Dokken Frontman Talks Reunion Concerts, New Song & More
It appears the reunion of Dokken's original lineup will yield more than just a few shows this fall.
Rock band Dokken will have at least one new song to play for fans when the group begins performing this fall, frontman Don Dokken tells Billboard. "We're in the process of writing a brand new song," he says.
It's shaping up to be a full-band collaboration between Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown -- the latter of whom still plays in the band’s current lineup.
"George and I came up with a couple musical ideas and we sent it off to Mick, who wrote some lyrics," Dokken says. "I've got some lyrics. Jeff's home (from Foreigner) for a couple days this week and has a studio in his house. So we're gonna go to Jeff's and brainstorm and come up with a collaborative effort. We just thought it would be kind of cool to throw in a brand new song and make it interesting."
There are no firm plans for the song yet other than performing it at the shows.
The first concert at Badlands Pawn Guns Gold and Rock 'N' Roll in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Sept. 30 will be filmed at least "for posterity," according to Dokken. Beginning Oct. 5, a video crew will follow the band through Japan to get some documentary footage that could accompany a subsequent home video release.
"This is only going to be for such a limited time, so if we didn't film it we'd probably kick ourselves," Dokken says.
The reunion of the original foursome, which hasn't played a full show together in nearly 20 years, has been broached "for years.” But as recently as last year, Dokken himself had given up hopes of it ever happening. A number of factors, including the attractive offer to play Japan -- always Dokken's biggest market -- and Dokken's own recent trip around the world helped bring it to fruition.
"After that I thought, 'What's on my bucket list still? To play with George and Jeff and Mick. Let's do it,’” Dokken recalls.
Known for ‘80s hits such as "In My Dreams," "Alone Again" and "Burning Like A Flame," Dokken scored three platinum albums and was nominated for the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1989. The group broke up that same year (but does not blame Jethro Tull in any way) and regrouped in 1993, with Lynch leaving four years later and Pilson bowing out in 2001. The bassist went on to work with Foreigner, while Lynch focused on his own band, Lynch Mob, though both made a one-off guest appearance with the current Dokken in 2009. Famously tempestuous, Dokken and company view the upcoming shows as a chance to address unfinished business together and achieve closure.
"This is a chance for redemption," Dokken acknowledges. "We're trying to keep it positive. We`re older and mellower now. We've been talking on the phone back and forth -- 'How about this? What songs do we want to play? What song do you want to start with?' Dokken was not really a band that spent our weekends barbecuing together. That's not a negative; That just wasn't the way it was. There was so much unfortunate mud-slinging when we broke up, which happens with so many bands but we're more legendary for it. So we're all trying to keep a positive attitude. As Jeff put it, 'I've always felt we never got a chance to put the exclamation point on the career of our lineup.' So this will be it."
And while offers from tours to festivals have been pouring in since the reunion shows were announced, Dokken is adamant that the upcoming shows will be it for the band.
"My manager is getting hit up every day for pretty large sums of money to play festivals next summer, all over the world. But I had to say no,” he explains. "I love the band I have now; We've been together for 13 years, and I don't want to hurt that franchise. Plus if we were to continue with (the original) lineup, old wounds might be opened, and I don't want to revisit that. I don't think any of us wants to. It's all great when a marriage fails and you say, 'I'm gonna get back with my ex' -- for a week, maybe. Six months into it, the wounds come back. I don't want to experience that. It's just not part of my life anymore, and I think the other guys feel the same way. So this will be enough."