ADRIAN VANDENBERG – “If You Try To Recapture An Emotion That You Had 35 Years Ago Then You Haven’t Learned Anything”
June 3, 2020, a month ago
Greece’s Rockpages caught up with Adrian Vandenberg to talk about the reformation of his solo outfit Vandenberg, enlisting Ronnie Romero as singer, and more. An excerpt below:
Rockpages.gr: (…)I’ve seen Ronnie with Rainbow and I was absolutely blown away by his performance although I can’t say the same for the rest of the band…
Adrian Vandenberg: “I agree…absolutely! There was Ritchie ‘fucking’ Blackmore who could have anyone playing with him and he ended up with a great singer and some other…zombies on stage (laughs)! I was shocked! Blackmore is a legend and he could have the best musicians in the world and they would have kicked ass! Aside from Ronnie, I was totally disappointed by the rest of the guys in Rainbow. They seem to be in a bar band or something.”
Rockpages.gr: Given the fact that you have a great chemistry with David Coverdale, why you haven’t worked with him after the Restless Heart record?
Adrian Vandenberg: “After Restless Heart, David was originally planning to retire and then he decided to make a comeback with Whitesnake. By that time, my life had changed…in 1999 my girlfriend at that time…we are not together anymore…gave birth to our daughter. When we split up three years later, it was difficult and I didn’t want to be one of those dads who go on tour and see their child two or three times per year. So, I decided instead to stay in Holland and catch up with my painting and before I realized thirteen years have gone by! It was time for me to start playing again. But initially when David asked me if I wanted to work with him in 2002-2003, I couldn’t be part of Whitesnake at the time. Then I focused on Moonkings and now I want to focus on Vandenberg. It’s a matter of bad timing…that’s all. Lots of people are asking but…you never know!”
Rockpages.gr: The new album doesn’t have the AOR/melodic style of the ‘80s Vandenberg records, although the song “Let It Rain” has many melodic elements in there. Did you think that maybe the old school fans of the band would expect the same style of music?
Adrian Vandenberg: “I know what you mean…it may sound a little strange but I always compose songs and record albums first and foremost in order to please myself. It wouldn’t be fair or even good if I would try and capture something that I did a long time ago. It wouldn’t be the same. There is a saying in Dutch that goes like: ‘standing still is going back.’ As an artist whether you are a musician or a painter or a writer…if you try to recapture an emotion that you had 35 years ago then you haven’t learn anything all those years. I am very proud of what I achieved in the past with Vandenberg but it would be strange or a Chinese copy if I tried a similar approach after 35 years.”
Rockpages.gr: So, with Ronnie in the band, you started writing songs in order to fit his voice or you had some songs written before he was on board?
Adrian Vandenberg: “That’s a good question. I always want to write songs for the singer’s voice. That was the same with Ronnie (Romero). When he agreed to be in the band, I started writing right away and two months later we were in a studio…in Los Angeles.”
Vandenberg returned on May 29 with a new studio album, 2020, via Mascot Records. The band and label present a new lyric video for “Skyfall”, which can be viewed below.
Adrian Vandenberg shares, "'Skyfall', another track from our upcoming Vandenberg 2020 album! Lyrically there’s a bit of a symbolic connection to the times we are all in right now. Although the line ‘I’ll be right beside you” would violate the social distancing rule. Don’t hesitate to turn it up and let your neighbours rock out with you, whether they choose to or not.”
Vandenberg has never really been away, but the band that carries his proud name has returned, after an absence that lasted for more than three decades. Vandenberg is very much alive again in a young, fresh and all-revised 2020 version.
Adrian Vandenberg can already look back on a rich career. He played in Whitesnake for over 13 years, having been part of this seminal band’s most legendary line-up. He was the driving force behind Manic Eden and more recently, Vandenberg’s Moonkings, but equally proud he looks back on Vandenberg, the Dutch band that put him on the map, internationally: “So many people still come up to me and speak about those glory days and the albums I’ve made with that band.”
All these compliments have inspired Adrian to bring Vandenberg back to life, albeit in an all new line-up. Together with renowned producer Bob Marlette (Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath), the band has delivered an album that’s generating praise from critics across the globe. The Vancouver Sun wrote, “To say that the new album from former Whitesnake axe man Adrian Vandenberg is a surprise is understatement. The 10 songs collected here boast more rpm (riffs per minute) than anyone could fairly expect in 2020. And they are classic Sunset Strip slabs of melodic metal of the sort that just doesn’t turn up much today. Chilean vocalist Ronnie Romero, who did such a good job fronting Ritchie Blackmore’s reformed Rainbow, howls like a mix of Ronnie Dio and Ian Gillian on headbanging numbers such as Hell and High Water, thrashers like Light Up the Sky and the killer opener Shadows of the Night. At a time when most of the artists from that era are well past even running on fumes, this sparks.”
Ronnie Romero, who first came to prominence when Ritchie Blackmore recruited him for a Rainbow tour in 2016, joins Adrian Vandenberg alongside Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake) on bass and Brian Tichy (Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner) on drums. For planned touring, Vandenberg and Romero will be joined by Koen Herfst (crowned as the best drummer of the Benelux, six times in a row) and Randy van der Elsen on bass (Tank). Says Adrian: “I want to get out there and play. We want to play this music to audiences all over the world.”
About his decision to relaunch the band Vandenberg, Adrian says: “Going with the band name Vandenberg was a logical decision. Rock fans would know right away what they are dealing with. I felt that I wasn’t done with the style of music I wrote for my band Vandenberg at the time and wanted to pick up the thread where I left it when I joined Whitesnake. But to me that would only make sense if I’d come up with a brand new, testosterone driven version of Vandenberg with a kick ass, world class line-up. Vandenberg 2020 on steroids. So that’s exactly what we did. BAM! Here I go again.”
Vocalist Ronnie Romero adds: “To me it’s kind of a dream come true. I’ve followed Adrian´s career since for years and he always was one of my favorite guitar players, so to work with him is nothing but amazing to me. Adrian is an exceptional musician, and it's really easy to work with him, the energy when we work together was fantastic, we had great times at the studio with our producer Bob Marlette, very exciting time.”
Bob Marlette is equally enthusiastic: "Working with Adrian has been a real pleasure. The man is working around the clock and his well of new riffs and melodies never seems to dry. With a powerful singer such as Ronnie Romero behind the microphone, I was some true magic expecting to happen and let me tell you... it has.”
In short, these guys mean business. 35 years may have passed since the final studio album ‘Alibi’, Vandenberg 2020 sounds just as fresh, relevant and at least as HEAVY as back in the day. Fun times will revive with a brand-new album, and an agenda filling up quickly with festivals and other touring plans. Or as the man himself, Adrian Vandenberg puts it: “Fasten your seatbelts, Vandenberg is here to stay.”
The album will be available as a Limited CD Box Set, on LP, and via digital alongside all streaming services. Pre-order the album here.
“Shadows Of The Night”
“Hell And High Water”
“Let It Rain”
“Ride Like The Wind”
“Light Up The Sky”
“Burning Heart" 2020
“Freight Train” lyric video:
“Shadows Of The Night” visualizer:
“Burning Heart" 2020: