal range, and I think it fits perfectly with Deep Purple's music.

I just wanted to know what your view was on your time in Black Sabbath? Do you look back and think "what was I thinking?" Do you think it was a good decision at the time even though it wasn't a popular album for Sabbath fans?

Any plans to tour in New Zealand again?? We love you down here!!!!

I just bought "The Platinum Collection of Deep Purple" Excellent selection of songs too, Im very happy with it.!!!

Thanks for your time, Rock on!!!

Phil Thow

Invercargill (according to the Rolling Stones: The Asshole of the World!!!) (Invercargill! not me!!)


Hello Phil,

First off I don't think you need to be so rude about the Stones - or maybe I read that wrong - you Kiwis do speak your mind don't you...Anyway, we're all looking forward to returning to New Zealand - we had a great time there during the 'Bananas' tour...and if DP don't make it this time you might get a Gillan concert or two by way of a consolation prize.

Regarding Black Sabbath/Born Again, I have no idea whether it was a good decision at the time because I was blind drunk - and under a table at The Bear, Woodstock - when I agreed to do it. I do understand how the Sabbath fans must have felt, but on reflection it was a good record and it filled the gap for all of us.

In fact we have just re-recorded a Black Purple version of 'Trashed' with Tony Iommi (guitar), Ian Paice (drums) and Roger Glover (bass guitar) for 'Gillan's Inn' - interesting eh? I thought not.

Cheers, ig  

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