DON DOKKEN On 1990's Up From The Ashes "Solo" Record - "It Wasn't A Solo Album; It Was A DOKKEN Album, But I Couldn't Use The Name"
September 23, 2023, 3 months ago
Dokken frontman Don Dokken is the featured guest on Episode 170 of the 80's Glam Metal Podcast. Check out the interview below, wher he discusses the new album, When Heaven Comes Down, and he revisits classic albums from throughout his career.
On the new album When Heaven Comes Down
Don: "It’s an amazing record. I know every band says that. It’s been over 10 years since Broken Bones, it’s been a long time since we’ve done a new record. It took a long time to write. I think every song is killer. The proof is in the pudding. We put out our first video for 'Fugitive' and it already has 1/2 a million hits! It’s always been a habit of mine to name albums after songs I’ve written. Breaking The Chains, Tooth & Nail, Lightning Strikes Again. The reason I chose When Heaven Comes Down is because we are watching the world go to hell in a hand basket. Murder, fentanyl, taking AR-15’s and killing children in schools. That shit didn’t happen in the 80’s."
On his relationship with former Dokken guitarist George Lynch
Don: "George is George. We talked about it. He had been opening for us with Lynch Mob, and then would come on with us for a couple songs. George and I have said we are too old to argue anymore. We can’t take the stress. George is very eccentric. I am very eccentric. It’s no secret we didn’t get along from day one. It ran its course. We aren’t BFF’s. We don’t hang out. George is George and I am me. Jon Levin is my guitar player. He has been in the band longer than George. Jon grew up listening to Dokken and his favorite guitarist is George. George went to the press and said 'Jon Levin does me better than me!'"
About their label forcing ballads and the glam image
Don: "MTV wanted ballads. We delivered Tooth & Nail to the label without a ballad. The vice president of the record company said where’s the ballad. I told him I didn’t write one for this record. He told me to get the hell out of his office and go write one. I was like okay. I had to go home and dig through my cassettes. I found this cassette that said 'Alone Again'. I played it and it sounded pretty good, so Jeff (Pilson) and I went in the studio and revamped it. We put it on the record at the last minute and it turned out to be an anthem. We started with jeans and leather jackets. Then we did the cover of Under Lock And Key in those stupid outfits. We spent $10k on those outfits and we wore them once on stage. I was like I can’t perform in this, it sucks. We just abandoned it, but album cover picture kinda stuck to us. We looked kinda glam with the aqua net, but it wasn’t us. We were trying to be current, but it was a mistake!"
On the song “Dream Warriors”
Don: "They approached us. It was probably the only song where someone told me what the chorus had to say. They told me the movie is called Dream Warriors. I told them I didn’t know what means. They sent me a rough edit of the movie and the script. I just watched it and came up with lyrics that were about the movie. George wrote like four riffs. I told him it was a monster movie. He wrote that dark guitar riff."
About the end of Dokken and the lawsuit over the name
Don: "The band split up after the last show of the Monsters Of Rock tour. Then we ended up in a lawsuit for like a year and a half. The band didn’t want me to use the name Dokken. That was my last name, I had the right. They sued me and they won. I couldn’t use the name Dokken. I was really pissed. The judge was like 80 years old and didn’t know shit. I can’t use my own name? It’s not made up, like Nikki Sixx or Mick Mars. The band had it in their head that they wanted to go on as Dokken. The three of them with a new singer. I fought them tooth and nail. There is no way. I started Dokken five years before I even met those guys. I was upset. I wasn’t a lawyer. I didn’t think I needed to trademark the name Dokken to protect myself. I signed my deal with Geffen and I was like, I am going to put a super group together. Peter Baltes from Accept, John Norum from Europe, Mickey Dee from King Diamond. Then I found this guitarist Billy White. I didn’t want to call the album Don Dokken, I wanted to call it Dokken. David Geffen wasn’t happy either. When you put your sir name on a record, they think it’s a solo album. It wasn’t a solo album, it was a Dokken album. But I couldn’t use the name because of the lawsuit. The judge split the baby. The three of them couldn’t use Dokken and I couldn’t use Dokken."
Dokken have released the infectious new single, "Gypsy", taken from the band’s 13th studio album, Heaven Comes Down, set for release on October 27 via Silver Lining Music.
“While writing the new record, we had written a lot of music, but I sometimes got stuck with the lyrics so I decided to go camping” explains Don Dokken. “I came across a woman wearing a lot of necklaces and jewelry. She was driving an old wagon with one horse and she was stuck in a hole, I asked her if she needed help but she said ‘no the sun will be up soon’. She had a fire going and invited me to have some food that was cooking in an old pot, so I did and we began to talk.”
“She spoke in broken English and looked Navaho” continues Don. “There is a reservation here in New Mexico. The first thing she said to me was ‘you make music’ and I was intrigued by that, so we sat there for several hours and talked, she looked very old yet wise. She told me about her life living on the reservation and I told her about my life. She told me I had lost my way, which I found funny since she seemed to be lost but wasn’t! It was pitch black, she looked up and said ‘the stars guide me’ and started speaking Navaho. I found the experience very surreal!”
Don concludes, “I got my jack out of my truck and lifted up her wagon, we both gathered a lot of rocks and filled the hole so she could get her wagon unstuck, and then she just walked away and started to drive off without saying a word, but then she shouted back to me and said ‘the sun is coming up… you need to go, the coyotes and mount lions will be hunting soon’... very wise advice!”
Watch the video, by Natalia Jonderko Śmiechowicz, below:
Exchange the urban heat of the Sunset Strip for the warm wilderness of New Mexico, as Dokken bring their timeless convertible Ferrari rock’n’roll power to the table with some key modifications along the creative path. Working with engineer Bill Palmer over the course of a year at his studio in Santa Fe, the Dokken flavours remain as potent as ever, yet they’re also sprinkled with some desert seasoning which gives Heaven Comes Down a richness hitherto unseen on a Dokken album.
You want to rock? Sink your teeth into "Fugitive", which rides some shimmering guitar work courtesy of 20+ year member Jon Levin, and if you want ballads, head on over to "I’ll Never Give Up", hanging on that Coliseum chorus, Levin laying down a landmark solo. The pattern of Heaven Comes Down never falters in delivering the goods on both sides of the fence. "Just Like A Rose" brings the Pacific Coast Highway to desert plains with its smooth, effortlessly-driven gears, and "Saving Grace" carries a mystical malevolence. But "Santa Fe" is perhaps the most revealing with Don Dokken opening up with what amounts to a ‘life-moment biography’: a spartan acoustic arrangement allowing the rich yet road-driven vocals to frame what might well prove to be the defining moment of Dokken’s career.
Mixed by Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Joe Bonamassa) and produced by Bill Palmer and Don Dokken, fans will love it, neutrals will be wonderfully surprised by some of the ingredients within Heaven Comes Down.
Heaven Comes Down will be released on CD Digipak, 12” Vinyl Album in Black and colour variants, digital formats and special D2C products and bundles. Pre-order here.
"Is It Me Or You?"
"Just Like A Rose"
"I’ll Never Give Up"
"Over The Mountain"
"Lost In You"
- Produced by Bill Palmer & Don Dokken
- Bill Palmer: acoustic guitar on "Santa Fe"
- Mark Boals: special guest (background vocals)
14 - RCU Theatre - Eau Claire, WI
21 - The Piazza - Aurora, IL
8 - Jergel’s Rhythm Grille - Warrendale, PA
10 - The Robins Theatre - Warren, OH
11 - Piere’s - Fort Wayne IN,
17 - Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas, NV
18 - Whisky A Go Go - West Hollywood, CA
Don Dokken - Vocals
Jon Levin - Guitar
Chris Mccarvill - Bass
Bj Zampa - Drums