COME TASTE THE BAND – interview
REIGNITING THE SPIRIT OF ROCK – AN INTERVIEW WITH COME TASTE THE BAND’S DOOGIE WHITE
The hugely talented Norwegian ensemble known as Come Taste the Band are about to unleash an insanely cool and memorable record entitled “REIGNITION” containing some of the best 70s-inspired hard rock that yours truly has stumbled on lately. While we wait for the album to arrive in January, read below what vocalist Doogie White (Rainbow, Michael Schenker) had to say about the band, the upcoming record, his time with Rainbow, and jamming with Gillan guitarist Bernie Torme.
ET: Hello Doogie, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions of mine. I really appreciate that. How are you feeling and how did the recent Michael Schenker European tour with Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and Gary Barden go?
DW: It was a rip-roaring success for the band and the audiences alike. I have been a fan of Gary and Graham for years and am now a fan of McAuley too. The difference in the voices and writing styles between the vocalists is exciting and filled with drama. With such a great band it all gels seamlessly together. It was a courageous idea from Michael and has proved an exciting endeavor for everyone. I have just started writing for the second Michael Schenker Fest album.
ET: Could you tell us a bit about your musical upbringing and how and why you eventually ended up singing? Do you come from a musical household?
DW: I did not come from a musical household. We were always out playing football, riding bikes and climbing trees. Music became a major part of my life in my teenage years thanks to Bowie. I used to go to church and a couple of guys had guitars and they asked me to sing. We had a school band and played a variety of 70’s rock classics. Queen, Heep, Purple, Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Hawkwind and that kinda stuff.
ET: What was the music scene in Motherwell, Scotland like when you got into music? Were there any cool clubs there as well as some interesting underground bands that inspired you?
DW: Some of the local bands I saw playing covers in the 70’s are still together and playing. We had a great rock club called The Heathery Bar which had bands 6 nights a week. There were a number of venues around the area and we all went there and dreamed of playing in them. It’s all Steely Dan and The Doobies, Be Bop Deluxe. Not really my thing but then the harder edge rock came through and I found my voice and my musical passion.
ET: Do you recall where and how you got sucked into classic rock back in the day?
DW: Again, it was a church where we had a youth club on a Saturday where we brought in records we thought the others would like. I had Bowie. Big Kenny had his prog rock and my oldest friend had Purple, Heep, Sabbath and Zeppelin. “Come Taste the Band” was the first Purple album I heard, and I loved the voices. My brother Ian and I sang together. He was Coverdale and I was Hughes. Great days.
ET: Were there any specific records that changed either your perspective on music or perhaps how to approach singing and eventually inspire you to write songs of your own?
DW: I soaked up all Purple and off-shoot bands in a few short months in 76. AC/DC were so exciting and subversive when Bon was doing his thing. Bowie had gone white soul and it was not for me as I loved the denim and leather.
ET: The upcoming album by CTTB entitled “REIGNITION” is a highly enjoyable affair and contains a lot of memorable and high-octane songs that bring to mind the greatest bands of the 70s, namely Deep Purple and Rainbow. It sounds as if it was recorded live in the studio with you guys playing together in the same room. Was that how you went about recording it? And how long did it take to actually record and mix the thing?
DW: I spend 2 weekends in Oslo recording vocals when I was not hunting down Harry Hole hangouts. It was all beautifully recorded, and the tracks were a joy to sing to. I believe the band recorded the tracks live in the way all albums should be done.
ET: Where did you initially meet Jo Henning and the others, and how did you become involved in CTTB in the first place?
DW: I was asked to join Bonnet and Jorn Lande to do a show with CTTB a few years back and then again with Bernie Marsden last year. Jo Henning contacted me with the idea of an album. Some songs they had were complete and some need me to write with them. So, we set about doing just that. I was very happy that they had a fresh approach to a classic sound and it was a joy to work on the songs.
ET: “REIGNITION” is a dynamic album and it sounds downright massive to my ears. Like I said before, it possesses a rather unique atmosphere that reminds me of the finest hard rock acts of the 70s. Were all the songs written specifically for the album from scratch or had some of the ideas for certain songs been lying around for months or even years? I reckon the two songs featuring Joe Lynn Turner were written quite some time before you joined the band?
DW: I worked on the song ideas they sent me. A couple were complete, and I just had to play with my voice to make them work for me. I have not heard the JLT songs and don’t know the history there. I like to write my own melodies and lyrics but sometimes it really works just to interpret someone else’s work. If the song is strong then there is no need to touch it.
ET: I am curious as to how the tunes on the album were written and arranged. Did you send files and ideas back and forth between each member of the band prior to meeting up in rehearsals and then work on the arrangements once all of you were together in the same room? You wrote all the words for the seven songs that you are singing on the disc, right?
DW: I worked to demo tapes the band sent me and gave them options on melodies and lyric ideas. Ultimately the songs are CTTB’s and they had to be happy with the direction I was taking their work in. A couple of the songs were complete, and a couple had “story lines” they wanted me to write.
It all worked well, and I am happy with what we accomplished.
ET: As to the words and lyrics, are there any anecdotes or stories behind one or more of them that you would be willing to divulge here?
DW: I like to leave it to the listener to interpret the lyrics. Some can be direct, and some can be more obtuse. It’s about the journey you can take if you invest in the songs. Some of the guitar work is so illuminating, a song within a song and I really like that.
ET: Were there any leftover songs from the "REIGNITION" session that might end up on a second album or perhaps a single/EP release?
DW: Not to my knowledge.
ET: Apart from the gig/release party in Oslo in early February 2019, are there any plans to tour the album in Scandinavia and other places in Europe? Perhaps a select number of festival dates in Europe during the summer?
DW: We are looking at options. The album deserves to be played live just to see what happens with the songs.
ET: "Stranger in Us All" by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite albums and one of the greatest things that came out of the 90s. How do you feel about that album nowadays and do you still enjoy singing the songs from that album live? Will CCTB include one or more of those in the set list?
DW: I recently got a remastered copy of the album and it sounds much better than the original release. It is not a Rainbow album I would play as I am far too close to it and still have vivid memories of writing and recording, so it still feels like work when I put it on and I can’t be objective. People seem to like it and it was when the songs were played live that they really took on a new life. Ritchie was once again at the peak of his powers as he had been with 70’s Purple and Dio-fronted Rainbow. His playing most nights was otherworldly and if I ever needed to hear the songs from “Stranger in Us All” I would dig out one of the many board or live recordings I made during 95/96.
ET: Do you look back on your time as a member of Rainbow with fondness and a sense of nostalgia?
DW: I have nothing but good memories of that time. I don’t think of it a lot but when I do, I think how lucky I was to be in such a brilliant version of that band with a guitarist who was clearly enjoying his playing and enjoying playing with the people in the band.
ET: Are there any specific Rainbow tracks from the 70s or 80s that you are particularly fond of rehearsing/jamming when hanging out with CTTB?
DW: No so far.
ET: Not that long ago you jammed a bit with the ever-awesome Bernie Torme when he was touring the UK and the footage that showed up on YouTube sounded great. Did the two of you discuss the possibility of perhaps collaborating on something one day? Are you a fan of the Gillan albums?
DW: I loved the Gillan albums. Bernie just asked me if I would get up and sing and all we had left was “Smoke on the Water”. I would love to have done an album with Torme playing guitar, but I guess that won’t happen now.
ET: Considering just how impressive your discography is, how many great bands you have performed and played with over the years, and all the stuff that you have experienced on the road and in the studio etc., have you considered writing an autobiography at some point? I think that would make for some fascinating reading 🙂
DW: I have no desire to write a book. I have a memory palace that I can tap into if I want. I am not one for looking back. I do like to read a good autobiography though with David Niven and Errol Flynn being the pick of the bunch for me.
ET: I noticed that there is a tribute gig to Cozy Powell in Bilston in late December that you will take part in and that made me think about something I read years ago about you laying down some tracks with Powell and Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath) back in the 90s, but were those tracks ever used and were they originally meant to be used on a Cozy Powell solo album?
DW: I won’t be at the Cozy Memorial – my schedule will not allow for it. I am sure it will be a fascinating night. I did demos for Cozy, but I landed the Rainbow gig and he used John West for the album, who I like very much. I don’t have copies of the demos and the principle writer Mike Caswell died at a young age.