RockUnited (RU): Could you perhaps start with telling us a little bit about the "concept" behind "The Walls Have Eyes". Whom or what are you thinking about here?
Jeff Pilson (JP): It's a song about child abuse and the anxiety that children learn to cope with and its destructive tendencies. I also like it as a loose reference to the "Big Brother" concept (as in government) which much of the album deals with. I think the US government is in a very dangerous place right now, and I can't help but write about it.
RU: I find this to be your best release in years. Are you pleased with the result and what do you expect to gain with this CD? (loads of cash [:-)], or simple just a feel-good thing?)
JP: No, believe me, cash was NOT the motive. This is just a creative high for me, and it's a chance for me to express and emote.
RU. So what makes a "typical" War&Peace release anyway?
JP: I think the idea is heavy grooves with strong melody, not unlike the concept we always had in Dokken. And I certainly don't shy away from harmonies.
RU: My pre-release copy of the disc doesn't hold much info I'm afraid. I know that Alex Masi play guitar on a couple of tracks. Do you handle the rest yourself?
JP: Yes, Alex did a brilliant solo on the track, "Stranger In My Own Land", and I did do the rest. I'm nowhere near the soloist Alex is, but I certainly got into it!
RU: What's the story behind the track "Stranger In My Own Land"?
JP:I was asked to write a song for a charity album for the victims of 9/11. I wrote and recorded this tune shortly afterward (late 2001), but the album didn't come out til over a year later! They said I'd be welcome to use it on other things, so it worked well for this CD.
RU: "You Haunt Me" is a marvelous little tune. What inspired you to write it and would that be a true story?
JP: If you met my wife, you'd understand! She's very exotic! Anyways, it's basically a simple love song, and it deals with the whole idea that the darker side can draw you in as well.
RU: Were any of these songs originally written with Dokken in mind, or are they all especially for WAR AND PEACE?
JP: No, with the exception of "Walk Away", all these were written for either Lynch/Pilson or War and Peace.
RU: Is "Walk Away" your all-time favorite Dokken song, or perhaps something which you were disappointed with, since you decided to re-record it.
JP: Neither. I do love the song, but I was fascinated with putting a song to string quartet, and it seemed a strong melodic choice. I just heard it in my head with the quartet figures and wanted to record it. Pretty simple really.
RU: Do you find it more difficult to come up with song ideas today than say 15-20 years ago? For example, how many "Hold On" or "Under The Gun" (common titles) songs, do you have in the archive?
JP: Oh I'm sure there are a bevy of those kind of tunes sitting in the vault- well protected!! I wouldn't say it's more difficult now, just that I am much more scrutinizing. In many ways it's easier cuz I have a large subconscious encyclopedia to draw from.
RU: Do you find it weird that America isn't "that" interested in this kind of music anymore? I mean, your biggest markets are Europe and Japan and this CD wont even see a US release, or? Whats your opinion about all this?
JP: America is extremely trendy and victimized by the marketing of corporate America, so it's not weird, just sad! I do believe there is an audience, although limited, it's just a matter of finding a way to reach them.
RU: You will attend the Z Records "festival" in U.K. later this year.What can the audience expect from that and which musicians will you bring along to the gig?
JP: Well I'm very excited to announce the line-up for W&P. Mitch Perry will be guitarist- and he is a mind-boggler! The guy is amazing- wait'll you see him- Europe will eat him up! And on drums- the one and only Michael "Fro" Frowein! He played on both the W&P and L/P records. The guy's a phenomenal musician, drummer, and person- it feels so good to have him in the band! Then on bass- the secret weapon- Brad Lang. This guy plays and sings unbelievable! It makes the backgrounds so strong- it kills! The band will floor everyone- that I have no doubt!
RU: Let's step back in time a bit, is it true that you played the leading role in the musical "Rock Justice", before joining Dokken? What the heck was that all about???
JP: Yes, I did. It was a rock opera about a singer on trial for not having a hit. Pretty fun piece.
RU: Would you say that you four original members of Dokken always had some weird love/hate relationship? I mean, there's always been some tension within the group. Or has this been blown out of proportion by the press?
JP: No it was there, but it did get blown out of proportion in many ways. It was as if there were two bands within the one. There was Don, Jeff and Mick and there was George, Jeff and Mick. Made for a strange and often unproductive chemistry.
RU: Do you think you'll ever work with Don(ald) again?
JP: I could never say never, but it certainly didn't feel very good towards the end and life's too short for that feeling. From what I've heard recently it doesn't sound like Don has changed his ways, so at this point I'm not interested. But I hope we can return to some level of friendship someday- we had a strong and brotherly bond in many ways.
RU: Would you agree that it's not always the better singer within a "certain" group, that ends up as their lead vocalist?
JP: I think it's whoever has the vibe, or the characteristics.
RU: You're also back working with Ronnie James Dio again. What's that like? and what can you tell us about the new Dio album?
JP: It's always great working with Ronnie- and the new album is so amazing. There are some classic new Dio songs on there.
RU: Any particular reason to why you decided not to tour with Dio?
JP: Well yes, my wife and I are expecting our first child this July, which is when Dio is going out. I also make my living mostly as a producer these days, so it's hard to leave for extended periods. That's why the shows in September mean so much to me. My passion is still with playing.
RU: Do you believe that rock musicians should retire at a certain age? Is there such a thing as 'too old to rock' anymore? I mean, rock music in the past was strickly intended for the kids. But that's not the case anymore, right? [just look at Dio, he's what? 85 years old today and still at it :-)]
JP: If you've still got the vibe and the passion- I say go for it. It's the ones who are burned out that need to call it a day!
RU: What's your opinion about the music bashing of the 80's, that seems to be ever so popular among posh journalists of today. Are you ashamed of your past? Is too much hair, lots of make-up, weird outfits, etc. the same as bad music??? I have a feeling that many people only (wants to) remember the image back then. For example, I hate the fact that everything goes as "hairmatal".
JP: 80's bashing has definitely gotten old for me. Yes, the outfits and hair, and many of the songs' lyrics, were very stupid and silly! But there were also a lot of good bands and songs that don't deserve such bashing. It especially pisses me off about Winger. Yes they were "pop", but my God what musicians, and they were so amazing live! People need to show appreciation for bands that good!
RU: Amen to that!! You've worked with a lot of people in biz. With whom did you enjoy working with the most, and is there someone out there you'd still love to write and play music with.
JP: I love working with Dio- we'll do more someday I'm sure. I love working with George (Lynch). I'm pretty sure we'll do another L/P record someday, and hopefully at least a handful of shows. Other than that- I'm over-the-top ecstatic about this new version of War and Peace- it's like a dream band for me.
RU: Who's idea was it to work under a pseudonym on the 'Underground Moon'project?
JP: It was mine and the label's. We just felt no-one would take a "modern" band and record seriosly if they had the preconceived notion it was coming from me. And I think I was right. As soon as people discovered it was me, the tone of everything changed.
RU: To keep it sweet and simple, why should the average hardrock fan buy your new CD??? Not talking about your long time fans here.
JP: I think the record is full of really great songs, if I do say so myself! It's definetly my best writing in years, and I think it addresses a style (extremely melodic but heavy music) that is more and more a rare breed. And I believe in my heart that I do it well and with powerful conviction. I do hate to "sell" myself- but that's honestly how I feel.
RU: If there's anything you'd like to say, add, or promote. Please do:
thank-you to the hardcores, and to those of you unfamiliar with my work,
check out the new War and Peace- it kicks ass!
by: Urban 'Wally' Wallstrom
Pics from www.jeffpilson.com