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INTERVIEW – Jon Stevens, The Dead Daisies – November 2013

| 21 November 2013 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Jon Stevens, The Dead Daisies – November 2013
By Shane Pinnegar

The Dead Daisies - Jon Stevens 01

The Dead Daisies is a band you’re sure to hear a lot more of in the coming months. Formed by Jon Stevens of Noiseworks fame, they play rock n’ roll with soulful vocals and are already making a big splash following a U.S. tour on the 4th Annual Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival line-up, and a U.K tour which started this week.

Jon Stevens got on the phone to explain how the band – also featuring the dream line-up of drummer Charley Drayton (Keith Richards X-pensive Winos, The Cult, Divinyls, Cold Chisel), Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones’ bassist), guitarists Richard Fortus (Guns n’ Roses) and David Lowy (Diva Demolition) and Dizzy Reed from Guns n’ Roses on keys – came about, and how they were almost derailed before they got started, as well as giving us the inside information on a few other subjects.

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“Oh I’m always playing man,” says Stevens of his solo work. “Week in, week out I am always playing somewhere in Australia, like, 48 weeks of the year – easy. Putting the Daisies together was basically a combination of myself and David Lowy, where we basically got together and wrote some songs, with a view to working together, and it was so prolific so quickly that we decided to record them.

“From there, some people heard it and it was just like a word of mouth thing, and we got offered the Aerosmith tour, and the ZZ Top tour here in Australia and New Zealand. So, that kinda kick started it in so much as we kinda put the band together [at that point]

“Charlie Drayton is an old friend. I asked Charlie what he thought and sent him the music and he loved it, and he knew Richard Fortus, [who] was in Australia with Guns n’ Roses and Richard loved it. So it was just, you know, the muso mates network of people and word of mouth. And from that word of mouth [we were] offered the Uproar Festival in America, [which] was very exciting and now we do this UK tour – it’s kinda one foot in front of the other!”

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Past members have already included such luminaries as Jim Hilburn (The Angels),Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy), Brian Tichy (Whitesnake), Frank Ferrer (Guns n’ Roses), Alex Carapetis (Nine Inch Nails).

“It’s a revolving door in as much as availability and how long they wanna stick around. It’s one of those things that, I’m not precious about that side of things, because there’s a lot of musicians in the world and there’s a lot of people would like to be involved.

“But by the same token, David & I wrote the material originally so I guess we’re the only two stable members. I’m certainly not gonna ask people, ‘hey you gotta leave The Rolling Stones to do the Daisies full time!’ – you know, we’re grown ups here!

“Everyone’s schedule, if it works for them, it works for them. if it doesn’t, what’s happened in the past is the person that can’t be available for The Daisies calls one of their mates or introduces someone to us, and they go ‘yeah I wanna do that’, so it’s one of those things where everyone is just really happy to be a part of it, and if they can’t be ‘cos they’ve gotta go back to their day job – ie Guns n’ Roses or The Rolling Stones – then they do!” he laughs.

The Dead Daisies - The Dead Daisies CD

“It’s live musicians – its real playing. There’s no technology on there, just real, honest, simple playing. That’s what David & I set out to do – to try and write a record that was harkening back to our influences, the seventies. The thing that we actually liked the most about seventies bands, was just real playing – because they didn’t have the technology then, they had to play their instruments!

“So that’s what the album was really… every song was written on acoustic guitar, every song is playable with just acoustic and voice. The songs that we recorded we kept pretty simple, so they change a bit and come to life more live, actually, to tell you the truth, in the best tradition of rock bands.

“It’s a lot heavier live. Richard Fortus for instance, he’s an amazing guitar player and he has a really heavy sound. Hearing those riffs that we recorded, with him playing it, it was like ‘Oh god, I wish I knew you then’, you know what I mean? So live it’s actually, probably, maximises it another 100%. It’s full on energy, and exactly how it should be.

“I’m very happy with it, we did it a little while ago now, and off the back of it we’ve had some great things happening – overseas especially, so that’s pretty exciting! Hopefully February/March Australia’s gonna get it, and they’ll know what’s going on.

“Oh, we had our five minutes. We toured all through America a couple of times, and obviously the U.K. We had a number one in Switzerland, I think. Certainly in Germany we were popular. But you know, it was a long time ago, and a different generation. You can’t think that people will remember you from back then – erk, I don’t remember back then! I only think of now and what I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Yesterday’s yesterday.

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“Ohhh, it’s just another day at the office, I ‘spose. I’m writing the songs and producing and… it’s just a new thing – and it’s something that’s refreshing actually – REALLY refreshing, because it’s a new band, it’s new people, and it’s exciting because obviously everyone in the band has done so much stuff over their respective careers, but this is almost a little haven in a way – this creative little hub of serious musicians who aren’t really working for the singer, in particular – which all the guys in the band are known for, all their bands are controlled by the singers, you know, whereas this band is more collaborative, you know.

“We actually did some writing in New York and recording in L.A., and we’ll be road testing a few new songs that aren’t on the album. [laughs] So we should be well rehearsed by the time we come to Australia in February/March.”

“It ain’t over til it’s over! And those people you mentioned, they’ve been resting on their laurels for a lotta years!

“Coming from down here, you can’t rest on your laurels for five minutes – it’s not acceptable! Not even for me. Every day I wake up, it’s a new day – what’s gonna happen next? It’s about attitude and commitment to your craft.

“I’ll go from playing with Aerosmith, playing stadiums, to going and playing to 100 people in a little bar acoustic, you know, it’s nothing to me – I don’t have an ego about it. It’s all music, and it’s about connecting with an audience no matter how big or how small, and every night it’s a challenge. And I love that. It really is – every night it’s a challenge, getting up there. Especially as a singer because it’s an actual, physical thing, you know.”

“Was it a bit of a shock to the system? For sure!”

Is it a coincidence or is this late career resurgence somehow connected with that little wake up call?

“Oh no, very much so. There’s nothing like a double heart bypass to wake your ideas up, to realise your own mortality. It really amplifies what’s really important in your life and makes you realise that life’s short, and you need to embrace it and enjoy it and not get bogged down in the crapola.

“You know, I love music, I love performing, I love singing, I love writing, I love producing: I love it all and I’ll do it til the day I die. I’ve always said that I wanna be like my hero Muddy Waters – I saw him in 1981 at The Roxy in the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, I was just a teenager, and I said, ‘I wanna be THAT guy when I grow up.’ And in another twenty years of growing up, I wanna be on the stool, on stage, you know…”

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“I broke my right leg and I broke my right thumb, the week before I went to America, fishing with my son up in the Cape York peninsula. I fell over…

“We were mud crabbing at the time – we were a week up there, it was the second to last day before coming back to Sydney, and the tide was out, we were in the Mangroves and there’s crocodiles and shit.

“So a crocodile came up and I ran one way and fell down and broke my thumb, and my leg twisted… and I thought I’d just sprained my ankle, [I was still almost] walking on it.

“It took 24 hours to get me air lifted outta there to Weipa Hospital, where they X-rayed me and said ‘you’ve broken your leg’. Okay… my thumb was hurting more than my leg! Then it took another day and a half to get back to Sydney – it was three days before I saw a real doctor! So they whacked me in hospital and I got a Staff infection… I was pretty well stuffed! The boys were sitting in New York waiting for me, I’m like ‘Oh fuck!’

“I had two operations, and the second operation I had the staff infection, so I said ‘Look doc, I gotta get on the plane, I’ve already missed a couple [of gigs], I gotta get to New York’ and he said ‘provided I can get the staff infection down, I’ll get you on that plane!’

“So four days of drips and whatever, taking everything, and he loaded me up and went on the plane and I made it!

“[That’s] rock n’ roll! I got off the plane in New York after 24 hours or whatever, went straight to rehearsal, sang the show then went to the hotel!”

“Yeah, I’ll make another one at some point… [I’m] always writing, always ‘collecting’ I call it. At this stage we’re still trying to finish the Noiseworks record, which is REALLY close. It’s just a matter of me being in one place long enough. And also, yeah, I guess work on another solo record, next year maybe. But more importantly my first priority is The Dead Daisies, and everything that’s happening with The Dead Daisies is quite interesting really, ‘cos it’s just sort of organically happening from day one, so we’ll just give it a go.”

“Really amazing! I think that it’s real, honest rock n’ roll. There’s no frills. Whilst everyone [involved] has great history, there’s nobody has an ego in this band. It’s fantastic. Perhaps because we’re all older we have a lot of respect for each other as musicians, and that’s what it should be.”

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“I know, it’s kinda weird, I’ve had this conversation with a couple of people before, about how back in the day you used to have to make a name for yourself in your own country before you were even looked at overseas. Nowadays you sorta have to make your name overseas before you’ll even be looked at in Australia. You know, if you’re not on a TV talent show, you don’t mean shit in this country.

“[But] I think we’re doing a couple of Days On The Greens, I think [with] Jimmy Barnes and Baby Animals and a couple of other acts [in February/March]”
Friday 22nd Nov O2 Academy, Bournemouth
Saturday 23rd Nov O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Monday 25th Nov O2 Academy, Bristol
Tuesday 26th Nov Junction, Cambridge
Wednesday 27th Nov UEA, Norwich
Saturday 30th Nov Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Sunday 1st Dec Solus/University, Cardiff
Monday 2nd Dec O2 Academy, Oxford
Tuesday 3rd Dec O2 Academy, Liverpool
Thursday 5th Dec Ironworks, Inverness
Friday 6th Dec Picturehouse, Edinburgh
Saturday 7th Dec O2 Academy, Newcastle
Sunday 8th Dec O2 Academy, Leeds
Tuesday 10th Dec The Assembly Rooms, Leamington Spa
Thursday 12th Dec Rock City, Nottingham
Friday 13th Dec Ritz, Manchester
Saturday 14th Dec Academy, Dublin, EIRE
Sunday 15th Dec Limelight, Belfast


Category: Interviews

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