‘Write music, rather than songs’: Ian Gillan on Deep Purple’s breakthrough moment with Now What?!

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Deep Purple has returned with one of its most complete recordings in recent memory, and it all began when Ian Gillan and Co. were discussing whether they should even attempt a studio effort like Now What?!

Gillan says a rangy talk with a new producer helped spark Purple to complete its first album since 2005’s Rapture of the Deep. Ultimately, they decided to go back to the old ways.

“I think we got caught in a rut of programmed albums, and expectations,” Gillan tells Georja Calvin-Smith of France 24. “But with our new producer Bob Ezrin, we came to the conclusion that we should go back to the way we recorded in the ’60s and ’70s.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: In our exclusive preview, we said ‘Now What?!’ confirms Deep Purple’s legendary heavy-grooving persona — even as they keep things fresh with a series of smart new sounds.]

“Basically, this is an instrumental band,” Gillan adds. “I know we’ve got a singer in the band, but ideally it’s an instrumental band — so we should write music, rather than songs. And that’s what we’ve done. Once that got under our skin, we got quite excited about going to Nashville — and doing something fresh.”

After all of these years, Now What?! — due April 30, 2013 via earMusic — continues to defy categorization. Is it progressive rock? classic rock? heavy metal? Pinning that down remains something difficult to pin down, even for Gillan.

“I think Purple has evolved into pretty much what it is,” he says. “If there’s any label that means anything, I would think ‘progressive’ is probably the nearest to it. But it’s certainly not a heavy metal band. There’s too much comedy in the music for that. And it’s certainly not classic rock, because we’ve changed categorically — so I don’t know what it is. Deep Purple is Deep Purple.”

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