The Dead Daisies - Spring 2018

John Corabi

The last 2 years have been a whirlwind for American rock band The Dead Daisies. With guitarist Doug Aldrich joining the line up in 2016, The Dead Daisies delivered Make Some Noise, up until that point their strongest album to date. The next 2 years would see the band riding the crest of the wave brought about by the album’s success. Their constant touring allowed them to create the Live and Louder CD and DVD, a wonderful record of their whole Make Some Noise journey, which again was succeeded by another world tour. As we fast forward to April 2018, The Dead Daisies bring us their new album Burn It Down, 11 tracks of driving classic rock which somehow manages to take everything up another gear. In fact there’s something quite amazing about how the band have managed to bring us not just another studio album but one which so clearly builds on their already strong back catalogue, and all this at a time when personnel changes occurred. Drummer Brian Tichy left and in entered former Journey and current Revolution Saints drummer Deen Castronovo. As the band reach their Manchester show of their sold out UK tour, we catch up with lead vocalist John Corabi to talk about the band’s Make Some Noise journey and how the new album Burn It Down came together. 

Doug Aldrich

I do of course want to talk about The Dead Daisies’ incredible new album Burn It Down, but before we do so, I would just like to take a moment to reflect on the band’s Make Some Noise journey. Doug joined the band, you released the Make Some Noise album, toured extensively, released the Live and Louder album and DVD. How would you summarise the Make Some Noise chapter of The Dead Daisies story?


It was honestly from the first record we lost Richard (Fortus – guitarist) and Dizzy (Reed – keyboard) to Guns ‘n’ Roses but I think musically it was definitely a step up. The funny thing about this band is that we never had any kind of clue or idea what a record is going to sound like until it’s done. But just from the reactions we got and then you watch the crowds, and you see it even more now every time we come over here in the UK and even in America, we are really starting to gain traction. So with each album I can feel the excitement and I’m seeing the crowds get bigger and bigger and bigger. Even with this one now, we came over and the record isn’t even a week old yet, when we arrived in Glasgow for rehearsals management was like "Well lads the entire UK portion of the tour is completely sold out!".  We were like "fuck!". It’s really kind of cool! So Make Some Noise was obviously our first effort with Doug and we just kind of wanted to make a statement and I think we did! Now this is the next step.


Let’s talk about the new album Burn It Down. The album is high-energy, classic rock which delivers with maximum impact, with tracks such as Resurrected and Rise Up created a huge amount of excitement, hunger and anticipation for the fans in advance of the album’s release. When preparing to write the album, what was your vision for what you wanted this next album to be?


Again, it’s so weird the way this band works. I’ve never been in a band like this before. If you look at The Scream, we got signed, we had 3 or 4 songs, got a record deal and they (the record company) said "Okay, go write". And we wrote for almost a year. The same with Motley, it was like a year of writing and the first Union record, it was the same thing that happened - a year of writing. But with The Dead Daisies it’s weird because right from the get-go when I first hooked up with the guys management said "Okay, you’re going to do a record and you’ve got from March 10 to April 10" and I’m like that’s only a month! You know what I mean? But somehow it works! When we did this record we had people throwing their phone on and saying things like "check this riff out!". So we were doing that and we started about 3 or 4 songs and on a complete fluke when we were writing in New York, this guy – we were using Alicia Keys’ personal studio – he’s the guy who works her studio, he came to Marco and said "Dude, you’ve got to check out this pedal, it will change your life!" It was a little bass thing. So Marco plugged into it and there was this weird chitchat feedback and and he just started playing the riff to What Goes Around Comes Around and we all jumped on it right away. We said "Dude, that’s a great riff! It’s like old Sabbath!". So we started working on that and Doug just out of the clear blue goes " I didn’t realise we were going to be so heavy, I’ve got this riff" and he started with the dagger-da dagger-da dagger-da dagger-da (intro to Rise) which again to me is very reminiscent of old Sabbath. So we already had a bunch of songs written but those two songs kind of dictated and set the tone for the record, and we just kind of followed it. For us, it’s very hard to actually have a plan or a blueprint of what we want the album to sound like. We just write and the music just kind of took us where it wanted, if that makes any sense at all!

Let’s pick up on the songwriting because as band members you all are busy people and have their own commitments and projects outside of the band. Marco has done a couple of solo tours, Doug and Deen have Revolution Saints and you have of course toured as a solo artist with your son on drums. How did you actually manage the songwriting process? Was it literally a case of you have a month and you will emerge at the end of that month with an album?


Again, it’s like I was saying, we toured last year, we finished sometime in September, they obviously gave us a little time off, Marco went off and did gigs, I went off and did gigs, and everybody split. But the Management said "Okay, from October 22nd you’re going to go to New York and your going to write. We want you in the studio in the first week in November and we’re going to knock this record out". So you have 5 guys that all write but then you have the 6th guy, the secret weapon, in Marti Frederiksen, I think this will tie in to your earlier question about Make Some Noise. Make Some Noise wasn’t only our first record with Doug, it was our first record with Marti and Marti totally understood what we were wanting to do, what we were trying to do and he was all in. Now I think it’s starting to get a little more like Make Some Noise was just that straight-ahead kick, no ballads, and now we are starting to gel with each other. We know what Marti wants, Marti knows what we want and we just sit down, get in and have fun with it, again letting the music take us where it wants to go.


It sounds like there is something quite instinctive there.


I think all your great bands like Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Queen, old Aerosmith and even new Aerosmith when they did come back, they all they all had a guy. The Beatles had George Martin, Queen had Roy Thomas Baker and we found a guy that could take what was here (indicates a reasonably high level) and can translate it to there (indicates a very high level). I think we have our guy now. He’s just amazing, and there’s a couple of things on this where Marti, on things like Set Me Free and Burn It Down, he would go away playing guitar with Steven Tyler and he would set up a little studio in his room and on a day off he was just kind of listening to our music and he would start throwing down some vocals to it, some melodies, and he was like "Here are some ideas for you, see what you think". His approach was different to where I would’ve gone so we took some of my idea and I added some of his idea and it just fucking works! It’s awesome, so he’s our little secret weapon!          


The title track Burn It Down was something of a surprise. The Southern blues intro provides a relatively sedate connection that belies its aggressive title, but then the heat picks up and we are taken on a journey through an unusually complex but very exhilarating arrangement. How did this particular song come together?


I don’t remember who came up with the riff. We had the riff which again was very reminiscent to me of Zeppelin and Sabbath. Maybe, if you want to think of something a little more current, something like Audioslave, and then it just lended itself to a bluesy verse. It was weird, man! Again, it was one of those things where it came together in like 1 night, and we just kind of put it together. Marti helped out with some of the kicks and stabs to connect this part to that part. It was pretty cool.


The fact that it came together in a night is astounding because there is something quite epic about that track. But let’s now move on to how the record closes because it does close in fine style with the up-tempo stomper Leave Me Alone which has some of the most entertaining lyrics ‘cut me some slack… I ain’t got time to deal with your shit….get off my ass…. Don’t give me no lip….’. Who’s the unfortunate person you were thinking of when you wrote this track?


In a lot of senses it may not be somebody now. I can go back and I can think of a person 20 years ago when I was in school or this manager, or someone who just annoyed the shit out of me, you know what I mean? It’s just basically like, for lack of a better term, saying ‘fuck you’ to somebody who just sits over you and micro-manages everything you do. They are a mess so they micro-manage everything you do, put you down and do all of this other shit, and it’s just like ‘fuck off’. I’m not hurting anybody so just fucking leave me alone and I’ll be fine! There’s a few of those. Even the song Burn It Down is about people who kind of sit and bitch and whine and complain, and I’ve had a lot of them in my life, maybe not now but in the past. I’ll just start writing a sentence and think ‘that’s kind of a cool, poetic’ sort of thing that totally reminds me of that chick I used to date in high school. Burn It Down is just about people who bitch and whine and complain about their lives but do nothing about it. There’s a line in there that says ‘you’ve always had a plan to try and change but the outcome always stays the same’ because your completely comfortable being miserable! So fuck off!

David Lowy

Let’s move on to your UK tour which you kicked off a few days ago in Glasgow. First of all, as you said, it’s a complete sell out! How does that make you feel?


Honestly, pretty fucking good! I will say this about the UK. The UK has been absolutely amazing for me personally throughout my career. For The Scream - amazing reviews. The Motley record – in the beginning amazing reviews. The English, I’ve been like their little darling or whatever. I’m starting to see it really come to fruition and it’s starting to connect with the fans. It’s pretty cool! It’s great that we’re like moving into bigger rooms. We’ve just found out too that we are like number 13 or 14 in the charts. It’s great! We’re in the top 20! I’m very happy about and we’re all like ‘fuck, this is great! This is killer!’. I won’t buy the boat yet (Laughs!) but it’s going really great!


You have of course been playing tracks from the new album. What’s the audience reaction been to the new material?


We kind of knew that we were starting the tour the day after the record came out, so really the masses hadn’t heard the new songs. Now I’m starting to see at the second or third show, they’ve had it 3, 4, 5, 6 days and we did a couple of songs and I was looking out at the audience when I was singing and there were a few people there who were singing every word with me, which was awesome! We weren’t sure because it’s hard to go out and play songs that the audience has never heard before but so far the reaction has been pretty good.


And you can see the momentum building.


Yes. Even from Glasgow to London I can see that the audience is singing along so it’s pretty cool! 


Finally, The Dead Daisies have been joined by Deen Castronovo on drums. Now, there is absolutely no doubting Deen’s technical ability and he is one of the most spellbinding and hypnotic drummers by way of his visual performance. But want I want to pick up on his is presence, passion and delight at being part of the band. His excitement is incredibly infectious. What has Deen’s specific contribution been to Burn It Down and how his joining The Dead Daisies changed the dynamic In the band?


You know, Deen is an amazing drummer as was Brian Tichy, and in all honesty, after everything he has been through the last few years, he’s just happy to be here. So he’s super energetic, he’s very positive and has a great outlook on life, so he’s just made us all very grateful that he’s here.

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what an incredibly strong album Burn It Down is and how the sold out tours and bigger venues are testament to the fact that The Dead Daisies have simply got it right, ‘it’ being a combination of world class musicians with an unwavering commitment to their craft, their hands-on connection with their fans, the most energetic of shows and above all, incredibly strong music.


To find out more, visit www.thedeaddaisies.com. In the meantime, enjoy the fan-filmed footage which beautifully captures Deen Castronovo’s drum solo from the Manchester show.