If there is one way to describe The Dead Daisies, it is thus: They are a supergroup of unsung heroes. You have no doubt heard of the many bands with whom the Daisies have shared their DNA: Guns ‘n Roses, Thin Lizzy, The Cult, Whitesnake and even local legends like Cold Chisel and Noiseworks. These aren’t the names, however, that are immediately associated with those bands – rather, they’ve gotten by as sidemen; bit-role players to the main event. Through The Dead Daisies, this American-Australian hybrid beast lets its band members have their proper moment in the spotlight.
Leading the way for the band is John Corabi, formerly of Mötley Crüe, who has also spent time in bands such as Union, Ratt and Brides of Destruction. Corabi was thrown into the deep end last year when he replaced former singer Jon Stevens and immediately came in to work on the band’s second studio album, Revolucion. A year on, the band have another LP in the can, entitled Make Some Noise, and are about to take in a world tour in support of it. With a brief slice of downtime before it all kicks off, Music Feeds spoke with Corabi about his initial involvement with the project, as well as its rapid studio process and if he’s still true to the Crüe.
Music Feeds: Talk us through your initial involvement with The Dead Daisies. How well did you know the rest of the band before you joined last year?
John Corabi: I’d known Brian [Tichy, drummer] and Marco [Mendoza, bassist] for awhile; and I knew Dizzy [Reed, formmer keyboardist], who was in the band at the time. I didn’t really know David [Lowy, guitarist] at all, though, and I’d never met Richard [Fortus, former guitarist] either. Marco was actually the one who called me when the band was in the process of changing singers. He asked me if I’d fly out to California to meet the guys, so I did – and, next thing you know, we’re in Cuba of all places; rehearsing to do some shows there. After those shows, I came down to Australia to make a record with them. It’s been a whirlwind ever since. I had never even heard of the band before Marco called me, but when I mentioned them to my guitar tech he knew them straight away. He was telling me about how they’d toured with Kiss and Def Leppard, so I got online to check them out – and here we are.
MF: Make Some Noise is the second record you’ve sung on as a part of the band, following on from last year’s Revolucion. You seem to have really taken to this new role, despite not really knowing much about the band or its members before getting on board.
JC: When we did the first record, I think they had a couple of songs that they had originally started working out with Jon. We took those into the studio and then wrote something like 13 more songs while we were there. For lack of a better term, we’re pretty fast in that environment. Revolucion did 17 songs last March, and it took us about 30 days to write and record it. We toured it up until the Christmas holidays last year and then went straight back to work in January. Unfortunately, that was without Dizzy and Richard – they both went back to Guns n’ Roses for the big Slash and Duff reunion tour. That’s when Doug [Aldrich] came in to play for us, and we had the next album ready to go within five weeks. It’s pretty impressive. [laughs]
MF: Is that a different pace for you? A lot of bigger bands tend to spend a lot more time in the digestion and touring period – a year of writing, six months of recording, a year of touring etc.
JC: When I was starting out, I was in a band called The Scream. We got signed, and we were tucked away for like seven or eight months to just write. Our first record was recorded in about four, maybe five weeks. This is completely different – our management flies us all to the one location, and they say to us “Guys, y’got four weeks.” [laughs] “Figure it out!” We put in long days, and there’s never a lack of ideas getting thrown around. I can’t explain it, but we have a very efficient process.
MF: Were there any key differences between the making of the two records that you’ve been a part of thus far?
JC: I think it has a lot to do with Dizzy’s presence. He was playing keyboards on the last album, but he’s back in Guns n’ Roses as I said. Without keyboards, this record is a little more aggressive. It’s two guitars, bass and drums with not that many overdubs. We tracked all of it more or less in the one go. This record is a little tougher sounding in that respect.
MF: Did Make Some Noise get road-tested at all before you were in the studio? Or is this all fresh in the live environment?
JC: We’ve been in Germany twice since we finished the record in February. They have these shows called Music Messa, and we were the feature artist there. At those shows, we were able to do a couple of the new songs. I gotta be honest with you, man – they’ve been going over great. We’re working out the rest of it in rehearsals right now, as well as doing some of the songs acoustically. I feel like the band is really kicking arse right now, and people are responding really well to the new stuff they’ve heard so far.
MF: It’s one thing to have band members living in different cities. The Dead Daisies, however, are a band that is split between countries on different sides of the world. Was that a challenge to navigate upon initially joining the band?
JC: The first time we got together was in Cuba. I live in Nashville, so that wasn’t a massive flight for me. The next time, we were all together in LA to rehearse before going on tour with Kiss. Honestly, I don’t see it as that big of a deal. What we do is pretty simple – we rehearse for a week, we go home for a week and a half and then we individually fly out to wherever the next show is. It’s cool. We know how to make it work for us.
MF: The rest of the year looks pretty booked out as far as the band is concerned – more or less as soon as Make Some Noise drops, you’re headed straight for the European festival circuit…
JC: That’s right, yeah. We’re heading over there to do a bunch of festivals for about five weeks. We have some headlining shows and there, too. A few of them are sold out already, and a couple more are pretty close. We’re hitting up Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany again. It’s going to be awesome.
MF: One can only assume that Australian tour plans are in the works to launch the album?
JC: I would hope so! I’ve been down there to record Revolucion, and then we did that tour with Kiss. I love it down there – I always have a good time. If we don’t get back there this year, I’m hoping it’ll be the beginning of next year.
MF: One can’t help but imagine what it’s like to perform with a band like Kiss. Not just from a fan’s standpoint, either – quite literally, when one thinks of the massive stage shows that they have set up.
JC: [laughs] Yeah, the stage goes pretty deep, man. Kiss has their stuff set up, and we just go right in front of it. Believe me, there was no lack of space on that stage – even with a giant spider looming. Those guys have been so great to us both as a band and as people. They’ve been around for 40+ plus years, and they’re still one of the great live acts around. They’ve just kept doing their own thing, and no-one can touch them. We’re good friends with all the guys from Kiss. There’s no weirdness at all. We love doing shows with them, and as luck would have it they love doing shows with us too. We’ve gone through Europe with them, we did their Australian tour and soon we’ll be doing North America with them as well. I can’t thank those guys enough for all the support.
MF: Lastly, and purely out of morbid curiousity – did you make it out to any of the Mötley Crüe shows on their farewell tour?
JC: I didn’t, actually. These last few years have been so busy for me – not only with the Daisies, but with my solo music as well. I have a band in Nashville that I play with – my son is the drummer, actually; and the rest are guys that I’ve met through living there. We’ve been doing quite a few shows, even while the Daisies have been active and touring. Between those two bands, I really haven’t had time to go see many shows at all. I really don’t get out to see much – and when I do get home, the last thing I want to do is go hang out in a pub or a bar. I just want to veg out on my couch with my wife and my kid and watch whatever’s on TV. [laughs] I heard the show was great, though.
MF: It came through Australia and it was a lot of fun. Have you kept in touch with those guys after all this time? It was a strange bit of history in the band’s canon which a lot of people don’t usually remember…
JC: I get along with all of those guys – well, almost. I just saw Vince [Neil] at a festival while I was over in Europe. He invited me on his tour bus and we were just kicking back and bullshitting. It was killer, man. I get along just fine with Tommy [Lee], and I’ve always liked Mick [Mars]. For some reason, though, Nikki [Sixx] has me in his cross-hairs about something. That’s fine – I don’t really worry about it. I’m doing my own thing. I’m happy. Life is grand.
Make Some Noise by The Dead Daisies will be released August 5th. Pre-order here.