The Into The Light Interview

You know, if you make music your mistress....you've got to accept her mood swings.... David Coverdale - 2000

This was a big interview for me. As a long time fan and devotee of everything Coverdale, it took a while to get David on the phone and this was it. Lucky for me David was in a chatty and expressive mood. Unlucky that it would take me this long to get the interview formatted and online. David quite often switched topic mid sentence and was certainly vocal on many issues. He also has a fine sense of humor. I hope that comes through and I hope the interview comes together OK and makes sense...most of the time!

So, I owe you a debt of thanks I understand Andrew. Michael said you're an incredible supporter of what I do.
Well it comes from being a long time fan David and I've got this site down, I guess it's the least I can do.
Bless your heart. Very much, very much appreciated.

Thank you very much.
As you know, we're dabbling in this, this remarkable Internet thing for the first time for an old dog such as myself.

How're you finding that?
It's breathtaking, you know. It's also fucking expensive isn't it?

Yeah, can be.
Slightly. No I think we've got in actually with eyes wide open, you know, ready to embrace it and there are still, in the corporate aspect over here, there is still a great deal of bureaucracy to cut through. It's a lot slower; you know the cutting edge is not as sharp as I thought it was going to be initially.
So you know we're working on it. The most important thing for me is to know the problems and then, you know, work on the solutions.

But it isn't the walk in the park that I, you know, that I thought it was going to be.
No, I think the big companies still have a fair bit of control over it and they…
Well it's, it's all of that you know, twelve people to push a pencil across a desk.
You know so in essence, as I say the most important thing for me is to turn negatives into positives - we had the mini site up there for us, the davioverdale.com for, for a month you know it was as stale as old fucking bread.

So no, you know, we have all the contents let's get it on there, so I think Michael's going to down, you'll certainly have a relationship with my Manager and find out, hey what do you want to get some immediate stuff going and then we'll start adding to the, the library, the history, you know what I'm saying. And just deal with what's going on now with the Into The Light record.

Yeah, yes that's a good thing. …
Yeah, maybe we were too gunho, you know.

Oh, maybe not. I think the fans are happy to see you with a sight up there now, even if I was a little while coming.
You know, I'm from the old school Andrew.

You are indeed, well sorry.
Well yeah I'm old. I'm old school. I mean, trying to talk Jimmy Page into doing a video wasn't the easiest thing. You know this video scenario that was incredibly helpful to me certainly in the eras with the Whitesnake stuff.
You know it saved me five years of hard roadwork, you know to be all over MTV at the time. You know none of us in Purple ever made videos; you know what I'm saying. It's, you know, you give one of these young bands a box of rice crackers and they'll be, make a really interesting fucking video.
We have to go and do it with the audience, you know.
So now you're dabbling with the latest sort of new technology being the Internet.
Well I want to it rather than let it use me.
You know with the album, oh I dunno, probably about seventy percent is computer technology in terms of ProTools, I'm sure you've heard of that.

Sure, yes.
And, and I, I mean I did all of my parts and a lot of the over dubs from home.

It was, it, yeah, It was just a wonderful experience for me. But I used it, you know, as opposed to letting it use me because you know the tools with it's relative infinity within the digital domain, so you have to have the reins on, you know, to pull back a little bit at times.
…otherwise you'll be in over dub hell.
Don't ever give a guitarist a pro tools set otherwise, unless you want a seventy, seventy-six, seventy-two track guitar slay, you know!

Well let's, lets talk about Into The Light.

It's a little bit of a departure for you I guess, a great record though. It sounds a million dollars.
What Australian dollars?

Well that isn't worth much I'm sorry, we'll go with American!

It doesn't sound like it was done at home. I mean its sounds awesome.
Oh no, not all of it. I spent, you know, I probably went through the most creative patch I've ever known in terms of the writing and when I got into pre-production I rented a house not far from where I live. You know, very self serving of course, and flew all the musicians in for, for rehearsing.
And I was actually composing as we were playing, it's bizarre.

You know it was like God turned around and said okay here you go, here's another idea, what? Oh, thanks, you know.
So we were pretty routined and I ended up with over twenty songs, twenty-two or twenty-three pieces of music to go into the studio. So we actually went into a full blown, up-market studio in Los Angeles, which ended up three months, you know, doing all the tracks and over dubs and then I just got so tortured by you know being in the studio and away from my philly, I said I'm going home to recharge my batteries and Michael said well why don't we try doing a little bit at home.
And I went, Oh why not, you know, and that was it. I get up very early, you know Mikey was gracious enough to drive up the mountain in pretty early so I'd be singing at seven in the morning till maybe ten, then I'd play with my son, swim, you know what I'm saying.

And go back to work, it was great.

What a hard life.
Well no, well it is hard for me, you know its interesting that recently I've been reflecting that my passion and my tenacity has been tested, challenged you know, for all of my career, I've never been in control.

You've had a very interesting…colourful dare I say, career.
Oh indeed, indeed. You know, you know the big bonus is I wouldn't change any of it. You know the lows, the highs, the whatever, they were all part of the learning experience. But yeah, it's never been a walk in the park.
If I ever felt it was easy I think I'd be doing something wrong. I document, you know, experiences from my life and some are light filled or joy filled and others are, you know, you know the heart breaking stuff.

This, album seems to have a little bit of both lyrically, is the lyric content for Into The Light drawn on your current sort of reflection.
Completely, yeah. I mean, I had some of the musical elements of the album in place. For instance Riversong I've had a lot of the elements of that song for almost twenty years.

Yeah, but I never felt that I had the players to do it justice, to do it right. You know maybe one player here, two players there but never the full compliment.
I actually presented the idea to Pagey and he said oh it's a bit too Hendrix for me.

Which I fully agreed with, its my tribute to Hendrix.

You know and I wrote the song over Christmas last year, the actual, lyrics.
And, but yeah I think, anyway to go back to the technical aspect so yeah, I did actually embrace the old school of recording or traditional way of recording and then utilised pro-tools as well as the studio for mixing but from what I could see, there was really no difference. If I was the owner of a studio I'd be very concerned, you know. It may be necessary for me as yet I don't know, to go in there to do the drum tracks, you know. But for a guitarist now there's a fantastic line of equipment. I think it's a British company actually called Live Synch.

And they have a small amplifier with built in effects and actually a very friendly computer program called The Pod, where you can basically recreate amplifier images with a microphone that's six feet away.
This kind of stuff I would actually do in a studio, cause once I've finished drum tracks and base tracks then I'll line up, you name it every size of amplifier, small, small up until the real big stuff, you know.
And that's a couple of days to set that up. And then we can switch around and find out which sound is appropriate for the song.
Yeah, it's an old Page ploy. You know, Jimmy's an incredible sonic alchemist.
You know what I'm saying.

Yeah, for sure.
He definitely can take a pig's, you know, a pig's ear and make it into a silk purse.

You know and I learnt an awful lot just working with him. I've been an admirer of Page for well, infinitely longer than Zeppelin.

He's amazing isn't he.
He is, and he's a doll and I'm going to call on him this weekend because I've just read that he's had to cancel altogether the Black Crowes tour so I think…

Yeah I heard that, that's too bad.
Well I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and you know he thought he'd be back on the road in a couple of weeks and when he described his injury it sounded very familiar to something I've got in my back.

Which certainly is not a quick fix, you know. But you know he sounded, he still sounded positive and optimistic and, you know, and happy which its obviously thrown curve by the injury.
But he, you know, he's recharged and ready to go. He just has to get his health, anyway I'll call him this weekend, see how he's doing.

Awesome… back to the other thing....
The last three or four years have been incredibly insightful, for me you know, really simple, really simple discoveries. The simple stuff should matter.
You know we complicate our lives so much, or allow other people to complicate it so much; you miss the simplicity of us. If you think about it, there's usually only two choices, yes or no. Not maybe, or I'll think about it. What's your first response, first natural response, you know. You know a thing's good or its bad.
I mean the human being is so fucking reckless.
You know you should turn right. Everything in your body's turned, you mind and you heart are saying oh, we'll turn right here, but for some reason we'll turn left, you know.
And that's been a lot of the things with me not following my intuition over the years.

Yeah, okay.
But I'm in a remarkably positive place and felt very comfortable being even more honest, you know, with writing my songs.

Yeah, well I did think…
So a lot of the stuff, you know, I created the identity of Whitesnake and then I think ultimately became a victim of it.
You know I'd be writing a song, well you say you're familiar with my work, songs like Here I Go Again or Now You're Gone or Judgment Day, you know, Here I Go Again, Love Ain't No Stranger.

Sure thing...
They'd start off quiet and then suddenly end up rising and oh my God, I'd better bring the band it. That actually became a positive musical identity of Whitesnake, that light and shade thing.
And, and now I'm curious where the song goes without that kind of accommodation.

So if it starts off light, lets see where it goes, just let it naturally flow and be responsible for the song as opposed to other musicians.
… I'd actually be writing and arranging songs to suit my players, do you get what I'm saying?

I do.
Now I actively look for musicians I feel will be appropriate to bring my song to life.

Okay, well tell me about the guys that you brought into Into The Light, how did you come to a decision?
Oh that, great guys, great players, yeah.
And they connected immediately, I was very very careful selecting them. The first one, well of course Denny Carmassi, my dear friend and my favourite drummer.

And a long time partner now...
Yes, he has shown me such loyalty as you know, a friend and musician, you know I'll work with him as long as he wants to work with me.

Yeah, he's one of my favourite drummers.
Oh, great stuff man. And a, a great guy too. I hope, well I hope we get a chance to meet but I'd love you people to meet Denny you know.

That would be great!
He's usually hidden behind his keg. But anyway obviously Denny was the first one who'd played.
I'd extended several invitations to Adrian Vandenberg, my little Dutch brother, to come over, I said I was, waving furiously get over and he kept making excuses which I couldn't really understand, and then...and so I said well look, I'm going to get on with it, you know, I'm tired of waiting. I found out you know, earlier this year, really what it was and for some reason which I still don't understand. He's coming over for Christmas by the way.

So I'm going to kick, kick the shit out of him I think. Why he didn't feel comfortable telling me that he had, I don't know if you remember years ago in '88 I had, I had back surgery I completely crushed the bottom vertebra in my spine.
From all the years of rocking and rolling - and ended up being crippled in front of twenty thousand people in LA. You know at the beginning of the concert I'd lost the use of my left leg entirely.

Good grief.
Anyway that was just, I'd crushed the vertebra over years you know years of rotating and bending, you know. Anyway Adrian had similar problems in his neck vertebra and it was really uncomfortable for him to play but for some reason he couldn't, he didn't feel he could share it with me, which is very distressing because we have a remarkable friendship. So however it was, obviously meant to be that, that I worked with somebody, you know, somebody else after twelve years.

Its been a while hasn't it?
Oh indeed, yeah, you know but that's a testament to the friendship we had you know and then we found out by coincidence Earl Slick lived in the Lake Tahoo area which is where I live.
And so, you know, I believe God just moves us around his chessboard, you know what I'm saying. I don't really think there are coincidences but cause Slicky and I you know we got together, got on very well as people and then I played him some ideas you know basically had a musical conversation after the verbal conversation.
And it was great to play opposite such a, you know, a natural musician who wasn't like dying to get to the solo.

You know, and he's a great classic style guitarist isn't he, in the vein of Keith Richards. And, you know, I just, I'll tell you another little thing when Adrian heard I was working with Slicky you know he went Oh how, great. So you know…

Yeah I'll bet.
Yeah, so Slicky you know help me slash and choose stuff, he wrote a couple of songs with me and stuff and we had a great relationship so I mean it was just great to play opposite a guitarist of that style.

I'm very impressed with his sound on the album.
Oh its beautiful yeah it's beautiful and his soloing is probably the best I've heard him do.

I agree actually.
Yeah, we had a great time working together. So he showed me the courtesy of driving over to my house you know on a couple of days a week you know on and off for about three months, three or four months you know while we got the tunes together and then the next person in play was the bass player, Marco Mendosa.

Now Marco and I have been talking for many years about working together but he's quite a journeyman musician you know so, you know getting the times right together so obviously it wasn't, evidently wasn't right for us to connect, and this time it was. And I don't know if you're familiar with him, I worked with a guy called Tony Franklin.

Yes indeed, I know Tony.
Well Tony and I connected very much, he's a stunning musician and a fine man.
And he was, you know, I said well you know do you want to do the record with us and he said well I'm really busy he had a tonne of stuff so I said okay and I, and I put in the calls to Marco to see if he wanted to fly up and you know play a few tunes and he said yeah so he came up, I made my commitment to him and then two days later of course Tony calls up and says I'm putting on hold the thing, I'm all yours and I went Oh God, too late baby.
You know, but you know we maintain a good good relationship and of course I was blessed to have him on a track.

Oh okay, he still played bass on that?
Yeah, well you want to see in all the credits, yeah he plays bass on it.
Yeah, anyway so the next one, Tony actually recommended Doug Bossy.
He's an extraordinarily talented young man, great singer, you know very personable and a really, really versatile guitarist. So he sent up some kind of audition, some tapes and I thought some stuff was okay and other stuff I didn't you know.
So anyway I kept thinking about it, and I flew him up to Tahoo, we connected very well, interestingly we connected very well and you know one of the things that I wanted with the, at the very beginning, well I didn't want two guitarists who played the same.
You know I wanted, you know, guys who could play off each other, basically like, the way I have it now the traditional style classic rock guitarist of Slick and the hot shot of Bossey, that's exactly what I was after.
But they get competitive to the point where I'm standing on stage and I've seen pictures of me in between two guitarists where their fingers are a blur, it's like two women nagging, you know, and I'm standing in the middle like a referee, you know so that really was how things sort of developed or degenerated really, you know so the emotional content of having a great, great guitarist which I've had at times was compromised by the competitiveness in a, in a negative way I should say.

But fortunately that didn't happen with Bossey and Slick.
When I decided to record in Los Angeles I thought oh well I'd love to work with Mike Finnegan. He's a keyboard player I'd heard of you know heard records that he's been on and stuff for years. Very, very soulful, very bluesy. Another great singer actually.
And, and of course he worked with my man, Hendrix, on the Electric Ladyland album.

Oh, really?
So of course having this tribute song to Hendrix, you know, the River Song, I thought oh wouldn't it be great to have one of Hendrix's players on the song, like the icing on the cake.
So, you know, he actually came in just to do the one track and he played so great and we connected so well as people I invited him to do the rest of the album and he actually, you can hear he plays incredibly.
And he, he plays the big, fat organ.

Oh yeah, oh yeah. The terribly overweight organ.
Right, yeah. It's great isn't it!
Yeah, I mean it was like being back with John Lord a lot of the time, it was great, you know.

Now there's a legend.
Oh indeed, indeed. And then while I was mixing I was missing a few bits and pieces I actually played some guitar myself on some of them and I got Reeves Gabrels, have you heard of him.

No, I haven't.
Now he used to be with David Bowie, its like I've got all of Bowie's guitarists in. He worked with the Tin Machine when Bowie was working with him.
And a bass player guitarist called Danny Sabre who does work with Bono and U2 and stuff and was gracious enough to add some wonderful elements on She Gives.
Yeah, so other than that I'm just trying to think what I can say. Oh, a killer harmonica player, Jimmy Z.

Oh yeah, I know him.
Yeah, I've got, he played on Missionary Man, Eurythmics, but I'd got down to see Etta James whose one of my favourite singers, and he, Jimmy Z's actually a sax player who just happens to blow insane, insanely beautiful harmonica.
And, and he did a feature with Etta and I went oh, I've got to get him on the record.
So I looked at all the songs and the only one I could really think of was Cry For Love but he brought a completely different dimension to the song.
So that was, that was just a thrill and a half. Who else plays on the record? Oh, the girl, you like the girl's voice. Linda Rowberry.

Yeah, that was, that was different, that was the first time you'd done that I think.
Well yeah, because I didn't have any bullshit identity to present, you know what I'm saying.
There's, I have a song called Let's Talk It Over, which didn't make the album you know very simply because I'm hoping to get Tina Turner to sing it with me.

Oh dear, wow.
I need to pull her out of retirement for like ten minutes long for a serious like power ballad blues epic.

Cool. Very cool.
You know from a whisper to a scream and I can't think of anybody else to do it with so I spoke to her, her gentleman, about a month and a half ago and he said oh well send me a copy of the song and I'll see what she says, you know cause it won't be high profile obviously it certainly isn't going to be a single or anything.
But, yeah but Linda's eighteen years old, or just turned nineteen now. Unbelievably talented. The bonus was I'd had this song which was actually a song I'd written for my wife years ago for her birthday, that's Wherever You May Go, and we recorded it, it was really pretty and I was going I'm missing an element, I'm missing stuff, so we added a harp, you know in terms of a concert harp, not a harmonica.
And I was going yeah that's cool, John X put the heartbeat on and a couple of things and I said that's great but there's still something else and a guy I work with on Restless Heart called Bjorn Thorsud - you know you might have seen his name on my other records as an engineer.

And this girl was his girlfriend; you know she's actually a songwriter.
She was in the studio and I said well that's fine. You know, and she was spectacular. You know for a girl that age to have the emotional element you know to be able to sing with an old fart such as myself.
I thought well just silver balls and emotion and it was the icing on the cake for the song and I thought it was entirely appropriate to put that kind of side you know at the end of the record.

Oh I was going to say it's a great song to finish the record off, actually, it's a really pretty song.
Thank you. Well its something else you would never have got out of me with Whitesnake.
Well quite honestly, I mean you know, you evidently know a lot about me in terms of my music.

So there are songs on there you know, some of the journals recently were all positive which were very nice, you know they were selling me the record rather than me selling to them. You know, they said well that could've been Whitesnake, that could've been Whitesnake, I said well yeah what did you think I was going to do I was the lead singer for twenty years, its not going to sound like Frank Zappa.

Well I did, I did hear at various points along the last twelve months, or six months even, that the record was going to be under the banner of Whitesnake. Was there any point that you thought it might be, or you really wanted to have the freedom?
Well I've got to tell you Andrew well there's no fear in what I do at all.
You know, the emotions - you have to get rid of.

But um, no I wanted to finish Whitesnake in the height of 1990 and EMI wouldn't let me because my contract was David Coverdale know as the artist Whitesnake.

Yeah okay.
Or known as the artist Prince, I don't know. And of course then I worked with Pagey for three years as Coverdale Page so I thought it was entirely appropriate to start working as David Coverdale in '94.

EMI puts out the Greatest Hits, had a lot of success with it and then wanted me to do, you know a Whitesnake tour. I said, well I wanted to tour basically to get the fun element back cause I'd worked with Pagey for three years and we'd only done like seven shows.
…so I desperately, desperately wanted you know to get on stage so I was tied up you know in essence doing the Whitesnake. And then of course I start to work on Restless Heart as a solo album. You know that, you know those were the songs you know the style of the songs I was approaching without the identity or the image of Whitesnake.
And then the new executive team came in and said you know following up the Greatest Hits they wanted another Whitesnake album and I said well these songs I don't really think are appropriate.
You know so Adrian and I sat down and talked and well let's just put some more guitars on and make it a bit more abrasive and whatever.
I feel very much that it was a compromise but I had really two choices, one was to go to war with EMI which certainly wasn't an appetising consideration or you know, acquiesce you know, compromise, so I think that Restless Heart probably should be much more like Into the Light or, you know, somewhere.
I, well yeah now you say that it makes perfect sense because I think musically it bridges the gap between Whitesnake and this new one.
Yeah, well I you know there are a lot of songs on there that I love Andrew so you know quite honestly I'm going probably re-mix some of them to, into the style that I'm working with now.

Well my, one of my favourites…
I must tell you my contract still is, if EMI turn around and go we want a Whitesnake record it will either be you know going to Court or, you know I, you know I don't know.
In my heart and in my hope and conviction I'm gonna work under my own name now and hopefully get their support in the future.

Okay. I did hear that you were approached by the great John Kalodner with an open cheque book to make another album with John Sykes.
Well you know John started a label which I have a feeling is not going to last much longer.

That's what I've heard.
You've heard that too. It was my birthday last week and John's always been extraordinarily gracious in remembering my birthday and he calls me every year and we were you know just chatting and he said 'I'm retiring'.

I went what? I think he basically wanted to champion a lot of the eighties acts and I don't think its been really welcomed with open arms as he thought.
The interesting thing is that there's a tour currently I think its still going on in the States, like a kind of retro tour for the eighties acts and their selling tickets but their not really selling albums.
And I think you know my feeling is you know I said to John years ago when he was proposing this I said I can't John, I said there's no reason for me to go back, I don't want to, I'm at a point in my life where I know what I want to do and its not to go back and re-write Still of the Night six times.
You know cause in essence, what he wanted to do with this label was to get all of these eighties bands, and I think he signed most of them.

Yeah, he signed a few.
And basically try to recreate the eighties sound, style of song, you know, now my vibe would have been to have cherry picked you know a bunch of the you know good players, say take Warren DeMartini put him together with John Sykes, get one of, you know, one of the better singers, you know what I'm saying?

And put a kind of supergroup of those bands together. I was really surprised he, where he went with it.

So, you know, sadly from hearing this news, I had a feeling that it really wasn't, you know, everything that he'd hoped, which is unfortunate because you know he's very passionate about, you know, about..

Yeah he is, and God bless him for that...
…oh indeed, indeed. But you know as I say I think he tried to do too much too soon and really that is, well right now I've got to tell you if you ain't fifteen, you know, with a blonde rinse you know and baggy pants there isn't a lot of opportunity.
The music business, you know, over the last fifteen years has been more fashion conscious than ever before, you know, and it's fine for the music business but its terrible for the career musicians, you know.

Yeah. Do you think when, in 1987 when you changed personnel to go from the album to the tour that that was partly a fashion statement or musically had you, you just wanted a change there?
Well no, I've never, I think one of the reasons I've had a close to a thirty year career is that I've never embraced fashion.
You know, if you make music your mistress Andrew, you've got to accept her mood swings, you know and that's what happens.
Now, now when it was screamingly obvious that there was no, no way I would be able to go out as Whitesnake then I'd lay low and write songs and prepare for the, you know the next time, the next wave. You know musical surfing, you've got to wax your surfboard between waves. And that was it and I'd fortunately done very well and I could afford to take breaks.
It'll get to a point where it's not negated by the media you know and suddenly they'll go Oh my God! What ever happened to those fun times with the hair bands you know what I'm saying. What goes around comes around, that's all I'm saying.
But all the same in that time I sold eight million albums…

Oh, absolutely.
… a great foundation for what I do, you know and the future remains to be seen.

From my observation on how things have gone it looks to me like you've made a very concerted or at least intelligent decision at some time to embrace MTV and the videos and the whole concept of the videos and that helped you immensely.
Yeah. And then it's just, you know, standing back and looking in and trying not to get, the most difficult time for me was the four years of the eighties, you know eighty six through to ninety one.

That was, that was literally like being on an express train, it was impossible to get off. I was working all the time, so my career was twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and I was involved with a woman at that time who was a thirty six hour distraction a day, so I mean I literally had no time to sit back and go you know is this how I want it to be, you know and of course it was the most phenomenally successful time I'd ever experienced and I just had no, no time to plan or, you know what I'm saying, it was just, and even with all of my collective experience I couldn't stop the train.

And the record label probably wouldn't have let you!! They were making so much money off you.
Oh whatever, you know, whatever! haha.

Looking, looking, looking back on the two albums Slip of the Tongue and 1987 is there anything there you'd change?
I'd probably…I would like very much to re-mix those records.

Really? Why?
Yeah, I think they were great records at the time, but I think I could really contemporise them now with the team that I've got in place with Michael, you know, Bjorn and John X. You'll see these names on the record.

For my entire career I've tried to find my George Martin. Now let me explain.
You know the Beatles had George Martin. When they started to grow just being small, you know, pop song scenario that they started with the unbelievable positive there was George Martin who helped them realise their musical ambitions, musical, what would matter most.

Oh, absolutely.
You know and then of course moving in closer to the time you're looking at AC/DC, Def Leppard. AC/DC were a killer garage band, just phenomenal and when they got involved with Mutt Lange he made them into a world-class band. He helped finesse you know, without compromising you know, their integrity, their musicality, you know he just, he became like the sixth member of AC/DC and then of course he took that to Def Leppard. Def Leppard without Mutt is a very different scenario.

It is indeed.
So I've looked for years to try to find my sonic partner, you see what I'm saying, in order to do that, and I've you know, I've either approached people who I thought would be great to work with but perhaps didn't feel the same way about me.

You know, so it was constantly being thwarted and meant basically having to accept people that got the job done but it wasn't, you know, a sonic song that I was hoping for.
You've got to remember, when I, when I started writing Andrew, it was two albums a year at the time, you know there was no time to go for, a classy sounding record. You know it was in and out of the studio whenever we had time and the songs always became better, after we played them for a couple of weeks on tour. So we'd sit there and go why couldn't we have done this, you know or whatever, cause they would've been much better arrangements - knowing the song better when you went in and we got by on the fact that everybody was a good player and very supportive at that time, and, but yeah those records could certainly use a remix.

I can see, as far as 1987 goes I think its flawless, I really do.
I can see where maybe Slip of the Tongue might benefit from a little remixing though.

Well yeah, what it was I was working with the most flamboyant musicians I'd ever worked with. You know when Steve, you know one of the few musicians I'd love to explore some more work with was Steve Vai, because quite honestly when I got Steve involved all the tracks were done, all Steve had to do was decorate it, you know so I never had a chance, and then we were straight on the road, so I never had a chance to sit down and write with him or see, you know to explore what I could've done with him.
So he came in and inherited, you know and he loved the songs so you know which was a great inspiration for him to put those remarkable textures on but had I had more time with him I wouldn't have gone quite so over embellished.

Yeah, I thought it was a little bit…
I would have worked on more, more emotional content.

Yeah a little bit technical…
If there's a hole like a hole there, well why don't we leave that hole instead of putting a cap around it, you know what I'm saying.
Let it breathe a bit, so yeah, yeah I'd like to be more economical. The thing that I'm going to do now instead of compromising to accommodate musicians now, I'll accommodate the song.

Okay. Wonderful. That, that was the only flaw that I could possibly say of Slip of the Tongue, it was a little bit technical.
Yeah, well that's it. I've just got the new Steve Vai album and I've only, I haven't really had time to dig into it but to play it or some of the stuff that I was hearing was definitely more emotionally secure than most of his songs, and that to me, you know he'll be, he actually turned around to me and I was going wow that's technical, but I said I don't know if its telling me a story as much as I'd like.
You know but because of Adrian's then injury, you might remember he sprained his wrist and couldn't play, we were three months behind you know in terms of delivery, so I mean there wasn't really time to turn, to turn around and go oh, let's stop and rethink. It was just get it done, you know head down, get it done and get it out there.

But it was a very successful record, you know

For sure.
…a lot of the song Sailing Ships I would have loved to explored a lot more than we did. I actually enjoyed a version of Sailing Ships on the naked album that Adrian and I did.

Oh, that's a great album.
You know, as opposed to the actual album.

Tell me more about Starkers in Tokyo. I think that's the probably one of the most unplugged album in the history of unplugged records!
Absolutely and completely unplugged. Recorded in 94, mixed the following morning.

That's cool...
Yeah, well I'd made a gesture to Poland which as you probably know was under Soviet heel for like seventy years and or was certainly then end of fifty, you know fifty or sixty years and I'd never ever played there because of that threat.
You know I came from Deep Purple which was regarded by the Soviet as the most subversive group in the world, you know so it's a nice legacy that meant we couldn't get visas to work in those parts.
So you know then of course, then came solidarity thank God so it was basically a gesture for Poland that I did that thing with Adrian with no intentions of ever doing it again and the songs we picked I thought were, you know I felt were appropriate, you know, for the country, you know what I'm saying.
Cause it was actually for a national radio broadcast. Three songs, you know Sailing Ships which is a song of opposite directions, Too Many Tears which was stuff had gone before so you had to try your luck and move on, and then Here I Go Again which is like an extraordinarily powerful song to accompany that journey, you know so it was a nice gesture. So then of course the whole fucking world was going 'oh could you do that here' and its much cheaper to fly two musicians around than a band. And I'd just signed a new contract with Toshiba and we were ready to go over for Adrian and I were going over to do interviews, you know for Broken Heart. So Toshiba hear about this Polish thing and then say well can you do that here like a little concert. My first answer, second answer and third answer was no.

You know, I'm not a fucking folk singer, I think. And, and then I started thinking about it, this is a challenge. You know I write predominantly on an acoustic guitar and I envision what it will be like with electric guitar, you know, in my mind.
You know, but its very comfortable for me to write rock and roll on acoustic. So I thought what would it be like, it's a challenge, do it as a challenge.
So I flew Adrian over and we rehearsed for a couple of days, and said which songs do you think would work, you know cause all of the songs which were there were originally written on acoustic and I was really pleased with the way it came out. Of course the underlying thing that I said to EMI Toshiba, was that I must have control over this, if don't like it we don't put it on. And I'm not going to clean it up, its either all warts and pimples or nothing.

Fortunately it came out great and we had a blast, and the thing that got to me was being able to present the songs right in a, well you know there was only about seventy people there a specially invited audience and it was actually in the, Toshiba's studio and for it being able to be right in peoples faces with no screaming guitars and thundering drums, which of course I love, but just right there telling my story, it was so intimate, you know it was just like telling the stories to the person you wrote the song about. And that forever remains very much one of the plans I had but you know I ended up doing the farewell Whitesnake thing in 1997 so it started off rocking, slowed down in the middle then rock out again.
But of course that was, I was calling it a day, so it was more appropriate to try to finish twenty years of Whitesnake. But when I was actually I'd recorded Love is Blind for Into the Light as a full band song. But I kept listening to it and saying I'm missing something here, I'm missing something. And I didn't want to make a mistake, and then one day I woke up and said oh, lets try unplugged.

Acoustic guitars and a string quartet. So I go in there, in the studio, and everybody looks at me like I've lost it, you know, oh no Coverdale's flipped it man, and then once we started working it everybody was going oh yeah.
You know, this album is the most honest record I've made. You know, there's no question at all not only the song, but I'm not hiding my voice like I've done so many times on records before. A lot of the vocals that you're hearing is just dry, never dubbed, you know and it's in your face. I'm not hiding behind the dub.

It's funny you should say that I think your voice sound better than ever on the record.
Well cause you can fucking hear it!!!

You can hear it, yeah!
Well think about it, you listen to other stuff. There's so much cosmetic studio mixing…hiding.

Yeah, but I do love that about your music.
I do, I do love the overproduced records though sometimes, it's great.
Well if it calls for it, if it calls for it. But these songs didn't so. I tell you…
Well I'm just trying to think now, there's a lot of stuff going on in Living On Love, you know.

Yeah, She Give Me even.
Cause one of the things I've always enjoyed is arranging music symphonically. I'm a huge classic music fan. You know and I'm not putting my music on any kind of a level with Mozart or Bach but the circumstance is that I have learnt from them to put in movement. You know like one of the things that I enjoy in songs there's usually three movements which become a concerto whereas you have your verses, your choruses and what they call a middle eight or a bride, you know, the Beatles, the Beatles were a master.

…Tell you my second favourite album of yours, its hard to rate them, but I am a really a huge fan of the Coverdale Page album.
Oh me to. You know Pagey and me were talking a couple of weeks ago when he came over to start the Black Crows thing and he said you know I'm loving the record, cause we sent him a free copy as we did you (Side note - I had to pay full Japanese retail price for mine!), and he said I hope this album gets released before I left the States.
Well done. And I said well it's funny you should say that I've just made a compilation tape of Coverdale Page and Coverdale. Coverdale Coverdale Page!

You know, and he went oh get me a copy and I've called it The Knobs, which is the name we'd rehearse under. Actually I think you're the only one whose ever fucking heard that.
It's pretty happening, it really is.

I'm mean that Into The Light riff, the song Down To The River that I was working on for a potential second Coverdale Page record.

Well is there any change of another record?
Well I don't know. Pagey and I get on great. I wouldn't, well from now on; I feel I can tell you I've started my own record company in the States.

Oh, okay.
And basically I just want to be able to maintain an artistic integrity. After this one I owe EMI one more.

You know, and I don't want to have to make corporate records any more.

Do you know what I'm saying?

I think so!
You have know idea how limiting you know it is to work in a large corporate entity oh we need a single, if we don't get radio we're not going to sell records. It's like six condom sex, its so safe there's no risk anymore.
I mean, you know one of the things that people ask me you know is would you ever consider doing a band again and I said if it had Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in, in a flash, you know.
But for instance now and certainly with pro tools I can turn around to Jeff and say “why don't we just you keep up with your career and I'll keep up with mine you know but when we have a bit of time lets just set up this domestic studio and do you know an unrestrained non commercial, just a couple of musicians jamming, you know.”

And I'd love to do something like that with Edward Van Halen.

Ah, there's a subject I was looking forward to getting onto!
Look at Edward Van Halen with for instance Danny Carmassi on drums, Marco Mendosa on base, big wailing power blues.

What an awesome line up.
Well yeah it gives me a boner!

Yeah, what an awesome line up.
Me too. I love it, I love the sound of it. Edward is just, you know, just a breathtaking musician.

Let me take you to that, the whole big EVH scenario.
Oh there was nothing in that, there was no, absolutely no foundation of truth, who started that I'll never know.

Well, funny that, but a member of Van Halen's entourage, actually rang me and proceeded to give me two hour's worth of details about it. Still not sure of their motive.
Well there was, somebody was posting interviews that I was doing, which I haven't done interviews for three fucking years until recently. You know, that I'd done and interview sitting there with my manager talking about how yeah I'm in Van Halen now, I'm not going to do this, I'm going to do that, but what?
So I think it was, I don't know where it was, I think over Christmas last year I said to Mike I tell you what this has got to stop, I said so I called a mutual friend of Edward and myself and said look call Eddie tell him I had nothing to do with this, nothing, it just got ridiculous. I've heard, I've heard since middle eighties I think it was I'd heard, you know before Sammy was in, I heard they were going to approach me, but I mean, you know, think about it since I left Purple I've always done my own thing. You know, why would I join anybody else, I know what I want to do.

You know, but the last time I saw Edward was in 1993. Pagey was with me was in my hotel suite in London and there was a knock at the door and fucking Edward was standing there. It's like ten o'clock in the morning. Page and me were having a pot of tea and I said do you want a cup of tea Edward and he goes, have you got a beer and goes straight to my mini bar!
That's, that's my boy and just sat and talked and that was the last time I saw or spoke to him. And that was 1993.
And nothing, I've heard three rumours over the years. This was by far the worst, this one last year that I was going to be, you know, invited to join Van Halen.
Other than Edward I've never met them. But you know my admiration for Edward goes...You know me and guitarists!

Sure, absolutely.
…The logical, the logical extension of the human voice is the guitarist who can use his instrument as a voice. You know that's all I've ever tried to do with most of my musicians which is, you know, when you come to the solo try to continue telling the story, as soon as I stop singing its your turn to tell the story. Most of them just turn around and go “ooh an opportunity to play loud...”

So do you think maybe somebody in the Van Halen camp sort of started that as a way to sort of bridge an approach to you, to sound you out about it.
I have no idea. There's a lot more, you know we're all connected, you know what I'm saying, but no I don't imagine so, not at all.
I think quite honestly that there was so much corporate pressure to get David back involved I don't think, I don't think they would've had a chance but you know Edward's welcome to join me baby.

So you'd certainly do a collaboration but you'd never join the band as such?
No, no not at all. There's no reason for me to. You know I've got so much music coming out of me right now, you know why would I want to go and sing, well I love the early Van Halen stuff, well what I would say is the rockier bluesier stuff, you know, you know a huge fan of their musical ability but I wasn't that big a fan of the music itself, you know, but I like Van Halen, no question.

Okay, well let's hope you do this collaboration one day, that would be very cool to hear.
Oh we'll know, we'll know, I mean look the most precious commodity in my life is time, you know normally I'd be going oh yeah I hope so but quite honestly one of the things I've done in the last couple of years, Andrew, I've reversed, a noticeable reversal in that I realised that most of my life I've had a career with a private life that interfered with it, and now I have a private life you know and a wonderful filly and incredible, wonderful life and my career bubbles around that.
So, you know if I have free time unless its something extraordinary I'm going to be watching my boy grow.

Yeah, that's great. That's great. Tell me David, on of my favourite ever songs you ever sang is a track called the Last Note of Freedom.
Oh Days of Thunder, yeah.

Who plays on that song.
You know what, that was a favourite of Tom Cruise.

Was it really?
Yeah, he wanted, you know wanted my involvement. I was in the middle of the Slip of the Tongue tour and I was actually under the weather and normally I would have said no I don't have any time, but the huge carrot that attracted this old donkey was working with Trevor Horne.
You know Trevor Horne I'm a huge admirer of, one of the greatest producers I've ever heard and it was an opportunity to work with him so I chartered a private plane and flew down.
I tell you what it was I was actually ill at the time, I'd just finished a show in San Francisco so I, you know I took the opportunity of slipping home up to Tahoe, then chartered a plane, flew down, walked into the studio and said Trevor I'm as sick as a dog, if it doesn't work at least I've had the pleasure of working with you. So and he offered me a huge split, (a joint of marijuana), that was the medicine I needed.

Well you put in a great vocal.
Thank you very much.

Who played on it though, musically, I've never seen credits.
I don't know all of them because the music was in place, well most of it, when I got there and its been strange you know because we got a lot of mileage, radio in America wanted that very much that Trevor, when I was working with him then, but this was only like a day of work then I flew home, but he was so under the pressure from David Geffen to finish the record I don't think it was one of his better mixes so I had a guy called Chris Lord Alge re-mix it and they were talking about it being a single so there's an actual much better version in the can than the album version.

Yeah, much better. I mean I never listen to the record and that's sad because I'm such a big fan of Trevor but you know I could see there's he's under a lot of pressure and you end up compromised, you know.
If you're tired, you know overworking and stuff like that it compromises your perspective. I know that better than anybody.

Oh I'd love to hear that other version.
Yes indeed.... You know what brother; my housekeeper's been gracious enough to prepare my dinner.

Oh, yeah time to go.
Is there anything you want to wrap up, bro.

Not really, I think you've covered everything.
Oh it was just nice having a chat with you bro.

Absolutely, did you know that there's a label in France that's re-released the Slip of the Tongue 1987 albums.
Well you know what, I picked it up last week when I was in LA.

And if you think Mr. Coverdale's unhappy with it, you're right.

Oh, really.
You know I've actually got lawyers looking into find out who authorised it.

Ah, an EMI thing?
Because I most definitely didn't so I'm definitely be going to have my lawyers waggle and spit.

Oh, okay.
No I don't know who authorised it, I would never have approved it. You know not only is it music that I own but there's an old song on there which has nothing to do with my work now which is Walking in the Shadows Of The Blues, so I don't know who authorised it but they've obviously done it in some strange way which my lawyers will find out.

I presume its just EMI in Europe.
Not only that, but I hate the name of the record company, Axe Killer.
Michael actually told me that, he surfs the web all the time and of course he's worked with me for thirteen years and he knows I would never have approved it, but we'll find out, you know. Quite honestly, as unhappy as I about it, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, you know if somebody's bought it, the music, you know what I'm saying, I just want to know who authorised it because as far as I'm concerned they were out of line.

Fair enough too. There's another interesting Whitesnake album out there, well its not Whitesnake but it's did you realise that there's a tribute album to you now.
Oh, why, why not buy the original?
I, somebody sent me a tribute to Deep Purple years ago. I put it on and went “Oh My God!” and that's, that's the only one I've ever listened to.

Well I should send Michael a copy of this so you can have a listen to it.
What, is it funny. Oh, you know what, I saw, I tell you what, I saw a review in Burrn, the Japanese mag.

Well obviously I can read it but you look at the points.
Oh that's, its been reviewed in there, it's a Japanese release, that's right.
It wasn't a very good point scorer. I think they gave it like sixty or something.

Well I've actually reviewed it on my site as well so Michael should search it out for you. It's actually not a bad tribute album, as far as they go but my point in the review was with songs this great its hard to butcher it.
Oh whatever, but I think some of the old, the old you know, members of Whitesnake involved there.

There is yeah.
Great players, Andrew, great players. But to me its like let the past go and move on, write something new. You know, let it there, the songs are there. You know what I'm saying. The guys played great on them but they just keep beating it into the ground.
Oh yeah. I gotta go bro.

No worries David.
Andrew stay in touch, stay in touch with Mikey. He always lets me know what's going on.

I'll do that.
Thanks for your support babe.

That's a pleasure David!

c. 2001 MelodicRock.com and Andrew J McNeice.