When your resume’ includes playing in both legendary rock bands, Dio and Whitesnake, you know you’re doing something right. That’s definitely the case with Doug Aldrich. With a long history of playing and creating incredible songs with bands like Lion, Hurricane, Bad Moon Rising, Glenn Hughes, Revolution Saints, The Dead Daisies, Burning Rain and a great solo career as well, it’s no wonder Aldrich is always mentioned as one of the top guitarists in rock. Doug just completed his fourth album with Burning rain called Face The Music. When I sat down to discuss the new album with him, it’s immediately apparent that’s he’s both a rock star and a real down to earth guy at the same time. When I asked him what his greatest accomplishment was….I didn’t receive the standard answer of “playing with this band” or “playing in front of over 100.000 people”, but his answer was simply being a father. Doug Aldrich is proof that you can have it all. He’s a rock star, family man and all around great guy.
XS ROCK: Let me start off by saying that I’m a big fan of your work. Yesterday I had a listen to the new Burning Rain album, Face The Music and it’s fantastic.
Doug: Thanks! I mean that’s a good sign. I’m sure you get a lot of stuff so the fact that you like it is good. It’s obviously something that we hope people are going to like but we want to get it how we like it too. So it’s not really the days anymore where you have to please the record company so much or you have to try to get something on the radio. It’s a little different now and you’ve really got to make sure that at least you’re happy with it. Cause in the past there was always that pressure you know. It’s like you’ve got to have a radio single.
XS ROCK: I think it’s the best of the Burning Rain albums so far.
Doug: Me too. It’s like, I think lyrically, it’s really a big step forward. I think Keith (St. John) did a great job.
XS ROCK: How did you work out the recording? I know you’re busy with Dead Daisies a lot and he’s been out on tour with Kingdom Come.
Doug: We did it over time. We had some times where I would be gone with Dead Daisies because, obviously it’s my main gig and that’s the priority. But we only work about 6 months out of the year. so I was able to do some things you know with Keith during the downtime here and there. Part of that was starting to put together some songs and with the stuff that maybe wasn’t right for the Dead Daisies. I saw I had some stuff that I thought would be good for Burning Rain and gave it to Keith. He worked on it brought it back and it was like yeah that sounds good, maybe we should try and get this thing put together because we had signed this deal. I signed the deal in 2015 I believe it was, so it’s been a few years of where I basically said to Frontiers Music that I need to let you know that I can only do so much and I don’t want to be in too many projects and bands at one time. Sometimes it looks that way, but technically I’m really just in the Dead Daisies. But then Revolution Saints came up. Frontiers really wanted a Revolution Saints album done, so Burning Rain was kind of put on the back-burner. It was okay cause we weren’t ready with the songs. Keith and I got together and I carved out some time that I knew the Daisies were going to be off and we went for it. The majority of the song writing was kind of put together last year but we did have some things that were from the past that we used that we really liked.
XS ROCK: I love the new material. It has a little bit of an Aerosmith vibe from time to time.
Doug: There’s a couple of chord progressions and a couple of melodies that definitely have a tip of the hat to Aerosmith. But there’s also a tip of the hat to Zeppelin and others too. So we try not to go too far with it. I’m cool with it but it’s definitely not by design. We didn’t sit there and go hey let’s try and sound like Aerosmith. We just happened on some chords and Keith happened to nail it. Sometimes it leans in those directions and something happens naturally like that. I definitely would never want to sit down and go “hey, man” lets make it sound like Aerosmith. That doesn’t sound fun to me.
XS ROCK: So which do you prefer? Writing and recording new material or playing live?
Doug: I like them both but I mean if I really was pressed at this point my life… I would say it’s really satisfying to be at home with my family writing songs and recording. Recording in the studio is really creative but I think really it’s like apples and oranges. You can’t can’t really say one over the other because it’s the both of them together that makes a musician feel complete. You know you’ve got to play live sometimes or else that’s no fun, but I think at this point in my life I can say I’ll sit in the studio… I’ll write songs, do sessions… and I’ll make dinner for the kids and my wife
XS ROCK: So we’ve got some questions from some of our readers….The first one is “Do you have any plans to release another solo album?
Doug: Not in the near future. To be honest I’ve got some material that could be pretty cool and I thought about it. It would be really cool to do something very different like, you know, my solo stuff that I’ve done in the past is different… but maybe you’d go a step further. Maybe just make it really organic, really stripped-down, you know? Where you can really feel like you could really hear my fingers on the strings… but I just don’t have time to do it right now. I’ve got a Burning Rain promotional acoustic tour coming up. We are going to be kicking up at some point this summer so later in the year we were looking forward to hopefully bringing Burning Rain to Europe and maybe Japan and we will be doing some shows in the US. So no solo record this year.
XS ROCK: So our second reader question is “What is the creative process like in a group like Revolution Saints? Being around those guys that you don’t play with normally?
Doug: The first album started off as being solo project and then when Jack (Blades) and I got involved with Deen (Castronovo) and the record company said “Wait let’s make this into a band. So they came up with the name Revolution Saints and that is it. That was the name that the record company wanted. But working with these guys…we’ve got together on the second record and really came together more. You know when we were recording, we recorded together in Italy and when Deen is doing the drums I was playing guitar and it was just, you know, more of a natural recording environment versus the first record which is a little bit more just a session. Working with those guys is great! I mean they’re both really funny guys and having guys there that’s been in the music business as long as Jack… he’s got stories to tell. And it’s awesome to hear… like he told this one story where he showed up back stage at The Rolling Stones concert and they hired him for the day to be to be a guitar tech or something… you know, it’s like are you kidding me? Why would you quit that job? Deen is as good, if not better singing, than his drumming and we all know he’s played on some of the most hardcore metal records.
XS ROCK: Another question by one of our readers is “Who do you think the best of the current crew of drummers are”? I’m going to guess you probably going to say Deen as one of them…
Doug: Deen’s an amazing drummer and he’s still got a lot of life in him. There are guys you’re not talking about… Charlie Watts is killer. Neil Peart is killer, but these guys are kind of winding down a little bit. Guys like Deen, Brian Tichy of course and Blas Elias. These guys are still firing on all cylinders and wanting to get out there play. Especially Blas…he’s been like our secret weapon. He is so intense with his playing and he’s got a great reputation. He’s been kind of laying low for a while, raising his family and just kind of kicking it in Vegas and then he and I and I met during The Raiding The Rock Vault a couple years ago and I really was excited to get him involved on on the record. He’s going to be a huge asset to the band. He just did a run with Trans-Siberian Orchestra which is a super intense gig and he was killing it. I would say my favorite guys right now are Deen, Brian Tichy, Blas and Frank Ferrer from Guns N Roses. He’s just kick-ass too. I mean Vinny Appice he’s got a lot of life left in him… he’s still kicking ass with Last In Line.
XS ROCK: Another reader question, “What’s the ratio of male versus female fans that you have?
Doug: My ratio? I actually know what the ratio is… because it shows up every time I go on Instagram or Facebook. My wife would tell me. She’s the one that told me first that it’s about 80% male 20% female. So, it’s a lot of guitar players, guys and girls that play guitar and then there’s fans of the Dead Daisies, fans of Burning Rain or Whitesnake.
XS ROCK: One of our readers wants to know if you would ever have any intention of returning to work with Whitesnake again?
Doug: I don’t have any plans, but of course if David (Coverdale) ever wanted me for something I would be happy to do it! I would love to work on anything, even if it was non-music related. I’ll always be there for him. Musically we had a great chemistry and we wrote some songs I’m really proud of like Forever More, Good To Be Bad and Love Will Set You Free…I love all of both of those studio albums. I was really proud of all the music and proud of the band and how it sounded, but in the end I had been away so much. I just really needed to spend time with my family. I was in the beginning of a new relationship and I needed to focus on that for a while. So he got Joel (Hoekstra) and Reb (Beach) together and that’s a killer team!
XS ROCK: So here’s my last of the readers questions and of course I have more for you too…but this is probably a question that I would have asked you anyway. They want to know if you still keep in touch with Kal Swan and any possibility of a Bad Moon Rising or Lion reunion album?
Doug: It’s never out of the question. But I think Kal, who I am I am in touch with periodically, he and Mark and Jerry all came to the Daisies show in Los Angeles last year and it was great to see those guys. We went and had a couple drinks over at the Rainbow and the Roxy. The Roxy used to be our spot. That’s where we played most of our gigs. I don’t think Lion ever played the Whisky… we always played at The Roxy and it was cool that we all met there again. The problem is is that Kal has a very successful career behind the scenes in the movie industry. He’s a Prop Master. He might be interested in doing something at some point. He’s pretty busy and he’s got little kids at the house and a good life. The only way to do either Lion or Bad Moon Rising would be if Kal was there and especially you know, I really want Mark to be involved.
XS ROCK: So you’re going to go out and do an acoustic set?
Doug: Correct. We signed on to play at the Frontiers Festival at the end of April and part of the thing with some of the festivals is they would prefer that you don’t play a gig right before or right after because they really want people to come to the festival. And they’ve been really good to us. I asked Keith, what do you guys think about us doing an acoustic tour? Once promoters got wind of it they said we want it. So we decided to go ahead and do an acoustic tour.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Doug: Definitely being a father is the greatest. That’s the best. I mean I’ve been very lucky with my career with music, to come from being just a kid who kept playing guitar and somehow I end up being in the music business and everything, but being a dad is the coolest. Seeing your kids excel at something or seeing them happy and and feeling proud of themselves… there’s nothing like it.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Doug: I think it’s still constantly evolving and you’ve got to stay current to make it happen but it’s definitely changed and I’m sure everybody feels the change, but if you use the the resources that are there you can actually still break a band. I mean look at that Daisies. We have a record company that was behind us and that gave us really great opportunities. So that band is on its way. So a band like Burning Rain we’re really a baby band… so it’s going to be interesting to see how we can do it, build it and make it grow. If we do use the resources available like the online social media resources, we get some good offers for touring, then it makes it a little easier for us to grow. So, we’ll see, but yeah, it’s definitely different and it’s a challenge sometimes, but the rock is definitely not dead for me! I think to know some bands are retiring… that makes it like okay, well who’s going to take over? Who’s going to fill their shoes? There’s going to be new bands coming and going and the ones that stick and last are probably going to be the ones that have the best music and most professional.
XS ROCK: Tell me one of your favorite Ronnie James Dio stories?
Doug: The best one that comes to mind is Ronnie was a sports guy. He obviously loved music and that’s what he did for his whole life, but he loved sports. He loved the New York Giants football team. That was his team and I think he liked the Yankees. He was from northern Upstate New York. He always talked about the Giants and I love the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s my team that I’ve always supported since I was a kid and he didn’t like them but one day there was an Eagles game on and he’s like “I wish we could watch that game together. So I said, we can go to the sports bar down the street and we’ll watch it. So we went there and there was sports fans there and Ronnie’s very intense. He probably hadn’t been to a sports bar for a while. Ronnie James Dio doesn’t go hang out that much, so we might go to the pub or whatever… but the thing about it, as you know, on NFL Sunday people and their emotions are high. Some guy started yelling at me about the Eagles saying they suck and stuff like that and Ronnie got really upset. So Ronnie, he squared off with this guy who was about twice the size of Ronnie. Ronnie was just ready to throw down to protect my team. You don’t know how cool I thought that was … We ended up having to leave! All three of us. A of couple weeks later I went back to that bar and that guy was there and I said listen man, you know, no hard feelings right and he goes “That guy yelling at me was Ronnie James Dio?” Ronnie was ready to kick that guy’s ass and telling him to shut the fuck up! Ha Ha Ha
XS ROCK: Speaking of Ronnie, What do you think about the Dio hologram?
Doug: You know, I mean I would see it, if it was close by or if you had a good theater or something. I’d go see it to support the guys and and everything, but I can tell you that Ronnie would probably not like this. He would probably be like “This is not what I I signed up for”. A hologram?… it’s not really what he would want to be, I’m just guessing you know, that it’s something that Wendy (Dio) thought about and she decided that Ronnie would be fine with it. But I knew Ronnie well enough to know that he was very particular and he would prefer for them to let him just die and be in peace.
XS ROCK: What kind of career do you think you would have had if you weren’t performing in a band, which is probably hard for you to even imagine, because like you said earlier…you’ve been doing this since you were a kid.
Doug: I never thought about it but I do love building things. If I had the skills to be a home builder that would be pretty cool. There’s a lot of money in it and it would be fun. That’s a hard question because I never really thought about it. Maybe at a younger age, I would have loved to been on a professional sports team. I would love to have been a basketball player but I’m just at 6 feet and I’m not super high jumper. My shots not great but I love basketball.
XS ROCK: For anybody who doesn’t know you personally what do you think they’d be surprised to know about Doug Aldrich?
Doug: I don’t know. It’s hard to look at myself and see what would be a surprise. I really don’t know what to say. I’m a perfectionist. It’s really hard for me to let go of things sometimes. Like with recordings, it’s never good enough for me. I have to let go, you know…. but I mean if it’s like a solo, usually the best stuff comes in the very beginning. But when you start to solo on top of the song, you just give it a couple shots and and see which one’s got the best vibe and then kind of tweak it from there. But sometimes it’s hard to let go but that’s just part of me being a perfectionist. Maybe somebody would be surprised at that.
XS ROCK: Anything you’d like to say to your fans out there?
Doug: Obviously, thanks to everyone! Everyone has been great. We have the new Burning Rain album coming out that we did and we really hope they enjoy it. We had a great time making it and it’s a little different than the others. It feels to me like it’s well seasoned. Definitely Keith’s lyrics and the song writing are. I feel like this is kind of growing up a little bit in a good way and we definitely hope people love it and I really appreciate your guys support online and Social Media stuff and look forward to seeing you live!
XS ROCK: Thanks for talking with us today, Doug.
Doug: Thank you!