Guardian Angel by Alcatrazz, with Doogie White on vocals, from their latest album, 2021’s V.
Doogie White is one of the busiest singers in all of Hard Rock and has been for quite some time now. After getting his big break with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in the mid-90s in that band’s final studio album to date, 1995’s Stranger in Us All, the Scottish vocalist hasn’t stopped performing, playing with a wide variety of artists and bands, such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Tank, Michael Schenker in various projects, Axel Rudi Pell, Rata Blanca, Cornerstone, among many others.
One of the biggest news of 2021 in Rock was that, after the breakup of singer Graham Bonnet with his band Alcatrazz, Doogie was called to replace him, resulting in the group’s phenomenal recent release, V. And I had the opportunity to interview Doogie and discuss the new Alcatrazz album, his time with Yngwie, Schenker, the record he did with Rata Blanca and many other interesting projects.
First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to do this, Doogie. It’s a pleasure. How you’ve been in recent times, with the pandemic and everything?
No worries. My pleasure. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. I love playing live but touring has been dealt a very hard blow all over the world for everyone from bands to audiences and not forgetting the longs suffering crew and promoters.
However, in 2021 I had three albums released but like most in this industry these days, my wages come from touring and I miss that so much. Being Scottish, I know the value of every penny and I cut my cloth accordingly. Life is good but I do miss the live work. Going into 2022, I hope we can all get back to playing/watching live gigs.
Raging Silence by Long Shadows Dawn.
Anyone who has followed your career knows that you’re a guy that likes to stay busy. So what are you working on these days, for people that may not have kept track?
Shame on you for not keeping track (laughs). So here for those non track trackers is what you need.
Early 2021 I re-released my only solo album, As Yet Untitled, fucking brilliant by the way, with two extra tracks and an accompanying CD of covers I did 100 years ago. It’s all quite fun and worth a listen. Money for nothing. Get it and shoooosh.
I then recorded an album with a stunning Swedish writer and guitarist Emil Norberg. The project is Long Shadows Dawn and the album is Isle of Wrath. It’s a magical album and one of the finest I have ever done. I am so proud of it. Mmm buy it.
Later I joined Alcatrazz, after Graham Bonnet quit. He told me, when we wandered around Edinburgh, that he hated the music he was making with Alcatrazz and wanted to do music he thought better of. I had no idea he would quit but he did. We have just released our first album together, V. It’s another well-crafted album of outrageous musicianship stunning performances with deep, dark songs. DON’T SLEEP ALONE. Buy this also. It’s catastrophic in its “musicness”.
Congratulations on the release of Alcatrazz’s recent album, V. After a couple of months since its release, how do you feel about that record and the reception it has received?
The album has been unanimously well received worldwide. I am so proud of what we did regardless of the situation or circumstances. It’s a stunning debut for an outstanding line up of a band that some loved. The flood gates are open. Those who choose to ride the wave are most welcome. Those who don’t are equally welcome. I don’t write songs for fans, I do write songs I hope fans will understand and fall in love with.
Dark Day for my Soul by Alcatrazz.
Are you the kind of musician that likes to look back on his work and analyze it? Or that’s history and you prefer to focus on the upcoming record?
To be honest, I always listen once or twice just to be sure. Then it goes away unless I have to learn songs for concerts. That’s not to put down my or others’ work but I spend so long getting it “right” that I know what it should sound like and how much love, attention and work went into it. Also I don’t like listening to myself. I love listening to the others play and marvel at something or other but I would only think… mmmm maybe if I had changed that line. So it’s not something I indulge in.
What can you tell us about the writing process of Alcatrazz and how that compares to previous projects of yours?
When I was starting out, we played with the best player in our town. Now with the internet we can play with the best players anywhere. I do miss the 5 guys jamming in a room and being creative but record company budgets do not allow that anymore.
As someone with so much experience and with so many records with different projects, what is your favorite approach to making music?
Mostly I get sent a piece of music and I work around that. Occasionally I will have an idea and send my shitty guitar playing idea and we work from that. Nothing would be better than getting a room and having the band throw ideas around. A drum machine no matter how well programmed can’t bring the swing a good drummer brings to the writing in the room. That’s where all the great rock bands came from. But it’s a different world now.
Never Wrote a Love Song by Long Shadows Dawn.
What can you tell us about the upcoming plans to tour with Alcatrazz?
We toured in the UK, and it was dynamic. Then Covid came and smacked the crew and shut us down. What we did was new born but dramatic. It will be awesome when we get to do it again.
For people that perhaps haven’t heard V yet, which song would you suggest for them to really get in the album?
WHY HAVE YOU NOT BOUGHT IT? (laughs) Get the album, however you listen to it and start at the beginning and see where it takes you. It’s a magical journey.
It was carefully put together for listening in the order it comes at you. So listen, pick what you like, but don’t ignore those that don’t smack you in the head on first listen. Those are the ones you will be loving next year.
You’re a vocalist that is always in demand by a lot of different bands and musicians. What do you think are the key traits to have a career as yours?
You would have to ask others that question.
I personally think some of the best albums you have done were with Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock a few years ago. How that project came to be?
I met Michael and we hit it off. We wrote Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead and we agreed that we should do a whole album together. MS decided that with Herman and Francis in the band we should have a new band name out of respect for them. That’s where TOR (Temple of Rock) came about. It was a great live band with the unsung Schenker hero Wayne Findlay on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Wayne was the cement that helped it all musically together.
It was a great band but MS as he always does moves on to something new.
We already talked with two former Schenker vocalists, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, and they shared some of their experiences with Michael. From your own perspective, what is like playing and making music with him?
Together Michael and I wrote some of the best songs he’d done in 20 years. However I was underwhelmed by the overall sound of the albums we made but there was no denying the quality of the work we did. We wrote some crazy wonderful songs. That’s what I remember.
Horizons by Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, featuring Doogie White on vocals.
I think one of the finest songs you did with Michael was Horizons on the Bridge the Gap album. What can you tell us about the making of that song?
When we came to do the first album I had nine days to write my parts before flying to wherever to record it. It was 24 hours a day for me for that time and I had builders and snow to contend with. The story is in the lyrics. We played it live before the album even came out.
You also worked with him in the Michael Schenker Fest albums Resurrection and Revelation. How was the experience of playing with so many great singers in the same albums and same songs?
I thought it was brave and creative of MS to do this. It worked. We all just got on. It could have gone very badly but we just left our egos at the door and respected whose name was on the Marquee. We are all good friends and still speak every so often.
If I can speak from a personal perspective, the song Warrior from Resurrection sent a chill down my spine when listening to all of you combined and you sound particularly great there. How was the process of making that song?
MS toured with Gary, Robin and Graham for a while as MSF which was a musical moment for the band and the fans to have the 3 vocalists the fans felt were the most important to MSG. MS called me and said he wanted to do an MSF album and would I be involved. Why not, I thought. Warrior was a song MS and Vossy wrote. I did my vocals in a room when MSF 1 was playing to 25k in Germany. It was fun. Raw and uncontrolled. It came out well. I am not a fan of singing other people’s ideas. Warrior was one such moment.
When doing research for this interview, I learned that you were with Pink Cream 69 for a very short period of time in 1994 after their former vocalist, Andi Deris, joined Helloween. I know you auditioned for Rainbow shortly afterwards, but I wanted to know if you had time to do shows or write some material with them.
We jammed around for a week and we were set to make it work but then Ritchie called and made me an offer I could not refuse. That’s how it was.
Focusing a bit on Rainbow, one of the songs you did on Stranger in Us All, Black Masquerade, is my favorite non-Dio song in the band’s history and I wanted to congratulate you for your performance on that one. Do you remember anything about making that song?
Thanks. It went through several melody and lyric moments. We went with the best.
Black Masquerade by Rainbow.
Much has been said throughout the years about Ritchie Blackmore. Based on your own experience, what it was like playing and recording with him?
We got on just fine until he decided we did not. We had a fine time together despite what he said subsequently. It’s all done with the band in the room. Ritchie had a riff and sometimes a song or sometimes a bit of both. Ritchie brought his ideas for us all to work on.
You have a knack of playing with notorious guitarists, with Yngwie Malmsteen another one. What do you remember of playing with him back in the mid-2000s?
Yngwie and I had a wonderful time together. We did two albums of his work. I knew what I was getting into, embraced it and had six very happy years singing with him. He is a lovely lad and gets some bad press but I had no issues with him at all. Total professional and very good at what he does.
Yngwie Malmsteen live with Doogie White on vocals.
Is he as demanding and nitpicking as other people claim he is?
He has a vision of how his music is presented. I respect that. He works hard and you can’t ask for more from an artist.
As a Latin American, your collaboration with Argentinian band Rata Blanca in 2009’s The Forgotten Kingdom, which were songs they had in Spanish and you obviously sang in English, was quite interesting. How that collaboration came to be?
Walter (Giardino) asked me. It was wrong to try and replace the stunning work done by Adrian (Barilari) with my lyrics and vocals. His were perfect on the original. I said so at the time. Walter and I should have done an album together as co-writers and not fuck up a great Rata album. But we learn these things after the moment has passed.
The Forgotten Kingdom by Rata Blanca. An English version of the band’s El Reino Olvidado song, featuring Doogie White on vocals.
Was it difficult to arrange your vocals on songs that were arranged in another language?
It was a nightmare. I had my friend’s girlfriend translate from Spanish to English. We found that did not work. I was trying to write lyrics to songs that the Argentine Rock fans knew and loved. It was never going to work. Walter and I should just sit down and write an album together or if that does not work go for dinner.
Doogie White and Rata Blanca’s Walter Giardino.
What do you think about the guys in Rata Blanca? I’m curious to know if you noticed some cultural differences in them as musicians when compared to people from other parts of the world.
We are all RAWKERS. The love for the music is what binds musicians together no matter where in the world they come from.
And well, this isn’t much of a question, but Walter Giardino is another highly talented guitarist and songwriter you have played with, much in the line of Blackmore and Yngwie.
There’s something that I always to know since I started to follow your career: you have played in so many different projects and so many groups… Why have you never considered a solo career? Seems like a natural career path considering your excellent CV.
I love being in a band. My ego is such. I don’t want my own band on a BIG stage. I am happy to have WHITE NOISE and get to play with musicians from all over the world depending on where I am playing. I have a splendid bunch of players in Argentina when I was down there a few years ago. We are looking at doing it again when the madness is over.
Turn of the Wheel by Alcatrazz.
And after so many years in the business, what is your biggest motivation right now?
My joy has always been singing. Let me have a band to tour with, singing songs I have written and I will be there.
Which album do you consider the best you have ever done (no, you can’t say Alcatrazz’s V hahahaha)?
Cant’ really answer that. Connerstone’ Human Stain is in there as is Long Shadows Dawn’s Isle of Wrath.
Cornerstone’s 2002 album, Human Stain, featuring Doogie White on vocals.
Any advice for a singer starting out?
Do it because you enjoying singing. Do it because you love music. Do it because your heart tells you to do it.
That will be all, Doogie. I don’t want to keep you busy that long. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media and buy your music?
Save the planet. We have nowhere else to go. You can find my music on the usual places you find music.
Thanks for taking the time and stay safe and well in 2022.