Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek doesn’t sound the least bit high. But how else to explain the fact that he is inviting yours truly to pen a few lyrics for the album he is currently prepping with guitarist and fellow Doors alum Robbie Krieger? ”Seriously, if you’ve got any poetry that might fit a song format, send it along,” he enthuses. ”If it’s deep, if it’s profound, if it’s existential, or if it’s transcendental, send it along. I’m serious!”
If Manzarek is serious about his musical future, he’s also not averse to revisiting his legendary past. It’s been forty years since the release of Doors’ eponymous debut, which featured such classics as ”Light My Fire,” and Jim Morrison’s Oedipal rock-howl, ”The End.” Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is marking the anniversary with an exhibition called ”Break On Through: The Lasting Legacy of The Doors,” which opens May 25. EW.com spoke with Manzarek and Krieger over the phone about the experience of being curated, the possibility of a new Doors album, and why you shouldn’t wear leather pants if you’re shaped like a pumpkin.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Does it seem like 40 years since The Doors was released?
ROBBIE KRIEGER: It seems like just yesterday.
RAY MANZAREK: Time flies when you’re living life.
The album was such a huge hit…
KRIEGER: But at first it wasn’t really selling at all. In those days you had to have an AM radio hit in order to sell anything. Our first single was ”Break On Through,” and that didn’t do anything. I was saying to myself, man, we made this great album and nobody’s ever gonna hear it. And finally, we decided to cut ”Light My Fire” down so we could get it on the radio. And then the album really took off.
You hated the abbreviated version of ”Light My Fire,” didn’t you?
KRIEGER: Of course, because we had to cut out the instrumental part, which was my and Ray’s favorite part. [Laughs]
What can people expect to see at the Hall Of Fame exhibition?
MANZAREK: Oh, my god, let’s see — my Vox Continental, on which I played ”Light My Fire,” is going to be there. We’ll be there for the opening too, playing at the Hard Rock Cafe.
KRIEGER: They got a couple of my guitars and stuff. I wish I’d kept a lot more stuff from those days. But I’m not the pack-rat type. And they found a lot of pictures of Jim when he was young.
Is it true that Law & Order producer Dick Wolf is working on a Doors documentary?
MANZAREK: Yes. It’s just in the bare-bones beginning stage.
Are you concerned that he’s going to try and slip in some Law & Order sound effects on the soundtrack? ‘DUM-DUM!’
MANZAREK: [Laughs] I doubt it, man. I think it’ll work out fine. Dick will put on a different hat. On the other hand, it might not be bad: ‘DUM-DUM!’ Maybe there will be!
You currently perform under the moniker Riders on the Storm for legal reasons [in 2003 Doors drummer John Densmore sued the pair to stop them from using the ”Doors” name]. Brett Scallions, formerly of Fuel, recently replaced the Cult’s Ian Astbury as your frontman. How’s he fitting in?
KRIEGER: He’s a great singer. He knows how to talk to the audience. And he’s got a great baritone voice, kind of like Jim’s. He looks nothing like Jim — but maybe that’s a good thing.
MANZAREK: Brett is big, bold and dynamic. A great singer, a great presence onstage. He prowls the stage like a cat and wears leather like it’s licorice.
Jim Morrison also knew how to wear a pair of leather pants — as does Ian Astbury. Is that a prerequisite to front the band?
MANZAREK: Yes! You cannot wear leather like a pumpkin!
I would wear leather like a pumpkin.
MANZAREK: But you could write lyrics! We have Michael McClure, the beat poet, writing some lyrics for us. We have Jim Carroll lyrics. We have two stanzas from Warren Zevon. If you’ve got anything that you think might make interesting songs, man, send them to the Doors office. Because, Robbie and I, we turn poetry into songs.
Have you recorded any tracks yet?
MANZAREK: No, we’re still breaking Brett in. First things first.
Are you on friendly terms with John Densmore?
So, is there any possibility that the CD could be released under the Doors name?
MANZAREK: Aaaaaaaah…who knows? Who knows? The future is uncertain. And the end is always near!