DON DOKKEN Is 'Very Proud' Of Upcoming DOKKEN Album 'Heaven Comes Down'
July 21, 2023
In a new interview with Tulsa Music Stream, Don Dokken spoke about DOKKEN's long-awaited new studio album, "Heaven Comes Down", which will arrive in September.
The follow-up to 2012's "Broken Bones" will include a song called "Fugitive From Life", for which DOKKEN recently filmed a music video at the popular immersive arts venture Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico with director Chris Eyre, who has previously worked on the popular AMC psychological thriller television series "Dark Winds". The new LP was mixed by Kevin Shirley, whose catalog of hit records for LED ZEPPELIN, IRON MAIDEN, AEROSMITH, JOURNEY, THE BLACK CROWES and many more has made him one of the hottest producers that rock music has to offer.
Dokken said that it took him and his bandmates two years to complete "Heaven Comes Down", due in part to complications from the neck and spinal surgery he underwent in early November 2019 which have rendered his right arm partially paralyzed.
According to Don, 15 songs were recorded for "Heaven Comes Down", with the original plan to include all of them on the LP.
"When I write records, I don't just think, 'Okay, we need 10 songs or 11.' I always write 20 per album, and then you pick the best," he explained (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "And sometimes you write a song, and I'm thinking, 'Oh, this is great.' And it's a good thing I owned a recording studio in L.A., so it didn't cost me anything. And I'd write and write and write. And I'd get it done, and I'd go, 'Eh… It's okay.' So you get an idea and you think it's gonna go, and all of a sudden it just didn't pay out.
"I'm very proud of the record, but then I gave it to the label… I had only written three songs in the past that never made it, and it was me playing guitar," he said. "And I wanted those on the record, because now I'm crippled, I can't play guitar anymore. I said, 'At least put those on the album,' my last hurrah. And they took 'em off. And I never heard… Most record companies, they want 15 songs or 16 songs, like METALLICA albums. And he goes, 'We can only put 10.' I go, 'But that was the old days of vinyl.' You could only put — I can't remember; I think it's 40 minutes a side or something like that. So I said, 'But these are good songs. I want 'em on the record.' Why would you wanna take off four good songs? And they said, 'Well, maybe we'll put like a bonus album out down the road and add 'em.' … Anyway, he just said, 'We want 10 songs on the record, 10 songs on the CD. We're ditching four of 'em.' And they happened to pick the ones that I was playing the guitar on and Jon [Levin, DOKKEN guitarist] was playing solos. And I think they didn't like 'em… What did my record company president say? 'They're too grungy.' And I went, 'Grungy? Well, they're old.' But it wasn't like they were grungy; they were just dark. I was probably going through a dark phase, and he didn't want any dark songs on the record; he just wanted that classic DOKKEN [sound with] tons of harmonies, uptemp… yada yada yada."
One of the songs on "Heaven Comes Down" is called "Santa Fe" and was written about Don's adopted hometown.
"People are always asking me how I ended up here," Dokken said. "And I told the story to my engineer and producer Bill Palmer. So I literally wrote a song called 'Santa Fe', and it's four minutes and 15 seconds, 'From the day I was born in L.A., I never wanted to leave. I had a lot of jobs. I hung out on Sunset Boulevard. I traveled around the world, was always missing home.' And I was telling him this, and he was recording it on a microphone. And I told him my story, and I went, 'Huh. I can make a song out of this.' So I did… And it's a really cool bastard song. It's not a rock song. It's not country. I can't put my finger on it."
Regarding the experience of working with Shirley for the first time, Don said: "Kevin Shirley is an amazing engineer. When he first started mixing the record, I was really disappointed. He gave me the first song and I went, 'This sounds like '80s.' And he goes, 'Well, I thought that's what you were going for.' And I said, 'That ship has sailed, man. I want a modern record — punchy, aggressive, in your face. I don't want a bunch of reverb, I don't want a bunch of echo. I don't want a bunch of production — just harmonies I want still.' So he goes, 'Oh, okay, I get it.' I said, 'Look, I just heard the IRON MAIDEN album. That thing kicks ass. Just go that direction.' So he did."
The title of the new DOKKEN album is apparently not to be confused with the song "When Heaven Comes Down" which originally appeared on the band's 1984 LP "Tooth And Nail".
This past March, DOKKEN bassist Chris McCarvill confirmed to Sam Wall that the band's long-awaited follow-up to 2012's "Broken Bones" album was "totally finished." The LP will be made available via Silver Lining Music, the label owned by Thomas Jensen, one of the founders of Germany's Wacken Open Air festival.
Regarding what DOKKEN fans can expect from the new album, Chris said: "I have to tell you is Don sounds fantastic on it. He sounds great. I talked to him on the phone about this a bunch of times, and it was, like, he re-did his vocals three times. He didn't just phone it in; he really worked hard on it. And I can honestly say that, as someone that — I liked DOKKEN growing up and stuff — I can't imagine any DOKKEN fan being disappointed by it; I really can't. Don really sounds good on it."
In 2018, Don told "The Classic Metal Show" that his band's next album would be "a classic-sounding DOKKEN record" with "straight-ahead, catchy choruses, cool guitar riffs, burning guitar solos" and "nice grooves." He added: "The dilemma is to try to do that 30 years later without just ripping myself off and regurgitating old DOKKEN riffs."
Regarding the musical direction of the new DOKKEN material, Don previously told The Metal Voice: "We're kind of going retro. I mean, look, you write what you write as a musician — your life changes, the world changes, you write what you write. You're influenced by new bands and other music. But I know where my bread is buttered as far as the classic DOKKEN sound, and Jon's really good at doing that. And so I said, 'I think we should write a record between the lines of 'Tooth And Nail'  and 'Under Lock And Key' .' And that's kind of the direction I'm writing in right now."
DOKKEN released an album called "The Lost Songs: 1978-1981" in August 2020 via Silver Lining Music. Featuring sleeve art by renowned U.S. artist Tokyo Hiro (MOTÖRHEAD, MOTLEY CRÜE),the effort contains material written and recorded by a hungry young Don Dokken as he embarked upon a journey which started in Southern California and Northern Germany.
DOKKEN's classic lineup of Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer "Wild" Mick Brown completed a short Japanese tour in October 2016, marking the first time in 21 years the four performed together.
A DOKKEN concert DVD focusing on the band's reunion tour, "Return To The East Live (2016)", was made available in 2018.
At some of the recent DOKKEN shows, Lynch has been rejoining the band on stage to perform three of the classic DOKKEN songs: "Kiss Of Death", "When Heaven Comes Down" and "Tooth And Nail".
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