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Stories To Tell: An Exclusive Interview With Vocalist DOOGIE WHITE

By Ruben Mosqueda, Contibutor
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 @ 7:52 AM


On Ritchie Blackmore: "I don’t think there are any misconceptions about him. He is able to do whatever he wants to do. He keeps himself very much to himself. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly."

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“It wouldn’t get uncomfortable, because we’ve both been around the block a time or two. We understand the nature of it. Neither of us have those big egos. I didn’t ‘steal’ his job. He left and he left two original members in that band, also a great guitar player and a great drummer behind. They didn’t want to split up the band, they wanted to move forward. GRAHAM [BONNET] is happy doing what he’s doing and I’m happy doing what I’m doing”, said singer DOOGIE WHITE when asked about his relationship between he and GRAHAM BONNET after landing the gig as the new ALCATRAZZ vocalist. White has recently reissued his solo album As Yet Titled on SMF with two bonus cuts and a second CD with a dozen covers that he has recorded over the years. KNAC.COM spoke with White on August 7th to talk about the album’s second wind and briefly about ALCATRAZZ.

KNAC.COM: Did the pandemic inspire you to reissue As Yet Untitled? I missed this album the first time around.

WHITE: It wasn’t. What happened was that I got the rights back in the new year of 2020. So in January 2020, I had the rights back to the album from the original record company. I know you mentioned earlier on that you missed it the first time around...EVERYBODY missed As Yet Untitled the first time around! [laughs] When I got the rights back, I listened back to it. I thought, “this still sounds fresh to me”. As Yet Untitled has the kind of rock music that I never tire of. Maybe it’s not of its time, with all these different genres and everything seems to be slipped into different genres. As Yet Untitled is a classic, heavy rock album. I sat on the album for a bit, then [SMF] the record company approached me about reissuing it. I was okay with that. Then I was asked for bonus tracks so we gave them “Dishing The Dirt” and “Small Town Saturday Night”. They did tell me this at the time, but it was quite clever of them. They owned the rights to a number of tribute albums, if you like, that myself and a bunch of great people did back in the late 90s the early 2000s. They were released through Cleopatra Records in America. It included all types of folks from BERNIE TORME to BERNIE MARDSDEN to BERNIE SHAW. I nearly changed my name to Bernie just so I could get on the records! [laughs] There were great singers like STEVE OVERLAND and STEVE GRIMMETT was in there and we had [PAUL] DI’ANNO do some stuff. It was great! So, SMF had the rights to these songs and I was approached about putting a bonus CD of some of the covers that I had recorded. I remember I was asked, “What would you like to call it? Let us know”. I remember I said, “Well, how about we go with Then There Was This? You have As Yet Untitled and you’ll have the other CD titled And Then There Was This”. [laughs]

KNAC.COM: There’s some great renditions of songs from [IRON] MAIDEN to UFO to WHITESNAKE to THE [ROLLING] STONES to [THIN] LIZZY to ROD STEWART. It’s great to have them compiled in a nice package like this.

WHITE: I think so! I think it’s a great value for money package. I’m not trying to sell it to you! These [songs] were done like a machine. I would get a call on a Sunday night and be asked if I wanted to record three songs as a tribute to NAZARETH. I would say, “Okay, let’s do it”. I would go in at lunchtime, I’d level them and be back from the studio by dinnertime. Songs like “Let’s Spend The Night Together” or “Emerald”, I don’t remember doing them! [laughs] I don’t have copies of that stuff! The WHITESNAKE [tribute] album I have a copy of and the two [IRON] MAIDEN [tribute] albums I have copies of. A lot of the stuff on that bonus CD I just don’t have copies of. It’s fun to listen to those albums, I want to hear how BERNIE SHAW and STEVE OVERLAND did! I’m always curious what other people’s takes are. And I would skip over my own! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: I know you were going for a classic, heavy rock album sound on As Yet Untitled. There’s an interesting story behind the tune “Come Taste The Band” which is also a DEEP PURPLE album title. That song is very reminiscent of something that could have come off a [DEEP] PURPLE record.

WHITE: RITCHIE BLACKMORE phoned me up in April of ‘94. He said, “Listen, I’d like you to come over and audition for the job as singer in RAINBOW”. I said, “That would be lovely”. He said, “I haven’t heard any new music from you in three years”. At that time I had been doing a lot of session work for publishing houses, there wasn’t really anything there that I thought was suitable to send to Ritchie. So, I contacted my friend ALEX DICKSON who has played with GUN and BRUCE DICKINSON and he’s played with ROBBIE WILLIAMS. We sat there and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to write a song in the style of Mark IV DEEP PURPLE?” At the time, that was the only album [Come Taste The Band] that Ritchie hadn't played on. We did it and we called it “Come Taste The Band”, so we had the parts of GLENN HUGHES and DAVID COVERDALE covered and Alex played just like TOMMY BOLIN. It was a brilliant way to open this album and merge that [DEEP] PURPLE and RAINBOW connection. My idea was that with that out of the way, I would be free to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the record. Just to make it even more interesting I got PATTY RUSSO who sang with MEATLOAF. She did what would be the GLENN HUGHES parts of the song. She was staying with me at the time and I approached her about doing it and she agreed! I also phoned TONY CAREY who was the keyboard player on RAINBOW’s Rising album. I asked him to work on a keyboard intro that was in the lines of the one he did for “Tarot Woman”, which is the opening song on Rising. He sent me three versions of it and I chose the one you hear on the record.

KNAC.COM: I’m curious what [RITCHIE] BLACKMORE thought of the tune?

WHITE: He thought it was ‘cheeky’ and he thought it was ‘funny’. He thought it was a good song!

KNAC.COM: That’s a huge compliment.

WHITE: I think so! I think so! And I got the gig! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: What’s a misconception about [RITCHIE] BLACKMORE?

WHITE: I don’t think there are any misconceptions about him. He is able to do whatever he wants to do. He keeps himself very much to himself. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He doesn’t say very much, but when he does say it, it’s important. Generally when he says it, it’s with his tongue fumbling! He’s a very funny man! [laughs] I remember we were auditioning people for the band in upstate New York, in a place called Cold Spring. One of the bass players left and we went out to dinner. I didn’t sit next to him when we were having dinner. Ritchie was throwing chips at me. You call them french fries! Anyway he was throwing fries at me covered in tomato sauce! I thought it was hilarious! [laughs] I called the waitress over and I said. “Excuse me, that man over there is throwing fries at me”. She went right over to him and asked him to leave! [laughs] She didn’t recognize him. We’re in a small town and a small diner in upstate New York! [laughs] I ran over there saying, “It’s okay! It’s okay! He’s my boss! If you make him leave you won’t be seeing me tomorrow”. He’s got a good, dark, funny sense of humor. I enjoyed my time working with him. I don’t think there are any misconceptions about Ritchie; he's a lovely person.

KNAC.COM: Do you recall how you approached the sequencing of the record? You have that classic formula of hitting us with some potent songs on the front end with “Come Taste The Band”, “Time Machine” and “Dreams Lie Down And Die”.

WHITE: Yeah, that’s going back a few years now, but let me tell you what I recall. I think what I did is what I have always done on records that I have worked on. I would have moved them around on my iTunes. I don’t recall exactly, but in thinking back, that was my approach even back then. I move the songs around until I have a flow that works for the record. If you have a starting point, in this case “Come Taste The Band”, it’s alway great. I also like to think of the album like a vinyl record. Whatever finishes off the first side has to be brilliant as well, before you flip it over. You have four major points, the first song on side one, the last song on side one, the first song on side two and the last song on side two of the album. So, that’s my approach then I move the stuff in between around until I’m happy with the sequence. I love that riff on “Time Machine” which has that AC/DC feel to it, so I couldn’t put “Catz Got Yer Tongue” right after it. “Time Machine” came from the same writing session as “Come Taste The Band” so that goes back to 1994 as well...

KNAC.COM: As I said, being that this is my first time owning this album, the original tracks and the bonus tracks are one cohesive record to me.

WHITE: Thank you. Someone sent me a review of the album and the reviewer said that “Came Taste The Band” was just named after a DEEP PURPLE album and the song “Judgement Day” was a very ‘lackluster’ attempt at hard rock! [laughs] Jesus! That’s a brilliant WHITESNAKE song! [laughs] They thought I’d written it! [laughs] What happened was when they sent out the copies for review the files got all jumbled up and the songs were out of sequence. It was just brutal that someone would slaughter “Judgement Day” like that! It’s one of the finest WHITESNAKE songs, in my opinion.

KNAC.COM: Aside from interviews are there other plans to promote As Yet Untitled? Are there ‘one-off’ shows? A live stream?

WHITE: Well, life is busy for young Douglas at the moment, I’ve never played any of these songs live. I don’t believe that I will get a chance to do that anytime soon. I have a solo band called WHITE NOISE. What happens with that is let’s say I go to Argentina and I would get WHITE NOISE the Buenos Aires chapter. I would get four great musicians together and they would rehearse for two weeks. I would come in and rehearse with them for three days and then we’d go out and play ten shows. I do that in different territories. I'm very lucky that people put me in touch with such great players. The set is songs that I have been involved with, but we haven’t done any from As Yet Untitled. If I get a chance to go back to South America, Denmark or Bulgaria or whatever, I hope to stick a couple from this album in the set. I’d either extend the set or cut it down to make room for two tracks from this album. Shortly after the album was released, I signed a deal with Frontiers Records. We have been dancing around the idea of getting some music out. I got together with a guitar player from Sweden. His name is EMIL NORBERG and we wrote an album together. The project’s name is LONG SHADOWS DAWN. I woke up this morning and I had this vision of people shouting at Wacken yelling LSD! LSD! LSD! I thought it would be brilliant! The album is titled Isle Of Wrath, at the time the U.K. was going through this whole ‘Brexit’ nonsense. It was going screw the U.K. music industry anyway, but managed to get a get out clause due to the coronavirus. I was just finishing up this album in December [2020] and I got a call from the guys in ALCATRAZZ. They mentioned that GRAHAM [BONNET] had left the band and I could do the tour with them. Then of course those were canceled because of the virus. So I said, “We should take this time to write a new album. Then it won’t be an ALCATRAZZ cover band or a GRAHAM BONNET cover band”. We wrote the album, we recorded and finished the album. It’s embargoed at the moment, so I can’t talk about it at the moment. I can talk about Graham and how I got involved in that.

KNAC.COM: Sounds like you have a similar touring model to what PAUL DI’ANNO used to have. He’d have a band when he’d tour North America and South America and Europe. That’s a pretty efficient use of resources.

WHITE: It is! It sounds condescending, but it’s not, for some of these guys it gives them an opportunity to play in places that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I have to thank the promoters, because they always find me some great players. The European version of WHITE NOISE plays with everyone from RICHIE KOTZEN to JANET GARDNER when she comes here to perform. These days you wouldn’t be able to take a band out with the costs of flights and all the other additional costs that go with touring. It’s kind of hard to tour, not that anyone knows who I am anyway. There's some people that know me from my work with RAINBOW or from YNGWIE [MALMSTEEN] and [MICHAEL] SCHENKER, but as a solo name? I’m not really a big name and I can’t take out a band and pay them wages to do an entire tour, you have to pay rehearsal time and then fly them in. It’s just not feasible. On one of the shows we did a gig and twelve people showed up! [laughs] We played the show, but I wound up paying the guys out of my own pocket! [laughs] So you’re right, it’s a more efficient way to get out and play shows, but it looks like things have taken yet another hit because of coronavirus.

KNAC.COM: I spoke with JIMMY WALDO a little over a month ago and he was really excited about the new ALCATRAZZ album. Like you, he wasn’t saying any more than that, but he was very excited to get new music out. Were you a fan of the band prior to getting that call from the guys?

WHITE: No, not at all. I think I was familiar with two or three songs. They were YNGWIE [MALMSTEEN] songs. When I was touring with Yngwie we wound up doing “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and a couple of others. I think Yngwie just wanted to torture me by having me sing GRHAM BONNET songs! [laughs] I say that because the man has such a unique voice. No one, I mean no one can do those songs the way Graham does them. You have to find your own voice and do them the best you can. Right now, I’m learning half a dozen ALCATRAZZ tunes and will do them my way, because you need to find your own voice to do them. Graham and I are friends, we’ve been mates for years. Like I have been with ROBBIN MCAULEY, JOE LYNN TURNER, Graham has stayed at my house and he’s broken my staircase! We’re friends! [laughs] He just got to the point where he just didn’t want to do it anymore. He told me so. He said, “I didn’t like it when I was doing it with Yngwie. I didn’t like it when I was doing it with [STEVE] VAI and I don’t like it now”. I said to him, “Look man, go out and do something that will make you happy”. So he quit the band and started up THE GRAHAM BONNET BAND again. I wasn’t expecting to get the call to sing for ALCATRAZZ but it happened. We currently have two songs out there and they have accompanying videos, “Turn Of The Wheel”, which was the first song we wrote together as a band and “Sword Of Deliverance”. I encourage people to check them out. I think those two songs will give the fans a pretty good indication of where we’re headed as a band.

KNAC.COM: Doogie, in closing you have a good Yngwie story? I love the Blackmore story you shared about nearly getting him thrown out of the diner!

WHITE: [laughs] I will preface it by saying that Yngwie and I had a great time working together. I was there for six and a half years and it was brilliant. I knew what I was going into that situation, he said, “Look, I have had trouble with singers in the past. I like you. I like what you do. I’m going to write everything. You will get no writing credit. You will write nothing.” English is his second language and he speaks it very well. Sometimes, when he was getting me lyrics his grammar wasn’t quite right. He would get me lyrics like “Shot down like a little kid”. And I was like, “You know a ‘kid’ is a baby goat?” He would hear my feedback and he wouldn’t change it until the next day! He’d be like “You don’t have to sing that line”. He wouldn’t say, but I knew why. I remember we went to play Graspop which was a massive festival, [IRON] MAIDEN were headlining, DIO was second on the bill and we were third on the bill. We had been touring around Europe. We got off the bus. I headed to the toilets to get myself a shower and get myself all cleaned up. I came back to the bus and Yngwie asked, “Where are the facilities? Tell me.” I said, “They’re just around the corner.” He said, “Take me there.” So, I took him around. I have my laminate on and the guy at the entrance checks my laminate and says, “Okay, in you go man”. He looks at Yngwie and says, “Where’s your laminate? You don’t have it on you.” Yngwie looks at the security guard and says, “I’m YNGWIE MALMSTEEN! Who the fuck are you? Now let me in.” The security gaurd says, “I’m the guy that isn’t letting you through unless you go and get your fucking laminate.” [laughs] Yngwie looked at him and said, “Okay." [laughs] So back to the bus we went to get his laminate! [laughs] We had some great times together. I know he gets a bad rap at times and some of that might be warranted, but I love the guy. I knew what my role and job was when I joined that band. When it was time that our time working together was over, it was over. There were no hard feelings.


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