THE DEAD DAISIES FRONTMAN JOHN CORABI SAYS 'MAKE SOME NOISE' IS "PRETTY DAMN CLOSE" TO BEING HIS "SGT PEPPERS"
8th July 2016
The Dead Daisies: John Corabi - vocals, Brian Tichy - drums, Doug Aldrich - guitars, Marco Mendoza - bass, David Lowy - guitars
The Dead Daisies' most excellent third album, 'Make Some Noise', is released on August 5th and it's certain to make a huge impact. It's been playing constantly here at MetalTalk this past month and is a hot contender for our Album Of The Year so we were delighted to have an enlightening conversation with frontman John Corabi this afternoon.
In this, the Dead Daisies' first ever UK online interview, John gives us a fabulous insight into some of the songs from the new album as well as most other aspects of the band on the eve of their latest run of tour dates which include a full scale UK tour with two festival appearances in one day, Ramblin' Man in Kent and Rock & Blues Custom Show in Derby two weeks tomorrow, Saturday 23rd July.
The phrase "supergroup" does not apply here as that word is redundant now due to overuse and unmatched expectations over the past quarter century. The Dead Daisies are not a "supergroup" - they are a "MEGAGROUP" and when you get to hear 'Make Some Noise' on August 5th you will see exactly why.
Article continues below...
John, it's a real pleasure to talk to you and MetalTalk are delighted to finally introduce the Dead Daisies properly to the UK. The Daisies have been referred to as a rock n' roll "collective" but our understanding is that the current line-up is now set in stone, solidified, definitive and staying put.
"Yes, but to be honest with you there's a little bit of a misconception there. It's probably the hottest band I've ever been in and when I first hooked up with the guys last year, one of the first things the manager, David, said was 'I know that you've got your own solo career and I think your career can help the Daisies and the Daisies can help your career' and the one thing they stressed was the Daisies just want to have fun and it's a no-stress zone. The way the Daisies are set up, the sum is greater than the parts and without blowing smoke here, they've assembled a pretty awesome band and it's accepted that Marco [Mendoza - bass], Brian [Tichy - drums] or myself have prior commitments that we just couldn't get out of.
"So there have been a few times, for instance last year we went out on tour with Kiss and Brian had some prior commitments and just could not do the European part of the Kiss tour but once again, no stress, we all put our thinking caps on and we called anotber friend of ours, Tommy Clufetos [Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne] and asked if he could fill in for Brian which he did for that leg of the tour and as soon as Brian's schedule was clear, he came back.
"So I think the misconception is that a lot of those names, like Tommy and Damon Johnson and there was a couple of guys from Australia from Baby Animals and Rose Tattoo who filled in when Richard [Fortus - guitar] had a motorcycle accident and they've become part of the Dead Daisies family but I can't say they are actually band members.
"We're still very good friends with Dizzy [Reed - keyboards] and Richard but unfortunately - no, fortunately for them, Guns N' Roses decided to do the big reunion tour and called Dizzy and Richard back and they were very cool with us and both gave us three or four months notice and suggested we call Doug Aldrich.
"The management have always wanted to have a core band that went out and consistently played shows but due to different reasons we've had to have different people fill in at various times."
Thanks for clearing that up John and Doug Aldrich was actually my very next question so you've led us very nicely onto that. As well as the addition of yourself to the line-up last year, the addition of Doug earlier this year seems to have had a major impact on the band so how is it from the inside looking out? What difference has Doug made?
"Doug just came into this thing and he just fitted in right away. I've known Doug since we lived together in Philadelphia. Doug was 17-years-old, I was a couple of years older and we've always stayed in touch and always kept track of each other's career but we've never had the opportunity to play in a band together but you know, Doug just fitted into this thing really well and he's a great guitar player and a great songwriter and he's just a great guy.
"That's one of the really important things about the Daisies - we don't want egos, we don't want people that aren't fun to hang out with and easy to get along with and Doug came in, fitted in real easy, he was very prepared with a bunch of riffs together, just ideas, and we immediately went into a studio and started writing and recording this album."
Yes - 'Make Some Noise' is a seriously impressive album and I want to talk more about that shortly but first of all, you've got a huge list of tour dates taking you right through to December. I know they are all important but are there any standout ones for you personally, any that you are particularly looking forward to?
"We've already done the UK a couple of times with the Daisies but I'm always excited to come over to Europe and the UK and it's very cool because as many times as you go, you always meet new people, new friends so it's very cool but at this point I'm very excited to go back to Japan and I'm also very excited about... I believe we are going to South Korea later in the year and I've never been there before so I'm... you know, it's weird, you do this for twenty/thirty years and you're kind of like 'I've never been here before and I want to see what it's all about' so there's a curiosity thing but honestly, at the end of the day we just love playing and when it's all said and done we probably won't get to do any touristy things anyway.
"If you listen to the lyrics to 'Last Time I Saw The Sun', you'll know exactly what I mean..."
Funny you say that because it pre-empts one of my next questions. I was going to ask you specifically about that song and it's lyrics and whether you have lived them?
"Well I am telepathic you see and we clearly have an understanding [laughs] but to answer the question, 'Last Time I Saw The Sun', it's really funny because the phrase actually came from Brian Tichy and I can't actually remember where we were last year. We were somewhere and I remember the bus and we were standing outside and it was Dizzy, Brian and myself and we're all just sitting there having a cigarette and Brian says: 'Dude - where the fuck are we? Man it's crazy - I can't tell you the last time I saw the sun.'
"So we had that phrase floating around and when we started writing for this record, for nearly every song Brian would say 'I think we should call this one 'Last Time I Saw The Sun'' and we would work on it but it wouldn't be that and the next song, 'I think we should call this 'Last Time I Saw The Sun' so finally we got to the song that actually is 'Last Time I Saw The Sun' and it just kind of wrote itself really.
"And it is totally about life on the road and it is the truth. Literally we will fly or travel on a bus to a city, get there about twelve or one in the morning, hotel, sleep, then normally it's a radio show or a TV show in the morning or something like that, check out of the hotel, go to the gig, soundcheck, meet and greet, do the show then pack up everything - and usually our dressing room looks like a bomb went off in it - and repeat."
Well we've got 'Long Way To Go' as a big favourite in our office - it's very rich lyrically and people will have different interpretations to it's meaning so what's your take on it John?
"Well, honestly just turn the news on any day of the week. I can't say that I am very political but I just find if you can go on the news and not have some sort of emotion after watching some of the bullshit that is going on all over the world, every day of the week... you know, the thing that saddens me about pretty much everything, whether it's politicians deciding whether or not to be in the EU, whether it's the Republicans against the Democrats in America who are so dug into their party that they can't see anything else on the other side, viewpoints from people in the middle, people who put those politicians in their place.
"And I'm like watching the news today and there's been a rash of killings by police officers and somebody in Dallas, Texas took a sniper's rifle and basically assassinated five police officers. I saw that just before I called in...
"And I believe it's OK for everybody to have their viewpoints and opinions but when you're dealing with multiple people or with society, at the end of the day and with anything there has to be a middle ground, whether you're in a marriage or in your workplace... even something as odd as being a musician, there has to be some give and take. I can't sit there and tell Doug what to play. Doug has to be his own person and we find the middle ground, something he's happy with, something I'm happy with and that's what we put forth as The Dead Daisies.
"And I think that's what the song is about. I don't expect miracles but what I would expect is that in a disagreement, before resorting to violence there has to be some way to sit down at a table over a pint and a shot of whiskey and figure it the fuck out."
Well hopefully one day John and maybe music can make a major contribution towards that happening?
"Well hopefully before it's too late - we've got a long way to go and no time to get there and to be honest, everywhere in the world, it's becoming critical."
So who is the mid-west boy with just a dream and a heart of gold in 'Song And A Prayer' and who is the girl who ran a million miles and ended up on the cover of a magazine?
"I meet people all the time and in America I've done some benefit shows for an organisation called Wounded Warriors and I've seen some things, like you read these things like girls getting duped into being sex slaves and it's tragic for the person this is happening to and this song is about a kid who had a rough upbringing and figured his way out and to get a pay cheque and some sort of education and stability would be to go into the Army but it's not just about the boy who went into the Army and never came back, it's about all the others who were left behind like family members, girlfriend, whatever.
"Same with the girl, she runs off to be a movie star and winds up being a victim of something and it's not just a song and a prayer for them, it's a song and a prayer for the family and people they left behind... [pauses]
"Man - I'm getting way too deep here..."
No, please carry on - this is what people want to know. This is not just an album of disposable, throwaway tracks, this is a deep album with meaning...
"Well it's funny you know, I used to do acoustic sets and I felt I should play an hour and a half to make sure people got their money's worth and I'd do a meet and greet afterwards and nearly everyone I spoke to would ask 'such and such song is so awesome - what's it about?' so I decided to cut it back, do a great set and do a storyteller's vibe and just explain what the song is about and it went down amazing."
Well there you go. Let's move on to 'Mainline' which is one superb track. We love all the lyrics, especially "I'm heading down, I'm going deep, I'm wide awake, I never sleep, I'm on the mainline." Can you elaborate on the song's meaning?
"It's a double entendre - some people think it's about a train, but I've dealt with... not personally, with drugs but I have in the past had experiences with drinking where I've had to reel myself in a few times and it's all about... it's all great when you're doing it, when you're partying and doing shit but there's a consequence to everything and I've dealt with this with family members and with bandmates in the past and I just wanted to write a song about it and Marco helped me with this a lot with his experiences, you know what I mean..."
Yes I do because we know Marco and have chatted with him extensively before. Really looking forward to seeing him again in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, 'Freedom' and 'All The Same' are another couple of killer tracks and we suspect there's some extra guitar on those tracks, as well as some others on the album. Would that be your good self by any chance?
"No - I don't play one note of guitar on the record and I only play acoustic guitar live on a couple of tracks, 'Something I Said' and 'Lock N' Load' and if we do an acoustic show, and we've done quite a few this last year or so, I will pick up an acoustic and accompany the guys but on the album Doug and David did an amazing job and with two guys like that, you don't need me playing at all."
Fair point and thanks John. Now on the album there are two stellar adaptations of Credence Clearwater Revival's 'Fortunate Son' and the Who's 'Join Together' which blow the originals away. Why did you choose those two songs in particular?
"Well it's really funny you know, and I hope I can keep this reasonably short, everyone says about the Daisies that we're really bringing that whole 70s classic rock thing back and I don't know where it changed or when it turned around but the thing that I loved about a lot of the bands in the late 60s and 70s, great bands like the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Free, Humble Pie, Grand Funk Railroad, Aerosmith, Foghat, all of these great 70s bands did not have an issue with playing a great song even if they didn't write it.
"There was a point where... as a kid I bought a live Grand Funk record, I bought it in 73 or 74 and it was called 'Caught In The Act' and one of the songs on that record is Grand Funk's interpretation of 'Gimme Shelter' by the Rolling Stones and when Grand Funk recorded it, it was only probably a couple of years old but they just had a thing that 'this is a really great song, let's play it'. Jimi Hendrix, 'All Along The Watchtower', a Bob Dylan song...
"But somewhere along the way, everyone got so serious about themselves and said 'you know, I'm not a cover guy any more' and the thing about the Dead Daisies is, every aspect of this band which I love is that we are all throwing all our influences from classic rock in because that's what we grew up with and that's what we love and our mindset is 'if it's a great song, fuck it, let's play it'.
"It's kind of our little tip of the hat and last year we went on the road and we were doing 'Fortunate Son' as an encore. We did it in America, we did it in Europe, we did it in Russia and we did it in Israel and everywhere around the world the fans knew every fucking word and it was great so we said 'let's do our version of it'.
"Then when we were making the record, I brought to the table 'Join Together' and it's a great singalong song and... it's weird, when I pick songs I pick them for the stupidest reasons [laughs]... the thing that got me about 'Join Together' was the guitar riff on that second verse which is just so fucking heavy so I suggested it to the guys and we tried it and as soon as we started playing it, it just sounded so fat and powerful, so then it was 'now let's just make it our own' and we've played it a few times now and it just goes down great.
"People say we're a supergroup, rock stars, whatever, but at the end of the day we're music fans."
But we've decided not to call you a "supergroup" as we think that expression is redundant now. We think you deserve something bigger and better so we're calling you a "megagroup" from now on as it's more fitting.
"Well we're just five friends who are into the same type of music and we're just having a good time, doing our own thing and it's a no-stress zone and it's just what we do. But I know a lot of people look at us and go 'why are they doing covers?' Well it wasn't for a shortage of material, that's for sure.
"You know what song really sealed the point for us... last year we did 'Midnight Moses' by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and it's hilarious how many people, and I'm talking older rock fans who have been around since the 70s, have no fucking idea who Alex Harvey is.
"So now there's this new generation of younger kids who are coming up that are really familiar with bands like Credence and they may have heard of The Who... or maybe not a deep cut like 'Join Together' or whatever but even still to this day it amazes me about 'Midnight Moses'...
"'Cum On Feel The Noize', 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now', people just don't know and I'm like 'No - it's Slade!' - so it's just us saying you've got to check this shit out because this is what we grew up with."
'Make Some Noise' is released on 5th August 2016...
We absolutely love the Gallery Of Smoke on the official site and you seem to have buried the myth that tobacco and perhaps other related consumables are not good for a vocalist?
[pause]... "Well they're not.
"There's no myth about that. People ask me what I do to protect my vocals and I say 'I'll tell you when I've finished this whiskey and cigarette' so I'm honestly doing all the wrong things. I'm actually in the process of trying to quit smoking - again, and I keep telling myself 'you sound awesome on this record so just think about how good you would be if you weren't fucking smoking, you dip shit'."
And that leads us nicely on to the final question and we're familiar with all of your past releases in this office John and you've had an outstanding career so far but we all agree at MetalTalk that 'Make Some Noise' supercedes everything you've ever done before. Do you consider this your career highlight, your definitive release?
"Well yes, until I do the next record.
"Honestly, I am very proud of everything I have ever done and I'm fifty-plus years old and I think I'm a little more mature and I think that I've figured some things out as I've gone through all the things I have done and I think that I have actually learned how to work with other people better.
"As an artist you always want to top what you did the last time and 'Make Some Noise' is a great record and I'm hoping this is the one that clicks with audiences all over the world but I still feel very strongly about the stuff I have done in the past.
Every record I have done, I thought at that point in my life was a great record and I'm looking forward to the future. I still don't feel like, and Ozzy has used this expression and this is the bar, I still don't feel like I've written my Sgt Peppers yet.
"But 'Make Some Noise' is pretty damn close."
The Dead Daisies arrive in Europe in just less than a week and it's going to be one hell of a tour. Catch them this time round before they grow out of this size venue.
Our review of 'Make Some Noise' will be online before 5th August, as will our Ramblin' Man review and we'll have some incredibly hot Dead Daisies news in the not too distant as well.
The Dead Daisies on the final day of rehearsals in New York last week...
Catch The Dead Daisies live...
July 14th: Bang Your Head Festival, Balingen, Germany
July 15th: Woodstock Festival, Kostrzyn, Poland
July 16th: Masters of Rock, Vizovice, Czech Republic
July 17th: Hard Rock Cafe, (Acoustic show), Prague, Czech Republic
July 20th: Academy Green Room, Dublin, Ireland
July 21st: Limelight, Belfast, United Kingdom
July 23rd: Ramblin' Man, Kent, United Kingdom
July 23rd: Rock & Blues Custom Show, Derby, United Kingdom
July 24th: Steelhouse Festival, Ebbw Vale, United Kingdom
July 26th: Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
July 27th: Arts Centre, Bingley, United Kingdom
July 29th: Luxor, Cologne, Germany
July 31st: Free & Easy Festival, Munich, Germany
August 1st: BiNuu, Berlin, Germany
August 2nd: Bastard Club, Osnabruck, Germany
August 3rd: Hard Rock Cafe (Acoustic show), Hamburg, Germany
August 4th: Wacken Open Air Wacken, Germany
August 5th: Skogsrojet Festival Rejmyre, Sweden
August 6th: Helgeafestivalen, Knislinge, Sweden
August 8th: Komplex w/ Steel Panther, Zurich, Switzerland
August 10th: Resch Center w/ Kiss, Green Bay, WI
August 12th: Allen County Memorial Coliseum, w/ Kiss, Fort Wayne, IN
August 13th: Michigan, w/ Kiss, Grand Rapids, MI
August 15th: Dow Event Center, w/ Kiss, Saginaw, MI
August 17th: Illinois State Fair, w/ Kiss, Springfield, IL
August 19th: Iowa State Fair, w/ Kiss, Des Moines, IA
August 20th: BMO Harris Bank Center, w/ Kiss, Rockford, IL
August 22nd: Nutter Center, w/ Kiss, Dayton, OH
August 24th: Huntington Center, w/ Kiss, Toledo, OH
August 26th: Covelli Centre, w/ Kiss, Youngstown, OH
August 27th: Erie Insurance Arena, w/ Kiss, Erie, PA
August 29th: Blue Cross Arena, w/ Kiss, Rochester, NY
August 30th: Bryce Jordan Center, w/ Kiss, University Park, PA
September 1st: Great Allentown Fair, w/ Kiss, Allentown, PA
September 3rd: DCU Center, w/ Kiss, Worcester, MA
September 4th: Cross Insurance Arena, w/ Kiss, Portland, ME
September 7th: Webster Bank Arena, w/ Kiss, Bridgeport, CT
September 9th: Richmond Coliseum, w/ Kissm, Richmond, VA
September 10th: Big Sandy Arena, w/ Kiss, Huntington, WV
September 15th: Whisky-A-Go-Go West Hollywood, CA
October 9th: Loud Park 16, Saitama, Japan
November 4th: Kiss Kruise, w/ Kiss, Cozumel, Mexico
November 5th: Kiss Kruise, w/ Kiss, Cozumel, Mexico
November 6th: Kiss Kruise, w/ Kiss, Cozumel, Mexico
November 7th: Kiss Kruise, w/ Kiss, Cozumel, Mexico
November 8th: Kiss Kruise, w/ Kiss, Cozumel, Mexico
November 9th: Kiss Kruise, w/ Kiss, Cozumel, Mexico
December 2nd: Planet Rockstock, Trecco Bay, United Kingdom