Brad Whitford of Whitford/St. Holmes and Aerosmith just finished a tour with Whitesnake and now heads out with Derek St. Holmes of the Ted Nugent band to premotes the release of the new Whitford/St. Holmes album, Reunion. This included a stop in Annapolis, Maryland where Brad sat down with us to talk about the tour, how the new album came about and his relationship with Paul Reed Smith.
Shockwave Magazine: I’m sitting here with Brad Whitford who just got done playing at Rams Head On Stage with Whitford/St. Holmes. Brad, how was your set?
Brad Whitford: It was great. It was a lot of fun. We had a set list and we completely ignored it and it was fun, really fun. It’s a nice intimate place. It’s fun when you have the crowd right there up close.
Absolutely. So, this was a headlining show for you guys but you’re also currently touring with Whitesnake. Do you still have more shows with them?
Last night was the last show. They’re playing tonight in Atlantic City and then they’re going to Europe in about a week, a little over a week.
You mentioned, when we spoke briefly earlier, that your next stop is New Hampshire.
Besides touring with Whitesnake, you’re doing these headlining shows because with the Whitford/St. Holmes band you just released your new album, Reunion, which is your second album. It’s been a while (35 years) since your first album so how was it putting together the second album?
It was a lot of things involved. Mainly, Derek (St. Holmes) and I ended up living in the same town outside of Nashville so we were just together all the time, and when we’re together, we’re playing. Songs started happening and eventually we were like, “What are we going to do with all this stuff?” [Laughs] We knew we were going to have Chopper (Anderson) on bass because Chopper was like one of the first guys I met when I moved to Franklin, Tennessee so that was just natural. He’s just such an awesome player and then we were really fortunate to get Troy Luccketta on drums from Tesla and, of course, he did the album with us and can’t play with us now because he’s out on the road with Tesla and they’re touring with Def Leppard and REO Speedwagon. But, we’re EXTREMELY fortunate to get Brent (Fitz) on drums who’s just one of the best drummers. I’ve been really fortunate to play with Troy and Brent, just incredible musicians.
But yeah, we’ve always stayed in touch (Brad and Derek) but we were always living some place else and we’ve been busy. I’ve been busy with Aerosmith and stuff and we took quite a bit of time off when Steven (Tyler) went to do his album so it made it easy for us (Brad and Derek.)
How did you and Derek hook up originally?
Originally, we met because we toured all over the place with Nugent in the 70s. So, Derek and I just became friends right off the bat and that led to the first album happening a few years later. It all worked out pretty good.
How is it writing for an album with one other person as opposed to writing with a band? Does it vary at all?
It’s totally different. It’s much harder to get my music into Aerosmith. It’s just harder because you’ve got the politics, I guess I would say, the creative politics in Aerosmith so it’s a lot more difficult. With Derek and I, it’s just a really good writing team. The music comes, we do it really quickly and it’s very rare that you find someone that you can write really well with and play together with. There’s a really good respect and a good give and take and it’s just really a joy. It really is.
Does it vary for you, playing in this kind of a project with Derek who’s phenomenal and can sing great but is a little more reserved in his persona as opposed to playing in Aerosmith with a personality and charismatic front man like Steven?
Yeah, it’s totally different. In this band we don’t have any ego problems. Everybody in this band have all, almost been like “side men” so we all have this bond that was created by that and it’s really cool.
How much time do you have in, what is now, your tour?
Actually, we finish up this run next week in Atlanta and then we’re taking a little bit of a break. We have a couple more shows at the end of July and then we’re going to be back in the studio. We have a bunch of new material so, hopefully, the goal is to get a three song, four song EP up on iTunes by the end of the summer. We’ve got this new music so we figure lets just get it out there. When there’s music sitting there you can’t really move on until you put those to bed. So, we’ve got to put those guys to bed and then we’re going to work on another CD and some more stuff after that and just keep going.
When we were talking casually last night, you told a cool story about your relationship with Paul Reed Smith and PRS guitars. I would love for you to talk about that again since most people don’t realize just how far back you go with him.
I met Paul, I forget the venue but it was not to far from here (Annapolis) back in the day when Paul was still building guitars in his garage. So, he came to our soundcheck and that’s where I got to meet him. He brought a couple guitars with him and I still have them, they’re awesome, but he was just starting out and I ended up being his first endorsee. So, I was like the first guy to be in ads for Paul Reed Smith guitars which is kinda cool. [Laughs]
This was with Aerosmith?
Yeah, I forget what year that was but it was back when Paul was starting out and he’s been a great friend ever since.
Well Brad, thank you and I’ve got to tell you that I hope you’re proud of the new album because it really is stellar and it was so much fun to watch you perform. It really is an excellent record and I hope a lot of people will go check it out because it’s quite exceptional.
We’re very happy with it and it’s actually, probably, the first record I’ve ever been a part of where I listen to it a lot. [Laughs] Most of the albums I’ve ever done, it’s done and I walk away and when I listen to it I’m like, “Oh! We should have done this, we should have done that.” I just love this record. I don’t look back and say that. I think it’s because Derek and I produced it and we didn’t have anybody to argue with [laughs] or nobody behind us going, “Don’t do that,” or “What, you don’t like this?” and all that kind of stuff which is what happens when you have a record company. So I’m very proud of it. I love the record.
Brad, thanks again. It was a real pleasure.
No, thank you.