THE DEAD DAISIES – “Without Blowing Smoke, We Did A Great Job”

August 3, 2016, a year ago

Aaron Small

feature hard rock the dead daisies

THE DEAD DAISIES – “Without Blowing Smoke, We Did A Great Job”

Make Some Noise – the brand new, third album from The Dead Daisies – is good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll at its finest, which there just isn’t enough of these days. “That’s what we wanted to do when we were first talking to producers,” says vocalist John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, The Scream). “We got hold of Marti (Frederiksen – Aerosmith, Buckcherry, Def Leppard) and told him we wanted to do a straight-ahead, kick ass, no frills… not a lot of overdubs or bullshit… we want to let the music do the talking. And he said, ‘I’m in, let’s do this!’ Without blowing smoke, I think we did a great job. I’m always amazed though with the band. Even on the last record (2015’s Revolución) – we don’t have a lot of time to record, because geographically we’re all over the world. So the last record; we wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered 17 songs in 32 days. This time, we had even less material when we all got together. We literally wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered 12 songs in 35 days. It’s pretty cool. I dig working with these guys, there’s so much creativity here it’s kind of sick.”
 
Speaking of producer Marti Frederiksen, a certain irony is at play here as he worked with Corabi’s former band Mötley Crüe; specifically co-writing all 13 songs on their 2008 album, Saints Of Los Angeles. Were stories about Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee traded in the studio? “Nah, I don’t really have anything negative to say about anybody. Besides, even if I did… I don’t want to say smart enough, but I don’t like causing drama. My opinion or viewpoint on somebody is not necessarily going to be the same as yours, so why even bother? Again, we didn’t have a lot of time to waste in the studio. We just went in with a job to do, and did it.”
 
The recording of Make Some Noise took place in Corabi’s hometown of Nashville, TN, unlike Revolución which was recorded between studios in Australia and Cuba. “It was good for me, for as much as I travel, I was actually able to go home and sleep in my own bed at night,” admits John. “It was cool man. There was not a lot of distractions. A lot of bands tend to go to places like Sydney… or in Mötley, we didn’t do a lot of recording in LA. We went to Vancouver so that there wouldn’t be a ton of people stopping by the studio to see what was going on. We had a great time. We worked every day, did our thing, and knew when to knock it on the head, go home and get some rest; come back in the morning fresh and start over again.”

Along the lines of starting fresh, there’s been some lineup changes within The Dead Daisies recently, which is a constant for this band. Specifically, guitarist Richard Fortus and keyboardist Dizzy Reed left to tour as part of the reunited Guns N’ Roses. Enter guitarist Doug Aldrich (Dio), who previously played in Whitesnake with Dead Daisies bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy) and drummer Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne). “Just so everybody knows, we love Dizzy and Richard – I still talk to those guys once a week, we’re still great friends,” states Corabi. “I totally understood when they went to do Guns N’ Roses. But I can honestly say, had they not done that, they’d still be here. I do want to clarify – I know there’s a lot of names on the list of people that have been in The Dead Daisies. The one thing about this band is they’ve made it pretty stress free. David (Lowy, guitarist) put the band together, but he understands from a business point of view – Marco’s constantly doing a lot of sessions. Even since I’ve been in the band, he’s been asked to do some unbelievable things. He’s very busy when we’re not working. Just in case somebody couldn’t do something, it was like ‘Don’t worry about it.’ If you can’t do a week or two of a tour because of prior commitments, we’ll just get somebody else – go do your other thing – and then come back. So a lot of those names that are on the list, are people that filled in. For example, (drummer) Tommy Clueftos from Black Sabbath. Brian (Tichy) started the record with us, couldn’t finish it ‘cause he had prior commitments, and the first part of the KISS tour, Brian couldn’t do it so Tommy came out. The idea is to have a core band that records and tours; at times somebody may not be able to make a show. We all have a huge rolodex of friends that we’ll make a phone call to. David Lowy couldn’t do a few shows last year when we were out with Whitesnake, so we called Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Black Star Riders). Damon lives in Nashville (as does Corabi). Marco’s played with Damon, we all know him, so he came out with us. It’s like this little band of gypsies.”

From an outsider’s point of view, it’s interesting that The Dead Daisies chose not to replace keyboardist Dizzy Reed, especially given his integral keyboard / piano parts in “Make The Best Of It” and “Sleep”. “Well you know what’s funny, I do ‘Sleep’ in my acoustic sets,” reveals Corabi. “I just sit there with an acoustic guitar. I change it up a little bit and do a different version. For example, if you listen to Aerosmith’s Live! Bootleg record (released in 1978), they do ‘Dream On’ – there’s no keyboards in it at all. None. All those keyboard parts that Steven (Tyler) does in the beginning are done by Joe (Perry) and Brad (Whitford) on guitar. So yeah, there’s going to be some tweaks but I think initially – and I don’t like speaking for other people – but I believe when David (Lowy, guitarist) first started putting this band together, it was really (original vocalist) Jon Stevens (who sang on 2013’s self-titled debut) that wanted a keyboard player. David has always been into two guitars, bass, drums, with a singer – like AC/DC, Aerosmith; that kind of a vibe. So when Dizzy said he couldn’t do it, we wished him good luck with the Guns thing, but David wanted to try it without keyboards.”
 
With its incredibly catchy chorus, “Song And A Prayer” from Make Some Noise is undoubtedly a smash hit just waiting to happen. “That was a Doug Aldrich riff, he just started jamming it. I had a completely different chorus for it. We all wrote and tracked the music together, but the guys had to leave (Nashville) and get back to LA. So I stayed and worked with Marti (Frederiksen, producer) on a lot of melodies and lyrics; trying to make things better. It’s kind of weird man – it sounds happy, bright and promising; but if you really look at the lyrics, they’re a little dark. It’s a very odd song, but I dig it. And to be honest, I never saw it coming but that’s one of the songs that everybody seems to dig.”

Previous album Revolución featured a pair of cover songs: “Evil” by Willie Dixon, and “Midnight Moses” by Alex Harvey. Keeping with tradition, The Dead Daisies recorded a pair of cover tunes for Make Some Noise. First up is “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. “I can’t remember who brought that one up, but we were doing it during the tour last year. We do a few covers in our sets. Some nights we may do ‘Hush’ by Deep Purple – that’s when we had Dizzy on the keys. Then we would pull out ‘All Right Now’ (by Free), or we would do a Beatles song; but we were encoring with that song (‘Fortunate Son’) last year and it went over great! So we said we should record that. Then The Who song (‘Join Together’), I have always loved that song. A lot of people wonder why we do covers. At the end of the day, we’re still music fans. We love music! A lot of the classic rock bands… The Stones did a lot of covers, Grand Funk Railroad. We’re not trying to overthink things; we just love these songs. They’re great tunes so why not?”
 
Returning to the original material, “Mainline” is so upbeat and energetic; a super-strong Dead Daisies song. “It’s all kind of a blur… I don’t remember who started the song, but it just all came together. Lyrically, it’s a little bit of a double entendre. You don’t know if I’m talking about riding on a train, or if you’re on the ride of your life – if you’re doing drugs or whatever. I just left it vague, but I think most people know what I’m talking about.”
 
Visually, there’s a definite connection and similarity between the cover art for Revolución and that which adorns Make Some Noise. Both feature the skull logo on a brick wall. “There was a bit of a theme there from our trip to Cuba on the last record. I just love that skull logo. It’s this tough looking skull, but if you look at it closer it’s all these little flowers. Again, I try not to overthink anything. We throw some ideas out there and the art guy takes everything in. We have a great management team, marketing, and all the stuff around us, so I try not to question anything other than music. If you really look at my track record – between my ex-wives and the contractual decisions that I’ve made with music in the past – I don’t have a good track record. So I just keep my mouth shut. Now if you’re talking about the difference between an A chord and an E chord, I’ve got you covered. Anything else, you’re on your own.”
 

When Corabi spoke last with BraveWords, he was deep in the throes of getting his autobiography together; time for a status update. “I’ll be totally honest with you, I was so gung-ho, I was going to put the book out and then… I wasn’t happy with it. I’ve tried to write it a few times, and then re-write it. It was weird. Part of me sat there and, there’s a Kurt Cobain book, there’s a Marilyn Manson book, there’s an Eric Clapton book, there’s a Steven Tyler book, a Joe Perry book, there’s a Joey Kramer book. There’s a book from Slash; wait, now the techs are starting to do books. I’m just sitting there going… I wanted this to be… I don’t want to do anything half-assed, and I seriously don’t want to do something and feel like I was jumping on a train. So I kind of stopped with it for a while. But the last couple months my manager, and a few other people have expressed interest in me finishing. So I’m not going to sit here and say it’ll be ready in August. I’m going to take my time with it, if I do it I want to do it really well; and I want to make sure it goes with a publishing company that believes in it and really wants it to do well. My biggest thing was, I got a little bit of cold feet when I saw how many people were putting books out; there’s nothing special about it now, everybody’s doing books – it’s the norm.”
 
Also on the go is Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars’ solo album, which John is a part of. “Well, here’s the deal. Mick moved to Nashville, I’ve always kept in touch with Tommy (Lee); I saw Vince two weeks ago. I’m fine with just about everybody, but for some reason not Nikki (Sixx) at this point; I don’t know why, but Nikki’s got a little bit of a hard-on for me – whatever. But at the end of the day, Mick just called me up and said, ‘I’m in Nashville now, I want to do a solo record and I’d really like your help with it.’ I was like, ‘ok dude, absolutely, whatever you need me to do.’ And Mick went on tour, I was out with The Daisies – obviously our schedules are so wacky. Mick went out and co-wrote some songs with Tommy (Henriksen, guitarist) from the Alice Cooper band; I tweaked some stuff on it. I had done a recording, Mick wasn’t crazy about it: I basically went in and re-did it with Mick. We’ve talked about me doing more writing with him, and hopefully laying some vocals down. But we talked a little bit ago and I said listen man, first of all – and this is my advice to Mick – I don’t think you should rush this. This is your first solo thing outside of Mötley, everybody else in the band has done some stuff. You need to take your time with it… I want to help as much as I can but right now – his schedule and my schedule, we’re just trying to sort it out. It’s Mick’s solo thing, so it’s really up to what Mick wants to do. Anything Mick needs me to help him with I’d be more than happy to do. But I’m the type of person… I just finished Make Some Noise with The Daisies, we’ve already been to Germany twice. We’re getting ready to go out on a massive tour this summer and fall. I recorded a live CD and DVD with my solo band ‘cause I was out doing the Mötley ’94 thing. I don’t have an exact (release) date but it will probably be end of September, beginning of October on Rat Pak; and I’m in the process of writing new material for a new solo John Corabi record too. My manager’s talking to me about finishing the book; and there’s a TV show that wants me to be involved in. I was saying to my wife; I don’t want to do so much that everything suffers. I’d rather do less and do it well, than do a lot and do it half-assed. So I’m just kind of weighing everything out right now. If I can help Mick and we can find a schedule that works for both of us, I would love to. I love that dude!”
 
Elaborating further upon the aforementioned television show, John offers the following, “It’s not Reality TV like Meet The Kardashians, The Osbournes, or any of that kind of thing. It’s a music show… I don’t really have the whole concept of it but it’s kind of a cross between The Voice, American Idol, and Big Brother. But the difference between this and those other shows – American Idol will have Elton John night, or whatever. This isn’t that way at all. These bands or groups literally have to write a new song every week and go out and make it happen. That part of it, I was like wow, this is killer! Now you’re going to see really how bands work. I’m pretty excited about it; I hope I can do that as well. I think it would be a lot of fun, but again it just depends on schedule.”
 
Once again The Dead Daisies will be opening for KISS, this time in August and September throughout The US. Corabi tells us what’s it’s like taking the stage in front of living legends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley night after night. “If you really look at the history, Marco’s known those guys forever. Brian’s known those guys forever. Doug actually auditioned for KISS in 1983 I think. Gene tried to sign my first band Angora, I met Paul several times when I was in Union (with former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick). They came to a lot of the Union shows when we played in California. Then I have a side band with (KISS drummer) Eric Singer called ESP. Honestly, it’s just like, ‘Hey dude, how you been? How’s the kids?’ When we go on stage, we’re a new band and it’s all engines go. Then we get off stage and we’ll have a cup of tea in catering with Gene or Paul; it’s really mellow. But they’re great guys! Last year we did Europe with them and I wasn’t sure. I’ve known them forever and I just hoped they weren’t assholes on the road ‘cause it would have ruined it for me. I’ve got to be honest, every day they’d come in and if you know Eric, he likes busting everybody’s balls. So he’d start fucking with me or one of the guys – just joking. Tommy Thayer is showing me stuff on his rig. But Gene would dance into the room, tell a couple jokes, and then dance out of the room again; did that really just happen? Paul would always ask if we needed anything, if everybody was treating us good. Then Marco and I would go into Paul’s dressing room with him and watch killer videos for that new Soul Station R&B thing that he does. It’s been awesome, they’ve been so cool to us! We even have their crew guys helping us; that’s how it should be, I can’t say enough great things about all the guys.”

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