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Purpendicular's Robby Thomas Welsh: "I learned my trade first as a drummer performing in small bars in Ireland. I ended up switching to vocals one night because the singer was too stoned to continue, so the guys chose me..."

Interview with Robby Thomas Welsh from Purpendicular
by Fred Bonanno at 13 September 2022, 11:02 PM

Metal Temple writer Fred Bonanno recently spoke with Robby Thomas Walsh from the band PURPENDICULAR, the Irish singer started the band in 2007 originally as a DEEP PURPLE tribute act which then evolved and began to play original material. With the release of their third studio album in September 2022 “Human Mechanic” that features DEEP PURPLE drummer Ian Paice.

Hello, Robby and thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule and touring to answer a few questions for Metal Temple, first of all, how are you doing?

No problems at all mate, I’m doing good thanks, we just back from touring a week in Czech Republic which went very, very well. Got a bit of a cold in my throat on the second night in Kolin so I spent all the night and next day steaming my vox box. Then all was fine. Missed a hell of a party though, so I’m told (laughs).

Can you give us a brief history on Robby Thomas Walsh, your journey into music, your journey into the DEEP PURPLE tribute band and the leap into PURPENDICULAR

Well, I was brought up on good records such as Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, ABBA Arrival, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall Looking Back, Chic, Santana Abraxas, Deep Purple In Rock, Led Zeppelin 2 etc. that was my introduction. The next was realizing I wanted to do this for a living…so I learned my trade as firstly a drummer performing in small bars in Ireland. Ended up switching to vocals one night because the singer was too stoned to continue (laughs), so the guys chose me…and I guess it beat dragging a big drum kit around to carrying a simple microphone!

The leap into Purpendicular was when we realized we couldn’t pay the rent doing original material. DP material gave us the chance to not copy but allow us to be expressive within the structure of the tracks, and more importantly get paid so we could develop the band. 14 years later here we are releasing our third original album!

You've collaborated with some incredible musicians over the years, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, Neil Murray, Don Airey, and Steve Morse, pretty impressive indeed, but how amazing must it be to work and record with legendary DEEP PURPLE drummer Ian Paice?

I didn’t work with Steve or Don. It might of been on an unreleased track featuring them but nothing official. The others I worked with yes.Working with Ian is extremely easy. We know each other a long time and we’re great pals. We share the same interests to a degree. We love football, sports, good food, good drinks, we share the same humor. It’s important nobody ever gets complacent around him which has happened in the past unfortunately. We have high standards that must be met on and off the stage. If somebody told me during my embryonic years of playing music, that I would end up touring and recording with Ian, I would of had them committed to a mad house (laughs) I remind myself of that. But now we are working colleagues and friends, so the fanboy thing is left behind. That’s imperative.

I just listened to your latest album release, HUMAN MECHANIC, and loved it, and I know all DEEP PURPLE fans will as well, but I did get a DEEP PURPLE vibe from the album, would you say that was inevitable?

Thanks for the kind words. It’s always going to be like that when you have Ian Paice on drums, a band with Hammond organ, a band that performed previously as a tribute to D P. It’s something we can’t avoid but it’s ok for us, It is what it is.

As I previously mentioned, I loved the album, but did you ever consider covering one or two DEEP PURPLE songs on the final release? If so, which song(s)?

No. That would add fuel to the fire (laughs)

Why did your tribute band cover the Steve Morse line-up years, and not Ian Gillian or even Coverdale/Hughes?

We chose the Morse/Satriani version of DP because it was new and different to all the others trying to copy Ritchie Blackmores version of DP. Nobody else was doing that.

When you tour now with PURPENDICULAR, do you ever play some DEEP PURPLE songs in the set?

Sure, we do, all the hits and some obscurities.

Do you remember the first time you heard DEEP PURPLE?

Yes, way back in the late 80s. Scandinavian nights live then DP in rock. Awesome stuff. I hardly listen anymore to rock at home. When it becomes your job that’s the last thing you want to hear when you get home (laughs)

DEEP PURPLE is one of my all-time favorite bands, and one of the bands that introduced me to metal, which artists first influenced you musically?

Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin 2 album and of course DP.

Other than yourself (laughing) which singer(s) do you consider amazing?

So many…Paul Rodgers, Marvin Gaye, Buddy Guy, David Coverdale, Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, ABBA, David Bowie, George Michael, Freddy Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Bee Gees, the list could go on.

Where do your songwriting inspirations come from?
When we jam live. I feed off that and put a good story line to it if I can. Or I might get an idea for bass or a hook line at home or in the car or wherever. I don’t sit down on a beach or a chair with a blank writing pad and pen (laughs)

What gives you more satisfaction? playing live or writing/creating a "kick ass" album?

Live all day long. I feed off the audiences. Studio I don’t really like. It’s very time consuming and unforgiving.

When you sit down to listen to music, who's on your playlist? Anybody that might surprise us?

Probably (laughs) my playlist in my car and at home just at the moment features
Jestofunk - Say it again, Oliver Cheatham - Saturday Night, Bryan Ferry - Don’t Stop the Dance, - George Michael - Outside, Chic - Strike up the Band, Simply Red - Moneys Too Tight to Mention, Steve Winwood - Valerie, Madonna -Holiday ….plus some classical stuff.

What is the biggest roadblock you've faced in your musical career?

Musicians. Never had problems with promoters, Organizers, labels, or agencies. To get loyal people is hard. If you want loyalty in this business, it’s better you buy a dog! (Laughs)

Robby, thank you so much for taking time to humor me and answer my questions, and I wish you and PURPENDICULAR the absolute best with the new album HUMAN MECHANIC and all future projects moving forward, I know we'll be hearing a lot from Robby Thomas Walsh in the future.



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Edited 27 November 2022
 

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