Ian Paice: Decades Of Deep Purple

The Bass Drum Low Down

Another thing Paice got from his performance at The Palladium was his new bass drum sound, which is big, fat, and punchy in a retro kind of way. “I met Buddy a couple of times and flicked my fingers on his bass drum. So when I did the memorial concert I tuned my bass head exactly the way he tuned his, with two complete heads (no front hole) and a couple bits of felt to remove overtones. And for the first time in 35 years I rediscovered how great … how sweet, warm, and powerful the drum sounded naturally. Yet when thumped it would get really aggressive. Plus, Carmine said, ’Look I’ve gone back to a 14"-deep shell.’ And I said, ’Whew, that sounds really good. I’ll take that.’ Yeah, I still take direction from Carmine. [laughs] Look, I would never change again. The smack is immediate. And it does sound better.”

Ian Paice

Paice’s Setup

Drums Pearl MMP Master Series (Silver Sparkle)
1 24" x 14" Bass Drum
2 14" x 6.5" Ian Paice signature snare drum
3 10" x 8" Tom
4 12" x 9" Tom
5 13" x 10" Tom
6 16" x 16" Floor Tom
7 18" x 16" Floor Tom
8 14" x 10" Tom
9 15" x 10" Tom

Cymbals Paiste
A 15" 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hat
B 22" 2002 Crash
C 8" 2002 Splash
D 22" 2002 Ride
E 24" 2002 Crash
F 22" 2002 China

But the bass drum saga didn’t stop there. “The sound was so good,” Paice enthuses, “that when we got into the studio for Now What?! I asked producer Bob Ezrin if we could try two full heads? Okay! So we used a Remo Powerstroke with a regular Ambassador on the front, and I tuned it like a ’40s swing big band drummer would. It sounded grrrrreaaaaat! In the room we had, with the correct miking and a bit of genius from Bob and Corky the engineer, I played a bass drum that sounded like a bass drum. It didn’t just go ’duh’ with a dead-slack middle hit. It boooooomed! When you’ve got this monster down there and it’s singing to you like it does, then you enjoy playing it.”

A killer sound is one thing, but knowing what to play and when to play it is another matter. “When I play with Roger [Glover, bassist], we just know something is going to happen. He leaves me lots of room, so I can put in more of those notes I think are necessary for the music to be exciting.” During the Burn era (1974), Paice adopted a different strategy to fit with Glenn Hughes’ funkier style. “Glenn plays busier bass lines, which leaves less room. So with those bass notes taking up that space, I mustn’t play there. Paul McCartney’s bass lines are pure simplicity. When it’s that basic, you fall right in with it.

What I found with Now What?! is that sometimes the more you play, the less you end up with. But there are times when a ridiculously big and fancy drum part does the job. You just need to understand that to make it work you can’t get in the way of too many things.”

So … Now What?

The new album sees the band getting back to its roots in terms of the recording process. “We went in without any consideration whatsoever about trying to get a hit album, a radio track, or doing a video,” Paice says. “This was going to be an album constructed pretty much along the lines of what we did all those years ago.” So, not surprisingly the first thing you notice is how much it sounds like Deep Purple. Yes, 45 years after the original five-piece band formed, these British rockers still sound like themselves.

Second is Paice’s outright enthusiasm for the songs. He sits solidly in the grooves on the funkier tunes, yet really kicks the band up when it’s called for. “That’s why some musicians get ’underrated,’” notes Morse. “When they do things that help everybody else, and the music, it doesn’t always get noticed by the people looking for the obvious. His dynamics are a great example. I love the way he and all the guys can bring it way down anytime, and then build at just the right spot of an improvisation.”

There was a time when British bands crammed into the back of their Bedford vans and went slogging off up and down the motorway. How do the lads in Purple cope with the road having come this far? “It’s every man to himself,” Paice laughs. “If two or three of us have the same idea then we’ll go out to dinner together.” And what does he do with his days? “Very little. Quite frequently I don’t even leave my room. My focus is the couple hours’ work I’ll do that night. I just chill … maybe listen to music, watch a movie, play a game. So when I go onstage, my whole subconscious day has been waiting for that moment. It works great. Meanwhile Don [Airey, keys] is off every morning for a wander around the town. That works for him.”

Though life with Deep Purple has seen him ride the roads and fly the skies for so many years, Paice appears calm and relaxed, with no signs of Burnout. “Well, I still enjoy the road,” he says with a nod. “I enjoy the buzz of being on stage, playing with really great musicians and having fun. I also know that what I have now is not an infinite thing. It’s definitely got a shelf life, and that is coming closer and closer to an end as the years go by. So while I have this wonderful gift of being able to play, make others happy, and get paid for having fun, I’ll revel in it. I enjoy playing and I’ll never treat it with disrespect.”

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