Interview with Doogie White
Cornerstone is a band but together by ex Royal Hunt bassist Steen Morgensen & drummer Allan Sorensen, who was also the drummer for Nartia, an awesome Danish act who no longer exist which saddens me!! Joining Steen and Allen is Scottish vocalist Doogie White, who is known for his work with Rainbow, and most recently & current work with Yngwie Malmsteen. Joining these guys is guitarist Kasper Damgaard, and keyboardist Rune Brink. Cornerstone have released 4 albums to date, and 1 live CD, which was meant to be released as a DVD but never saw the light of day, pity!! Their latest release 'Two Tales Of One Tomorrow' was released on Massacre Records recently and shows the band just how talented this band really are. For fans of the Hard Rock/ Blues and AOR style this is an awesome Danish release and with Doogie's perfect voice what can one say? I managed to have a chat with Doogie just before he set off on their recent European & Scandinavian tour, there is what he had to say.
Ok Doogie, thanx for taking your time out and doing this interview. First of all I'd like to ask you about you're musical background, at what age did you learn to sing or was there an instrument that came 1st?
"I remember watching 'The Beatles' movies when I was a young lad, and I thought Ringo was a cool drummer and to be a drummer you need a good sense of rhythm & timing, and I have none!! I later on saw David Bowie in his pajamas on 'Top Of The Pops' in the UK doing 'Star Man' in the early 70's. So I decided to be a singer with spike hair. With a singer you only turn up with you're mic and that is it at a concert and it is still true today! I was a rubbish drummer back in the day, so that is why I decided to be a singer instead. David Bowie to me is my all time favourite singer, as he had such a character to his voice and he could sing about anything and make it sound so real, he is incredible!! I later on heard Richie Blackmore and I knew then that I wanted to do what he was doing!! I knew then that I wanted to do what he was doing, the power and intensity that he had just made me want to drive and be inspired by him!! The first guitar I had worked with was a guy called chick MacCherry who was in a band called 'LaPazz', he was outstanding and he was Gary Moore & Jimmy Page all rolled into one. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing guitarist, all of them have been outstanding players. I also liked as far as singers goes, Ian Gillan because of his screams. I was also influenced by a lot of black singers and some white singers who had that black singers feel to their voice, like Steve Overland from FM, Glenn Hughes, and even Terrance Trent Derby, what a great singer he was. I use to wonder what he would sound like if he was in a Hard Rock or Metal band!! The list goes on.... To me the greatest Metal singer has to be Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. Don't get me wrong, Rob Halford is a awesome singer, but I I could not get that kind of range with my voice and style that I could do."
So who was your 1st band that you actually recorded with?
"Well the 1st recording act I recorded with was 'LaPazz', and that was in 1984 and we would do gigs and take the money to record albums. You know the funny thing, I was on Ebay the other day and and I put my name on their and found a old Lapazz demos from Sweden and it went for £78, I could not believe it!! I would say that Lapazz were a little heavier than Foreigner were, and we mixed that with Rainbow (Joe Lynn Turner) era and FM style of Rock."
Listening to that album now, how would you compare your vocals now to what is was back then?
"Well my vocals are a little different to what they use to be, you see the guitarist takes 8hrs or so to record his guitar parts and the singer only gets something like 1 hr or so to record his. My voice and matured as it does when you get older and with more experience and stronger. I now understand my voice a lot more now with the experience that I have had over the years."
Didn't you do an album with Richie Blackmore, was it a Rainbow album? Please tell me more!!
"Well it was called 'Richie Blackmore's Rainbow'. I met Richie in the USA for dinner and we did some songs in the studio, and later on he asked me what kind of album would I like to make? I told him that we should do an album which would come across between 'Burn' and 'Rainbow Rising' and he thought it was a great idea. When we started to get the ideas together it was going to be a lot heavier than it turned out. He wanted songs that girls would like \and be played on the radio, so we did compromise on that record and the heavier songs were the direction that I wanted the album to sound like. Such songs as 'Cold Hearted Woman', 'Hall Of The Mountain King', 'Black Masquerade' were songs that I wanted to do. The problems we had, were that the Grunge scene was the in thing so it made it very difficult for us to do such a perfect album. I think if we went and did another album now we would be more successful than we were back then."
Tell me how you became the front man for Yngwie Malmsteen? How did you hook up with him?
"Well I have been with Yngwie for 5yrs now, I think I have been with him the longest so far as a singer. I have only come to blows with Yngwie twice so far and it has always been something that is petty, but we get on well. You see Yngwie is very successful and I am, so he gets my respect, and the same goes for Richie Blackmore, who I was with for 4yrs and we only did 1 album and toured for 2yrs. People come to see Yngwie and not Doogie White, but I enjoy playing with him and he is fun to be around. We play tennis together and do sound checks for 3-4hrs a day, just jamming classic songs like Purple etc... its great fun for me!! I have done 2 albums with Yngwie so far and I'm about to do the 3rd one in May 2007."
Moving on now, could you tell me how you became the singer for Cornerstone, as they are all Danish & you're from Scotland.
"Well what happened was, Royal Hunt were looking for a vocalist after DC Cooper left, & I got a phone call asking if I would like to Audition for Royal Hunt. So I went over and we ended up recording 2 songs which were for the 'Fear' album. As you know I didn't get the job, John West did, who use to sing for Artention, who is a great singer and a lovely guy! As you know I didn't get the job, but the guys in Royal Hunt were recording a solo album and they asked me if I wanted to sing on the solo albums, but Steen had an album already done and he just needed the vocals doing. So far flew over and did the songs in 5-6 days for him. He loved and the record company did, and the sales went through the roofs and the rest is history. The label offered us a 2 more album deal. Steen had wrote the songs for the debut album 'The Arrival', and I had wrote the songs for the 2nd Rainbow album but they weren't going anywhere. I had 9 songs so I sent them to Steen and he re-worked them which was called 'Human Stain', which set the style of what was to be Cornerstone. After that we recorded 'Once Upon Our Yesterdays' and then we recorded the new album."
Looking back at the previous albums with Cornerstone, which is your favourite and why?
"Well I like the live album we did, the reason why I like that is because you spend so long and so much time on it, trying to change things and making sure it sounds right. I never put a record that I have played on, but this album was something different as it was recorded over a series of gigs and all we had to do was to pick the best ones."
What about the new album, tell me how that album was wrote etc... What about the title for the new album?
"We wrote a lot of songs for the new album, and we had to pick 11 songs that worked well together as a unit. The new album has a lot of different moods to it. Lyrically it is more gothic, I wanted to pick pictures with words, I wanted to create imaginary and for me it worked. Well I came up with the title for the new album, and there is a lot of people who tend to go into rehab and the title is about make a choice, there is only 1 tomorrow. So you have to decide which road you wish to take as your destiny. What you do today will effect you tomorrow, and that is what the title of the album is all about. I never went into rock & roll to be a celebrity and be in the spotlight. That was the only title for the album that we had. Steen has his own production company in Denmark and he has been recording Danish bands and he is getting a good name for himself of been a very good record producer."
Where the songs for the new album wrote by you & Steen or just my yourself?
"Well they were wrote by Steen & myself. You see we don't have to be in the same studio, we can record and send our material via the internet. I will record something and then send it to him, and he will re-work it and then send it back to me to finish it off. It is difficult for the band to get together and record as a unit with my schedule with Yngwie and Steen with his production company. There is a song on the new album called 'Mother Of Mercy', I sent that to Steen at 11am on 1 morning, and by 1pm he had that song recorded with lyrics. The only thing we did was that it was re-recorded, other than that it was left alone. Steen is a very clever arranger at re-arranging songs etc.. and with the title track 'Two Tales of One Tomorrow' is very clever as I sent him the riffs and I sent him the vocal melody, and a week later he sent me back what he had done with it. He is a clever guy at re-arranging stuff."
Could you please tell me a little bit about the songs on the new album.
"Well I will tell you a little bit about a couple of them as I'm running late (sorry), so here goes. 'Misery', that is a song about these charlatans, it's about when life goes wrong and they read there stars to see what will happen to them, or have a tarot reading. it really doesn't help at all, the only way you ill get through it is if you do it all on you're own. Next is 'One Mans Hell', that is about somebody jumping from one relationship to another, and you can't understand why a woman goes out with a guy who beats her and stays with him, I really don't understand what they see in it all. Why are people drawn to the same kind of character. Next is 'Prey', that was an idea that was brought to us by a friend, its a really difficult story to explain really."
Have you been getting positive reviews for the new album?
"Funny you should ask that, because all the reviews so far have been from Germany and I don't speak German. I guess it has been getting good reviews so far and it is a strong and very good album with a lot of twists in it."
Before we end the interview could you tell me why the live album never came out as a DVD, I heard it was only releases on the USA, is this true?
"Well there is no DVD at all. What happened was, we were going to do the tour and there was a company who said they would love to come along and record a DVD for the band. They said they would pay us x amount of money, which would only pay for the bus, hotels, and the crew and flights. When the bus arrived they pulled out and we never got the money for it. I'm not going to say the name, hehe but they pulled out and it cost me a lot of money & Steen and we had nothing to make any money back. So we just did a live album and we brought a recorder along and recorded as many shows as we could. We would love to record a DVD, but nobody has come forward to help us to record it!! We will be touring later in the year as well, so we hope to film some of the shows or maybe just 1, we will have to wait and see."
Are you playing any shows here in the UK? If so where?
"To be honest, nobody is interested in having us play over here! (ED: Really? damn!!). Yeah that's right, the agents and promoters just don't want to do it. The same is also said for Sweden, nobody wants us!! We are working on it, so hopefully we will have some shows here in the UK and Sweden.
Well Doogie, I want to wish you all the best with Cornerstone, I hope they play here in the UK soon and good luck with Yngwie, tell him I said hello!! Do you have anything to say before we finish?
'Yeah, thanx to our fans for their support, we hope you like the new album and come and see us live if you can. Thanx for the interview too Jason."
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