Metal Express Radio caught up with Whitesnake legend David Coverdale during the recording of new material for the forthcoming Whitesnake live album.

Where are you calling from?

I’m calling from Lake Tahoe, from the mountains of northern Nevada. It’s not too shabby is it?

Things are getting busy with Whitesnake at the moment with the DVD, Live album, Rereleases and your forthcoming tour.

I’m literally right in the middle of singing right now. I’m going to be putting four new songs on the live record and I’m in the middle of singing right now so I’ve just taken a bit of a break. It’s not just getting busy, it is VERY busy!! I’m not complaining though ‘cos it could be the other way round. I’ve got to try to keep a balance, though. I need to make sure I have time for my nine year old boy and my stunning wife before I bugger off out on tour. Mind you, they can come out whenever they want, but we’re sticklers for making sure that Jasper fulfills his obligations at school. It’s really hard, but we try and do as much as we can. We speak several times a day wherever I am. We’ve got a fantastic device called an I-Chat, which is a video conferencing facility where we can actually see each other talking, and that helps immensely. In fact, it helped me a lot during our last European tour. My daughter has also blessed us with another granddaughter too. I’m a rocking grandfather! It’s just incredible, but it’s hard as she’s in Munich, Germany so we’ve been trying to fix up this I-Chat thing, but thank goodness for technology. I just wish we were a bit closer, though.

As you know I have a very active Web site and a popular Web site at, and for many years the three most requested projects from me were an in-concert DVD, which thankfully we’ve now fulfilled; a live album, which I’ve never really been a fan of, but I’m absolutely wrong as a lot of people are and rather than spend their hard-earned money on bootlegs, I’d rather that they have a pristine recording. If you know me, I’m not afraid of spending money to get a high quality product. The other thing that we will hopefully deliver later this year is new material. I haven’t given any new stuff certainly since about 6 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years. Time flies doesn’t it? Do you realzse it’s now nearly 20 years since I released my big album, 1987? It’s also 30 years since I left Deep Purple. I walked off the stage at the Liverpool Empire on March 15th, 1976. If I’d met a gypsy with a crystal ball back then who would have said that I’d still be kicking arse at 55 years of age, I would have laughed at her!

You’ve just released Live in the Still Of The Night, DVD. How has the reaction been?

It’s been phenomenal. I got the sales figures through today and it’s still kicking arse and we are very very happy about it. You know, it was like pulling teeth getting it out there, but I’m very glad that I persevered ‘cos it’s making a lot of people very happy.

Why has it taken so long to put out a DVD?

It’s business stuff behind the scenes, and all sorts of other stuff that it’s not even worth going into. It was all business, nothing to do with the band … nothing to do with me. There were lots of people I was involved with that I hadn’t been involved with before, and I think that they encountered some troubles that were not Whitesnake related, and we got caught up in that dilemma, but the important thing is that it’s out if you want it. I didn’t actually finish editing the documentary until the end of November, that’s how final line it was. There was a time when the feeling was it was not going to happen, but it’s finally out there now.

It was recorded at Hammersmith Apollo. Bearing in mind that the old Hammersmith Odeon is often seen as the spiritual home of Whitesnake, was this the only venue where you wanted your first DVD to be filmed?

The music and the performance is from Hammersmith, but we shot some audience stuff from Newcastle, Wolverhampton, and Manchester, and I left it up to the Director who is a guy from Blackpool. I said to him to put on whatever you wanted. Hammersmith was a very international crowd. There were a lot of people from Japan, South America, The States, and Europe, of course. There were a lot of people from Portugal and Italy. London is quite easy for people to get to compared with say Glasgow. One of the things is with Hammersmith, you can almost guarantee you’re going to have a good night. I think there must be some interesting ghosts or something that support Whitesnake there. You know, I don’t even know what you call that venue anymore, The Labbatts Three Ringed Circus, I just don’t know, but it’ll always be the Hammersmith Odeon to me. It was the epitome of what appeared to be success back in the late 70’s, when we were working. We started off doing clubs, you know, Ashton Colliery and all of the places up there because it was the height of Punk, and in those days nobody was supporting a Hard Rock Rhythm and Blues band, so to save face after coming out of one of the biggest bands in the world, I did what I called “The Back to Roots Tour,” mainly because I didn’t think that I had any choice. It turned out that there were more people outside than in, so we upgraded the shows next time around and we sold them out, but we were always keeping our eye on Hammersmith Odeon … we always did very well there. We never considered Wembley though, that was never in our sights, it was always the Hammersmith Odeon that we looked to — it’s always such a good emotional night.

I guess that it’s one of those venues like Newcastle City Hall where the audience can get close to you and the acoustics are much better than the big arenas?

Absolutely! I’m right in your face there. I can see the people and can feel the emotion of the audience. The connection is extraordinarily strong. I mean Newcastle City Hall is the closest I can get to home. You talk about the spiritual home of Whitesnake, Newcastle has always looked after me. That’s where the “Whitesnake Choir” was born.

Hamish Hamilton has quite a name in directing live shows, how did you end up in touch with him?

Lord Redhead! I’d like to thank him for being the carrot that convinced me to take this deal, and that’s not a reference to his hair, by the way!! My wife and I are big fans of his, we’ve got all of the stuff he’s done with U2. I said to my wife that I’d love to work with this geezer. He has a great feeling for Rock. I was actually on the road in 2004 when the offer for the DVD came through. I’ve been offered deals before that were very easy to walk away from. I’d been sent DVD’s by my contemporaries and they looked cheap and nasty and I just didn’t want to go there. I’ve had too glorious a career to finish off with a piece of shit. I then heard his name mentioned and went “Hamish Hamilton wants to do it?” Never in a million years did I think I’d be able to afford him, and he was part of the deal so I said “You are on!!!”

We met each other and connected straight away and we’ve maintained a great friendship. He’s like the Martin Scorsese for directors of live shows. He was caught up in his business thing too, so it’s a testament to our friendship that we maintained a dialogue of great energy to keep this going. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again … even though he’s from the Northwest!! In our e-mails, he’s Blackpool Rock and I’m Redcar Rock!!

It’s obvious that a lot of attention has gone into the product with the plush packaging, color booklet, and audio CD. How involved were you in the overall production of the DVD?

Absolutely from top to bottom. I edited the documentary, but I left the predominant edits to Hamish. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a control freak. I’m the first one in and the last to go, but I left Hamish to it with minimal input from me. He is a great, great guy. We set up private sites where I could view the edits and sign them off. I could see if my nose looked too big, but then he’s got a bigger nose!! Any big belly shots could cut out too!!

I mixed the audio with a great guy called John X. We mixed it not like a live record, but like a movie. We wanted to mix it cinematically, which is not the usual approach to take when mixing a record. It’s mixed so you can enjoy it at home with your surround sound on.

Hamish asked me what was it that I wanted to achieve with his DVD, and I told him that I wanted to know what it was like to be in the audience at a Whitesnake show and I’ve got it.

Are you pleased with the final product?

I’m delighted with it. It’s a very good representation, which I’m sure you can testify, of a night out with “The Snakes.”

Now that you have got your first DVD under your belt, are you going to rerelease the videos you released earlier in your career, or perhaps a career overview/documentary showing the band through the ages with archive footage?

What do you mean, my first? It was like pulling teeth getting that one out. Well actually that is a possibility. I’m currently rebuilding the relationship I had with EMI, which had been damaged in the past by a former business associate of mine called a manager. He had no dialogue with EMI, so we need to rebuild that relationship. Right now I’m working with Geffen and Universal over here to put together the definitive Whitesnake Video Collection, which will have videos from Slide It In through to the “Love is Blind” video from Into The Light, but also putting in two songs from the Starkers in Tokyo thing I did with Adrian Vandenburg, and also the video of “Slide It In” from Donnington 1990 with Steve Vai. There will be 16 videos including two from Coverdale Page. It’ll be a treat for the hardcore collector, and I’ll be doing a voiceover for the videos, so you can click onto that so that you can here my commentary on my ex-wife and stuff like that.

EMI are planning on reissuing Lovehunter, Ready and Willing, and Trouble soon? Have you had any input into this?

Once we opened dialogue, I was profoundly apologetic that they hadn’t heard anything from me. When I went out on tour in 2004, I never saw one representative from EMI and the EMI press office never asked for one interview. I put together those collections, The Silver Anniversary Collection and The Early Years, and I never saw anybody. This was a company that I had worked with for years. I was actually the longest serving living artist still with EMI at that time. Even the members of The Beatles had moved onto different labels. Cliff Richard had also moved, so he would’ve had me beaten! It was very sad for me to say “Where the hell are EMI?” So I fired these people who I’d been involved with for a short period of time, who unfortunately weren’t doing what they had agreed to do. I found out that they hadn’t had any dialogue with Geffen or EMI. You can understand that they were pretty upset and that doesn’t do us any favors, so we started talking again.

Any bonus tracks/liner notes?

We’ve dug out a bunch of Andy Peebles sessions from the BBC, stuff from the Reading Festival. The first three are coming out in May. You know there’s a song I wrote called “Love For Sale,” and I was totally blind to the fact that it was like “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” until the guys went “We can’t go with this,” and I was like, “Why not, it’s great!!” … so that’ll be on there. You’ll also see that I copped the lyrics to two other Whitesnake songs … one was “Hit and Run” and the other was “Love and Affection,” I think, for the Saints and Sinners record.

We’ve also put the four tracks from the E.P.: “Bloody Mary,” “Steal Away,” “Come On,” and “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City,” onto Trouble. They will be full of stuff that’s hard for people to find. We’ve put as much bonus material on there that we can find, but you must remember back in those days we weren’t really big fans of the studio. We did enough material for a record and then got out of there. In those days, the longest you could cut when you mastered a vinyl record was about 20 minutes, so you’d end up with 40 minutes of material for an album and that was it.

I can’t deal with 80-minute albums unless it’s Classical Music … by the time you get to the end of an album, you’re wilting a bit, but by all means we want to fill it with more material than 40 minutes worth, unless it’s like a greatest hits type of thing, then it’s legit, but 80 minutes is a lot to take in during one sitting.

Will the rest of your back catalog get rereleased in the future?

I believe so. You know a part of me would like to remix the albums, but the record companies aren’t really keen to putting their hands in their pockets any more than necessary. If this is the best we can achieve by remastering, then so be it. With the early albums, I only have an artistic say in them, but I do work with a guy who has the rights to them, a former manager, but I’m quite happy to still have some say in it.

What’s the latest position with the proposed Live CD?

Hopefully we are just about to close a deal for a release over in Europe, and it’s looking very positive and hopefully that’ll be our little treat at the end of our European jaunt, which will be going on through to August to all points North, South, East and West. A lot of the interest has been fuelled by the DVD. I think there were a lot of people who felt that Whitesnake had gone too American, but have now seen the DVD and thought “Hey! What are we missing?” We’ve got all the bollocks that we had in the beginning and more! I don’t know if people thought I was going to come out there and prance around on stage like Poison! Everyone is most welcome to come back home to a real fire!

Have you actually recorded the album already?

Oh, yes! They are actually assembling it as we speak. The only dilemma I have now is that I have so much on my plate, but I can totally trust John X as he knows exactly what I want. He’s going to be mixing in Los Angeles and I was going to be rehearsing up here at Lake Tahoe so that I can be near my family, but I’m going to have to be on-site. We will also be recording and mixing at the same time, then going to Disneyland with Jasper! I’m looking forward to going on tour to have a rest! We will be putting four new songs onto the album as well. Ones I’m working on downstairs at the moment are three balls to the wall rockers, ‘cos one of the things that I want is new live rockers, and I’ve also got a great mid-tempo melodic rocker too, but I can’t give you any titles just yet.

What about a full album of new material?

We’ll be starting the studio record before the end of the year, but I’ve got to tell you that there’s a lovely resurgence for Whitesnake that’s looking global, so I was looking at starting to prepare for the new album in October. You know, I’m working so well with Doug Aldritch. From the moment we met, we haven’t had any problems. He’s got all the ammunition that I need as a player, and we were great together as writers, so I have no worries about coming up with very positive new material.

What are your touring plans?

We kick off our tour in Japan at the beginning of May, then we head over to England at the end of the month for a couple of shows, starting I think in Manchester and going onto Hammersmith, of course. We then head out to mainland Europe where we’ll play at some of the festivals, and then we come back to England in June for some more shows, including two nights at Newcastle City Hall. I think we actually start the second leg of our UK tour at Newcastle. There’ll be plenty of chances for our fans to come and see us, and it’ll be their first chance to see Uriah Duffy, our new bass player who replaced Marco Mendoza.

It certainly looks to be a busy time ahead for you, isn’t it?

That’s right. If you want to keep an eye what’s happening, tell people to check out the Whitesnake website, as that’ll be as good of a way as any to find out what’s happening in the world of Whitesnake, and fans will be able to find all the tour dates and stuff like that.

Whitesnake’s UK tour starts at Manchester Apollo on 27 May. The DVD Live In The Still Of The Night is out now. EMI is to release remastered editions of Lovehunter, Trouble, and Ready & Willing, on May 8, 2006.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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