To call The Doors Alive merely a tribute act would be a huge disservice to what is the closest thing possible to experiencing a Doors concert without the aid of a flux capacitor and 1.21 gigawatts. They are high priests who allow us to worship at the altar of The Doors by continuing the word and gospels of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore.
The Doors Alive are coming back to play in Dublin’s Academy at midnight on Friday the 24th of March and in Roisin Dubh in Galway the very next night. I spoke to drummer Buzz to see what we can expect:
So how did The Doors Alive come about?
The band has been going for absolutely ages. I joined in the early stages about 12 years ago. It was started by the then guitarist and keyboard player who were die-hard Doors fans who wanted to do this as a hobby. Over time various people have joined, various people have left but we are at a stage now where the 4 current members are doing this pretty much full time. It’s been an evolutionary process but I feel we are the strongest we’ve ever been and are now able to offer a proper live experience to the fans of The Doors.
How would you describe your act?
We are an authentic Doors experience. We don’t go in for the wigs and fake beards theatricality. That’s fine for West End shows but we let our music and our dedication to the source material speak for itself. Our Jim Morrison isn’t what you would call a lookalike, but when he takes the stage, the mannerisms, the presence and the voice are all there and it is like watching the real deal. We focus on the music rather than the act.
You are ridiculously busy. How do you keep it fresh for yourselves?
We are very busy. Already we have pretty much booked ourselves out for the whole year. We change our setlist more than we change our underwear at this point. We had a year where we played the same songs in the same order and it drove us demented. Luckily for us, we have a huge catalogue of songs to perform and while we don’t have much opportunity to be creative with the musicality of it, the variety of fans we get to play to keep it new and exciting for us. We are also developing a light and visual element to our gigs which will give us an extra dimension from a technical standpoint.
Even with the large catalogue of songs, you will still be expected to play the classics. Are there any that have become tiresome to play?
Not really. The “A-list” songs like Roudhouse Blues that we HAVE to play get such a great reaction that no matter how many times we play them, we can feed of that energy. Plus we need to find a balance. We don’t want to alienate the die hard fans by playing just the popular songs but we also don’t want to prevent the fans of the Greatest Hits by playing songs they may not be familiar with.
Whats been your most enjoyable gig?
We were fortunate to get the chance to go to Santiago in Chile a few years back where we played to 4,500 people and each one of them was there solely to see us. That was an incredible experience. The reaction we got when we took to the stage was like when The Beatles played Shea Stadium. The crowd went nuts. We couldn’t hear ourselves play over the crowd noise and it was phenomenal.
What was the worst gig?
Yeah… I remember many years ago we played Germany on a Wednesday night where the band members outnumbered the amount of people in the audience. Needless to say it didn’t go very well and we were all deflated afterwards, sitting around with our head in our hands. To make matters worse, we found out after the gig that we had to drive through the night to get to a ferry for our next gig in Orkney. Thankfully that one went well.
Do you have any pre-show rituals to get yourselves into The Doors mindset?
Not really. We don’t have a tab of LSD or a gallon of whiskey. We need to remain professional and I don’t think we could do that while tripping off our faces. We normally just chill out beforehand with maybe a couple of beers. We all have our own warm up rituals but it’s mostly just chilling out and readying ourselves. No weed or LSD… before the show anyway.
If you could be in any other “Tribute Act”, what would it be?
Personally for me it would be Led Zepplin. As a drummer, John Bonham is an absolute hero of mine and a monster of a drummer. Our guitarist loves gypsy jazz so he’d be in any one of those. Mike, our Jim, does a mean Kurt Cobain impression so he’d probably do Nirvana and Norbert our keyboard player would be in either Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake and Palmer or Manfred Mann.
What can Irish fans expect from the upcoming gigs in The Academy and Roisin Dubh?
The most authentic and true sounding Doors show they will ever hear. We always love coming to The Academy because we get to play at midnight so the crowd are always raucous and energetic and that motivates us to be twice as raucous and energetic. Ireland is genuinely a highlight for us on the touring calendar and if it’s even half as enjoyable for the crowd as it is for us, they will have one of the best nights of their lives.