INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Doogie White is currently the singer of Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force. He also has another band called Cornerstone, and also, he’s doing several projects here and there. He has s been the singer of the legendary Rainbow in the past, and once he almost joined Iron Maiden and more. Read the rest and learn!
Metal-Rules: This is the first time you’re at the Sweden Rock Festival. Did you know anything about the festival beforehand?
Doogie White: I knew that it’s a very popular festival. I have a lot of friends who come over here every year. So to be playing here with Yngwie [Malmsteen] is going to be great.
Metal-Rules: Have you had a chance to see any other bands here?
Doogie White: I watched Kim Mitchell and would like to see Dio, but I don’t know if that’s possible as we have to fly from Copenhagen to Italy for a show tomorrow.
THE FURY OF YNGWIE MALMSTEEN
Metal-Rules: The new Yngwie Malmsteen album UNLEASH THE FURY. I think it’s already out in Japan?
Doogie White: Yes, and for the rest of the world, the album will be released on the 4th of July, which is Independence Day [in the United States of America], and Yngwie thought that would be a good day to “unleash the fucking fury.”
Metal-Rules: I already bought the Japanese version of the album?
Doogie White: That’s great. I have seen a lot of people who have bought that version. First, I asked people, “Where do you have to get it?” “laughs”
Metal-Rules: A copy of mine costs something like 35 dollars, but the package and booklet are fine and usually different from a regular version. There are quite a lot of songs on that Japanese CD. Are some of the tracks just a bonus for this release or something else?
Doogie White: As far as I know, there will be the same songs on all releases, but to be honest, I don’t know for sure because I haven’t seen the regular version yet. Actually, I don’t even know if there is any extra material left from this recording session, but there might be something?
Metal-Rules: Congratulations, by the way, you’ve now appeared on two Yngwie albums in a row. ATTACK was your first one. How is the new one compared to that one?
Doogie White: Yeah, I’m a winner. Two in the row already! “laughs.” I think Yngwie was more confident in what I could produce in the studio, and I think that this time around, he wrote more for my singing style because he didn’t want collaboration. I’m told what to sing, and I sing it. That’s how it is. He does all the melodies, and he plays them on the guitar and puts them down, and then I go in and sing it. But he gave me a little bit more license to interpret it slightly more, which is why it sounds less forced than ATTACK did because he was obviously writing ATTACK with a definite singer in mind whenever it was Jorn Lande or Mark Boals. In contrast, this one seems to be more in my register, but there’s still some of that stratospheric operatic kind of thing that he likes.
Metal-Rules.com: How do you like the production of the new album overall?
Doogie White: Well, I’m the wrong guy to answer for that because I mostly listen to the songs and melodies, but what do you think if I say that WAR TO END ALL WARS album sounds very good!? “laughs.”
Metal-Rules.com “laughs” okay. I know what you mean. There was something wrong with the production or mixing of that album. When Yngwie was doing a promo for ATTACK in Finland, I asked about that from him, and he said that someone destroyed that album in the studio. But still, there are some outstanding songs on that album too?
Doogie White: There, you see, I’m the wrong guy to ask about those things, “laughs.” Still, I must say that I really like how the drums sound on this new record. But really, I’m not a producer type of guy. I don’t listen to old Yngwie albums too much. I usually only listen to the songs which I have to learn about the tours. I don’t even listen to albums I’ve done by myself. When you spend a lot of time in the studio, then the last thing you want to hear is your own record, you know? “laughs”
Metal-Rules: About the previous singers in Yngwie’s band, is there any stuff that’s difficult for you to sing?
Doogie White: I think that they’re all very different, and that’s what makes it difficult because if you take Goran Edman, he’s not at all like Jeff Scott Soto or Mark Boals or even Graham Bonnet, the stuff with Alcatrazz. So what you try to do is learn the songs and find your own path to singing then, which takes time.
Metal-Rules: Are you allowed to change the way you sing the old songs?
Doogie White: Yeah, but I’m finding my way with them now. There’s a rhythm and a melody that go with them. Still, you have to try and find your way of singing them, the way that Bruce [Dickinson] sings, you know, the Paul Di’Anno stuff… or the way that Blaze sang the Bruce stuff… [laughter] You know, you can add some of your own stuff, but you can’t go too far from the original stuff?
THE BLAZING MEN OF IRON
Metal-Rules: You auditioned for Iron Maiden after Bruce Dickinson left back in the early 90s. How was it?
Doogie White: Long time ago, man… 1993, I think it was November or something, certainly coming up to Christmas because they ruined my Christmas when they gave the job to Blaze [Bayley]. [laughter] But the thing is, I didn’t get the job with Maiden, and they went for a definite sound with Blaze, and if I had gotten the job, I never would have gotten the gig with Rainbow. Working with [Ritchie] Blackmore was really a passion for me. It was really exciting, it didn’t go on as long as I would have wanted, but he had other plans. Had we done another album, who knows what would have happened? Some of the stuff that ended up on the Cornerstone album was actually stuff that I wrote for the next Rainbow album.
Metal-Rules: Do you remember which songs you played with Maiden in the audition?
Doogie White: They had two live albums out at the time, and it was all of them.”Be Quick or Be Dead,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Can I Play with Madness,” “Iron Maiden,” “The Clairvoyant,”… I did 22 songs with them, TWICE.
Metal-Rules: How much did you practice for that gig?
Doogie White: This was funny, I was going to go to Scotland on Saturday morning, and Dickie Bell, who was their tour manager at the time, turned up at my door on a Friday night with a tape and the lyrics and said, you’ll be singing at one o’clock on Monday for Iron Maiden. And that was because Blaze couldn’t make it. After all, Blaze was doing something else. So I went in and sang on Monday, and they felt that it was unfair that I’d had such sort notice and they thought that I had done well enough to warrant another comeback, so I went back and sang it again ten days later, so I was better prepared the second time than I was the first time. I knew the stuff like you probably know “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin, but you couldn’t get up and sing it, you know.
Metal-Rules: Did they record those sessions?
Doogie White: Well, somebody told me they taped the second sessions, but I’ve never heard them. I don’t know if it’s just someone’s imagination or fact, but that’s what I’ve heard?
Metal-Rules.com: That tape would be very interesting to hear. It would be a nice part of your collection, too, right? “laughs.”
Doogie White: Well, you do know the answer to that, right? “laughs.”
FLY OVER THE RAINBOW…
Metal-Rules: You did one album, STRANGER IN US ALL with Rainbow. Did you mention earlier that you had already had plans for another Rainbow album?
Doogie White: Yeah, he [Ritchie Blackmore] said to me that we’re going to do another album once he has finished. He was going to do the first Blackmore’s Night album and tour with that, and then at the end of 1997, going into 1998, we were going to go back into the studio and start to work again. So when we played Esbjerg on the west coast of Denmark, which was the very last show we ever played, I gave him a tape with half a dozen ideas on it, and we have never spoken since. That was it. It was over. Then, some years later, I gave that tape to Steen [Morgensen], and then some of those ideas were later used for Cornerstones HUMAN STAIN album.
Metal-Rules: So after the Esbjerg show in Denmark, that was it?
Doogie White: Yes, the European gigs that were announced for Eastern Europe, Greece, and these kinds of places were canceled. I don’t know why. And because it [Esbjerg] turned out to be a single show, a couple of band members asked for more money, and of course, Ritchie [Blackmore] didn’t like that. You know, all those one-off shows, you get paid for the one show, but you’re away from home for a week. He told me if I didn’t like the situation, I could fuck off, so I did. I just went home and phoned Carol [Stevens, Candice Night’s mother, and the current manager of Blackmore’s Night and at the time Rainbow] and said that there are certain things we need to resolve. If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, you can consider my resignation, and I will never hear from them again. So that’s just how that went.
Doogie live in Finland with Rainbow in 1995
Metal-Rules: Whatever happened to drummer John O’Reilly because he played on the record but not on tour?
Doogie White: John had an unfortunate soccer accident. John was an American, so he wasn’t a good football player, but he was good at goals because he played American football to catch a ball. But he caught it and landed and cracked a rib during rehearsals, so he had to be replaced.
Metal-Rules: Then you got ex- Rainbow drummer Chuck [Burgi] playing on tour, right?
Doogie White: Yes, we had. Chuck, what a brilliant drummer.
Metal-Rules: I haven’t heard a single word about him since he left Rainbow. Do you know what he’s been up to since then?
Doogie White: Chuck left Rainbow to go and join Enrique Inglesias, and he was he’s the musical director for a number of years, and now Chuck and Greg Smith are working on Broadway in New York in a musical dance thing that is using the music of Billy Joel, I don’t know what the show’s called, but it’s a 100$ a ticket. So Chuck’s in it, Greg’s in it, [David] Rosenthal programmed some of the keyboards, and he now is playing in Billy Joel’s band.
TURNING A NEW CORNER…
Metal-Rules: Right now, which is your main focus, Yngwie or Cornerstone?
Doogie White: You know, because of the nature of the business now. I’m fortunate to be working with both Yngwie and Cornerstone, and I have time for both of these because I don’t write with Yngwie, so it only takes me four weeks to record the album I’ll have five months off. I don’t do any promotion or interviews for the album. I get a setlist of songs that I’ve got to learn, spend two weeks learning then, go to rehearsals for a week, and then I’m on the road for two months, and then I’m back home. What am I going to do? I start writing Cornerstone songs or work on another project, so there’s plenty of room for everything. In this business, unless you are Yngwie or Ritchie Blackmore or Sammy Hagar or whatever, unless you have that sort of solid fanbase of people following you that are going to buy your records, you need to have more than one thing on the go. And it’s not because you are showing any less interest or respect or concern for anything. Shit, man, I can’t sit around for six months and not do anything, you know, go and play golf with whoever or tennis with Yngwie. I don’t have the luxury to do that. I like to work.
Metal-Rules: The Cornerstone guys live close to Denmark. Are you going to see any of them while you’re here now?
Doogie White: I had a day off in Copenhagen last week, and we went down to the studio and put down vocals for three tracks because we want to have a new album ready for March or April next year. We’re up to about nine songs now. We want to get 15 or 16 and get the best 12. We also have a live album coming out from the tour we did in January/February this year. It will be the complete [live] set plus some bonus DVD footage, which I haven’t seen yet. The artwork is very good too.
SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Metal-Rules: There’s also another DVD coming out with you on it, the ‘M3 – Classic Whitesnake’ thing.
Doogie White: The M3 thing, I haven’t seen that either. That was held up because Bernie [Marsden] and Micky [Moody] added some bonus footage, it was supposed to come out at the end of May, but I guess it’s been held up till July as well. In February, there was also the DVD ‘White Noise,’ which I did in Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which was just a collection of songs I wrote with Ritchie Blackmore when I was in Rainbow plus some new things with the band Mostly Autumn. Then, of course, there’s the Liesegang/White album I did with Bill Liesegang. Do you need any more…? [laughter]
Metal-Rules: That album [Liesegang] sounds like vintage Rainbow. I was amazed when I heard it.
Doogie White: What we tried to do with it, I mean, we didn’t really have a plan, and we started writing in 2001, but with my schedule and Bill’s schedule, it only got finished this time last year. So you get songs like ‘Snake Eyes,’ which is a very sort of Whitesnakey or Rainbowesque thing; it’s called ‘Snake Eyes’ because it’s got a lot of those double entendre lyrics that [David] Coverdale likes so much. We did the thing in sections, maybe like three songs at a time, and that’s why it’s a very definite-sounding album.
Metal-Rules: For me, it sounds like a kind of ’70s album?
Doogie White: Yeah, but there’s some bluesy stuff and also stuff like ‘The Ballad of Babel John’, which is not a ballad at all, and ‘New Addiction’ which is more Garbage than Garbage is doing nowadays. It’s a good mix, but it has those classic rock nods that people expect from me.
Metal-Rules: Have you any plans to ever play those songs live?
Doogie White: We’ve been invited to Vienna to do some stuff sometime in December, but just acoustically, so that’ll be interesting. I don’t know how it will work when we don’t have a keyboard player or another guitar player. It’s going to be just Bill and me. We might do something more in the future, but it’s up to my schedule with Yngwie, and at the moment, I don’t know too much about his plans for the rest of the year.
Metal-Rules: What is the situation with you and Sack Trick? Have you already finished that KISS covers album SHEEP IN KISS MAKEUP?
Doogie White: Well, the Kiss covers album is done, it’s out, they actually have a label for it, and it’s very good!
Metal-Rules: I got some promotional copies of that album from Chris [Dale] some years ago, and it sounded bizarre! “laughs,” But very interesting. There were only four tracks on that CD because those were the only finished tracks back then, so has this album taken quite some time to get finished?
Doogie White: Well, that’s because everybody in that band has so many other things going on all the time, you know? Sack Trick has always been a labor of love for Chris and then Alex [Dickson], who did mixing and production for that album. If he was away for two months or something, then nothing happens during that period, but I’m glad it’s finally ready, and it sounds completely crazy as Sack Trick always does “laughs.”
Metal-Rules: There are some obscure versions like that THE ELDER -medley, which actually is a medley of all songs from THE ELDER album “laughs.”
Doogie White: Actually, I did the vocals for THE ELDER something like 2 or 3 years ago. In one part, which is “Just A Boy,” I scream and growl like a maniac. It’s total craziness. Whenever they come up with a mad scheme and call me, and I’m available, then, of course, we’ll do it.
Metal-Rules.com: How often do you do something together with Sack Trick? When I spoke with Chris, he said that sometimes you do a tour, sometimes you do a new record, and sometimes you might not do anything in years?
Doogie White: That’s right. I’ll show up when they give me a call, and I have time to do something with them. I did the vocals for THE ELDER something like two and a half years ago, and that’s the way how Sack Trick works “laughs.”
Metal-Rules.com: Chris also mentioned that there are possible plans for Sack Trick DVD at some point. So you know about that?
Doogie White: Well, I don’t know for sure. You know, Chris is the kind of person who might do whatever comes to his mind, so something might come out or then not, probably there will be something but what it will include, I have no idea?
Metal-Rules: Okay. Then tell us a little about the Chain project?
Doogie White: That again was a long time ago as well. That was in between Midnight Blue and Rainbow. We would work during the week writing songs, and then we’d record them at the weekend. That’s why that album is also very varied. Lyrically I think it’s probably the best that I’ve done. There was a lot of “medication” going on. I like the lyrics, but I don’t think the production is that great, but it was recorded on an 8-track reel-to-reel, and it was only supposed to be a demo, but the Japanese loved it, and that’s how it came to be released.
Metal-Rules: Actually, it’s not a bad album after all, in my opinion?
Doogie White: It’s an interesting album, I agree. There are some really good songs on it, and one of those was called “Single Life,” and then there was another called “Streets Cry Freedom,” which had some really weird lyrics on it “laughs.”
Metal-Rules: Besides all the bands and projects you have running all the time, do you still have plans to release a solo album someday?
Doogie White: You know, I’ve recorded nine-song for a solo album, and the guy that was engineering it for my run away to Germany, he split with his girlfriend, and, let me explain this to you. I spent three months doing this shit with this guy, and it’s all done with ProTools. He didn’t finalize the mixes. He fucked off to Germany, I’ve never seen him since, and I can’t finalize it and sit on nine tracks. I mean, I have the tapes. Still, he never labeled anything, so I have like 96 disks that are all over the place that will cost as much money to look through and edit as it would to go back in and re-record it. So he’s not my favorite person at the moment.
Metal-Rules.com: What a great guy he was, then “laughs.”
Doogie White: Really nice guy?
Metal-Rules.com: Do you still that its (solo) album will be released someday?
Doogie White: Well, I’ve got Liesegang album out, new Malmsteen coming soon. Cornerstone album came out in spring, and we are starting to work on the next one soon, then I have an M3 DVD coming soon, and then I have Sack Trick, and the list goes on and on. I think that’s enough for now, but someday a solo album will see the light of day for sure.
Metal-Rules: How did you end up doing the song on the Praying Mantis album THE JOURNEY GOES ON?
Doogie White: Well, I sang with Praying Mantis on tour in 1990 in Japan, the singer that they had at the time was another Scottish lad, and he got a job in the West End singing in a musical theatre, so they didn’t have anybody, so I had to learn 17 songs like in 11 days and went over and toured with them. And then when the last singer left, they phoned me up and said I’d do it because I just wanted to sing on the same album as John Sloman. After all, he’s a hero of mine. He’s great.
Metal-Rules: Well, I guess we’ve taken enough of your time. Thank and have a good gig with Yngwie today!
Doogie White: Listen, it’s been a pleasure, man.