If it seems like Whitesnake is ever-present nowadays, that may have to do with a pop culture resurgence they’re experiencing via the use of the band’s 1987 chart-topper “Here I Go Again,” which has been featured prominently in a current Geico ad campaign. The band itself has stayed pretty active, readying the release of its forthcoming album Flesh & Blood on May 10. Founded in 1978 by vocalist David Coverdale after his stint singing for Deep Purple ended in 1976, the group has enjoyed a steady run of success dotted by numerous hiatuses and an army of members that have filtered through its ranks. The band’s current line-up is rounded out by guitarists Reb Beach (Winger) and Joel Hoekstra (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), bassist Michael Devin, veteran drummer Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne) and keyboardist Michele Luppi. Hailing from the English working-class community of Yorkshire, Coverdale is endlessly effusive and prone to using salty language while bouncing between being profane and profound. Having experienced plenty of behind-the-scenes drama during his nearly five decades in the music industry, he’s thrilled at the current combination of players that currently make up Whitesnake.
“Working with Reb and Joel is the first time I haven’t had to be a referee,” Coverdale said with a laugh. “It’s just so [effing] distracting and a pain in the ass. This album features songs that Reb and I wrote that Joel does the solos on. There are songs that Joel and I wrote that Reb does the solos on. It remains unsaid with these guys—it’s just who they are.”
As for the forthcoming Flesh & Blood, the band’s first new album of original material since 2011’s Forevermore, there’s plenty for longtime fans to sink their teeth into. “Good to See You Again” is a gnarly opener infused with biting slide guitar and is a nod back to early Whitesnake and its ’70s-era Faces-like sound. Latter-day Whitesnake devotees will be sated by the combination of big riffs and choruses that define “Hey You (You Make Me Rock)” while “Heart of Stone” is the quintessential Whitesnake power ballad that perfectly balances extreme sonic dynamics, just the right amount of soloing and Coverdale’s simmering vocal phrasing. While folks can expect more of that when the band hits the stage, the band will also be paying tribute to the 35th anniversary of Coverdales’s self-proclaimed “romantic concept album” Slide It In, the band’s 1984 breakthrough album that set the table for the explosive success of Whitesnake three years later.
“Fans can expect us to feature favorites from [Slide It In],” Coverdale explained. “Obviously, 50 to 60 percent of a Whitesnake show is taken up by the immense hits of ‘Here I Go Again,’ ‘Is This Love’ and ‘Still of the Night.’ But this is the first time that my band has written and performed all new songs. So I’m hoping we can get five of the new songs, but in terms of time, I think I’ll be very lucky to get four. Some of them are very short and sweet, but others are epics.”
At the age of 67, Coverdale shows no signs of slowing down, despite attempting to bow out a number of times dating back to the ‘90s. (“I’ve tried to retire more times than Francis Albert Sinatra.”) The most recent time was back when Whitesnake recorded and toured behind 2015’s The Purple Album, remakes of songs from the Deep Purple Mark III and Mark IV line-ups that the sexagenarian rocker served as a singer for. It was also around the time that Coverdale was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple in 2016. For Coverdale, the timing couldn’t have been better.
“My wife has forbidden me from using the word retirement anymore. I thought The Purple Album would have been the perfect way to bow out—to go out of the business the way I came in,” he said. “I’d never made a record before the Burn album with Deep Purple in 1973, so this would have been a perfect way to fill in the karmic rings. It was a tribute, because there are no comparisons to the original. Jon Lord had already asked me when he’d been diagnosed with the evil pancreatic cancer. He said, ‘When I kick this Davey, will you do something Purple-related with me?’ I said, ‘Jonny I’m there for you for whatever you want to do.’ Of course, we lost him, but he’s still alive and kicking in my life.”
Whitesnake fans embraced material from this chapter of Coverdale’s life and while Coverdale’s spirit was rejuvenated and the Frontiers record label came knocking, his body was breaking down. Degenerative arthritis in both knees over a decade caught up with the vocalist to the point where he was using shots to deal with the bone-on-bone pain he was experiencing. The year 2017 was spent replacing both joints in separate operations and enduring the subsequent physical therapy and recovery. Two years later, Coverdale has a clean bill of health and is raring to take Whitesnake to the masses.
“When I prepare to go on stage or sing in a studio, I go into what I call the zone,” Coverdale said. “I have absolute trust in my band. It’s been a [thrill] experiencing them presenting music as only they can, as individuals and as a collective. My job is to work the crowd—get them motivated and involved. But the circumstances when you’re out of the zone is when pain becomes a huge distraction. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.”
Whitesnake will be appearing on May 8 at the Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. Visit www.theparamountny.com or call 631-673-7300 for more information.