The Dead Daisies - Guitarist Doug Aldrich discusses the latest US tour and his excitement to return to the UK - Winter 2021
Although the Covid pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc across the world, it’s wonderful to see the easing of lockdowns and a return to some sense of normality. Live music is something that has been massively missed, and it’s wonderful to see venues reopening and tours being booked. It’s also especially heartwarming to see growing confidence amongst gig-goers to re-emerge and see a show. There are many bands that the readers of Rock Today have been calling out as ones they would particularly like to see but it’s no surprise that band consistently mentioned is The Dead Daisies. Currently rounding off a US tour, the band return to the UK at the end October to perform 8 dates – and the anticipation is palpable. We catch up with guitarist Doug Aldrich as he enjoys breakfast before the band head to Seattle for their final US show. As ever, Doug is in fine spirits, filled with a huge sense of contentment for the tour’s success but also massive excitement to cross the pond to commence the UK tour. Keen to understand what it means to be back playing live, we pull up a chair and our conversation begins…
With The Dead Daisies now back out on tour, I really want to the focus on the band from a live perspective but before we come onto that let me just pick up a question about the latest album Holy Ground. This was released back in January but it was written and recorded 18 months to 2 years ago. As an artist, when you have such incredibly strong material ready, how frustrating was it for you to not go out and play because of lockdowns?
Of course you are now back out there, and moving onto the US tour, it’s been absolutely fantastic to watch The Dead Daisies journey as you trekked across America to play 21 dates throughout September and October. This looks like it’s been a really special tour for so many reasons. First of all, this is the first tour with Glenn Hughes. As well as being a band mate, you’ve been really good friends with Glenn for many years. What’s it like being in a band with one of your best friends?
Well, it’s great! I want Glenn to be happy – he’s one of the treasures of rock ‘n’ roll! Of hard rock, metal – anything! He is one of the treasures and he’s from another planet. The talent that he has… his voice hasn’t changed, if anything it’s got better, and his bass playing is incredible. But because he’s my friend I just want him to be happy. I want him to be comfortable. So it’s been fun working with Glenn aside from being friends because we hang out together, and he likes to go for these long walks – what he calls a ‘trudge’. “Doug, lets go for a trudge!”. We’ll get into a city, we’ll drop our bags and we’ll just go walking as far as we can. And Glenn loves to shop so that’s always fun. He’s a very stylish and good looking man! It’s just been fun. He’s having a good time which is why, because I care about him as a friend and as a rock ‘n’ roll treasure, I want him to have fun and enjoy himself and not have any worries.
The Dead Daisies have always been happy to play a cover and in fact you’ve recorded many covers over the years, but what’s quite interesting about this run of shows is that you’ve also played covers that are actually sung by the original artist, and I’m referring to the tracks Mistreated and Burn, of course from Glenn Hughes’ tenure in Deep Purple. Was this something particularly important to Glenn?
Ha ha! I think so! It’s a win-win because they sound fresh in the sense that Glenn never had the opportunity to play those songs with the two guitar players. It’s very cool. It’s a slightly different twist on those songs which I think people will enjoy. Glenn is singing them incredibly! But for me they are not covers because he is here! So that’s just us putting our stamp on Glenn’s material. To be truthful, we’ve got a lot of material. The covers on Holy Ground were just something for fun and to kind of continue the tradition but we are more focused on the original stuff. The covers that we do live are songs that we’ve done either prior to me or prior to Glenn for sure. We’ve basically taking them in a slightly new direction with Glenn because of the way he sings. He’s not going to sing them the way that John Corabi did. So it’s kinda like they’ve been given a new coat of paint. So basically we’ve got a couple of covers and had a couple of Deep Purples. And it’s really cool for me too because with Whitesnake we used to do Burn with two guitarists and keyboards. This is just more raw with me and David, so it’s been really fun. And I’ve got to say that people have to check out the way that David plays Mistreated. He’s basically playing the organ bits and it sounds incredible!
This is also the first time you’ve toured with Tommy Clufetos in The Dead Daisies, even though he was part of an earlier lineup of the band. He is truly one of the most gifted and awe-inspiring drummers. What does it mean to share a stage with Tommy?
It means that you’re going to get your ass kicked! (Laughs!) He is loud, loud, loud! He’s powerful! He’s thunderous! And it’s so funny because he told me about something that happened to him once to do with his snare drum, and I’m on stage the other night pointing at his snare drum trying to remind him of that - and he didn’t blink. He wasn’t going to get outside of what he was doing for a second! Later he said “I saw what you did and it was really funny!” and I was like “well I couldn’t tell!“. He’s just very focused. He’s a good dude too! He’s a father, he’s a husband and he’s a very normal guy offstage.
The Dead Daisies are of course a musical collective and it’s always been understood that band members would come and go, but there is something really special about this line up. Do you think this current lineup is a stable one?
Well, I hope so. You never know and that’s the beauty of how The Dead Daisies started, that people could come and go. I’ll say this – we’ve got some new music that we’ve started to work on and David has been working on some riffs backstage. He’ll play something, I’ll hear it and I’ll start recording on my phone so we don’t forget. I can then take those things and work on them with Glenn. But to answer your question, you never know. If somebody wants to take time off to be with their family, that’s okay because someone else will come in. But it is a special lineup. It really is! It’s a special lineup with Glenn and Tommy, and I think everybody’s having a really good time. David is laughing all the time on stage. You’re gonna see a different side of Glenn because it’s a little bit more loose than what I remember playing with Glenn in his solo band. He’s really interacting more with the audience, talking more and he’s charming. He doesn’t always get the opportunity to talk that much.
You’ve had some incredible guests on this tour, one example in particular was the radio sessions that you did with Orianthi and also for you to share the stage with her in Hollywood. That must have been something really special for you?
It was a great show! She brought out a whole different group of people too. She’s in the middle of making a record right now and I’ve got to hand it to her, it’s impressive because she’s jumping from studio to live. Usually it’s difficult to get into live mode versus studio mode where you are using a different part of your brain almost. She was in the middle of recording, got the band together, they were rehearsing and then she had to jump down with me and do the radio shows. And that’s a different situation to get into! She came and played the show and then went back into the studio. I just thought that was amazing. I couldn’t do that! She sings brilliantly and is a fine, fine guitar player!
But what you have also had on this tour is Don Jamieson performing his wonderful comedy routine. It’s unusual to have live comedy at a rock show but this really seemed to work! It was wonderful to see so much positivity and great feedback from the fans. How did this idea come about?
I’m not sure who had the original idea. I heard it from management and maybe Glenn brought it too because Glenn is really good friends with Don. I’ve been friends with Don for a long time too. When I heard about it I thought “that would be great!”. We had this band with us called The Black Moods who are really good, they’ve got a great songs and they’re cool guys. So they start off the night and they get off the stage really quick and basically our stage is ready. Don gets up, gets people laughing and loose, and that’s pretty cool! I gets people in a really fun mood. And then he walks off stage and we walk on so there’s no in between times. So it worked out really, really well. I’d love to do that again. I think it’s a good thing mixing rock ‘n’ roll and comedy.
The Dead Daisies have always been a band with their fans at the heart of everything you do, and how you interact with the fans has always been hugely important. However, there has of course been lots of restrictions. How frustrating has this been for you and how are you making that close fan contact work?
Well we can’t do proper meet and greets at this point. Usually people don’t mind, they understand people don’t want to get sick. But if there is anyone there after the show that’s hanging outside we will usually find a way to get some stuff signed. We are just not able to get too close. Normally you would just grab somebody and take a photo but we’re able to do that. But we’re finding a way to make sure that we still can sign.
With the US tour now wrapping up, what sort of things are going through your mind?
We are so excited to come over to the UK! That’s the main thing! I’ve just been thinking about how I’m going to be off for 10 days and it’s always a little hard to get back started, even if you only take 2 days off. Getting back on stage, you’ve got to be on the edge of the razor blade – you have to be right there! So I’m thinking about how I’m going to stay in the zone. And of course, family time.
But the wonderful news, as you’ve just mentioned, is that you are coming back to the UK at the end of October to play 8 dates. The Dead Daisies have always had a really special place in the hearts of UK rock fans. What does it mean to be coming back to the UK?
Well the whole culture of the UK has been missed because of the pandemic. The last time I was there was in 2018 so it’s been quite some time – 3 years since I’ve been there. I can’t imagine how it’s going to feel stepping off the flight and being able to go to a pub. Of course, we’ve got lots of friends there and hopefully we can take in a soccer match or something. You just don’t realise how much you love something until you don’t have it around. The people have always been so much fun and supportive, and we’re all very excited to be there!