I thought that reviewing the latest solo album from Dug Pinnick (King’s X) would be straightforward, but I was in for a surprise. To start with, one of the song titles has a blatant swear word in it. So I really needed to do some background reading to find out what happened along the way from his Christian roots. And that is when I got a reality check as Dug is a gay agnostic prone to bouts of depression. But having read his life story there is no way that I could condemn him.
This might be hard for those of you trying to reconcile this with the huge success of King’s X. How would you deal with the fact that your parents abandon you to be brought up by a distant relative? Dug lived with his great-grandmother and was brought up in a very strict Southern Baptist environment. Dug stated “Being a Christian, the first thing you learn is that you’re not worthy and that you’re not good enough. You are going to be judged and if you don’t do this, or that, then you are going to go to hell. Since I am a really depressed person, who came from a shame based sort of a psychology, religion is not good for me. The religion that I was a part of didn’t lift me up to love myself and to love my maker. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.”
This is Dug’s solo project as he only used Tracey ‘Spacey T’ Singleton for one guitar lead. He produced, and mixed the album at his own dUgtone Studio in Los Angeles, with the mastering being done by Mark Fuller. ‘Naked’ is a gut-wrenching journey through Dug’s life.
Opening with the hard-driven riffs of ‘What You’re Gonna Do’, it sets the scene of a famous rock star without the trappings of success, struggling to make ends meet. In July 2013, Dug underwent hernia surgery that was paid for by a fundraising campaign. He said “I am overwhelmed with the amount of love that people have shown by contributing to help me afford my hernia surgery. I have avoided this for way too long and I know that after my shows are lined up, I have to fix this immediately. I wish I could say that all the wonderful years of playing in King’s X were financially rewarded, but it’s not the reality. I’m not complaining. I am thankful that I get to make music for people who want to hear it. We will never stop working hard, though, and will continue making music in good times and bad.”
Next it’s the more thoughtful ‘If U Fuk Up’ that deals with his battles with depression and denial. It all started when his friend texted to ask, “Are you okay?” Like most people would do, Dug replied that he was fine. His friend then texted back ‘If you fuck up and don’t tell anyone, then none of us will forgive ourselves for what you’ve done. You mean something.” He sat down with the music and the words just flowed.
Then there is a return to harsher guitar in ‘Speeding Love’ and ‘Courage’. The latter being inspired by Jerry Gaskill having a heart attack and Dug being unable to visit him at the hospital in New Jersey as he had no funds to get himself there from California. This is followed by the funk rock of ‘Ain’t That the Truth’ where he reflects “We’re so glad you made it / Aunt that the truth”.
‘The Great Big Thing’ has a leaden stomp before the sparkling brightness of ‘The Point’. This melodic and melancholic tune looks at near-death and the point of no return. There are jagged riffs in ‘Take Me Away From You’ and there is a nod towards King’s X in the epic ‘I Hope I Don’t Lose My Mind’ with its extended guitar solos. There is the brooding menace of ‘Heart Attack’ where he addresses being left behind by his mother and the feelings of being unloved and unwanted. After this emotional assault, there is more nail-biting tension on ‘I’m Not Gonna Freak Out’ as he grips tightly to hold onto his sanity.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
1. What You’re Gonna Do
2. If U Fuk Up
3. Speeding Love
5. Ain’t That Truth
6. That Great Big Thing
7. The Point
8. Take Me Away From You
9. I Hope I don’t Lose My Mind
10. Heart Attack
11. I’m Not Gonna Freak Out
Dug Pinnick – Composition, Bass, Vocals
Tracy Singleton – Guitar
Record Label: Rock Army Records, May 2013
Video below ‘IYFU’