Interview by Chris Willow
Pictures (C) Adrian Hextall / Mindhex Media
Doug Aldrich world-famous American hard rock guitarist currently empowers ‘The Dead Daisies’ on their freshly released ‘ Holy Ground’ album. The album itself is doing very well on most of the UK and European hard rock and heavy metal charts. Doug certainly deserves many nicknames as a brilliant guitar player but the ‘Les Paul Dragon’ fits him exclusively, as nobody like him can get some extra-terrestrial magic out of it. Previously with Dio and Whitesnake. Doug Aldrich is kicking ass as The Dead Daisies’ lead guitarist nowadays. He is an experienced riff maker and doesn’t want to play an avalanche of notes but searches for melodies and sounds somewhere out there where no one looked for them before. Doug together with Glenn Hughes (a hard rock legend and wizard of the bass guitar and vocals ex-Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Sabbath, and Black Country Communion) are electric and cosmic rhapsody of The Dead Daisies’ sound. The Dead Daisies have covered a lot of ground getting to where they are today with singer/bassist, Glenn Hughes. David Lowy – guitarist and David Castronovo, a singing drummer. As a band, they have finally reached holy grounds with the leaner four-piece outfit delivering a new urgency and vigour to the overall sound and vibe. Holy Ground album shines and explodes with galactical energy and the imminent power of hard rock expression. Doug Aldrich and Hughes are like lightning and thunder – they are the best to admire together.
Have A Very Happy Birthday, Doug, [February 19th] and Have Your House Renovated Nicely Cheers!
C: You’re doing very well with your new album ‘Holy Ground’ in Germany. Could you say some words about it?
D: Well, what I am doing is pleased to respond and so happy to get the new album out. And I hope people enjoy it. We had a great time making it.
C: Yeah, you are #1 in Germany and UK #14 on Amazon Best Sellers in Hard Rock Charts.
D: Great. That’s great.
C: Yes, it is. What have you been up to lately musically and privately, if you don’t mind me asking?
D: Well… musically I’ve been practicing and doing some social media things. Glenn and I have done a little bit more writing. Privately, umm I’m renovating my home ha ha ha ha… it keeps me busy and doing daddy stuff, you know.
C: The good news – you have a new drummer Tommy Clufetos from Black Sabbath. How do you find Tommy Playing for The Dead Daisies?
D: Well, I think Tommy is a monstrous player. And it’s really gonna be an amazing addition to the sound of a band. And I think he and Glenn together gonna be very priceless.
C: Did you have a chance to play with him (Tommy Clufetos) before? As far as I remember he was playing on some tour with The Dead Daisies.
D: Yes he did. Before I joined the band he came and did a little bit of work with the Daisies. I have seen him play and I watched him on TV. He’s incredible. He’s gonna be a great addition.
C: You got ‘The Holy Ground’ album released already. It’s fantastic. There are not enough words to describe it. What was the inspiration for that album? What is the message behind it?
D: Oh well the message was once we got Glenn involved he started writing, you know, I started writing for him he started writing through the band. For me, it was great because I started writing with Glen in mind. I felt like I really had a good direction set for Glenn. I proposed to him some musical ideas. He proposed some ideas to the band. I helped Glenn, then we got all that stuff together and we went to the South of France to record it.
C: The sound and the style of the entire album. When it’s played it provokes to turn the volume up to the maximum. What is the secret?
D: Hm.. I think the loud stereo is the secret LOL I guess really, you know a lot of credits go to Ben Grosse who co-produced ..co-produced, oh no he didn’t co-produce, he produced the album. And he took all of the basic sounds that we had and he mixed it. I used the same guitar Les Paul and Marshall and you know and basically, he took that sound and manipulated it and made it really heavy – it’s great.
C: The sound is, you know incredible, especially if you play it loud when driving a car it’s first-class car music.
D: Yeah, yeah absolutely. We’ll thank you.
C: As a musician, I know you express yourself by music, you know but it could be nice if you tell me some words about your co-operation with Glenn and you met him before, you played live with him before.
D: Yes Glenn and I worked together. In 2015 we did like 3 weeks in South America. We did six weeks in Europe and we had a blast. Playing with Glenn is some of the best jam sessions I’ve ever had with Glenn on stage. We really play well together. He is like my dear brother – my bro.
C: The sound, the new sound of The Dead Daisies on Holy Ground album reminds me of Led Zeppelin, it’s a bit industrial but there is still a lot of melody in your playing.
D: Oh! Thank you, we definitely have different influences but they are all are pretty much from the sixties, seventies, and eighties, I guess. And then Ben Grosse brought his sound into it. So, you know he had some tricks up his sleeve. But we just do not think too much about it, we basically just played the music we liked and we have recorded it the best we could. We liked it. And we just hope that other people will like it too.
C: Could you reveal to us what guitars and amps you’ve been using for your ‘Holy Ground’ session?
D: Mainly my Gibson Les Paul Goldtop and my Marshall, a 1979 Marshal JMP. And it is emoted by John Shur. I use John Suhr signature pickups which are very important to my sound. Then If I brought some other guitars…I brought a Strat, I brought a Tely, I’ve got Les Paul Junior…I had a few different guitars and then when I came back from Los Angelis I picked up a few bits here and there. I used a Gibson Accustic and a Gibson double-neck, Personal electric 12 string part on ‘Far Away’? That was pretty much of it. Yeah, we used also Diezel amps a little bit and a Budda amp, and a Ben Grosse owns a Crazy Marshall with those couple of tricks mounted to it which we used as a combo. It’s a really nice amp. And I used my ’79 Marshall amp several times as well.
D: Generally I am .. most comfortable with Gibson. Strats are great too I love the expression you can get out of the Strat. It has a little more bite to it and everything. But I would say Les Paul is my ‘go-to’ guitar obviously. That’s the one I started on with when I was a kid and I bounced around a little bit through the years, um.. but eventually I always had a Les Paul with me, I always used it to record. And it was funny I always had all of those Jimi’s guitars I owned with me. And every time engineer goes ‘You’re Les Paul, right? And I go Yeah! So I always used it. When I joined Dio’s band, it is when I started to play it again and realized my Black Les Paul custom, is the heaviest sounding guitar I owned. And it’s just got a great sound. I used it on Dio’s album and also used it live when played Black Sabbath (songs) so you could really hear the difference between that and the super Strat which is still heavy but not quite that.
C: Who is the general melody maker in the band in The Dead Daisies?
D: Glenn will be the melody maker now. And if you say melody you mean vocals melody. Glenn did that. Yeah, Glen is a master of songwriting… songs just flow from that guy, it’s crazy. I came up with some riff, music, and stuff, and then Glenn’s singing on it and making it really special, all his lyrics are also very special.
C: Yeah, they are great. Well, we have that situation all over the world with that Covid-19 shit. Did it have any impact on your composing, when you were composing that new album? Everybody is affected by that thing.
D: Yeah, no we didn’t. The album was recorded, mixed, and done before the pandemic started. We recorded it at the end of 2019. It didn’t impact us when we recorded it but what did impact us was the release. We couldn’t release it because there was no way to promote it really so we pushed it back for one year or so. It was meant to come out just about a year ago.
C: Oh that’s an interesting man, I didn’t know about it. That title ‘Bustle And Flow’ Is there any reference to the ‘Movie called ‘Hustle And Flow’?
D: No.., no, no it’s a phrase that Glenn came up with. It’s interesting.. But you know ‘Hustle And Flow’ that was a good movie ..and a ‘Bustle And Flow’ hopefully is a good song…Ha ha ha. I don’t know what Glenn means but it’s kind of a….what do you call it? – ‘Movers and Shakers’ it’s like it’s easy… So you are in a ‘bustle’ but you are in a ‘flow’ so you are moving forward …. ‘Bustle’ and the Flow’
D: Yeah, we rehearsal in October (2020 ) And we spent a week rehearsing and you know, stuff sounded amazing and I couldn’t wait to really get the stuff on the road. We have a whole new show we want to do and we are really excited about it and it is really fun to play. So we gotta’ get back to live music, we need it. It’s essential.
C: Do you think there are any songs that could work live very well?
D: Oh, well I think all of them are written to play live. But I think obviously the first (‘Holy Ground’) ah…I mean every one of them. We played them all live, they all sounded great. We can probably switch it up a little bit. I know that we are gonna rehearse the entire day. We are gonna rehearse all of them.
C: Do you know you got a big fan in Germany?
D: I hope there is a one LOL yeah LOL
C: Her name is Elke. She never misses your single post on Instagram. She gave me a question for you. ‘Does it make any sense to play Holy Ground in full live with an orchestra and to release it as an album?’
D: I think that’s a great idea…I mean that’s a fantastic idea. We did the whole show with the orchestra and it was really fun. I think that’ll be amaaaazing to do that, amazing and maybe down the road, we can try that.
C: She is also saying you are very popular in Germany.
D: Yes, we love German fans. My wife is from Germany. We’ve got great fans in Germany. The Dead Daisies we’ve been building in Europe and UK and all over the world doing our best. And Glenn is a legend, has become a legend in all of those places. So being together is.. I think it’s even stronger.
D. I think there will be a little bit of room to stretch out. I think that we put the songs together in an album format that was good to listen to but there are certain places it will be fun to stretch out a little bit. I love to improvise off to Glenn. It’s really fun. Once we get into rehearsals we will work out those places.
C: What is your best number from the ‘Holy Ground’ album, your best song?
D: Oh! That’s hard to tell. I don’t know. They all are very special. I like them all for different purposes. I love how the album starts with ‘Holy Ground’ and ‘Like No Other’. And it still kicks ass with ‘Come Alive’ Umm, It’s yeah ….it changes. Right now I think that ‘Like No Other’ is really one of my favourites.
C: What is your message for all the fans from all over the world? What would you like to say to them now?
D: Well, we really thank you, we appreciate your support and I hope you’re enjoying the journey together. That’s what is important to The Dead Daisies, that everyone feels like we are all in this and it brings us together. We work on our music together with our fans in mind, and we respect their opinions. We love them. And thank you for supporting us. Everybody, keep your chin up. Things will get better,
C: That’s all we hope the things get better. We all are waiting for your live music, to see you live, to join a concert and you know …finally to rock because we deserve, all of us
D: Yes we do, We need it
C: OK, Doug it was very nice to talk to you
D: Thank you, Christopher, good to talk to you, thank you so much. We appreciate your interview.
Chris Willow – Music Journalist