Interview By Robert Cavuoto
Revolution Saints was born from the vision of Frontiers’ President, Serafino Perugino, who for years had hoped to work on a project highlighting Deen Castronovo’s amazing vocal abilities. Having previously worked with all three artists on different projects on Frontiers, having Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich on board in one band was a dream come true for Serafino.
With their 2015 self-titled debut album already under their belt, the band entered the studio to record their next CD. Being more familiar with one another and having a clear understanding of where they wanted this to go, their sophomore CD; Light in the Dark continues to build off the classic melodic rock style they have delivered on their debut CD. Light in the Dark is due out on October 13th.
I caught up with Doug Aldrich to discuss the making of the new Revolution Saints CD, the status of Deen’s health, and what the future holds for The Dead Daisies.
Robert Cavuoto: I’m enjoying Light in the Dark, as much as the first CD.
Doug Aldrich: That’s all I can ask for! The first CD had such a strong following there’s some pressure to deliver a stronger follow-up CD, so I’m glad to hear you liked it. Alessandro Del Vecchio wrote the first CD as a solo project for Deen. The original demos for that CD were more Journey-esque with the guitar being more in the Pop world. He told me that he wanted the guitar to sound more like Whitesnake.
On Light in the Dark, we co-wrote a lot of the songs together, probably 7 or 8 of the tracks. Alessandro and I did the majority of the writing and Deen co-wrote lyrics on about six songs. Deen also came up with the riff for “Freedom.” He sent me a 30-minute long demo of him playing guitar. From that I found a couple of cool riffs; one of them became “Freedom.” The ballad, “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” was written by Richard Page of Mr. Mister.
Robert Cavuoto: Which song would you say has your biggest imprint on it?
Doug Aldrich: I would say “The Storm Inside” has my typically writing style. Also parts of “Freedom” including the chorus and arrangement, as well as Ride On” and “Don’t Surrender.” We all put our personality into the performance of what we are doing even if we didn’t write the song.
Robert Cavuoto: “Ride On” is one of my favorite songs on the CD; it has some aggressive guitar with big melodies in the verse and chorus.
Doug Aldrich: Thanks, I love that one too!
Robert Cavuoto: How does your playing technique change from Dio to Whitesnake to The Dead Daisies and now to Revolution Saints?
Doug Aldrich: I play to the song, and the flavor of the band really dictates how the song is going to go. I don’t think about it too much. If it’s a major chord progression, it’s going to sound a little “happier” for lack of a better term. With Whitesnake songs, they are more often on a minor scale. Dio was heavier; he liked stuff that was more dark and moody. With The Dead Daisies, it’s more straight-ahead rock as we all write together and all have a say in the structure of the song. In Whitesnake, it was just David and me, and we would dictate the song to the band. In some ways it was good, but it doesn’t have a “band feel.”That’s why The Dead Daisies has a unique sound. Revolution Saints has a different sound because of the people.
Robert Cavuoto: How did you fit the recording of Light in the Dark into The Dead Daisies rigorous touring schedule?
Doug Aldrich: [Laughing] I did it all over the place. I worked on tour buses, in airports, in hotel rooms, and even while on the Bullet Train in Japan editing guitars; whatever I could do to get it done as we were on a tight schedule. Initially, the timing didn’t seem tight, but as time progressed with The Dead Daisies, there wasn’t as much down time like I initially thought. The Dead Daisies are either performing or doing promotion on our days off. It ended up turned into a little bit of a crunch situation so I took advantage of whatever free time there was with my computer. Some songs I needed time to figure out how to treat the guitar parts. When a song is written, it might just have just some basic block chords, so I need to put more effort into the riff to ensure it’s not so standard.
Robert Cavuoto: Are you working with completed tracks and tweaking the guitar or are you completing your guitar parts to be sent to Jack, Deen, or Alessandro to add their parts?
Doug Aldrich: We cut the songs together in Italy, and then I used plug-ins for the guitars. The main studio was used for the drums and Deen would monitor my guitars through a ProTools plug-in. We saved all the original guitar parts just in case there were some good ideas. Then I would go and re-record the guitars at the all the places I mentioned earlier for them to be re-amped back in the studio.
Robert Cavuoto: The CD certainly sounds like a cohesive unit: you would never know that it was recorded all over the world.
Doug Aldrich: The last time we went in the studio together, Deen cut the drums to the demo and then we went into the studio to do the overdubs. It was easier and faster to get stuff done this time around.
Robert Cavuoto: The guitars parts seem pretty technical; will there be a problem when have to play live as a three-piece band?
Doug Aldrich: No, I don’t think so. We can do it. The majority of songs are just doubled guitars to get a big sound. “Light in the Dark” has an overdub on the intro, but I would be able to play that riff and still do the octaves as a second half. There has never really been an issue for me with that in any band. I find a way to do it. Just like Zeppelin used to pull off stuff, there is a way to feature the main stuff.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you foresee any touring to promote this CD?
Doug Aldrich: We received some great offers to tour for the last CD, but with Deen’s schedule in Journey and Jack’s schedule with Night Ranger it was too difficult. If we can get some good offers this time then sure, we will do it. I have free time now from The Dead Daisies, we basically only work six months a year. That leaves me time for other projects. I typically focus on family during those down times, but I can do some dates. We did do a gig in Italy called Frontier Rock Festival this past April. We popped our cherry on that one.
Robert Cavuoto: Deen has been through hell and back since the last CD, is he in a good place now?
Doug Aldrich: Yeah, I’m really proud of him. He is doing great. He is over two years sober. There is a lot to the story that most people don’t know. Some of his troubles were with his fiancé, but they are still together. It’s not like he caused lasting mental anguish where they couldn’t be together. They are still together. He has gone through treatment and doing great. A lot of people were and still are judgmental, so I’m glad you brought it up. He did a few gigs with Night Ranger, and people were judgmental about him playing with them. The bottom line is everybody makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect. What happened was that substance changed the man that is Deen Castronovo; it crept up on him. The guy we knew and loved was not there anymore. I’m proud of him; he quit it and is back to his old self. Everybody deserves a second chance in life.
Robert Cavuoto: How was he during the making of the first CD?
Doug Aldrich: Deen is a high-strung cat. He is like Tommy Lee and Steven Tyler, not hyper he just has a lot of energy. He was in touring mode when he was doing the first CD, and we didn’t spend a whole lot of time together just for overdubs and videos. During those times he seemed like normal Deen. He was on fire from touring like he was ready to kick ass on stage every night. So I didn’t really know. He had been touring quite a bit and what sometimes happens is you start getting a little pressure from home. It’s like when is this going to be over? I can’t speak for him, but for me, when I’m gone so much my son will call me and say, “It’s enough, I need you home, other kid’s Dads are here.” If a wife is like that too, it can be really tough. All of a sudden you have the home pressure and the band pressure, and from what I have heard there is a little tension in Journey; not unlike any other band. All that pressure needs an escape, and sometimes you get into a substance. This CD shows that he still has the playing chops and singing his butt off.
Robert Cavuoto: In The Dead Daisies you guys really seem to gel on stage and off. How does that comradery impact the writing for the next CD?
Doug Aldrich: It’s a friendship because out of respect we try not to step on each other toes and take everybody’s ideas to make them the best they can be. We share our ideas then narrow it down. Hanging together is not a burden. It’s not a job; it’s more like jamming with your friends. We are friends playing together. David has the final say on what makes the CD.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you have any songs written that you will present next month when you get together in NYC?
Doug Aldrich: In the past when I worked with David Coverdale, I would present him with finished music and melody ideas. The Dead Daisies is old school where we sit down together and hash it out. I prefer not to take an idea too far on my own as it can steer things in a certain direction. I prefer to give raw ideas and see where we take them together. That’s what we did on the last CD, and it really worked out well. This way everyone has a vested interest. Someone would have a riff, and we would try to figure if it would be a verse or chorus, take it in a certain direction, or even change the key to make it fit with another idea. We have this giant mountain of great songs that we now have to top, but I’m sure we will.Robert Cavuoto: The Dead Daisies opened for KISS and played festivals on big stages. How does it feel to headline smaller clubs and which do you prefer?
Doug Aldrich: I like both for different reasons. The big stage is awesome because you get the energy from the crowd. You don’t focus on one or two people you focus on the mass. We just played a festival in Poland with a 60 piece orchestra. At the moment we played there was like 400,000 people there. You feed off that, and it’s fun but sometimes the details get lost. When we are playing a club, you hear everything and can focus in on the people and to establish a rapport with them. As a fan its fun to go to festivals to see all these great bands with the food and parties but if I had my choice, I would rather see Zeppelin of Van Halen in a club. It doesn’t matter to me whether we play to 600 or 60,000 people, they are there to see us, and we are going to play our best. We have fun playing and want people to have fun too. That is very important to us.