» Doug Aldrich - The Dead Daises
« back

Interview conducted April 22 2018
Interview published May 10 2018

"It's actually kind of scary, because a lot of the bands that I really loved are starting to slow down and stop."

The Dead Daisies came to Stockholm, Sweden for a gig on the tour for their new record Burn It Down and guitar player Doug Aldrich took some time to talk with Metal Covenant.

Tobbe: The new record. Let's talk a little bit about it. It just recently came out. In what way does that record kind of take the band forward on its musical path?

Doug: We decided we wanted to make something a little bit different than the last record. We did really good with Make Some Noise, but we didn't wanna repeat it, because a lot of times you can get into a rat race just trying to chase yourself. We don't wanna do that, so we said "What do we like about Make Some Noise and what could we make to be better?" and we agreed that some of the heavier riffs were really great live, so we wanted to get some heavier stuff.

And I was really happy that we got some softer sides too, you know. Stuff like Judgement Day and Set Me Free, you know. It kind of pushes the envelope; pushes the sound a little bit. Each record with the bands that I really liked when I was a kid, like Zeppelin, had all a different flavor. And looking back, we didn't plan on that, but looking back it's kind of like that a little bit. I'm definitely not comparing us to Led Zeppelin though. [Laughs]

Tobbe: And you work with Marti [Frederiksen] again. Was there ever a question whether to work with him?

Doug: You know, since we had done well with the last one we thought it was… It's a great place to record. His studio [Sienna] is a complex and so you can have 2 or 3 rooms going at once. The band can be playing in one room and John [Corabi] can be working on lyrics in another room, or I can be doing solos in one room and he could be doing singing in another room. It's just a good place; it's a good vibe there.

But Marti was hired to produce and we wanted to stick to the traditional producer thing. You know, where in the '70s a producer was really in charge. So Marti was in charge. Marti had the last word on everything. Sound, mix, direction, everything. Personally, I sometimes would disagree with certain things, but I mean, I just put my idea out there and then it's his choice, you know, what we do.

But he's super talented. Marti is a very talented producer and songwriter and he definitely keeps us kicking ass, like when we got together to write, he wouldn't bring any ideas, but we would bring him our ideas and we'd start going through them and he'd help us with polishing them up and finishing them. And then we would just record them on an iPhone. You know, very rough, and then we kind of listen to them once and we pick maybe 20 to go through and then narrow it down from there.

Tobbe: Can there be any disadvantages with making the record a group effort, instead of, like, working on your own at your own place?

Doug: It depends on what you're trying to achieve. I mean, if you're trying to achieve perfection in your own brain, then yes, working by yourself is better. [Laughs] But if you're in a band and you're trying to represent the band and everybody is involved, it definitely leads to things moving very fast. You know, that's why we can go in and make a record in 2 months, 6 weeks, whatever, because everyone is pushing for every idea. It doesn't matter if it's mine or yours or somebody's, we're always working towards it. We split everything equally, so it's not like you have to go, like "Oh man, I'm not gonna make as much money, so I got to get more songs in there.", you know. We don't do that. We just split it.

Tobbe: It must be hard to find a group of guys that are so open-minded to other people's ideas, right?

Doug: After you get to a certain point… I mean, I've been through those things with Whitesnake, where it was me and David [Coverdale] doing everything, and I kind of felt like it would be nice if we could do it as a band more. But it's not the way some bands work. You know, they do it in a different way and with this band it has always been "Everybody works together on everything.".

And the other thing that's cool is that, you know, David [Lowy, guitar], who's the founder, basically likes everyone to work with their strengths, so it's not like everyone is trying to do exactly the same thing at the same time. You know, I'd be working on this, he's working on that and everyone is working on their own part of the process. After being in so many bands and working, it's nice to be in a situation where everyone does care and everyone is working on it. And that's where David, with his guitar style… I really can appreciate how he approaches it. It's something totally different than how I would do it.

And if I was going for the exact sound in my head, whatever I might wanna be doing, I might do something differently, but for Dead Daisies the mix of his guitar and mine sounds really good together, 'cause he plays a different way than I do and vice versa. And he has a very more honest, simplistic approach and I come from when, you know, everyone wanted to be Ritchie Blackmore.

Tobbe: For how many records can a band actually collaborate with a producer without coming out, like, too similar in the end, with every record?

Doug: I don't know. We'll see what happens. I think that if we weren't feeling that the songs were working, then we would probably take a step back and say "You know, we have to rethink this thing.". But we have so many ideas to choose from and it's really fun to see how a record kind of takes shape. I mean, we had 3 or 4 songs kind of partially written, and we have a full arrangement, that we would put down, knowing that it was gonna change.

It was like: here is the guitar solo, "Okay, we play the chords", but I'm thinking to myself "I'm definitely gonna change those chords, so when the solo comes back to the riff it's fresh.", or something like that, in my head. But it's like "Okay, just to say it's a finished song. Cool!". And we know we've got some things to work on. But it's really cool to see how we get all these songs together and they start to take shape and then you start to pick and choose the ones that are gonna go together. And it was not on purpose that we made a different sounding record, but it just kind of happened.

So, I think it's interesting. I mean, it's a good question. I think when you get on a run with a producer… As long as everyone's contributing, and it's not like, you know, the producer is just telling you what to do, maybe it'll stay fresh, because we're always pushing, like: I already have a couple of song ideas for another record. It's not for anything else but The Dead Daisies. It would only fit for The Dead Daisies. But I'm excited about, you know, whenever that process comes, if it's this year, or next year, or something, it'll be fun.

Tobbe: I was reading the liner notes and how come you have only lyrics to 4 songs there and the rest of the lyrics you have to find on the web?

Doug: I did not know that, to be honest.

Tobbe: Kind of weird to me.

Doug: Yeah, that is kind of weird. I didn't know that. That's a management call. They have some interesting ideas that are actually pretty cool. You know, 'cause it engages people. So if somebody is interested in the lyrics, they're gonna go there. When I was a kid, if I was listening to a song I liked to look at the lyrics, just to see what the song was about. But after I had looked at them I would only listen to the guitar. I was always focused on the music.

Tobbe: But aren't people supposed to get some extra stuff when they buy the physical product? I would say so.

Doug: Yes. I would say so too. That's a good point and it's noted. I'll have a word with them. But I didn't know that.

Tobbe: The band definitely has its sound of course, but in which way do you look at the band's progress, like, in an uncertain time for rock music?

Doug: It is uncertain times for rock music, but the people that love classic rock, or classic style rock, still wanna go and see shows. I mean, I do. I love that stuff. It's actually kind of scary, because a lot of the bands that I really loved are starting to slow down and stop. Or people are dying, you know. But I think that people still love it and people are bringing their kids to it. Like, my kids love rock. I got a little boy who's 8 and a girl who's 2 and they love rock. You know, we'll have dance parties to Bruno Mars or whatever, but when it comes to, in the car, Mötley Crüe wins.

You know, it's funny, with some of the simpler songs, like: I was in the studio and I was listening to the mixes back and both my kids were in the backyard on bikes and they came to the studio door and they're sitting there and they're both going like this [Nods a couple of times.] and I'm like "That's cool!", you know. I think, for my boy, it's because: when I left Whitesnake I took a job in Las Vegas and I was playing in basically a cover band, but it was with guys like Howard Leese and Robin McAuley, all these guys, and we were playing at this casino [Hard Rock Hotel & Casino]. It's called Raiding The Rock Vault, and it's a really great show, and it was a lot of fun, but the thing that it was was, that in between Whitesnake, it was an opportunity to play and I could still be home with my boy.

He lived with me in the hotel, with my girlfriend, and he came to the show every night, and he loved it, you know. This show has all these great songs, like Stairway To Heaven, and songs from The Doors and Hendrix, like All Along The Watchtower, and then it goes all the way through 'til the '80s, 'til like Bon Jovi or Van Halen.

So he heard that stuff when he was 3 and 4, and really, this is the truth, is that every night after the show, we got done like 10 o'clock, it was summertime so my boy would sleep in with me, we'd go to dinner at this Mexican restaurant in the hotel and it was owned by Vince Neil, so that's how my boy loves Mötley Crüe so much, including John Corabi. Even though it was Vince Neil's restaurant they played Hooligan's Holiday and some other songs and he was like "Man, Mötley Crüe, dad.". Like "Who's your favorite band?" - "Mötley Crüe!". "Who's number 2?" - "Guns N' Roses". It's awesome.

Tobbe: Does he see you as kind of a rock star or does he even care about what you're doing?

Doug: He doesn't care. We are a very typical family. The funnest time is dinner time, you know. Breakfast and dinner. Everyone is making a mess, eating, and having a good time. The whole thing, music thing, is: That's my job and that's what I love to do, but the second most thing that takes up my time is being a dad; that's the best.

Tobbe: Please explain what being a member of the Daisies means, in comparison to other bands you've been involved with over the years.

Doug: It's really interesting. That's a good question. 'Cause it's a band, in most senses, but it's very organized, like a corporation would be, and that's something that I think David Lowy… He likes to instill in anything that he's doing. I mean, we have budgets that we have to try and stick to and we have timeframes that we have to stick to. And I'm not used to that with other bands.

Even when I would do a solo record, you know, the producer would go "Doug. Look. If you need more time, man, the music's worth it. Take it! Do it!" or the record company would go "Hey, we'll give you some more money. You can pay us back. We'll give you more money if you need it.". With this band it's like: we have a budget, we got to stick to it; we got a timeframe, we got to stick to it. And being focused is really how I think The Dead Daisies is moving forward; hopefully moving forward. Yeah, it's different than a lot of bands that don't have that structure.

You know, with Whitesnake for example, David Coverdale is the boss and even though you might be a songwriting partner and a business partner in that sense, when it comes to what's gonna happen he makes the call, totally. With this band the management decides. "Guys. This is what we're trying to do. What do you guys think?" and then we go from there. It's a little strict, you know, but I like it, 'cause you get good results from that.

Tobbe: After several lineup changes in the beginning, the lineup has now started to stabilize a bit. It's only Deen [Castronovo, drums] who's new now. So, how do you guys look at possible lineup changes at this point?

Doug: I mean, If you ask me I think that this lineup that we have… Of course, I love Brian Tichy. He's one of the greatest drummers I've ever played with and he is one of the greatest in the world. He's so fucking good. But he didn't wanna commit to a whole year and they wanted to have the drummer that's on the record commit to promoting the record, you know, of course. So we got Deen, and Deen killed it, and Deen's amazing, and he's such a great, positive guy. Killer drummer. So I feel like this lineup right here is… This is pretty good. I mean, everybody is covering their zone and everybody's into it and everybody's having a good time.

So I think it's pretty stable and I think the fans want it to be stable. You know, in any band that they like; you don't wanna see people come and go. But sometimes it's inevitable. You know, things happen, or people get other offers, or, like in my situation where my daughter is two. In a couple of years, I don't know. I mean, I might not wanna go on the road for 6 months, you know. When she's 4 and is going "I need my daddy.", you know. So, we'll see how well it goes.

Tobbe: Family is probably the hardest part of being a touring musician.

Doug: Yes, it is. The thing is: is that with The Dead Daisies we work 6 months out of the year. So 6 months I have at home. I've thought about it a lot, like: my son told me at the end of the last tour "Dad. I need you. You can't go on touring." and I'm like "I'm not. I'm going to be home for 3 and a half months.". And that means, like: I will wake up every day and do breakfast with him, take him to school. Everything after school and homework, me and him, all the time. So, that's important and it's hard to be away, but I think it works out.

Related links: