Deep Purple Forever Interview 1999
Mike Eriksson, editor of the Swedish Deep Purple magazine "Deep Purple Forever!", did the following interview with Doogie White in January 1999. It was original published in Swedish in DPF issue #23.
You spent 3 years singing for a man that is very likely destined to go down in musical history forever. What would you say that you learned from the experience??
DW: An interesting question, Yeah, I think he will go down in musical history, not only for what he's contributed in music but also due to the musicians that he has brought through... and allowed them to enhance their careers. and that's something that I'll always be proud of and something that I'll always be very happy about... that I am now part of that... and hopefully my career can continue on a level... and if I can reach the heights that I reached with Ritchie and Raibow again I don't know... whether I can sell 350,000 albums and play to 33,000 people... I don't know! These are all things that we'll see in time, but it was a wonderful experience... I didn't learn any guitar from him. He would never teached me any guitar, which was a disappointment. I wanted to learn the riff to "No No No" correctly, but he was having non of that!
I think what I saw in him was the passion he had for his music, especially at the very beginning when we were writing the album and when we did that initial tour that began in Finland and ended in Japan and to some extent the same passion was there for South America. It sort of started to fade and dwindle after that. I don't know whether he gets tired of the musicians he has around him or whether he gets tired of playing the same songs that he's been playing for years, over and over and over again. I suggested to him "change the set, keep the band". So I think that's what I learned... that he is a very passionate man about his music and he wants everyone to feel the same passion.
When you recorded the "Stranger In Us All" album, did Ritchie give you complete freedom as a singer or did he have suggestions for specific directions??
DW: No I didn't have complete freedom. He wanted songs that girls would like and that girls could relate to. And I thought that "no, girls ain't gonna come because I am not a handsome looker, you know the Joe-Lynn-Turner-lookin' kind of guy... I am more of sort of biker end of rock if you like?!". [laughs]
I like to go out there and rock and do the big anthemy things, but we compromised and we kind of got both of in there. I think we covered everything we set out to do with the album. I listened to it today for the first time in a long time just because I knew I was gonna do this interview, and I still there is still a lot of very good songs on there. Stuff that I am very pleased with. I think perhaps... when I listened to the vocals now, they've lost a little of their spark since we spent so long doing them.
I think that that the perfection and Ritchie's brand of rock 'n roll is not what it's about. I mean perfection is for guys like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, but with Ritchie there should be an element of that spontaneity and freedom.
I think with the 23 days that we spent doing, and redoing, the vocals... and I must say it was at Pat Regan's insistance that we did that and I wasn't strong enough or whatever to stand up to him and say "I am not singing it again! That's a good enough version!". It wasn't until Ritchie walked in one day and we had been doing "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" and he said "Why is this taking so long?" and I said "Well, Pat keeps want me to do it again!". Ritchie said "That last version you did is perfect, leave it like that!".
It was a new band for Ritchie as well. Would you say that he spent a long time in the studio together with all of you or did he leave most of it to the producer to deal with??
DW: Most of that was left off to Pat. During the writing we were all together. Soon as the recording started and we had the drum tracks down and Ritchie was happy with the tempos, he more or less left Pat to his own devices. I think if Ritchie would have been in the studio, sitting there, the album would've been done in half the time! [laughs]
During the recording of the album, did you see him lay down his solos or would he insist on privacy at that point??
DW: No, I was banned from the studio when Ritchie did his solos. There were other people allowed in but I wasn't in and he told me he thought I would be too critical. I remembersitting outside... I can't remember what he was doing... and I remember sitting outside having a cup of coffee at the dining room table which was just next to the room in where he was recording and he did a blinding solo on "Emotional Crime" and he came out and I said "That was just blinding. That is the best solo so far on the album. You're never gonna better that!". 'Cause he was just doing one solo a night and he went back in and he tried and he tried and he tried... and he never got it to sound just quite the same and I was looking forward to hearing it on the album and he went in while they were mixing it and changed it, which was disappointing because that was just an absolute blinder of a solo!
Did you actually record songs that we have not heard about yet??
DW: Yeah, we had the "Rich Cheese Salad" song which was a big ballad.It just didn't work great. When we were rehearsing it, it was perfect because he had his slide guitar and his volume control turned down and he was sliding away. When it came to actually doing it we tried to be too clever with it and took it away from the sort of really rock 'n rolly feel. It just didn't work and it didn't sound like a Blackmore or a Rainbow song. Had we stopped with what we were originally gonna do it would've rocked with that sort of Stormbringery feel. That sound that he had on that album or the sound that he had on the first Rainbow album. I really liked what we had during the rehearsals but it didn't make the album.
There's another one called "Wrong Side Of Morning", that was based on a Midnight Blue tune that Alex and I wrote that were called "Until Tomorrow" and Ritchie really liked the tune but he wanted his own input to it. I rewrote the lyrics and we kept the melody and Alex's verses. Ritchie put a chorus into it but we totally forgot about it when we went to do the album.
There's a 16-track demo kicking around somewhere. We had other ones that we messed around with. "Judgement Day" and the likes but we never got them into the studio, because we rehearsed a lot of the stuff while trying to see who was going to be in the band up in Cold Springs, New York, for 8 weeks up there. Some of the stuff we wrote and demoed up there I never got to hear again and there's a lot of outtake tapes and stuff that were kicking around with riffs and vocal ideas... but, Ritchie got everything of that back before we left.
Where you present when the picture of the album cover was taken?? Do you know the story behind it and were it was taken??
DW: The album cover picture was taken on top of the hill outside Longview Farm studios. Up near the little booth that Steven Tyler had built so he could write the lyrics for the Aerosmith albums "Pump" and "Permanent Vacation". It was taken by a Swedish guy by the name Jim Mangard who was Ritchie's roadie at the time. The idea came from when we went out for a St Patrick's Day dinner to a bar and they were celebrating St Patrick's Day and of course we're not Irish so we don't celebrate that. So we had all the Irish things sort of removed from our table.
There was a big poster on the wall of a Lepricorn. A Lepricorn is sort of a little Irish Elf and in one hand he had a pot of gold and in the other he had a witchfinder general's hat, the kind of hat Ritchie sometimes wears, and in the middle of it there was a Rainbow. So I nicked it and took it back to the studio and a few days later Ritchie went up to the hillside with Jim and had that photograph taken. And then it was taken and manipulated by a proper photographer guy who brought up the colors and with the little wolf , I think, is actually a horse in the background. That's where that was taken and is credited to Jim Mangard but I think we forgot to put that on to the sleeve. [laughs]
Describe in your own words the first period with the band over in America.
DW: Ritchie's very good at putting you at ease at the same time that he's very good at putting you on edge. So we were very much at ease during that first period when I was auditioning for the band. That was just so overwhelming to be there! The second time was when we went over to see who was going to be in the band. I don't even remember the bass players name, but he was there, didn't last very long. That was the first initial writing period, which was very exciting.
We spoke about what kind of an album we wanted to make and I said Ritchie I'd like to do something that was a cross between "Burn" and "Rainbow Rising". And we just got down to writing together. The third time I went over to America was just before Christmas and I stayed with Jim Mangard again at his house on Long Island to start the album. It was always exciting and I'd always loved to go to America because there a certain buzz about being in America and get picked up a JFK airport and going to the hotel or wherever you were going... normally these hassles can be very tedious but I was so excited about the whole I process I was always there first helping to unload the gear at the Venue and getting the gear all set up and stuff... just 'cause I wanted to be there rather than just setting around at the hotel... just be there itching to get on with it and get playing and see what today's little adventures was gonna be!
What was the worst aspect of the split to you?? What disappointed you the most??
DW: I miss the music. I miss the live performances. I miss the anticipation of what a show would bring, I am disappointed because I think we still had at least one good album in us, possibly two. I would've liked to have gone out once we had another album out we could have shifted "The Man On The Silver Mountain" out and the Smoke On The Waters" out and done our own show with the material we would've had with those two albums. That was a diappointment with me. When all sort of fell apart I went away and licked my wounds for a couple of weeks and got immediately back to write with Alex and we came up with some dark stuff.
So my biggest disappointment was that I wasn't able to stamp a little more of my own character on Rainbow. You know Ronnie James Dio got his era of it, Graham Bonnet got his and Joe Lynn Turner got his and I would have liked to have had mine. But you know, people don't talk as much about that particular lineup of the band as they do about the other ones. I think another album would've maybe changed that and swung some more people around and sold some more albums and done biggers tours.
At that point, we know from earlier interviews that you had already written down quite a few ideas for the next Rainbow album. How much of these might we get to hear in the future if you get signed and albums in your name starts to appear?? One of the great songs that I've heard that the two of you has written is called "Come Taste The Band" and it is obviously a song about Deep Purple MK 4. Alex even has a go at some Tommy Bolin licks from the track "Coming Home". Tell us more about this. I know the two of you wrote a song for Glenn Hughes. At that point, did he ever get to hear this song "Come Taste The Band"?? Maybe you should let him and why not David Coverdale, hear it??
DW: Yeah, we wrote "Small Town Saturday Night" for Glenn and I went out for dinner with him, but Glenn never got back to me whether he was gonna use it so I might use it myself. We also a another one called "Peace At Last". It would've been good for Glenn I think, but I mean he's a brilliant songwriter and he doesn't need people writing tunes for him. It was probably just a bold little move from noth of us to see if he would but he never got back to us.
Tell us about your part in Nikolo Kotzevs "Nostradamus" project.
DW: I can't really tell you about that project. It's Nik's (Kotzev) project and I have been working very hard on it, trying to get it right. I am very excited about it but wouldn't like to preempt anything that he have going for that particular project.
What do you personally know of Nostradamus?? Did you ever read a book about him or anything like that??
DW: I know a little bit and I had to read up on the parts that I was to base my lyrics on. I only read the bits I am working on and I don't believe in prophecies and I don't believe in magic and any of these things. That sort of things is something I left behind me in my 20s.
Does interviews like this one (Mike asked Doogie 100 questions!) drive you crazy and build up a hate towards the Deep Purple fanclubs aroud the world?
DW: Absolutely not! I am quite flattered that people after... you know, I have been out of the band for nearly two years now and it's nearly three years since we played and I am still very flattered that people take an interest in what I am doing. Especially since my output of material since I left the band has not geen great. A lot of that has to do with the collapse, in the last year, of the Japanese economy. That hasn't helped things.
The budgets that I was being offered at the time to do a solo album were god and healthy until the economy collapsed and the budgets were slashed in half. Scandinavia, Germany, Japan and South America are where my main markets would be. I mean, I woldn't have a market here in the UK. It's interesting to see the wa that the record companies work. I picked two A&M men at a record company and sent them a tape of the material, independently. They didn't know. I phoned one guy up and he said it was heavy enough. It wasn't "Rainbow enough".
The other guy said it was "too Rainbow". So you know, you take your pick... but I am a big boy I can handle the truth. I just wish that people would be more honest and open and just tell you instead of doing in a roundabout way. So no, I have enjoyed the chat! [laughs]
Mike Eriksson, Deep Purple Forever, Sweden January 1999