Jens Johansson's 5 questions to Don Airey
1) You're awesome and a huge influence and inspiration to me.. almost everything you had contact with over the years I have listened to, "enjoyed the shit out of" analysed, tried to suck up like a sponge and then enjoyed a little more the-shit-out-of. How did you become so awesome, what do you feel is your ratio between nature and nurture, inspiration and perspiration?
Your not bad yourself Jens, and thanks for the kind words. I was lucky when I was a 20yr old music student at the Royal Northern in Manchester, to have a year of classical piano lessons with a Polish teacher named Ricard Bakst (he'd been a contemporary of Gilels and Richter at the Moscow Conservatoire!). About the finest musician I ever knew, he really drummed things into me especially his mantra "Practise, Practise, Practise", something I still adhere to on a daily basis. I often find the good ideas come at a tangent from where you thought you were heading, but hard work seems to be the secret to unlocking the goods in my case so 20%/80%
2) You worked with some of the biggest characters in the business. And when I say "characters" I mean that 99% in a nice way, but without mentioning names some of them seem like they would (in the real world) get locked up with a psychiatric diagnosis. How have you managed to preserve sanity in your life when members of your band have gone crazy? How did you combine sane "civilian" life with all the music business lunacy?
My wife of 35 years, Doris, deserves most of the credit (not to mention a gold medal or two) for keeping my feet on the ground. It can be problematic coming home to normal life when perhaps you have been working on the road for a few months with someone who has a severe personality disorder, and you are right, I have been round more than a few. But you find the same kind of individuals in any walk of life, the trick is realising that as musicians we are not a race apart, or immune from the usual restrictions of civilised behaviour. Certain beliefs of the Christian variety have been a great help when the going got tough, also living in the same house for 30 years where we brought up our kids keeps you on an even keel! There is a book called "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson that has great insight into our perception of and dealings with, people who seem to be mad, evil, or both
3) What's the weirdest thing you have seen thrown on stage?
The legendary bat that landed on stage in Des Moines Iowa, on the Ozzy tour of 82. It was enormous, still alive and Ozzy put its' head in his mouth and walked round the stage with it flapping till it bit him. This was the exact moment he realised it wasn't made of plastic. The story made BBC Radio 4 breakfast news in the UK and my dear mother nearly choked on her cornflakes.
4A) How do you feel about streaming and wild file-sharing being a bloodsucking leech which will suck the lifeblood out of the very idea of musicians making a decent livelihood....
Its always been tough for musicians to make a decent livelihood .. plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose
oh sorry, maybe that was a leading question. I'll try again..
4B) What is your preferred method when mic:ing up a Leslie?
To get someone else to do it!! No, two on the top at each front corner, and one on the bottom. When recording usually mike up both
Leslies, but with different makes of mike.
5) This one is from my brother Anders: "When we met at SRF once you told me you like Swedish food. Rotten herring or horse?"
Smorgasbord of shrimp, boiled egg, asparagus and salad cream on crisp bread - fit for a king!
Stratovarius - current album 'Nemesis' out now!
Deep Purple - current album 'NOW What?!' out now!