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Fireworks Magazine Online 53 - Interview with Blackmore's Night


It doesn’t feel like fifteen years since Blackmore’s Night debuted with ‘Shadow Of The Moon’, when guitarist Ritchie Blackmore moved away from the rock he played with Deep Purple and Rainbow to try his hand at Renaissance music. With Candice Night by his side, the pair have gone from strength to strength, winning over fans with their exquisite albums and superb live performances. One of these performances has been filmed for release, titled ‘A Knight In York’, their third live DVD. Long term fan James Gaden needed no further motivation for the chance to speak to both Ritchie and Candice. Here is a small taster of the five page exclusive UK interview. 

I loved the DVD Ritchie, not only is it a really good show, but I was there in person when you filmed it so it brought back great memories. I thought it was absolutely superb. Was it one of the best shows of the tour?

R: I think it was a good, average show - considering that whenever you make plans to record a show something invariably goes wrong and it turns into a disaster. I was pretty happy with how we played. There were a few mistakes, but that is normal. I was quite pleased with it. The night before, two nights before, we were in the most wonderful castle in Germany but it rained. That was originally where we planned to record it, so we would have the video of the castle, but it’s a good job we changed our minds the week before. We were having problems with the promoter, it started a couple of months before we did a show in Germany. We saw the ticket prices and we said it was too much money for people to pay. We complained about the prices being too high and that led to all sorts of confusion and people getting annoyed, saying it was a typical price. We said we weren’t going to play for that, so in the end things started getting given away at the show like medallions and merchandise. So planning to record there and then having things like that, we said “You know what? We’ll do it in England.”

As I was at the York show when it was filmed, I noticed there were quite a few songs you didn’t put on the DVD which you played on the night. Was there a specific reason for that, like running time, or to avoid duplication from previous DVDs?

R: One reason was running time, the other was trying to remember what was on ‘Paris Moon’. I very rarely listen to our old stuff, I ask Candy. And here she is, so you can take over from there…
C: Hi! Yeah, it was because we hadn’t done a live DVD since 2007 with ‘Paris Moon’, so a lot of people were clamouring for a new one. Since then we had two albums out, ‘Secret Voyage’ in 2008 and ‘Autumn Sky’ in 2010, so of course the set list had completely changed since 2007, as had the line up of the band. We played probably two and a half, almost three hours that night. We do really long shows but the record company only really wants a certain amount on the DVD, otherwise they have to make it a double DVD, which causes them more expense, it’s a battle that you lock horns over. So we kinda just narrowed it down to the songs that hadn’t been on DVD before and included some standard favourites people love to hear as well. There are a lot of songs that wind up on the cutting room floor, so we have a lot of things we can bring out. This year is actually the fifteenth year of Blackmore’s Night being in existence, so at some point we’re going to take all these songs that didn’t end up on the DVDs and put something out, showing the different incarnations of the band, showing how we’ve evolved with the musicians, how we started and where we are heading for. We might put that out as a special project for an anniversary edition or something.

That was one of the things I was interested in - it was a long show. When they guy came on at the end with a clock, you carried on playing regardless. How set in stone is the set list? Is it a rolling set… how does it work?

C: The first four or five songs are usually the same, and after that anything goes. We crack the whip on the band, they need to know at least thirty songs and of course, Ritchie and I know so many more than that because we go out and play in restaurants and things - I think when you’re a musician it’s not what you do, it’s who you are. If somebody takes music away from you, they might as well take your breath and blood away. Whenever we go to restaurants, they are dimly lit, everyone dresses in garbs and we take over the back room and play acoustically. So we know so many more songs that Ritchie can just pull out of the hat, anytime he wants to do it. Actually, ‘First Of May’ is an example of that, it’s very rare we play ‘First Of May’ so I’m really glad Ritchie pulled that one out. It was nice to be able to do it that night and include it on the track list of the DVD. But yeah, the set list changes every night. We’re always watching Ritchie - you can see fear in the band member’s eyes about what the next song is going to be! (laughs) Nobody ever knows where he’s going from certain points. He changes it based on audience temperament, whether he feels it’s a listening audience, whether it can handle more balladly stuff, more acoustic stuff, more instrumentals, extended solos, extended intros… he’ll never play the same song the same way twice. Never the same set list the same way twice. I think that is one of the reasons people come to see us a bunch of times in a row, because they know it won’t be the standard set list played on autopilot. For us, it’s always different every night, not just the set list, but the songs themselves.

When you first started Blackmore's Night, did you have difficulty shopping it to record labels with it being a deliberate departure from hard rock, or was your name enough to get people interested?

R: I don’t think we had difficulty, did we?
C: In Japan, they snapped it up right away. They actually named the band!
R: That’s right, Europe were okay, there was only England, but that’s normal.

Don’t judge us, we’re not all ignorant!

R: It’s nice to see the real English audience when we play there, we’re very comfortable playing for the English people. But the media involved, the middle people, are very weird at times. Whether it’s the radio or the newspaper people, there are certain interviews I just won’t do because I know they’ll stitch us up.
C: It’s never the band and it’s never the fans, it’s always the people in between! (laughs)

I must admit Candice, I read an interview you did for your solo album - they gave you a two page spread, one of which was a full page picture, asked you just nine questions and one of them was ‘Do you own a pair of jeans?’

C: (laughs) I know. When I was in college I used to take a journalist course because I thought that was what I wanted to do with my life. I did ‘Ethics In Journalism’ which was an oxymoron, but it’s interesting when you get somebody on the phone and they ask you questions that don’t even make any sense! That was a mild question - half the time, you know they are basically jabbing you with a needle to see if they can get a sound-byte out of you. It’s a shame, because you are taking time out, usually from a busy tour schedule, you rush home from the show, you’re exhausted, all you want to do is go to bed but you have to get on the phone and talk to somebody… which is okay, but it has to be worthwhile for both parties. A good interview can be like a good therapy session, they ask you good questions that really pull from your inner soul, you wind up thinking about certain things, it can be very cathartic just getting out and speaking about things you’ve never spoken about before, maybe even rediscovering things you’ve not thought about before. A really good interviewer has really good questions that are introspective. But not everybody is a good interviewer! (laughs)

At Fireworks, none of us are interested in grabbing some dodgy quote, we want to talk to the artist about what they are doing. We’re not out to write something scandalous and sensational, all we want is to promote the music simply because we love the music.

C: Ritchie doesn’t often do interviews as you can imagine. That’s why he agreed to this one, Fireworks has offered good support and it’s appreciated.
R: Yeah, I think really going back in England, say twenty years, the English papers were always taking jabs at musicians, whether it was McCartney or Michael Jackson, whoever, it didn’t matter. Everyone was fair game - some of it was funny but they seem to think that is the way to go, to criticise and be sarcastic. I know out here, there are a lot of American actors who won’t do English interviews for that reason, they’ll avoid the English press for that reason, so it’s obviously something that not only I have noticed. If a magazine does that, word gets around with the artist or the actor and people stop doing interviews.
C: I think the whole country has a bad name for that, many people will hear it’s an English interviewer and say ‘Oh, no thanks.’ It’s a stereotype, obviously all you guys aren’t like that, but people get nervous and think ‘Well why should I put myself through that?’
R: I can be very sarcastic and English people like sarcasm, it’s a popular form of humour, look at ‘Fawlty Towers’, it’s all about sarcasm and it’s really funny, but not everyone gets it.

To read the full FIVE PAGE interview with Ritchie and Candice, you need Fireworks 53.


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