Interview

DAVID COVERDALE

August 2000
http://user.tninet.se/~cxq849j/Attic/covint.htm




      This interview has not been edited - it's written down, word by word exactly the way it was said - so if it looks funny in writing, just imagine you're hearing the conversation, cause that's the idea with writing it down this way... I hope you will enjoy this stuff. I know I did..!

      If you had a time machine, where would you go?

If I had a time machine... phew... Well, I've always been fascinated by the Greek, the early Greek and Roman civilizations. I also... Well, can I have a couple of choices?

      Sure!

I also would have liked to have been around the time of Christ, you know...cause I think I would have tried to have gotten in there as one of the disciples, I'm sure of it.
Uhm...Let me see... I would have liked to have drunk wine with Picasso, and Georges Braque and Cezanne, I would have liked to see DaVinci and Michelangelo work...
[thinks very long and hard...] Umm... I would have loved to, as an observer, to see the dorn of man, to see what happened. From the very beginning, what happened. Because recently I read an unbelievably fascinating article. It's very chilling actually, potentially chilling, in a frightening sense, that recently scientists have discovered how to really make a human being...
They've mapped the DNA and one scientist said that out of the 6 billion people on the planet now, tracing back through 7000 generations, they could find a seeding colony of 60000 people that started this entire population! Can you believe that? So, in essence, we're all the same. There's no question. You get more people to a soccer match on a Sunday! So for me it's just incredible. I don't think I'm so naive as to think that that news is gonna change the face of the world, you know, but who knows... The winds of change are blowing. I feel it everywhere I go. Let me tell you, you're gonna see Mother Nature manifest in many strange ways too. Cause that's my feeling... You're gonna see more floods, more volcanic eruptions, more crazy weather...


      It's happening already I think...

Well, we're getting fires throughout the States, it's breathtaking. Nature thrives on fires, the tragedy is when we move into those areas. I mean, I live in a forest! So one of mine recurrent nightmares is arson, which is an unforgivable crime certainly to animals and to all... Nature thrives on it, she has no problem rebuilding, you know... But yeah, I think you're gonna see a lot of unusual things.

      You mentioned Picasso before, are you interested in art?

I studied art, yes.

      So you still go to galleries..?

Oh yes, yes! Absolutely! Yeah. Matisse - I ADORE Matisse. You know what I adore? Remember when his hands were too shaky, and he would make the cut outs..? I LOVE that work. And I would have liked to have drunk the first wine that was made! :)

      Do you paint yourself?

Not for many years...I paint in sound now, in lyrics. I'm very involved in artwork, with the albums and stuff like that. Usually they're my ideas that I give to...The same with musicians: I'll start off with a song and I'll get musicians in to make my g, c and d better. And my scribbles and rough ideas to get a great artist in... But I'm going completely radically different with this record. Have you seen the artwork?

      No...

I'll show you before you go. I mean, it's just a basic idea, you know. I'm working with... I'm calling it the Synchronicity of elements - for the last two years, everything is falling into place, no bullshit, no nonsense and I'm finding people now... so I'm utterly convinced that there are no coincidences, everything is meant to happen now. Whether or not it's successful is another thing, but I feel it's successful already with the people I've got into play - the musicians, the photographers, the artwork...

      I think that Whitesnake fans will be really thrilled with this album, cause I've been listening to it non stop for the past week or so, and it really grows on you. It's probably not something that Backstreet Boys fans will like but...

Somebody said to me...when I went on the last tour - you saw me on the last tour, I was getting from 15 years old to 60 years old people! You know, the people in their 60s were like in their 30s when I was in Deep Purple. And they've followed me... It was breathtaking for me to see from the stage. This total cross section of age.
But I'm not catering, you understand, I'm not doing this for anybody specific, I'm doing this cause I wanna do this. And you can hear, I think, that this is a salute to my past. And the acknowledgement of now and the taste of where I'm gonna go. You know, I'm not gonna make Frank Zappa records...That's not in me. But rock, soul and blues IS.
I've met a lot of people who go "Thank god, you still have a power voice", you know. "You're still rockin'". And I love to rock'n'roll, it's in me. If I couldn't do it, I wouldn't do it. But it's still there. I use my voice as an instrument. If I'm writing a song and I think "wow, this will be nice sung in a middle register", then that's what it will be done. But when I worked with Pagey, as we were writing I'm going "fuck, these are all aaarrrgh!! Tarzan!" it's all fuckin'... And that's great, cause I can still do it. From a whisper to a scream. But really I haven't paid as much attention to the blessing of the gift of my voice. Of being able to go from a whisper to a scream. YOU know I can do it, you know my music, but a lot of people don't. I don't have any restrictions anymore, cause I'm not playing to an image or an identity. Anything you want...


      When you watch TV, do you know exactly what you want to watch or are you a remote freak..?

I don't watch TV. If I watch anything, I watch movies or documentaries.

      What kind of movies do you prefer?

I prefer movies that tell a story. I thought "American Beauty" was great. I watch a lot of European movies. I'm not a very big fan of the American Hollywood big explosion here, violence there... I'm also not a fan of bands who promote anger and violence.

      Do you have any favorite actors or actresses?

Actors or actresses... hmmm...[thinks for a while] Ouch...you caught me there... Uhm... At this moment in time, I don't think anybody I can turn around and go...who is it my wife and I enjoy... I love Gene Hackman! There are certain actors and actresses that you know are picking good movies, it's almost a guarantee that there's a good story. Tom Hanks... Dustin Hoffman... I just watched a movie before coming over here, it's a great movie that I really enjoyed, and a great director called Mike Lee. He usually writes very nitty gritty real life things. Have you seen Secrets and lies? Very realistic. And for some reason, his last movie is called Topsy Turvy, it's about the 19th century superstars, the Gilbert and Sullivan of the early 19th century. It's like a grand opera, the cheeziest style, but it's fun and the movie is excellent. I'm actually a fan... They were kind of like the Lennon/McCartney of the 19th century! It's a great movie, but it's a little movie, you know...

      When you go to the movies, do people recognize you?

Yeah, I'm always surprised when I'm recognized for some reason. Certainly since I've changed my hair! (laughs) Well, you gotta remember, I was on MTV 24 hours a day for 5 years so... But I'm still shocked by it. I'm always amused by the [snatches his head] the whiplash people give themselves "Is that..??" Certainly when I'm walking around with my son on my shoulders! But it's nice.

      What are the best things and the worst things about being famous?

Best and worst... hmm...Well, I've never embraced celebrity, you know the sense of really wanting having my picture taken. I don't like making videos, although I do like my new video cause that's the only reason I'm gonna make a video - if I can make something real. I'm tired of making the bullshit videos where they have nothing whatsoever to do with the music, you know. Those days are gone. The idea of maintaining a profile without compromising your privacy is the difficult thing... Although now, you know, I'm actually embracing a percentage of that by opening this website (www.davidcoverdale.com) Because I will be contactable, but I think I'll be able to balance having private time as well. It's the way of the future and I wanna be involved.

      Have you been on the web a lot or is this the first time you're actually getting out there..?

Well, I'm all over the web. One of the things we're gonna do is cooperate with all the existing sites, what we call the "Illegal Whitesnake sites". But the circumstance is that they've kept my name going, and kept my music going, stuff like that, so I don't wanna blow them out the water, I wanna work with them. If it's giving them pleasure and they're happy doing it, let them do it, and we'll work with them. The word I'm using now is cooperation. We met with the biggest Japanese website guy...

      Kino?

Yeah, yeah, he's a doll! He's a really nice guy and sadly we couldn't have our picture taken cause his camera wouldn't work...But we'll see him again! There's no question.

      His site takes forever to go through, it's HUGE!

But he writes in English I understand? What we've talked about with two of my media guys over there, two very busy guys, they publish Burrn! magazine and TV shows and radio shows and stuff... So I said "Why don't we get you two guys to put together any questions that you guys get about me?" cause we've worked together for 20 years - "and put it through Kino's thing?" And eventually, what I wanna try to do, cause this is only the beginning, is that we wanna start selling records on there, and cheaper too! But the circumstance is, with the fact that I'm blessed with a global career, as it were, let's keep Italy involved, let's keep Spain involved keep Japan involved... so...You know, obviously, the Japanese page won't make much sense to you, but it will to the many people who support me in Japan. So they can hit my website, still see Kino's, which will be infinitely more detailed in whatever he wants to do, and maintain his stuff. But get him involved in it too. He's been a great supportive player. Why not?

      Are you up early in the morning or do you sleep all day?

I get up very early! Are you ready for this? I get up at 4 o'clock in the morning! My coffee machines are set for 4.

      Why..?? What do you do??

Well, I've got a lot of business that I deal with in Europe, so there's an 8 hour time difference from where I am, or indeed 9 hours... So I can get all that out of the way, do my workout, go hiking, write my music... you know what I'm saying? I can get so much done! My house is crazy! There's 4 people working in the house, we have 3 offices in the house. So from 9 o'clock till 6 o'clock the phone doesn't stop ringing! So it's complete distraction. So it makes all the sense in the world, and then I rest for an hour or so in the afternoon, otherwise I'm a miserable ol' bastard! Just tired and snappy, and weekends we have, you know, just family-time... But I still get up early. I can't do it anymore, I miss too much of life. I don't subscribe to that, I haven't for many years - the "up all night, sleep all day", not for many many years...I LOVE the day! If you ever see Lake Tahoe you'll understand, it's just...breathtaking view from my home.

      So, you go to bed early too..? I mean if you get UP early..?

Naah, 11.30-12...I get about 4 hours of sleep, 4 and a half hours...

      Is that enough..?

No, that's why I take a rest. And I subscribe to the Winston Churchill theory which is "if you're gonna take a nap, don't sit in a chair and doze off, get your clothes off, get into bed"..! And...sometimes I can indulge with the old girl as well on an afternoon, which is always an amusement..!

      Who's your favorite comic book hero?

Ooh, a few of them actually! I haven't seen comic books for many many years, but my favorite comic series was Spiderman, The Fantastic Four... It's so interesting, there's a new movie in the States now called the X-men, and I didn't recognize any of them! Cause the original X-men were different, you know... So I don't know Wolverine or whatever. Thor - I love Thor! That was the interesting thing, as a child, not only was I interested in the Greek times, but I love mythology! Very very much. And I completely subscribe to the theory that you guys were in North America before Columbus! I have no doubts. NONE. I mean, you guys got into those fuckin' long ships and just go wherever the fuck you wanted so why not to North America?

      Do you prefer cats or dogs?

I have two designer cats...I have an abesinian and a burmese, the abesinian is a beautiful girl called Isis, she's always credited on my records. And Saboo is the burmese, he's a tiny guy with lots of attitude. They're designer cats, not just rough street kitties - very very charming but they're still rats in fur coats really when dinner's served! And hopefully.. When I was 4, my mother got me a German Shepherd puppy who was like my best friend for 15 years, I don't know whether Jasper's quite ready, for HIS 4th birhtday, which is on the 21st of August, but I wanna get him a dog... I'm not as houseproud as I was. My house is very expensively done, but it's a home now. My wife's made it a home. And my son destroys it at every possible opportunity..! As do the cats! So... I'm a bit more open.

      Do you have any phobias?

Oh, they're changing...Flying was one...One of the reasons I've called my record Into the Light is that I genuinely feel that my life has changed. Into an infinitely more positive and very in the light, as opposed to in the dark you know...I've had enough of the darkness, I don't want it anymore. Phobias... I have like 150 feet trees in my garden, and every so often we have to have them trimmed, and some guy will go staggering up there and snip them for me. And I go..."ffffffff...." [looks horrified] A phobia is fire... I love fire but because of the environment where I live if some idiot would compromise that for whatever idiocy, lunacy...

      Can you name a record or a band whose CD you would NOT want in your collection?

Any of the bands that incite violence. Or promote anger. Any of those kind of things, they're no good for you.

      Is there any person, alive or dead, who could make you speechless and star struck?

Jimi Hendrix! Picasso...Michaelangelo... But I don't know, I usually get passed that shit pretty much "oh I LOVE your work!" you know..! I met Sinatra, and I was very verbal with him after the initial "wooh, isn't he small!" [grins]

      Was that a long time ago?

Well, before he died! [laughs loud!] He actually turned around to me as he walked back to the stage, and his thing before going onstage, his superstition, was to do a drumroll on the wall, and he goes: "Well... here I go again!" and I went "Oh, man..!" Francis! :)

      What are the most common questions you get?

In Europe? "What was it like joining Deep Purple?". But they never finish it off... it was GREAT joining Deep Purple, and I'd be eternally grateful to the musicians in Deep Purple for taking such a chance...and giving an unknown naive singer with relatively no experience at all, such a phenomenal opportunity. "What was it like leaving Deep Purple?" was even better... you know... because they gave me so many tools - a lot of them I still can use today - in order to sustain a career.

      Are there any questions that you feel nobody ever DARED to ask you, but you wish they had?

Well, actually, you know, the British press as you know, there's elements of it being known as being very rude to me over the years. But their interviewers have never been rude to my face. I would much rather that they confronted me with their... issues...

      Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

No idea. I'm not looking that far. My feeling is the future is bright, but the now is brighter.

      Have you ever thought of writing your biography..?

What did I think of calling it... "Reach for the scotch"..? The autobiography...! uh... To be totally honest... I wouldn't want to make certain people uncomfortable, a lot of people... because I wouldn't write anything that wasn't true. Or I wouldn't put too much cosmetic on it. Years ago probably I would have done something that was... more disguised, but... Number one, - I don't see the point really, you know... There are certain aspects of my life which will remain with me. If you wanna know me, you can read my lyrics, most of them are diaries... you know.. There's a very good amount of the songs where you can actually find out who I am... and how I deal with things...

      So that's your way to communicate with people..?

Totally. Yeah, that's the gift I've been given, yes. I said on a Japanese copy of the album: "Yes, it's about love again! Sorry! You know, I'm just not inspired to write about trees! Maybe next time!"

      [Photographer Staffan asks: Is there a chance there will be another 5 songs from Blackmore/Coverdale?]

With who? Blackmore? Richie? Well, I think Richie is happy now - he's doing medieval music.

      [You wrote very good songs together...]

Oh yeah, indeed. yeah... Sadly, we didn't part friends. This is many many years ago. It's interesting, cause many years ago I received regards from Richie through a reliable source, and I went: "Well... Send mine back..." But as Sean Connery said, or James Bond: Never say never again... Who knows! Who knows...

      Do you listen to music in your spare time?

All the time.

      Is there any music that you like particularly..?

Well, the music I find I play the most is classical, from the 18th century called baroque. I love that. I love ancient and modern... The music that I think is infinitely more expressionist now... anything with expression incidentally - I don't have to understand the words, I can feel the sentiment through the performance. I have an incredibly eclectic taste. Recently, the last five years, I've been listening to something people call "world music". South America, India, Africa, Middle East, Asia... In fact, recently, I can't remember the name, but, I just got a... it's a kind of Finnish supergroup from what I understand by the sleeve notes. And they went to a part of Finland ,northern Finland, which is being in Russian hands for a long time, and pulled out some old Finnish songs. And I found that very, very enjoyable. But I'm finding there's more bravery, more creativity with world music as opposed to Western music. Western music now is so formulated... It's not just the boy bands, or whatever one would call it, this factory thing... I'm hearing it in rock as well! You know, the rock is formulaic, and...

      ...everything is pretty much...

Yeah! I'm missing expression! Let alone substance. The Seattle time I thought brought out some great music, some great bands. But I missed hearing a guitar star! You know... I love guitar! You got great songs, great singers, great guitar, but I haven't heard any great soloists to rattle Eddie Van Halen's or Jimmy Page's cage or..you know.

      There won't be too many of those...

Well, there should be! Any instrument like that, which you can solo with, should be the person's voice - an extension of their voice, a communicative tool. Once the singer finishes... If you listen to the solos - I worked VERY closely with the guitarists on the solos - so, when the vocal finished, you can actually sing - the more familiar you get with the record, you can sing the guitar solos... They're melodic. They're intense. You know, or soft, whatever, according to the song. I've had too many solos where my song have been basically just like a foundation for showing off... And I'm not going to allow that anymore.

      Have fans ever done anything really crazy to meet you..? Like, dressed up as a hotel maid or something like that..?

Oh! Yeah, yeah..! One of the wildest was a woman in Japan, a young lady, who wanted me to deflower her... and she came with all her friends, and they were all dressed in these incredible, traditional Japanese... you know... uh, the make-up, and the kimonos and stuff...It was breathtaking!

      What do you think is a woman's place in the house?

As a partner. As a complete partner.

      So, you do things around the house as well..?

Completely, yeah. If my missus washes, I dry. You know... Usually we cook together. It's difficult when I'm recording, that's a tough time. But I don't put her through... you know... we get take-away food, or the housekeeper will prepare food, so, she isn't compromised in her time. She's an incredible mother, an incredible wife. When I'm recording at home - when you're in the middle of a creative process, you can't stop at five to eat, you know, or whatever. But we work as a great partnership, I'm coming up to TEN years with this person, which is an incredible achievment for me, as superficial as it sounds... but it's a testimon to the fact that we're assisting eachother in growing, you know... we trust eachother, we support eachother, and it's just an incredible relationship! I'd love to be able to work with her. In terms of what I do...

      Is she in any way involved in the music..?

Well, as an inspiration, a support system...

      She's not a musician then..?

Actually, she's on the album! You wanna see her? I'll show you. Let me give you the artwork...[gets out of the couch] This is just rough stuff you know, but at least you'll get an idea of what it's about. [knocks on the door to the other room and goes: "LET ME IN!". "Have you got the artwork, to show her..?"]

(Comes back and shows the cover:)

This is the cover... These are all different snapshots put together... Looks like I had a nose job! There are the interiors... and there's my wife. [I look at this model-like, angel-looking beauty, and am for some reason not surprised. David always had great taste, even I have to admit that!]

Initially, I was gonna have a picture of her as a guardian angel with wings, you know, but the photographer worked with her, and it was just incredible...she came out great. So, she's the centerfold, all with her clothes on! So... No more bullshit, this is gonna be STYLE.


      [After this, the photographer wants to take a few more "pose-photos" - up until now he had just been clicking away during the interview. David looks in the big mirror on the wall and asks if his hair looks alright. Of COURSE it does.. :) Then he poses by the window for the photographer - I think you'll get to see those photos soon...! He was in such a great mood, talked and laughed a lot, made us all feel very comfortable...]

      I have a few things for you to sign as well...

Oh, yeah yeah yeah...

      This is for a friend of mine...

Well, if it's only for a friend...! [laughs]
Thank you, that was some interesting stuff! One of the things I'm gonna be doing on the web is ask the major Whitesnake sites, to ask their onliners what they always wanted to know about me. Rather than just have to find it through interviews. And if it's too personal I'll go "fuck you!" [laughs] ...which they're aware of, so...they all get a shitload of questions, and I can answer their questions...You know what I'm saying?


      [He signed all the stuff I put on the table, I said thanks packed my stuff, said goodbye and "thank you" to everybody in the room and left as discreetly as I could... And went home to type this down and bring it out to all of you, my fellow Coverdale-followers and fans! I hope you enjoyed meeting David the Person as opposed to David the Superstar... Rock on..!]


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