INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Eric Dover is an American vocalist and guitarist, most notably working with Alice Cooper, Slash’s Snakepit, and Jellyfish. Dover joined Jellyfish in 1993, but the band disbanded just one year, and he then formed a new band called Doverman with Roger Manning. In 1995 Dover joined Slash’s short-lived Slash’s Snakepit and recorded album IT’S FIVE O CLOCK SOMEWHERE. Manning and Dover re-grouped in late 1995 and formed another band called Imperial Drag. The band released its self-titled debut in 1996 but broke up one year later. In the late 90’s he did join Alice Cooper’s band. Dover stayed altogether over four years in the band and recorded the album THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER in 2003. After quitting with Cooper, Dover has been working on various studio sessions, project bands like Starfuckers, and his own band Sextus, which has released two albums to date. However, the band Lost Angels finally brought the man back to Finland for the first time since 2004. The band is a kind of all-star band featuring past and current members of Cinderella, White Lion, and Alice Cooper. The band landed in Helsinki in early January, and then we had the pleasure to sit down with Eric and discuss the past, present, and future.
Let’s start with this Lost Angels thing. In fact, I didn’t know anything about this band before these shows in Finland were announced, but later on, I did find out that you’ve been performing under the name for years already?
Eric Dover: Yeah, I’ve been around the block, so to speak. With this band, Lost Angels, it’s merely just a case of friends getting together and playing songs from our collective past and future and covers, too, things that influenced us growing up. Really Troy Patrick Farrell has a lot to do with putting it together. He’s the one that kind of coordinated everything. You know, we played in Australia right before Christmas, and John Corabi was on it, so it’s a little bit of a floating rotation. We’ve got a lot of friends, and we love playing music. That’s what it’s all about.
I’ve been following the current Lost Angeles scene, and there you have comparable bands like Star Fuckers playing out there all the time, so is this some traveling version of Star Fuckers in a way?
Eric Dover: Yeah, maybe a little bit. Some people would like us to be like Glamnation; that was another one. Again those were all just ways to get together and have fun and play because that is what a musician is supposed to do. I think that nowadays you have a lot of push-button music and that’s all fine and dandy, but there is really nothing like seeing a human does it, you know? That’s why we like to get together.
Actually, it seems to be quite a popular thing to do for the former/current members of the 80’s bands to create different all-star lineups and come over here in Europe to play shows?
Eric Dover: It’s great because the appreciation level of live music in general here is so much greater than in the States. I don’t know; for whatever reason, it just seems to have steadily declined in the last 20 years or so. Now you have DJs and clubs, and that’s what the kids are into now. I guess it’s still rock and roll some of it.
I was in New York about two months ago, and I was shocked because of its lack of rock scene. Everything is gone; there is almost nothing left from the old scene anymore.
Eric Dover: No, there is no more CBGB’s and things like that. There is nothing—the more things change, the more it stays the same, but it has changed a lot.
You have your own band Sextus which has released one full-length album and one EP so far. Tell about the history of the band and also… if I’m right, Sextus is actually some alter ego of yours.
Eric Dover: I started Sextus in 1999, actually; just the idea of it, and that was after the band Imperial Drag that I was in on Sony broke up. The alter ego—I think I was reading a Marc Bolan interview, and he was talking about how he’s re-enacting the myths, the old myths, and things of that nature, so I kind of came up with my own version of that as a persona. I love Marc Bolan. Yeah, it also reminds me a little bit of early David Bowie, if you ask me? Eric Dover: Oh, thank you! I won’t turn down that compliment.
I recently listened through Sextus albums, and for me, it did sound a lot like what you did on Alice Cooper’s album THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER. There are lots of the same elements if you ask me?
Eric Dover: Oh, good. It’s just a passion to not only play music and write it but arranging it and finding musical passages that will connect with people without devolving into cliché. There is a certain amount of cliché to what any of us do… It wouldn’t be rock and roll otherwise. Yeah, you know, getting into the arrangements with those songs, there are some of the fun parts of it for Sextus, at least. And then I have a killer band when they are around… you know?
How is it nowadays for bands like Sextus, money-wise? Does it make any sense to make albums or new music anymore?
Eric Dover: I make music for the love of making music, and for me, this is probably to my detriment profit was never really a motive. Money is great, and I love having it, but in making music and commerce, many people are under the misconception that you have to do both to be successful, and that’s not true. I don’t mind toiling in obscurity. In fact, I kind of prefer it. I get to make the music that I want, and I don’t have to answer record companies, which I’ve always hated. They have no place in a studio, but they’re in a studio with you all the time. I’m not an anti-record company, but just from my experiences in dealing with them, I like the freedom of being an independent artist a lot. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to bring Sextus over. I’d love to play in Europe. I have a few fans over here. Not many but enough.
Right, but it doesn’t help when people in Europe can’t buy your albums from the shops here.
Eric Dover: Right. You can order it from Sextus.com, I think. I don’t know if the website is even running right now, but it’s on iTunes, of course.
The website is still running, and in fact, I recently ordered Sextus vinyl from there but haven’t got it yet…
Eric Dover: Oh, okay, good. It’s good to know. My business partner got married, so I didn’t know if he… he’s on the other side of the country, so—yeah…
ALICE COOPER YEARS
What if we briefly go through your history with Alice Cooper?
Eric Dover: Okay. I started with Alice in late 1999. Ryan Roxie and I played together with Eric Singer and Teddy Andreadis, Derek Sherinian, and Stefan Adika in this band called Glamnation. That was another sort of send-up review of 70s rock.
You did a tour with Glamnation in Sweden back in the day.
Eric Dover: Yes, we did. We played Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Malmo. Those were some great shows. Then I joined Alice in 1999 and toured with him for a while. We did write the album THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER with Alice and Ryan Roxie. We toured for five or six years, I think in total. Then I just kind of—one day, I kind of had enough, and I had to take a break.
How do you like the album THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER?
Eric Dover: I’m proud of it. I’m very proud of it. I mean, it’s funny because we’re playing something from that record tonight. I haven’t listened to the record really since I left the band, and that’s not because—I guess it’s just because you play so much you know how it goes. I’m happy. I’m happy with it.
When the album came out, it was shocking for the fans because he had released two really heavy, low tone albums before that, and this one was a kind of back-to-roots album.
Eric Dover: We were trying to go back to roots with it, and you know that was BRUTAL PLANET and DRAGONTOWN, and those are great records but we just kind of were like, let’s not do metal for a bit. Let’s go in a more classic direction, and I’m glad we did. It almost came off more garage rock, so we were MC5, Stooges; we were really trying to go for some of that.
The album has a lot of good humor involved, like the song “The Song That Didn’t Rhyme” and stuff like that. I think you had a great time in the studio?
Eric Dover: Oh, we had a wonderful time. We had Mudrock produce it, and he was a blast to work with. We did it over well near our rehearsal place that Mike Clink, I think, produced Guns N’ Roses. He had a studio there, and I think we used his studio to do the tracking. It wasn’t a state-of-the-art studio by any means. It was sound acoustically, but you know, no-frills, get in there and play. We played live. We tracked that live, which I don’t know, for whatever reason, seems unheard of now. It’s was really cool. I mean, it takes a lot to track a band live. It takes a lot of equipment, a lot of studio equipment, a lot of studio time that you may not be able to afford. Digital is cool because it allows you to do some things, but it was a great experience for that record because playing live together is something you don’t get to do a lot. It’s usually piecemealed together.
THE SLASH THING
Do you remember when you were the first time in Finland with Slash’s Snakepit in 1995?
Eric Dover: Barely… Those were the Jack Daniels years for me. I remember having a great time, and Finnish fans are the best. They’re really very passionate about it, and I’ve been here several times since then as well.
Right, but the Snakepit show was really special because it was at the Midnight summer festival in the middle of nothing, remember that?
Eric Dover: I remember that gig very well. I remember the mosquitoes were the size of my hand, and it was summertime. Yeah, that was a good show.
I know this question has been asked many times, but how you ended up in Slash’s band in the first place?
Eric Dover: A friend of mine… when Roger Manning and I started Imperial Drag, we were looking for a drummer. We hooked up with this guy named Marc Danziesen, and he happened to know that Slash was looking for a singer. Roger suggested I go for it, even though we were in the early stages of shopping for the labels’ idea. Slash’s tech Adam happened to be nearby or whatever, and we got in touch with him. I went over to Slash’s house, the earthquake house, the one he lived in it, and the earthquake happened. He had a studio set up there, and Adam played the music for “Beggars and Hangers On” and gave me about 20 minutes, and I sang it. Slash called me the next day. That’s basically it.
It was that easy?
Eric Dover: Yeah. Oh yeah. It was a really natural kind of thing, you know. We did a lot of the songs—you know we’d take one song a day and a fresh piece of paper, and by the end of the day, you have something finished.
How did the die-hard Guns’n Roses fans liked Slash’s Snakepit when they first heard about it?
I think they reacted mostly well to it because both Slash and I made it clear publicly that it was for fun and that he was going to make a Guns’n Roses record after the Snakepit tour. In fact, I had signed with Sony for the Imperial Drag record, which we did right after the summer festival tour in Europe.
What was the reason you had a different line-up on the album and tour?
Eric Dover: I think Mike Inez had another commitment, maybe. I’m not sure about Matt (Sorum), but you know we did hook up with Brian Tichy; we got Brian Tichy and James Lomenzo. That worked out great. I don’t know what their reasons were for not doing the tour, but it worked out.
The album, IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE, sold over one million copies in the States.
Eric Dover: Oh, good! I think it did?
So you do have a platinum album on your wall, then?
Eric Dover: No, they make you pay for that. I’m not going to pay for that.
Really, Didn’t you know that artists have to pay for that?
Eric Dover: No, they should give it to me. Fuck that.
I totally agree with you. By the way, are you still in touch with Slash nowadays?
Eric Dover: We talked on occasion. He’s well… I mean, he’s doing good and very busy with—you know, out working. Incidentally, his bass player Todd Kerns I don’t know if I told you, but he was my guitar player in Sextus before joining up with Slash.
Yeah, he actually is singing one track on the latest Sextus EP DEVIL ANGEL?
Eric Dover: Yeah, he’s singing a Cruella Deville cover “Gypsy Girl” on the EP.
THINGS IN LIFE
You have many projects going on all the time. How much and with who do you actually keep on playing shows these days?
Eric Dover: I play pretty much all the time and with different lineups of people. Guys from—Stevie Nicks, I play with her drummer quite a bit, Edgar Winters bass player, many seasoned musicians. I like playing with people that have something new to teach me when I play with them and that we can jam. I’ve gotten very lucky like that. I’ve gotten to play with some amazing players.
After spending years with big bands like Alice Cooper and Slash’s Snakepit, have you been offered to join any bigger bands since then?
Eric Dover: Yeah, I’ve had a few offers, but I think after Alice Cooper, I made a decision for myself, which was just to pursue my art and pursue what I like to do and damn the torpedoes. Kind of after a while—I’m not somebody who likes to be out on the road six months out of the year; I’m not made of that kind of material. I like to tour, and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this, but it’s a month, you know. At the end of the day, I’m very comfortable being in the studio and just writing music. It could be anything, really. I mean, I write a lot of stuff that really you can’t classify very easily. That will probably never come out, but I mean, it’s not Zappa or anything but—so I try to be happy in both worlds.
It sounds like you now have the freedom to do what you really want on every level?
Eric Dover: Yeah, that’s what life is about to me; freedom and liberty, and you know I feel very fortunate and lucky to be doing what I’m doing.