The Dead Daisies: Burning It Down

  The members of The Dead Daisies have all, presumably, invested in quality pieces of luggage.

  Since forming in 2013, the band has earned a reputation as true road dogs, touring the world repeatedly and earning accolades as a must-see live act.

  Following the April release of its fourth studio album, Burn It Down, the group traveled across Europe and the U.K., playing large rock festivals and opening a show for Guns N’ Roses in Estonia, while also conducting a series of preshow acoustic sets. In August, the group launched a U.S. tour that has the Daisies hitting local Guitar Center locations for free acoustic shows and Q&A sessions prior to their main club gigs.

  Individually, the Daisies have spent decades honing their chops on the hard rock scene, as singer John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, The Scream), guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), bassist Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy), drummer Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Journey) and guitarist David Lowy (Red Phoenix, Mink) have all served in a variety of well-known bands.

  During a break between European gigs, Corabi phoned me to discuss the latest Daisies exploits, why the band won’t charge for meet-and-greets, his recent live CD of his Mötley Crüe material, and much more.

Europe seems to be like a second home for your band, as fans have always gone nuts for the Daisies over there. Why do you think they’ve embraced you so much?  

  I can’t really explain it. If I could explain it, then I could sell the magic potion to so many different bands. I think there’s just a completely different appreciation for the arts here. And when I say the arts, I mean anything and everything that involves some sort of creative ability: whether it be painting, rock ‘n’ roll, poetry, tango, anything. They just have a different outlook on it. I love coming over here and meeting new people and trying new things.

Could you talk about these preshow acoustic sets you’ve been doing?

  We’re just trying to do something that’s a little more intimate. We’ve done a few shows where we had the first 50 or 75 fans come in the door, and we mingled with them, took some photos, talked with them a little bit, signed some stuff, then we sat down and did a few songs acoustically. It’s not just typical acoustic songs. We’d take some of the heavier stuff, the rock stuff, and we’d tweak it and play it on acoustic guitar.

  Then we’d mingle with fans a little bit more, and then get ready our main show. With those shows, there was no opening act at all, so we just extended our set and played for like two-plus hours. It’s just us and our fans, so it’s cool.

Your willingness to socialize is probably a big reason for how loyal your fanbase is.

  A lot of bands are starting to charge for meet-and-greets, but we never understood that concept. We’re not criticizing anybody else, as other bands are free to do whatever they want. But fans buy your record, and then when you come to town, they spend money for a ticket, money for gas to drive to the show, money for drinks and a t-shirt. It’s already a lot of money they’re paying. We literally have fans who come to see us in Europe from Japan.

  We’ve always made a point of doing a free signing every night we can. When fans come, we give them guitar picks, we give them a poster, and we sign them all and we give something of ourselves back. I think that’s one thing that’s resonated with a lot of our fans. They tell us it’s so cool that we’re not charging them for it, and that we’re taking time to talk with them. And before we go on tour, we’ll ask fans on social media what songs they want to hear in the set. We just try to get them as involved in this whole thing as possible.

Fans don’t forget things like that. You’ll make a supporter for life when you do those little things.

  Yeah. Plus, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We really have a good time, we kid around with each other. We keep it light. Believe me, we know that we’re all hovering in our 50s, and with the music industry being the way that it is, it’s quite the feat to sit here and say I’ve been doing this for years and making money at this and supporting my family and had a career. So, we’re just happy to be at the fucking party to begin with.

The band made a cool, zombie-themed video for the song “Dead and Gone”. Are you guys big fans of zombie movies or TV shows?

  Mostly, I think the director and our manager were just having a little fun with the title, “Dead and Gone”. We’re all horror film fans to some degree, so we just wanted to have fun with it. It seems to be really resonating with a lot of these Walking Dead fans.

  I love the song. I’ve been saying since we recorded it that “Dead and Gone” was going to be our summertime song. That’s one where you put the top down, crank it up. It’s got a great groove, the lyrics are kind of like, “Fuck you, I’m going to do what I want…as long as I’m not hurting anybody, don’t judge me.”

I don’t really consider The Dead Daisies to be a political band, but you do touch on the state of the world in your song “Rise Up”. What made you want to reference that?

  Honestly, I’m so fed up with the division in America. It’s crazy now. It’s trickling down into Facebook and things like that. There’s people I’ve been friends with on Facebook for years, and I see them just bashing each other, and it’s vicious. They’ll say, “If you voted for Trump, you’re a fucking moron,” or “You’re just a libtard.” Seriously? If you’re going to start a debate, we can always agree to disagree, but if you’re going to start with an insult, then you’ve already lost the debate.

  Stop fighting with each other, and let’s hold politicians, whether they be liberals or conservatives, accountable for the stupid shit they do. That’s what “Rise Up” is about. There needs to be some sort of unity. I’m just frustrated with the way people are talking to each other and the notion that if I don’t agree with you, I’m an idiot. It’s just wrong. We’re not using our heads. It’s not about me fighting with you, it’s about holding all politicians accountable for everything they do. That’s all I’m saying.

You recently played a big show with Guns N’ Roses in Estonia. Back in the day, that band was known for going onstage really late and many other issues. Are they pretty much drama-free these days?

  Yeah, it’s been two-and-a-half years now and you haven’t heard a peep other than the attendance that they’re doing. I just read that their tour has grossed $600 million. And you haven’t heard a peep on any [trouble]. For us, Richard [Fortus] and Dizzy [Reed] used to be in The Dead Daisies, and we’ve all known Duff [McKagan] and Frank [Ferrer] and all the guys for 30 years, so it was like an old family reunion, and then we walked onstage and there were 67,000 people there, so it was awesome.

Are the Daisies planning to release any more singles or videos off Burn It Down soon, or you’re just focusing on touring right now?

  Right now, we’re touring the hell out of this thing. I do hope we go a little deeper with [singles]. I think there are some really great songs on the record. We’ve been out on the road for like four months, and still have America to do. We’re coming back to Europe in November or December, and there’s already plans for touring next year.

We’re looking forward to your upcoming show in New York City. Do you have any interesting NYC stories from any point in your career?

  I was in a band called The Scream, and we were in New York doing press for our first album, me and the guitar player [Bruce Bouillet]. The record was produced by Eddie Kramer. There was this thing where we were going to meet Eddie and do a morning show with a guy named Ian [O’Malley] at WNEW. The night before, Bruce and I decided to go to this place called the Scrap Bar. We left about five in the morning; we were completely inebriated and went back to the hotel only to find out that we had a radio interview at WNEW at like nine in the morning. [Laughs]

  They rented us a limousine, but we get in the car, the air conditioning doesn’t work, and it’s the dead of summer. We’re in the car, it’s like 100 degrees, we’re both hungover. We get to the radio station, and Bruce and I are sitting on the couch. Eddie Kramer walks in and says, “You guys look like shit!” We’re telling Eddie about our escapades at the Scrap Bar, and he’s like, “Pull it together!” The DJ, Ian, comes into the room. We both stood up to shake his hand, and for some reason I had the mother of all nose bleeds. Blood is gushing out of my nose. I shake the guy’s hand and run to the bathroom. I come out and I’ve got two twisted fucking pieces of toilet paper sticking out of my nose to try to stop the bleeding. He’s like, “Late night?”  

  Then he asked, “Would you like some coffee?” They went and got coffee and brought it into the control room. I didn’t even take a sip, but just the smell made me sick. I immediately started hurling, and did it all the way back to the bathroom. So, I bled all over the station, I threw up all over the station, and they still added our song. So, they had a lot of patience. [Laughs]

That is some story. Was the staff freaking out?

  Yeah, they were like, this dude’s a mess. I must have looked like the biggest drunk on the face of the planet. Had I been them, I would have been like, “Get him the fuck out of here, and we are never playing your song.” But they still played it, so it was awesome. I got an earful from my management the next day, though. It was crazy.

This year, you put out a great live CD of you performing the 1994 Mötley Crüe album in its entirety. That album never got the credit it deserved back when it was released. What feedback did you receive from fans when you were performing those gigs?

  It’s been really good, man. I’m really surprised sometimes. I’ll go to some random place like Estonia, where I’ve never been before, and people will be coming up to me with the record and asking me to sign it. I did it because I really wanted to do that in more places. Mötley never really toured. We just did America and I think Mexico City and a couple of shows in Japan. That was it. We never played in Canada, we never played in Europe. So, when my manager finally talked me into doing the tour, I thought it would be cool. People want to hear it, and this would be the one chance to go out and play the music live. People have lived with that record for like 20 years now. I started doing shows, and we got a great response from everybody.

  The problem is I still never got the chance to bring that show over to Europe or Australia or Japan. It’s just crazy how difficult it is. There’s me and four other guys, and then if I bring any roadies with me, you need tickets, hotel rooms, meal, salaries. It’s so expensive. The money that I was getting offered, it just wouldn’t make any sense. I thought, let’s just go in and record one show. I booked a night at this place called The Basement in Nashville. We rehearsed for like a week and we did the show. We gave it to [mixer] Michael Wagener and I said I don’t want to get into overdubs, I want it to be like Aerosmith’s Live Bootleg. We didn’t do anything, just put a little reverb on the backing vocals. The label put it out and the response has been awesome.

Your son was the drummer for that project, correct?


What’s it like performing with him and have you done any other projects together?

  When I get home and I have some time, I really want to start working on a new electric solo album. I’m looking forward to sitting in a room with him and starting to work up some stuff and writing. He’s doing a couple of other things. He just went out to California and did some shows with a guy named Michael Grant, who played with L.A. Guns for a bit and now has a band called Michael Grant and the Assassins. So, he keeps busy.

Recently, I read that when you first joined Mötley Crüe, you weren’t necessarily a huge fan of the band. When you were about to go on tour, you asked for copies of the albums to rehearse their material. I found that really amusing.

  I knew some of the Mötley stuff, like “Looks That Kill”, “Live Wire”, songs that had videos on MTV. But, when we were getting ready to go tour, I didn’t know any of the deep cuts. I asked for the records, and they were kind of shocked. They were like, “You don’t have any of our records?!”

  But it was less about Mötley and more that a majority of the stuff in the ‘80s, it didn’t resonate with me. The whole big hair, party stuff, I just didn’t attach myself to any of that. To this day, my record collection is the Beatles catalog, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, Humble Pie, Bad Company. I was more about the ‘70s, late ‘60s, peace and love hippie thing than the whole ‘80s vibe. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Do you think there will be much about you in the Mötley Crüe movie, The Dirt, that’s being filmed right now?

  I don’t know. I have no idea. If I am, that’s awesome, but I just hope they don’t make me look like an asshole. That’s all I can ask. Whether they do or don’t include me, it’s irrelevant to me. If I am going to be in the movie, I just really hope that the guy who plays me is Morgan Freeman. [Laughs]

The Dead Daisies will perform at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on August 28, and the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pa. on August 31.