ROCKY ROAD FROM DUBLIN – but Bernie Torme has travelled well.

I was last in touch with Bernie Torme in March this year just before his gig in South Shields. (The Dentist, March 2017) He had just released a triple album Dublin Cowboy and was starting a UK tour to promote the record. I asked him how did it go, were there any stand out gig’s or surprises ?

‘It went really well, which was great for new boy Sy Morton on bass. The boy done good. Stand out gigs? Well for political reasons since you’re from the North East I’ll say South Shields! It was, but actually they were all fucking brilliant!’

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‘Edinburgh was a blast, we had my old bass player Phil Spalding from The Bernie Torme Band back in ’77 -’78 play one of our punk classics Secret Service and the great Doogie White got up to sing Smoke on The Water. That was wild’.

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What was the initial feedback from supporters to Dublin Cowboy ? ‘Really good, different people had different favourites, everyone seemed to dig the Dublin Cowboy track lots, and the acoustic album and live album. It was one of the best reactions I’ve had to any album, pretty pleased about that’.

In 1988 you worked with ex Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider in the band Desperado, how did that come about, what was it like writing with Dee and did you play live ? ‘It was great working with Dee, I love the guy, he’s one of a kind, great guy, great front man, awesome singer. The singer bit often gets ignored because he’s such a huge personality, but that man could sing the ass off anyone’.

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‘He asked me to do it initially because he had heard the lead guitar work I had done on the Mammoth album (I was the potential Mammoth that just wasn’t fat enough!) it was an interesting time, just before the bubble burst on the mega deals for rock stuff in the music biz. I couldn’t have given a fuck about all that, but it was important to Dee and his management.

So we careered through a few years of huge money and chaos. Dee on Atlantic being sued by Bill Graham (of Filmore fame), chapter 11 bankruptcy and out of the Atlantic deal. A new deal with Elektra, turned out a bad mistake!

We recorded the album, which they initially loved, then they dropped the band after having a million dollars spent on us because someone had a bad weekend or something. That’s the politics of New York cokehead music industry execs…. Fuckin eejits! Quite traumatic at the time, but you survive and ride on free’.

‘Dee was great to work with, huge talent, good writer, always loads of ideas, sometimes a bit of a control freak, but thats understandable, he was the guy who had to carry the can. Fucking giant, I love the man’.

‘Only gig we ever did was in Birmingham, I think it was the International club or something? Maybe wrong about the name, but it was definitely Brum. It was a showcase for Atlantic, but with an audience. Good gig. Motorhead wanted us as special guest on their Euro tour in ’88 or early ’89 but Dee wouldn’t do it. I really wanted to, I still think not doing it was a big mistake, it would have put a real world value on the band’.

Bringing your story up to date what are your future plans, any touring in 2018 ? ‘Thinking about that one….not sure, maybe end of the year. Perhaps not, life is a bit complicated right now’.

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Lastly, what has music given you ? ‘A life, dreams, happiness, unhappiness, friends, enemies, experiences and seeing places. Meeting great people, shit people and doing things that a shy kid with a stutter from Dublin could never have imagined in a thousand years! Gave me everything really, for which I am eternally grateful, I wouldn’t have exchanged my life for anyone else’s. It definitely did not make me rich though! Hey music are you listening???!!!’

For information about the Dublin Cowboy album and more check the official website http://www.bernietorme.co.uk

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2017.

Recommended:

Bernie Torme, The Dentist 21st March 2017.

THE DENTIST – In For a Check-Up with Bernie Torme.

‘Creative process for me is always different, some are instant, some are like pulling teeth and it goes on for years, literally. You never can tell’.

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Bernie Torme is best known for playing guitar in Gillan, with the former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. Ahead of his Dublin Cowboy UK tour, Bernie Torme broke off rehearsals to talk about his forthcoming eight date tour…..
‘Its pretty much like the first Gillan tour dates I did to be honest, before we became famous and it all went bang and different, those were probably the best times for the band in truth! Marquee and Birmingham Barbarellas and all that. Ian was a legend but it was a low point in his career and when the Gillan band took off it became a bit difficult for all of us to handle. He knew how to, we didn’t!

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Obviously now I’m a lot older and much stupider and not trying to go mad all the time like the old days, just trying to stay alive through the mayhem, so that’s different!
Also with Gillan we never did a run of more than 4 dates, Ian’s voice used to fuck up. I don’t need to worry about that because mine fucked up long ago!’

When you were young was there a defining moment when you said to yourself “That’s what I’m gonna do” was it seeing a band play live, hearing or watching maybe The Beatles?  ‘Thats a good question! Not sure there was ever a single defining moment though. I think generally it was the Rolling Stones followed by The Yardbirds with Jeff Beck if anything.

I loved The Beatles, the songs definitely, but the guitar playing and sounds didn’t really hit me all that much, more John Lennon’s voice, though. I loved the riffy stuff like Day Tripper and Ticket To Ride. Keith Richards did really hit me though, the sound of the guitar on The Last TimeSatisfaction or 19th Nervous Breakdown really blew me away. And the whole of the Out Of Our Heads album.

And then hearing Beck on the Yardbirds Heart Full Of Soul, just loved it. Shapes Of Things, Mister You’re A Better Man Than I, it was just wow! How can a guitar do that! It was the sound that I loved, that is still the thing for me, the sounds you can get out of a guitar. I love making those sounds’.

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Can you remember your first guitar and what influenced you to pick it up ?
‘Yeah of course! First guitar I ever had my hands on was some shitty Spanish with no name, borrowed from a friend of my sister! I liked it so much I saved up and got myself an Egmond acoustic for £6 10 shillings, lotta money in those days! Then my Dad, who had a second hand shop/auctioneers with his brother had a second hand Hofner Colorama electric turn up, for a tenner, so he gave me that. Lovely guitar, wish I still had it’.

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How do you feel about the work you are producing now and does the creative process take time or do songs come quickly ? ‘Well I do the best I can, I just do what feels right for me. That’s something that has changed since the old days, back then you were always trying to please a bunch of suits, some of them were good people and had a sense of respecting what you did, but most were just trying to get you to produce an instant hit, and that was all about money and not about music in any shape or form. So now I just follow my nose and do what I love, its working well for me.

Creative process for me is always different, some are instant, some are like pulling teeth and it goes on for years, literally. You never can tell. Just have to have a good memory really !
Lately I’ve been able to do a double album, a single album and now a triple album, mind you I’m not planning to buy a yacht or anything on the proceeds! Just as well really, maybe a toy yacht haha’.

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Was the pledge for your latest album ‘Dublin Cowboy’ successful ? ‘Bloody crazy successful! Best one so far, can’t believe it! Its also been a really fun experience this time, first one (Flowers & Dirt 2014) was great but I didn’t really know what I was doing or how it worked, so it was a bit stressy.

Second one (Blackheart 2015) was weird because some nutcase broke into my house and beat me up and nearly killed me in the middle of it, so I was maybe not in the best headspace during that one, but this one has been a 100% blast, lots of fun’.

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On your upcoming tour are you playing any gigs where you’ve never played before ? ‘Yes, a few this time, South Shields Unionist club, Glasgow Nice ’n Sleazy and Manchester Factory, its always good to play new places, looking forward to them!’
Thanks for taking the time to answer Bernie and wish you very good luck for the Shields gig on April 1st. You can find all dates on the Dublin Cowboy UK tour on the official website bernietorme.co.uk

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Interview by Gary Alikivi March 17th 2017.

Recommended:

Bernie Torme, Rocky Road from Dublin, 14th July 2017.