Derek St. Holmes has once again joined forces with Brad Whitford to create another Whitford St. Holmes album titled “Reunion” via Mailboat Records, which was released on June 3, 2016. It’s only been 35 years or so since their last album/tour. After that, both Derek and Brad returned to their respective bands (Ted Nugent and Aerosmith).
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Detroit legend Derek St. Holmes. This was a real treat for me. I also grew up in the Detroit, Michigan area and have always been a big Ted Nugent and Derek St. Holmes fan. I spoke with Derek while I visiting family up in Traverse City, MI. Derek discusses how he and Brad got back together again and what it was like recording again after so many years apart. He also talked about the current tour with Whitesnake and also the New Los Angeles a.ka. Nashville, TN. Speaking with Derek seemed more like I was having a conversation with a friend while we shared a few beers, rather than an interview. Read on…
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Derek St. Holmes: Shawn!! What’s up, my Brother??
LRI: Heeey! How’s it going dude?
Derek: Man, it’s going great…
LRI: Awesome.Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
Derek: Absolutely! Thanks for wanting to speak with us. We have a new album out; we are so friggin excited about it. We can’t see straight.
LRI: That’s right!! And only 35 years between this and the last album you did together.
Derek: I know man, I know. We don’t even know where the time went, ya know?
LRI: Right. How did you and Brad get together again after all these years? I know there is the Nashville connection.
Derek: Yes.. Honestly, it’s true. He moved to the Nashville area to the city where I live in which is Leipers Fork. I said,”Hey, let’s go get some coffee.” So we got a chance to get together and we just rekindled our relationship. We’ve always been best buddies and it was so much fun to be able to hang out. He’s like, “Hey man, come check out my new house”. We go over there and he’s got guitars laying everywhere. So that’s where it started. He’d be picking up a guitar saying try this one, then he’s like “check out this tune I just wrote.”Then I’d do the same thing. Just the other day we were hanging out and we wrote 3 new songs for the next album.
LRI: That’sgreat! So, the new album “Reunion” is out now and you are out on the road with Whitesnake (see dates below). I am looking forward to seeing the Detroit show at the Fox Theatre.
Derek: Right! Yeah, man. I am really excited about playing that place. That’s gonna be great!
LRI: For this album, you guys pretty much did this on your own, correct?
Derek: Yeah, we produced it ourselves and we have a great engineer. We worked pretty quickly since we don’t have 6 people to bounce it off of. We know what we want to sound like and we just go and record it. If somebody in the band goes, “Hey! You know this one part right here, I don’t know.I’m just not sold on it.” Then we’ll look at it democratically. We don’t have a record company telling us what to put on there, what to write, or what to play. If we could have a really big record company and they had the option to tell us what to play, we would pass on it. It’s too late in the game for us not to play what we hear in our heads.
LRI: What was it like recording again with Brad after all these years.
Derek: It’s great! It’s more fun with Brad than any other band I have been in. He’s such an incredible guitar player. For him and I to be able to play together, is just really friggin cool. I always thought he was the rock solid rhythm in Aerosmith and I think people know I was a rock solid rhythm in Ted Nugent. When the two of us get a chance to play together, there’s something about those solid rhythm players. When Brad or myself breaks away into a solo, it’s a lot of fun for us to listen to what each other is playing and kick into a rhythm groove. You gotta listen, man! The only way to be in a good band is to listen to everybody that’s in your band, while you’re playing.
LRI: Very True. You mentioned before that you and Brad wrote a few tunes the other day. Are you already looking ahead to the next album?
Derek: Yes. We just tracked four songs before Troy left for the Def Leppard tour with Tesla. So, we have four in the can and we just came up with three other songs a couple days ago. We’re gonna stick to 9 songs. It’s just a format that we like. Some people like putting 18 or 15 songs on a CD. God bless them. That’s a little rough. You’re not gonna make any more money putting a whole lot of effort.
LRI: That makes sense. I remember some of the albums I bought in early 80’s only having 9 songs or so along with total running time of 36 minutes and by the late 80’s some we were getting to 12 songs and nearly 60 mins.
Derek: Oh I know. Exactly! We are going on the road opening up for Whitesnake and we are going to do 30 minutes. So we are sitting here going “What do these fans want to hear?” So I said we should sure do songs from the new and older album, ya know? I am going to ask you this Shawn. Do you think people during the show will want to hear a little bit of our background stuff with Aerosmith and Ted Nugent stuff?
LRI: Yes. I think they would.
Derek: Ok. Cool. So we worked up a medley, I think we are gonna nix a couple songs from the record and slide in the medley so people can get a taste of that since we didn’t do any of that stuff when we toured for the first album. We didn’t do any Ted Nugent or Aerosmith, so we really didn’t pay any homage to where we came from because when we left those bands at that time, we were all kind of dismayed anyways with the hold thing, so the last thing we wanted to do was drag it along with us. We probably made a mistake not playing that stuff then. So,the fans come first!
LRI: You recently announced before the tour just started that you have Brent Fitz (from Slash’s band) on drums.
Derek: Right! Yeah, as everyone knows Troy Lucketta is out with his band Tesla this summer.. We had to fill his shoes for this run with Whitesnake, so we were lucky enoughto get Brent from Slash.
LRI: Who will you have out on bass with you during this tour?
Derek: The bass players name is Charlie “Chopper” Anderson. He played with Reba McEntire for 20 years and played with Dottie West and all kinds of female country singers/performers. He kind of always thought he would be in a rock and roll band which is where he wanted to be, and low and behold, he is finally in one! I mean, he has always been in rock and roll really, but he is perfect for this kind of music. He is our national John Paul Jones, no doubt about it.
LRI: Aside from the dates with Whitesnake, you have some headline dates as well. Are there going to be any more Whitford St. Holmes dates beyond this summer?
Derek: Yes! We got more dates coming up in the fall so we will be back around again so that fans can see a 90 minute set instead of 30 minutes. I wish they’d give us 40 minutes. But that’s cool we’ll take what we can get and we’ll go out there and have some fun!
LRI: You were talking about living in the Nashville area earlier. I keep hearing of so many musicians relocating to Nashville. I call that the new Los Angeles. Would you agree?
Derek: Yes. It is the new L.A. It’s L.A. Central. I mean, like right now it’s 85 degree’s,it’s beautiful out here, it’s warm, it’s inexpensive and it’s nothing but musicians. Everywhere you go, there are musicians. We don’t have to explain ourselves here.
LRI: That’s awesome. I have some friends that live in that area. I’ll be talking to one of those friends and they will just casually say something like “I was at a club last night and Derek St. Holmes jumped on stage”. I’m like, “You lucky bastards!”(Laughs). I get invited to come down there all the time, but I just haven’t had the time.
Derek: Oh, you would love it. You gotta make the time. I was at the mall the other day and I saw Patrick Simmons from the Doobie Brothers. It’s so surreal. One day I was walking up the steps at SIR rehearsal studios here in town and Steve Winwood is walking down the steps. Everyone is coming here. Tommy Shaw is out here, Tom Keifer is here, and a good buddy of mine Mark Slaughter lives here also.
LRI: Awesome! I know Mark a bit. He is a super cool guy.
Derek: I know! Isn’t he the nicest guy, ever?
LRI: Yes, he really is.
Derek: Someone just made a Facebook post the other day with a list of sixty plus names of various musicians that live here.It was pretty wild. So, you gotta hurry up. I’ll be saving a spot for ya (Laughs).
LRI: Ok Derek. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us and I will catch you at the Detroit gig.
Derek: Ok. Sounds good. Thank you.
The Whitford St. Holmes’ new album, Reunion, is now available. For more information, visit whitfordstholmes.com.
Whitesnake / Whitford St.Holmes Tour Dates- (Bold Dates are headline shows)
Tue 06/14/16 Cincinnati, OH PNC Pavilion At Riverbend
Wed 06/15/16 Huber Heights, OH Rose Music Center At The Heights
*Thu 06/16/16 Pittsburgh, PA Hard Rock (Headline Show)
Fri 06/17/16 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre
*Sun 06/19/16 Farifield, CT The Warehouse (Headline Show)
Mon 06/20/16 Brooklyn, NY Kings Theatre
Tue 06/21/16 Montclair, NJ The Wellmont Theater
*Wed 06/22/16 Sellersville, PA Sellersville Theater (Headline Show)
Thu 06/23/16 Hampton Beach, NH Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Sat 06/25/16 Boston, MA House Of Blues Boston
Sun 06/26/16 Portland, ME Maine State Pier
Tue 06/28/16 Lewiston, NY Artpark Amphitheater
Wed 06/29/16 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore Silver Spring
*Thu 06/30/16 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage (Headline Show)
*Fri 07/01/16 Londonderry, NH Tupelo Music Hall (Headline Show)
*Sat 07/02/16 Pawling, NY Daryl’s House (Headline Show)
**Sat 07/30/16 Elgin, IL Festival Park (with Lynyrd Skynyrd)