JOE LYNN TURNER: 'There's A Lot Wrong, In My Opinion, That's Going On In The United States Right Now'
January 12, 2023
In a new interview with Metal Godz Radio, former RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE frontman Joe Lynn Turner confirmed that his latest solo album, "Belly Of The Beast", is "a lot darker" than his previous efforts. He explained (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "You know, art is a reflection of life. It's a mirror of reality, and right now the reality is pretty dark. I'm not saying it's hopeless or anything, and I'm not being negative… There's a lot of stuff going on in the world right now that ain't right, and somebody's gotta talk about it. [In] the old days in rock and roll, we were rebels, we were outlaws, we were nonconformists. And it seems like a lot of people, not only people, but especially in rock and roll, have conformed and complied to a sort of lockstep where they either wanna just toe the line, the corporate line, or the government line or whatever. Somebody had to come out and say it.
"I think I have enough controversy on this record to wake people up," he continued. "Some people will understand it; some people won't. But that's okay, because that's what art is supposed to do. It's supposed to make you see things from another perspective so that maybe, maybe your critical thinking will kick in and you'll start to realize that our humanity and our freedoms and our dignities are being taken away from us every day. And if we don't act soon — like, rise up, as the song says — if we don't do that soon, those virtues are not gonna be there for us anymore. And complete compliance and enslavement is all that's there. It's truly '1984'. It's truly a grave new world. It really is."
When asked what the most recent freedoms are that he feels that he has lost as an American, Joe said: "Well, speech. Number one. Freedom of speech. You know, they keep talking about a democracy, but first of all, the United States is a constitutional republic. Secondly, democracy, which the Greeks invented, has never really worked; there's always been some social aspects to democracy. But talking about democracy and censoring speech, it's complete hypocrisy. Because freedom of speech is the number one thing that you need in a democracy. Freedom of choice, too. Elections are pretty dodgy lately. In my day, there was an election day, not an election month.
"It's all falling apart," Joe added. "The Congress didn't vote for all its stuff. There's a lot wrong, in my opinion, that's going on in the United States right now. And I have the right — we all have the right to speak about it.
"I went to Iraq for over a month with a band called BIG NOIZE, which had a few notables… We had Simon Wright from AC/DC, and we had Phil Soussan from Ozzy's [Osbourne] band and various other bands; right now from LAST IN LINE. And Carlos Cavazo from QUIET RIOT. And we saw things there and learned things that I don't think the average American or anyone, really, would learn about what the situation there [was like]. There were no WMDs, weapons of mass destruction. That was all a big lie, a big hoax. And so on.
"So I think what's happening here is that our critical thinking has been lost somewhere in the mix," Turner continued. "Instead of thinking for yourself, what comes on that TV, which could be easily fake news — really, it could — you should question everything that's been said to you; you should question every decision that they've made and really try to dig deeper. Instead of making a conclusion that that's the truth, you should seek for the truth instead. And I think that you'll find that the man behind the curtain is not who you think he is, as in 'The Wizard Of Oz'. That's what we're doing here. It's all mirrors — smoke and mirrors. So looking deeply into this, as I have for years, and educating myself, which I think we, as Americans, should do more of, instead of watching Netflix, I've got a bitch about it, really. Because I think people need to wake up and take their life back, take their country back. They're losing it. My father fought in two wars for this, and he'd be turning over in his grave right now."
Turner's latest comments come just four months after he performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The singer broke with most international artists who canceled their live appearances in Russia in response to the global condemnation against the Kremlin and its president, Vladimir Putin, over the war in Ukraine. In addition, major record labels suspended their operations in the country, while streaming services like Spotify pulled out of the market.
A month earlier, Turner apparently threw his support behind Roger Waters over comments the PINK FLOYD co-founder made about Russia. Waters blasted U.S. president Joe Biden for "fueling the fire in the Ukraine" amid Russia's ongoing invasion of the country, and asked in an interview with CNN's Michael Smerconish, "Why won't the United States of America encourage [Volodymyr] Zelensky, [Ukraine's] president, to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war?" After Smerconish responded that Waters got it "reversed" and was "blaming the party that got invaded," Waters fired back, saying it was about the "action and reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border."
A short time later, Turner took to his official Facebook page to share a video of Smerconish's interview with Waters, and he included the following message: "Roger Waters speaks TRUTH to power! Thank you Roger. Someone has to say it..."
This was not the first time Joe had publicly taken a political stance. Back in 2015, the singer made headlines when it was revealed that he joined a list of Western celebrities who publicly expressed support for and defended Vladimir Putin, whose image had suffered greatly because of Moscow's aggressive foreign policy.
Two years later, Turner said that his opinion of the Russian president had remained unchanged. "He still is [telling the truth]," the singer told Kraig Casebier's "American Barber In Prague"in a 2017 interview. "Honest to God, I got a lot of crap for [saying] that [before]. But it's true, and he still is, whether you like him or not. He may be a gangster, but he's a good gangster. And I say there are good gangsters.
"There were gangsters in my family, in the Mafia, and they were good people," he explained. "They were the safest neighborhoods, and they protected everyone on the block, and they took care of a lot of people. And they actually donated their time, money to good causes. If somebody didn't have enough bread or food, they'd buy it for 'em. I mean, it depends on what kind of gangster you are. The politicans are bad gangsters; they can't even cover up their crimes."
Joe went on to lament the state of American politics and denounced the culture of extreme political correctness, which he believed had gone too far.
"I think America's lost its way," he said. "We've lost God, we've lost a lot of things that made that country great. And I'm sorry to say, being an American — Italian-American, and holding an American passport… I have had uncles… and my father did military service for twelve overseas stripes — the whole thing. And I went to Iraq for the troops, so anybody that wants to challenge that, c'mon, bring it on, because I think I know a few more things than you. But I think that we've lost a lot in our values of America. We can't even speak freely anymore. There's more freedom in Russia; I can tell you that. I've done a lot of time there and still will. People don't understand what Russia is [in America]."
According to Turner, his country's demonization of Russia is rooted in the fact that "America always needs a big, bad wolf. We need to hate somebody, because of the military industrial complex," he said. "So we need to hate somebody all the time [and] create a war. There's no need for it, really. If we can just straighten out the economy and get the Fed out of there, I think the people would have a chance. But right now, I pray for them — I really do. Because I just think they've got it all wrong."
As if sensing the criticism that would likely follow his comments, Turner preemptively defended himself by saying: "I said Putin was telling the truth, 'cause he is telling the truth. I got subpoenaed by my own government, okay? So all these naysayers and these haters who are gonna see this about me and stuff, you guys have no clue. 30 percent of the American people have passports, so 70 percent of you are isolated and know dick about it — you have been nowhere and done nothing. Excuse me, but that's what you should have been told a long time ago."
The now-71-year-old singer went on to explain that he was "subpoenaed" by the U.S. government after he played "three charity shows" in Russian-annexed Crimea, which he called a "wartorn country." "The people had a great time [and] we had sellout houses," he said.
Turner also expressed his belief that too many of today's artists were afraid to discuss social issues in their music, preferring instead to stick to the generic, trivial topics that the rock genre has always been synonymous with.
"If you believe in one faction, the problem is if you say it today and you're not politically correct, you're gonna catch a lot of hell from people that don't wanna work with you because you're not politically correct," Joe said. "So the world has become falsely politically correct, shall I say. And that's not the way music should be. Music used to be rebellious, used to be something that we could step out of the norm and live for, as far as heroically, but now everybody's starting to get in line: 'Don't say this,' and, 'Don't say that about this.' So you try to do it in your writing, but it sometimes falls on deaf ears, because they're not used to hearing… 'Oh, we don't wanna hear about that.' 'We don't wanna know about that.' "
He added: "It's very unfortunate that the generations of today don't wanna know about being a rebel and having an alternative to what they're being indoctrinated with."
Turner is married to Maya Kozyreva, a lawyer from Minsk, the capital of Belarus, which has supported Russia throughout its invasion of Ukraine. "She is my greatest asset in life. She's my angel," he told Guitar World in 2012.
Joe was the singer of RAINBOW between 1980 and 1984 and he sang on the album "Difficult To Cure", which featured the band's most successful U.K. single, "I Surrender".
During Turner's time with RAINBOW, the band had its first USA chart success and recorded songs that helped define the melodic rock genre.
1990 saw Turner reunited with RAINBOW leader Ritchie Blackmore in a reformed DEEP PURPLE for the "Slaves And Masters" album.
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