The Rockpit has been along for the ride with The Dead Daisies since day one and it’s always great to catch up when there’s a new album or Tour in the offing so we checked in with Doug Aldridge on release day for the wonderful new album ‘Radiance’ (Check out our review). ‘Radiance’ is the second full length with Glenn Hughes taking on bass and vocal duties, and another quality release sure to be fighting for end of year honours. We caught up with Doug at the start of a few weeks off at the end of the US Tour to talk about the album and also about the recent Dio documentary. It marked our tenth interview with Doug who we first caught up with as a member of Whitesnake way back when, strap yourself in for another trip to Daisyland.
Mark: Morning Doug!
Doug: Hey Mark, Good morning, Good afternoon, good evening!
Mark: (Laughs) Ah! It’s one of those days!
Doug: Yes, yes it is! How are you?
Mark: Very good thanks. We’ve a little Anniversary today in that it’s the tenth time over the years we’ve caught up about various different projects and also interestingly ten years since The Dead Daisies were formed.
Doug: I know and it’s been six years for me coming up on seven in the band. And in band years that’s like dog years, so it’s a lot!
Mark: (laughs) You’ve been in some great bands over the years and the hallmark of your involvement has always been quality, ‘Radiance’ is a wonderful rocking album. It’s definitely putting the foot to the floor, there’s some wonderful guitar work in there.
Doug: Thanks so much, we had a good time making it, It’s always fun to be in the studio.
Mark: I imagine the process was quite different to the last record?
Doug: Yeah it was different because we couldn’t go anywhere because of the pandemic so we were recording and working out at home. Previously we recorded at a Chateau in the South of France, that was incredible. So it was a different process, but it’s always fun to be in the studio.
Mark: Where did it all start? What was the first thing you put down for the record?
Doug: I would say it all started, because we’d finished ‘Holy Ground’ and then the pandemic hit and all of sudden we didn’t have anything to do. We weren’t sure when we were going to tour to support ‘Hold Ground’. So it got to be the Summer time and things started to cool out a little bit, you know you could get out a little bit, but people were still worried about Covid. I ended up going down to Glenn’s house – Glenn said he had a couple of ideas. We were actually talking about doing a concept album and he’d started thinking about lyrics and stuff like that, and what his ideas would be for our concept. And then that led to some music, he called me, I came down and we started working on that stuff and a bunch of ideas came out. We did some really substantial demos that we were very proud of and we thought were really cool, and then it kind of went away – we got busy in promoting the album – that’s when we both spoke to you. Then we went on a U.S. Tour, that was last year. So we put all those songs on ice. And then we were planning on going to Europe and touring in February, and that got yanked at the last minute. So we decided to make a record, but not to do the concept record. So some of those songs that were part of the concept didn’t really fit with a straight up rock record so we wrote another six songs and we went in and recorded 13 in total.
Mark: That’s definitely something I’d like to see you come back to in the future!
Doug: I know, right! One of the earliest riffs was ‘Radiance’.
Doug: That might have been the first one. Glenn had that riff and we demoed it up. I put new chords in the chorus and it ended up being the first single.
Mark: The album out here today, it’s already the 30th September down here in Australia. People have seen the European Summer Tour, and the US Fall Tour which only ended up in Seattle the other day.
Doug: That’s right.
Mark: Then you’re back to the U.K. in December as well, so all morning as people know I’m talking to you they’ve been asking me ‘are you guys ever coming back to Australia?’
Doug: I certainly hope so, it’s been too long for me, I’ve only been once and that was over ten years ago, so I certainly hope so my friend, it would be great to be there now that we can travel again and if we can get enough people to talk to their promoters about getting The Daisies out we’d love to come.
Mark: It would be great to have you over, the last time I saw the band was back in 2015 on the Kiss Tour which was a huge gig, just before you joined, so it’s been too long.
Doug: It has.
Mark: I see you’re playing my spiritual home Nottingham Rock City later in the year too, a great venue I practically grew up in, in my teens!
Doug: Yeah, I love that place, it’s even got a bit or an Areana vibe to it even though it’s a club because it’s so wide. I love it.
Mark: Yeah, sadly they ripped up the sticky floors a few years back, it was well known for its sticky floors – teh stickiest floors in Rock I think!
Doug: That’s from people dropping their beers and stuff right?
Mark: (laughs) exactly! Over many, many years, including me I think, I like to feel I played a small part.
Mark: There’s so much to talk about before we get into the album. One big thing for me just the other day was the release of the Dio documentary ‘Dreamers Never Die’, I can’t wait to see that. You were at the Premiere I think?
Doug: Yeah, me and David and the guys went down – we were really blown away by it, it’s really well done. It’s hot a, and I’m not gonna tell you about it, but it’s got a secret little twist that I didn’t even know about. It was really cool, from his younger days. so you’ll have to see it. But it’s really well done, Glenn is heavily feathered in it, Tony Iommi is heavily featured in it , Lita Ford is in it, Sebastian Bach, all telling their Ronnie stories, And if you blink you might miss my spot. (laughs)
Mark: (laughs) I was actually talking to one of your bandmates from the ‘Killing The Dragon’ days – Simon (Wright) who told me a little about that album, He’s actually coming over playing some Dio songs for us this month.
Doug: That’s great.
Mark: With so many great tracks on the album I just wanted to single out a couple of my current favourites. The first is ‘Kiss the Sun’ – I just love the groove of that song.
Doug: Yeah, I did too, it’s great. I think David, Glenn and I all wanted the same thing – we discussed just going for some very simple 70’s sounds, some heavy stuff, and that song is just a couple of chords in the main riff so I just put a good groove to it. I knew Glenn would like it! So David and I banged through a demo but we didn’t have vocals on it, we left that to Glenn. And he put a really cool melody in the verse – it’s really haunting over that ‘chuggy’ riff. But all of the titles and the lyrics are all great positive messages, and I really think that’s a cool thing.
Mark: I think that spiritual and positive side always comes out in Glenn, I’d love to know what that ‘concept’ was about, but I imagine it was full of positive energy and love.
Doug: Yeah, he had a whole story going, it’s hard to remember exactly because it was really deep, and that’s how Glenn is. There were definitely songs of enlightenment but there was some darker stuff in there. One of the songs from that batch, it’s not on the album but it’s gonna be coming out later, is a song called ‘The Healer’ – and it’s dead heavy! We already had ‘Cascade’ on the album which was pretty heavy and ‘Not Human’, stuff like that so we decided to balance it out with other things like ‘Courageous’ and ‘Born To Fly’, ‘Face Your Fear’ – stuff like that.
Mark: That’s great ‘Face Your Fear’ is one that has a real Deep Purple vibe to it for me.
Mark: How is Glenn at the moment, I know he’s missed a few shows and Dino (Jelusick) sat in for him.
Doug: He’s doing good, he should be close to being 100% by now. It wasn’t Covid that he got, he got a sinus infection, it was really bad. The same kind of thing that Coverdale had gotten earlier in the summer by coincidence. And Glenn is one of those guys who if he can’t do it 100% then he just doesn’t want to do it. I think his doctors said you can sing through it if you want, it won’t hurt you but you might not be able to do everything that you want to or could normally do, so I think when he heard that Glenn thought ‘No, I’d rather just take a seat’ and get better. But we’ve got plans, we’ll be back up in about six weeks for more shows.
Mark: So what are you up to in your down time? It must be a rare bit of spare time to catch up on a few things after rescheduling everything due to the pandemic. Any musical plans?
Doug: Well the first thing I need to do because I’ve been coming back and forth from the house all year, going to and coming back from tours all year. The first thing that gets to be a mess is my studio, and I can’t be creative when I have clutter, so there’s a few things that I’d like to get working on, but I need to clear it up first. It’s rare to have a good stretch of time off, we’re gonna be doing promotion and some social media content, so we’ll be busy with that before I can get down to the music, but also on the side of that I’m a full time Dad now, I’ve got little kids and they’re into sports so I’m taking them round to practice or to school.
Mark: It must be great just to have that time with them.
Doug: Absolutely, my Daughter is six and a half and it’s a really important time to be with her, and my son is thirteen and I put my hand on his shoulder and I can tell he’s not comfortable with that anymore, he’s like “Come on Dad!” (laughs)
Mark: I remember teenage! (laughs)
Doug: So I’m super busy with that and a bunch of sports clubs, and then for fun I’ve got this group of guys that I ride motorcycles with. So I’ve got this new motorcycle I’ve been putting together with a custom build shop out in Texas, and I’m hoping to get that bike delivered in about a week or so, but this weekend will be the first I have back to get out with the guys and its fun!
Mark: Enjoy that!
Mark: One of the anniversaries that popped up this week was that of ‘Crimson Idol’ by W.A.S.P. an album you guested on?
Doug: I know I’m on it! I just can’t remember the name of the track that I’m on! I did hear it once, I think I played originally on three tracks and they ended up using one of them and a guitar player named Bob Kulick did a bunch of work with them. Some of the stuff they may have used a few notes of me and a few of him and put it together so it made the solo that Blackie wanted. I remember it was a bit odd! (laughs) But you know, whatever, as long as Blackie was happy I’m cool.
Mark: Well according to the unreliable sources of the internet it may have been ‘Chainsaw Charlie’?
Doug: OK ‘Chainsaw Charlie’, I believe you! (laughs) I’ll have to look it up! I just remember that I played on a bunch of music and some of it didn’t have vocals I don’t think.
Mark: (laughs) The Dead Daisies are known for doing a wonderful cover version, but there are no covers on ‘Radiance’, I thought when I looked at the tracklist that ‘Shine On’ might be a cover of teh wonderful Humble Pie classic, but it wasn’t to be. So we’ve done away with that tradition this time?
Doug: No I think that we had enough stuff. There is a cover that we cut when we did the record and it’s ‘Oh Well’ by Fleetwood Mac – the Peter Green era song, and I love it! It’s one of my favourite things we did, so even though it didn’t make the record it’s going to come out at some point. It’s really cool, Glenn sang his ass off on it, even though Glenn’s not super into dabbling with that stuff, because a lot of those guys you know are his friends, he’s friends with those guys, so it gets a little strange for him. But I just said to him that back in the day Jimi Hendrix would cover a Beatles song, a good piece of music is just a good piece of music. But he’s kinda not really into the cover thing and I understand, I respect that.
Mark: I can understand that. We’ve talked about the groove of ‘Kiss the Sun’ and the riff of ;Not Human’ but equally I love the stripped back ‘Roll On’ that works really well. How did that one take shape?
Doug: Glenn actually started that, I helped him top and tail it. We had an even more stripped back version of that that didn’t have any top line guitar arts, or strings, it was just one guitar and an acoustic, and a bass and drums. It’s one of my favourite songs. It’s a well-known chord progression that is always effective, but what makes it really cool is Glenn’s singing and his lyric. ‘Roll On’ is perfect – after all this chaos we have this. There’s some heavy music, there’s some aggressive music, there’s some groovy music (on the album) but then at the end it’s just mellow. Just chill and relax and ‘Roll On’. Very simple, very relaxed, a nice groove.
Mark: perfect way to end.
Doug: One of the biggest things that is an improvement for any band is when you have a drummer like Brian Tichy, Brian is just incredibly musical, and that’s the groove right there, his is the groove.
Mark: He’s not a bad guitarist either, Brian!
Doug: No he’s a great guitar player and also a really great singer, and he’s also a great song-writer. I mean he went to Berkley College of Music, and those Boston kids didn’t mess around!
Doug: No seriously! You had the G.I.T. guys in California but Berkley College of Music, that’s when you know for sure that you’re going to be doing something in music for the rest of your life.
Mark: So it’s 20 years now since Dio’s ‘Killing The Dragon’ what’s your favorite moment of making that record?
Doug: Well there were so many but I’ll tell you a few of them. One of them was when I rolled up to the studio that first day and I was going into the back of the truck to get my amp and my guitars, I brought two amps and three of four guitars. And as soon as I went to grab something this big guy, his name was Turbo, comes up and says “Hey, don’t touch that stuff. You’re the guitar player, you can’t lift anything.” I’m like “What?” and he says “You’re in Dio now man, that’s my job.” And from that moment I felt immediately welcomed into teh family. Dio was like that, it really was. For us guys that had grown up in the 60’s and the 70’s the 90’s was strange, everything felt a little awkward. But when I joined Dio things were starting to loosen up again, we were getting back to Heavy Rock again. It was a great time. So that was one moment, another was teh first couple of times I worked with Ronnie. He’d be sitting there with his back to me doing crossword puzzles, and I’d be playing guitar all day long. We’d leave at maybe ten in the morning and get down there, we’d all ride together and we wouldn’t get back till around eleven or midnight. And it was just a great vibe, Ronnie would be sat there doing crossword puzzles, and he’d have his glasses on, and I’d play him something and say :Ronnie what did you think about that? Shall we do it this way or that way?” and he’d go “What? Huh? Play it for me again.” So I’d play it for me and he’d say “You know what I think that’s a great direction to go in. Let’s stay with that and see what else you’re planning to do?” He was just very straight up, there was no BS with him. Or he’d say “I really think you’re onto something but you’re not there yet. You’ve got to make it ‘grand’, make it the most special it can be.” There was a song called ‘Better in the Dark’ and I did this solo where I didn’t really know where to go so I did this chromatic thing, I got my hand in a good position where I felt it was in the right key, and I did this chromatic thing to segue, (laughs) it was like a giant mistake, and Ronnie thought it was the greatest thing! He was like “Blackmore would do stuff like that!” and I was telling him it was just a big mistake and he was insisting “It sounds amazing.”
Doug: And then lastly, our first photo session together it was very special and doing press together at The Riot House, that famous Hotel in Hollywood, it was all so cool. I was a bit of a late bloomer I’d done press before but that was like the real deal working with Ronnie.
Mark: Great memories, I can’t wait to see the Documentary. Thank you so much for your time today Doug, it’s always wonderful to speak to you.
Doug: Cheers Mark, thanks so much man!