Interviewed by Greg Schmitt
Date: March 22nd, 2006
Hello Joe! Welcome to Rockeyez. Thank you for your time in answering our questions. Your friends at Rockeyez would like to wish you the best for the New Year. What are your plans for 2006?
I have a lot of things in the works that I cannot talk about at the moment because it is still in the planning stages. But as of this interview date, it looks like there is a good chance I may be heading to Eastern Europe for a few shows. I have a couple dates in Texas coming up... Bikefest in San Antonio in April and a Houston date that we are working on. There is also a chance I will head to Cleveland as well. The website will have any news that is confirmed so check the site often for updates.
2005 saw the release of your newest CD, “The Usual Suspects.” If I may say, it's another classic marriage of AOR and melodic hard rock; a perfect blend of your recent solo albums and your earlier work in Rainbow. It’s been released in Europe and Japan, and available in the U.S. (with bonus tracks) through your website. Please tell us a little about the album. Will there be an official U.S. release at some point? Do you have any favorite tracks?
First off thanks for the kind words and I am pleased with your description. I have heard similar things from fans. I am not sure if it will be released in the USA at this point. I have had success selling it online. We are also looking into other options with some of the download sites. That's all pretty
much out of my hands and up to my management.
As for fave tracks, this is the answer I keep giving because it is true. I have no one favorite. They are all different and I like them all for different reasons. I prefer to have the fans decide and I always like to hear what they think. For this album, it seems there is not a clear favorite track. The fans
all give me different answers but that must mean there is something for everyone on the CD and that's a good thing, I think.
I was fortunate enough to catch you live last spring in
Poughkeepsie, NY. A great show, and a very nice mix in the set list, covering all aspects of your career. I highly recommend people catch you when the opportunity arises. Who's in the band this year, and what can the fans expect to hear live this time around?
The band can vary a lot. Whenever I can, I try and include a couple of the "usual suspects" like Karl Cochran and Greg Smith...guys who have played with me on record and live before. They are brilliant musicians and we have that instant chemistry. I have also tried playing with locally based bands, such as The Real Rockers when I went to California for a trek last year. If the quality of the band is superior and if they learn songs fast then that is also an option. Thanks again for your compliment and glad you could catch the show at The Chance.
You also appeared on last year's Brazen Abbot “My Resurrection” CD along with Tony Harnell and Goran Edman. (5 star rating on Rockeyez) You've had quite a long lasting partnership with Nikolo Kotzev. (Joe also appears on the Brazen Abbot releases “Bad Religion”, “Eye Of The Storm” & “Guilty As Sin” and “Nostradamus : Rock Opera”) Please tell us how your relationship first came about, and what are your thoughts on this new CD?
Nik contacted my management. I get demos and things just about every week but when Nikolo sent me his material it totally blew me away. Plus he is incredibly talented. So we agreed to work together after he sent us a proposal.
How does the writing process differ working with Nikolo, then say, writing for a JLT album?
Nikolo writes all music tracks. Not always the melody. We exchange files electronically so we do not always write with each other "in person." Technology affords us the luxury to be able to write and collaborate at a distance.
Your fans never seem to be at a loss for new material. Personal favorites are the CDs you've done with Glenn Hughes as The Hughes / Turner Project. Please tell us about how the collaboration came about, and will we ever treated to another release?
Sure, I'd love to do another HTP album but Glenn and I have been so busy with our solo careers and other projects that there is not time now. So, HTP is on hiatus. Glenn and I always wanted to work together. He joined me for a short tour of Japan a few years back and we shared some vocals on songs and the audience loved his contribution on bass and vocally as well. So... we ended up taking it to the next level, formed HTP and the rest as they say is history! There is still a chronicle of sorts on HTP at www.htpsupportersclub.org. It has a lot of history and archival material. Check it out!
You and Glenn seem to work so well together, both sharing a huge back catalog of material. Has anyone ever considered touring HTP over here in the States? I would bet there'd be an audience for all those classic songs!
I agree. I think a few one-off shows would have worked well or being part of another tour that was a double or triple bill. However, it costs a lot to tour anywhere and with the radio situation the way it is in the USA, with very few stations playing NEW music by so-called classic rock artists it would be hard to get a lot of promo needed to make a tour successful.
You also recently did a Russian release with Glenn as the Michael Men Project. I found my copy on Ebay, and really enjoy it. It’s kind of a prog version of HTP, for lack of a better description. What would you like to tell us about that album, and will it ever find wider distribution?
I am not sure about the wider distribution factor. The album was fun to do and the people we worked with were great. One strange thing did happen, though, and that was the music tracks were changed a lot from the way they sounded when we recorded the songs. So the finished product was much different than I expected. I am glad you like it. It certainly is unique. And the Russian people were great, very hospitable.
Speaking of re-releases, Wounded Bird Records (http://www.woundedbird.com) has finally put “Rescue You” out in the US, and has slated the Fandango albums for April 2006. Which titles will be released and what are your thoughts on those early albums?
I believe they are planning to release all 4 past Fandango discs and they may already be out by the time this interview is posted. Those albums were very eclectic. Fandango was not hard rock or metal but we did have aspects of melodic hard rock in our sound depending on the song. There is a huge southern rock and jazz influence as well. I have great memories playing in Fandango. It was my first major record deal. Back then, 4 albums on one label was a big thing.
As we all know, you were involved with 3 Rainbow albums in the early 1980's, and then returned to join Deep Purple for the underrated “Slaves And Masters” CD. What was your writing partnership with Ritchie and Roger like?
Roger and I were...I'd like to think...very close and had a lot of similar pacing and literature tastes. We were also into the same things... metaphysics, psychology. I think that is reflected in a lot of the songs we collaborated on. Working with Roger was great!
The lyrics to “Can’t Happen Here” seem more pertinent today then ever. How do you feel that song reflects on the somewhat Orwellian times in which we live today?
That answer would take me too long to type. I could speak for hours on this subject. It is a huge interest of mine. The short version is that I agree with you and that the song was perhaps a bit prophetic now that I look back.
I remember hearing that you did some writing & recording for what eventually became “The Battle Rages On.” Do those recordings still exist? Were they the same songs that ended up on the album, or completely different tracks?
There are one or two tracks that were taken from those sessions that were re-arranged. Ritchie did try and push for including the exact songs, from what I heard. It's because they were so good. There was a lot of friction and in the end, history bears out the truth.
It appears that Ritchie's been sequestered from the rock scene by his management for the last decade. Have you heard the Blackmore’s Night material, what are your thoughts on it?
I think Ritchie is very happy making this type of music. I also like it a lot. Ritchie always wanted to do material like this so it is not forced on him in any way. Recently, I contributed vocals to a Blackmore's Night version of "Street of Dreams." It's on their latest CD as a bonus track. It was really enjoyable to do.
Has there ever been talk of you and Ritchie reforming Rainbow? Or even you touring as JLT's Rainbow? Those songs deserve to be heard more frequently.
There is always talk and rumors. I would love to tour again with Ritchie if he decided to reform Rainbow if it was for one show, one album or a whole tour. We worked well together and got along great. However, I know he is committed to Blackmore's Night and as I said, he seems very fulfilled.
Ritchie is well known for his interest in the supernatural. Over the years, I've read some great stories involving his séances. Do you personally have any experiences you can share with our readers?
Those experiences were very chilling and personal. Thanks for asking but I'd rather keep the details to myself.
You were heavily involved in the writing of what probably became the most commercially successful Yngwie Malmsteen album, “Odyssey.” What are your feelings on those days? Was it a positive working relationship, and would you ever consider rekindling it?
It was one of the best albums I ever made with anyone. I am very proud of the record. Great songs, excellent musicianship. It was one of the highlights of my career. It was a positive relationship in that we made some great music together and grew a lot in the process. Yngwie and I did work together later on “Inspiration.” If Yngwie wanted to work, again it would depend on the situation, circumstances, etc.
Do you have any interesting touring stories from back then? Please feel free to share.
Well there is the classic "unleashing the fury" airplane incident. If you go to Hairball John's Radio Show site I believe he has a sound clip of this. It's better heard than re-described by me ;-)
A lot has been written about the guitar heroes you've played with, but I'd like to ask you your opinions of some of the lesser-known ones you've worked with:
Student of Blackmore
Akira Kajiyama: Overall great musician besides just guitar. He does it all. Best Japanese guitar player I have heard.
JJ Marsh: Killer! he can really play! Super Swede!
Nikolo Kotzev: Amazing musician and conductor.
Al Pitrelli: My goomba one of the best American "students" of Steve Vai.
Karl Cochran: Seriously deep into vintage sound... studies all the masters.
Tony Bruno: Another amazing player and great friend.
Bobby Messano: He's done great with his New Blues Orchestra project. I like him a lot; he's a very good player.
I hear you've been doing a lot of session / studio work for commercials as well as other artists. Which have you done lately that you've found memorable?
We are getting great feedback from the recent JLT-Akira Kajiyama CD that is out in Japan now. It's soon to come out in Europe. There are some strong songs on it and many of the fans seem to like it as much as my solo work. I do all the lead vocals on it and Akira plays just about every instrument on it as well. He's brilliant!
There are many great solo CDs you've released in the last 20 years, but not a whole lot on the DVD front. Is this something you'd consider addressing in the future?
I'd love to do a DVD and am looking into it now. However, it has to be done right. I do not want to put just anything out because the fans want it. It has to be quality. I have had a lot of video shot at recent shows and there are a lot of videos "floating around.” But we want the DVD we do end up doing to be really amazing. Too many artists put DVDs out just to have them out.
Please tell us what you remember best about the following years:
1966: Younger years as a budding musician even back then.
1972: College and also deciding that I wanted to have a career in music.
1977: Fandango and the 4 album deal with RCA.
1985: Promoting my first solo album “Rescue You.”
1992: Left Deep Purple and was also a bit sour about the music biz in general.
1997: After “Nothing's Changed” I had some fun doing the first “Undercover” disc.
2002: The Hughes Turner Project launches and is a success.
Being that you frequently travel the globe, you must have a very well balanced world-view and have seen first hand the effects of what could be described as an imperialistic U.S. foreign policy?
I could go and on about this topic and I hope you do not mind if we can save it for another time. I could probably speak for hours on this topic. People who are interested in this might want to check out the website of one of the most compelling authors I have read. David Icke. www.davidicke.com
Joe, we'd like to thank you for the time you've given us at Rockeyez. Is there anything you'd like to say in conclusion?
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart and soul for keeping people informed about new music by "classic rock" artists and entertained as well. Sites like yours are great and I appreciate your support immensely. All the best to you and your readers!