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JEFF PILSON Responds To DON DOKKEN’s Criticism Of ‘Heavy Hitters’ Album

Jeff Pilson has responded to Don Dokken‘s recent criticism of “Heavy Hitters”, the bassist’s recently released collaboration with George Lynch on a collection of studio recordings that turn pop music classics into metal anthems. Issued on December 18, the LP includes cover versions of such tracks as Carole King‘s “I Feel The Earth Move”, Prince‘s “Kiss”, OASIS‘s “Champagne Supernova”, Madonna‘s “Music” and R.E.M.‘s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”.

Dokken discussed the LP during a December 2020 appearance on “The Classic Metal Show”. After co-host Chris Akin named some of the songs which were reimagined by Pilson and Lynch, Don said: “But those are not heavy hitters. No offense, they are good songs, but those are vanilla tunes. [Sings ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’] Did they rock ’em up or put some shredding guitar solos [in them]?

“They must be really bored,” Dokken continued. “But, you know, everybody’s got their mantra; everybody’s got their financial things, I guess. If a record company is willing to give you money to put out pablum, then put out the pablum. But I hope my standards as a songwriter are a little higher than that. If I’m gonna do a remake, I’m gonna do something that was super cool, like ‘Paint It Black’ by THE [ROLLING] STONES or ‘Revolution’ by THE BEATLES or something that’s awesome and do something like that. I’m not gonna do Carole King.

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“I don’t get it. I don’t know what’s going on with those guys,” Don added. “I don’t really talk to them much. Lynch and I, we talk once in a while, ’cause he always wanted to move to Santa Fe; that’s his dream. He’s always wanted to come to New Mexico. And I said, ‘Hey, you’re welcome to come on up and stay in the casita’ — as they call ’em up here, a casita, the guest house — ‘and if you wanna go hike’… He hikes; he’s a hiker. So, I’ve got 13 acres. He can get lost very easily. I’m not going looking for him.”

Earlier this week, Pilson was asked to respond to Dokken‘s comments during an interview with the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Icons With Bode James” podcast. He said (see video below): “First, let me give Don his due here. I’m sure he didn’t hear it, and honestly, I’m not really concerned if he does or doesn’t. But having not heard it, if I saw that list of tunes, I would say, yeah, there’s some vanilla tunes in there. So that critique of his is true. The whole idea was to take tunes like that and make them cool, which I believe we did.

“I don’t wanna go into Don‘s mind right now,” he contined. “Yeah, I know him really well, and, yeah, I have an opinion of his modus operandi and what he’s thinking. Let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t expect Don to say something nice about somebody he views as competition. I don’t view him as competition. We’re all musicians trying to do our thing. So I’m not gonna second-guess Don or try and get into his mind, ’cause I still love the guy — I really do. But he’s always been like that; he will always critique things. That’s his thing. That’s fine. I wasn’t so flattering of some of his DOKKEN records that he’s done in the last [couple of decades].”

He added: “I still love Don, but I’m not doing this to please Don. [Laughs]”

DOKKEN‘s classic lineup — Pilson, Dokken, Lynch and drummer “Wild” Mick Brown — reunited for a short Japanese tour in the fall of 2016. The trek marked the first time in 21 years the four musicians had hit the road together.

Since completing the Japanese reunion dates, DOKKEN has continued to perform with the group’s current lineup — including bassist Chris McCarvill, guitarist Jon Levin and drummer BJ Zampa (HOUSE OF LORDS).

A DOKKEN concert DVD focusing on the band’s reunion tour, “Return To The East Live (2016)”, was made available in 2018.

Speaking about the reunion tour and whether the door is open for another renewed collaboration with Don, Pilson told the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Icons With Bode James” podcast: “We had a very good time. I think musically, we weren’t at our best. We could have been better. But when we did the new song [that was featured on ‘Return To The East Live (2016)’], it felt like DOKKEN. And it certainly made us all realize, wow, the chemistry didn’t die with X amount of years; we still do what we can do. So, the door that’s open is for making a record.

“Would we ever go on the road as DOKKEN again? I don’t know,” he said. “I kind of doubt it, but you never know. I personally would love to make a final record that was really strong and that we felt really good about. I would be really happy about that. So hopefully we can. And hopefully we’ll get that chance one of these days. And if and when that happens, that would be great. But with time and scheduling and everything else… We tried. Before we did THE END MACHINE record” — referring to Pilson, Lynch and Brown‘s 2019 collaboration with singer Robert Mason — “the first couple of songs we wrote we sent to Don and we said, ‘Hey, what do you think? This is much closer to the DOKKEN direction. How do you feel?’ And he wanted to do it, and then he realized his obligations with his current DOKKEN meant he couldn’t release a record anytime soon. So we shelved that. But the communication is there. So maybe someday.”

DOKKEN is currently working on material on a new studio album, tentatively due in 2021 via Silver Lining Music, the label owned by Thomas Jensen, one of the founders of Germany’s Wacken Open Air festival. It will mark the group’s first disc since 2012’s “Broken Bones”.

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