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Bernie Marsden (M3)

Interview with Bernie Marsden from M3
by Grigoris Chronis at 22 May 2005, 7:55 PM

Bernie Marsden, the secret hero of the golden Whitesnake era. You feel free with artists like him. No posing, no 'star' attitude, nothing bad. A busy Bernie offers latest updates on the M3 DVD, along with a short notice for the future and a long one for the past. Applause!

Bernie, a new DVD release, Rough ’n’ Ready, is on the way. Some info on what’s inside would be so helpful (footage, extras etc)!

The concert was filmed in the UK last summer during the European Football Championships, so we were all watching TV at the time, it was very hot on stage, hotter than the DVD looks I can assure you!

There are some interviews with myself and Micky, some acoustic stuff and some outtakes from the concert itself, about 40 minutes of extras; the show is about 100 minutes.

Besides the 3 famous Ms, what’s the remaining lineup?

Jimmy Copley on drums, formerly with Paul Rodgers, Tony Iommi, and the great Jeff Beck. I first worked with Jim a long time ago, we both worked on the song I wrote for Ian Gillan, South Africa. Great drummer. Mark Stanway of Magnum on keys. Mark played with Phil Lynott as well. Two vocalists on the DVD, Stefan Berggren and Doogie White.

Classic Pictures stands behind this DVD release. Do you feel satisfied with the work they’ve done so far to promote the DVD?

I am very happy with Classic, they are music people first and last, they make pictures with the music they love. I’m all for that vibe. They are a young company and they have integrity. It’s early days, but so far so good, the DVD is only out in a few weeks, the promotion so far looks very good.

Is Rough ’n’ Ready goin’ to be released at the same time worldwide? What about e.g. USA and Japan?

I think it is released worldwide at the same time, I hope so anyway.

How’s the M3 tour so far? Or are you done with your live obligations? Was the response from the audience satisfying?

M3 is always on the road, that’s why we started it a couple of years ago. Just back from Switzerland, Austria and Finland, the road goes on forever! Oh and it is never an obligation. Playing live is a privilege I still enjoy, travel time gets harder though!

Was there any particular song you felt the fans wanted more?

After all these years from the original versions, some tunes still shine… We wanted M3 to be 100% classic Whitesnake material from the original band. Everybody has a favourite. I hope we play most of them at some stage.

Really, Bernie, how would you judge Rock/Metal fans in Europe vs the ones in the USA or Japan? Similarities and differences?

Fans are fans regardless of countries I feel, although I still find it quirky when Japanese fans sing the words, it’s great that they bother, same with all the others. I think it’s only us that forget the words sometimes!

Playing with the other two Ms for so many years now, I’d like to ask you this: is cooperating with the same partners for years similar to having a steady relationship - girlfriend all way long? You know, times of great chemistry, times of conflict, times of slowing down, times of heating up…

Pretty much, although we have never slept with one another! In fact we have never really had any internal feuds. The understanding the three of us has is uncanny. Ask people that are with us for a few days. We don’t see that much of each other outside work, maybe that is the key.

>Being a member of the - in my humble opinion - golden Whitesnake era, do you feel you’ve achieved enough in your career afterwards? Not only as a guitarist but also as a mainman in bands/projects.

I am reasonably happy post Whitesnake really, I have composed for films, acted on TV and in the theatre and I am definitely a better guitarist now than I was in those days. Also you mature as a performer and writer. I have been fortunate with the people I have worked with, diverse musicians, Andy Taylor, Adrian Smith, Ian Gillan, Ringo Starr, Elkie Brooks, we could do a whole interview really!

Besides the upcoming M3 DVD, tell us something about your solo plans. Let’s start with Stacks and big Boy Blue.

Big Boy Blue has been a pet project. The double CD is a fine piece of work. I like CD 2 with all the outtakes and working tracks. Great musicians. Phil Wiggins is probably the best harmonica bluesman on the circuit in the USA, Don Airey, Micky, Jimmy on a couple of tracks, Henry Spinetti, Geraint Watkins. How could I not enjoy playing with such people? The Stacks album is a natural follow on from BBB, but this time, for the first time in years I have a fixed lineup. Jimmy on drums, John Gordon bass and Dino Baptiste on keys. I am VERY happy with the album. Some new songs, some reworkings and the overall feel I always wanted, there is also a live BBB CD with the horns and Michael Roach and Ian Parker guesting. Been busy, have I not!

Listening to your first solo effort now, And about Time Too, how do you feel? It’s been more than 25 years and you MUST have something to remember regarding your goals at that time.

I think it is easy with hindsight. I know that I wanted to make a statement with AATT I suppose, David Coverdale was incredibly supportive with it. Demos recorded with him at his house, and he wrote most of the lyrics, we were pretty tight in those days, always looking for another great song. I think that was the goal, to be seen as a songwriter in my own right, it was never to be a solo artist that is for sure.

Bernie, when you started as a guitarist there were different guitar legends and diverse opinions on technique in contrast with today, and - most of all - fewer experience. In our days, how easy do you think it is for a newbie guitarist to leave his personal mark? I sometimes think that EVERYTHING must have been played by now…

I used to think that then! Can you imagine being 17/18 and having Hendrix, Beck, Clapton and Peter Green in front of you on a stage.

It was a magical time to be learning your trade. It must be hard today because there are not the same amount of innovators, but Eddie Van Halen was very important in the 80’s, Paul Kossoff was very regarded by other guitar players, Carlos Santana, Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather in later years all made their mark in my mind.

Who were your favorite axeman back at your first steps? In addition, can you remember a guitarist whose spirit you didn’t approve that much initially, but he convinced you afterwards?

My man was Peter Green, still is. Jeff Beck and without Eric Clapton I guess a lot of my contempories would never have picked up a guitar, and Hank Marvin of course. I suppose the answer to the last part would be Jimmy Page. I never got it at first but after LZ 2 and so on the sound of the records completely reversed my opinion. I also loved Robert Plant’s singing, and Bonzo, well he was the man, was he not? I have left the US bluesmen from this list as we are talking Rock, OK? Or the answer will be of book length.

Alaska was another critical point in your career. Two great albums - at least for me - but something went wrong? I was a teenager back then and lack of information preserved this question in my mind all those years.

Alaska was almost straight after the end of Whitesnake. It was not my best  creative period, but the albums still stand up I think. The DVD is pretty good considering.

I think there was an Alaska CD at some point in time, with demo tracks, outtakes, unreleased stuff etc?

Yes and there is another anthology to come some time.

You do consider M3 as the follow-up to the Company of Sakes, don’t you? Shall we await for some new Burst The Bubble at some point in time?

Actually the opposite, TCOS came to an end in Denmark. M3 was and is a completely new band. TCOS made a good studio album, it is true, but the fans really expect us to play the Whitesnake songs and so that was the plan with the new lineup in 2003, although there was a fundamental weak spot with the singer, and after a tour of Russia we had another singer. In fact on the DVD two singers, I am a sadist as far as singers are concerned, it seems! We recently played a gig with Glenn Hughes, now there is a singer, but he plays great bass as well!

Bernie, do you keep an eye on current Rock/Metal bands? Any likes/dislikes?

I have never really followed Metal. I tend to listen to the music. Is Mettallica Metal? I have always liked their stuff, the Thrash Metal and Black Metal stuff passes me by I’m afraid. When we were at Wacken, I saw many bands with Black make up  tying naked girls to posts. I found this interesting but didn’t take a great deal of interest in the music. I liked the Nickelback song, and I think The Darkness have put Rock music right back in the frame, and bless ’em for that, good band,

Thanks a lot for your spare time for this brief interview. Your advice for the rookie musicians? What’s the main lesson you’ve learned from your rich career?

To be honest with your music, and to play with the best musicians you can. To do that you have to be on the same page as they are and that it is the really hard part, but if you have the desire and hopefully the talent you will make it. I am proof of that. I am so glad I never wanted to be a pop star. How long would that have lasted? Here I am in 2005 giving interviews about a new DVD containing the music I was involved with over twenty years ago. The music has stood the time test. How many people will be interviewing Will Young in 2050? Thanks a lot and see you out there.

All PROMO photos by (C) STEVE CLIMPSON.- Get all the solo albums and M3 CD and DVD, as well as exclusive items by visiting the following official


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