THE ALL-SEEING DEMON’S EYE – An interview with DOOGIE WHITE
The German band named Demon’s Eye literarlly swept me off my feet a few months ago upon receiving a copy of their brilliant new album entitled "Under the Neon". I was blown away by the 70s inspired hard rock that these guys were bringing to life. It actually took me back to when I first discovered such classic albums as "Burn" and "Machine Head" by Deep Purple as a pimple-faced teenager. The thing is that Demon’s Eye sounds so utterly authentic and organic that I can hardly put it into words, and you can really tell that the Purple/Rainbow-inspired material spawned by the quintet is honest and straight from the heart. While the band actully began as a Deep Purple tribute act, "Under the Neon" contains only original tunes. However, the story does not end here, because none other than legendary vocalist Doogie White (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, ex-Rainbow) is fronting the band. Naturally, we at Eternal Terror Live simply had to ask the phenomenal vocalist a few questions in relation to Demon’s Eye, Rainbow, and Ritchie Blackmore’s sense of humor. Read on, ladies and gentlemen.
Doogie, first of all I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. I really appreciate that. Now, first things first, I have to tell you that I was blown away by the brand new album by Demon’s Eye entitled "Under the Neon". In many ways, it reminds me of Deep Purple and Rainbow, but at the same time it possesses a sound and an identity of its own. Everything on the album sounds honest, authentic, and from the heart. When listening to it now, following the recording process and the mixing and everything, how do you feel about the album?
It is a very accomplished album with a nod to the past and a vision of the future and I am very proud of it. We wear our influences on our sleeves and make no apologies for that, but we take those influences and give them a twist here and a kick there.
Tell me a bit about how you became acquanted with Demon’s Eye and how and why you decided to join the band?
I got a phone call early on a Sunday morning from Andree asking if I knew Deep Purple mk 3/4 songs and could I fly in to do a gig with Demon’s Eye as Glenn Hughes, who was going to do the gig, had pulled out. We did the show and played for 2 and ½ hours with no rehearsal. It was great fun.
"Under the Neon" is so organic, dynamic, and delightfully atmospheric that I can hardly put it into words. Did you record it more or less live in studio? It certainly has that live vibe to it in my opinion.
The band always record in the live situation and then do overdubs and solos so that it gives the songs that feel and groove. It is a luxury these days to do recordings that way and we make the best of that. I came in 2 days after a long tour in the USA with Schenker’s Temple of Rock and did the vocals.
I am also blown away by how varied the record is. I mean, you guys evoke so many emotions and moods with and within your music. The thing is that it sounds so natural as opposed to sounding contrived or totally thought-out and planned beforehand, if that makes sense. In other words, it sounds like that intuitive, experimental, and spontaneous vibe and feeling that some of the 70s hard rock giants possessed is present in Demon’s Eye as well. Would you agree?
Yes, I would agree.
Lyrically, "Under the Neon" covers a lot of ground as well. Did you guys write the music first and then the words afterwards, or the other way around? How important are the lyrics to you on a personal level?
The music always comes first and then I listen to it and write melodies and lyrics. I have scraps of paper with song titles and phrases and lines I have picked up around the place and then the music dictates where I will take it. Sometimes it is just a stream of consciousness and the story does not become clear until later. Sometimes it’s more apparent. I want to let the listener interpret the songs how they are to them.
You guys are currently touring Germany and the Netherlands. How are things on the road going so far, and how has the response to your show been?
It is a lot of fun. They are a splendid bunch.
Is there any chance that you might come to Norway and bring the brilliance that is "Under the Noon" to the Norwegian stages? I would love that!
If a promoter can put a string of shows together that make sense then anything is possible.
How do you guys go about writing songs together? Who is responsible for coming up with what, so to say? Do you record certain parts separately and then mail them back and forth to each other?
Andree will send me rough ideas that the band have written and worked out and recorded in their own rehearsal studio and I come up with rough melodies and send them back. It is a good way for us to work. I like to work alone when I write unless it is with a full band at full volume.
Speaking of Norway, didn’t you perform with that Deep Purple tribute band named Come Taste the Band at one point? Weren’t there a couple of shows where you, Graham Bonnet, and Jørn Lande were involved and all participated?
I did one show with Graham and Jorn. It was a great night and CTTB played very well and did the audience proud.
Going back to Demon’s Eye, have you discussed writing and recording a new album within the next couple of years?
Give us a chance. We have only just finished one.
Were there any leftover songs from the "Under the Neon" session that might end up on an EP or a 7" vinyl release or anything like that?
No. But the special edition of the album has two more songs ("Destiny’s Child" and "Remember Times Like These") on it. It is available only in the Demon’s Eye-Online-Shop: http://www.demonseye.com/undertheneon/?lang=en
"Stranger in Us All" by Rainbow is an awesome and mindblowingly great album. My wife and I listen to it often, and there is nothing but good stuff on there. It is very atmospheric and has a sense of wonder and mystery to it. Are you proud of what you achieved with Rainbow and that particular album? I think it is terribly underrated, but everyone I have ever played it to are always like "Holy shit, this is fucking brilliant!".
I am proud of what we did. It was a difficult time for that kind of music, but we still did quite well.
What pleased me most was that for the most part Ritchie had stopped chasing the chart success he had with Graham and Joe and we moved forward and did something fresh with a less commercial approach. However, he did blink and we did compromise a little. There are some good songs on there. I have not heard it in many years . Rainbow/Blackmore fans rate it and that is pleasing. The second one would have been better though.
Personally, I was quite happy about the "Black Masquerade" live album by Rainbow that was released a few years ago in the sense that I feel that that particular era of Rainbow needed to be captured live for posterity. If you do not mind me saying so you sound great on that album and you cover every damn era of the band so incredibly well. What were some of your favorite tunes by Rainbow to perform on stage? Does listening to that album bring back a lot of memories?
I have never listened to the album. I got given it on vinyl and I dont have a record player. I gave the cds and DVDs away. It was 20 years ago and maybe in another 20 years I will look back and give it a listen. But we were a good live band and every show was different and challenging. We had fun with the drinking songs but they were extras on some nights and did not compromise what great songs we had and how well they were executed.
Were you a fan of the Rainbow prior to joining the band? Or were you more into Deep Purple when growing up?
It is all the same for me and Whitesnake and Gillan. They all come from the DP stable and all were and remain my favourite rock bands. And AC/DC.
Can you tell us a bit about when you auditioned for Iron Maiden back in the early 90s? How did that come about? Were you heavily into the band’s music and imagery before auditioning? Did you ever participate in any writing sessions or anything like that with the band?
I sent a tape to the Maiden offices when Bruce left. I was not that familiar with all the material. I had seen them a few times and they were awesome. I knew it would be a challenge, but nothing ventured right? I went in twice and sang 22 songs. Steve called me to say they had gone with Blaze Bayley. It was disappointing of course, but I got to be in Rainbow and sing with Ritchie, which is what I had wanted since I was 15.
Are you by any chance working on some new solo material? I thought that there were some really good songs on "As Yet Untitled" in particular. Songs such as "Come Taste the Band", "Times Like These", and "Dreams Lie Down and Die" rule beyond belief.
I only did a solo album because I had nothing else to do. But it was fun and a good experience. I have many songs for another one, but I am not sure which way to take them. Luckily for me, I get to get my songs and ideas out there with Demon’s Eye, La Paz and Schenker, so my needs are met and satisfied. My ego is such that I do not need to do a solo album unless I want to.
That song I mentioned before, "Come Taste the Band", I read somewhere that you wrote that one years ago and that it was mailed to Ritchie Blackmore or something along those lines when you auditioned for Rainbow. Is that true? And if it is, did he appreciate the humor and irony?
Yes, that is all true and yes; he got the joke.
How do you like working and touring with Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock?
I am as happy as I have ever been working with Temple of Rock. We have a great chemistry and passion for what we do. There is no bullshit, no egos, no nonsense. That makes it fun and enjoyable. None of us would put up with some of the stuff we put up with in the past and that is one reason why it works. Another is that we have an understanding about what we want the band to be and how we we go about achieving that. It works. The fans like it. They thought it was another MSG line-up at first, but it never was. It is a new band put together by 5 players who wanted to play together with a common goal and vision. We have 2 great albums under our belt and a 3rd somewhere down the line in the next 12/18 months. As long as people keep coming to the shows we will keep playing and making music.
Just out of curiosity, what are some of your all-time favorite albums? Also, are there any albums or bands in particular that inspired you to become a musician yourself?
It changes every day. I am a fan of Bowie, James Taylor, Billy Joel and the Deep Purple camp. I do not need much more than that.
You have worked with some of the best and most iconic musicians out there and still do, but does it ever get old or tiring, hitting the road and touring the world and performing to fans and so on and so forth? How do you like the traveling-bit?
Well, we get paid for the travelling. The music is for free. I love my job and at this moment I would not change a thing. Every day brings something new when you are on tour. Some things remain consistant.
What keeps you motivated and inspired in terms of writing and recording music? Your discography is extremely impressive, to say the least, but do you ever feel that you have said all that there is to say with your songs and music?
There will always be something to say or to write about. I do not write about the same things I did years ago. Or maybe I do but just through more tained eyes. I am angry about different things than I was when I was younger. But I never wrote about partying in downtown LA. Some people get it, some never will.