Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath interview
Ian Gillan and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi are currently promoting their project called WhoCares with the intent to support the rebuilding of a music school in Gyumri, Armenia. Both Gillan and Iommi have spent a lot of time in Armenia, fallen in love with the country and the people and have dedicated a lot of work to a nation still shocked after the earthquake that struck Armenia on December 7, 1988 at 11:41am.
The collaboration of Gillan and Iommi, who have worked together before on the Black Sabbath album Born Again is really something special. Other involved with this project are Jon Lord (Keyboard), Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, former Metallica bass player Jason Newsted and guitar player Linde Lindström. Ian Gillan took some time for It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine to talk about his latest project.
You are very active these days and you have been working on a very interesting charity project called WhoCares with Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath. Your main intent is to support the rebuilding of a music school in Gyumri, Armenia.
Thank you. Our decision was made on a plane whilst Tony and I were returning from a trip to Yerevan where we were honoured by the president for work on the album Live Aid Armenia. When I spoke to the mayor of Spitak (along with Gyumri in the epicentre of the devastation that took 25,000 lives and made ten times that number homeless) a year after the event, he told me there was still no music, not in the churches or schools or on the radio, it seemed even the birds had stopped singing. ‘We’re not ready yet’ he said. Almost a quarter of a century later, they are ready. And the music school is symbolic of a new start. Construction begins this month and will take about a year. The contributions of many people are invaluable; our efforts with the music is just a part of it I’m proud to be involved with.
What it was like to work with involved musicians?
I know Tony well and love working with him; when he comes up with an idea I know exactly what’s expected of me. Old mates John Lord and Nicko McBrain were in the studio with Tony and myself, and the others were added remotely.
The album features a lot of new songs and also some rare ones. How did you guys decided what to add and what not?
The list was mostly compiled by Max Vaccarro at Edel records. Max has been a driving force behind the project.
Let’s travel back in time. Between 1962 and 1964 you were in a band called The Javelins, where you were known as Jess Thunder. Then you joined Wainwright’s Gentlemen until 1965. The band recorded a number of tracks including a cover of The Hollies hit “Ain’t That Just Like Me”. The first major band you were part of was Episode Six and I would love if you could tell us a few words from this period of your life.
These bands were the formative part of my professional life and I loved every moment with them. It was in Episode Six where I met Roger Glover who joined Deep Purple with me in 1969.
While being in Deep Purple you traveled the whole world. Is there a special place that you like to remember?
Festivals are great; I love the sound of music in the open air. It reminds me of my trips to the fairground when I was a kid. My favourite of all the greats is/was Reading, where I played quite a few times.
A while back I interviewed bassist Paul Dean from Jerusalem and he mentioned your name a couple of times.
Paul was the brother of my girl-friend at the time and got hooked up with a band called Jerusalem which I produced at my studio Kingsway Recorders. I thought they were original with a great attitude…and their songs were very good – if a bit whacky.
What plans do you have with WhoCares and what are some of your other future plans?
There are no plans at the moment for WhoCares, although the ‘band’ will remain on alert for another project. At the moment Tony and I have our hands full with other stuff.
Did you like any psych rock acts?
Frank Zappa, The Doors, Vanilla Fudge, Cream, Moby Grape.
Jon Lord sadly passed away on Monday 16th July 2012.
Forgive me but it is still too close for that.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you all in psychedelia, may your gardens be full of Bambis and honey bees.
– Klemen Breznikar