RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with the ‘Snake’s main man David Coverdale to talk touring, live music and the band’s brand new CD/DVD Made In Japan.
Look out for Part Two of our DC exclusive very soon…
rushonrock: With a return to Tyneside just around the corner, what’s your reaction to the news that Newcastle’s iconic City Hall has been saved?
David Coverdale: I just don’t know how the powers that be ever thought they were going to be able to do such an unbelievable thing in the first place. Did they really think they could knock down Newcastle City Hall and put another frigging Tesco in its place? I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the people who stood up to authority and prevented that from happening. I saw Hendrix there when I was just 15! I’d love to meet the clever people who thought it would be a good idea to get rid of the place. I have a lot of people with me now who are embracing social media and visiting whitesnake.com and leaving their feedback – I’m a twitterer now and it means I can interact with the sort of people who wanted to save the City Hall. I just tweeted a picture of our last show there. It’s still one of the few venues where, as a singer, you can still make eye contact with people right the way back. It’s a beautiful and intimate venue. In July we’re going to release Made In Britain – a double audio album and it will include tonnes of stuff from the City Hall.
rushonrock: Why did you opt to release Made In Japan as a DVD rather than Made In Britain or Made In Somewhere Else?
DC: For starters it was a huge audience and from that point of view it has this unique element – I hadn’t played in front of that many people in Japan for almost 30 years when we appeared at a festival in 1984. In Japan they tend to have beautiful 4/5/6,000-seater concert halls and it’s always a great audience to play in front of. The people of Japan have supported me since the Deep Purple days and they still do! Part of the deal was that one of the TV companies over there got to film the show and we got to keep the high definition footage. They wanted to put out three songs for a special programme. We record the audio of most of our shows as it’s so easy to carry around a simple piece of high def recording equipment. And originally we’d planned to put together the double Made In Britain live album and a Whitesnake World Record that would include material recorded across the globe. But the film was so great of that Japanese gig that we decided to do the DVD. And half of the songs are from the Forevermore and Good To Be Bad albums so there’s a lot of new stuff on there. At that point I started playing around with names – Snakes In Sapporo and that kind of thing – but then it dawned on me that the only natural title was Made In Japan.
rushonrock: These days you take care of most aspects of Whitesnake business – were you pretty much hands on all the way with Made In Japan?
DC: I’ve been working on this project from the beginning but in a way that’s always been my approach. There’s a real energy about Whitesnake these days and I work with a fabulous record company called Frontiers from Italy. I work with people who are very fair and who are fans of the band. But it’s like going back 40 years. When I started working with Deep Purple the people at EMI were scared to talk to us and that wasn’t healthy. So when I started Whitesnake it was all about meeting the people who were involved with the label and the band and making an impression. You can still nurture a project for a number of months and then you give it to a record company and they just drop it. I don’t have to worry about that now. I’m working towards a point where I can do an interview and explain I’m going to release a new song and release it later that day. These are really exciting times.
rushonrock: They’re also very busy times…
DC: Doug [Aldrich, guitars] and I were just talking about this. He’s been working in the ‘cave’ (Coverdale’s home studio at Lake Tahoe) recently and we were discussing what songs to include in the setlist this summer. We tour much more frequently than we used to. Twenty years ago we could have gone out with the same setlist that we’d played seven years earlier and people would have been fine with that. Now we have to keep it fresh.
rushonrock: With the name Made In Japan you’re setting the bar pretty high – Purple’s album of the same name was voted sixth best live album ever by Rolling Stone readers last year!
DC: To be honest I’m so disconnected from all of that kind of stuff I didn’t even realise! I don’t even know who’s in Deep Purple these days! I had my time with that band and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Whitesnake’s Made In Japan is totally unconnected – it’s just a practical title. And if you’re on the appropriate medication I think you’ll realise that! When I joined Purple – the year after that album was released – I remember Glenn Hughes and I promoting it to an extent. But there’s no Purple material on Whitesnake’s Made In Japan – that makes an appearance on Made In Britain.
* Read Part 2 of this exclusive interview soon…