The Candice Night Interview
If you don’t already know, Candice Night is the enchanting front lady of Blackmore’s Night, a band she helms with husband and legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Having released the stunning Dancer And The Moon in the Summer of 2013, Blackmore’s Night is taking their Renaissance-influenced, startling original tunes on what their website calls a “limited exclusive engagement” of dates in November.
I reminded Candice of an interview we did about two years ago, and though I know she probably wouldn’t remember me from all the interviews she does, she treated me like an old friend sitting down to talk about her inspirations and her life with Blackmore and the music they create.
Pretty much what Candice Night and Ritchie Blackmore have going on with their band, their family and their approach to it all is pretty amazing. I want to personally thank Candice so much for her time and wish them all well.
So, your next concerts will be here in the U.S., right?
Yes, all the dates we are doing now are going to be in the states. We are based here on Long Island, New York, and I think Ritchie has had it with domestic travel as far as flying is concerned. So wherever we’re going to play, we’ll end up driving to, the gigs will be pretty much in close proximity.
Last time we spoke we were talking about how well the band does in European markets, especially Germany.
Yes, we love Germany, that’s the one market we go back to every single year. Everywhere else we get to comes and goes, in and out, but Germany you can absolutely bank on us coming back to. Ritchie has a great affinity for that land. Germany was the first place we actually starting touring in. We have this amazing fan base there; it’s our biggest market I’d think. But we also just hit Russia, the Ukraine, Scotland, back to Germany, of course, all within six weeks or so.
I’m thinking no matter who you are these days, it’s got to be hard keeping a band on the road, no matter how many dates you play a year or where you play them.
It’s tricky, especially since we’re not one of those bands that go on the road for a year at a time. Most musicians really want that, that’s their income, when they go out they want to stay out to make as much as they can since that’s their bread and butter. For Ritchie, he’s kind of in the opposite mindset. He’s done his touring; he’s done it for 40 years, even longer. The way that we tour, he won’t play more than two days in a row. He wants days off in a week, he takes care of everybody so we all reap the benefits of his exhaustion (laughs).
Of course, the good thing about taking so much time off when we’re traveling, we can give a one hundred percent of ourselves on stage. Lots of bands touring are playing every night, they travel all day long, then they get to the venue and they play an hour and a half on auto-pilot. It’s so tricky to keep that going every night. But with having our days off, the fans get to see us at our best so it makes perfect sense. That’s why every night Ritchie switches up the set list. He does extended intros and solos; he’s feeling good and not exhausted.
So even with a lighter schedule, playing less shows, it is economically feasible to do these dates, keep the band together?
Economically, as long as people keep buying the song “Smoke On The Water” on re-releases and remasters, we are cool.
That’s funny, I was expressly warned to keep any and all Deep Purple questions to a minimum.
When you’re talking to me, you can talk about anything, and you and I are old buddies anyway from that interview we did two years ago (laughs).
OK, since you brought up the Purple, Ritchie’s past…who picks the covers you take on? On Dancer, you tackle Uriah Heep’s “Lady In Black,” a great remake of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” and Rainbow’s “The Temple Of The King.”
That’s all Ritchie — he picks all the covers songs. In the case “Temple Of The King,” fans have been asking us to do that for a long time. We can be on stage for three hours if Ritchie’s having a good time, we’re all well rested and people are really enjoying what we’re doing and he’s switching it all up. So sometimes it’s like “What do you guys want to hear?” and we’ll take requests from the audience. A lot of people at this stage have been with us 16 years, they know every show is going to be different, so they see a bunch of shows in succession; we get to know people, so we feel we have all these friends out there now so they will yell out mostly Blackmore Night songs at this point. But every once in a while you’ll get somebody shouting out “Temple Of The King,” and it’s not to be disrespectful, they just love the way we do it, it’s a great song, it stands the test of time, it doesn’t matter who does it, it’s just a great melodic tune that we do a little differently than the way it was done originally. So “Temple” was just one that kept coming up again and again, and Ritchie said, “Let’s do it…” kind of a tip of the hat to some of the band members over the years that aren’t with us anymore.
To that point specifically, with a song like “Carry On…Jon” (the last song on Dancer And The Moon for Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord), it feels to me that Ritchie is playing more electric on this album than ever before. Was that a conscious effort on his part do you know?
The funny thing about Ritchie — and it’s funny to hear the rumors that have gone through the industry about him — being in the studio next to him I’ve seen this man go in and put down this amazing guitar solo that will absolutely blown your mind, and then he sits there and says, “You know, this is not what the song needs,” and go out and record a hurdy-gurdy instead of what he just played and I’m like, “Really?” I would never know another guitarist to take off their solo spot, that’s their moment, they look forward to it. But Ritchie is so much more about the composition, the song, how it feels. He’s so not in it for ego purposes, the direct opposite of what has been said about him over the years, I know.
Well, you’re to be complimented as well for singing for the composition, for not over doing it. On a song like “Troika,” especially, I think you truly deliver a perfect vocal for the song.
Oh, thank you. If you start to listen to what’s on the radio, all these people doing these vocal scales and pretty much a lot of people can do that, I think, do you really need to do that in every song at every point? I just try to channel, I just try to close my eyes and lose myself with the song, pull from someplace else, see the song coming through me. Body, soul, spirit, I want to absorb it all. If you don’t feel it nobody else is going to feel it either, Often on stage, I have my eyes closed, I completely forget anybody is even out there and I open my eyes and think, “Hey, they are still there!”
And even though there is cohesiveness to Dancer, to all the Blackmore’s Night stuff, I dare say, I don’t necessarily feel you’re making concept albums, right?
Right. We don’t make the direction, each individual song makes the direction, the songs lead us where they want to go. We just try to channel it, we just try to be open and feel it, whatever the song wants to be about. We don’t have a definite idea or concept where we want to go.
Last we spoke, we were talking about some upcoming acting roles for you, is there anything new on that front?
I wish I had more to share on that. That particular film lost funding so I am in limbo at the moment on any acting. I’d love to do it, chomping at the bit, but right now, no I’m not doing any acting.
Still you’re pretty busy with the band. I know you have more music coming out very soon. And a really interesting personal project as well, right?
Yes. While in Germany we had this great interpreter with us, I mean we speak a little German but he was great. And we thought why not have him write out some lyrics phonetically and we can go in and record the “Christmas Eve” in German and then in English, so we have both ready to go. Then we opened up our house up for a concert, we said if you’re going to dress in Renaissance clothing you can come and we had this intimate party. We have a big room here that has a big fireplace and tapestry, very medieval inspired. So we just sat there in front of these people and recorded a video and five or six songs that will go out as well.
And then, yes, I was doing double duty when recording vocals on Dancer And The Moon, I also did a lullaby album that’ll be out in 2014. I have a one year old and three year old, so you can guess I do a lot of lullaby singing — our kids are so into music as you’d have to assume — but when my daughter was one and a half, she wrote a song, I caught her singing this melody to her dolls. I recorded it for the lullaby album, so I can’t wait to see her name as a writing credit, it’s just amazing.