Rock ‘N' Roll Fantasy Camp—which is now in its 21st year—gives musicians the chance to hang with and learn from some of the most respected talents in rock.
Sure, attendees can interact, jam with and be mentored by legendary players, but the camp also allows them to write, rehearse and record in a professional environment, all of which culminates in a once-in-a-lifetime live performance.
One of this year’s camps—which runs March 2–5 in Hollywood—features Steve Morse, Glenn Hughes and Ian Paice, all of whom are or have been members of Deep Purple.
I recently spoke to Morse about this week's Rock ‘N' Roll Fantasy Camp and got an update on Deep Purple. Check out the interview below.
What do you enjoy most about doing these camps?
One thing I do have is a lot of experience, so I guess it would have to be to legitimately be able to answer any questions and to pass along tips. Back when I was trying to learn stuff, it was usually done by listening to records through a bad speaker in the basement of my house and trying to guess.
There were so many question marks about everything, and my brother and I would always wonder what it would be like to be a professional musician. Then when Led Zeppelin came to town right before their first album came out, we'd try to imagine how all of this worked: How many business people are involved? Who does what? Is it possible to make a living doing this? They were all legitimate questions. For people feeling that same way now, I can bring my knowledge to them. It's a really cool idea.
Simply put, what’s the camp like? What kind of experience is it?
It’s a real team effort with several different projects. There are a bunch of professional players who come in, and we organize and concentrate on a tune and play together. When I did the last one, there was also a Q&A session and performance interaction with everyone. At the end, all of us did a big jam concert.
What can you tell me about the new Deep Purple album, Infinite?
Well, I can tell you is that it’s the same producer [Bob Ezrin] and studio that we did the Now What?! album, which did very well for us. We had an abundance of material and Bob gave us a lot of latitude. He was a great influence and had a vision of what he wanted the band to sound like.
In sort of an homage to the great lineups of the Seventies, the band is gearing up for a tour with Alice Cooper and Edgar Winter.
Yes, and I'm very excited. Alice always has great musicians in his band and I'm also friends with Doug Rappoport, Edgar Winter’s guitarist. He's another very good player.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of keyboardist Jon Lord’s passing. What do you miss the most about him?
I miss the genuine love he had for exploring the nuance phrase or passages that weren't written yet and the way that we interacted. When I first came into the band, I hadn’t met Jon until 24 hours before our first show. I met him and we set up some amps and then he said let’s jam a little. So I played something and Jon immediately got it. Then he took what I had just played and did a variation on it. It went back and forth and I just remember thinking, "This guy is a 'rock' keyboard player?" [laughs]. He was a great guy, and to have Don Airey in his place now is great because he has a lot of the same qualities. For me, it was like playing with two jazz giants.
What's the status of the next Flying Colors album?
We’ve got a really good start on it, and we’re hoping to get together to finish the album by the end of the year. The band actually did a surprise appearance recently on Mike Portnoy's birthday cruise where we opened up the cruise.
We’re hearing rumors that this might be Deep Purple's final big tour. If that's true, how would you like the band to be remembered?
Positively. We’ve gotten to play a lot of amazing places, and what I’ve found is that people all over the world are very similar in the way that they react to music. The best thing a person can do is to try to make the world of human culture a little bit better, and music does that.
For more about Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp, visit rockcamp.com. For more about Deep Purple, visit deeppurple.com.James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.