The Dead Daisies - Summer 2017

Brian Tichy & Doug Aldrich

 2016 was a huge year for The Dead Daisies. As well a year of massive success, it was also a time of real change that saw keyboard player Dizzy Reed and guitarist Richard Fortus depart to enable them to fully commit to Guns n Roses, and for ex-Whitesnake and Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich to join the band. With Doug firmly in the fold, a new energy and band dynamic resulted which is clearly evident within Make Some Noise, the band's incredible 3rd studio album released in the summer. Extensive touring ensued, including 29 dates across Europe. The new year saw the band take a short break where each member explored different projects. But The Dead Daisies are now back with Live and Louder, a live album released on 19th May that wonderfully captures what it means to experience a 'Daisies show. It's a very different live record too. It's not a single concert, nor is it simply live performances of individual songs. Through vocalist John Corabi's connection with the crowd and the time taken for entertaining band introductions, we don't just experience the music. We actually get a chance to get to know the band as their individual personalities shine through. With a European tour to support the record now underway, we catch up with Doug and drummer Brian Tichy ahead of their Edinburgh show to hear about how the new album came together. Having played Download only the day before, they look remarkably fresh and a display real excitement for being back out on the road. As we make ourselves comfortable in the hotel bar, the friendship between these 2 band mates is indisputable. As well as having their amazing talents in common, there's also a kinship in their ability to take the piss out of each other. There's perhaps even a mischievous quality to their friendship. With Doug noodling on his Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, it's clear this is going to be a great interview...

Marco Mendoza

You are on tour supporting the new Live and Louder album, an incredible live album of 16 tracks that were recorded during your 2016 European tour which specifically captures your shows in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The first thing I'd like to ask is what are your memories of that particular tour? 

Doug - Basically we had a week and a half break or so and then we went to Korea in the fall and then we did the KISS cruise right after that. Then when we got to Europe we were doing our own shows again. It just seemed like we were really tight, playing well together and playing off each other. Also, the crowds were really having fun because we were having fun too and so we decided to just record some stuff. I think it's perfect for people who have seen us to remember what it was like when they saw us and for people who haven't seen us, it's a good snapshot of what the band was like last year. 

Which shows in particular stood out for you?

Doug  - Paris was pretty cool, man. 

Brian – We came back there (after playing there in 2015) and it still meant something coming back after all that stuff happened there (the terrorist attack at the Bataclan), because we only pass by there so many times, once a year maybe. So that was cool. For me, we did 3 KISS cruises in a row, in 2014, 15 and 16. That's always cool because it's a different kind of break in the middle of a tour because it's a total change of pace. Playing mostly our own clubs and stuff was really cool. It's awesome playing with KISS and getting to open up for them, we’re all huge fans that grew up in them, but getting into the smaller clubs and playing for your crowd that's there for you and doing a longer show, pace it how you want instead of being on a time limit opening up for the gods. But the shows, like Doug said, you don't realise it when you're doing it but your getting tighter just by virtue of doing it all the time. All those little things you don't think of anymore kind of happen without question. We were just listening to the end of one song as I was like ‘oh wait, that's what it turned out to be?!’. It used to be this little thing but it became more elaborate. But we didn't have to think about that, it just grew into it. It was like our own mini Dazed and Confused ending! (Laughs)

Your 2016 tour took in 29 shows throughout Europe. How did you actually decide which songs, places and performances to include on the record?

Doug – We didn't record all of them. We recorded something like 2 weeks, maybe 12 shows in total. There were some shows that weren't usable because of maybe the kick drum didn't record right or something.  We had a couple of shows – London was really great top to bottom and Munich, Germany was really great

Brian – You know what, London was like one of those shows. 

Doug – That was where I tackled you on stage at the end!

Brian – You tackled me with excitement! Like ‘Bro! Can you believe how good that was!’

Doug – But I think it's more of a task for everybody involved to record a live show, you know. There's more gear involved and there's more of a responsibility for everybody and the band knows it, and there's probably more of cost as well so overall your probably not going to carry that responsibility throughout a whole club tour. We’ll take a chunk. So we did and those shows were really good but it was like ‘they’re both good, maybe we should use half and half’ and then let's use little bits from here and there. Bits and bobs from Germany, Paris, Switzerland, UK obviously, and then it was just a matter of finding the best performance from one of those. The band was playing pretty consistently like we talked about but there were certain nights it just really went off and there was some cool stuff happening.

Brian – Also there was one night you called me and you were listening to the tapes of the shows and there was one version of which ever song it was that the band played flawlessly except I made a mistake in the dead centre of the song and it threw everybody off for that second. You called me and said ‘you ruined the best version of the song!’ (Laughs). But it happens. I had to pay a band fine! (Laughs)

Doug – But as karma has it, I came back and I found out that my guitar was out of tune for another song that had a great vibe. 

Brian - It had the most killer drum part ever! Right over my killer drum fill, Doug’s guitar is all out of tune. Well he says out of tune, I think he played a half-step off.

Doug – He was playing so good I did to want him to get too much attention so I started playing out of tune knowing that that would sabotage the recording!

Brian – Because it threw Marco off, Marco looks at Doug ‘What are you doing?!’, throws him off from me and my big moment was ruined so it's not on the record!

Doug – We’re just joking but a lot of times it does just come down to we care about the drums because they are the backbone to the song. If the drums aren't recorded properly then it's not really usable.

Brian - That's what most of the price of the ticket goes to. When a fan buys a ticket it's mostly to the drum performance so I really owe them pretty much more than the rest of the band. (Laughs!)

Doug - That's half of it. The first half of their wages goes toward the sound of the drums. You could play your butt off but if the sound sounds wrong their wages have been wasted.

Brian – And then they can get a refund too. If they're not happy by the end of the show, they can just go right out there… I'm kidding about that!

It's also a very interesting live album in that it isn't a single concert, nor is it uniquely just about live versions of individual songs. The album includes lots of dialogue from John and time taken to introduce the band. Was it a conscious decision to make a different kind of live album?

Doug – No, we just wanted to have it be what it was like when we played. The shows were getting really long too. They were longer than the album. We had to trim some out. We were joking around a lot, the crowds were having fun and we were laughing so it's even more so than what's on the record. 

Brian – We want the records to be mystical but we don't want to keep up too much of the mystique. We want to be real with the people hence the band intros and John doing his rock ‘n’ role spiel between songs, you know. Not much mystique but I still feel the shows are mystical. 

Following the tour which concluded on 20th December, the band took a break. Now for most people after such a huge tour a break would be an opportunity to relax and to catch your breath but you've all gone on to do your own projects. For example Marco did a European solo tour, Doug - you've been working with Revolution Saints again and John has done his own solo shows in America. How important is it to you all individually and for The Dead Daisies as a band that you all have your separate projects?

Doug – I don't know if it's important for The Dead Daisies so much as it is for us individually. Like the first thing that I did was Brian always does this big Led Zeppelin celebration at the NAMM show and he's asked me if I'd do it on guitar and I said I'd love to do it. And then he put together a residency in Vegas so we were going out there once a week.

Brian – Doug and I ended up playing quite a bit together. We both had other stuff going on, all of us did. From the NAMM show, some rehearsing and the big show we did together called the Bonzo Bash and then going to Vegas and doing this weekly all night Zeppelin thing, which you know, it’s a lot of fun but it's a little bit of work to do to pull all that stuff together everyweek with a different set list and all that so….  It's not an excuse, it's just another thing we do. So it's not really a balance between The Dead Daisies and having another outlet or figuring other projects, it's just what we do. I guess you could go home and sit home but in our free time, we are doing something musical one way or another. I think that's just normal for all of us. It was 5 months from Christmas until we started back up. You can get a lot done in 5 months.

Doug – He’s (Brian) doing a Christmas record!

Brian - That's how kooky I got! Merry Tichmas, man! I started recording because we were going to be on tour this year. Last year we were on tour and it was getting near Christmas and it's a funny phrase – and I thought why don't I just do an instrumental record, but you only have a certain amount of time. If he's (Doug’s) going to do a Revolution Saints record, he's got to do it in a certain time before we get busy. The good thing is we know when we're supposed to get busy. So you can really chart out what you want to do. Marco does his own tours and his own stuff, John did his own stuff cruising around the States doing acoustic stuff. It's not like you have to get something else out because you're not on tour with The Dead Daisies. You just do it because that's what you do. Look at what Doug does - he never stops. 

Is it fair to say that The Dead Daisies is the priority?

Doug – Yeah, we’re in Daisies land right now. We're Daisies full time.

Brian – We’re in a field full of Daisies right now!

Doug – All the stuff that we do is important to us, but this thing is cooking along really well and we're having a good time and you can't be away for too long or people will go ‘Why don't you come back and make a record or something?’. And that's another thing that was cool about the live record: it held things over a little bit, it enables us to keep promoting the last record and gets us to be able to come back and visit some people. The band is cooking well so it's definitely a priority, yeah.

Brian Tichy & Doug Aldrich

Let's talk about the current tour. How was your show at Download yesterday? 

Doug – I don't know how many people we watching us, maybe 15 or 20 thousand or more? And when everybody's sitting their chanting ‘Brian! Brian! Brian!’ – with an English accent of course!...

Brian – He doesn't know it but while that's happening I have a big sign with my name behind him..

Doug – And I’m thinking why do these guys like Brian so much? So Download was basically about Brian! 

Brian – It was a good show. We didn't play that long, you know, but you've just got to compact it all into less than 30 minutes and hit them hard. But it was great action, man! It's fun to play there. That's my fourth time there and it's been a while since I've been there. But that's one of the biggest festivals to be at. I was happy with the way it turned out, man. 

Do you find when you are at festivals that you're often bumping into old friends?

Doug – Yeah, you do because every 5 feet there's a new dressing room with people that you've known for years. Yeah, there were a lot of friends there. The Steel Panther guys came by, Opeth were right next door, Fozzy…

Brian – I like the festivals. It's funny because tonight we're going to play a club on our own. We're gong to play a packed, sweaty club for our show so we pace it how we want to. I love that because it's all about us and you get to make the most of it. But when you play a festival, okay you don't get your full show length but you know your friends are there and you know it's going to be bigger exposure covered by that many more people and many more people are watching because it's a festival. So there is that pressure but I like it because you're hanging with your friends, you wanna kick ass for your friends, you wanna watch your friends’ bands. I had an opportunity to go to and see John Bonham’s grave. I ended up cutting out early because that's been something I've wanted to do for a long time. 

Doug – I’ll tell you one more thing that's interesting, you've seen at these festivals security is definitely higher. Every back-pack gets checked, everybody goes through radar. Unless you have the proper credentials, you can't go from this stage to that stage. 

So even back stage there’s stronger security?

Doug – Yeah.

Brian – It's just a good thing because there's too many examples, as of late, where if there's not proper security…. We all have stories, you know, where you'll be in your dressing room in an amphitheater and there will be someone in there that nobody knows but everybody thinks it's the cousin of the singer, who thinks it's the cousin or best friend of the guitar player, and you'll go ‘Who's that guy?’ and nobody knows him. Somehow he got in there and it's just not worth it. What's going to get stolen or who's going to get hurt. It's just not worth it anymore, man. 

Doug - So yeah they're tightening up and that's good. But then there's good surprises like that time when we were just sitting a round and Bobby Kimball (Toto) came in and started singing the chorus to Africa! Out of nowhere! And Marco let out this big scream/laugh thing, Bobby heard it and reacted from it singing ‘there's lots of rain down in Africa!’. It pierced the room, I thought a window cracked, and he just walked out! (Laughs). It's like Robert Plant just coming in going ‘You need coolin’…’ and just walking out! Or Dio coming in going ‘Holy Diver!’

What was it like catching up former Daisies Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed in Zurich for Dizzy to join you on stage?

Brian – Yeah we had extra security that night and those guys got through! (Laughs) it was a problem that night! No, that was great!

Doug - They're great guys and obviously they're very tight with the Daisies and they paved the way. I just kind of sat back and watched the magic of those guys - Brian and John and the guys. I'm pretty lucky to be here because those guys at any time could just kick my ass.

Brian - I though they were going to attack Doug at one point during the show! Because he was on fire that night! Some of the licks… I was like ‘Did he put a smoke pickup in his guitar like Ace Frehley?’ Because I thought he was trying some new stuff out but literally the licks he was playing were creating smoke from his guitar! 

Doug - That's because I told Dizzy, you know, when he said it sounds great, I'm like ‘I'm trying to cover for some of your parts too at the same time’ and he's like ‘Yeah, it's cool, man!’. And Richard's awesome. We're really happy for those guys because for what it's worth, in my opinion, it's great for all of us that Guns n Roses are selling out stadiums. It's insane. It's not a cheap ticket but it's worth it because they deliver! It's really good for the music scene. Guys like them and Aerosmith and Billy Joel especially. They're kickin’ ass! 

Brian – Yeah! Guns n Roses, Aerosmith, Metallica, Foo Fighters, AC/DC… I mean that is sold, hard rock. It's like classic rock, metal and those are stadium bands. So when people go ‘rock is dead’, I'm like ‘Have you see any of the footage of Guns n Roses recently?! Have you see who's headlining Sweden Rocks?!’. It's like The Scorpions, Aerosmith, you know. Rock bands still rule. 

One really important characteristic of The Dead Daisies is how directly active you are with your fans. Your highly active as a band on social media, you hold regular live Q&As. You also always hold free after show meet and greets and when the venues raised concerns that they were taking too long, you respectfully found a way to ensure these could still take place.  What you have created here is something which isn't the band on one side and the fans on the other but very much a real community. Other bands could learn a huge amount from The Dead Daisies. How important is it that you provide this up-close-and-personal experience for your fans?

Doug – I think you're right that it makes more sense to try and integrate with the fans together, you know, because that's what it's supposed to be. There are a lot of bands that don't do that. They keep separate, they don't do meet and greets, or they don’t do any of that stuff. It's nice.

How important is it to you to provide that up-close-and-personal experience?

Doug – I think it's just a good thing, you know. There are some days we don't get to do it, and nobody complains or anything, but people generally hang out and want to get a signature, and it started to get really busy. We'd be sitting there for 2 hours and the club or venue wants to close down. So we were able to work through it.

Brian - The first 100 people who enter the show can be the 100 people after the show. It's kind of how they've always done it. One way or another The Dead Daisies have always done signings whenever possible. That's how it's been. It's cool for me personally . Sometimes right after a show, I'm still spinning from the show. So it's like, you've got to move it fast. You can't just sit there and chit-chat. It takes a while so there's a balance of saying Hi, saying thanks and stuff and getting everybody through the line. But sometimes I'm like ‘Wow! How many? Did I just do that?’. I wasn't even all the way there because I'm still catching my breath from the show! But it's cool! The main thing is that people are happy. They've come to the show and that's the kind of band it is. Some bands do more stuff like that and some are not as direct I guess. 

Doug – But it's important, the Facebook stuff. It's definitely helps to be with one with the fans and get together. It's cool.

Brian – I got on Facebook this morning because I wanted to figure out what John Corabi had for breakfast and it was right there on Facebook! (Laughs). He had a various assortment of cheeses and jams, he had 2 rolls with scrambled egg and ham in I think, and some coffee. It was good to know because then I ordered the same thing. (Laughs)

Having released the Live and Louder package and with a huge world tour underway, 2017 is already looking like it might eclipse the success of last year. At the risk of sounding incredibly greedy, what else can we expect from The Dead Daisies this year?

Doug – We've got a lot of touring to do and we've just got started. We're 9 or 10 shows in and in the next month we'll finish Europe. We go directly to Japan from here for a few days, we get a couple of days at home where we catch up with the family and basically change clothes. Then we go to South America before coming back to Europe to do the Peace Festival in Poland with 60 piece orchestra. It's going to be insane! It's going to be really cool! Then we do a tour of the States of 12 of our favourite places to play, The Dirty Dozen tour. We're then going to get together and bang around some ideas for a new record. God willing we will be in the studio in November.

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on how far The Dead Daisies have come and what an incredibly busy and exciting year they have ahead of them. Live and Louder is quite simply a brilliant record that magnificently captures what it's like to be at a Daisies live show. We couldn't recommend it more highly!

Check out the Make Some Noise video below.