Dougie White


Just something over a year ago, Cornerstone released their first (excellent) record Arrival and, at least in my opinion, shot straight to the top of the melodic rock scene. (wich should be no wonder, considering the fact that the band more or less revolves around the two first class musicians, Steen & White). Their second album Human Stain is certainly one of the better releases (if not the best) as of lately. More than reason enough to catch up with singer Dougie White to talk about both the album, future of the band and some of his other projects.
By David Kaluza
March 20, 2002
Dougie White (Cornerstone) interview
First off, the new album follows the first one quite rapidly, in your opinion, which are the main differences between Human Stain and Arrival?

You're right it does follow quite quickly. We wanted to do an album every 12/14 months or so. As we didn't tour with Arrival we had time to get writing Human Stain. It is a much darker album both in the music and lyrics. We did not want to remake Arrival. We also have the luxury of being able to do exactly what we want.

I've seen Cornerstone mentioned as a project on various place on the net, how do you feel about that, would you consider it to be a project more than a real band, or the other way around?

Well I think bands tour and unfortunately we didnt manage to get on the road last year for a couple of reasons. I hope that at some point this year we can take a live show on the road and see how it all develops. Steen is still very much a member of Royal Hunt and has commitments to them. As Cornerstone was conceived while Royal Hunt were taking time off I suppose it was a project.

How does the actual songwriting takes place, and how much is your involvement in that? Could you describe the process of writing a song up to your recording in the studio for Cornerstone?

Human Stain was written between Steen and myself. We exchanged ideas and sent tapes and CDs across the sea to each other. Steen would then work up a demo of the songs and give them to the guys who would then record their parts. During this time I would be honing lyrics and melodies.

Did you have anything to do with the final production and mixing ? Or was that mainly in the hands of Steen ?

All the really hard work is done by Steen. That is recording production and mixing. We he is very good at it, I am not.

Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics and how hard is it to come up with them?

Life. Sometimes, as with Midnight in Tokyo, the music suggests the theme for the lyrics. In other cases something I have read will spark an idea. Sometimes its not until the song is actually recorded that what it is about becomes clear. Other times it never becomes clear and thats when the imagination takes over.

Are there any specific songs on Human Stain which you are particularly proud of and why? What are you favourite songs on there?

I am very proud of 90% of the songs on the album. I am not going to mention the other 10% because it doesn't seem to bother anyone else. Forever Young is a favorite. When I heard Steens ideas for it I was knocked out. House of Nevermore was an unexpected surprise too. I think it is a very strong album from the opening chord till the last fade. The bonus track for the Japanese version Candyman is as good a song as the rest of the album.

Does the cover artwork for the Cornerstone album have any special meaning or symbolism ?

The significance of the sleeve is corruption. The tarnished sun. There is a key but where is it? It was designed by Martin Burrage who also did Arrival.

What do you expect from the album? Would you be willing to fully dedicate yourself to Cornerstone if the situation ever arose?

I hope the album gives us the opportunity to tour and not make a loss. It would be nice if we could increase on the sales of Arrival. When I heard the rough mixes I said to Steen ,this is a bit special and we could really be on a winner I give 110% to everything I do, either that or there is no point doing it in the first place. Its now down to the record company and promotions people to get the album out there so people have the chance to buy it.

How is the current state of your solo album? Can you tell us a bit more about that? What musical direction is it going to take and what are your main influences on songwriting ? When can we expect it to be finished ?

The album is on hold at the moment. Most of the music is done barring some keys.The vocals will have to be done later. It is an interesting mix of rock music. It leans more to American bands I was listening to a couple of years ago. It is not formula rock n roll. I`m just having problems finding the time to get it done. I dont want it lost amongst other albums I am or may be on. Again it will need 110% attention and at the moment I cant give that. So its on hold till I have some free time.

How do you look back on the recent tour with Yngwie Malmsteen ? Were there any songs in particular which you enjoyed singing, or would rather have not done ? And how was it to be onstage with Yngwie ?

He is great !! He really is a monster guitar player and we shook up South America. The band was all new so we were all eager to play as well as we could. You know you hear the stories Oh he's like this, or that I just took him as he was to me and we got on just fine. He gave me free range on the stage and was encouraging.

Were you already familiar with Yngwie's material before you joined the line-up ? What do you think about his releases so far ?

His manager sent me some CD's in May when Jorn Lande left the band but there was no chance of me coming in at such short notice. So by the time we hooked up I was familiar with a lot of his songs. It was tough singing Boals/Soto songs. These guy have big ranges but I just got on with it and Yngwie was pleased.

Are you actively working together on new songs with Yngwie and how hard is it to work together with someone that is well-known for his solitary approach regarding song-writing ?

No I have not done any work with Yngwie as far as writing goes. If he asks me Great. But as you point out he tends to do it all himself......

How did you get involved in the Nostradameus album ? How do you look back on that and how was the co-operation with Nikolo ?

Nik called me and asked if I would write 5 songs with him for the album. I went to Aland in late April, still with snow on the ground. We spent 5 days locked in the studio doing the vocals. I enjoyed working with him. I dont know how he felt about though!!!!!

You seem to have quite a lot of things going on, such as for example your performance of Gethsemane in December ? Do you have any plans for the future to continue in that direction ?

It is something I have looked at in the past. However RAWK is no 1. Its a different animal altogether and I have been taking some music theatre classes, hence the Gethsemane performance. I have some interest from a couple of agents but thats for later.

How did you end up doing backing vocals for Emma Bunton ? !

Alex Dickson was Emma's MD and they needed some BV's quickly so I got the call.

Going back to your auditions for Iron Maiden, how do you look back on that ? And in the end, what do you think of Steve's decision to choose Blaze and that fact that it could have been you up there ?

It was a very nerve wrecking time. They are the greatest metal band and I really wanted the gig. Still I would not have been in Rainbow and that was very important for me to work with Ritchie. I would probably have been a wealthier man but Rainbow was a passion. Steve always has great vision and knows what he wants for and from Maiden. I didn't fit the bill. It was disappointing but thats life.

How about Rainbow ? Are you still in touch with any of the musicians from Stranger in us all and do you still have hopes of ever doing another album with Ritchie ?

Greg, Burgi and Micelli and I still get together for beers. Ritchie and I exchange Christmas cards. Ritchie jumped into a time machine and so far has not come back. If he does I am sure that there will be a long queue of people wanting the gig.

Is there a lot of difference between working with Yngwie Malmsteen as opposed to Ritchie Blackmore, since they both are quite notorious for their behaviour ?

Ritchie is much more laid back but just as demanding and equally as ruthless if he feels people are not doing their job the way he wants. He is the leader but allows the idea of a band to grow. I dont really know about Yngwie. We only worked together for 6 weeks. We had no problems I am aware off.

Doesn't it annoy you sometime, that while you have done a lot of first class-stuff, people stiff refer to you as the guy that sang in rainbow ?

Better than being known as the fat dancer from Take That.

I'm pretty sure you must have lots of sappy anecdotes about being on tour with Rainbow, do you have any specific ones which still make you laugh ? Or annoy you ? Do you mind sharing them with us ?

One member of the band had the habit of going to strip bars and bringing the dancers back to the studio. We put shot glasses under the legs off the bed and waited for the inevitable explosion.

There were a great many wonderful times. I was told never to touch Ritchies guitars. Well you would wouldn't you. So there I was full rig turned on, Strat in hand, rocking away when I hear. Oi. I turned round and there was a very bemused Mr Blackmore running towards me. Thats not how it goes. here gimmie that He took the guitar and taught me the Kill the King lick. He is a one off.

Do you keep up what the current metal / rock scene and what are your thoughts on that ? Any bands in particular which you like or dislike ? which are the last albums you have bought ? What other kinds of music are you into ?

I like The Tea Party very much. I bought Nicklebacks album, played it once.

Do you have a wish-list of artists which you'd like to work with and who are the people on top of it ?

No, not really. If someone asks me to do something and I like it and have the time I generally do it. When I left Rainbow I turned down a lot of work as I didn't want to sit and talk about Ritchie. That was a mistake probably and it wasnt til Nik Kotzev asked me to do Nostradamos that I killed that ghost and thought fuck it, you're a singer, so sing And with the scare at the beginning of 2001 that I may never sing again I decided to do as much quality work as I could. I was in the studio with a writer and producer this week doing a dance track. A RAWK dance track. It was different and we had some fun with that.

What would you consider to be the highlight of your career so far ? And what about the low point ?

My 3 years with Rainbow were very special for me. As was my tour with Yngwie. Rocking with Steen continues to be a source of great enjoyment. Human Stain is as satisfying an album as I have ever done. The low point was having to have surgery on my vocal cords last year. It was frustrating and very frightening. Human Stain was the first time I had sung since I had it done. It was nerve wracking but we gave ourselves a day a song just incase. Some people have said I have never sounded so good, so it was worth it in the end.

What exactly was the problem with your vocal chords that you had to have surgery ? (if you don't mind telling in an interview).

I ruptured my left vocal fold and my vocal stamina was suffering. My top end was was suffering and my power was gone. I did the damage on the Rainbow US tour and thought rest would help but having surgery became the only option. I was okay in the studio but live I was struggling.

Finally, are there any final words, or things you'd like to speak about or tell your fans and readers of the interview ?

Although the works of these men are made out of words there is present in them the force of gravity which governs our souls....There, good and evil appear in their truth. Oh...and... keep rockin.

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