Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Photos Credit: Alex Solca
The End Machine featuring George Lynch [guitar], Jeff Pilson [bass], Mick Brown [drums] and Robert Mason [vocals] will be releasing their debut CD on March 22nd via Frontiers Music SRL.
This CD delivers the same punch you would expect when George, Jeff, and Mick of Dokken get together to write music; memorable guitar riffs, powerful hooks, thunderous rhythms, and melodic vocals provided Robert. These four musicians are skilled masters at songwriting as each song is laced with intricate guitar fills and nuances that bring the songs to life. Songs like “Leap of Faith” and “Ride It” will rock your foundation! Every song on this CD is a rocker!
I spoke with bassist and producer, Jeff Pilson, to discuss this riff-driven CD and what fans can expect from the band!
Robert Cavuoto: The new CD stands on its own merits as a unique solid rock CD, but there is a strong Dokken vibe to it; more so than the T&N CD from 2012. What do you tell fans expecting a Dokken CD minus Don?
Jeff Pilson: I tell them it’s just the band’s chemistry. George and I have an unmistakable writing chemistry; it doesn’t mean that we always write the same thing. Then you add Robert Mason to the picture and the chemistry changes. He was very involved with the lyrics and melodies. We weren’t shooting for a Dokken CD without Don, to me, that’s a ridiculous thing. None of us have anything against Don; we would never want to do something that pits us against ourselves. We wanted something fresh, but at the same time; if it has Dokken elements, we weren’t going to run from them because we were all part of Dokken. We agreed to write the songs that we love and would worry about the consequences later. There were very little restraints that we imposed on ourselves.
Robert Cavuoto: Was the T&N CD a precursor to this CD and if so how did it shape this CD?
Jeff Pilson: George and I will always work together at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t take much to convince us to get together to write and work. T&N was one occasion where we got together, and this is another. The connection is that we wrote the music. This is just what came out of us this time.
Robert Cavuoto: George is always involved in so many projects, and you are busy touring with Foreigner. How did the two of you find the time to get together?
Jeff Pilson: It took several months maybe a year to get this completed. I’m on the road with Foreigner a lot, and we had to find the time during breaks. When I would be home, I was hoping that George would be there as well. He lives right down the street from me. He and I wrote the music over three different writing sessions; about a week at a time. With Robert, he would have time off from Warrant, and he would come out to California and stay three to five days to work on recording the vocals. That was probably three sessions as well. Then George came back to do the solos. Mick lives in Arizona, so he came in a few times and spent several days doing the drums. All the songs were written in a very close period of time.
Robert Cavuoto: You, Robert and George truly complement each other musically. George brought the fire and speed with his riffs while you and Robert brought the melodic sensibility. As the producer how important is it to strike that balance and does it take a lot of work to get the other members to follow?
Jeff Pilson: George and I knew it would be fiery, and we wanted it that way. We also wanted it to be musical. As far as being melodic we tried to write what we like. Robert and I both like melodic music and we knew that he was going to be belting it pretty heard too. He has the pipes to do it so why not!
Robert Cavuoto: Equally as important is the guitar and vocal phrasing, the songs breathe, and the two aspects don’t compete.
Jeff Pilson: That’s in the producing and letting the instruments speak yet not compete against each other. I might have been instrumental in that, but everyone was willing to listen and play along. To me, it was a collaborative effort.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you see this as a band with more CDs in the pipeline or a one-off project?
Jeff Pilson: One of the first things Frontiers said to us, that they wanted us to be real band. As soon as they started hearing the music they have been encouraging us to play live. We have three shows lined up on the West Coast. I don’t look at it as a project band. I have a day job that takes up a great deal of my time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a great time doing this as another band. I have a long term vision for this as everyone else in the band including Frontiers. We love working together so why not.
Robert Cavuoto: Will you be playing any Dokken songs?
Jeff Pilson: Of course, we will play Dokken, and we have to play Lynch Mob songs because Robert was in Lynch Mob.
Robert Cavuoto: Can we expect more dates to be added?
Jeff Pilson: Not for a while, as these three shows are during one of the breaks I have with Foreigner. There are no longer breaks until October. So yes there probably will be more dates but it won’t.
Robert Cavuoto: You have another CD you are working on with Reb Beach, Robin McAuley, and Matt Stars. Can you give us an update?
Jeff Pilson: The recording is done. I worked my ass off during my last break. I’ll be sending to Italy to be mixed in early April. We are way ahead of schedule, and the plan is to release it early fall. The songs came out incredible, and I can’t wait for people to hear it. You get to hear Reb kicking ass on guitar! Robin did some amazing writing and singing on the CD as well. We worked similarly to how we did with The End Machine. I worked with Reb to do the music and then worked with Robin on the melodies. What I really love about his lyrics is he is a great storyteller. We have a very cool name, but I just can’t announce it just yet.
Robert Cavuoto: I spoke with George a while ago. He told me that he likes being involved in multiple projects because it increases the chances of one of them taking off. Tell me about your thinking about being in so many projects and what would happen if they took off?
Jeff Pilson: That would be a luxury problem [laughing]! What it really comes down to in this day and age for something to take off and make a living from it is pretty slim. It’s just the reality of the music business because records don’t sell. Perhaps The End Machine will be in a position where we can make a lot of money live someday. I can tell you that we will be really good live! It’s really about time management to accomplish all the things you want to get done. For me, it’s an art. I love producing and doing these types of recording during my time off. I work 110 to 120 shows a year with Foreigner so it isn’t easy, but I’m good and managing my time. Now that The End Machine CD is done, Frontiers is already talking about doing a second one; so we will see.
Robert Cavuoto: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if a Dokken reunion is a possibility down the road?
Jeff Pilson: You never know. We all get along now, and the bad blood is all behind us. George is playing with Don at M3 this year. It’s not an official full reunion. They asked me if I wanted to join them for the M3 show, but I just can’t as I have a Foreigner show. The biggest trick of a reunion is scheduling. If we ever did a reunion, it would be nice to do it properly with a record and full tour. To commit to that, I just don’t have the time. Maybe in a couple of years or so but I would never rule it out. There is a part of me that wants to do one last Dokken record. I know that Don and George feel that way too, that we have one more strong record in us. When we did the new song a couple of years ago, it went so smoothly and effortlessly. If that could happen, it would be great.