Bernie Torme Interview by Jason Ritchie, www.getreadytorock.com

Desperado

1. What are you currently up to?

Currently we're finishing mixing and mastering a download Guy McCoy Torme EP for itunes and other download outlets. It should be available August 21st if we get our act together: it will be three tracks, Cannonball, Bitter & Twisted, and an old track which we've made our own called Ball & Chain.

The recordings are all different to what will be on the forthcoming album, which will be out in the UK late September or early October, we haven't finalised a date yet, though different versions of both Cannonball and Bitter & Twisted will in fact be on the forthcoming album.

Then it's onward and upward to doing a video edit for Bitter & Twisted which we filmed a while ago, and then we're preparing for doing some gigs in Italy and a festival in Horam in East Sussex on August 12th with Gary Moore headlining.*

The gig is in aid of a Cancer charity, so its all going to very good cause.

I think we are doing Camden Underworld at some point after that, I don't know the date yet.

*(Vibes from the Vines in aid of Cancer Research UK - Date: Saturday 12th August 2006 - Times: Gates open at midday - Show 2:00pm till midnight - Venue: Hidden Spring Vineyard, Vines Cross Road, Horam, East Sussex, TN21 - Venue Capacity: 2500 - 5000 - Tickets: 15 in advance from local retail outlets (see website), 20 in advance on-line (inc. booking fee), 25 on the gate)

Bernie Torme
From the DVD 'Stratocaster Gypsy'
© 2006 Angel Air Waves

2. How did GMT come about? Have you done other work with John McCoy since the Gillan days?

Well John and I had been vaguely talking about doing something for the past five years: we wanted to do the three piece sketch, both of us like it, we had started out that way in the 70's, and the musical and song dynamics change greatly as soon as you have a shouter out the front.

Not necessarily for the better or worse, just different. We tried it with Mick Underwood on drums, but it seemed not to flow very well, it was probably the fact that we had all played together before and there wasn't a great amount new to be said.

I had heard of Robin, and he did a session at my studio for a band that was in shortly afterwards, I was really impressed. John and I had a blow with him, and the chemistry was instant.

John and I had done a few things since Gillan, he'd produced Torme's 'Back to Babylon', which I felt didn't really work at all as well as the live band did. We still insult each other about that!

Also I did most of the lead guitar work on the Mammoth album, but generally we sort of avoided each other work wise.

3. Desperado - the album is finally released. Why did it take so long to find a label to release this album? Were there any extra tracks recorded at the sessions for the album - any unrelesed gems?

Well I couldn't really give much of an opinion on the delay. To be honest there was a huge amount of political shit went on in the original demise.

Elektra basically tried to kill the band off. A lot of very wierd nastiness there, I'm told because they wanted to get back at the guy who had signed us and then left. A very nice gesture for parasites who have lived off musicians since day one, and all of whom no doubt had their big pensions and their big houses in the country.

We all limped away and tried to survive, what else can you do, Dee battled longest and hardest, and really he had most invested, and lost most out of it, including his house and a bankruptcy.

We've always kept in touch, we were very close, still are, and after Twisted's recent bash over here with Alice Cooper, I hooked up with Dee and brought him to see Clive Burr (who's in a very bad way with MS), and following that he came to my house in Kent and in the course of conversation he asked if I would be interested in looking for a deal to get the Desperado album released.

To be honest I had not even thought about it for at least 15 years! But it wasn't a difficult question! But I'd never been asked before, so I suppose that was part of the delay. I know Dee went through a lot of long winded shit with Elektra, and that was probably most of the delay too.

4. How did the only live show Desperado played go? Did the band ever consider still playing live despite there being no album in the shops?

It went great, it was only some little club in Birmingham! I'd have loved to have played more but as Dee has pointed out to me recently I wanted to be a musician and he wanted to be a rock star! So I like playing music, whereas he likes errrrrrr being a star!

All part of life's rich tapestry. So anyway, it never happened! Not much point without a record out, our set was virtually all tracks off the album.

5. How do you think your guitar playing style has developed down the years? What piece of advice would you pass onto budding guitarists?

It's become even worse. I think it's become even more individual, if that was possible, I sound even more like me and less like anyone else. I don't know if thats good or bad, but I think its good. Whatever, its real. I find it easier now.

Advice? Play lots, please don't do that awful Berklee thing where you get all of the technique and have your heart and soul lobotomised in the process in some sad western world intellectual game.

At the end of the day it's not just about notes and technique, thats the easy part, it's about heart and soul and feel, which no one can teach, there are no words for. Think Yoda! Some of the most emotionally moving music on the planet has been made by musically illiterate people who could not play very well: thats not an excuse for not learning how to play well, but it does mean its better to try to move people emotionally rather than to be clever.

Leave that to politicians. They don't make very good music. You need simplicity and directness too. Who teaches that?

6. Who made you want to be a musician? Any one you would love to work with in the future if given the chance?

Sheer purblind stupidity I suppose. It was the thing I love, music. I still do, it's my world, and I live in it. I don't care about the business or the fashion or whatever, its nothing to do with that.

The band I'm in at the moment is the best band I've ever been in: John has always been my favourite bass player on the planet, and also a perfect foil, we work like one drug crazed mind, we both hit the same bum notes together! Fantastic, you can't tell its a bum note!

Robin Guy was the most inspiring player either of us have come across in years, and we've both played with a lot of great drummers, Ian Paice, Mick Underwood, Tommy Aldridge, Clive Burr, Bobby Rondinelli, Liam Genockey, to name a few, a lot of great players.

Robin has that great tribal thing going and just kicks it up even higher when you would think it just isn't possible. I'm a chemistry person, and I get off so much on the chemistry in the players in this band, I can't believe it, it's fucking awesome.

7. How did you get your first break into the music business?

Well I went down to the Crossroads, made a bargain with the devil and fell down on my knees and got run over by a bus full of nuns..... I'm really not sure.

Was I or am I in the music business? What the feck is that when it's at home with a headache anyway? I suppose it was when Don Harris, a drummer I played with when I was 17, (he was 14) got us a gig at the local Girl Guides dance in Kilmainham in Dublin. I bet no-one has ever said that to you before! And we got paid. Rock on Don.

8. Which song(s) do you enjoy performing most live and why?

New ones. I have a very low boredom threshold. That's one of the things that really killed me about Gillan: Ian has no boredom threshold at all, just as long as he has an audience in a live situation he'd play the same songs for ever. it drives me mad, no criticism, people are different, it just drives me mad.

Having said that, we now play "Secret of the Dance" which I can't remember playing in the first place, which helps, and Trouble and New Orleans which unfortunately I can remember only too clearly. Nuff said.

It's a big thing to me though, recording-wise I'm a three take person: usually best take second take: I really have an attention deficit thing, it goes severely downhill after that. It always makes rehearsals difficult, specially when other people make mistakes. More than once. How dare they.

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Drink! Feck! Gerlls! Apart from that life on earth, preferably in the open air, my family, my nice house in the country, and music, which is my paradise. I'm not a social person, I'm a loner.

10. Message for your fans?

A choice of three:

1) Get some feckin' sense and buy a Val Doonican record. Val's got a lovely lilt to his voice and plays Delaney's Donkey on the guitar beeeutifully, much better than that useless bowsy!

2) Rock on you Dads!

3) Thank you all for your kindness patience and boundless good taste! You make it worthwhile.

Artist website


Interview © 2006 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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