A new project with some familiar faces and for that matter some familiar tunes! T&N (Tooth and Nail) is comprised of George Lynch on guitar, Jeff Pilson on Bass and Vocals, Wild Mick Brown on the Drums, Brian Tichy also on Drums and some special guests along the way. T&N have just released “Slave to the Empire” which delivers 7 great new hard rock tunes combined with 5 re-recorded, classic Dokken tunes. Jeff Pilson handles the vocals on the new tunes and for the Dokken tunes they invited some special guests to really make this album something special. Kings X’s Doug Pinnick, Sebastian Bach, Ripper Owens and Warrant’s Robert Mason all contribute their vocal chords to breath some new life into some already great hard rock songs.
The “Big Three” from Dokken have created something special here as the sound of this new record is big, bold, loud and proud. Produced at Jeff Pilson’s studio, I can’t name many albums that sonically sound any better than this and George Lynch proves once again why he is considered royalty in the six string community. This album was way beyond my expectations and Doug Pinnick’s take on the Dokken classic Tooth and Nail is one of rock’s greatest performances ever recorded. Pure goosebumps!
The Decibel Geek was lucky enough to catch up with WILD Mick Brown for an interesting chat about T&N, Dokken and a whole lot more. Enjoy,
DBG: So backing up a bit, what was it that got Mick Brown interested in becoming a musician?
Wild Mick Brown: Ahh, I was about 7 and a half years old, I watched, back then Ed Sullivan was the big TV show for family entertainment and I watched the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan sitting around the TV with my parents. I remember my Mother told me later, she said “that really had an impact on you, seeing them perform on the show” and here’s my mind at 7 years old, I am watching the Beatles and I’m thinking this can’t be that difficult, maybe that’s a good job (laughing).
So I thought I really don’t want to be the guitar player because they were right out front and at 7 years old your a little nervous so i thought maybe the drummer. So on my eighth birthday I took my first drum lesson. My parent’s said if your going to be serious about music you need to learn about the instrument and how to play. I took drum lessons in a place called San Carlo which was a little south of San Francisco in the sixties and I took lessons from a guy called Micky Hart who two years later joined the Grateful Dead and I never saw him again. It was funny, I showed up on Wednesday night for my regular lesson and there was a sign on the door, “Joined the Grateful Dead CLOSED”
I was in my first band when I was 10 years old, and seven years later moving ahead I ran into George Lynch in Northern California. I was real serious about becoming a professional musician, a famous musician a ROCK STAR if you know what I mean and George went along with it. Now George was originally from Southern California and he moved back down there and said “If you really want to do it, this is where you gotta be”. So as soon as I finished High School I raced down to LA and we started chasing our careers there.
Then running into Don Dokken, and a few years after that he took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract. So he called me up to play. I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs. But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started. I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” (laughing) but he did anyway.
So there became the problem right away, but even in spite of that, in spite of the difficulties of the inner workings of the band, we never really had problem making music it was always the personality issues that we seemed to fail at.
DBG: Now we have T&N, how did this great new album project come to be?
WMB: Bringing you up to speed, this started as basically what was going to be a Lynch Mob recording. During the recording there was some shift in members and George had a falling out with the singer Oni Logan. So Jeff Pilson stepped in and they were recording at Jeff Pilson’s house. Jeff has a great studio there and so he said “well I’ll cover it, I will sing and we can get this done and you can sort the band out later” so Brian Tichy (drums) Jeff and George went ahead and recorded several songs. At that point George was like “well what am I going to do?, I want to get this out and I really don’t have a band together at this point” and it was Brian (Tichy) who stepped in and said why don’t you call Mick and re-record some of the early Dokken stuff as some bonus material and maybe get Don involved or if not maybe call in some guest singers. Because we had actually been discussing trying to get the original lineup of Dokken back together and that kind of fell through fast.
So we had the recordings down and they approached me because I am still the drummer in Dokken and they asked me to step in since I still had the best relationship with him right now, maybe you could ask him to get involved. Well I did ask Don and he didn’t seem very interested (laughing). So I said “well look Don, these are your songs too, if you don’t do this there will be some guest singers coming in” and he said “you have my blessing go right ahead” or something like that (laughing).
That is how the whole T & N project came about which just came out yesterday.
What I’d like to make everyone aware of is that we had originally planned for a six week tour of the T & N band to hit the road today actually, it was supposed to start. It was going to be George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, myself and we had been talking with Michael Sweet from Stryper to come in and front the band, We thought he had the right voice that would work with the Dokken stuff for the harmonies and that and we thought when we were in the towns of the guest singers, we could try and get them to come out. We had planned to do this but all the people behind the scenes felt it was a little premature, that we were moving too fast.
So what’s going to happen is that there is going to be a second part to this project. T&N standing for Tooth and Nail by the way, we were going to call the band that but a record com
pany with that name came forward saying we couldn’t use it. I wonder where the record company got their name?, “Gee maybe an old Dokken record?” Anyways there will be a part two, we have already recorded a bunch of the old Dokken tunes from the early days, now what’s possibly going to happen is that George, Jeff and myself might write some new material and if we can get Don involved, maybe it will be Dokken material. It’s tricky, but if not we’ll bring in some more guest singers. So more of the same coming and hopefully we’ll have a touring band at some point. It’s a little tricky too, because Jeff is the bass player in Foreigner and they stay pretty busy. My summers are pretty busy with Ted Nugent. So putting a band together to go travel will be a little tough but hopefully we can make that happen.
DBG: Backing up once again, one thing I wanted to ask you about is the Hear N Aid project that you were involved with back in the day. I must have watched the We’re Stars video a few thousand times wondering what that recording session must have been like.
WMB: Hear N Aid? Oh yeah I mean we were a pretty young band at that point.We had toured with Ronnie Dio on a very early American tour for us and he included us on that. Basically we just showed up, they told us where to stand and Don and George had to go in and record some stuff and they told us where to stand and sing (laughing). Basically it turned into a really bitchin’ after party back at Kevin DeBrow’s house. The late Kevin Debrow, it was just a lot of fun you know. I remember Dokken at the time hadn’t received any gold records at the time and Kevin had them all over lying on the ground, he hadn’t even had time to put them on the wall (laughing) and we thought that was funny. Kevin was a wonderful person, always very kind and attentive and always very good to me. God Bless you Kevin wherever you are, but it was a great memory.
DBG: Now I got to see Dokken open up for Aerosmth up here in Toronto on their Permanent Vacation Tour.
WMB: Aaaaaah Haaaaa! Wonderful period for Dokken, we were flying high on our fifteen minutes of fame. We thought we were something opening for Aerosmith and in fact I remember that show actually, now wait a minute. In fact, this might sound conceited but at the risk of that I am going to go with the risk of sounding that. I remember we had finished our set and Jeff Pilson and I, we got our cocktails full and we walked with our plastic cups to the side stage where we could watch the show like we always do. I remember between songs Steven saying to the audience “I hope everyone is having a good time blah blah blah and I really want to thank Dokken for inspiring us to be a better band tonight.
I remember Jeff put his elbow to me and said “Did he just say that?” We got to talk with him later and we thanked him for saying that. Now you have to remember this was the Permanent Vacation Tour and they had just cleaned up from all the drugs and alcohol. Steven told us he had watched us play and saw us as this young fiery band that really wanted it and that we inspired them to play better! Jeff and I were like WOW! I mean c’mon that for me was just so thrilling, you go from being fifteen years old listening to Sweet Emotion on the radio to having him compliment your band. I was beside myself, I couldn’t believe it.
DBG: Now another tour I wanted to touch on was the Monsters of Rock Tour…
WMB: Yeah Monsters of Rock, very strange tour. We weren’t getting along very well at all and here we were on the biggest tour on the planet. You know that’s typical Dokken, on this great tour and it was strange you know, bittersweet.
DBG: You talk about the relationships and turmoil within the band. Some bands seem to feed of that negative energy. Do you think that tension helped with the creativity or stage shows in any way?
WMB: Well actually no, I can’t think it ever helps in anyway. I am the kind of person and Jeff is too, that when things really got nasty, no matter what our beliefs were or who we sided with as it was always Don and George that were real stubborn and were fighting each other. Jeff and I just wanted to go out and do a show and let’s focus you know, it was a lot of pressure for everyone.
Our managers used to say, “I don’t know what it is but in spite of yourselves you just keep becoming more famous and popular” when in reality your the most dysfunctional band we’ve ever seen. Then on the other hand we would have times, I remember we had journalists travel with us from time to time and they would say, it looks like your having the time of your lives. That was true, when the party was happening and we were playing shows we were having a great time but whenever it came to business decisions and all the other stuff we would just fail.
We had the greatest managers in the word at the time QPrime, who had Def Leppard and Metallica and here we were trying to tell them what to do, I mean my god. Musically we never had any problems the songs always came but everything outside of that from photo shoots to tour plans to merchandise there was always issues, it was ridiculous. The smart bands realize they have managers for a reason and they let them deal with all that (laughing)
DBG: Now you mentioned drumming with Ted Nugent, he comes off as quite the character. What is he like to work with?
WMB: You know his standards are so high and his intensity level, you know how he is when you see him in interviews, he is all that but much more. He’s very generous and understanding and also as aggressive as you see but he backs all that shit up. (laughing) He always says “Look we gotta be the best band we can be tonight” What can we do to be the best? So when you please him you know you are at the top of your game. When I started with Ted, I was challenged and I feel I rose to that challenge as a musician and I feel really good about that, because when I drum for Ted I have a boss, you know? I really can’t say enough how he put the fire in me again, made me look at myself as a person and a player. That’s how much of an impact this guy has had on my life, it’s fantastic.
It’s funny, like I said he says he wont accept second best, he’s like “We have to be the best, whats plan B?” Not be good?!? (laughing) So everyone is like yeah can’t argue with that. And I mean WOW, the music coming out of that band now, with the return of Derek St Holmes and having Ted going back to his original style of guitar, I mean I have to pinch myself some nights playing Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold I mean this is awesome!
I was also very lucky to be able to play with the great Ronnie Montrose for a little while and I was thrilled to death. I was only about 15 when the first Montrose record came out and man that blew my socs off. Denny Carmassi was a huge influence on the drummer I wanted to be and to play those songs, they were statues of drumming and Rock Music with Sammy Hagar singing and the lead guitar parts, it was amazing. Ronnie paid me one of the greatest compliments when he told me I was his favourite drummer to play with and I was totally enjoying myself and I never saw this tragic suicide coming. What a shame.
DBG: So how did the “Special Guests”
listen, how great is that? The Doug Pinneck performance OH MY GOD! Listen when we wrote that song Tooth and Nail, I remember I sang on the demo at George’s house and we loved the energy and then we recorded it and we were so excited about that song and now, what is it? 28 years later and Doug comes in and TEARS IT DOWN! It’s so good to hear Dokken playing this song with Doug I mean WOW!
Sebastian was different in that he came in and Jeff says to him “look you have total freedom to do what you want here” and Baz goes well you know I love this song, I don’t want to change anything I just want to nail it. Which I think is a tremendous compliment to Don.
DBG: Ok last question for you Mick and it’s a 2-parter. What was the last Cd you picked up and what is the one song you “Wished you wrote”?
WMB: Wow, well the last music I picked up was maybe some Black Keys and ahhh Band of Skulls Sweet Sour, I saw them on TV one night on Carson Daily and thought they were good so I picked them up on Itunes and the song I wished I wrote? WOW? I would say something from the Beatles, how about Hey Jude.