David Coverdale Interview (1981)

Posted: November 13, 2015 in Classic Rock, Classic Rock - Interviews, Deep Purple Family

DC_81

On October 14 2012 I presented an interview with David Coverdale that I made back in 2000 when he was in Sweden to promote his “Into The Light” album, and I think it´s fair to say that this post has been a Top 5 draw to this blog on a weekly basis ever since. So today, to celebrate that David Coverdale is performing in Stockholm once more with Whitesnake tonight, I thought that it would be good fun to add my first chat with the man. This occured on May 7 1981 in Stockholm and it was a big press do at the Mosebacke Pub with about 20 people and the entire band present. My chat with Jon Lord is up on the blog and is a bit of a classic (plenty of quotes from it in books etc), here comes the talk I shared with two other journalists (I was just a fan club guy – I was running the Deep Purple Freak Society thing at the time), Per something or other, and Ola Wahlsten. I published all the Whitesnake interviews that were made on this day in my Deep Purple Magazine publication, in issue 23 (Jon Lord cover, see top picture). This is a translation of my translation back in the day. Enjoy!

I started my chat with handing over a gift to David, the Miami 1976 show with Deep Purple, hoping to stear the conversation in this direction I bet (no such luck as I would soon find out, David pretty much stopped that avenue from being explored right off the bat!).

David / – Ah, bootlegs…

Mike / – Yes, and the quality is pretty good.

David / – Thank you very much, cheers!

Mike / – Is it true that Tommy Bolin recorded all the Deep Purple shows for his own collection?

David / – No, I don´t think so. I really don´t know.

Mike / – Wouldn´t it be nice if a concert, like Miami, could be issued as kind of an official bootleg?

David / – Not really, we wouldn´t want to release anything that hasn´t got studio quality.

Mike / – You probably own tapes recorded when you first jammed with Tommy, are they good?

David / – They´re great, the playing was very good. But the quality is not good enough for me to see people pay hard earned cash to hear it.

Mike / – I would…

David / – Yeah, but that doesn´t matter. We get really upset with all these records that are being released that has got nothing to do with the members of Deep Purple. The record company is getting stuff out that we don´t like. Of course the fans would love it, but we would prefere that the public listened to the official stuff, the records that we put out and had artistic control over. But I would like to talk about Whitesnake now because Purple was like six years ago or something.

Per / – Your latest LP, “Come An´Get It”, are you happy with it?

David / – Yes, it´s pretty much the first complete album. The band is getting tighter, especially on stage.

Per / – Why did it take so long to record this LP?

David / – Well, we toured a lot. The actual recording didn´t take more than four weeks. We popped into the studio a few times in between gigs.

Per / – You´re writing all the lyrics, right?

David / – Yes, all of them.

Per / – Some of them are quite original. “Til´The Day I Die” seems to be about a rather sensitive person?

David / – Yes, songs like “Soldier Of Fortune”, “Blindman” and “Til´The Day I Die” comes out of my own feelings. If you listen to this song you´ll notice that the quiet part is the more sad bit, but then the band kicks in so you got two sides there.

Per / – It´s a bit different from what you hear from Heavy Metal bands…

David / – Wrong! Whitesnake is not a Heavy Metal band!

Per / – You don´t want to call Whitesnake a Heavy Metal band?

David / – I know that it isn´t.

Mike / – Have you ever considered to perform “Only My Soul” live?

David / – Well, we did it once but it´s an old song and we´ve got new songs that we want to play now. A new song always makes the band work harder.

Mike / – I really think that it´s one of your best songs ever.

David / – Yes, perhaps we´ll rerecord it some day, like we did with “Blindman” on “Ready An´Willing”.

Mike / – You wrote half the new album, does this mean that the others are busy doing other things?

David / – No, we had more songs but these were the ones that we decided to use. We´re writing new songs all the time. Bernie (Marsden) just recorded his second album, Jon (Lord) is doing his thing… We just arrived in a situation were my songs had to go on the album. But everybody seem to be OK with it.

Mike / – How were you received by the German public?

David / – It was amazing, much better than expected. We´ve not toured a lot outside of the UK and Japan because we wanted the band to be complete, and that happened when Ian Paice joined in 1979.

Mike / – Your first trip to Germany was as openers for AC/DC…

David / – Yes, we had a ball…

Mike / – Maybe you were better than them, and…

David / – Oh I don´t know about that. I like AC/DC a lot as people and they gave Whitesnake a good opportunity to be seen in Germany at that time…

Mike / – How long did you play as openers?

David / – Maybe an hour and fifteen minutes on the first tour, now it´s two hours.

Per / – What do you think of the Heavy Metal bands of today?

David / – Saxon is OK, but Whitesnake has got nothing to do with that scene. We play a different style, not just crash, bang all the time. And I´m not a Heavy Metal singer, I´m a blues singer. We play loud but there´s a lot of blues in there and we find that interesting.

Per / – You wouldn´t put in some other stuff, like reggae?

David / – We can do anything we like in Whitesnake.

Per / (something about the business side)

David / – I´m not involved in this for the business, I´m in this because I like to play music. When I started Whitesnake everybody said that we had no future. The record companies said that our era was over. But we did our thing and when we booked the clubs there were more people outside than inside, so the record companies and the press was wrong. Whitesnake is not a fashion thing, we´re musicians that enjoy to work together.

Mike / – I take it you didn´t enjoy the American tour with Jethro Tull that much…

David / – Jethro Tull isn´t rock´n´roll anymore, it was more like a cabaret act.

Mike / – How do you think the next US tour will be?

David / – The next tour will be… umm, I don´t really know… I would much prefere to concentrate on this tour for the moment. But I´m sure the next tour will be better for Whitesnake, at the very least we got people to see who we were in the cities that we did play. It´s not like the first tour was like a disaster or anything, people went “Ah, Whitesnake…”.

Mike / – Where in America is Whitesnake happening right now?

David / – I would say the East Coast and Texas.

Mike / – Were Deep Purple bigger there as well?

David / – No, Deep Purple was big everywhere! To this day, Deep Purple is the biggest band in the Soviet Union. I´m not joking, the Russian embassy in London contacted us and gave us the news a couple of months ago. Feels a bit strange.

Per / – You´ve been doing this now for a while. How has things changed?

David / – It goes in circles, all these fashion acts… you know… a few years ago there were hundreds of them and some of them are big in America now so they stay there. But Whitesnake is not a fashion band, and we´re certainly not old fashioned. And what is progressive rock anyway? A band can be seen like a marriage, the longer you stay together the better it gets, or worse…

Per / – Looks like Heavy Metal bands like yourselves has got a problem with the press in England. The NME…

David / – NME don´t want to meert us and we don´t want to meet the NME. It´s totally not interesting for the both of us. When they write about our shows they do it in such a derogitary way… here, kiss my fist! They disregard our songs, our public and my person. So they can stay at home, the main thing is that we´ve an audience that don´t.

Per / – How important is the US market for you?

David / – It´s very important. You don´t sell too many records anymore in smaller markets, and Whitesnake has just started to generate a profit after years of hard work. It´s very expensive to keep Whitesnake on the road so we need to sell records. Everything is more expensive these days, like the new album cost us as much as the first two we did to record.

Per / – So how important is the business side of things?

David / – Well, the support of our label in very important. We´ve had three hit singles now but we never looked upon those tracks as hit singles when we recorded them. They were for the albums. The right songs were picked by the label. Our first hit was “Fool For Your Loving”, I wrote that for B.B. King but decided to use it myself.

(At this point I show David a magazine of mine with a shot of him on the cover taken in Copenhagen in 1977)

David / – Where was this taken? At the hotel? I remember that.

Mike / – You said back then that you had talked with Ian Gillan about doing an album together with him with old rock´n´roll tunes…

David / – We talked about that, yes, but nothing came of it. I also said that I wanted to get it on with Princess Anne, but nothing came of that neither (laughs).

Mike / – Is it easier to tour with Whitesnake than it was with Deep Purple?

David / – We´re more like friends in Whitesnake. With Deep Purple we all travelled by ourselves. Deep Purple stopped functioning as a group, but I really would like to stop talking about it! I liked it, but I´m enjoying myself more now.

Per / – In Sweden your kind of music is often connected to violence.

David / – People will react as they please and there´s not a lot that I can do about that. Naturally, I don´t want to see people getting into fights with the police. I wrote songs straight from my heart and then we just hope that people that come to see us are there to have a good time. But our kind of music do seem to be more popular in industrial areas, in which people need to get some aggressions out presumably. Like in California. We really don´t see any violence at all at our concerts, people just sing along and have a good time. There exists some groups that misuse the power that they´ve got, but I never did. It doesn´t interest me. We just want our audience to have a good time. Our audience understands us well.

Mike / – This contact between yourselves and your audience is very important to you…

David / – Sure.

Mike / – But what would happen if it gets to be really huge, like with Purple… Could that destroy the contact you´ve got now… If 100,000 people buys a ticket…

David / – Then we´re at a special kind of situation. If 100,000 people buys a ticket, it means that 100,000 people wants to see you. In England, we´ve done some really big concerts now, like 20,000 people. We´ve checked out every part of those places to ensure that the fans can see us and hear us properly. If we find a bad spot we close it off. This upsets some people but fuck´em, you know…

Mike / – What´s some of your favourite songs of the new album?

David / – Most of them really. “Wine, Women An´Song” could have been improved. To me this is the most succesful, the most complete album so far. “Trouble” was 60% there, I mean, it was good but personally I thought it was 60%… “Lovehunter” would´ve made a great four track EP… “Ready A´Willing” was 80% and the new album is probably something like 90%.

Mike / – You write songs all the time?

David / – Well, almost…

Per / – You said you toured a lot?

David / – Yes, until I had the accident with my leg last year (December 1980). I´ve got my moves back now.

Per / – You never get tired of it? First Deep Purple, and…

David / – No. If I feel a bit down I just think of the time I spent after Purple when a contract held me from doing live work. I couldn´t do any concerts after Deep Purple for two years…

Per / – Contracts?

David / – Tactics and bullshit that had nothing to do with music. It was what it was but if I feel down now I just think about this period when I just couldn´t do anything but hang out.

Mike / – You did joing Nazareth on stage one night.

David / – Yes, but that was about it. Except for the fact that I recorded two solo albums. I like the songs on them but the sound was not that good.

(At this point, journalist Ola Wahlsten joined in)

Ola / This huge tour must be a strain on your voice…

David / – I´m under orders not to talk right now! This morning I met a specialist, the same that ABBA has, and he said I had to cut back on alcohol, cigarettes and to get some more sleep. I don´t sleep very much.

Ola / – How many concerts do you do in a month?

David / – I don´t know. It´s something like two gigs, day off, three gigs, day off, two gigs etc. We´ve got a bit of a problem tonight, our road manager is going nuts. We can´t get all our gear in, we can´t even do a soundcheck, so we´ll see…

Ola / – Isn´t it fantastic that you can sell out your show tonight when Bruce Springsteen is in town as well?

David / – That´s great! It was such a long time ago since we (Purple) played here, and it´s nice to see that people still care about what we do. When Whitesnake has played people go “What was that!”. The biggest problem is all the change that you´ve got in your pocket. You pick up your wallet and, German Marks…

Per / – Is there any differences between audiences in countries like the US, Europe and Japan?

David / – It´s wrong to say that the audiences are different but people think that it´s different in Japan. It´s not. They can´t say “Lovehunter”… “Wrrovehunter”… “Ain´t No Wrrove In The Heart Of The City”, which is very sweet. The people are the same everywhere and it´s the music that stands for the connection. We could probably play in Africa and it would work, but we couldn´t have a conversation due to the language.

Per / – Is it possible to communicate with thousands of people in a concert hall?

David / – I don´t know. Probably not. When we play we just want people to have a good time. A concert isn´t good just because it´s sold out. I´ve been in situations in which I´ve been really uncomfortable on stage but the audience has been great. If the gig is good, if the public is happy, if I feel good… If it´s a party, then it´s alright.

Mike / – Queen just opened up a new market in South America.

David / – We thought about it 10 years ago, eight years, with Purple. We said “Naw…”.

Mike / – Do you think that was a mistake?

David / – Well, we still make mistakes…

Mike / – Is it correct that Japan is your strongest market?

David / – No, that would be England.

Mike / Really?

David / – We sold 200,000 LPs in two weeks in England, so… The album went into second place and the single is at 17 right now.

Ola / – It looks like “Don´t Break My Heart Again” could be your first hit in Sweden.

David / – Yes, it´s quite a surprise. I´ve been in town for two nights checking things out and I heard it at a discoteque. It´s played all over Germany right now. So people are dancing to Whitesnake now, who would´ve thought…

Per / – This new wave of Heavy Metal, isn´t it just a repetition of what Zeppelin and other bands were doing a decade ago?

David / – That´s what I was talking about when I said that everything goes in cycles. When Whitesnake started everybody said that we wouldn´t have an audience but we did. That woke the label up and that actually helped to kickstart this whole thing that is happening now. I like Saxon and Def Leppard. The only thing I don´t like is that the music sounds 10 years old. I want to beleive that they´ve got ideas of their own, that´s what I find the most annoying. But they have the energy.

Per / – I read an interview with John Entwhistle in The Who and he said it was the old riffs over and over again.

David / – Yes, but from this circus you´ll find some good bands. The cream will rise to the top and Whitesnake has got a lot of cream…

* * * *

By Michael Eriksson, Per & Ola (1981)

(No part of this interview may be quoted without permission)

* * * *

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Comments
  1. […] DAVID COVERDALE (1981), JON LORD (1981), MICK UNDERWOOD (1982), JON LORD (1984), BLACK SABBATH (1983), BLACK SABBATH (1986), JUDAS PRIEST (1986), TOTO (1988), GLENN HUGHES & JOHN NORUM (1988), BLACK SABBATH (1987-1989), STEVE LUKATHER (1989), YNGWIE MALMSTEEN (1990), JOE LYNN TURNER (1992), JOE LYNN TURNER (1993), JOE LYNN TURNER (1994-1995), RAINBOW (1995), GLENN HUGHES (1996), JOE LYNN TURNER (1996-1998), DEEP PURPLE (1998), DAVID COVERDALE (2000), RONNIE JAMES DIO (2001), HUGHES TURNER PROJECT (2001), NIGHTWISH (2002), DEEP PURPLE (2002), MARTINA EDOFF (2009), MARTIN POPOFF & RICH GALBRAITH (2009), JOHNNIE BOLIN (2012), MICHAEL MOJO NILSSON (2014). […]

  2. […] Today I will say goodbye to a real gem from the old collection, a signed copy of a Deep Purple bootleg titled “Live In London”. The show was recorded in 1974 and was aired on UK radio, leading to the bootleggers having a good source. I bought my first bootlegs around that time and as you can see I tinkered a bit with the actual cover of this one, adding a picture of Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale (I cut it out of a poster I had from a Swedish magazine). In 1981, I got it signed by David Coverdale in Stockholm, as I met him for an interview. […]

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