Interview with Burning Rain and The Dead Daisies guitarist Doug Aldrich
INTERVIEW WITH BURNING RAIN AND THE DEAD DAISIES GUITARIST DOUG ALDRICH
Date: March 11, 2019
Interviewer: Tyson Briden
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography (sixth and tenth photos)
DOUG ALDRICH… PRIMARILY, THAT’S ALL I CAN REALLY SAY. NOT ENTIRELY TRUE. FOR THOSE THAT HAVE READ MY PAST WORK, YOU CAN PROBABLY ATTEST TO THAT FACT I ALWAYS HAVE A LOT TO SAY.
REGARDLESS, THIS ISN’T ABOUT THAT. THIS IS ABOUT DOUG ALDRICH AND THE LATEST RELEASE BY HIS BAND BURNING RAIN. LET ME TELL YOU — OF COURSE YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY READ MY REVIEW FOR BURNING RAIN’S ‘FACE THE MUSIC’, SO YOU KNOW MY OPINION — BUT I’M GOING TO SAY IT AGAIN. THE ALBUM KICKS MAJOR ASS.
SO HERE IT IS, ONE OF MY PROUDEST MOMENTS AS AN INTERVIEWER. THIS WAS AN INTERVIEW THAT I HAD BEEN TRYING TO GET FOR SO LONG. THE GOD’S HONEST TRUTH IS THAT I WISH WE HAD HAD MORE TIME BECAUSE FRANKLY THE QUESTIONS ASKED BELOW WERE ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.
ONE MORE THING… I HAVE TO ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT WHEN MEETING YOUR HEROES, IT CAN SOMETIMES BE A DISAPPOINTMENT. I HAVE MET A GOOD PERCENTAGE OF THOSE ARTISTS I GREW UP ADMIRING. WAS I DISAPPOINTED? HELL NO. WHAT A GREAT GUY. ENJOY MY FRIENDS!
Doug Aldrich: How’s it goin’ man?
Sleaze Roxx: Good! How are you?
Doug Aldrich: Good!
Sleaze Roxx: I just wanted to thank you for doing this interview. I am a huge fan.
Doug Aldrich: Oh… thanks to you for taking your time to do this. I appreciate it.
Sleaze Roxx: I was the guy in Toronto with all the CDs that you signed for me.
Doug Aldrich: [Laughs] Man, I am sure if I saw your face I’d go, “Ah, hey!”
Sleaze Roxx: Oh no, we were kind of in and out of there so quickly. I really appreciate you signing those. That was so awesome of you.
Doug Aldrich: No problem man!
Sleaze Roxx: I am a fan of everything you have done.
Doug Aldrich: Ah, thank you so much. So, you’re in Toronto?
Sleaze Roxx: Yes! It’s very cold here!
Doug Aldrich: Yeah man. It’s hangin’ on.
Sleaze Roxx: It is. I’m going to get in as much as I can because I know we don’t have a lot of time.
Doug Aldrich: Okay. Cheers Tyson.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m going to start off by talking about the new Burning Rain album, ‘Face The Music’. Let’s talk about the title. Is there a hidden meaning to that in anyway?
Doug Aldrich: Well, you know you’ve got your traditional meaning, which is basically that you’ve got to face up to something that you’re doing, that you’re hiding or you’ve got to face up to a problem. That’s the typical meaning, but for me, I’ve always looked at that song as a positive thing that no matter what you’re doing in your life — if you’re going through something bad, yeah, the best thing to do is to face it straight on. Face your demons. Stare them down and get on with it, but I’ve also got this positive thing that if you want to achieve something new in your life, you’ve got to also face it. Face the music and get down to business. Get busy and take care of it.
Sleaze Roxx: Awesome. That makes total sense to me.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah. It’s a good thing man. Everytime I do an interview, I always in my mind, I’m pretending I’m David Lee Roth. What would David — you know he’d probably say, “You gotta flip that thing man! This is Van Halen we’re talking about!”
Sleaze Roxx: What I can say about this release? The work with Whitesnake, The Dead Daisies and everything else you’ve done and I’m not sure how much you’ll agree with this, but for me, Burning Rain was kind of a continuation of Bad Moon Rising which was kind of a continuation of Lion. Those other bands are bands that you have gone into. Would you agree with that?
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, I agree with that. I’m not going to argue against it. I think it’s a fair thing to say. It’s pretty astute actually. I kind of never really thought of it that way. I did go into all these bands, like Dead Daisies included, but I feel like once I join the band, I try to raise the bar. With Whitesnake, it was really that the band had been on hiatus for ages, so when I joined it, I felt like I was resurrecting the band as much as I could. To be really straight, if you’re going to call it ‘my band’, Whitesnake was not my band. Neither is the Dead Daisies, so this is my band.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve always kind of seen it that way. It was awesome, Whitesnake played in Toronto in the early 2000s with Dokken and The Scorpions.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, I remember. I remember that gig!
Sleaze Roxx: I had no idea at the time, that you had joined the band. I was blown away. Whitesnake comes on and there you are. I said to my buddy, “That’s Doug Aldrich!” I thought right off the bat that you totally fit into that part, which was amazing. So kudos to you!
Doug Aldrich: Thanks brother. Well, that was early days too. At that time, it started off as a two month tour that turned into a bigger tour that we did with Dokken and the Scorpions. That show was the first leg of the restarting of Whitesnake. That was early, early days, but three years later we actually starting writing stuff together and started to bang out some things. Thanks man. I did feel comfortable with that and that is why I stayed with David [Coverdale] for the majority of the time instead of going back [with] Ronnie [James Dio]. You said I fit in good and I appreciate it.
Sleaze Roxx: Yes, I did and from that initial time seeing Whitesnake — that was actually the first time I had seen the band. I didn’t see them back in the day. It was awesome to see Whitesnake and get to see you play with them. I thought, “This is perfect!” I recall the first material you did with Whitesnake which was the four songs on the live album ‘Live In The Shadow Of The Blues.’
Doug Aldrich: Yes… The live album with four new songs.
Sleaze Roxx: It was disappointing at the time because they didn’t release it in North America. It was only a Europeon release right?
Doug Aldrich: I thought it came out in the U.S., but I could be wrong. Eventually, it did come out.
Sleaze Roxx: I have it. I ordered it when I found out it was being released. I just had it on the other day. It’s stellar.
Doug Aldrich: I like that stuff man. It was the beginning of me and David writing together. We were kind of finding our way, but there was some cool stuff. I mean all of it was really kind of interesting in its own way. It’s different than ‘Good To Be Bad’ and ‘Forevermore’. By then, we had got into a little bit of a zone. That was where it was really coming together I thought. Those songs, even the ballad, “All I Want Is You” was a really nice song.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, it was a good introduction to Whitesnake coming back and doing studio music again.
Doug Aldich: Which was exactly what we were trying to do, so I’m glad it worked out!
Sleaze Roxx: Sorry, I kind of got off on the Whitesnake thing. I still wanted to talk about Burning Rain. So, you’re busy. Keith [St. John] is busy doing the Kingdom Come thing. You’re doing Revolution Saints and Dead Daisies. How were you able to work out your schedule to get this album out?
Doug Aldrich: We originally signed the deal or I originally signed the deal in 2015. Serafino from Frontiers was kind enough to let me put it — I had a few things going on and he said, “Take your time, whenever you’re ready. Sign the deal and we’ll carry on from there!” Then Revolution Saints came up. Then I said, “Serafino, this is going to affect Burning Rain’s writing schedule if I do that!” He said, “No, it’s okay! Don’t worry about it! I really want to get this Revolution Saints thing going!” Then the Dead Daisies came up and that’s when Serafino said, “You know, I don’t understand why you’re not focused on this Burning Rain thing right now?” I explained to him that Keith [St. John] and I had gotten started. We had a few things we were excited about, but we didn’t really have a full record yet! So finally during some breaks — you know, Revolution Saints hasn’t really toured, so there wasn’t that much to do other than record which only takes a month, but during some breaks I had with Dead Daisies last year, Keith and I got together and started to get on a role where we wanted the record to go. Then when I found out Dead Daisies was going to take a little bit of a hiatus because we’d been touring and working so much, it really seemed to work out well. We pushed ourselves to finish the record so that we could have it come out during the time that Daisies was off, so we could actually promote the thing properly for the first time.
Sleaze Roxx: So will you actually do some shows this time around?
Doug Aldrich: Yeah! We’ve got a show in Vegas for our kind of pseudo record release party in a few weeks. That’s on the 29th of March. The record comes out March 22nd. Then we’ll do the record release party full band advance. Then Keith and I are going to go on an acoustic tour in Europe. We’re doing Frontiers festival at the end of April as a full band, but part of the contingency on that was we weren’t allowed to play any live shows in advance at that time, which is fine. We can always come back. So in the meantime, we’ll be doing shows in the US. We’ve got offers in Japan and some other stuff that we’re trying to put together. Of course, like you said, I do have my day gig which is The Dead Daisies, so Burning Rain, I’ve got to work around it a little bit. Keith is a little more free with Kingdom Come’s schedule. I don’t think he is so busy this year, but he does have some things. He’s got his own things going on too! He’s doing sessions and what not, but we really want to make this a priority and we want to play.
Sleaze Roxx: I am hoping I will get out to a show, even if I have to come down to the States because I would love to see this band live. I’ve been a fan since the first album. I know most of the material and would love to see it live. That would be awesome.
Doug Aldrich: Thanks man. I would love that too!
Sleaze Roxx: Will drummer Blas Elias and bassist Brad Lang be doing the dates then?
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, yeah. We wanted to find guys that were excited about being in the band, so these guys both were like, “Yeah, yeah, we really want to support the record!” Of course there’s a lot of times when you get guys and they are busy or whatever. Blas is pretty available because the only gig he’s doing right now is the Vegas gig ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’ and Brad is kind of at a point where he doesn’t have to go out too much. He’s really excited about the record. He played great on it. They both did. It’s awesome.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s a phenomenal album. I’ve listened to it a few times and I really, really like it.
Doug Aldrich: That makes me feel great!
Sleaze Roxx: I pre-ordered the vinyl on Amazon and hopefully it will arrive on release date or shortly after.
Doug Aldrich: Cool. You never know with things these days, but that’s great. I really appreciate you did that.
Sleaze Roxx: Even though I’ll get a download advance, I still have to buy it. I’m old school that way I guess.
Doug Aldrich: That’s very cool dude. Really! You don’t have to do that!
Sleaze Roxx: You know, when we’re kids and you couldn’t wait for stuff to come out. I still feel that way.
Doug Aldrich: I know. That’s cool man! I feel that way too especially certain stuff by bands that you like and they haven’t done something for a little while. People are really excited about David Coverdale’s new Whitesnake album coming out. I’m excited about that movie that’s coming out on Netflix ‘The Dirt’.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh, me too man! I’m super pumped for it. Actually, you know how David [Coverdale] is doing all those box sets? The 1987 album and the unplugged stuff. My wife had bought me the unplugged one for my birthday last year. I love it. It’s awesome.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, it’s cool. David sent it to me. It’s got so much stuff to it that I just listened to a couple things and I got busy.
Sleaze Roxx: I know. I was the same. I can honestly say I haven’t listened to the whole thing. It gets a little overwhelming because there’s just so much stuff. It’s like, “What do I want to listen to? What do I want to watch?” I wasn’t familiar with some of the material from his last solo album which is on there. That stuff was great.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, he had probably — the album had maybe 10 or 11 songs on it, but he probably had 40 song ideas on that record. He did that with Doug Bossy, Earl Slick, Tony Franklin and Marco [Mendoza].
Sleaze Roxx: Wow. Those are some heavy hitters. Getting back to ‘Face the Music’ again, the track “Hit & Run”, I love that song. That might be my favorite track on the album so far.
Doug Aldrich: That’s cool!
Sleaze Roxx: The groove is stellar. The guitar is heavy. Are you in Drop D?
Doug Aldrich: Yes!
Sleaze Roxx: Was that song thought out or is it one of those songs that just fell into place?
Doug Aldrich: It really did you know. It was just a simple riff. I guess what I learned recently – even when I was in Whitesnake, we’d do alternate versions of songs and I’d try and mellow it out sometimes, making the guitar part a little simpler for the alternate. Then with the Dead Daisies, it’s really simple. That’s dead simple stuff. Really straight ahead, simple. It just works like that and I think that’s something Burning Rain, the early stuff was really chaotic, aggressive, so we’re trying to grow in a good way for sound. Keep it raw and edgy, but basically make some memorable riffs. That was just a simple riff that felt good and you’re right, the groove on that is slamming.
Sleaze Roxx: It reminds me of a song back in the day. Like one of those ones you’d want to listen to over and over because it’s so darn good.
Doug Aldrich: I’m glad you liked it. We liked it and Brad [Lang] especially was a big champion for that song. I wasn’t sure why because I didn’t know what it was, but he was like, “Man, that song is just ripping!” We all have our favorites. Keith and I really love “Lorelei.” It’s that slow, heavy song. We’re really excited about playing that live. It’s got a tip of the hat to Aerosmith’s “Kings and Queens” during the verses. It’s just kind of a melody, harmony thing that we didn’t plan that way, but there are hints of Aerosmith, Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Van Halen. Stuff that we love and that stuff comes out. I might play a riff and it’s like, “Okay, that’s me trying to — it’s my influence of Jimmy Page!” Even though I don’t play like him, but it’s got a little flavor of Page, so I’d be, “Oh, I like that!” If it happens naturally, I’m cool with it. I don’t want to sit down and go, “Let’s write a Zeppelin song! Let’s write an Aerosmith song!” That I wouldn’t be into, but if it happens naturally, it’s all good.
Sleaze Roxx: That may be one of the things I was most excited about in terms of this album. I knew that from the previous work that I’m always going to love it. You hit the nail on the head about The Dead Daisies — your guitar playing isn’t as out front as it would be in Burning Rain.
Doug Aldrich: No, you’re right. Absolutely!
Sleaze Roxx: The Dead Daisies songs are great, but I love it when I get to hear you really play guitar.
Doug Aldrich: That’s cool. Thanks man!
Sleaze Roxx: Which actually brings me into my next question, it’s a little bit long, but you’ll understand why. One thing I’ve always found intriguing about your playing is your adaptability to every situation. When you were in Dio, you primarily used a Strat style guitar. Then with Whitesnake, it was the Les Paul thing. The Dead Daisies, when I saw you live, you pulled out the whole arsenal. You’ve got slide guitar, the talk box and the Les Paul’s. To me that’s more of an Aerosmith type vibe and with John Corabi’s vocal stylings, it fits together. With Burning Rain, how do you approach that situation in regards to guitars and sound? Do you change it up compared to what you’d use in Whitesnake or Dead Daisies?
Doug Aldrich: Well, it’s sometimes — it’s kind of a yes and no question because I will definitely adapt if say talk box is something that Dead Daisies uses a lot. Then I’ll add it to my rig. We might have used it a little bit on ‘Make Some Noise’. I don’t think we used it so much on ‘Burn It Down’. Still, whether it’s a Les Paul or a Strat, it’s still the same kind of sound. I’ve been using the same amp for years and years. It’s an old Marshall. So, I started on a Les Paul, then I went to super Strat’s when I heard Eddie’s [Van Halen] thing because I wanted to try the whammy bar and I love it. I played Jackson’s for a little bit. Then I played Fender’s for a little bit again. I had Fender when I was a kid, but my first guitar was a Les Paul. When I was playing with Dio, I would use a Les Paul for some of the heavier stuff. When I’d listen to the live recordings and I could definitely hear that is was a bigger, heavier sound. So I started featuring that more and more as time went on. When I got in Whitesnake, David said, “Man, I love your Les Paul!” I used a Strat sometimes in Whitesnake in the beginning and I used a Tele sometimes, but still the Les Paul is the main go to guitar. I don’t know if I adapt or I just kind of — a lot of the sound is the songs and maybe when I’m writing a song — if I’m sitting down writing, I might come up with a riff and go, “Man, that sounds pretty cool. I don’t know if that’s something the Daisies would want to use, but this could be a Burning Rain song!” I might just save it for that purpose. Other than that, I don’t really think about it too much!
Sleaze Roxx: I myself have a Les Paul. I have a Strat and I have a Tele. For me, it’s what my mood is that day I think.
Doug Aldrich: Well, that’s the same as me. Les Paul is my main go to, but I just saw a picture of me with Glenn Hughes and I was playing a Strat. I was like, “Ah man! I miss that guitar!” For example, this next week I’ve got to go to China to do — I’m working with a company in China. Actually it’s an Italian company, but they manufacture in China. I’m going to go over and I’ll only be able to bring one guitar, so it’s gonna be the Les Paul. That’s it.
Sleaze Roxx: Awesome. That’s a good choice. I recently spoke with Johnny Gioeli from Hardline and I mentioned the track “Facedown” from your ‘High Centered’ album. He sang on that track. He kind of alluded to the fact that Andy Johns was quite messy at the session.
Doug Aldrich: [Laughs] I don’t remember. I do remember him being messy sometimes, but you know…
Sleaze Roxx: It is what it is. It happens. I always wondered and I asked Johnny, “Was this collaboration something that you planned on working on to do more music together in the future?” He said, “No, it was strictly doing the song you wanted him to sing on!” In my mind, I always thought that the two of you would be a perfect match musically to do a full album. Did you ever discuss that at any point?
Doug Aldrich: Not really. We had done some work together — he had a band called Brunette and their guitar player had a problem on the road. I came in and filled in at the last minute. That’s how we knew each other. He was great. The reason why we didn’t really do anything more was he was either tied up with Brunette or he might have been doing Hardline at that point. I’m not quite sure. He was doing his thing. I was doing my thing. I just loved his voice. He did a great job on that track. I’ve done a couple sessions with him here and there, but he’s always busy doing his thing and I’ve been obviously busy doing my stuff too, but I love his voice and I’d love to work with him at some point.
Sleaze Roxx: He’s such a cool guy too! He’s very funny. He had me in stitches. He did this imitation of Neal Schon in so much of our interview. I was just laughing my ass off.
Doug Aldrich: Him and his brother Joey — I don’t know if you’ve ever met his brother, they’re great guys. Joey was always cracking me up as well.
Sleaze Roxx: Both of them? I can just imagine the two of them together then [laughs]. Online many years ago, you had the Doug Aldrich forum. Do you still have that forum?
Doug Aldrich: I don’t think so. I think that website closed down. Due to social media, I kind of don’t support it much anymore because it’s way easier to talk to people on social media.
Sleaze Roxx: That makes sense. Anyways, on that forum, I had mentioned about the Jackson guitar that you used years ago in Hurricane. You actually responded on the forum about it. Refresh my memory of what ever happened to that guitar?
Doug Aldrich: The blue one?
Sleaze Roxx: Yes the blue one. It was such a cool looking guitar.
Doug Aldrich: I loved that guitar. It was Daphne blue. Fender had a color like that as well, but my guitar tech was this guy named Scott Cheetah at that time. Scott loved that guitar and called it the “Baby Blue.” It was a great sounding, great playing guitar. I don’t know how this happened but he got it off of me and he still has it.
Sleaze Roxx: At least you still know where it is.
Doug Aldrich: [Laughs] It’s either in Burbank at his Dad’s place or it’s in Idaho where he is now, but yeah, he’s got it. I never collected it from him because he joined Dunlop as an artist rep and he hooked me up so much with a bunch of stuff. I really appreciated it. So I just said, “Here hang onto that guitar for a while!” It’s been 20 something years.
Sleaze Roxx: I recall seeing a picture of you with Hurricane singer Kelly Hansen in Metal Edge with that guitar. The two of you or maybe it was a full band shot. I just loved it.
Doug Aldrich: Ah that’s cool. Thanks man. I love that guitar. It sounded great too!
Sleaze Roxx: That was a great album too. Unfortunately it didn’t do what the label might have hoped.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, times started to change around there. It was just the record company Enigma, that wasn’t really at full strength at that time, but it was a really good record and I learned a lot. I ran into the producer on the KISS cruise — Michael James Jackson. I said, “I hope I wasn’t too much of a pain in the ass in the studio!” He goes, “You were! You were a pain in the ass!” I was just a cocky kid. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, so he kept wanting me to try all these different things and I didn’t want to do it. I was just being immature. Now, of course I would say, “Yeah, let’s try it!” At the time I knew exactly what I wanted it to sound like. He and I were in a constant struggle. At that time, I couldn’t really listen to the record because there were some things that bugged me about it. Now when I listen back it’s all good, but I’ve learned a lot since then and some of the stuff he taught me, I was kind of rebelling against. There were things that I would do with David that David really liked. Those were things that I learned from Michael James Jackson. So it just goes to show you if you’re a kid reading or listening to an interview like this, where you think you know everything, but you really don’t. There’s always something to learn and it’s important to try new things.
Sleaze Roxx: I couldn’t agree more. Michael James Jackson was the KISS ‘Creatures Of The Night’ producer.
Doug Aldrich: Yep.
Sleaze Roxx: He was on Three Sides of the Coin and talking of all the behind the scenes things on that album, which was kind of cool.
Doug Aldrich: Well, you know, that album was the one I went in and auditioned.
Sleaze Roxx: I do know that, but I wasn’t going to bring that up, but it had always been rumored that you had been in the studio and auditioned.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, I did and that was the record they were working on. I played over… I think it was “War Machine” and some other stuff, but I do remember “War Machine.” That’s on ‘Creatures’?
Sleaze Roxx: Yep! That’s a heavy song!
Doug Aldrich: I remember trying to figure out what friggin’ key it was in. The riff is so different. At the time, it was great. Maybe I met Michael, but I don’t remember at that time. Anyways bro. I gotta run. I really appreciate your support and I really appreciate your kind words about the record. Thank you so much.
Sleaze Roxx: No problem Doug. Thank you very much.
Doug Aldrich: I will look forward to hopefully seeing you in Toronto or who knows maybe we’ll get to Detroit or somewhere close. Alright brother, thanks! Have a great week.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, you too! Take care!
Burning Rain‘s “Face The Music” video:
Burning Rain – “Face The Music” (Official Music Video) #RockAintDead
Subscribe here for more videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album FACE THE MUSIC. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/FacetheMusic | Signed …
Burning Rain‘s “Midnight Train” video:
Burning Rain – “Midnight Train” (Official Music Video) #RockAintDead
Subscribe here for more videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album FACE THE MUSIC. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/FacetheMusic Follow th…
Burning Rain‘s “If It’s Love” song:
Burning Rain – “If It’s Love” (Official Audio) #RockAintDead
Subscribe here for more videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album FACE THE MUSIC. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/FacetheMusic | Signed …