Whitesnake survived the '80s — the hair metal part of it, anyway — by being more credible than most of their compatriots. Frontman David Coverdale was in Deep Purple for years before joining the 'Snake, and he's kept the band going in the years since their Tawny-Kitaen-doing-handstands-on-a-Jaguar heyday by focusing on musicianship, frequent lineup changes (he's the sole original member) and solid hard rock. The group's latest, "Forevermore," follows their recent 25th (yes! 25th!) anniversary celebration, and the group headlines Saturday's lineup of the M3 Festival at Merriweather (Tesla and Sebastian Bach are also on the bill).
Coverdale, 59, talked to Click Track via e-mail about the band's past (the parts he can remember, anyway), and their surprisingly solid present.
You've probably had more critical acclaim in the past 15 years or so, and made more adventurous records, than you did during the height of your "Whitesnake" fame, but I'm guessing most, if not many, of your fans are still focused on those late '80s albums. Do you find that to be the case, and if so, does it drive you crazy?
Actually, we’ve been pleasantly surprised that we’ve attracted a whole new younger generation of supporters through the more recent material [like] "Good To Be Bad" & "Forevermore." Then, curiosity appropriately piqued, they go & pick up the "Greatest Hits" collections of the band’s music, bless their cotton socks.
We have a great, loyal band of supporters around the world, some going way back to my days in Deep Purple...We play to three generations, if not four...Pretty wild...To be honest, if Whitesnake was simply a ‘nostalgia’ act, with people just waiting for the ‘big ’70s & ’80s songs, I wouldn’t do it...Not for a second...Not my cup of tea, Luv...
What do you remember most from that period? You've said it didn't always feel authentic to you. Do you still feel that way?
Very decadent, to be honest...but, then again...so was my time with Deep Purple...You know, it’s pretty decadent now, on some levels...but, I’m the last person to ask ‘what do you remember’ from a particular time period...I like to learn from the past...not ‘live’ in it.
Aside from the visual ‘image’ at the time, I did my best not to compromise the actual music, but, with so much corporate interference & the monster we allowed MTV to grow into at that time it was challenging to say the least to stay musically credible...But, some of us did extraordinarily well and it still resonates in a mostly positive way, thankfully...It was just another interesting chapter in my life...I’m the Edith Piaf of Rock...I have no regrets...
After years of not making albums, Whitesnake released two in fairly rapid succession. It seems like maybe the band's 25th anniversary has invigorated you? Do you think you'll continue at this pace?
Mmm...I’d say it was the synchronicity of many elements...Primarily the great musicians that work with me and inspire me to continue to reach for notes only dogs can hear... and an incredibly supportive relationship with my wife, Cindy, who encourages me in every avenue of personal expression, amusement & joy.
Whitesnake has survived more than 25 years now. What's the secret to that — is it periodic breakups? Good communication? Never going to bed angry?
Haha...Actually, it’s over 30 years and counting...Not too shabby! Yes...it did become something of a revolving door...but, the House of Snake has maintained all the necessary ingredients and I feel has benefited significantly from the many amazing players who brought something to the table.
The other thing is that if I don’t feel the energy of the business is supportive for us, we take a break...I’ve never favored flogging a dead snake and thankfully, Whitesnake is flourishing...
You're the only Englishman in a band of Yanks. Do you have exotic arguments about "football" vs. "soccer" or the virtues of beans on toast?
Nope...they all aspire to be Limeys...it’s part of the pre-requisite to be a Snake.