Heart of Steel: Interviews

Lynch/Pilson - Jeff Pilson
Former Dokken Bassist Returns with New Offering

Interviewed by Keith McDonald

As much as things change the more they stay the same. That seems to be the case with Dokken and it's members. Dokken proved themselves to be one of the better melodic hard rock bands of their era. On the verge of becoming arena headliners, the band succumbed to the internal turmoil and disbanded, starting new solo and side projects. But in 1994, the original members reunited to release Dysfunctional, and album that did much better than most, the band included, thought. But the tensions that caused the first spilt came back to haunt the band. As Don continues on with new members, former members Jeff Pilson and George Lynch have combined to release Lynch/Pilson and their debut album Wicked Underground. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jeff who gave me the lowdown on Dokken and the newest project in his life - Lynch/Pilson.


How did you hook up with George in the first place?

Basically, the manager he had at the time got in touch with me and asked if I'd be interested in talking with George about doing a record. I was a little unsure of where we stood with each other because our last contact has not been very friendly. George was in L.A., so we met. Once we did everything was fine, we had moved on from the past and reconnected. As soon as we started working we could see the chemistry was still there.



How would you describe the new material?

I think it's just good solid melodic hard rock album. There's definitely Dokken elements in it and Lynch Mob. Pretty much just us. It's what we do, what we wanted to do. There is stuff reminiscent of what we've done, while at the same time I think it's fresh and inspired. I think it's the best songwriting he and I have ever done. It's a traditional hard rock album not too far away from 80's stuff.



Do you feel there's still an 80's backlash on musicians like yourselves that affect any type of project that you do?

Yes I do to a certain extent. It's such a double-edged sword. You have a parameter you're sort of stuck with. A lot of artists have tried to reinvent themselves and they can't get that far because their name limits them. Yes there was a big backlash on 80's artists and it is getting better, (but) the basic problem is still there. You don't want to piss off your core audience because they made you who you are. If you do distance yourself you're going to run into problems. George and my solution was 'screw it', let's just make a record that we dig.



That leads me into my next question. Was Shadowlife something that Dokken did that may have alienated their core fans? It was quite a departure of what Dokken was all about.

Shadowlife was attempting to do something new. It was not that great, we didn't do that great of a job attempting what was perhaps a noble idea.



What caused your split with Dokken to begin with?

It was a strange parting; I still haven't been technically fired. As far as what happened, to make a long and ugly story short, I had done this movie 'Rockstar' for Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers was willing to co-op the advertising and marketing of a Dokken record if we could come out with a record close to them movie (release). That was the plan I wanted to see happen. Unfortunately Don just didn't go for it. What it turned into was a series of miscommunications and hassles of trying to figure out when we were going to record. I had other things I was doing and trying to get it all wedged in was almost impossible, to the point where they basically replaced me. That was not my desire to happen. I had to file a lawsuit on the band in an attempt to be treated fairly in the whole situation. It gets ugly and sticky but that's just business. I spent 20 years building that band up and to take away my livelihood without something is not right.



What are your thoughts on the new Dokken lineup and have you seen them live?

I saw half a show in Las Vegas. I thought Barry (Sparks), the bassist was great. I think the new record should have been a Don Dokken solo album, more for the content. It's a whole different animal. I think it was a little misleading to call it Dokken, but by calling it (that) you get an automatic fan and sales base. Business-wise it makes sense for (Don) to call it Dokken. I don't think it's an accurate portrayal of what the band was. We were all equal members of the band and that's no longer the case. Don's got his baby now.



The album hasn't sold that well so far.

There was a big backlash by word of mouth. I think he could have avoided this by calling it a Don Dokken album. If you're going in expecting a Dokken record, you're going to be disappointed, it's just not.



I see you also have a War & Peace album coming out as well.

I've got the songs written and a great deal recorded. I wanna wait and let the Lynch/Pilson album be out a little while before I release it. It's going really well and I'm excited about it.



Do you think you Don and George will ever put aside your differences and put the original Dokken back together for one more go-around?

I would never say never, but at this point I hope not. I hope everybody could do well without having to go back to that. I'm very happy in my life right now. Unless things were very different, the Dokken situation would be very ugly, there's so much damage done. I hope it happens because we heal enough and bury the wounds and it would actually be fun.

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