DOKKEN frontman Don Dokken recently discussed the band’s upcoming studio album “Heaven Comes Down”
During a recent interview with Tulsa Music Stream, Don Dokken shared exciting details about DOKKEN‘s highly anticipated upcoming studio album, titled “Heaven Comes Down,” slated for release in September.
This album serves as the successor to their 2012 record “Broken Bones” and promises to be a treat for fans. Among the tracks on the album is “Fugitive From Life,” for which DOKKEN recently shot a captivating music video. The shoot took place at Meow Wolf, a renowned immersive arts venture located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Directing the video was Chris Eyre, known for his work on the popular AMC psychological thriller television series “Dark Winds.”
The production of “Heaven Comes Down” received an extra touch of brilliance through the mixing expertise of Kevin Shirley. With a remarkable portfolio that includes hit records for legendary bands like LED ZEPPELIN, IRON MAIDEN, AEROSMITH, JOURNEY, and THE BLACK CROWES, Shirley stands out as one of the most sought-after producers in the world of rock music. His involvement ensures that the album will truly shine and capture the essence of DOKKEN‘s music in the best possible way.
Dokken revealed that the process of crafting “Heaven Comes Down” took a challenging two-year journey for him and his bandmates. This extended timeline was partly attributed to the complications arising from the neck and spinal surgery he underwent in early November 2019, which resulted in partial paralysis of his right arm.
Despite the obstacles they faced, the band persevered and managed to record a total of 15 songs for “Heaven Comes Down.” Initially, the plan was to include all of these tracks on the album, showcasing the wealth of musical material they had created during the recording sessions.
“When I write records, I don’t just think, ‘Okay, we need 10 songs or 11.’ I always write 20 per album, and then you pick the best,” he explained (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “And sometimes you write a song, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, this is great.’ And it’s a good thing I owned a recording studio in L.A., so it didn’t cost me anything. And I’d write and write and write. And I’d get it done, and I’d go, ‘Eh… It’s okay.’ So you get an idea and you think it’s gonna go, and all of a sudden it just didn’t pay out.
“I’m very proud of the record, but then I gave it to the label… I had only written three songs in the past that never made it, and it was me playing guitar,” he said. “And I wanted those on the record, because now I’m crippled, I can’t play guitar anymore. I said, ‘At least put those on the album,’ my last hurrah.
“And they took ’em off. And I never heard… Most record companies, they want 15 songs or 16 songs, like METALLICA albums. And he goes, ‘We can only put 10.’ I go, ‘But that was the old days of vinyl.’ You could only put — I can’t remember; I think it’s 40 minutes a side or something like that.
“So I said, ‘But these are good songs. I want ’em on the record.’ Why would you wanna take off four good songs? And they said, ‘Well, maybe we’ll put like a bonus album out down the road and add ’em.’ … Anyway, he just said, ‘We want 10 songs on the record, 10 songs on the CD. We’re ditching four of ’em.’ And they happened to pick the ones that I was playing the guitar on and Jon [Levin, DOKKEN guitarist] was playing solos.
“And I think they didn’t like ’em… What did my record company president say? ‘They’re too grungy.’ And I went, ‘Grungy? Well, they’re old.’ But it wasn’t like they were grungy; they were just dark. I was probably going through a dark phase, and he didn’t want any dark songs on the record; he just wanted that classic DOKKEN [sound with] tons of harmonies, uptemp… yada yada yada.”
One of the songs on “Heaven Comes Down” is called “Santa Fe” and was written about Don‘s adopted hometown.
“People are always asking me how I ended up here,” Dokken said. “And I told the story to my engineer and producer Bill Palmer. So I literally wrote a song called ‘Santa Fe‘, and it’s four minutes and 15 seconds, ‘From the day I was born in L.A., I never wanted to leave. I had a lot of jobs. I hung out on Sunset Boulevard. I traveled around the world, was always missing home.’ And I was telling him this, and he was recording it on a microphone.
“And I told him my story, and I went, ‘Huh. I can make a song out of this.’ So I did… And it’s a really cool bastard song. It’s not a rock song. It’s not country. I can’t put my finger on it.”
Regarding the experience of working with Shirley for the first time, Don said: “Kevin Shirley is an amazing engineer. When he first started mixing the record, I was really disappointed. He gave me the first song and I went, ‘This sounds like ’80s.’ And he goes, ‘Well, I thought that’s what you were going for.’ And I said, ‘That ship has sailed, man.
“I want a modern record — punchy, aggressive, in your face. I don’t want a bunch of reverb, I don’t want a bunch of echo. I don’t want a bunch of production — just harmonies I want still.’ So he goes, ‘Oh, okay, I get it.’ I said, ‘Look, I just heard the IRON MAIDEN album. That thing kicks ass. Just go that direction.’ So he did.”
The title of the new DOKKEN album is apparently not to be confused with the song “When Heaven Comes Down” which originally appeared on the band’s 1984 LP “Tooth And Nail“.