Deb Rao of KNAC.COM recently conducted an interview with DOKKEN frontman Don Dokken. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
KNAC.COM: Tell me about your time in the studio recording your soon-to-be-released "Lightning Strikes Again" [CD].
Dokken: Our new album is going to be better than ever. You just have to write what you feel. I don't want to write the same record over and over again. These days are much harder to get promotion. Everybody downloads, and it is a whole new world. Record companies don't work like they used to. Now the Internet is taking control.
KNAC.COM: What kind of style will the new album have? Will it have that early DOKKEN signature sound?
Dokken: It will be a very heavy, progressive record. Just some cool songs, some dark songs, and some medium tempo. Some of the best work that I have done in years. I am not looking for any kind of sound. I am just writing whatever spiritual inspiration comes to me. You could say the sound is very heavy like "Kiss Of Death".
KNAC.COM: What are your thoughts on your first solo album, "Up From The Ashes"? Do you feel the record company could have done more to promote it?
Dokken: They worked very hard on that record, and they pushed it very hard. It did very well. It came out right in the middle of the NIRVANA cycle. When the Seattle grunge hit the scene, with bands like STP, ALICE IN CHAINS, PEARL JAM. All those songs came along in that one-year period. So "Up From The Ashes" from BON JOVI, and VAN HALEN, all took a back seat to this new kind of raw, in-your-face, stripped down type of music.
KNAC.COM: How does you upcoming solo album, solitary compare and will it contain many ballads?
Dokken: I wouldn't say ballads are the proper word. It just a more mellow album. It is more geared around acoustic guitars, piano, sitars, percussions, and orchestration. Songs like that.
KNAC.COM: What is the secret to DOKKEN's longevity?
Dokken: The loyalty of the fans. We have been really lucky all these years. In our career, a lot of bands have come and gone. I think it is all about the music. As long as you keep making good music, people will buy it. I think a lot of bands from the '80s and early '90s made the mistake of writing the same record over and over again. Nothing fresh, nothing new to say. People got tired of it. That is why I always tried to change. DOKKEN is always trying to grow.
KNAC.COM: "Hell To Pay" is a really good DOKKEN album. It shows how DOKKEN has evolved over the years. It's the first album with guitarist Jon Levin and has that kind of modern sound and innovative guitar style that has always put DOKKEN on the cutting edge. What was it like working with Jon on "Hell To Pay"?
Dokken: Jon and I get along really good. It is ironic that he is an attorney. Most guys become a guitar player than an attorney, but he was an attorney and became a guitar player. You have met him. He is a great guy. He is very passionate about his performance. We got an ace in the hole with Jon Levin. Jon has a (George) Lynch influence. (But),all the drama and problems that we had as a band are gone. Jon is our attorney and guitar player. It is great. We get free legal advice. You can't beat that.
KNAC.COM: There have been so many '80s reunions. MÖTLEY CRÜE have reunited. Some DOKKEN fans are still stuck in the George [Lynch] era. What are your thoughts on this?
Dokken: All those bands get along. I could never play with George. We don't get along and we never did get along. So what is the point? I don't have to tour for money. We have made our careers and our money. Now we do it for fun and if it's not fun then I don't want to do it. It is fun with Jon and Barry. But with George and Jeff (Pilson),they have their different musical styles, and it would not be fun. There is no reason to have George in the band. George has been out of the band for ten years .We have written some of the best records that we have ever done. I know that anyone who listens to George's albums can see that he has gone in a completely different direction, and that is why we don't play together anymore. He goes for more of the Seattle sound like TOOL. That is not what I do. So we couldn't make music together again anymore.
KNAC.COM: How do you feel the music industry has changed, with all of the downloading that is going on? Is it easier or harder for bands to make money?
Dokken: It is better for us because a lot of people are not going to Napster now. People go to Apple and download for 99 cents per song. There are a lot of bands out there that have put out a lot of crappy albums. They have one good song that you hear on the radio or MTV. It is all garbage. I know I bought these records. It is just a ploy to spend 15 dollars on a CD just for one song. I think it is a great idea. You pick the song you like, and download and pay a dollar to Apple or iTunes. There is so much politics involved these days. There is currently a federal investigation going on about the payola in the business. People are still paying radio stations under the table to have their songs played. Record companies pay off people at all levels to get their new bands on radio. You wonder why you hear a brand new band and they are not very good? That is payola. Bands still deny doing it. But it is obvious that it is still going on. Radio stations even admit to it. There are program directors that can make up to $100,000 a year from payola.
Read the entire interview at KNAC.COM.