The Dead Daisies - Birmingham, November 2016

The Dead Daisies are an interesting band. Since their inception in 2012, they’ve released 3 studio albums with no less than 21 different musicians taking part in what has essentially been a rotating line up. However, one consistent characteristic is the strong CVs each member has brought with them. Current and previous members of The Dead Daisies have been part of bands such as Whitesnake, Motley Crüe, Guns n Roses, The Cult, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent and Black Star Riders. Unsurprisingly, the music the band has produced has been of the highest quality, none more so than with their latest album, 2016’s Make Some Noise. With new guitarist Doug Aldrich adding a Midas Touch to the songwriting, and what appears to now be a stable line up, it looks as though The Dead Daisies have the launch pad to take them to the next level. We join vocalist John Corabi, bass player Marco Mendoza and Doug on the Birmingham date of their Autumn UK tour to discuss the evolution of The Dead Daisies and their future plans...

Marco, can I come to you first. As a long-serving member of The Dead Daisies, I want to ask you about the concept of the band being ‘a musical collective created by a rotating line-up’. That's an unusual characteristic for a band. What does it actually mean?


Marco - Well unfortunately that was taken out of context and the reason for that, long story short, what happened is David Lowy and John Stevens started this project in Australia. They had put some songs together, the album hadn't even been released, but they had some songs together and they decided ‘wouldn’t it be cool to put a band together and tour’. I was out there on a Thin Lizzy, Motley Crüe, Kiss package and David Lowy was opening with his band. That's how we met. I loved what they were doing, they had good songs, they had a good presence, they were a fun band and we hit it off. Before I left they said ‘we’re thinking about doing something. It's with John Stevens, we’re talking to Richard Fortus’ and Richard and I had a history with Thin Lizzy. I thought ‘wow this sounds like fun, send me the music’. I heard the music, I loved it and I went ‘wow, I could sink my teeth into this’, and before you know it they needed to put names together to make the band heavier to open up for Aerosmith in Australia. So we committed, changed our schedule around, and after the first rehearsal we’re all looking at each other and going ‘you know what, this could be a cool thing!’. Since then we’ve come to the place where we wanted to move forward and in order to do that you need to have a band with solid members. So everyone in their own time, in their own rhythm have gotten away from other commitments to do this because we all dig it. Obviously, we're all here because we dig it.  It's a great band, there's a lot of talent, there's a lot of options, we can go in so many directions,  we've great management and we're getting invited to go play everywhere.


John – I think part of it, if I may interject, obviously we get asked this question quite a bit and I think ultimately, David, when he put this together, even with John, things have gone from 2012 to this point. There's been a few things along the way that have snagged as well. And I think at the end of the day, David wanted a band. But he understands the commitment of having a guy like Marco, whose always busy, Brian (Tichy – drummer), Doug and myself. He understands other commitments and I think part of it is this whole thing, for lack of a better term, was done ass-backwards. Most bands get together, they jam, write a few songs, play some shows, try to get a record deal, you know. They grow before they actually do the record. I've got a solo band in America. I've gone through 15 guys and now I think I have the line up, you know what I mean, but it's taken me forever to get to this point. It's not just about talent and the way people look, it's also about whether or not you can get along with them. That's a big thing. And I think part of the thing is that when John and David got together, they wrote a bunch of songs, went into the studio like Marco said, recorded with session guys and then came back and went "we want to put a band together and go out and tour this thing" and certain guys have fallen off the wayside as they maybe didn't see eye to eye, their schedules or whatever. So this thing has grown, for want of a better term, in public. But David is very committed with this line up. He's been more than adamant about how this is the line up.  We've gotten to the point where ‘this is what I want, this is where I want it to be’.

John Corabi

 

Let me pick up on the suggestion that it's not just about skills and experience. I think that what you have as band is an incredible amount of chemistry. That comes over both on stage and on record. There is something very special about this line up of the band. Make Some Noise is arguably the band’s best album to date and you are enjoying sold out shows everywhere. Do you consider this to be the best line up yet?


Marco – For me personally, I think so. Again, back to what John was saying, it's been a process. Every step along the way we've been careful about who gets invited in and all that. And I think this line up, we've experienced the highs the lows, we've done mistakes, we know how it works, how it doesn't work, and that information allows us to move things along. I believe so, it's what we wanted to accomplish: to get the guys in the studio and record and come out on tour.

John – Other than David Lowy who I met right before I joined the band, we've all known each other. Doug and Marco played together in Whitesnake – Brian as well – so we've all know each other for years. Doug and I knew each other from Philadelphia before I don't even know when. When did you move out to California?


Doug – We met in 1979


John – He was like 16 or 17


Doug – I was 1 years old and he was 15!

(Much laughter)


Can we expect this to be a stable line up moving forward?


John – We would hope so. Like I was saying earlier, David has been trying to find the band and I think that he’s been more than adamant that this is it.


Doug – the reason is good for that because this line up has chemistry, this line up’s good and in my opinion this is the best line up and you could ask the fans the same question. If you change a piece out of this line up, it's gonna hurt the band. That's what I'm saying. Let's just put it on the table. If you take away 1 of these 5 guys right now, some people are going to be pissed off. We don't want that. We want to work together.


I saw the reaction to when you posted a message on Twitter about the Kiss Kruise, stating ‘the 1st Kiss Kruise with the new line up’. The reaction was gasps of ‘there's a new line up!?’, but it was soon clarified that it was the first Kiss Kruise with this line up. There was clearly a bit of panic which I think completely proves your point.


Marco – John put it in a good way. We're going through the growing period in public.


Doug - You've got to stop growing at some point, because really we don't want it to hurt the band. If I leave the band then what's that going to say? At some point you have to say ‘this is the band’. And this is the band. I said it! I'll be the boss!


This year The Dead Daisies have welcomed Doug Aldrich to the band. What does it mean to have Doug in the band?


Marco - Doug and I have known each other for a while and not to blow smoke, he's one the cats, one of the guitar players. We know that. We also have a personal relationship which helped a lot. 


John – Which we don't talk about in public because in some circles it might be considered taboo!

(Much laughter)


Marco - But what he brings to the table is his talent, his frickin’ profile, his credits – there's so much. That could be an hour interview right there. We were really happy. I called Doug first and started opening the door and he seemed interested in the concept of a band. He's always busy and he'd been out on the road with Glenn Hughes but cats like that are in demand and so we were happy that we got him and everyone could talk to everybody. We were very,very happy.


Doug - There's a lot of guys that could be in a band like this and if it wasn't me it could have been somebody else but the thing is that this band has chemistry because we're friends. We've been friends first so the one thing that I can say I bring to the band is that at least they know what they're dealing with. They know me. Marco and I have played together, written songs together. Brian and I the same thing. John and I had never really done a piece of music together but we were friends. And he’s kind of like ‘at least I know this guy’.


Marco – I want to add that Make Some Noise is Doug, man. I mean, it's all of us but what happened when we lost Richard to that little band he's playing with, Guns n Roses, it was perfect that it was Doug because Doug’s a riff master. Him and David Lowy, but Doug has got riffs. 


Doug - And John. John’s got a lot of riffs.


Marco - I'm just talking on the guitar side what he brought was massive and were very happy! That's my opinion. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Marco Mendoza. Photo credit: Matthew Isherwood

Well let's go back to 1979 when you were very young…


John – He was young, I was already really very old! 


Well John and Doug, you knew each other from high school.


John – Well actually I was already...


Doug – (interrupting) He dropped out!


John – I did actually. Doug and I have a mutual friend, Jerry, and that's where I met you, over at Jerry’s house.


Doug – I was in tenth grade and my friend said ‘I got asked to be in this band’. And I was like ‘whoah, that's so cool!’. So he was like the least experienced guy in the band but he had a rehearsal at his house and the whole band came over. I met the whole band, and John walks in and he has his girlfriend with him. I was like ‘look how cool that guy is! He's got a girlfriend and everything!’.


Doug, let’s pick up on the timing which in itself was incredible in terms of you joining The Dead Daisies because you've been very busy over the last couple years with Revolution Saints and of course your extensive tour with Glenn Hughes. How did your opportunity to join The Dead Daisies come about?


Doug – It really came from Marco. Richard is an amazing guitar player, and by the way I love the work they did before I was in the band. I love Revolucian and I think this record adds to that so it’s all good. Richard got hurt in an accident and Marco said, ‘hey, let me call Doug and see if he can do it’ and I couldn't because I was committed to Glenn, and I said to Marco I was already impressed with the band when they put out Revolucian because when I saw the video for Midnight Moses, I couldn't believe how amazing that video was.  I was seeing other bands – much more famous bands than The Dead Daisies even – putting out videos that were not even close. I was so proud of it and I sent a message to Brian saying ‘that's awesome!’. Anyway, cut to last year, Richard gets hurt, Marco calls me and I can't do it. I did talk to John to say sorry that I couldn't do it but that maybe I can think of somebody. They had already got somebody but at least John and I connected and we hadn't talked for while. Then later, Marco called me back to say there might be a possibility, we might be making a change and it kind of went from there. They just said we’re not going to try and replace Dizzy, we want to strip down the sound a little bit and do a record and then go tour it. This is the other thing: if it was anybody else I didn't know, I would have thought ‘I don't know, maybe’ you know, it could be cool. But these are my bros! And musically we did something I think we could never have done. To me it sounds like everybody. It doesn't sound like me, it sounds like everybody because I was there and I saw how it went down. John would have a riff, Marco would add to it, Brian would say ‘hey, what about this’, David would do this, I would do this. We were all there together and it was really old school, really organic and real. And that's another thing that's different: The Dead Daisies – this line up and probably the previous one – has a camaraderie that you can hear it in the music. So that's how it came about, basically from Marco and then we just sat down and that's what we got.


Marco – And it comes down at the end to how we knew each other, our friendship, our history. That's what makes it. And the timing. We all get calls. Still. ‘Hey what are you doing?’. You have to make decisions based on that. But this is a good one and were having a blast.


You are currently 7 shows in to what is quite an extensive UK and European co-headlining tour with The Answer. Tell me about your relationship with The Answer and what it means to be sharing a stage with them.


John – These guys, Doug and Marco, did some shows with them when they were in Whitesnake. I just met them on the tour, but you know what, they’re just really mellow. Everyone on the tour is. Lynne Jackaman has been great, The Answer has been great. Everyone's working with each other. There were some things in the beginning when we were like ‘who’s gonna open, who’s gonna close’ and we’re like ‘let’s make it easy. Let's flip a coin, whoever wins that night will start the tour last (on stage) and we’ll just flip-flop for the rest of the tour’. It's the fair thing to do and everybody's cool with it. It's been really cool, it's been awesome.


Doug – You know what's cool about The Answer is that it's their 10th anniversary and it's still the original 4 guys. That's pretty rare. That's awesome. I met those guys in the beginning because they had won best new artist at the Classic Rock Awards and David (Coverdale) said ‘hey, I think this band’s pretty cool, I want to bring them on tour with us’. So we brought them on tour in 2006 – I don’t know how many dates, it was about a month or two – and they were right away just great guys, salt of the earth people and they are very talented. Really good.


Marco – A very solid band.

Doug Aldrich

What’s the emerging 2017 calendar looking like for The Dead Daisies?


Marco - What's next right now, what's being talked about moving forward is to put out a live album and possibly a DVD. It's in the works and we’re going to start recording soon, and probably not tour until mid-May. Right now we're looking at the festival season and whatever comes after that.


John – I know that since I joined the band last February and in the almost 2 years I've been going with these guys, I think I've been home about literally 2 months total. So if you really think about it, I joined in February, I did a record last year in March, we were on tour in May right up to December, Doug came in in January, we did another record and we went right back out in March. So it's been hectic but we have a new label for this record and they said they'd been getting great reviews on this. But the thing everyone walks away from the band saying is ‘God, the live show is amazing! It was insane!’. So until we get ready to go and do a new studio record they want a live album, and we’re going to take a well-deserved 3 months off - January, February, March – and get everything rolling again in April. We’ll probably tour again for most of next year and we're actually going to start stockpiling music for a new studio record as well.

As our conversation draws to a close, the prospect of a live album, DVD, tour and new studio record in 2017 provides us with a huge amount of anticipation. But overall our conversation today has left us with an overwhelming sense of what a truly special band The Dead Daisies really is. The word that has surfaced most throughout our interview is chemistry and I think this is the quality that places The Dead Daisies at the front of the pack. This band oozes chemistry. Not only that though. After a generation of huge successes each and every band member has achieved, and the friendships they have formed with each other as their paths have zig-zagged throughout their respective careers, they are all professionally and personally committed to The Dead Daisies. This comes through both on stage and on record, and it's an absolute joy to be a part of.


Find out more about The Dead Daisies at www.thedeaddaisies.com. Enjoy their latest music video Song And A Prayer below and photos from their Birmingham show which took place on 19th November.