Having just completed European dates, Adrian Vandenberg (VANDENBERG, WHITESNAKE) and his killer classic hard rock band MOONKINGS are about to hit the UK for select dates, in support of their debut album, Vandenberg’s MoonKings.
Dutch legend Adrian Vandenberg is best known for his three classic Vandenberg records plus his Slip Of The Tongue-era stint with Whitesnake (and don’t forget his paintings!). But he’s been quiet for a while. MoonKings, with its old school metal swagger, changes all that.
“What I’ve been trying to do,” begins Vandenberg, “and I think I succeeded with it, I was trying to build a bridge between blues rock-based music, with its roots firm in the mid-‘70s, but build a bridge to the dynamics to bands from now, with the energy of bands like, for instance, Foo Fighters or Queens Of The Stone Age, where it slaps you in the face, you know? Really, I do like bands who are playing the retro ‘70s type thing, but the thing I get bored with is when people really make it sound like it was recorded in the ‘70s. I really like the dynamics and the punch of modern-day bands as well. I’m trying to picture how a band like Free for Cream or Zeppelin or something would’ve sounded if they would’ve been 22-year-old guys now. They would probably sound much more dynamic than they did at the time, as far as recording goes, with in your face-ness of the drums and guitars and stuff. So that’s basically the bridge I was trying to achieve.”
Mission accomplished, and indeed, you won’t hear a lot of Adrian’s sort of classical influence from those Vandenberg records. But I still had to ask where that came from...
“Well, that’s basically, I sometimes compare it to a hard disk you have in your brain, you know? My sister is a classical piano player, and my dad also, but my dad also played jazz on the piano and the trombone and stuff. So there was not a second without music in my house when I grew up, and I think that made a blueprint in the back of my mind. I can’t read notes and I’ve never had guitar lessons, especially in the early ‘80s, when I was still actually playing stuff from Jimi Hendrix and Albert King, the blues guys, the old stuff. But you’re right, at a certain stage, the classical little melodies started popping up in my playing to my own surprise. It’s kind of mingled with my blues influence. Every once in a while they pop up. I think it popped up more in the ‘80s, in my playing, than it does now. But there’s still an element in my style. I just let it flow, and see what happens.”
Asked what his proudest moments are from the entire catalogue of music he’s created, Adrian mentions ‘Burning Heart’, a hit ballad from the first Vandenberg album, but also Whitesnake’s ‘Sailing Ships’, which he’s brought back for this record, guest vocalist being none other than DAVID COVERDALE.
“Yes, I would include ‘Sailing Ships’, but I must say, from this album, there’s a whole bunch. As a matter fact, to be honest, which is unusual, I’ve been playing the shit out of it, you know—I’m still playing it in my car for my own enjoyment. So from this album, my constant favourites—because they change a little bit— are definitely ‘Breathing’, ‘Out Of Reach’, ‘Close To You’ and ‘Good Thing’. They always give me a great feeling when I play them. And the variety... there are 55 minutes of music on this record, and the record company had said, ‘We’d like 40 or 45. How do you feel about losing two songs off so we can use this as bonus tracks?’ And I couldn’t separate from any of the songs, and said, you know, to hell with that, let’s keep them all on. So the bonus tracks are permanently on the album (laughs).”
Vandenberg’s MoonKings is available now - see Moonkingsband.com for music clips and the band’s full slate of festival dates.