For producer Bob Ezrin, who’s worked on signature recordings with Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Alice Cooper and countless others, working with Deep Purple meant a chance to return to rock’s rebel ways.
The results, a return-to-form triumph called Now What?!, find the legacy group sounding like nothing so much as themselves — from the old-school free-form jam that opens “Uncommon Man” to the muscular organ sound that Ezrin achieved by running the instrument through an amp, just as the late Jon Lord once did.
“There’s so much pressure in the music business now to conform, to fit a format — to make sure you’re ticking all of the boxes that are necessary to sell something,” Ezrin tells Gary Moore of KLOS Los Angeles, in the video below. “We’ve lost that thing where, when we first started doing this, there were no rules. There were no boxes to tick. Nobody knew where to go, so we just did whatever it was that motivated us. We did what inspired us. That’s what turned out those great records. … To get that kind of invention back into our industry, and I think we have to have these kind of moments.”
Now What?! shot to the top of several album charts worldwide, even as Deep Purple continues on another world tour which reaches Europe this month. Ezrin says the new album, their first since 2005, was built for these shows — another throwback move.
“The idea was to make this record as live a record as possible,” Ezrin says. “They can play this record. They don’t need to take any tracks with them on the road, or anything. They can play this live. For anybody who’s going to see them live, they’re going to hear this record just the way it sounds here.”