Steve Morse is reflecting these days. One of the tracks from his band Deep Purple’s 2017 album, inFinite, is called “Johnny’s Band.” Presented as a longform video and song, it conveys a deeper story, too. Morse describes it as “a bittersweet story about how everything has its time, and when that time’s over, the music lives on.”
Since the 1960s, Deep Purple have served as pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock — and as influences on generations of bands ranging from Queen and Metallica to Bon Jovi and Alice in Chains. Never mind that “Smoke on the Water” is the first song many guitarists learn to play.
Twenty studio albums later, Deep Purple’s latest tracks were recorded in the spirit of the ’70s. The writing and recording process followed suit.
“It was organic, old-school,” Morse says. “We had writing sessions sequestered away, along with [producer] Bob Ezrin, and did some work in the Nashville studio where Elvis used to record. The band was there in a circle, playing together.”
Listeners are drawn in from track one, spotting the band’s most beloved elements along the way.
“Gillan’s lyrics always have way more meaning than people realize,” Morse says. “He loves the cryptic crosswords, where you have to figure out the hidden meaning before the actual word? And he writes his lyrics that way.”
Currently on a worldwide farewell jaunt called The Long Goodbye Tour, Deep Purple are also in the midst of releasing three albums: Johnny’s Band EP on August 8; Classic Songs Live in Concert on August 18; and a career-spanning anthology, A Fire in the Sky, on September 8.
Phoenix New Times spoke with Morse in advance of Deep Purple’s farewell…
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