DOUG ALDRICH (The Dead Daisies)
Still Learning New Tricks
Doug Aldrich has an impressive career so far. He played in bands like Lion, House Of Lords, Bad Moon Rising, Hurricane but also in Dio and Whitesnake before he joined The Dead Daisies last year as a replacement for Richard Fortus who went back to Guns N’ Roses. He can be heard on The Dead Daisies latest album ‘Make Some Noise’ and they are touring extensively. A while ago HeadBangers LifeStyle spoke with Aldrich who turned out to be a very modest and down to earth guy; who is still learning new tricks and for whom family life goes above all.
What made you decide to join The Dead Daisies?
,,Well, I left Whitesnake mainly because I wanted to spent more time with my son, who was four at the time. Early 2014 I took a gig in Vegas with ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’, I burnt out a little on the Vegas thing and when Glenn Hughes asked me for the power trio in 2015 I said yes. That was when The Dead Daisies asked me for the first time but I was in Europe with Glenn so I couldn’t do it. A while later they asked me again when Richard [Fortus] left and I agreed because I thought they were a great band and it would be a lot of fun to play with them.’’
Did the fact that you reunited with drummer Brian Tichy and bassist Marco Mendoza make the decision easier?
,,Brian and Marco make a monstrous rhythm section together and I know John Corabi since 1979. He is a good friend but we never made any music together. We did however see each other do different things. David Lowy I was aware of and what he was doing with the band was great. Once getting busy I realized The Dead Daisies was more than just another gig. It felt like the most band situation I had been in in a long time and that’s what was important. We did everything together.’’
With The Dead Daisies you almost immediately went into the studio to record. There was hardly time to prepare.
,,Well, we knew we would go into the studio soon. We had a month or so to come up with musical ideas. My biggest challenge and concern was that my wife was expecting a baby and I didn’t know when exactly it was coming but it all worked out and I left for the studio. We wrote for a week in Nashville, then another week in New York, then back to Nashville again and 2 or 3 days for picking up favourite songs to record.’’
Was that also the challenge?
,,It was very refreshing. You instantly get feedback from different people and I like that. You can only get better from it. We did it together.’’
The Dead Daisies photo by Dirk van den Heuvel
Is that also the reason the album sounds so live?
,,Yes, and we recorded it together too. A lot of the rhythm guitar and bass were cut while we were cutting the drums. Honestly, what I did with the Whitesnake ‘Forevermore’ album was, I went with Brian [Tichy] in the studio and we did maybe five takes and put it together from there, and then we recorded bass and so on. It was always a kind of building process. This, with The Dead Daisies, was very old school, I saw Brian hit, saw everybody doing his thing and reacted to that. We were playing right on the edge and that was great.’’
Is that what’s making music is all about? Playing together?
,,I had no problem with that, it is just refreshing. And it was the only way we could do it because we had a limited amount of time to create and record. That can be scary but it is what it is. It is like taking a snapshot. It may not be the best and maybe we could have done better but it is a snapshot of The Dead Daisies in February and March of 2016.’’
Is there one person in the band who gives directions?
,,No, David [Lowy] is the founder and leader of the band. He would make a suggestion but he’ll listen to what everyone says but the producer, the guy that you hire to make the final decision was Marti Frederiksen. He said: “keep it raw and record it live”. We just wrote the music without a preconceived plan; other than maybe make this album a little harder. Everybody was involved in that and John Corabi by the way is a great guitar player.’’
When did you know you wanted to become a musician?
,,I didn’t, I just basically became one. I knew I liked the guitar and I liked music. As a kid we didn’t have videogames or other distractions so you were into sports or into music and I discovered my sister’s guitar. I picked it up, saw chords in a book and took some lessons in the beginning. With the electric guitar I was always trying to learn with friends and little by little listen to a record and finding out how it was done. A lot of times I would get it wrong but you always learn from it. I never made the decision, I became one and still have a lot to learn.’’
You’ve been part of an impressive number of bands. In some of them you were the sole guitarist (Dio) in some there were two (Whitesnake). What do you prefer?
,,Depending on the music, that makes the call whether it is for one or two guitarists. Dio has always been a one guitar band. Some bands prior to Dio like Burning Rain for example, have always been a two guitar band so I write with that in mind. Sometimes, with Whitesnake for example, David would have these ideas. We would have the main part of the music and he would say what if we put a harmony on top of that or something. You’re definitely planning for two guitarists in that situation and I really liked it. I do like playing with another guitar player because everybody plays differently. In the beginning, when I first joined Whitesnake, that was the first time I have really been in a two guitar band. David likes the duel lead guitar player situation where we’re playing off each other. In the beginning Reb [Beach] and I took a while to figure out who would do what. We even played rhythm together because we both play a certain way and we got there quickly. It wasn’t until 5 or 6 year in Whitesnake that I began to see there were differences that were helping the sound. We were both playing ,,Fool For Your Lovin’’’ for example a little different. If you would take my track or Reb’s track out it would sound a little different, but together it was a cool sound. Not perfectly tight but great. You don’t have to always play exactly the same thing. It’s nice if each person kinda does it his own way and that’s what’s also great about working with David Lowy. His style is completely different than mine. He’s got a very innocent simple style, very honest and raw and mine is probably a bit more polished in some ways. I think the way that The Dead Daisies sound is equally from him as it is from me. Together makes it work.’’
The Dead Daisies Photo by David Edwards
Is there competition between the two of you regarding the guitar parts?
,,No, he basically said I want you to be the lead guitar player and I encourage him sometimes to play more lead, because he has a really cool thing about his style, and I am so used to share solo’s because that was the way it used to be with Whitesnake anyway. We would always split up things very evenly and then it depended on how David [Coverdale] decided the set. Sometimes Reb had more solo’s, another time it was me. But with The Dead Daisies it is mainly me.’’
You’ve done a lot over the years. What is still on your musical wishlist?
,,I want to become a better song writer. Little by little I am learning new tricks that I can incorporate in song writing. There are some songs on ‘Make Some Noise’ that were a little more extravagant and we had some other parts in them. But when we worked with Marti he would say: we won’t need that part. He even kicked out parts I really liked and he was right, it made the songs stronger and gets to the point quicker. Sometimes we just took too long. A producer takes pressure off the musician and I have to learn from it.’’
Is there a special item you have to take with you on tour?
,,There are many practical items. Good luck charms, yeah, I do have some socks that belonged to my little boy when he was a baby and some little gifts that he gave me, like a couple of little cars so we can play with cars when we are facetiming. He’s a little grown out of the cars, now he’s into Pokemon so, if I really want to have a great facetime session, I go to the store and get some Pokemon cards and break those up. As far as a talisman goes, almost everything I have, I wear, is stuff somebody gave me. All the stuff on my wrist somebody gave it to me, even the little rubber bands underneath my watch. My son put them on me and said these are for good luck, so when it breaks I get all the good luck it collected all the time. I’m not superstitious or spiritual but I believe if somebody gives you something it’s for a good reason.’’
What is the last thing you do before you go on stage?
,,The very last I do is probably have a zip of beer.’’
What is the ultimate kick of being on stage?
,,The immediate feedback from the audience and getting the parts right. When I get something right that I’ve been struggling with. When you play a song sitting here you play it a certain way, but when you’re on stage and play it with a band there are so many distractions. You can practice it over and over but it’s not until you’re actually on stage that you can say I played it correctly. I never played the whole show correctly…ever, but there are some moments I get that part and feel good about it. The challenge is to do it again every day. The moments I feel I nailed it are great but you can’t think about it too long because then you make a mistake on the next part.’’
Is there a difference between Doug Aldrich on stage and Doug Aldrich off stage?
,,Yeah, on stage I am more flamboyant, more confident while off stage I am more quiet, more simple. On stage I can deal with a lot of things, a lot of people. Off stage I really need to focus on what I’m doing otherwise I don’t get anything accomplished.’’
If a kid would come up to you saying he wanted to become a musician as well, what advice would you give him?
,,I would say that it’s good to learn from other musicians but you are your own individual. You’re gonna play your own way so don’t feel bad if you can’t copy others, that is actually a blessing. Mmm, that’s maybe going too deep. To a new kid I would say: be yourself, have fun, don’t worry about anything. It’s music, there are no rules.’’
You are also still in Burning Rain with whom you released ‘Epic Obsession’ in 2013. What is the situation on that band?
,,We want to do another record. We have songs that are pretty much written and maybe we have some time in the spring to record it. It’s something that’s always been a little bit of a side project because I always had other gigs, with Dio, with Whitesnake. It was difficult to do anything besides Whitesnake because I dedicated all my time to David. I wanted him to feel happy about the new music. The next record will be a little different. ‘Epic Obsession’ had this Whitesnake flavour to it because I was in there at the time. I do have new musical ideas now. I’d like to do it as a proper band, with everybody’s input, so let’s see how that goes. Bands usually have one leader who makes all the decisions. Whitesnake is David’s band and he gave me a lot of freedom, but ultimately he was the man in charge of course. Stylistically with Burning Rain I could make disco music if I wanted to but that’s not how I roll.’’
And there is Revolution Saints with Deen Castronovo and Jack Blades which debuted in 2015. Any news on that?
,,We are actually talking about doing a follow up to that. I’m really proud of Deen, he’s getting on track. He was in a bad situation, I don’t know the details, the only thing I know is that he is my friend and I want to support him. Relationships are difficult and sometimes you got two sides of the story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. He is such a talented, amazing singer, and drummer. But this time I would like to do some live shows even if it’s only for charity.’’
Is being with The Dead Daisies everything you thought it would be?
,,It’s more than what I thought it would be. I actually thought it would just be a gig. Having some fun, jamming with guys that I am friends with. That was an important thing when they brought me in. They knew what they were getting, knew my personality, how I am when I travel. I didn’t know John Corabi was so awesome as a front man. I didn’t know him like that, I only knew him as a friend. He is fun to watch and listen to. He immediately makes friends with anybody. If people say something mean he doesn’t get mad, he goes like ‘whatever’. I love that and these are things I wish I had. Marco en Brian I knew. As far as David, the man of the concept, he is our leader, also business wise and he really is an awesome leader. For example, we basically do a briefing before each show, like a business meeting. He goes like ‘here’s our setlist, we are changing it tonight’ and he asks our opinion about it. So we go through it piece by piece then we do play part of each song, just a piece and for me I see huge improvement for doing this. It’s brilliant, I’ve never done that before, it’s usually just practicing by yourself. With Whitesnake we wouldn’t change the setlist so we were getting used to it. Another part that is more than I thought it would be is the camaraderie. We’re always together, eat together, hang out together, it’s a cool thing. Because we are friends and we respect each other. A lot of bands go their separate ways we actually enjoy being together.’’
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