30 Minutes with Ian Gillan

So I was just in the S&V sound room, listening to the surround mix of Gillan's Inn. Tell me how it all came together. My manager said, "You've been singing for about 400 years now, so it's time to do an anniversary record." I thought he meant doing a compilation, so I burned some tracks from throughout my career and played them in my car. I found that the production values were all different - different eras, different producers, and different studios. Some were bright, some were heavy on the bass. I suppose you could get around all that by remastering. But then I phoned a few friends, and that's how we got the idea of re-recording stuff. Once we got through that, we got linked up with John Trickett at 5.1 [Production Services]. He said, "Do you have any production ideas?" And I said, "I've written this book that I'd like to stick the CD inside of" - following the old vinyl album idea where you turn the pages and see how it works and what it's all about.

That used to be the ritual when albums came out. You sat down, listened to the record, looked at the album sleeve... Exactly. You had something important in your hands. But when we talked about doing the book, the question came up about how would you rack the whole thing since it's not really a book and it's not really a record. Kind of confusing. And then the idea came up that we could do everything we wanted digitally on DualDisc, and that's where we turned the corner. What you've got with the DualDisc video footage is a virtual gatefold that you can watch on any TV screen. You've got to really consider the kind of people who have that equipment and want to enjoy that way of looking at things now - we're just using a different medium other than vinyl.

As for the music, the 5.1 mixes were done and rejected and redone and rejected again, because there's a high standard out there.

Was [5.1 Production Services'] Bob Michaels involved with that? Yeah, in liaison with our producer Nick Blagona.

Did you listen to other 5.1 discs as reference for Gillan's Inn? Not really. I remember listening to quadraphonic mixes when they first came out - some of them were okay, some of them weren't. But the ones that weren't made the biggest impression on me. This is different. Gillan's Inn is the first time I've ever heard something where you can actually pick out the instruments. I can hear both of Don Airey's hands playing the clavinet in "Hang Me Out to Dry." Everything just emerged from the morass.

That took me back to my very first experience as an amateur singer at school in a band called the Javelins. My hero was Cliff Bennett of the Rebel Rousers. He was a singer's singer, and the players were musicians' musicians. I wanted to take Cliff's place on the stage, to feel the music wrap around me and just get enveloped in it. That's what this record does for you.