30 Minutes with Ian Gillan Page 2
Would you consider doing another album with concurrent stereo and surround mixes? Absolutely. It's ridiculous what they say about old dogs and new tricks. You learn stuff all the time. Surround is another dimension. No matter how powerful music is, it benefits from having texture and dynamics. Somebody asked me, "What do you get out of this?" I get out of it what rock music meant to me as a kid, when I went to the fairgrounds to see Elvis Presley, to see Gary "U.S." Bonds singing "New Orleans," Little Richard singing "Good Golly Miss Molly," Jerry Lee Lewis doing "Great Balls of Fire," and Fats Domino doing "Walking to New Orleans." I'd walk from the rifle range to the bumper cars to the Ferris wheel, and all of the music I heard along the way would be overlapping. In its own way, it was open-air surround sound rock and roll. Very exciting.
A lot of people listen to music as background noise these days, but when I put on a 5.1 disc, I don't do anything else. It's all I pay attention to. I like that. What a wonderful thing to be able to sit down and listen to music and not have it be wallpaper.
You know, when you listen to a show, you usually listen to it in stereo. It's hard to "stagger" that kind of thing live. The Hollywood Bowl is one of the few places that can do it right. I think the idea of going that far with delays and different perspectives on sound is very difficult to absorb when watching a band on stage.
I remember sitting so many times with stereo mixes, trying to pan something left to right, or trying to create the space setup where you've got the keyboards stage left and the guitar stage right, but you've got to compensate, because, for example, listening to music in a bar or someplace like that, you only get one side of the stereo. It's always disappointing.
So records always ended up more as hi-fi mixes than pure stereo spreads anyway. You can get dramatic effects from panning and whooshing sounds and high-frequency stuff, but other than that, it goes over the head of most people and public sound systems.
Being present for the Deep Purple Concerto for Group and Orchestra mix [in 1969] was almost like dealing in surround sound - being wrapped around by an orchestra. Each section of the orchestra has its own area, a traditional setup. You can relate to that. I listened to both discs of the Concerto at home with friends on three consecutive nights. It was as if we were at the concert. Even on the third night, I was still hearing new things. [Editor's note: Rhino released a DVD-Audio version of Concerto in 2003.]