Interviews

Interview with Dead Daisies guitarist Doug Aldrich

As the UK leg of the Daisyland Winter Tour has come to a close with their performance at Planet Rockstock in Wales, we look back at our interview with guitarist and rock legend Doug Aldrich before their second night in London.

It’s a blustery November evening in the city of London, but if the previous night was anything to go by, things are about to get hot. It’s 7 pm, and I am whisked away inside the O2 Islington Academy, and escorted down into the bowels of the venue. Like any backstage area, it’s a bit of a maze with various doors leading to dressing rooms or to other parts of the venue. The walls are layered with grime, giving a gritty atmosphere to the area as I wait for my slot with Dough Aldrich.

Finally I get the nod, and as I go in, Massive Wagons is preparing to storm the stage for their blistering opening set. Standing before me with a gorgeous guitar in one hand, and a rather careworn shoe shine bag in the other is the man himself.

DA: Oh you’ve spotted my bag? Well this is my road case, and it’s been through a lot…

ED: Wow, that’s an impressive road case

DA: it’s a kind of a joke because they call it a it a.. um.. we call it a New Zealand road case, because basically we decided to blow off the wardrobe case because it’s so hard to move it up and down stairs, it takes up a lot of room… So I decided that I would bring whatever clean clothes or whatever that I want to wear for the night in my…

ED: “Special bag”

DA: yeah my shoe shine bag!

ED: -laughing- shoe shine bag!

DA: they call it the New Zealand road case

ED: OK, that’s a new one for me

DA: So the thing is, it’s getting some holes in it, and it’s like coming apart here, but you know, a little gaffer tape and I might be able to make it through the tour – that’s what I’m trying to do, just for a gag

ED: well you only have to make it the end of December basically right?

DA: yeah

AH: Those shoe shine bags are heavy duty as well

ED: they are, but they’re not as good as the laundry bags

DA: yeah that’s right

ED: the laundry bags are impressive

DA: yeah, yeah definitely

ED: So it looks like you guys have been having a lot of fun on tour as always, especially here in the UK

DA: yeah, you know, we definitely make the best out of every situation, because we feel blessed to be there, ya know? It’s like, how can you complain about something or be pissed off too long about something? You gotta understand that so many people would love to be here.

ED: Yeah precisely

Suddenly we’re joined by Marco and Dave who seem just as surprised to find me talking to Doug as we were to see them popping in. Seems there’s a live Q&A later, and everyone wanted to be sure that Doug would be ready to go. After a brief bit of banter and quick introductions, they bound back out of the room.

ED: I first saw the band live when you performed at the Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2016, when you did that marathon weekend of festival slots and evening shows. Not only is that impressive in itself, but you guys put on a headline performance that drew people in from all over the festival grounds. You always come across as wanting to give every last ounce of yourselves on stage. Is it hard to keep that up, or do you feed off the energy of the crowd to achieve that kind of stamina? Especially considering how hard you guys work…

DA:  It’s a… it’s not something that I really think about too much, I just want to do a good playing performance, but also not stand there like watching paint dry. I think it’s important to have fun while doing it. Throw some shapes and you know… I enjoy some of the aspects of getting on my knees and getting feedback out of the amp, and whatever tricks might happens, whether it’s throwing and catching guitar picks from the side of the stage from the guitar tech – you know, like I dropped my pick, he sees it, he’s 30 metres away and he’s thrown a pick and periodically I can actually catch it and keep playing..

ED: so little moments of magic?

DA: yeah, and it gets you jacked up, but I don’t really think about it or that we ‘have’ to do something. Sometime with stages like this, it’s a little bit more difficult that someplace like Ramblin’ Man, because the stage is smaller, we might bump into each other, not really sure where to go, there’s not quite as much room so it’s a little tough that way, but those bigger stages I love.

ED: You’re doing a lot of the winter festivals now, and I imagine it’s a similar sort of situation, because they’re really intimate settings by comparison to being at someplace like Download or Ramblin’ Man, where you’ve got a huge stage with reams of space.

DA: Yeah, and some of these O2’s have got really good sized stages. This one is a little on the smaller side…

ED: Have you seen the one upstairs?

DA: Yeah..

ED: No I mean the O2 Academy 2?

DA: oh, no no no no no.. I haven’t seen that yet

ED: It’s tiny, maybe get 250 people in there with a stage small enough to fall off.

DA: Stuff like that is sometimes fun when you got like – you know every once and awhile some friends and I will do a jam, and it’s just a three piece, and a little club, just jamming covers and playing and overplaying, and it’s fun to do stuff like that sometimes. But yeah with this band, we uh, we basically are, you know there’s 5 of us and we’re all kind of all over the place..

ED: Yeah, the band’s a joy to watch, it’s always fun watching you guys perform…

DA: thanks, thanks

ED: The last two albums in particular have truly defined the band’s sound and established the Dead Daisies as a force to be reckoned with. You hear that opening riff, and you know you’re listening to the Dead Daisies. But you guys seem to have that sort of undefinable quality that takes a band just that little bit higher than their contemporaries. Would you put that down to the undeniable chemistry that you all have on stage, or is there another ingredient that goes into the mix?

DA: No, it’s really cool, and I was talking to someone about that earlier – it’s just how it is, and since Deen has come in, it’s gone to a whole new level.

ED: Yes he really helps bring something out that really punches you in the face, but like, with joy you know? Like earlier today when he was playing and singing, he’s got that same manic energy that is totally infectious…

DA: Yeah man, it’s really awesome and Deen is great

ED: Like John, I’m from Philadelphia originally, and I couldn’t help but notice on your socials that you also have a connection to the city, does that help contribute to the chemistry you have together?

AD: Yes, that’s where I met John. My family moved to Philadelphia and we were in high school together. He’s been a friend all these years, and it’s been really cool being able to write and play together, because until the Dead Daisies, we never did

ED: So Burn it Down hasn’t been out that long, so would it be kind of premature to be asking about plans for a follow-up..

DA: no, not necessarily, we’re talking about it. We’ve even written a couple things just for fun. Backstage there’s been a couple things that have come up that have been like “hey that’s pretty cool” – there’s not a definite plan, but I think that next year we’ll work on a new record

ED: How much of a collaboration is the creative process for the band’s albums? Is it like, “I’ve got this riff”, or “I’ve got this lyric”, and is it a full team effort?

DA: You know it’s a really communal, team effort, and everybody kind of.. there’s not a situation where you’d say it’s super free – because if you and I are gonna sit down and write a riff, and you were part of this band, I want your input, you know “should I do it this way, or do it that way?” – so when someone says you have the freedom to do whatever you want, I think that sometimes it’s nice to not have that freedom. When you have people invested in everything together, then you really are trying to get the best from the song.

ED: Any final words of wisdom to aspiring musicians out there?

DA: People always come and go, they might go away for a bit and then come back stronger, and some people might say “these bands are doing it wrong, and this band’s doing it right” well what you need to be saying to yourself is, f**k this, I’m going to do it myself. Never give up and keep at it. Don’t stop, because you’re never too old, and you never know when you’re gonna get your break.

ED: Thank you very much for your time, and I’m looking forward to seeing the show.

DA: yeah, man thank you, it’s been great and I’m glad you’re sticking around

 

As quickly as it started, Doug was off, being rushed off to the live Q&A and I was led up through the backstage area to catch Massive Wagons as they kicked off the night’s proceedings. I can honestly say that Doug Aldrich is one of the nicest guys in rock that you can hope to meet. Completely laid back, honest, and quick witted, he’s got an inner light that shines through on stage, and I’m grateful I got the chance to sit down with him.

So there we have it. 2019 looks like it may be the start of a new Dead Daisies album, and if the previous offerings are anything to go by, it will be well worth waiting for!

Read our review of the show here: Daisyland Comes to London with the Help of Massive Wagons

 

Photos by: Adrian Hextall of MindHex Media

Written by: Erik ‘De’Viking’ De’Scathebury

My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist

Erik De’Scathebury is a freelance music journalist based in the South of England. His musical interests include blues, rock, and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.

Socials: Twitter: @Erik_DeViking Instagram: @Erik_DeViking Last.FM: @Erik_DeViking Spotify: Erik De’Viking

 

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