Unlike their flowery namesake, The Dead Daisies are not about frills.
The band purveys a no-nonsense, blue-collar brand of music steeped in 1970s classic rock, fueled by big riffs and choruses.
The group’s current roster is comprised of grizzled veterans of the hard rock scene—singer John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, The Scream), guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder), drummer Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne/Billy Idol) and guitarist David Lowy (Red Phoenix, Mink).
The band’s latest record, Make Some Noise, released on August 5, offers more of the arena-friendly formula that earned fans worldwide on previous releases The Dead Daisies (2013) and Revolución (2015).
Along with hard-hitting originals like “Long Way to Go” and “Mainline,” Make Some Noise features covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival (“Fortunate Son”) and The Who (“Join Together”).
Over the years, the band has employed a rotating lineup that has also featured Jon Stevens of INXS, Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, Rolling Stones members Darryl Jones and Bernard Fowler, and John Tempesta of White Zombie.
When Fortus and Reed departed earlier this year to join the massive Guns N’ Roses reunion tour, Aldrich became the group’s newest member.
The Dead Daisies have also served as international rock and roll ambassadors—in 2015, the band became the first Western rock band to play Cuba since the United States reopened trade ties with the country, partaking in a cultural exchange as guests of the Cuban Ministry of Culture. The Dead Daisies jammed with Cuban musicians and played several sold-out shows, including one in front of more than 6,000 fans.
When the Dead Daisies stopped in New York City to rehearse for their upcoming tour, I sat down with Australia native Lowy, who helped start the band in 2012, and Corabi at SIR Studios for a chat.
Talk about the making of the new record.
David Lowy: This record was done in Nashville with producer Marti Frederiksen. We all came together in New York and wrote all the songs in 12 days. Then we went to Nashville to record.
John Corabi: Geographically, we’re just so scattered. David lives in Australia. Some of the guys live in L.A., I live in Nashville. We have to kind of pick where we’re going to get together. Then we go in and knock it out.
The vibe of the album is steeped in a classic rock vibe, much like your other releases. Do you feel you’re carrying the torch for that kind of music?
JC: When we went into the studio, we just wanted to do a classic, ‘70s, kick ass rock and roll record. Going in, we don’t really have a blueprint. We write, and the songs start dictating the direction of the record. Things just fall into place. One thing about this band is we don’t get worry about what we’re supposed to do.
DL: We’re doers. We just do it.
JC: Yeah, we need to talk to Nike. (Laughs.) Just do it!
DL: We all are the music we grew up with and that’s the music that comes out of us. It’s not a predetermined thing. Collectively, when we come together, that’s what come out.
You have some interesting covers on the new record What inspired you to select those songs?
JC: It just came out of us. The Creedence song was written during the Vietnam era as a protest song, but it’s one of those songs that you can play anywhere in the world and people get it. We had been doing it live as an encore, and it had been going over so well, we felt, let’s put it on the album.
You’ll be touring with Kiss this summer, and you have a long history of going on the road with them. What do you enjoy most about touring with them?
JC: They’ve been doing it for over 40 years now. One of the first shows I ever saw in my life was the Kiss Alive! tour. They weren’t even playing big venues yet. So, I saw them on their ascension. I have a lot of connections to Kiss. Through the years, I’ve become friends with Gene [Simmons], and Eric Singer is one of the first people I met when I moved to L.A. And I was in the band Union with Bruce Kulick after I was in Mötley Crüe.
Kiss is such a huge, legendary band. As friends of those guys, I was a little nervous going on tour with them last year, because I thought, “Oh man, I hope they don’t ruin it by being assholes to us in the business aspect of it.” And I’ve got to be honest, I can’t thank those guys enough. They went out of their way to make us feel comfortable.
DL: They were a class act. For us a band, it’s good for us to play in front of their fans. And they’re really good guys. We’ve learned a lot from them along the way, as well.
David, you’ve had some really talented musicians in this band over the years. Was it always your intention to rotate musicians like that, or is that just how things turned out?
DL: It’s a combination of both. When [former vocalist] Jon Stevens and I started the band, we knew there was going to be different people in it, simply because of the time constraints of him and myself. Everybody does other things and other projects. The downside of that is that it’s hard for people to commit for a certain length of time. But the upside of that is you get tremendously fresh input with different people. And the band is never a drag, because it’s not the only thing that you do. And you come here with a different mindset than when you’re doing the same thing all the time. You know it’s “Dead Daisies time” for that particular period, and that brings a huge amount of intensity and energy.
Last year, The Dead Daisies had an interesting experience in Cuba, as you became the first U.S. rock band to play there in a while. Tell me about how the people there reacted to you.
JC: It was a whirlwind. I had only joined the band about 10 days prior to that! The whole trip was fascinating to me. As an American going to Cuba, and seeing this country that everybody’s been talking about for 50 years was amazing. And to be honest with you, the people were just so grateful that we were there and were so warm. The audiences were out of control. We did a club show that held about 1,500 people, and there were probably another 2,000 kids out front that couldn’t get tickets for it. There’s really something about the Cuban people, they are just over the top about music.
DL: It was very interesting seeing the culture, and the emphasis that’s placed on arts and music. Everywhere you go, there’s live music. The hotel we were staying at, there were four live bands playing there every day. Every musician seems to have a job. The passion of the people was unbelievable. It was a real honor.
John, you mentioned that the first concert you attended was Kiss. Do you remember what your first show was, David?
DL: My first two shows in Sydney, my mother took me. I saw Roy Orbison in 1965, and I saw the Monkees.
DL: That Roy Orbison show left an indelible mark on my mind. It was in this place called the Sydney Stadium, which was literally a boxing ring with wooden bleachers.
Beyond the tour, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
DL: We’re just hitting the road hard. We’re going to Europe, and Japan as well.
JC: It comes down to interacting with fans. It’s hard to get radio support, and MTV doesn’t promote bands like they did back in the day. Just like the bands in the ‘60s and ‘70s used to do, you just go out and tour, tour, tour.
The Dead Daisies will perform at the Great Allentown Fair in Allentown, PA on Sept. 1, and at Webster Hall in New York City on Sept. 8. Make Some Noise is available now on Spitfire Music. For more information, go to thedeaddaisies.com.