Dokken (2004)

Dokken: Hell To Pay in 2004!


Dokken guitarist Jon Levin talks in detail about the new Dokken album Hell To Pay and about life in the band in general. Jon talked to Ron & Don Higgins, good friends of mine, who put their hands up for the interview and conducted it with enthusiasm. Thanks guys...




Ron: How are you doing, Jon?
Jon: I'm doing great.

Don: There's two of us on the line. I'm not sure if they told you that when they set this up but, I'm Don and then there's my brother, Ron. We're twins.
Jon: Hey, guys. What's going on?

Ron: Not much.
Don: We'll be doing this together. In fact, we met you on Friday night; you may or may not remember.
Jon: Oh, okay.

Don: At the show in Cincinnati.
Jon: Awesome.

Don: And by the way, that was a really good show. I was really impressed with the way the whole band sounded and, in particular, with the way that you really seemed to match all of George Lynch's notes. You did an outstanding job.
Jon: Thank you very much.

Don: It was really good. I liked the new song that you played, “Escape”.
Jon: Oh, you did like it?

Don: Yeah, I kind of wish you would've played more off of the new album, to be quite honest.
Jon: Well, we're going to be. Don had to do press in Europe so we're now going to be getting new songs worked into the set. We have to rehearse, you know.

Ron: Is this pretty early in the tour?
Jon: Oh, yeah. This is really early. In fact tonight we're opening with “Unchain The Night”.

Ron: Oh, great!
Jon: And we're going to have “Haunted” and “Prozac Nation” in the set within the week.

Ron: I love “Prozac Nation”
Jon: Awesome. And we're going to add “Dream Warriors”.

Ron: Oh, you're kidding?
Jon: So yeah, the whole set is really going to be overhauled within the next week. Like I said, Don had to do press so we lost our rehearsal time.

Ron: Gotcha.
Jon: Actually, after the show last night we all got in the back of the bus and rehearsed.

Ron: That's great. It's funny because my brother and I have both seen Dokken probably 6 or 7 times and, yes, we've seen every guitarist <laughs>, but we were trying to debate on what would be the opening song and the last few times we saw you they opened with “Erase The Slate”, which is interesting because it wasn't even in the set, at least here.
Jon: Yeah.

Ron: So I was thinking it might be something new off of the album, possibly “Don't Bring Me Down”.
Jon: We were thinking about that. You know, it's never really a great idea to open up with a song that nobody knows yet, though.

Ron: Well, yeah, that's what I was going to say. I was pleasantly surprised because I was kind of expecting that since that's what's being featured on Dokken Central right now and it's got that killer guitar riff, and that, by the way, is my favorite song on the album.
Jon: Oh, cool.

Ron: It's just great, with that opening and then that killer lead in the middle. Unbelievable.
Jon: Thanks so much, man. Which show did you say you were at?

Don: Friday night at Annies.
Ron: In Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jon: At Annies. Cool.

Ron: It was unbelievable, but when you kicked off with…
Jon: “Kiss of Death”

Ron: Yeah, “Kiss of Death”, which is a great song that is so up-tempo, it sort of grabs you by the jugular and doesn't let go, you know?
Jon: Yeah.

Ron: I thought that was an excellent way to start.
Jon: Well thanks. We'll see how it goes tonight because, like I said, we're changing it because we've done “Kiss of Death” so many times. We thought people might want a change, but we'll see.

Don: Well “Don't Bring Me Down” is, if you could incorporate that into your set, I would say that that song is definitely the most up-tempo song on the new album.
Jon: Yeah.

Don: And it is also the one that I would say stands out the most as being the most like the old classic stuff like from Tooth and Nail through Back from the Attack. It could almost be straight from one of those albums.
Jon: Yeah, I know what you're saying. I agree.

Don: The other stuff is more reminiscent of Dysfunctional through Long Way Home.
Jon: Do you guys like the album?

Ron: Oh, I love it.
Don: Yeah, I think it's very good.
Jon: Great.

Ron: I've actually liked the last few albums. I actually liked Erase the Slate a little more than the last one, but I'm seeing a lot of comparisons to this being like the older stuff, and I'd have to agree. I think it really is. We're doing this for which is for the most part a one man show with Andrew McNeice out of Australia, so he's the one that wrote up the review of the album.
Jon: Yeah, he's the gentleman I spoke to once. He's a real nice guy.

Ron: He is a heck of a guy. It's funny because he's in Australia so I've never met him, but I've transcribed so many of his interviews and sent him so many emails that I feel like I really know him.
Jon: You guys are going to do this interview and send it to him?

Ron: Yes. Well, I should mention this too, we're taping it.
Jon: Go ahead. That's fine.

Ron: And then we'll go ahead and transcribe it and then we'll send it to him and he'll upload it whenever he can. And, of course, this is with his blessing; in fact, he told me when I asked him if that would be okay, he said that he had a note to try and interview you, so when you say you talked with him, that makes sense.
Jon: I spoke to him a long time ago. We had a brief conversation, but he's a real nice guy.

Ron: Yeah, and he was happy to have us do it. Because he runs the site by himself, he is so swamped with work. We're very appreciative to him. He had a great quote in his review. He does this thing called The Bottom Line and it says, “It's certainly the band's most consistent and traditional sounding release from their recent history. This album will please the majority of the band's long time fans.” And I couldn't sum it up any better. I think that's exactly right.
Jon: Well, that's nice to hear. That's awesome.

Ron: I'll tell you something else that he said and I'm hearing this a lot too. You're going to love this quote if you haven't hear it, it's talking about you specifically. “His part in this album is not to be undervalued in any way – he rules this record.
Jon: Oh, wow. That's nice.

Ron: Yeah, and he goes on. He says that this is very comparable to the last album, and he says, “So if Don hasn't changed – why is this album so much better and why will fans be very happy with the result? The answer is Jon Levin.”
Jon: Oh, wow. That's very nice.

Ron: And again, I have to agree. Like I said, we've seen Dokken with all 5 guitar players and for the first time I didn't feel like here's the guy filling in for George Lynch, it's like, here is Dokken's new guitar player.
Jon: <laughs> Oh, that's awesome. Thanks!

Ron: Seriously.
Don: Some people may or may not know, but you played in Warlock for a while.
Jon: Yeah.

Don: I'm wondering, was George Lynch, perhaps one of your influences?
Jon: Yeah, definitely. He's older than me so I was just a kid but he was definitely one of my guitar influences, not my only one, but certainly one, you know.

Ron: Sure.
Jon: And Eddie Van Halen was a huge one. And Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix. All those guys. For myself, a lot of the guys who played in Dokken were great guitar players but for me the style didn't make sense. I sort of missed this type of style and I just happened to have his influence, being from the younger generation, and it seems to work. We get along really well, everyone in the band, which is really nice too.

Ron: Yeah. Well, you always hear so many stories about this and that and the wars between George and Don and yet, when I got to meet him at the show, he was extremely nice.
Jon: He always is. Don't listen to all the BS that people say, you know? You know what it is with bands, especially when you play together for long periods of time, not every two personalities match well together.

Ron: Right.
Jon: And just for some reason, I've never met George so I know anything about him, but for some reason his personality and Don's didn't go well together.

Ron: Yeah.
Jon: But ours, my personality and Don's, we go great together and we were friends long before I ever played in this band.

Ron: Really?
Jon: Yeah. <laughs>. So it's actually cool to be in it and have someone that's a friend in it too.

Ron: Sure.
Don: Well, you guys are all older now than they were back then so you live and learn.
Jon: Yeah, I don't know how everyone was back in the '80s, I'm sure there were probably some egos going around, but look, everyone's grown up now and we're all in this because we love to do it and that's why we're here, you know.

Don: Exactly.
Ron: Well, it shows because it looked like you guys were having an absolute blast on stage.
Jon: Yeah, we all get along really well, you know? There's no tension. We're all just enjoying ourselves and we're all really grateful and happy that we're able to do what we like to do, and that's play music for a living.

Ron: And I guess if you're going to be around Mick Brown for too long, you can't be too unhappy.
Jon: <laughs>

Ron: Because that guy, he is always up. He's like Mr. Life of the Party.
Jon: Yeah, he really is, you know. That's his role. He does it well.

Ron: Is he like that always?
Jon: That's how he always is, yeah.

Ron: That was my sense because, like I said, the two times I've had a chance to meet him and just the way he is onstage, you can just tell. It kind of reminds me when I saw Van Halen back in the day with David Lee Roth and it was a great show, but the next year when they came with Sammy Hagar for the 1st time, you could just tell that they were more relaxed and just having a blast. And it does make a difference, you know?
Jon: Yeah.

Ron: The fans can really tell.
Jon: Yeah, when everybody is getting along it's much better than when people hate each other. I mean, if it ever got to that point I'm sure nobody would do it anymore, at least I know I wouldn't. I'm an attorney; I don't need to be away from home and losing a lot of money from my law practice to do something that I hate.

Ron: Sure.
Jon: That doesn't make sense.

Don: And when the band is having fun it comes through the music and then the fans can pick up on that, I think.
Jon: Yeah, we're really enjoying it on this tour. I can't speak for anyone else; I'm fairly short because it's going really well.

Don: Now how long is this tour going to last? I know you've got dates scheduled through July.
Jon: Oh, man. We're scheduled through August 21, that's the last show of the 1st leg of the American tour and then from there I think we're going to do Europe for 4 or 5 weeks and then after that hopefully come back and get an arena tour with someone.

Ron: That would be great.
Jon: Yeah.

Don: If you come back around, especially if you incorporate some new songs, I'd like to check out the show again if it comes anywhere near.
Jon: Oh, yes. Please come again. Like I said, we're in the process of renovating the set. We've already got “Escape” now in it. Tonight we've got “Unchain the Night” in it and, like I said, one week from now there's going to be two more new songs off of the new album, probably “Prozac Nation”, and “Haunted” and it looks like we're going to try “Dream Warriors” too, so we're really trying to switch things around, make it fresh. We're rearranging things.

Ron: That's awesome.
Don: As a fan, I would even like to personally hear one or two of the ballads that you have. I think there's two or three on this album and then on Long Way Home there were like three of them and I think that's kind of a gamble because a lot of fans really want to hear the hard rock, up-tempo stuff.
Jon: Yeah, it's a little tough thing, I mean, we get by with “Alone Again” but I don't know how they'd react if we did more than one.

Don: Maybe if you did one right after the encore or something. Those songs are really good, they really showcase Don's voice when he sings in that mid range. You can really tell that he's a very good singer and I think those songs are pretty radio friendly. I think that if those were ever pushed by Clear Channel or somebody that you guys could legitimately be on the radio and hit it big with this album.
Jon: Well, thanks.

Don: A lot of people just don't know those songs.
Jon: Well, “Escape” is the first single off of the new album.

Don: I thought it might be because that's the new one you played.
Jon: Yeah, “Escape” is the new one and it went to radio two days ago.

Ron: Okay.
Jon: And the album comes out July 13, so hopefully we'll get some action on “Escape” as the single before the record comes out.

Ron: It's a very good song. I like “Escape” a lot. I noticed here that Andrew noted that that was one of his four favorites. He mentioned “Don't Bring Me Down”, which, like I said, is my absolute favorite, “Prozac Nation” and then “I Surrender”. So I think that's a good pick.
Jon: Yeah, that's a good one too.

Ron: See, even though my brother and I are identical twins, we're not entirely identical. I'm the guy that wants to go to the concert and hear all of the up-tempo stuff. So when he wants to hear the ballad, I want to hear “Don't Bring Me Down” <laughs>.
Don: Now I didn't say I didn't want to hear that.
Jon: That's funny.

Don: I think that's probably my favorite one on there as well. I would love to hear that one but yeah, I did like the show that we did see, but it was more like the Greatest Hits kind of thing, but all of the songs were certainly crowd pleasers, I would say.
Jon: Oh, good.

Ron: Well, here's the other thing, most people anymore that go to a show like Dokken really want to hear a lot of the older stuff. And you guys, gosh, I think you played five off of Tooth and Nail, at least three off of Under Lock and Key, so people that do want to hear the classic stuff, were not disappointed.
Jon: We're giving them a good mix. I mean, we have stuff from all the… basically, we've got a Greatest Hits show going now.

Ron: Yep.
Jon: However, we went ahead and substituted out some of the old ones now that we're going to refresh the set with what I was telling you and hopefully in one week from now approximately we're going to have three new ones off of the new album and have a whole new show going.

Don: That'll be great. And if you keep one of the old songs, I would definitely say keep “Paris is Burning”.
Ron: No doubt.
Jon: “Paris is Burning”? Unfortunately that's the one we might cut <laughs>.

Don: Well, again, not as many people know that because it's off of the first album but that's the one you guys played that I think you closed with.
Jon: Yeah.

Don: I was really surprised.
Ron: Well, the question is: If you drop that song, what are the 10 year old kids that get pulled onstage going to sing? Do you remember that?
Jon: Oh, no. What happened?

Ron: From the Cincinnati show when Don pulled up the kid onstage?
Jon: Oh, wait. That's right. I have a vague recollection.

Ron: Yeah, there was a kid right in front, and Don kept saying, “Man, how old are you?” And he was right up front and the kid said, “I'm 10”. So Don reaches over and pulls him up onstage and the kid starts singing, at least the chorus, to “Paris is Burning”. It was hilarious.
Jon: That's amazing.

Ron: And Mick was dying. After the show, he was talking about it because basically, Don just gave him the microphone…
Jon: I've got to tell you, I guess I'm so in my own world when I'm playing that I don't even have much of a recollection of it happening, but I believe you when you tell me it happened <laughs>.

Ron: Oh, it was great. And the funny part was, here's this kid who's 10, right, he's onstage and has no idea what he's supposed to do, so he starts saying, “Thank you, thank you all, thank you.”
Don: Like he was a temporary member of the band.
Ron: Mick was absolutely in tears laughing about that after the show.
Jon: That's great.

Ron: But it was great. See, that showed a side of Don that most people don't get a chance to see. He was so impressed that there was a kid that young that was into, not only Dokken, but stuff from the earliest album, that he pulled him onstage. That's classy stuff right there.
Jon: That's great. It's exciting for us to see a new young fan that's into what we're doing.

Ron: Absolutely.
Jon: Especially somebody that's that young.

Ron: No kidding.
Don: Obviously his parents were big fans.
Jon: Yeah.

Don: Speaking of the younger generation, I thought it was interesting, I know that Don talked about it in concert, and I think that I read about it on the website, where you guys did a show with some of the newer bands like Stained and Eve 6.
Jon: Oh, yeah. I remember that show. It was in North Carolina, I think.

Don: That must've been interesting.
Jon: Yeah, that was a good show. It was good that we went over really well that night. It was nice with all of the young crowd that's into all the new bands, they liked us too.

Don: That's good because I think a lot of times when it comes to bands that have been around for a while, it's not like they suddenly become bad, it's just a generation of people just don't know about them.
Jon: Yeah, things are very different today. Dokken has always been a band about musicianship and songs. And a lot of the bands today, I don't even know when the last time I heard a guitar solo in a new song in recent history.

Ron: Exactly.
Jon: So, things have changed a lot, especially in the past 10 years.

Don: Yeah, through the '90s with the whole grunge movement, the guitar solo kind of went away.
Jon: There were none. Now, we'll see. It seems like some of it is starting to come back.

Ron: It is. It's kind of a shame that more of the Clear Channels, the Infinity Broadcastings, the MTV's don't pick up on that because, you know, some of the stuff coming out, I don't know if you've heard The Scorpions new album, it's just great stuff.
Jon: Yeah, I heard it was supposed to be really good.

Ron: I was reading your bio on the Dokken web site and it was kind of funny that you mention how you went to LA and then when the grunge scene came, that's when you decided to become a lawyer!
Jon: Yeah.

Ron: I was not a fan of that; it's hard rock, yes, but it was missing some of the key elements that I like and anymore it's the same way.
Jon: I liked it, but it wasn't anything that I wanted to play. Hey, do you guys have a specific set of questions that you want to ask me?

Ron: We've got a few more, but mainly, we wanted to talk about the tour and get your reactions to it, which we've kind of done and get your comments on the new album because that is what people are really interested in right now, the new tour and the new album.
Jon: Okay, cool. I just wanted to make sure that I cover everything that you guys want to know.

Ron: We always tell people, we only want 15 or 20 minutes of your time, because we know you guys are busy.
Jon: Hey, I'm not that busy today, man. I'm in the middle of North Dakota. We're in a bus waiting to play 4 hours from now.

Ron: Oh, wow. Yeah, it looks like you're off tomorrow.
Jon: Yeah, we drive back to Minnesota from here and then we have a day off here.

Ron: Okay.
Don: If we could just ask a couple more things…
Jon: Yeah, sure. I've got time. Shoot.

Don: Do you have a favorite song off of the new album?
Jon: Ooh. I have to pick one?

Don: A couple. What are some of your favorites?
Jon: I can give you a couple of my favorites. I like “Don't Bring Me Down”, I like “Escape”, I like “Letter to Home”, I like “Haunted”, and “The Last Goodbye”.

Ron: “Letter From Home” was interesting. It does sort of have that sort of Beatleesque feel to it and just a little different than what you would normally expect from Dokken, which is a good thing. It shows the musicianship.
Jon: Yeah, we took some chances and that was one of the ones that paid off nicely.

Ron: I agree. Definitely.
Don: You took a chance on another song “The Last Goodbye”. I thought that was interesting. It had almost like an Eastern sounding influence.
Jon: Yeah, I like that one a lot. That's one of my favorite ones as well.

Don: Yeah, that one's very different, but different can be good. I did like that one as well, but the vocals and the guitar have that real Eastern sound to it, for lack of a better term.
Jon: Yeah, it's also got that sitar in the background.

Ron: Was that an actual sitar?
Jon: Yeah.

Don: I didn't know if it was a guitar made to sound like a sitar or if it actually was one.
Jon: Yeah, that was a sitar. Don actually played the sitar on that.

Ron: Really? That's cool.
Don: That's very cool. I didn't realize that.
Jon: Yeah.

Ron: See, it's funny, as you were going down the list and saying the ones you like, to me, it just reinforces how good this album is because I'm thinking, “Yep, that's a good one, that's a good one.” It is a solid album.
Jon: Oh, thanks. There's not really any that I don't like, you know? But those are the ones that stood out more.

Ron: Sure.
Don: That's understandable.
Ron: Now from what I understand, you were actually a fan of Dokken before you were in Dokken and that's why you were sort of shocked and surprised that you were asked to join. Is that true?
Jon: Yeah, I was always a big fan and I saw Dokken probably three or four times when I was younger, in the '80s.

Ron: In the day, as we like to say.
Jon: Yeah, I was like 21 years old or something. I always thought that Dokken were a big cut above all those other bands that were going on with the big hair and the nonsense, you know. Because they could play and they had good songs <laughs>.

Don: I loved a lot of those bands, and even some of the cheesier ones, but Dokken has always been one of my favorites from that era because I thought their songs were a little better and the musicianship was a little better. In some regards it was a shame that they didn't get as big as some of the other bands who I thought were lesser bands.
Jon: I agree.

Don: I don't know if it came down to image or luck.
Jon: It was on its way and I just think they sort of self destructed right when they were on the verge of exploding.

Ron: And they were huge, you've got to remember that by the time they did Back for the Attack and were doing the video for Dream Warriors they were at the top of their game.
Jon: Yeah.

Don: Yeah, that album and the two previous ones all went platinum, I believe.
Jon: We're hoping to bring it back, you know.

Ron: Well we're doing our part and that's why we wanted to interview you and get the word out because it's really a great album and people need to know about it.
Jon: Thanks very much. I mean, especially when two young guys like you like it, man, it means a lot.

Ron: I think we're about a year younger than you so…
Jon: Oh, yeah? You guys sound like you're real young.

Ron: Oh, great! I appreciate that because we just had our 37th birthday two weeks ago.
Jon: Well, Happy Birthday!

Ron: Thanks <laughs>. Anything to make me feel younger is outstanding <laughs>.
Jon: That's awesome.

Don: I've asked you about your own work, which is kind of unfair, but do you have some favorites from the Dokken catalog?
Jon: Songs?

Ron: Yeah, what would be some of your favorite songs or albums from when you were a Dokken fan before you joined the band?
Jon: My favorite three albums are Under Lock and Key, Back for the Attack and Tooth and Nail,

Ron: Yep. Absolutely.
Jon: And my favorite songs are… pretty much everything we've done in our set would encompass my favorites. There are a few that we didn't do; I like “Heaven Sent”, “Lost Behind The Wall”; I like “Prisoner”.

Don: I always liked “Bullets to Spare”.
Jon: Yeah, that's a cool one. That's about it, everything else we seem to be playing. I like “Unchain the Night” which we're going to be doing tonight for the first time so we'll see how that goes.

Ron: That's a great song.
Jon: Yeah, we're going to open with that one tonight.

Don: Oh, really? That'll be a crowd pleaser for sure.
Ron: I agree with you. It's nice to start off with something that people know that's full throttle and you don't let them go for the rest of the night.
Jon: Do you guys think that will be strong enough to lead off? We're still going to play “Kiss of Death”, but we're going to move it down a little.

Ron: I think it will be.
Don: I think that “Unchain the Night” is maybe… I personally like that song better than “Kiss of Death”, although I like “Kiss of Death”.
Jon: As fans, do you guys think that it will be as strong of an opener as “Kiss of Death” will be?

Ron: I think it will be. Do you, Don?
Don: I do, actually.
Ron: That was actually one of my favorite songs off of that album.
Jon: I like it a lot, but I'm just wondering if the tempo is fast enough to get it going or if it's too slow.

Ron: Hmm. “Kiss of Death” is definitely faster. “Tooth and Nail”, that might be something interesting to kick off with.
Jon: Yeah, we've tried that before. We did that once in the past.

Ron: How did that go?
Jon: It sort of works better a little later in the set. We're going to try this tonight and if we speak again I'll let you know how it goes. [Note: in a follow-up email, he noted that they decided to switch back to opening with “Kiss of Death”]

Ron: Yeah, I'd be curious because, like I said, it's one of my favorites, but you bring up a good point. It's not quite as fast as “Kiss of Death”, but it's a great song.
Jon: Yeah, it still rocks, so we'll see. It also matches with our intro tape too so…

Ron: Well, that's always important.
Jon: We'll give that a shot tonight and see what happens.

Ron: I do have another question and I'm not even sure if you would be able to answer it, but the one thing I've noticed with at least the last three albums, is there's a real spiritual aspect, at least with the album covers, and when we met Don after the show, he was talking a bit about it, saying that he felt blessed by God to be able to do this kind of stuff. He just comes across as being a real spiritual guy. Is that true?
Jon: Yeah, Don is definitely a spiritual guy. I am too actually.

Ron: That's great. Sometimes there's a misconception that people in rock and roll are all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Of course, that's one of the things I liked about Dokken because, lyrically, they were much more than that. It's good to know, that spiritually…
Jon: From my own perspective, when I say spiritually, I'm not religious, but I am spiritual. For me, as far as the sex, drugs, and rock and roll thing: I don't do any drugs, I'm married, so I don't fool around at all <laughs>, so all that's left for me is the rock and roll.

Don: Well, that means you get to focus all of you attention on the rock and roll, which is good for a musician.
Ron: Well, the other thing is, the guys who were into the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, where are they now? You can't live that lifestyle for long.
Jon: No, you can't.

Ron: Aerosmith found that out.
Jon: For me, it is and it always has been about the music.

Ron: That's great. I agree 100%. I think some of these guys realize that they can actually play better when they're sober.
Jon: Yeah. That's right.

Ron: So you're a lawyer, you're married and you don't do drugs. Man, you're killing the whole rock and roll image. <laughs>
Jon: I still rock out as hard as I can.

Ron: Phenomenal. I can see some kind of lawyer convention where you get onstage and kind of freak everyone out. That would be kind of cool.
Jon: <laughs> That's pretty funny, huh?

Ron: That's what's great about heavy metal, it doesn't appeal to just one type of fan, you know, the drunken bozo. Although, there were a few of those standing around to meet you guys the other night, which was interesting because either you or Don kept saying, “You're not driving home are you?”
Jon: Oh, it was probably Don.

Ron: There was one guy who was just way out of control.
Jon: Was he?

Ron: He wasn't starting trouble or anything, at least he was a happy drunk but he won't remember meeting you guys, I'll put it that way! I just thought it was interesting that Don kept rehashing, “Hey, I don't want to be on the road with you even though I'm on a tour bus.”
Jon: We're all over that at this point, you know?

Ron: Yeah. I'm married as well and so is my brother. Do you have any kids?
Jon: No. I don't have any kids.

Ron: That's what you need to do right there. That'll shake things up a bit.
Jon: Oh, really? Yeah, probably. When we're ready. My wife's very young, and I'm on tour right now so it's not the right time for me, but maybe one day.

Ron: It's great. I've got three of them and they're a blast. I've got friends that tell me they're not ready and I tell them, “Well, you're never ready.” <laughs>
Jon: I guess not. It just comes when it comes, huh?

Ron: That's right.
Don: I just have another quick music question.
Jon: Sure.

Don: I know from reading how you got together with Dokken, that really it started off because you were friends with Jeff Pilson first.
Jon: Right.

Don: I'm just wondering, now that he's not in the band and they've got Barry [Sparks], are you still close with him or know what he's been doing?
Jon: I think he actually just had a baby.

Ron: Really?
Jon: Yeah. He did. He just had a baby. Yeah, Jeff's a friend of mine. I haven't spoken to him in a while just because I've been busy.

Don: I know that he just had that album with George Lynch.
Jon: How was that? I haven't heard it. Is it any good?

Don: Yeah, I thought it was pretty good. Actually, I think Jeff does all of the lead vocals on it.
Jon: Oh, I think I did hear one song, actually, from that.

Don: It was pretty good, I thought.
Ron: It was a little slower tempo than I kind of expected, but it was a good album. With George Lynch, you always want to hear something really burning and rocking.
Jon: Yep.

Ron: Of course, his interests and styles vary all over anyway so depending on what mood he's in that day determines what he'll put down.
Don: It's great that everyone can still be friends and just try to make good music together. That's what it's all about.
Jon: Well, that's what we're trying to do

Don: I think you've done it with the new album and a lot of it just comes to exposure.
Jon: Well we appreciate you guys taking the time to get us some. Hey, by the way. If you guys need any photos or anything, I'll give you my email address and you can ask me and I'll send some to you.

Ron: That would be great.
Jon: It's <email address>. I've got to run right now, but if you have something else that you wanted to ask, feel free to holler and give me a call back.

Ron: We appreciate it. Maybe the next time you come through town, especially if you're doing the arena thing, we'll try to hook back up with you. All I can say is it was a great concert, the album is awesome, and I can't wait for it to come out on July 13. I hope you guys have great success with it.
Jon: Thank you very much, guys. Man, I really appreciate it.

Ron: It was our absolute pleasure talking with you;
Jon: Awesome

Don: Congratulations on the new album. It was a pleasure as well.
Jon: Speak to you soon.

Ron: Take care. Thanks a lot.
Don: Thanks a lot.
Jon: You're welcome. Take care.

Ron: Bye
Don: Bye
Jon: Bye.




Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon - DOKKEN - Don Dokken & Jeff Pilson

Podcasts & Radio
Listen to Dokken's Don Dokken and Foreigner's Jeff Pilson on this episode of Westwood One's Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon. Plus a secret previously unreleased 1980's recording from one that era's most popular bands.
In our first interview, singer Don Dokken discusses his band's new live package Return To The East (2016) featuring the 'classic lineup' featuring George Lynch, 'Wild' Mick Brown and Jeff Pilson. Plus, Don offers an update on the current lineup's upcoming studio album, talks early days including Great White & Guns N' Roses, his approach to songwriting, future work with the 'classic lineup', The Beatles, Up From The Ashes, and being 'probably retired' in five years.
In our second interview, bassist Jeff Pilson discusses Foreigner's upcoming tour plans (including Whitesnake & Jason Bonham), the band's upcoming orchestral album, reuniting with Dokken & the Return To The East (2016) CD/DVD, Canadian band Chilliwack, thoughts on retirement, Lou Gramm, new music with Dokken, his new band Super Stroke, Warrant's Robert Mason, the upcoming Last In Line album, Motlley Crue, and more. 
Former Guns N' Roses/Great White manager Alan Niven co-hosts.
And stick around to the very end of the show for the exclusive world premier of our mystery song (a previously unreleased original 1980's) recording from a well-established band from that glorious era. 
Follow Mitch on Twitter @mitchlafon
Rock Talk's Facebook:



DOKKEN 'Return To The East' On New Live Release

Friday, April 20, 2018
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• Blu-Ray
• Collector's Box (CD/DVD + T-Shirt) [Comes with XL tee in the U.S., L tee in EU]
• 2xLP Standard 180g Black Vinyl
• 2xLP Limited Edition 180g Green Vinyl (Exclusive to Frontiers' U.S. Store - Limited to 150 WORLDWIDE)
• 2xLP Limited Edition 180g Red Vinyl (Exclusive to Frontiers' EU Store - Limited to 150 WORLDWIDE)
• MP3 (audio only)
"Return To The East Live (2016)" Available April 20, 2018!
At this point, Dokken simply needs no introduction. The band cemented their status as one of the legendary hard rock/heavy metal archetypes of the ‘80s rock scene with numerous successful albums and tours, evergreen songs and music videos and a lore that will live on forever.
In 2016, the classic original line-up Dokken featuring: Don Dokken, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, and Mick Brown reunited to play the world famous Loud Park Festival in Japan. Fortunately for fans outside of Japan, cameras were there to capture the performance and now Frontiers is set to issue “Return To The East Live (2016)” on April 20th! In addition to the Japanese performance, this set also features footage from the classic lineup’s only US reunion show of 2016 in Sioux Falls, SD at Badlands.
If the release wasn’t amazing enough, the package includes a brand-new studio track, “It’s Just Another Day” and two acoustic re-workings of classic tracks, from the original members!
Don Dokken says, “[a]fter 25 years, it was great to reunite with George and Jeff and Mick and do a couple shows for the fans. We hope you like this album and video. There’s a lot of great bonus footage of us having fun, so enjoy it!”
Bassist Jeff Pilson on the forthcoming release, “I’m so thrilled this piece of the Dokken story is hitting the streets! What a magical experience it has been and this CD/DVD captures a lot of that wonderful manic energy that has always made Dokken so vital! I remain extremely grateful to have been a part of such a vibrant voice in the world of heavy rock. Thanx to the fans and to George, Don and Mick for being the musicians, writers and friends that you are!”
Don Dokken – Vocals
George Lynch – Guitars
Jeff Pilson – Bass
Mick Brown - Drums
01. It’s Another Day (New Studio Track)
02. Kiss Of Death
03. The Hunter
04. Unchain The Night
05. When Heaven Comes Down
06. Breakin’ The Chains
07. Into The Fire
08. Dream Warriors
09. Tooth And Nail
10. Alone Again (Intro)
11. Alone Again
12. It’s Not Love
13. In My Dreams
14. Heaven Sent (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)
15. Will The Sun Rise (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)
01. Tooth And Nail
02. Unchain The Night
03. When Heaven Comes Down
04. Breakin’ The Chains
05. Into The Fire
06. Alone Again
07. It’s Not Love
08. Paris Is Burning
09. Kiss Of Death
10. The Hunter
11. Dream Warriors
12. In My Dreams
13. Behind the Scenes


DOKKEN Classic Line-up Reunion All Set

Release Year: 
Podcasts & Radio
DOKKEN will reunite (again) for dates in Japan and elsewhere in 2017. Mitch Lafon discussed with Mick Brown on One On One:

Legendary drummer 'Wild' Mick Brown of Dokken joins Mitch for episode 223 of One On One With Mitch Lafon.

In the show's only interview, drummer 'Wild' Mick Brown discusses the upcoming classic line-up DOKKEN reunion & the confirmed Japanese tour dates as well as his new band 'Wild' Mick Brown And The Bourbon Ballet.

Quote from the interview:

About Dokken reunion (time - 23.37) : 'In spite of ourselves, we always seem to do well."

(time 24.15): "You have to decide - I'm in or I'm out. Let it go and play ball... Somehow, it seems to work out. It's never very easy and I'm sure it's not going to be this time either."

TWITTER: @Dokken



One On One With Mitch Lafon - DOKKEN

Release Year: 
Podcasts & Radio

In episode 110 of One On One With Mitch Lafon, Mitch is joined by The Voice of DOKKEN, Don Dokken.

In this episode Don discusses the making of a new Dokken album, talks about George Lynch and Jeff Pilson, chooses Dokken's BEST album, talks about his voice, newest member Mark Boals, Heavy Montreal, and much more.

Quotes from the interview: "Fans expect you to sound exactly like you did on the record that you did 30 years ago and they expect you to sound amazing every night."

"I didn't know George very well and we had friction from day one. We just have totally different personalities."

"Jeff (Pilson) was the most multi-talented of anybody in the band. He plays bass well. He plays guitar well and he plays piano. He's multi-faceted and was always good at recording."

"For me, the masterpiece is Dysfunctional."

This episode is co-hosted by FIREHOUSE guitarist, Bill Leverty.

For more about DOKKEN visit: http://www.dokkencentral.comand on Facebook:

For more about BILL LEVERTY visit: and on Twitter: @Leverty

This Episode of One On One With Mitch Lafon is brought to you by the Heavy Montreal Festival taking place on August 7th, 8th and 9th at Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal. This year featuring Lamb Of God, Slipknot, Korn, Faith No More as well as '80s artists Dokken, Lita Ford and Warrant. Visit:

Head over to our official FACEBOOK page for your chance to win a pair of tickets to the HEAVY MONTREAL FESTIVAL:

Follow Mitch Lafon on Twitter: @mitchlafon
One on One With Mitch Lafon's Official Twitter is: @1On1WithMitch
And Official Facebook page is:

Rock Candy Records Latest - DOKKEN & TRAPEZE

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
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The following three new Rock Candy titles are available now from for a discounted price including postage to anywhere in the world for the next two weeks ending on May 3rd.
THE FACT THAT Dokken were never the most tightly bonded quartet has been well documented. Internal rancour and persistent inter-band feuding seemed the order of the day (particularly between vocalist Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch) yet the by-product of such friction seemed to stir the band to amazingly creative highs as this, their fourth studio, album firmly demonstrates. Issued to huge acclaim, to a fan base already primed by the platinum success of their previous album ‘Under Lock And Key’, this album is generally regarded as their most accomplished work.

Re-recording took place over a ten month stretch, with a total of five state-of-the-art Los Angeles studio being utilised. Originally issued in late 1987, and produced by Neil Kernon (Autograph, Queensryche, Kansas), ‘Back For The Attack is a consummate example of late 80s melodic hard rock, stuffed to the rim with all the right moves and grooves. Don Dokken’s instantly identifiable vocals and George Lynch’s guitar solos, soak the songs with enough vim and vigour to elevate them to classic status.

Tracks such as ‘Burning Like A Flame’, ‘Heaven Sent’, ‘Prisoner’ and ‘Dream Warriors’, the theme song to the hit horror movie ‘Nightmare On Elm Street 3’, are some of the best tracks the band ever recorded. It’s sad to note that the band’s final demise started almost immediately upon completion of this album, leaving the hard rock community without one of the best acts of the 80s.

Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, one bonus track, fully remastered sound, 16 page full colour booklet, features new interview with Don Dokken, 3,500 word essay and enhanced artwork.




TRAPEZE WERE INITIALLY one of the most promising and, later on, revered bands to have emerged from the UK during the 1970s. They blasted their way from obscurity to international acclaim, then, just as stardom beckoned, the carpet was pulled from under their feet when in 1973 vocalist and front man Glenn Hughes opted to leave the band, hitching his wagon to hard rock grandees Deep Purple. The general consensus was that Trapeze would not be able to carry on after such a catastrophic blow yet, against all the odds, they dusted themselves down, retrenched and got back in the ring to fight another day.

Choosing to expand the band’s line-up, founding members guitarist Mel Galley and drummer Dave Holland opted to recruit fellow Midlanders, bassist Pete Wright and second guitarist Rob Kendrick. Together they took the Trapeze blueprint of funky hard rock and injected it with a far more hook-laden sheen. Showing real growth the band’s sound evolved incrementally, with Mel Galley taking on lead vocals, there were now songs that wouldn’t be out of place in the esteemed company of mid seventies US arena acts such as Derringer, Montrose and Foghat.

Originally issued in 1974 and produced by veteran blues champion Neil Slaven (Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Stray) at Island Records Basing Street studios in London, the album contains a stellar selection of hard-hitting tracks, including ‘Back Street Love’, ‘Wake Up, Shake Up’ and the album centrepiece ‘Midnight Flyer’, an impressive and hard hitting funk fuelled track built to blow your mind.

Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound, 12 page full colour booklet, features new interviews, 3,500 word essay and previously unseen photos.



PER CAPITA THE British Midlands produced an extraordinary amount of heavy rock bands during the late 60s and early 70s. Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slade and half of Led Zeppelin spring immediately to mind, but of serious note are Trapeze, the group that first introduced us to the extraordinary talent of vocalist and bassist Glenn Hughes. Developing a fervent fan following, especially in the USA, this killer power trio specialised in a brilliant mash-up of hard rock and funk. All was going swimmingly until Hughes was purloined in 1973 by rock behemoths Deep Purple.

Refusing to succumb to defeat, Trapeze regrouped, this time adding two new members to fill the void left by Hughes whilst founding member Mel Galley assumed lead vocal duties. ‘Hot Wire’, the resultant album, was an impressive statement, sending out an unequivocal message that the band was far from spent. Indeed, their stature in the US and especially Texas, was further enhanced with intensive gigging and chart success. For their fifth album (confusingly self titled) the band continued their musical assault, unleashing a record that was more consistent with arena rock of the mid seventies.

Released in 1976, produced by Steve Smith (Back Street Crawler, Rough Diamond and Detective) and recorded in London at Island Studios (mixed by an uncredited Eddie Kramer), the record showcases defiant swagger, and riffs to die for. It even contains two songs featuring Glenn Hughes who had remained a staunch supporter of the band.

Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound, 12 page full colour booklet, features new interviews, 3,500 word essay and previously unseen photos.


DON DOKKEN and GEORGE LYNCH Dispute 'Breaking The Chains'

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Podcasts & Radio

On recent episode of THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, guitarist George Lynch and vocalist Don Dokken have traded barbs regarding their debut release in Dokken, BREAKING THE CHAINS. On the December 6th edition of THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, Lynch was asked about which album he wishes he could take out of his catalog, to which he answered BREAKING THE CHAINS. Below is what Lynch had to say:

GEORGE LYNCH: I was going to say BREAKING THE CHAINS, quite honestly.


GEORGE LYNCH: I did like it when we originally recorded it, but then (Don) Dokken got ahold of it and destroyed it. He basically sent us home from Europe and said, "OK guys, we're done. I'm just going to stay back and hang out with my girlfriend." I was thinking, "OK." What he did was he stayed in the studio when we were gone and had his way with the record, which was (to) pump up all the vocals, take all my guitars out. Destroy the mix. It just sounded weak and wimpy. It just killed it. It was actually pretty muscular and pretty tough when we were in the studio. It was down in the basement at Dierk's studio in Germany. The Scorpions were upstairs. Rory Gallagher was upstairs. These guys wanted to hear what was going on, so they would bring down the guitar player from Scorpions and Rory. They would sit there. I was so proud of my guitar tracks. Me and Michael Wagoner were holed up there. We'd board the place up. We wouldn't let anybody in. I had a 24 track tube machine and an MC500 board. I had one of Richie Blackmore's old cabinets and a Rangemaster treble booster and my Tiger guitar. It sounded so good. It was the first record I'd ever done, really, so we were committed to making a statement. Quite honestly, the sound was just unbelievable. Then when it was all done, he did what he did to it and he killed it. It's very hard for me to listen to because of that, because I knew what it was and nobody will ever hear that unfortunately.

LINK TO AUDIO - (17:38 into the interview)

Vocalist Don Dokken appeared on January 3rd edition of THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, and was asked about Lynch's claims that Don stayed behind and remixed the record behind his back. Don's response is below:

CLASSIC METAL SHOW: We talked to George (Lynch) a month ago, and he said that with BREAKING THE CHAINS, you stayed behind in Germany and remixed the record behind his back.

DON DOKKEN: That's a typical George Lynch statement. No, it wasn't Bob (Ludwig, engineer). I love that he says, "behind his back". I guess George forgot that when we did BREAKING THE CHAINS, he wasn't in the band. For the record...George...what is he smoking? He must be smoking something.  When I did BREAKING THE CHAINS, it was a solo record deal. George was not in the band. Mick was not in the band. Juan Crocier's picture is on the album, but he didn't play on it. Peter Baltes did because Juan missed the deadline to get to Germany. I had Peter play the bass tracks. It was a solo album, and the album came out originally in Germany, and it was called "Don Dokken BREAKING THE CHAINS". I have a copy. It's a picture of me on the cover and it says "Don Dokken". Now, George...I asked him to be in the band. He said no. I asked Mick if he wanted to be in the band. He said no. They were going to do something else. They were going to do Exciter. So for him to say "behind our back", he was paid $2500 to play on the record and that's it. He had nothing to do with Dokken. He wasn't in the band. He'd just come to Germany. We did a little tour. I paid him. He went back. He thought he was going to join Ozzy. That didn't work out. So he basically had nowhere to go, no band, and he was broke. That;'s when he came back and said, "I want to be in the band", because Mick had decided to come and play with me. To say that I did anything "behind his back", I don't know what that means because he wasn't in the band. He had nothing to do with Dokken. The guy is high.

LINK TO AUDIO - (26:58 into the interview)

THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW is heard live Saturdays from 9pm to 3am EST at


DOKKEN Replaces Sean McNabb With Mark Boals

Monday, November 10, 2014
News Feed
On the November 8th edition of THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, Dokken vocalist Don Dokken announced that vocalist/bassist Mark Boals (Yngwie J. Malmsteen / Ted Nugent) has been named as the new bassist of Dokken. During the conversation, Dokken explained how Boals came into the band, as well as the factors that led to his decision to replace former bassist Sean McNabb (Great White / Quiet Riot / Sons Of Anarchy). The statement can be heard here -

Here is a transcript of the conversation:

Don Dokken - Sean (McNabb) is doing acting and solo projects and other bands.  Sean's a very motivated guy and has got a lot of stuff going on, but I need a bass player that wants to be in Dokken...not to be in Dokken to promote himself, if you understand.  There was a time when I asked him to turn down because he was crushing everybody on stage with the bass volume. I went over and asked him to turn down. He didn't. So I went over and turned the amp down. He walked back to the amp and turned it back up. Now, you don't do that in Dokken. You don't do that in any band. If you do that in Whitesnake or Priest or anybody...if you do that as a hired gun and you go up and the lead singer tells you to turn it down, and he turns you down and you go back and turn it back up, you'd be on a bus taking a slow Greyhound home. So that was kind of the last straw for that. I understand. Like Sean said, he was promoting himself. I said, "well, this is called Dokken, not McNabb". Sean's a great guy. I love him to pieces. He's a good guy. We had five or six that we played together. It was great.

Don Dokken - But I really felt that in Dokken, we were missing what we're famous for. That's the harmonies. It's hard to replace Jeff Pilson. Jeff Pilson - he plays with a pick, which I like. I don't like people that play with their fingers. It's not the same. I like Peter Baltes type bass players who play with a pick, and Sean doesn't. So it didn't have a lot of "attack". I needed a really killer singer that was as accomplished as Jeff Pilson. He was sorely missed, you know.

Don Dokken - So I meet Mark Boals, who's played with Ted Nugent. He did four albums with Yngwie Malmsteen and he's a great lead singer. I didn't really ask him if he wanted to play in Dokken because I figured that he's a lead singer and that's what he does. So we had a gig a couple of months ago, and he was doing those acoustic gigs with me, and he said, "I play bass". So I said, "let's play a show together and see how it goes". So I rehearse with Mark on vocals and Mike and Me, and it sounded amazing. As you see on the internet, people go, "I saw Dokken and the harmonies were awesome." So I said, "do you want to be the bass player?" He said, "Yep", and I said, "OK, you're in."

Don Dokken - So that's it. It wasn't like Sean was fired or anything. It's just that Sean's got his solo stuff going on. I think he was doing some stuff with Sons Of Anarchy, and he's got other projects going on and other groups he plays in. I just thought...I need a bass player to say what I need to hear, and that was, "I just want to be in Dokken". That's what Mark said. "I'm not trying to promote myself. I'm happy not to be the lead singer. I'm happy to back you up, and if you can't hit all those high notes you used to when you were young, I can take care of that." So, it's awesome, and he's a super nice guy.

The Classic Metal Show is heard Saturdays from 9pm to 3am EST at
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