The Metal Voice spoke to frontman Don Dokken about his upcoming album called ‘The Lost Songs:1978-1981. Twelve songs which were recorded during his early years that were never released on any Dokken album. The album will be released on August 28 2020 via Silver Lining Music.
Dokken also spoke about the new upcoming Dokken studio album, his health, the classic Dokken lineup, ballad album and helping out the Scorpions during the Blackout era in the early 80’s.
Tell me where you found these lost songs?
“I decided to move a lot of stuff from my L.A. house to my house in New Mexico. So I had all this recording equipment from the old days that I don’t need, so I just got a big truck and started taking it to the dump to get rid of all this stuff and I found this plastic tub. I opened it up and I saw all these two inch reel to reel tapes which takes me back cause nobody records on two inch anymore. It’s a digital world. Some had notes on it some had no track sheets but I did see one that said Michael Wagner TENNESSEE TONSTUDIO 1979 and I said oh these are the demos I did when I met Michael 40 years ago. A friend of mine had a reel to reel machine still, we baked the tapes and then transferred all this music onto a hard drive. I took it home and started listening to all these songs that were done, partially done, drum machines cheesy sounding and there was a lot of songs I liked . So I had DJ (Jampa) put real drums on it and Jon (Levin) redo the guitars and so on and that’s how this thing came about.”
What part of the songs did you end up keeping from these lost songs?
“I kept all my guitar tracks, Jon (Levin) just did the solos over, I redid some of the drums and I kept some of the drums. I just kept as much as I could, mostly my guitar playing, my bass playing and my vocals. ”
Did you find any scratch tracks with you and the Scorpions during the Blackout recording days?
“I have been asked that a lot, yeah I have some but I would never give it to anybody or play it for anybody or let it out of my hands. I didn’t sing any lead vocals, I just sang background vocals that’s it. Only two songs I did scratch tracks. It was just a scratch track to save Klaus’ voice, he had some vocal problems at the time. I only sang a couple of songs a really quick 20 minutes scratch track just to get the melody on tape for Klaus. ”
How long were you in the studio with the Scorpions?
“As far as me participating on the record (Blackout) two days but as far as me being in the studio with them I was in there for a month because they were making Blackout the same time I was making Breaking the Chains in the same studio and Accept was in there making Russian Roulette. ”
How is your hand from the last time we spoke in person you had trouble moving it?
“Unfortunately it’s about the same. My hand and my forearm are still paralyzed, it’s been seven months. The doctors just kept saying be patient it will get better. I can move my fingers about another inch but my thumb does not move at all. My forefingers are still blown up and swollen like sausages. It’s been seven months and it’s not getting any better so I have to accept it . They say it might take a year or a year and a half and all I can do is be patient and pray that I wake up one morning and it’s starting to work. But the reality is it’s not getting any better. My guitar playing days might be over with. But I got to play for 50 years. At least it didn’t paralyze me all the way, it could have been worse it could have killed me. It could have turned out worse or better. ”
How did the paralyzing start?
“Little things over a couple of years. Riding my Harley taking it back to the shop saying something is wrong with my clutch it’s really hard to pull in. Then when I ride I had a hard time holding the throttle, my hand would get weak. Then I started walking like my equilibrium was off. I would drop things. I would pick up a plate with my right hand and it would feel like it weighed five pounds. And I’m like what the hell is going on? Then I started getting a tingling sensation in both my arms like my fingers are going to sleep. So I went and got an MRI and they did a full spinal scan and they said, your spinal cord is completely crushed, compressed and it’s cutting off the blood flow to your arms and your hips. So the bottom line they said (doctors) you can wait but the longer you wait the more nerves that will die and the nerves will not come back and at some point you will be paralyzed. So I thought I found the best doctor in LA and I had the surgery and it didn’t go so well. I woke up and I was paralyzed worse.I just drew the short straw.”
What are the plans for the next Studio Dokken Album?
“Lucky for us before I lost my hand to play guitar we wrote like 17 songs for Broken Bones and so many of those songs didn’t make it onto the record so I dug up all my hard drives and Jon did too. I actually found three songs where I play guitar that we are going to keep for the record. We are working over the internet like a lot of people. We are about half way done for the record, about seven songs so far. In a perfect world we were going to have an album out this summer and then Corona hit and that changed the world for everybody. So it was good timing to put out The Lost Tapes as a buffer for our hard core Dokken fans to have some new product from us cause it’s been a long time. We were also thinking about re-releasing (The Album) Broken Bones cause I never thought that album got a fair shot cause the record company we were on at the time didn’t do anything to promote or advertise, it just kind of came and went. So Silver lining might be releasing broken bones. And I am also thinking of releasing the best of Dokken ballads for the holidays like Christmas time, so I am working on that too right now.”
What will be the musical direction of the next Dokken studio album?
“We are kind of going retro. you write what you write as a musician. I know where my bread is buttered as far as the classic Dokken sound and Jon is really good at doing that. And I said I think we should write a record between the lines of Tooth and Nail and Under Lock and Key and that is the direction I am kind of writing in now.”
What about doing the classic Dokken reunion one off shows?
“No. Mick(Brown) is completely retired he doesn’t play anymore. George has Lynch Mob. I have done a few shows with George. I was supposed to do 10 shows with George (Lynch Mob) this summer but Covid hit, he doesn’t fly , he doesn’t want to travel ,so that went all out the window. ”
“The Lost Songs: 1978-1981” track listing:
01. Step Into the Light
02. We’re Going Wrong
03. Day After Day
06. No Answer
07. Back In The Streets
08. Hit And Run
09. Broken Heart
Musicians who appear on “The Lost Songs: 1978-1981”:
Don Dokken – vocals, guitar
Jon Levin – guitar
BJ Zampa – drums
Juan Croucier – bass
Greg Leon – guitar
Gary Holland – drums
Mick Brown – drums
George Lynch -guitar
Rustee Allen – bass
Bill Lordan – drums
Greg Pecka – drums