THE DEAD DAISIES – “Radiance Is Probably Our Heaviest Record, But It’s Got A Very Positive Message”

September 28, 2022, a year ago

By Aaron Small

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THE DEAD DAISIES – “Radiance Is Probably Our Heaviest Record, But It’s Got A Very Positive Message”

“It’s all because of the pandemic,” states Doug Aldrich, guitarist for The Dead Daisies, when asked about the short 20-month time span between the band’s fifth album, Holy Ground, which was issued in January 2021, and their upcoming sixth album, Radiance, which will be released September 30, 2022, via SPV.  

“First of all, I’ll explain it a little bit,” begins Aldrich. “We recorded Holy Ground at the end of 2019, and we had to hold off. We had a whole plan to release it and tour it in 2020, and obviously that got blown out. So, we put some songs out here and there during 2020. And then came 2021. Meanwhile, during the pandemic, Glenn (Hughes – vocalist / bassist) had some songs… we were talking about doing a concept record, because of the pandemic. Glenn just got on a roll, and he had some really great ideas. So I went down to his place, kind of on the sly, because we weren’t supposed to be going anywhere. I went down to see Glenn and helped him arrange some of his ideas and recorded him; just trying to make progress. We had ten or eleven really strong ideas to start with. Then we put that on hold in 2021, because we went back to promoting Holy Ground when we toured on it periodically.” 

“We did two US runs and a UK run,” recalls Doug. “Then we were planning to go to Europe to support Holy Ground in February of this year, and it got blown out because of Omicron. Then somebody in management said, ‘The concept record thing was cool, but let’s just make a straight-up rock record.’ So, we cherry-picked a few of those things from the 2020 sessions, then we wrote about another ten songs during January and February, and went in and recorded in March. It seems like those two albums were budded up together, but there was a long period of time between 2019 and January of this year when we started to write again. We put together this album, Radiance – it’s a Daisies / Glenn record. When you get a lead vocalist like Glenn Hughes, you’ve got to pay tribute to that as well. But it is a Daisies record thanks to (guitarist) David Lowy and the whole machine. We put it together, and we had tour dates coming in May. So, we decided to go in with (producer) Ben Grosse in March and recorded it. We, just by the skin of our teeth, got it done before we left. Then Ben mixed it and put on the finishing touches. So, it’s a new record for us as well.”

And the revolving door of Dead Daisies band members continues to spin as drummer Deen Castronovo, who played on Holy Ground, left to undergo minor back surgery, and then ended up reuniting with Journey. But when The Dead Daisies were touring to promote Holy Ground, Tommy Clufetos (Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie) was behind the kit. However, Tommy’s not on the new album. Brian Tichy, who’s played with The Dead Daisies before, can be heard on Radiance. Doug addresses the percussionist position. “I think Tommy, he came in as a fill-in for Deen, cause Deen had to take care of some personal issues, and he had some opportunities that came up. All these guys are my bros. If they get an opportunity, and it’s something they want to do, I’m all for it. So, Deen took off and did his back thing, then he re-joined Journey, and I’m super happy for him. And he’s very happy. The thing about The Dead Daisies is, it’s a family, and Tommy’s in it as well; he’s a great drummer. He’s probably the loudest drummer I’ve ever worked with. My left ear, cause I’m on stage right, it’s still ringing right now from the tour I did with Tommy. So, thank you Tommy for that. But Tommy was just basically filling in. When we got to thinking about making a record at the last minute, beginning of this year, we thought it would be really nice to get Brian back; he’d be perfect for the songs that we put together.” 

“Our front of house engineer called Brian and asked him, cause we all wanted Brian, he’s the guy. And Brian said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do it.’ Speaking for me, Glenn, and David, we’re very happy. This is my personal opinion – Brian is the greatest drummer I’ve ever worked with! I’ve worked with a lot of drummers, and they’re all great, they’re all really cool, but Brian, pound for pound, he’s got everything that you need. And he’s a real musician’s musician. He went to Berklee College of Music, and he plays guitar, and he plays bass, he sings. He’s super talented! I think Brian is the secret weapon of this record. He’s very personable, down to earth, and very humble; but he’s a monster drummer! Over the years, Glenn and I joke about this cause between he and I, we’ve played with a zillion drummers, and Brian just shines. He’s so talented! His feel, his tone, the way he tunes the drums. For people that don’t know, look at YouTube videos of Brian with various bands, and then compare it to your favorite drummer. And listen to one thing – listen to the snare drum. Because Brian is all about the snare drum. It’s the most important drum of all, and Brian’s tone on the snare drum is him. He’ll tell you – Bonham’s snare drum was this, Alex Van Halen’s snare drums was this, Neil Peart’s snare drum was like this… and Brian has his own snare drum. Listen to the snare drums when you listen to YouTube, and you’ll hear Brian’s sole. That’s where he’s at.”

The reason behind choosing Radiance, which is also the name of track four, as the album title, “was not my decision,” admits Doug. “I would have called the record, This Is The Best Record Of The Year. No, just joking. It’s a killer track! ‘Radiance’ is something that Glenn… I’m going to paraphrase here from my experience in doing interviews with Glenn. Glenn is a very spiritual person, and he’s very connected. He’s an amazing talent. One of the first songs we worked on was ‘Radiance’. It was a good song, and when Ben Grosse got involved, we made it into a great song. The lyrics were just really, let the light shine from inside of you. Be the best that you can be, and let the radiance shine through. All the songs, all the lyrics, when you listen to it, they’re all very positive. This is probably The Dead Daisies’ heaviest record, but it’s got a very positive message, and that’s because of Glenn. So, it just seemed like a good title. And it worked out with the artwork; it represents the band in a good way.”

Radiance is absolutely the heaviest record from The Dead Daisies. Look at the song “Cascade” for example. That beginning riff could be a Black Sabbath riff. “That’s a Glenn riff right there,” reveals Doug. “He had that riff, and he was very particular about how it should sound. He really wanted it to be a certain way. I got it right away. He wanted it to be very lazy, very behind the beat; so that’s how I played it. But yeah, ‘Cascade’ is probably like a dark horse sleeper track on the album; it’s an epic track. You’re the first person to mention it actually.”

Fans of The Dead Daisies are familiar with the first half of the new album prior to release date, courtesy of YouTube videos for “Face Your Fear”, “Hypnotize Yourself”, “Shine On”, and “Radiance”. But the back half of the album is just as strong as the first. “Not Human” is super energetic – that’s undeniably a go-to song on this record. “Me too,” exclaims Aldrich. “BraveWords is worldwide, but you’re from Canada, you’re from Toronto. You know all about Rush. Listen to the outro of ‘Not Human’, you’re going to hear Brian Tichy and Glenn Hughes throwing down. The outro is really a bass and drum extravaganza, so I’m glad you brought that track up as well. It’s cool.”

Furthermore, “Roll On” is such a great closer. Allowing the song to breathe makes it so much more enjoyable, and that guitar solo… wow! “It was basically… well first of all, let me go back a tiny bit. Glenn and I made a demo of that, and I did the most sparsest solo I could do. Very sparse. It was because that’s what that song is. It’s got space and air. Of course, you can blow over those changes and play a bunch of stuff, but when you’re in the vibe of the song… less is more. So, I did this really sparse solo. I was kind of confused when I went to the studio… should I do it the same way, or try to explore it a little further? I ended up asking Ben Grosse, cause I knew Glenn loved the original vibe that I had done on the demo. But I asked Ben, ‘I have a question here. Should I go less is more, or should I try to work with the melody a little bit? What do you think?’ I really needed help. He said, ‘Just play. Give me five solos. I’ll pick the best one and I’ll put something together. And he did it. I just played. I didn’t really think. I just went from my heart. So, I actually don’t even recall all the solos. But the one that’s on there, I’m happy with it, and I’m glad you liked it. The bottom line is the solo in the song… I hate to say it, but a song like that, it’s a time to go to the bathroom. It’s a piss break. That’s the time to relax. But the song itself is really cool. It’s a great closer for the album. And it makes you chill out and cool down after the album. Then you can go back and listen to it again.”

Listening again, the opening track “Face Your Fear” is a killer way to start the album! It also begs the question – what is your biggest fear, and have you ever faced it? “Well, ‘Face Your Fear’ is something that Glenn is really into. It’s basically like, you’ve got an obstruction in front of you, and you have to walk through it. Face it, don’t avoid it. For me, I think probably the IRS, the taxman is my biggest fear. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’m just a young person at heart. I love to play guitar and make music. And I’m so blessed to make a living. But once a year you have to do all the details and figure out your numbers and pay the money. It’s nerve-wracking to me! That’s my biggest fear.”

The recording environment for Radiance is very different than the locale where Holy Ground was created. For Holy Ground, The Dead Daisies were in the South of France at La Fabrique. For Radiance, the band set up shop at The Mix Room in North Hollywood, California. “Well, Ben Grosse came to La Fabrique and he made it really comfortable for us. It was after a few months of Glenn being in the band, and Ben’s a really chill guy. Then, coming to the beginning of this year, Ben has two rooms in Los Angeles – The Mix Room in North Hollywood, and The Mix Room in Burbank. So, we tracked in North Hollywood, and then we did some overdubs in Burbank and North Hollywood. But that’s his zone. For me, personally, I think this album, out of the two albums Ben did, looking on the outside, it’s his best album because he’s in his environment. He knows those rooms, and he's such an amazing… he’s really like a director of a movie. He’s very unique, very passionate about the way he does stuff. And Ben felt really comfortable in LA.” 

“For us, it was a little more hectic cause we’re staying at home, we’re commuting every day. At La Fabrique, we were living there. It was so cool! We could come downstairs in our pajamas and have a little coffee and something to eat, and then just go straight to the studio and start working – and that’s what we did. With this one, we had times that we had to be there. We’d start at mid-day, 12 o’clock, and then we’d go until five or six, and we’d knock it on the head. La Fabrique – we’d start at 9am and go ‘til 9pm. Meanwhile, we had some chefs cooking for us; it was just easy. So, Holy Ground took about a month to record. And Radiance took more like two months to record. It’s just a different thing. But Ben’s amazing. He would call me, on both records, or text me, saying ‘I need you for 30 minutes.’ So, I’d go to the studio and Ben would say, ‘I need you to play some kick ass, wild guitar. I love what we got, but I need something that’s more on the edge of craziness.’ Ok, and I would just play. I didn’t have to think, I would just play. He would end it and make it fit to the song. And I have to say, sometimes that lifts the chorus. If all of a sudden you’ve got this really tight riff, then it hits the chorus and it opens up with more free-form guitar or bass or vocal, that’s just how he does it. And you wouldn’t really know how it was going to sound until you got the final product.” 

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