Monsters Of Rock sounds a lot edgier than Download Festival.
I think that was sold, like in the usual corporate aspect. Every so often you’ll see a Monsters Of Rock package. I wasn’t going to do any European stuff this year, but the idea of going in for a fourth time was just too good. Of course, it’s another opportunity to work with my mates, Leppard. We did so well last year co-headlining a Dublin show and it was just terrific. I think one of the reasons that I’m embracing this package aspect of bands is because it gives people, in this time of economic uncertainty, the most bang for one’s buck. So, I’m more than open to it. And of course Priest and I are old mates, too. They’re doing their most successful album, I think, from top to bottom, British Steel, for its anniversary. See, I’m not the only one who’s an anniversary kid! So God willing, if it’s anything like the fun we had in 2005, people are going to be in for a real treat.
Your career is so expansive and influential. Can we talk about the passion you have for it? Has there ever been a time when it was waning?
Well, I’ve always withdrawn from either the business or performing if I’ve ever felt that. It’s interesting you’ve asked this because when I reactivated Whitesnake in 2003, I had no intentions of going any further than a couple of months to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Whitesnake. It went over so well and I had such fun that my wife said, ‘Well, why don’t you do it for a couple months a year?’ So I do this with my family’s support, have a blast doing it, it keeps me young and it looks like I make a lot of people happy. We played to 80,000 people in England last Sunday, which was a very special night as you can imagine. And I’m working with fresh people—these guys are terrific— and being moved towards making a new record.
In the old days I would only tour every three years so the songs would maintain a sort of freshness, whereas touring annually it’s a different story. Some of the songs I can’t feel anymore so it’s no question I’ll drop those ones. Fortunately I have a substantial catalog of songs I can draw from. Even so, I was starting to feel that some of the classics people want to hear, I wasn’t feeling them anymore. I had to dig really deep to perform them honestly. So what’s really changed that is the fact that I made a new album called Good To Be Bad. Fifty percent of my show features these songs. It’s brought everything back to life and recharged me in every possible way. And my musicians, of course, are featuring themselves on Whitesnake songs rather than playing songs that other people performed. So it’s revitalized Whitesnake, and certainly the rest of the world because I think if I’m feeling this way then a lot of my hardcore supporters [were] thinking it’s about time I give them something new. Doug [Aldrich, guitar] turned into this extraordinary partner and we had a fantastic writing experience that was just organic and developed into a great friendship, which translated into us sitting down, playing acoustic guitars together and writing songs. It was relatively effortless.