Interview with JOHN CORABI from THE DEAD DAISIES
Hard rockers The Dead Daisies are often touted as an “All Star Band”, partly due to the fact that its current and former members have played with an array of other legendary acts such as Motley Crue, Guns n’ Roses, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, DIO, Ozzy Osbourne, Ratt and Foreigner, just to name a few. However, it’s a term that doesn’t sit well with vocalist, John Corabi, who sees the band as much more than that.
I had the privilege of chatting with “Crabs” about all things relating to the Daisies, in particular the overwhelmingly positive response to the band’s live album “Live and Louder”, which hits Aussie shelves this week.
“You know it’s funny, we did it because we do a signing or a little meet and greet usually at the end of each show. And a lot of fans were coming up to us and saying – ‘wow I bought your record and y’know, it’s great and I love it… but man, after seeing you guys live this is so much better, y’know. Are you ever gonna do a DVD or a live album?’
And you know we kept hearing it so we decided, you know what let’s record a few of the shows. We recorded like 5 or 6 shows on the last tour and it came out awesome, man! It’s a band firing on all cylinders and we truly just have great support from our fans who have started this international fan club now and fan pages like The Dead Daisies Chile, The Dead Daisies Argentina, The Dead Daisies America, and they’ve all started this thing now called ‘The Daisy Chain Gang’. And it’s just growing, it’s getting outta control and so on this next tour that we’re doing, it’s unfortunate but as a band grows suddenly there’s some limitations and different things.
So we used to go out and we would literally sit at the merch table every night and sign and take photos but now a lot of the places have come to us and said, ‘Guys, we appreciate that fact that you’re doing this for your fans but we kinda wanna go home at the end of the night. So, can you keep it to like a hundred people’. And we’re kinda trying to do what we can to keep people happy but we can only do a hundred a night, so the first hundred that get in get a ticket and we get to say ‘hi’ to them. But it’s really amazing how it’s grown. So I think the record itself is, like I said, it’s a band firing on all cylinders but it’s also the fans firing on all cylinders. And it’s a good little snapshot of the synergy of a band and its fans, it’s pretty awesome.”
When you see the Daisies play live it’s abundantly clear that the camaraderie between the guys is real, which isn’t always there with a lot of other bands. The energy between the audience and the stage is tangible and a lot of it has to do with how well these guys gel as musicians as well as people. The inclusion of Doug Aldrich on guitar has brought a reunion of sorts into the fold, with both Doug and John having known each other from their early days growing up together in Philadelphia; and with Marco (Mendoza) and Doug having previously been band mates in Whitesnake.
“It’s funny, with Dizzy (Reed) and Richard (Fortus) having to go back to Guns n’ Roses and, you know I had never met Richard until we started working together with The Dead Daisies and there’s a camaraderie there. I love that guy you know. One thing I can say is that I have a friend now for life and it’s the same with Doug. Doug and I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania together and I’ve known Doug and been following his career since he was 16 or 17 years old. So, this is the first opportunity that we’ve had to work together. He’s followed my career, I’ve followed his and so we kinda jumped at the chance at working together. When Richard went back (to GnR), we’re like ‘Let’s get Doug in the band!’ So, y’know, Doug’s playing is undeniable, he’s a beast on guitar. He fits in just as a buddy and that’s one thing with this band, when people use the term ‘All Star Band’ or ‘Supergroup’ for us it’s just four guys that have known each other for around 30 years and just love hanging out with each other and love the same music. So for us, we’re just loose. We get on stage and it’s fun, we enjoy each other’s company and we say it all the time… the fact that we’re here 30 fuckin’ years later playing music is just heaven. Not a lot of people can say that. We’re just happy to be here.”
In recent times much has been said about statements that ‘rock is dead’. I asked John what he thinks about the current state of rock music and whether he sees a changing of the guard when it comes to a genre that doesn’t seem to have the same kind of ‘rockstars’ or legends coming through the ranks that we saw emerge through the 70’s and 80’s.
“Well, you know it’s funny. Like, especially when you go to these festivals like we’ve been playing over the last couple of years. We’ve been playing a lot of these large festivals like Download, Sweden Rock, the Woodstock Festival in Poland. I mean the Woodstock Festival in Poland is probably the largest festival in the world. They will literally have over the course of three days close to a million people from all over the world and it’s like this love fest. It’s very reminiscent of the Woodstock Festival from 1969. It’s a festival for peace and there are people that come and they camp and they just eat, sleep and breathe music for three days and it’s awesome.
And when people say that rock music is dead, there are a couple of things that I think are different. I catch myself saying it all the time, like my wife is a bit younger than me and I’ll go on my phone and I’ll Google images of the Zeppelin 1975 tour and I’ll show her images of Paige and Plant or Aerosmith, Grandfunk Railroad, David Bowie, Queen. And I’ll show her photos and I’m like ‘There’s no Rock Stars anymore. Like, look at how Steven Tyler dressed in this photo. This is Steven Tyler like going to the store for milk and like, this is Mark Farner from Grandfunk Railroad riding in a canoe going fishing’. There was something that just oozed ‘rockstar’, even when he was fishing, you know what I mean.
The other thing that is different when they say that ‘rock is dead’ aside from being that there’s no ‘rockstars’ is, you know we don’t have MTV. There’s not a lot of radio support anymore in general. So I think that the band’s only real option is to use social media. Your new MTV is called ‘YouTube’. So you have to use social media. So, I know that Gene Simmons said a couple years ago that ‘rock is dead’. It’s not dead. The fans are still there. The mode of letting them know that you’re still there is different. It’s evolved. The thing that I love about the Daisies is that they present us back stage and doing all this goofy stuff and living the life on the road. But they are also smart enough that when we’re done and we’re off the road, it kinda cuts off. I’ve literally just done like 6 interviews for Australia and everybody asks like, ‘what do you do when you’re home, like what’s your normal day like?’ So, there’s still that mystique there. People don’t know. Like right now I could be sitting here in a dress and I love that. I love the fact that the Daisies saturate social media when we’re together, and we’re a band and we’re presenting ourselves in that ‘rock star’ kind of tone. But then when I go home, or Doug goes home, or Marco goes home, they don’t see us getting up in the morning and making eggs for our kids or our wives. There is still a mystique there. We’ve kind of mastered it; we’ve figured it out. So again, I don’t think that anything has changed. I think the mode is different and you have to figure out what works for you.
To me, it’s a different time. My son is my drummer in my solo band. My son is in his 20’s and you know; he gets excited about bands and different things. And I look at the bands that he’s looking at and it’s like ‘oh, these guys are so awesome, they’re like Led Zeppelin to me’, and I’m looking at them and I’m like ‘…okay’. You know, and I listen to the music and it’s great, but I’m looking at them and I go, like ‘Dude, seriously, there are five guys here who look like they deliver my fuckin’ mail. What are you talking about?’ You know what I mean? I’m so used to, in my head; you know I grew up with like Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, and Mick Jagger. Those guys were rock stars! But it’s what “I” perceive a rock star to look like. You know what I mean. My son’s idea of what a rock star looks like, you know, Scott Stapp from Creed, you know, like, what? Like I don’t get it. I mean you can’t take one of these newer guys and stand them next to David Bowie and say they’re in the same league.”
John went on to explain how the members of the Daisies are all ‘just music fans’. Maybe not fans of new music, but ask them anything about the classic rock bands of the 70’s and they can tell you everything about that era and those legendary bands. He cites Bohemian Rhapsody as a prime example of a song from that era, conceived by a genius in Freddie Mercury, which would be unlikely to be written in today’s age.
John has collaborated with good friend Mick Mars (ex Motley Crue) on some songs for Mick’s first solo album, which is currently yet to be finished. I asked John about the status of that collaboration and when it’s likely to see the light of day as a fully produced project.
“Mick asked me to help him do his record and the two songs that I did sing he kind of already had and I really didn’t do much. I wrote a couple of lyrics here and there for him and I went in and I sang those tracks. The problem of it is, we sat down and we talked about it, then he went on tour with Motley, I left and went on tour with The Daisies and he was just ending his thing. I was just getting started with The Daisies and who knew that I was gonna be so busy, like I’m so busy with The Daisies it’s ridiculous. And on top of that, like I said, earlier, I have a solo band with my son and I’m doing records with that as well. And I finally sat down with Mick and he was home once he was finished with the Motley tour he was pumped and ready to go and I was already committed to going in the studio (with The Dead Daisies) and I said to Mick that I would love to do something but I just don’t know when I’m gonna have the time. And I’m not gonna do something just for the money or whatever. I respect Mick and I love him too much to just sit there and like, I wouldn’t want to do something unless I could give it 100% of my time. This album is too important for Mick. It’s his first solo record and the one thing that I’ve been adamant about is, even when I talk to him, I’m like, ‘Dude, your record, your first solo outing has to be nothing short of brilliant. It’s gotta be amazing’. So, he’s like chomping it and wanting to get going and I was like, I can’t right now. So I just kinda felt like it was best for him to maybe find someone else he could work with. And if I do have any time at all, like if I have a month off to even help him write a song or two I would love to do that. I just can’t do it right now. But even though I did do the two songs, I couldn’t even tell you at this point whether he’s gonna use them or not. I know he’s in the studio now working on stuff, but I couldn’t tell you anything about it at all to be quite honest. But I’m as excited as everybody else to hear it. I’m praying for Mick’s sake that, I mean he’s just such a great dude, I mean just in general, not even as a musician, he’s such a good guy. And I’d really love for him to have a monster successful record and to just write his own book, his own chapter. I think that would be great.”
The Dead Daisies are about to embark on another tour to Europe and will also visit Japan, before rounding out the year with some dates in South America and the US, a market that the guys are still working hard to crack. I asked John about whether there are plans to visit our shores again any time in the near future and it seems that we may have to wait just that bit longer before we see The Daisies in full flight on Aussie stages again.
“Immediately after the American run we’re going into the studio and we’re starting a new record. What I think the plan is, is to do these shows, then do the new record which will set us up for 2018, to really get out there in America, Japan, Europe, Australia, like everywhere, to like really go out and do a full Macdaddy tour. We haven’t been to Australia since ‘Revelucion’, so it will be like three new records under our belt when we hit Australia. It’s me speculating but I think that’s what we’re gonna do. But other than the price of your alcohol and cigarettes your fucking country rules! And as you guys down there would say, I reckon we’ll be down there in 2018.”