We all know that: As music lovers there are the musicians we just like. And then there are those, we feel a little bit more about. Whose work is very special and precious to us. I often have that tendency towards impressive guitar-work – and there is this one guy that inevitably crosses your path every now and then in the hardrock genre: Doug Aldrich is without any doubt one of the most spectacular guitar players, who with the many stations in his career has done so much regarding the enrichment of our all record collections – and still does. Since 2016 he is a member of THE DEAD DAISIES.
Together with John Corabi (MÖTLEY CRÜE, BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION, TUFF, …), Brian Tichy (WHITESNAKE, BILLY IDOL, VELVET REVOLVER), Marco Mendoza (THIN LIZZY, BLACK STAR RIDERS, TED NUGENT) and David Lowy (ANGELS, MINK, RED PHOENIX) Aldrich, who became famous mostly through his time in the Bands WHITESNAKE and DIO, rocks the halls and stadiums. I had the opportunity to experience the great live-experience for the first time in 2016, when they supported the HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES on the Hessentag Event in Herborn, Germany,
At Sweden Rock Festival I got the chance to do this interview with a humorous and extremly likeable and down-to-earth Doug Aldrich. Have fun!
Manu: Doug, this isn’t your first time here at Sweden Rock Festival. You have been here a couple of times already…
Doug Aldrich: Yes, I’ve been here three or four times with WHITESNAKE. This is the first time with THE DEAD DAISIES. Actually, THE DEAD DAISIES might have played here before, but first time for me with them.
Manu: How do you like the Festival?
Doug Aldrich: It is a great festival! It is one of the best in the world. There are some classic festivals, that people always talk about and Sweden Rock is definitely on top of the list.
Manu: So what would you say is different here, compared to other festivals?
Doug Aldrich: I don’t know, each country has its own kind of tradition. But this festival is pretty different, with the stages being kind of placed strategically around and where two bands can be on at the same time actually. Sometimes at other festivals there is just one giant area and people seem to walk around more and go to the different stages. It’s in Sweden and beautiful in the early summer and the weather is usually pretty good.
Manu: Would you say there is a difference between Swedish crowds and for example German crowds, or other crowds?
Doug Aldrich: There is always a little difference, but I don’t really think about it too much. We just play and have fun and we want to play good. And if we do that, if we play good, and we are feeling good, then the audience is usually having a good time, too. But I would say maybe Sweden is similar to Germany in a way, it’s maybe the little more quieter crowd, that listens more. Not like for example in some parts in Spain or South America, the people they are so loud, you know. They still love it and listen, but they just want to be very vocal about it. And in Sweden the people are a little more quiet and just listen. But that’s all good, it doesn’t matter, we love to play and have fun.
Manu: What’s your plans for THE DEAD DAISIES in the next months, except of playing a lot of Festivals as I have seen?
Doug Aldrich: We are playing a lot of festivals and our own shows. We are going all through Europe, we are going back to Germany, too. Then we are going to Japan, and then we go to South America and then we will do twelve shows in the US, just in kind of specific places that we feel we will get a lot of fans to. And then we’re gonna take a little time off and probably at the end of the year work on the new record.
Manu: Oh, there are plans for a new album?
Doug Aldrich: Yes. We are promoting the live record right now. The live record is like a vehicle for a tour. You can tour and people who liked the show can have an item that they can listen to and think “Oh I remember this, that was so much fun”..
Manu: Oh yes, this happened to me about the Hollywood Vampires gig…
Doug Aldrich: Did they do a live record?
Manu: No, I mean, they were playing in Germany and you supported them…
Doug Aldrich (excited): Oh yeah!
Manu: … and when I listened to the tracks of your live album it exactly brought back the memories of that gig!
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, so it’s something the people can remember. But we do need to work on a new record. It’s been a year from promoting “Make Some Noise”, so we will do that.
Manu: THE DEAD DAISIES are what people call an “All-Star-Band” or “Supergroup”, you know, high profile musicians from very famous bands. Would you say from your experience, that this sometimes is a problem, like with peoples egos or something? Or do you all get along well in these regards?
Doug Aldrich: Oh no, we get along well. We are friends and have been friends for years, so there is no ego for us at all. We don’t think of ourselves like that. We just think of ourselves as musicians, friends, we are lucky to play together, …
Manu: …having fun…
Doug Aldrich: Yeah. I look at them like friends and it is fun to play with them, but also they are amazing at what they do, so I respect that and would never pull an attitude, you know.
Manu: If you look at the Line-Up of THE DEAD DAISIES there has been a lot of changes already, and if you look at the Line-Up of WHITESNAKE there have been a lot of changes, too. Do you see a similarity between that? And what are your personal plans with the band, are you working towards a longer perspective?
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, we are working in a longer perspective, because it feels like a really good chemistry right now. It was before, I think they had a good chemistry with Richard (Fortus) and Dizzy (Reed). And when GUNS’N’ROSES started back up, they obviously needed to do that and that’s why I came in. But, since I’ve come in and now we have done a record, a tour, a live record, and we are doing another tour again, so it feels like the Line-Up is solidifying. But I mean, there is always change, things happen. But then again there are bands that had pretty few changes, or just one change. U2 is still the same, and there is a lot of bands like that, too. It just depends, but change does happen, WHITESNAKE definitely had a lot of people, but they were all pretty good. I don’t think David [Coverdale] ever had a bad player (laughs).
Manu: In a longer perspective, do you think it would be possible to play with WHITESNAKE again, or is this a closed chapter for you?
Doug Aldrich: You know, I never say never to anything, but he has a great band, so he doesn’t need me. But I’d always be here for David, if he wanted to do something one day and I was free… But we haven’t really spoken since I left. We text sometimes and will say “Happy Birthday”, … It was an amicable split, but it was also …. People usually don’t leave WHITESNAKE, but I had a good reason, you know. It was just personal situations. But, you never know what happens.
Manu: I read that you have been rejected by KISS when you were younger. Would that still be a plan for you? You have been touring with KISS now a couple of times with THE DEAD DAISIES…
Doug Aldrich: I am still waiting for them to call me (both laugh) I auditioned in 1982. I think it can still happen. Maybe (laughs). No, I don’t know. They actually asked me to audition when I was a kid and I think they could have realized I was much too young in that situation…
Manu: But now…
Doug Aldrich: But now… they don’t need me again. Another band that doesn’t need me.
Manu: Aww, how mean!
Doug Aldrich: They got Thommy Thayer… Actually, I love KISS. I think now in hindsight it was a really great thing that gave me confidence as a kid to try to be better. I thought it was cool, they had Ace [Frehley] and then Vinnie Vincent was cool and they got a lot of different people. And now with Tommy and Eric [Singer] I think it’s a really good production, it is very consistent. I actually had not seen them until last year, they were amazing!
Manu: Is there anything you have on a kind of list of things that you want to achieve?
Doug Aldrich: I want to achieve college education for my kids and that’s what I am working for. I have a little baby girl so I need to expand and to built my house bigger (laughs) And I want to keep writing better and better and better songs, I want to get my guitar playing better and better . This year actually I have been practicing some things that I normally don’t practice and I hope I can turn the page on some new things.
Manu: Are you still a guitar teacher?
Doug Aldrich: No, I don’t teach anymore. I stopped when I was 25 or so. It’s been a while. But once in a while I sit down with someone and try some things.
Manu: I read on your page that a lot of your students went off to play in famous bands. Can you name some of them?
Doug Aldrich: Actually I can’t remember any band names. There were a couple of kids that did very well, but I kind of lost touch with them.
Manu: Yes, I see. When you say you stopped when you were 25, that’s been quite a while.
“I love them all, every single one. I don’t just keep guitars to collect them. I keep them because I want that guitar for a certain purpose. But I got so many, that I had to get a storage place and I kind of shift them in and out like a football team, you get a new guy in and another one comes out.
Doug Aldrich about his guitar collection
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, I lost contact. I mean I did not have a cell phone at that time (both laugh).
Manu: I also read that you have a lot of guitars at home
Doug Aldrich: I have them in storage, yeah!
Manu: Are there some special guitars you have?
Doug Aldrich: All of them are special. I love them all, every single one. I don’t just keep guitars to collect them. I keep them because I want that guitar for a certain purpose. But I got so many, that I had to get a storage place and I kind of shift them in and out like a football team, you get a new guy in and another one comes out. Last tour I used this Gold Top and this tour I am using another Gold Top that I brought. And then at home I started collecting some 50s Les Paul Juniors and I got a 1856 and also a 1959 Les Paul Junior. Those two guitars are killer. I didn’t need to, but I bought a couple of Double Axe, because I love them, a white one and a black one. I bought the white one from Dave Amato, who plays in REO SPEEDWAGON and I really like that guitar. I don’t get the chance to play it on tour too much, because it’s something that you only use once in a while.
Manu: So you need to write some songs for that, so you can use it.
Doug Aldrich: You know what? You are absolutely right (digs me in the rips)! I will have to write a song where I can say “Guys, we have to bring it!” – “It doesn’t fit, we don’t have room!” – “Sorry, do you want to play this hit?” (laughs)
Manu: Do you give names to your guitars?
Doug Aldrich: I call this one “Black Eye”, because it looks like it has a black eye. I like it, it ties in nice into the headstock. I just think it looks good. Some of them have names and lot of times my guitar tabs would give them names. Generally, I think most people give names to their guitars. JOE BONAMASSA always has cool names for his guitars.
Manu: Some people also give names to their cars. If you love cars, or if you love music, that’s probably what you do.
Doug Aldrich: Yeah. I have a Mustang in the States. You don’t have too many over here, actually in Sweden they do. I have a Mustang I call the “Dark Horse”, and my son would say to me “Hey Daddy, are we going to take the “Dark Horse” today?”, if I take him to school or something. Or we take Mommys truck, but he likes the “Dark Horse”.
Manu: So is it a black Mustang?
Doug Aldrich: It is dark grey. Sometimes it’s black, sometimes it’s kind of a dark silver-green or so. The “Dark Horse”.
Manu: I also read that your sisters where your influences for your music.
Doug Aldrich: My sisters both. My younger sister had a guitar, she had a classical guitar, so that’s when I started. And my older sister had a boyfriend, who had a gold Les Paul for sale. And my older sister had a record collection, and my younger sister and I didn’t. So I listened to her records and then her boyfriend sold his guitar and I bought it. I always loved gold Les Pauls. I love all guitars. I love Strats, Fender Strats, I love some weird guitars, like Dan Armstrong had this plexiglas guitars and it always sounds really cool. Silvertone, … I just got a new guitar by ESP. They have made great stuff for years, they worked with George Lynch and all these really great guitar players and they got me a kind of custom TE-style thing. You will see that today, too.
Manu: Did your sisters ever go for a professional music career?
Doug Aldrich: No, my one sister is a plastic surgeon and my other sister is in business, a business manager.
Manu: But still they were your influences.
Doug Aldrich: Yes, definitely. I think you get influenced by everything in life, so all these experiences come in your music. – Do you play guitar?
Manu: No, unfortunately I love music and guitars but I am totally untalented
Doug Aldrich: You could probably do it!
Manu: Maybe I should give it a try. – You have played on your tour together with THE NEW ROSES. Did you already know them or did your booking agent simply set that up?
Doug Aldrich: Oh yeah, that’s right! No, I didn’t know them, and they are really great. They are like a really young band, that is going places.
Manu: They are from my city, and I have been to many concerts of the earlier bands of the bass player many years ago.
Doug Aldrich: Which city?
Doug Aldrich: They are great, super great guys, … I forgot about that, that was last summer. Please tell them I said “Hi” – they were really good!
Manu: Will do. – So it wasn’t something you set up?
Doug Aldrich: No, I didn’t know these guys until we met them. The promoter set it up. That was a great team together. Hopefully we will do some gigs again.
Manu: You have played in many bands in your career. Would you say there is one band that did not achieve what you expected or hoped for, or about which you would say that it was underrated in popular opinion?
Doug Aldrich: My first band was a really great band, I liked a lot, it was called LION. It was just a weird time, we were a little bit late, coming out of the clubs and everyone had already been signed, so we kind of got passed on. Also we were not a glam band, a little bit more of a European Style band, you know, had a Scottish singer, so in the end we did sign a deal, but it was not a great deal, we never could make any money from the record. It was a great record, it’s called “Dangerous Attraction” and that band I think could have been really good with the right label, because in Japan we were on a different label and they sold a crazy big amount. But in the US they did not give us any tour support or anything
Manu: Maybe it would be an idea to re-issue it?
Doug Aldrich: Actually there is a group of people that are going to re-issue it on vinyl. They are only making 500 copies, but they are putting it out. They asked me to talk about it. That record came out in 1987, and we loved bands like WHITESNAKE and THIN LIZZY, LED ZEPPELIN or BLACK SABBATH. those were our influences.
Manu: Are there any plans to do something with REVOLUTION SAINTS again?
Doug Aldrich: We have a new record! It’s coming in October. I don’t know what’s the name of it is gonna be yet, but its gonna be out on Frontiers Records. It is really good. We got together in April and recorded it and it turned out really well.
Manu: Are you planning to go on tour with them as well?
Doug Aldrich: I would love to, but there are no plans at this time, because I’m busy with THE DEAD DAISIES, Jack [Blades] is always working with NIGHT RANGER, so that is a little difficult. But you never know, maybe we could get together for three dates.
Manu: You already mentioned your children. Is there anything they changed for you, like concerning setting priorities?
Doug Aldrich: Yes, I am trying to think about health more. I got to stay healthy to take care of these kids. I’m an older dad, so I got to do that. And I think about not buying as many guitars (laughs), which is hard and there is a lot of little things I try to do to make a good impression, you know, to show an good example. It definitely makes me a better person for sure.
Manu: Does it influence the music projects you do?
Doug Aldrich: I would say just when my son was born, with WHITESNAKE we had just done a record called “Good To Be Bad” and then we decided to make a new record. And my son was born and I played a lot of acoustic to put him to sleep and I came up with a couple of songs that David and I finished together. It definitely inspired that.
Manu: You have been in the music business for a long time and obviously with the internet a lot has changed, so you know both. What do you think about that?
Doug Aldrich: It is something we all have to adapt to a little bit, because it definitely has changed everything, regarding film and music. But I think there is a way to use it to your advantage, too.
Manu: Would you say it is now more negative or more positive?
Doug Aldrich: It is just different! A lot of opportunities have closed, that we used to have, but other opportunities are open. So it’s really strange, I can’t really say one is better than the other
Manu: Is there any message that you want to send out to your German fans?
Doug Aldrich: I just want to say “Dankschön” to all the German fans that supported THE DEAD DAISIES this last one and a half year since I’ve been with them. It’s been great, it’s been awesome and I really appreciate the support for the band and especially because I got a German wife and I want to come back more and more and more (both laugh)
Manu: Are you travelling with her to Germany?
Doug Aldrich: Sometimes. She is coming, in about a weeks time she should be in Cologne. She is from Cologne, where they drink the Kölsch
Manu: Do you like it?
Doug Aldrich: I love it! I loooove it. And we just found a place in Los Angeles that serves it, so that’s really cool.
Manu: What else do you like about Germany?
Doug Aldrich: I like the football team.
Manu: From Cologne?
Doug Aldrich: Both! Cologne FC is a good team and I like obviously the German national team. And I like the food, mostly. I love Gulasch, these noodles, what do you call them, Sp…?
Doug Aldrich: Spätzle! And I like breadtime.
Manu: Different bread then in America.
Doug Aldrich: We don’t have that bread in America. Now my wife found a place where you get European bread. I like the whole mix of vegetables and meat, bread, cheese – that’s fun!
Manu: Is there anything when you come to Germany, that you go for to buy it or to what you are looking forward when you are touring?
Doug Aldrich: Definitely, I love the Gulasch
Manu: Do you go to a restaurant or do you write it on the rider?
Doug Aldrich: No, in the rider there is just basic stuff. I usually go to a restaurant. And everything is a little different. Actually my mother-in-law, she is german, but she makes a killer Lasagne, a german lasagne. It’s the best I ever had.
Manu: Thank you so much for your time. I hope you liked it.
Doug Aldrich: You are welcome. Thank YOU so much, that was very good! So let’s take a picture!
(Pictures: Pascal Neckbreaker)