David Coverdale Interviewed Generically by Sharon Chevins

Date: Circa Feb/March, 2003

(Pictures from Sheffield Monsters of Rock Gig Coming Soon as well as the full live review)

Monsters of Rock has been a tradition in the UK for several years - what¹s it like to play under such an historical banner?

Well its a great honour for me to work under the banner of the Monsters Of Rock. It's actually a double pleasure because I'm working under an equally prestigious banner of Whitesnake, so this will be the fourth time I've worked for Monsters Of Rock - very exciting. I am actually looking forward very much just to getting home and playing after so many years.

How difficult is it to choose a set list, given the fact that each country seems to have a different favourite Whitesnake line-up/album?

Well it's not really hard. Songs are songs you know. Whitesnake has done pretty well across the board really - certainly in America there was more focus courtesy of MTV with the Geffen albums 'Slide It In, the 87 album, 'Slip Of the Tongue' and of course there is a very hardcore foundation (that) loves the old songs, so I will definitely be doing 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' otherwise I'll be hung drawn and quartered in certain areas if I don't. 'Walking In The Shadow Of Blues' is always a pleasure for me to sing but these songs are always pretty obscure in the States so you know that's why I'll be adding them. In The Last Hurrah in 87 I thought it would be great to revisit some of the old songs and it was very interesting. The loudest response I got through the performances was always for the more recent albums because I think that's courtesy of MTV and of course in those years I was selling lots of records.

What were the deciding factors for putting Whitesnake back together rather than to continue to perform as a solo artist?

Too many reasons to put in one question putting Whitesnake back together when I looked at the music industry it really wasn't very appealing for me to get involved. In fact I've spent the last two years getting out of all the contracts tying me to the industry. The only real avenue that I enjoy is the performing, so I will be very happy being a performing artist six months of the year for as long as the old legs or throat can handle it. Also my son is six years old now and he knows that when Daddy leaves he's not actually leaving him and in fact he's a road warrior already in fact he's toured with me in the states and loves it. So he will be accompanying me, this will be the first time I am taking a family on the road and I am very excited about that. But yeah, I didn't want to leave before, I didn't have those same parental skills when my daughter was born 25 years ago, when I was making the Whitesnake Trouble album, I was away working most of the time, I remember Phil Lynott god rest his soul and I talking he said he felt like the stranger who would turn up every three or four months with an arm load of presents on the doorstep and just see the look on his childrens faces, who were of course more interested in the gifts than their dad.

There have been reports of Whitesnake filming and recording this current tour for a possible live album and DVD are there any set plans for this?

Well I haven't been filming but I have been recording all the shows so I think we already have what would be looked upon as a US live set in the can but I want to do a global live set so we will be recording the UK and European shows as well. I think if I do filming it is going to be in the summer god willing we won't be at war, which I think is the most unwise path we have ever taken and I sincerely hope we can get everything. That's basically on Whitesnake.com is my most asked question is when are you going to do a legitimate live record because all people have had is bootlegs, you know I've never recorded 'Is This Love', 'Still Of The Night' all of them you know - the big tunes, so we are doing that now.

There are plans for two releases in the UK for a Whitesnake Greatest hits CD and a double Anthology type CD for the fans a few months later. Why two CD's so close together?

Well I worked last year at the request of the Chief Executive Officer of EMI putting two projects together one was a double cd, an anthology of 25 years with EMI which would put Whitesnake, Coverdale Page and some solo stuff together you know encompassing 25 fun filled years. And then I also worked on a fabulous collection of the early years from '78 '84 called 'The Early Years' and it was wonderful, from 'Trouble' to 'Slide It In'. It was really happening stuff and I really reconnected with the earlier music a lot then some other people came on board and came up with the idea of doing a singles set which is basically an EMI fuelled project that they are going to go with and I think basically to keep me happy and to get me to promote that they are going to put out the double cd to coincide with the tour. That is significantly more interesting to me I would just like to see all of the stuff remastered in this day and age, it really stands up. The remastering that I have heard that they have done so far with Peter Mew at Abbey Road has been exceptionally good. I have been talking with my former manager who has been responsible for the earlier Whitesnake years. I took over from the 'Slide It In' album on and we are talking about doing DVD collections because there is certainly enough stuff there to make a discerning collection for anybody who has supported our work.

The 'Monsters Of Rock Tour' includes Gary Moore. You have long been an admirer of Gary and at one point in the eighties he was rumoured to be a candidate for Whitesnake and of course his band G-Force supported Whitesnake in 1980 on the Ready and Willing tour. Did you request or suggest Gary Moore for the Monsters of Rock tour or was it just a coincidence?

I love Gary Moore's playing. We were actually talking about working together just before he made his Corridors Of Power album (I'm a) huge fan, absolutely. When my agent Rod MacSween suggested his name I was more than thrilled. I think it's going to be a guitar fans paradise to see Gary, Red Beech and Doug Aldridge play. Very excited about it, very excited, and looking forward to seeing him again reconnecting after so many years.

It seems like the current trends are moving towards rock music in a big way. Do you feel like the Monsters of Rock Tour will attract some younger fans discovering Whitesnake and Gary Moore for the first time?

Well I am going out in The States as we are doing this and I am seeing a cross section of audiences from early teens 15, 16 up until people that saw me in Deep Purple, late 50s even going up into the Charlie Watts age and they are not making me feel like I am doing anything retro we are singing those songs, we are performing those songs as fresh as when they were first done and I couldn't do it any other way, whether or not there is a current trend moving back that way I don't know that's not why I am doing it. I am doing it because I was invited to come out and play and it's a more attractive package than some of the glam acts that were suggested before and basically I think its like a snowball rolling down a snow covered hill its just gathering momentum wherever we go. I am very excited about it. Hopefully we will all have a good time.

Where do you see this version of Whitesnake going in terms of touring and recording? Will there be a new album or is this just a touring line up to promote the Anthology and Best of CD?

Basically I have just reformed Whitesnake to tour, all of the ducks in a row as it were tied in nicely with the idea of the 25th anniversary but that wasn't the initial motivation. Although as I say it seems like a practical thing to do to bring attention to it, it will be to promote the name Whitesnake, the band Whitesnake, as my intention is hopefully for the next three to five years, it's a tour at least six months of the year have fun, spread the light, spread the joy. Who knows if I end up recording an album or not, my plan is to do a live greatest hits but how on earth I am going to get it to people I don't know, we shall have to see.

How did the sound evolve from being a blues/rock band in the late 70¹s to the sleek Americanised version of Whitesnake in the mid-80's, was this a conscious decision?

It was a conscious decision for me to electrify. I don't look upon it as the Americanising of Whitesnake, that tied in with the MTV thing. My plan was in place prior to MTV - it's just that I felt that the earlier stuff had gone as far as it could. The musicians in the band had gone as far as they could as a collective. There was a bit of apathy creeping in and a lot of people cruising on gold status and I was sniffing around and hungry for platinum, I felt I had to electrify Whitesnake more and the person I felt to do that was Cosy Powell and John Sykes, it worked wonderfully. I was very disappointed when Cosy and I fell out, god rest his soul, I would have loved for him to have been on the 87 album, but I am also a believer in karma and destiny and obviously that wasn't supposed to be. But yes it was a conscious decision. But you strip those songs down you will still feel the same essence of where it started.

In the future is it going to be David Coverdale solo artist or David Coverdale lead vocalist with Whitesnake?

I would imagine you are going to see David Coverdale lead vocalist with Whitesnake, I would hope that Whitesnake can go out and achieve a particular status like I can go out and do Starkers in Tokyo I did with Adrian, I would love to do that with Doug Aldridge you know, stripping the songs down and doing a different version of you know 'Here I Go Again' and songs like that in an acoustic unplugged way, I love the intimacy of doing stuff like that. Its also a testament to the quality of song if you can just take those big b*st*rd electric guitars and thunderous drums out and have a song stand up on its own. You know, I would hope to do that.

What made you decide to go back on the road? It's been about 5 years since you toured under the name Whitesnake.

A bunch of circumstances, clues that I don't ignore anymore. I was supposed to do a deal with Warner Music Group last year and that fell south as soon as they posted a huge quarterly loss so I sat down after preparing all these songs for a new album, and thought well what do I want to do - my wife could see I was interested in singing and working again, the passion was secure, but how to go about it. So we sat and talked about it and she said well what aspect of the music business do you actually care for? And the only aspect of the music business that I care for is the performing the actual connecting between the audience and the musicians on stage. So that was the idea, we put the word out and said would anybody be interested and the interest was significantly more slanted in the idea of me working as Whitesnake than as David Coverdale. Basically it was a kind of is that going to be a problem to me? No. Would I have loved to have seen my solo career take off? Yes , but I¹m not losing any sleep over it. Absolutely fine. I am fine with how things are.

Hopefully we'll hear many of the old favourites at the Whitesnake shows and the more recent songs from "Into The Light" but will you be introducing any new material?

I think you are going to hear Whitesnake songs, you know I've toyed with the idea of putting new songs in but I have seen how people have enjoyed these songs. I see the look on their face when we start the song and I hear their voices when they sing. And I don't want to stuff new stuff down them when you had the days of radio support or MTV support, people knew the songs they heard them so much they were familiar with them. I just want to have a good time and I am having a great time playing these songs with new musicians it has injected a freshness and an energy that I haven't felt for a long time and I am digging really deep on these songs. My performance is more intense than it has ever been so something is right.

How hard was it to work with a completely new band, but still maintain that distinctive Whitesnake sound?

One of the parameters of me looking for new musicians is people who actually care about the music of Whitesnake that is the bottom line and I look at the musicians and not as members of Dio or members of Ted Nugent or Thin Lizzy or Winger or whatever. I look at them as musicians and what I think they can bring to Whitesnake, - I'm telling you they did their homework - two days into rehearsals I thought we could have done a show. Yes it would have been frayed at the edges but the energy was incredible. Everyone who stopped by rehearsals was blown away. This is a great band. It's going to be a Whitesnake for the 21st Century and I stand behind the decisions I made in terms of the players. They are great, they are inspiring me to soar vocally and perform and just go to places I haven't been baby and I am enjoying it immensely.

Your old friend Jon Lord has been quoted as saying he'd like to get all members of Deep Purple on stage together just once. What do you think of that idea, and would you ever consider a similar project with past Whitesnake members?

Yeah, I actually had a great experience bumping into Jonny Lord - the old bugger didn¹t recognise me. It was a new testament that I am in svelte shape and kicking butt. He was great. He was on his way to work with the Sydney Opera to do concerto for group and orchestra and looked fabulous and it was wonderful to see him. I would be happy to do some kind of charity thing if it was Deep Purple but it would have to include Mr Blackmore, I wouldn't be happy with any aspect that didn't include Richie so the ball would be in his court. The idea of putting all of the Whitesnake guys together I have always said - you know, the first chapter we had was so much more fun we went against all the odds, it was very funny I would love to get everyone together for a huge dinner, let the tape recorders roll, let the cameras roll, capture it all the stories you know because everyone has a select memory you only remember certain snapshots of a particular time and other people will remember them like from a different camera angle. I would love for Bernie to come on and jam on 'Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues' and 'Europe'. We will see. Just make sure he's got his guitar with him.

It's 30 years since you went from Virtual obscurity in Redcar to Deep Purple. It's the 25th Anniversary of Whitesnake in 2003, you have strode the worlds stages achieving massive success through three decades, what aspirations do you have for the future?

I am the Edith Piaf of rock. I have no regrets. I have entered my fourth decade as a musician and I am digging deeper and performing with more intensity than ever. In terms of my aspirations I would love to be able to achieve a positive success level that Whitesnake could go out for six months a year. The other six months I'd be able to indulge in watching my son grow, spending time with my daughter, my wife, all of those things you know. It isn't necessary for me to scale the Everest of the music business anymore. You know, I did very well I don't doubt that I will do well again, forgive me, otherwise I would never get on a stage and do this if I didn't think I'd do well. I believe in myself and I believe in what I have to offer I think from what I can see and feel with audiences we have played to so far, everyone needs a dose of Whitesnake baby, its good therapy and its uplifting stuff, I want to spread the joy because the more joy I spread the more happy I am and that's it.

Are you looking forward to The Monsters of Rock Tour and seeing all your British fans again?

I am intensely excited to reconnect with my country and hear English voices and British voices and Scottish voices and Irish voices singing 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' again. Its been way too long and it won't be this long ever again, I can't wait to come home to play.


A Big Thank You to Sharon Chevins @Generics R Us .