I first became aware of the music of Doug Aldrich when he played guitar in a band called Lion in the 80s when I purchased their album “Dangerous Attraction”. The band unfortunately quickly faded into relative obscurity except for having a track featured on the movie “Transformers”. Aldrich then founded the band Burning Rain with singer Keith St John in 1988. After that band’s demise, Doug achieved some massively high-profile gigs with some vocal legends. His time with Dio was then followed by a period of time with Whitesnake. A couple of studio albums with Revolution Saints followed before he joined the rock supergroup The Dead Daisies in 2016. Prior to the recent show in Liverpool on their Daisyland UK tour, I managed to catch up with Doug again for an interview several years after I last spoke to him in Belfast when he played with Whitesnake.
ANTIHERO: Does the cohesive nature of The Dead Daisies make for a better work ethic/productivity as you seem to rattle out the songs and album releases? Compared with how you specifically worked in other bands like Dio and Whitesnake?
Doug Aldrich: It’s not really a comparison as it’s two different ways to work. They are both effective. I’m proud of my work with Dio and Whitesnake. I had a very productive run of songs with David. It was rewarding, and I learned a lot. With The Dead Daisies, we do work very quickly and it’s a great team. We grab riffs and chordal progressions and jump into the studio and just create. It’s great when everyone is helping with all songs.
ANTIHERO: Discuss the operation of Daisyland, the 2 for 1 tickets, and the band’s fan base as a community. Who comes up with the ideas, do the band members have direct input to that?
Doug Aldrich: That concept of Daisyland was thought up by our Manager, David Edwards. He is very forward thinking in ways to promote the band and at the same time give the fans of the band a different view of the band. The guys in the band try to do our best to come up with ways to make it happen. The fans have input in lots of parts of the whole machine.
ANTIHERO: Discuss Steamroller plans in the future, and the way The Dead Daisies workload also allows flexibility to pursue other musical projects, e.g. Burning Rain (including new album/touring plans).
Doug Aldrich: Steamroller is on kind of permanent vacation it seems 🙂 Brian, Michael and I wanted a jam band for when Whitesnake was free and we had a blast, but now we all have very different schedules and it’s hard now. Burning Rain has a new record coming in March 2019. It’s called “FACE THE MUSIC”. It’s a cool record and I’m super happy to get Burning Rain fans some new music. We’ll be doing the promotion at the start of the year and until Daises start working in Spring.
ANTIHERO: Do you see guitar playing as something on a spiritual level rather than just physical? Is it difficult at times e.g. playing live to stay focused?
Doug Aldrich: Yes, I definitely see guitar is being an extension of my personality and my spirit and my heart. It’s my voice it says everything I need to say musically, but that said I’ve got a lot to learn still. As for staying focus live, there are nights when I feel like I’m off my game but I try to think about professional sports players that might be having an off night or something and I just find that the best sports players find a way to get there head back into the focus of the game so that’s what I try to do as well.
ANTIHERO: You always seem to be joined to your guitar, it’s omnipresent during interviews…pre-show etc….is it a 3rd limb that you can’t ever put down? Outside playing live and creating music how do you spend spare time (you mentioned kids sport, the new generation depending more on computers/phones etc)?
Doug Aldrich: I kind of feel naked without a guitar when it comes to doing interviews and stuff about music. I just feel like I want it with me all the time. I always carry one with me too just in case if I get inspiration for an idea of a song or if maybe I have to wait for something at least to have the guitar I can play that keeps me happy. Yes I have a wife and kids and a pretty busy family life when I’m at home but I make time to practice and write and record home but for fun it’s really now about the kids that’s what I have fun doing going to soccer games going to karate with my daughter and just making breakfast lunch dinner whatever I can do to be with them went whenever I’m home that’s what I try to do. My backyard or garden whatever you call it is set up with a basketball hoop and a soccer goal and got a pool and we like to ride bikes I have a Harley Davidson, but I don’t write it much just because I can’t be with the kids my wife.
ANTIHERO: Viewing your back catalogue, do you keep copies of albums you have played on? Do you dig them out and revisit them?
Doug Aldrich: To be honest, I don’t really go back that much and revisit whole records. I might get a feeling like I’d like to hear that old song again I did with Dio or White snake or Burning Rain… but I generally wouldn’t listen to the whole album. There are always things I would’ve done differently when I listen back to, so it’s hard sometimes. I’m kind of my worst critic.
ANTIHERO: Constantly on the road, does touring get any easier or physically is it difficult?
Doug Aldrich: There are some days that get tiring and basically checking in and out of a hotel every day is exhausting. Sometimes we will get to the hotel for a couple hours grab a nap and then leave for the gig and not come back and then we leave the next morning first thing so after for 5 or 6 days of that it does get tiring but at the same time, I feel absolutely lucky to play guitar for a living. For me, the key is trying to eat well exercise a bit and not drink too much because I don’t like hangovers!
ANTIHERO: Is it easier or more difficult being a professional musician in 2018 compared to when you first started?
Doug Aldrich: That’s a complex question because in many cases it’s much harder today than it was back when I started…. all businesses have changed in the last 30-40 years, so you have to try and adapt to it …..But then when you look at the amazing technology that the Internet has brought it makes it so much easier at the same time then it used to be.
ANTIHERO: You have played with musical legends, but can you single out who has taught you the most and why?
Doug Aldrich: I would definitely not want to take anything away from any of the people I’ve worked with because I’m always learning from them and I’ve been blessed to play with some amazing people… On the other side, I have to give credit where credit is due, and I learned an awful lot from David Coverdale. I spent so much time with him and he really was like my big brother. I’ve recently learned a new way to look at things from working in The Dead Daisies… we work very hard all of us from Management to our amazing crew. But it’s organized and there is real teamwork here. Everyone is invested and cares to up our game.
ANTIHERO: What goals/ambitions do you still have?
Doug Aldrich: Haha, the list is too long… More records….. I’m a perfectionist so I’m never happy with what I’ve done. I constantly want to get better at whatever I’m doing but especially my music. Actually, I aspire to be the best dad I can be and have my kids grow up healthy happy and successful.