Planetmosh: You announced your departure from Whitesnake in May last year. After more than a decade in the band it must have been a big step to take.
Doug: Yeah it was difficult. The thing is that I didn’t intend on leaving but David had said we were going to take some time off in 2014 and wasn’t really sure how long, so for the first time since I’d been in Whitesnake I took on some offers, stuff that I’d passed on over the years and I was pretty excited about one of them which is the Revolution Saints record, which started off as Deen’s solo record. I had committed to that and I had also started doing a show in Vegas called Raiding the rock vaults, and it’s a super-group covers band thing – Howard Leese from Heart, Hugh McDonald
from Bon Jovi, Robin McAuley from Michael Schenker Group and more. So I had that going and Revolution Saints, and then David said we were going to start work on the next Whitesnake project, and I said “Great, I can push the Revolution saints back a bit and move it around and it’ll be fine”, so I started on my time off to go up to Reno and work with David. Also at that time I’d gone through some personal changes, my boy from a previous marriage was living with me full time and I had re-married, so some personal stuff going on, and I was balancing everything. Whenever David called I was there, and so I did this time and we started working on demos for the new Whitesnake project and it was going really well but he wanted more time out of me. It just got to the point where I think he was getting a little frustrated that I couldn’t dedicate full-time seven days a week to it, so with respect to the work we had done in the past, I felt our relationship was becoming damaged by the pressure of schedule. For the first time I needed a little bit of flexibility, I couldn’t work 12 hour days full-time. There are always other factors involved in something like that, but at the end of the day I felt that for the sake of my family and my son that I needed to step away from Whitesnake.
It was difficult, I didn’t plan on it, it happened very quickly. My son is the most important person in my life and he comes first. Hopefully David respects that because he did the same thing, he put Whitesnake on hiatus while his boy was growing up, so yes it was difficult.
Planetmosh: You say you couldn’t commit to 12 hour days but you certainly can’t have been taking much time off since leaving Whitesnake. In 7 months you’ve managed to write and record the revolution saints album, play shows with Burning Rain, and also Raiding the rock vault.
Doug: With Whitesnake my chief goal or mission was to keep the integrity of what David started 30 years ago and keep David happy so that’s basically what I did. Keep him happy, keep him motivated, because at this point in his life if he wasn’t having fun there wouldn’t be much point doing it, so we’d hang out, like brothers. It would be a twelve hour day but let’s say that only 7 of it was work and the rest we’d be jamming or having dinner, generally just being a band. With what I’m doing now with Revolution Saints and Burning Rain I was able to be flexible with my schedule, and Raiding the Rock Vault show is a really fun show and I get to play five days a week if I want or I can have a sub, but it was only three hours a night that I’d be playing so I had a lot of time to accomplish some things and to do Revolution Saints.
Planetmosh: Revolution Saints was the idea of Serafino Perugino, the head of Frontiers records wasn’t it?
Doug: Yes. Everyone knows that Serafino is a huge Journey fan, and everyone discovered how great a singer Deen has become over the years, he’s a super talented all round guy, amazing drummer, but when people heard how Deen was singing, it was obvious to Serafino that he should do some sort of project with him. He thought about a solo record, so that’s how it started, then they decided to get Jack involved, and then when asking who they could get to play guitar they thought of me, and that’s when I think Serafino decided actually this is more than a solo record, this is a real band situation. It was his brainchild. It’s cool that he does that. I’m not big on these kind of things but I’ve become friends with Deen – Whitesnake and Journey toured together, so I was really excited to work with him, and then hearing that Jack was involved made it like “I really have to do this”.
Planetmosh: It’s interesting that you’ve gone with a three-piece – ten years ago there were hardly any but now quite a few seem to be appearing.
Doug: Less guys is cheaper to do (laughing). It also gives more freedom. I do this thing that’s kind of a jam band that I built with Mchael Devin from Whitesnake and Brian Tichy, called Steamroller. It was just a fun thing that we’d do in our free time, sometimes if we had a day off we’d go play a gig, and it’s a trio. There’s something about three guys together where you can just feed off each other, the freedom of playing live is amazing with a three-piece. One guy can take the lead and the others follow. As soon as you add a fourth guy in it changes things. Revolution Saints haven’t done any live dates yet but I would love to do that – we’re probably going to do that later. But yeah there are a lot of them, there’s Winery dogs, California Breed, and a few others. Three is the magic number right now.
Planetmosh: I’d imagine in a three-piece as the guitarist you gain most in terms of freedom and flexibility.
Doug: I like working with another guitar player. When I first joined Whitesnake it was something that I had to get used to but once I got working with Reb after a few years we really started to gel, I loved working with him. I will say this, sometimes less is more, in recordings and live. You listen to those old Jeff Beck recordings or Hendrix and it’s so cool, you can hear every little thing that each guy is doing. When you have five or six guys on stage sometimes it gets a little confusing that’s all. I did really enjoy working with Reb though very much.
Planetmosh: Your new album, Revolution Saints is due for release next month and has been getting great reviews. Were there any nerves while you waited to see how people reacted to the album?
Doug: No. This record was so effortless and it happened so quickly. When I worked with David it was always effortless too, but it was always a long process from writing to recording. With Revolution Saints the songs had basically been put together and hand-picked by Alessandro del Vecchio, the producer, and then Deen chose them, and we were all told to put our touch on whatever we wanted to do and if that meant re-writing some parts of changing some things then as long as it was approved it would be good. It came together so fast, we were in the mixing mode and I didn’t even have chance to worry about it, before I knew it some of the press had already got it and thankfully there’s been some very positive reviews. Not to say that I’m surprised, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. You never really know what’s going to happen, you can never please everybody.
It’s very difficult, especially now with the internet as you don’t just have the famous critics working for big publications, but you’ve also got important critics which are the fans. Basically you have to go and make a record that you like. For me with Revolution Saints one of the challenges was that I’ve been playing on the Bluesier and more metal side in music for my whole career, since I was a kid, and the songs that were presented to me were more on the melodic rock side so I took that as a challenge, and hopefully my heavier side might be a good mix with the songs, so that was my goal.
Planetmosh: When it came to recording the album, were you all together for it or was it all done separately? I imagine it must be difficult to find time in everyone’s schedules.
Doug: Down to schedules we were working separately. I think the first thing was that Deen approved the songs then everyone got a sample of the songs so we could approve what we were going to work on, then Deen went in to record the drums, then Jack and I recorded separately at our own studios. We did some vocals together obviously, there was stuff that was done together, but due to the technology we were able to do that.
When I got the tracks, I was so inspired, I really didn’t spend a whole lot of time, especially the rhythm tracks which were pretty much done in one take and get the basic vibe of what those guys were playing, so I really felt fresh with it. I didn’t go into the studio and study it to figure out what to do, it was really fun and fresh. Deen really threw down hard and the vocals are so cool. I think it’s a perfect blend of the three of us – the fun we had doing it has come across, so it’s really good.
Planetmosh: That’s got to be an important part, the fact that it’s still fun for you.
Doug: I’m blessed. I love to play guitar, everything about it, I love to collect them, in fact I just picked up a 56 Les Paul Junior that I just bought on eBay and I’m waiting for it to be delivered. I’m blessed with family and music.
Planetmosh: So how many guitars do you own these days?
Doug: Not enough. There are never enough. It’s an ongoing thing. People always say about women being into shoes, and guys are into cars. I’m definitely into cars but don’t have a collection, but guitars, I just can’t help myself. If I’m awake at night I go on eBay or one of these other sites and I start looking around, something will catch my eye, and sometimes I just can’t help myself – I hit a button and all of a sudden my credit card goes up and my bank account goes down and I’ve got a new guitar coming. I’ve probably got over forty now, something like that.
Planetmosh: You can always look at someone like Joe Bonamassa and think “Actually I don’t have many guitars at all”.
Doug: I’m like a Joe Junior, he’s a serious addict, and I love that about Joe. That’s why I follow Joe on twitter (actually we follow each other), but I love following Joe because every day he’s got a new piece of gear, it’s awesome. With having my boy I’ve got to be cool about it. I always tell him these are all your, I’m collecting them for you buddy. They will be – they will be his.
As I said earlier, it was a difficult decision and I miss the guys in Whitesnake, but I fully support them and I know the new project is going to be great – I did some time working on it with David in the beginning, so I was very excited about doing it, but when it came to it, I had to go with family, and I’ve spent more time with my son in this year being outside Whitesnake than in the rest of his life so far, now I have him full time. He loves music and I’ve had so much fun turning him on to music. It’s fun to watch. When he first was with me full time I played him “Man on the silver mountain” and immediately he was shaking his head like “Yeah I like this one Dad”. It’s so cool – he actually met Ronnie, so it was cool to say this was someone you used to know. He doesn’t quite understand yet but he will one day.
Planetmosh: Thank you very much for your time.
Doug: Thank you.
“Revolution Saints” – the eponymous debut album from ex-Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, Night Ranger’s Jack Blades (bass, vocals) and Journey’s Deen Castronovo (lead vocals, drums), is released by Frontiers Records on February 20th