The Dead Daisies don’t mess around. The shapeshifting supergroup — who share their DNA with some of the biggest acts in rock n’ roll history including Thin Lizzy, White Snake and Mötley Crüe — are undoubtedly one of the most prolific, tireless bands pounding the circuit today. When they’re not touring, they’re recording. When they’re not recording, they’re touring. The five-headed Australian-American beast has managed to punch out a new album or EP every year since 2013, and this year is no exception. Only this time, they’ve shaken things up by bridging the touring/recording split and delivering fans their first official live album (and matching DVD) in the form of Live & Louder.
Recorded on tour in 2016 at shows in France, Austria, England, and Germany, the freshly-released disc has been designed as a gift to the Daisies’ legion of diehard fans, but its release has also given the hard-working band a chance to take a breather before they hit the studio again at the end of the year to write and record a brand new originals LP.
News about the band’s next studio album comes straight from the mouth of frontman John Corabi himself, who’s now more than earned his petals in the Daisies after stepping in for Noiseworks’ John Stevens more than two years ago. The group’s charismatic leader took some time out from his packed schedule to chat about both new Daisies albums, plus his own forthcoming solo record which he looks set to be co-writing with ex-Daisies guitarist Richard Fortus, who departed the band last year to link back up with the one and only Guns N’ Roses.
Corabi also predicted that the band’s next album tour would be “the mack daddy of all tours” (get pumped, Australia!) and reflected on the recent tragic passing of grunge legend Chris Cornell.
Catch our full chat below.
Music Feeds: So first up, I want to talk to you about Chris Cornell because we’re all still in so much shock from that news. How did you react when you found out?
John Corabi: It was so weird. I was actually out of touch for a few days – I’d just bought my own little tour bus to travel in with my solo band and to go on little weekend getaways with my wife. And so we’ve been kinda hanging out here in Nashville – literally like 20 minutes from my house – we’re kinda camping away, but not away. So I came home this morning, we got up, and she was getting ready to go to work and… I just kinda grabbed my phone and I’m like ‘Oh, let me check my emails and make sure all the interviews are set for today”, and the first thing that popped up said, “CNN reports Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden, has died”. And I’m like “WHAT?” You know, so then I read it and – I gotta be honest with you – I was just like “Shit, this sucks.”
I’m probably – unlike a lot of my cohorts from the ’80s and ’90s who totally blamed the shortness of their careers on bands like Nirvana and Alice In Chains and Soundgarden and whatever – I was very into a lot of those bands. I thought Nirvana was brilliant, I thought [Alice In Chains frontman] Layne Staley was just a fucking monster vocalist, and I thought the same of Chris, you know? And I met Chris a couple of times and he was always very quiet and reserved and just a good dude, you know? Really intelligent, I thought his lyrics were great. I thought – especially on that first Audioslave record – “fuck, these lyrics are amazing!” And you know, it’s just so weird. Like, he was such a young guy. I gotta be honest with you, I’m 58. And the fact that he’s 52, you know… relatively good health… good-looking guy… three kids… I’m like “Fuck! What goes through a person’s head to go to that extreme?”
It’s crazy… I’m just like “God dammit!” He’s just such a fuckin’ talent, you know? [sighs heavily] It was very disturbing. And I posted a little thing on my Facebook page, and hopefully now wherever he’s at – I mean, obviously he was a tortured individual because it’s coming out now that he had struggled throughout his life with depression and different things like that – so hopefully he’s at peace and a better place.
MF: Well let’s talk about something a bit happier now, which is the fact that The Dead Daisies have a brand new live album out. You know, the whole concept of a “live album” almost feels like a lost art form… is that one reason why you guys wanted to put this out, as kind of a nod to some of those classic live records from rock n’ roll history?
JC: It was multiple reasons, and the main one is pretty much… every night after we were done playing we would sit out and do a meet & greet and we’ll try to meet as many fans as possible and we’ll sign stuff and a lot of them were like “Aw man, I bought your Revolución record” or “I bought your Make Some Noise record and the record was good but god, you guys are so much better live! You should do a live record or a live DVD or whatever.”
But to be honest with you, another reason is – to put the business part of it in – we’re getting ready to record a new record probably by the end of the year. So you know, when I joined the band two-and-a-half years ago, I joined in January, February we were in Cuba. March I was in Australia and we started Revolución and from that point – from March 10th – we did the album. And then [by] May we were on tour with KISS and we literally toured all of Europe. We came back, we toured with White Snake here in the States, then we did the KISS Cruise, then we were back over in Europe with White Snake, and by the end of the year, that’s when Richard [Fortus] and Dizzy [Reed] had said, “Hey, we’re going back to Guns N’ Roses, we got the call” and we said “alright”. We were switching labels anyway, so we kind of said “Alright, you know what, we’ve gotta get a new guitar player” and that’s when Doug [Aldrich] came into the picture.
So we said, “You know what? Instead of going out and touring off this old record, let’s just go in, fresh start” and we started a new album, which was Make Some Noise. So we were literally in the studio in January. And then we got together and wrote for ten days, recorded, mixed and mastered Make Some Noise, I think the process from the time we started writing to the time we were done, we had been working for about 35 days, and then a month later we were in Germany doing shows!
So from the time that I started with the band to the time we finished the Make Some Noise record, we basically had done two albums, and a world tour, and we were getting ready to go back on a second world tour in like a year’s time, and so I think this live album was something that the fans were asking for, but I think it was also a way for our management – instead of us going into the studio this January or February – it was just them giving us a little more time to gather more ideas and just be ready to do the record at the end of this year. So it was this combination of giving the fans what they asked for and giving the band a little more time to just kind of gather our thoughts [laughs]. Just to have a little bit of a breather. And as it turns out at the end of the month we’re all leaving, we’re all going to New York to start rehearsing and then we’re working again until the end of the year!
MF: And you’re doing an absolutely massive tour off this album… but I noticed there aren’t any Aussie dates listed…
JC: I know, and I don’t know who to kill about that!
MF: [Laughing] That was going to be my next question.
JC: Look, I’m just the singer, I just kinda go where they tell me to. But I know that there’s a lot of places – there’s a tonne of places in America that want us to come, you know? South America, Japan, just like all over the world and we’re trying to fit everything in. We had such a great run down there [in Australia] with KISS when we came down, we had a blast. But I think right now, we’re kind of going to a few places that we’ve never been before… and then we’re gonna start the new record. So I would imagine the next tour is going to be – pardon my French – fucking ridiculous. We’re probably going to go to Europe, Australia, really hit Japan, really hit South America, really hit America – I think that one will probably be “the mack daddy of all tours”.
MF: [Laughs] Wow, that’s going in the headline for sure.
JC: [Laughs] That’s not a promise now!
MF: It’s happening, “John Corabi teases THE MACK DADDY OF ALL TOURS”
JC: John Corabi says WE’RE COMING TO AUSTRALIA FOR A HEADLINE TOUR AND WE’RE PLAYING AT EVERY FUCKING SOCCER STADIUM IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD [Laughs] No I did not say that, don’t go putting words in my mouth!
MF: [Laughing] Well when do you reckon – ballpark – we can expect you guys to be back down our way?
JC: Honestly, unless something crazy comes up, I would probably say 2018. Like I said, we had a blast down there, it’s home down there for half of our camp, so I imagine we’ll come down there in 2018, I can’t imagine us ignoring Australia – the most awesome country ever [laughs].
MF: I was upset that you guys didn’t come for the Guns N’ Roses tour, that would have been epic to see you guys on stage with Dizzy and Richard again!
JC: Well there’s been some talk about us possibly doing some shows, but we said “we’ll do it, but we’re not gonna do it in Australia” [laughs mischievously]. I’m kidding. I’m totally kidding right now. Look, we obviously have connections with the band, with Richard and Dizzy, we know all the guys – Frank [Ferrer] and Duff [McKagan], the only one I haven’t really met was – well, I’ve met him but he wouldn’t remember – was Axl. But it would be a great bill if was to happen! So we’ll see, I don’t know.
MF: So speaking of Dizzy and Richard – does it look like they’re staying with GNR? They don’t have any plans to come back to the Daisies?
JC: No, look, they were very cool. Dizzy’s beyond busy – see how I rhymed that – Dizzy’s beyond busy, you know, he has the Guns N’ Roses thing and then he’s got his little side thing, which I was part of for a little while, Hookers & Blow.
MF: Great name.
JC: And he’s very busy with those two things. And then Richard’s got his fingers in a bunch of different pies. Richard and I have been talking about – you know – he wants to help me possibly do some writing for my solo record. I’ve also got a solo band here in Nashville with a bunch of my buddies and my son is my drummer. So Richard and I still talk quite often, I still talk to Dizzy, and Richard was like “Well dude, when you do a solo record, man, I’d love to help you write some stuff”. And I’m like “I would love that, it would be awesome”. But so I think right now, the [Dead Daisies] lineup, as it is, is the lineup. David’s always wanted a band kind of a vibe, so I think now we’ve gone through obviously a few changes and everybody’s content and happy right where we’re at so it’s all good. I don’t foresee any returning of anybody that has been here before.
MF: So one last question — you’ve played in more successful hard rock bands than I can even count. How is the vibe in the Daisies different from playing with bands like The Scream or Mötley Crüe?
JC: You know, honestly, I just think the thing that’s cool about the Daisies is we’ve known each other for so fucking long, I mean we’ve been friends. I’ve known Doug since he was 16, we grew up in Philadelphia together. I’ve known Marko [Mendoza, bass] for 20-25 years, I’ve known Brian [Tichy, drums] since – god – 1993 or 1994, David [Lowy, guitar]I’ve known now for four years, so we’re friends – that makes a difference – and I think because individually we’ve all been doing this for so long that, there’s that old phrase “with age comes wisdom”. And I think that – unlike when I was in Motley or The Scream or Ratt or any of those other bands that I was in, I think now we’re just older and we’re just kind of more relaxed and comfortable with ourselves, we’re not insecure. And we’ve also – a big thing is – even when we disagree, we’ve all kind of figured out how to talk to each other as adults, and not be – for lack of a better term – ARSEholes. You know what I mean? So we don’t always agree but we kind of respect each other, which comes with age.
The Dead Daisies’ new live album and DVD Live & Louder are both out now.
If you or anyone close to you needs help or information regarding mental health, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.