SNAKECHARMER (Eng.)

– First of all thanks a lot for answering our interview. How is the band currently doing with this album you have just released?

Neil Murray: The album has had a great response from fans and critics, and as far as I know it is selling very well. We are very pleased with the reaction it has had, and I hope it will give us the opportunity to tour extensively now that it’s out and people can hear how the band sounds.

– SNAKECHARMER is formed by known artists in the Rock world. How did the idea of forming it arise?

Initially Micky Moody and myself formed an earlier version of the band, with a different keyboard player, in order to play gigs featuring a lot of the classic Whitesnake songs from our past, as well as songs that were associated with other band members. Myself and Micky had done a lot of touring and recording in recent times with Company Of Snakes and M3 Classic Whitesnake, so at first this band was a continuation of what we’d done with those bands. We were lucky to find some great musicians in Laurie Wisefield, Harry James, Chris Ousey and Adam Wakeman, although all the guys are in demand for other projects and tours. Becoming involved with our management led to the idea of recording new original songs, which got us a record deal with Frontiers.

 

– Talking about your album, «Snakecharmer», and looking at the cover artwork and the band’s name, I guess the thing was getting back a little bit the most 70’s essence of WHITESNAKE, isn’t it? Are you satisfied with the final outcome?

If the album sounds something like early Whitesnake, it just happened naturally that way; it wasn’t done deliberately. The songwriting ideas and the way the members play is what produces that sound, and since Micky’s style (and perhaps mine) had a lot of influence in Whitesnake, naturally there will be some similarities. The Snakecharmer name came about because we needed to give an indication of what we play live, but maybe the combination of the name and the album cover give the impression that we’re trying very hard to sound just like old Whitesnake, but that’s not the case, it’s just what comes naturally. Certainly we’re very happy with how the album sounds, whether it’s a bit similar to Whitesnake or not!

 

– Listening to the album it’s clear the influence of the most classic WHITESNAKE, but there are also a lot of elements of 70’s Hard Rock, specially on tracks like «A Little Rock & Roll» or «Smoking Gun» where we can also notice some Southern Rock inspirations for instance, and also on tunes like «Accident Prone» or «Guilty as Charged».

Making comparisons to other bands is usually something that fans or journalists do, and maybe we don’t hear the same influences. I guess that Micky, Laurie and myself were fans of the Allman Brothers and other blues-influenced bands and of course the 70s was a very formative period in our playing and taste in music, so we can’t avoid it. The other members of the band are younger and therefore bring in their own influences, which helps to make Snakecharmer an interesting mix.

 

– And «Nothing to Lose» has a really powerful old school Hard Rock riffs. Are all the songs new or were some of them already written?

Nearly all the songs were written in the last couple of years. The style of the band doesn’t require us to be ultra-modern and fashionable. Our taste in music is wide-ranging, but we all enjoy classic rock, and that’s what we do best.

 

– Though the tunes I liked the most are «Cover Me In You», «My Angel» and «Turn Of The Screw», I’m a lover of the WHITESNAKE’s period until «Saints An’ Sinners», and these song are the pure essence of that period. Do you think you have gotten back part of that spirit?

Those three songs started from Micky’s demos, so it’s natural that they would remind you of classic Whitesnake, perhaps more than songs which were originated by Laurie or Harry. Even so, I’m certain that Micky wasn’t consciously trying to write Whitesnake-type songs, just songs that he and the band would enjoy playing.

 

– I would also like to point 3 songs are maybe out off the usual line of the album but fit pretty good on the album: «Falling Leaves» is a power ballad with a lot of feeling, «Stand Up» has a strong 80’s Hard/AOR vibe, and «To The Rescue» is a heart touching Hard/Blues song. What could you tell us about these tracks?

«Falling Leaves» and «To The Rescue» are both initially Laurie’s ideas, though of course Chris added the lyrics and melody, and the whole band has a lot of input into the arrangements of all the songs. We take a basic song idea and make it into something which is more of a band creation. Harry was the main writer of «Stand Up», but yet again Chris and the band took his basic idea and made it into a Snakecharmer song.

 

– How was the songwriting process? Are there any main songwriters on the band or were you all involved on the creation of the album?

As I said when talking about the tracks you mentioned, normally one of the band will work on a riff, chord sequence or basic backing track at home then send it to the other guys. If Chris is excited by the track, he will add his vocal ideas, then we’ll get together and work on the songs as a band, and maybe there will be lots of changes made until we’re all happy with the song. In the recording studio, there might be more changes, and on a couple of tracks we were still adding or changing guitar parts during the mixing sessions.

 

– Having in the band artists as Moody and yourself, I can’t help but talking about WHITESNAKE. On my view during the era until 1983 you were just unique, specially during the 70’s, but since 1987 the band changed from being a good band to be just another good band of that period. What did you think about the change? I specially comment this due to the fact SNAKECHARMER gets back a big part of that magic WHITESNAKE from the 70’s had.

My perspective is different from Micky’s regarding the changes in Whitesnake’s sound and personnel. He left Whitesnake during the recording of «Saints An’ Sinners» but returned to the band a few months later, and I know that he wasn’t very happy with how things changed when Mel Galley and Cozy Powell joined. I left to play with Gary Moore for 18 months, but I think it was necessary for Whitesnake to change, as we were starting to become repetitive in the blues-rock song style, and it seemed impossible for the band to have success in the USA unless the sound and the look of the band changed. I was part of the lineup in 1984 with David, Cozy and John Sykes, which was a very strong setup, though we only toured in the States and Japan. I am proud of the 1987 album that I played on, though I know that it isn’t Micky’s taste, but the lineup that David put together to tour that album and then record «Slip Of The Tongue» didn’t have the British roots of earlier lineups. The earlier Whitesnake albums were a better opportunity for myself and Micky to play in our own style, and it’s good to be able to play songs with Snakecharmer that suit that type of bass playing and guitar playing.

 

– And coming back to the present, what are the near-future plans for the band? Will you tour in support of the album? If so, when?

We hope to tour as much as possible in support of the album, but the situation isn’t very good for touring bands at the moment. Fans don’t have much money, and the days of getting tour support from a record company to help fund a tour have gone. Each band member has other work that they do, so it’s difficult for everyone to be available, but mostly it’s down to whether promoters want to take a chance on a ‘new’ band, even if there are well-known members in it.

 

– And on a view to the future, is SNAKECHARMER a steady band that will release more albums or are the band’s members involved in other projects?

Both! This is a proper band, and we definitely plan to make more albums, if the record company allows us to, but until Snakecharmer is able to sustain itself

financially, the members will still have to do other bands and projects. It’s good to play different music anyway, but hopefully soon we’ll be able to concentrate on Snakecharmer.

 

– And finally something I’m curious about: do you know if Coverdale has listened to the album and what are his thoughts on it?

I honestly don’t know, but Whitesnake is also on Frontiers, so I think it’s very likely that he’s heard it. I’ve no idea what he thinks of it, though I’m sure his fans have told him their opinions!

 

– That’s all from our side, it’s been a pleasure to interview a superband by supermusicians, and thank you for the work you’ve done getting back that essence we all love. Our best wishes and hope to see you in Spain. Thank you.

Thanks!

 

Paco Gómez

paco@queensofsteel.com

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