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David Coverdale Says Whitesnake Were Never a Heavy Metal Band

Ash Newell

It isn’t often that a band releases one of its best albums five decades into its career, but Whitesnake have done just that with ‘Forevermore’. The band’s latest record finds the quintet revisiting the blues-based riffs of their earlier work, and features some of frontman David Coverdale‘s most inspired vocal performances ever.

Although the group’s hardcore fanbase may disagree, some casual listeners would probably categorize Whitesnake as a heavy metal band. During a recent sit-down interview with Noisecreep, it was clear that David Coverdale isn’t having any of it.

“The genre that I’ve found myself in — not that I ever pigeonholed or catalogued stuff, that’s for other people — I loathe and detest seeing ‘heavy metal’ when I see my stuff come up in iTunes,” Coverdale says. “I’ve never embraced that label on my music, other than I’m really loud. All of my songs have emotional and physical content. It has nothing to do with the emotionless metal.” Strong words!

Coverdale theorizes that his stint with Deep Purple is a big part the reason why the metal comparison comes up so often. “It’s gotta be from my association with Deep Purple from way back when. That [heavy metal] was one of the expressions related to Deep Purple. We were in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the loudest band in the world. Of course, those were in less saturated days.”

Ironically, if you followed Deep Purple during the days when Coverdale fronted the band, you already know that their material with him often embraced soul and funk influences. “[Deep Purple bassist] Glenn Hughes, my soul brother, we were both immense fans of American black music,” the singer lovingly recalled.

Noisecreep asked Coverdale which records had the biggest effect on him during his stint in Deep Purple. “The three albums that were irreplaceable in my life the year I joined Deep Purple were ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ [Sly & the Family Stone], ‘Live’ from Donny Hathaway, and ‘Music of My Mind’ by Stevie Wonder. I still live and breathe all of them.”

Surely the Whitesnake legend still cranked out some rock ‘n’ roll from time to time?

“Oh yes… I was a huge rock fan too [(laughs]. I was a big fan of turning people’s singles down from 45 rpm to 33 rpm to make them sound heavier. Which I think is what Vanilla Fudge did too. If you listen to The Beatles‘ ‘Rain’ at 33 rpm, those riffs slowed down are really heavy. I once had the pleasure of telling George Harrison that I did that and he said, ‘Oh really — I’ll have to try that!’”

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