DON DOKKEN On Writing DOKKEN Albums: ‘Staying Within The Box Gets Frustrating For Me’

Kim Thore of Über Röck recently conducted an interview with DOKKEN mainman Don Dokken. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Über Röck: “Broken Bones” is supposed to have the signature DOKKEN sound, and it seems that the sound you are known for is overshadowed by pop here in the U.S. Yet many of the bands of the ’80s are releasing new material, so do you see a changing the tides for the future of rock music?

Dokken: I don’t, honestly. You know, in England, rock is dead. It’s all pop, Lady Gaga, old-school punk, techno, except for Castle Donington once a year, MOTÖRHEAD, METALLICA, you’ll see bands like them. But in Europe, it’s weird, we played with TWISTED SISTER a few years ago who were headlining and they don’t even tour here anymore. SAXON plays big festivals in Europe, but don’t here. ACCEPT just played here, and packed out the Grove [in Anaheim, California], they’ve got a new singer and have been hitting it for 18 months, I saw that one of their videos had like five million hits for a band that has been out of the loop for ten years. You see that and you say, wow, something is going on. We’re playing next week with QUEENSRŸCHE, ACCEPT and Michael Schenker, and we’re special guests under QUEENSRŸCHE. I think it’s mostly packaging. People are putting out records to perpetuate their touring career, because, obviously, everyone knows that no one buys CDs or records anymore. There are no more gold records. In fact, I have a platinum album and the sun was hitting it and it got damaged and no one is making them anymore. If you’re P Diddy now, you get a platinum CD. You can still buy them; they’re just not the real deal. So for a record from 27 years ago, you’re out of luck.

Über Röck: So what is new for you down the road? Are you looking to produce more CDs, more touring, etc.?

Dokken: This is probably our last DOKKEN record. Jon [Levin, guitar] and I are the main writers and we have decided this is it. This will probably be the last record I will do under the moniker of DOKKEN. I want to do other things. People expect a certain sound and I get that, if you like Cheerios and that’s DOKKEN and if Raisin Bran is METALLICA, and you go to buy a METALLICA album and it’s Cheerios, that’s a problem — you want what you want. There’s a few of my records where I stretched out, did some fusion, added different sounds and people didn’t like it too much. They were like, “What is this?” “I want ‘Tooth And Nail’,” and my comment has always been, “Well, if you want ‘Tooth And Nail’, go buy it.” I don’t understand it, you know?! I understand where my bread is buttered and what fans expect, and that they like the sound of my voice. But think of THE BEATLES. What was their first album, “Meet The Beatles”? What if they kept writing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” over and over again, they would have never survived. They were constantly changing, and everyone was cool with it. But now BON JOVI, POISON, those bands, have to stick right to those guidelines or people are like, “Uh?”

Über Röck: It can be limiting after a while.

Dokken: Well, it’s like I said in another magazine article can you imagine Monet painting the gardens of Giverny and this guy standing over his shoulder is saying “Not too much white. Put more red in there like the other painting. Wait a minute, the tree was on the left last time, this time it’s on the right, can you change it back? Make it look like all of your other paintings, just change the color a little.” As a painter, how can you put your soul and vision on a canvas and have someone telling you, “Don’t spin out?” Picasso got away with it. People think of him as an abstract guy who painted sideways noses and cubism, and people don’t realize his early work was very traditional. His work was normal, old-school portraits and paintings and then he kind of went off the deep end. [laughs] What would have happened if someone told him to keep doing what you have been doing? It’s not going to fulfil me as an artist, and I get frustrated. Then, if you don’t do what they want, the fans are disappointed and the record company gets frustrated, and they say, “Give us a DOKKEN record,” and I don’t know what that means. I just write what I write and hope that you like it. So I have those confines under the name of DOKKEN and I’d like to write an album and call it the MUD PUPPIES or something, you know? Whatever comes out of me comes out of me. Staying within the box gets frustrating for me. I’d like to not have those confines. I’m getting older, I’ve done 11 albums and I want to write different stuff.

Read the entire interview from Über Röck.

Photo credit: Devin DeHaven


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