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INTERVIEW: JOHN CORABI of THE DEAD DAISIES – June 2018

According to a recent press release: “THE DEAD DAISIES are returning to North America!  After a Sold-Out Tour across the UK & Europe, the band are looking forward to rocking out with their US & Canadian fans! Their current single “RISE UP” is climbing the US-Active Rock Charts and being used extensively in NASCAR promotional campaigns across the country. The guys are also happy to announce that an old friend of the Daisies, Dizzy Reed, is bringing his band HOOKERS & BLOW along as the Tour’s Special Guest. At radio “Rise Up” has been added to massive playlists worldwide. The track is climbing the US Active Rock Chart (currently #42), on huge stations in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden and Spain as well as the UK’s Planet Rock Radio’s A-Playlist. ”  We were able to steal some time from John Corabi via phone to discuss the bands latest disc, touring, and much more…

Toddstar: John, thank you so much for taking the time out, man. I really appreciate it.

John: Yeah, no worries.

Toddstar: There’s always so much going on. You’re a busy guy, always have been. Let’s start with one of the newest things going on for The Dead Daisies, and that’s Burn It Down. What can you tell us, from your perspective, that makes this disc stand out a little bit from the other discs in the bands catalog?

John: I think it’s a bit more aggressive in spots. Honestly, I love the record. I think on the last one, Make Some Noise, which personally I think it was a great record in its own right, I think the one thing that I do like about Burn It Down over Make Some Noise, is it is a little more eclectic, which personally, for me, I love. If you go back and look at all the records that I’ve done in the past, with The Scream, and Motley, and Union, there was always a little bit of everything on those records. And I think we did that with Revolución, the first record, and then we got away from it on Make Some Noise. Make Some Noise was full bore, pedal to the metal. We came back to it a little bit, not intentionally, it just happened that way. That’s one of the things that I love about the record. We have a ballad on it, a couple of the songs have a different moods, even within the songs. I think it’s pretty cool, but it is a bit more aggressive, but not like metal. It’s like old school Sabbath, Zeppelin aggressive.

Toddstar: I loved the disc from the first time I heard it. One thing you guys have almost made a trademark on your discs, is covers. How do you guys go about picking covers because you’ve got two diverse covers with the Stones’ “Bitch”, and then the Beatles “Revolution” on this? How do you guys handpick what you do as far as a cover, if you decide to do it?

John: Honestly, we just start throwing out some ideas. Each record we’ve done, not to sound weird, each record we’ve done we’ve picked a couple of songs that we want to record. It’s not for lack of material, because I think every record that we’ve done we’ve had four, five, six songs leftover, but we choose to do it. It’s kind of, for a lack of a better term, it’s a tip of the hat to the bands we grew up listening to. All the bands that we have posters of and read about in the magazines. It’s a little bit of a tip to the hat, but we’re beginning to realize now, with each record that we do, that there’s a bit of an educational thing to it as well. A lot of our fans are a bit younger than us, and with each record we’ve realized, we’ve turned some people onto bands, that we felt were great, even on the first record we did two songs … We did one by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band called “Midnight Moses.” And then second song was a song called “Evil”, that was an old blues song, I don’t know if it was Willie Dickson or Albert Lee, or Albert King, or I forget who did the original, but a band called Cactus had redone it in the early 70’s, and we just loved the tune so we threw it on there. And there was a lot of people that had no idea who Alex Harvey was, or Cactus. Second record we did “Join Together” and “Fortunate Son,” much to our surprise, there was a lot of people that didn’t realize that it was Who song or a Creedence tune. It’s just honestly, it’s a tip of the hat and like I said, maybe educating people to some incredibly great music that they may or may not have heard of in the past. And so we’ll sit around, we’ll talk about it and we sat there on this record, we’re like, “Man, we got to do a Stones tune, or a Beatles tune.” We went through a lot of the Stones ideas, we’ll jam them in the studio. The one thing that stood out for the song Bitch, was once Doug got a hold of it and put some crazy guitar things on it and we just started jamming it and making it a little more aggressive, it lent itself to the rest of our record, as well. Just that rare. Then “Revolution,” it was a little more difficult because we were trying to figure out, the Beatles, it’s such a great song and we were trying to figure out if you listen to that song, it’s a bit of a shuffle on the original version. We were just playing around with it, and tried to figure out how to make it our own and make it a bit more aggressive, and more now. Lyrically, the song was originally recorded and written in 1968, and I think to some degree, if you just change a couple of the words, or some of the names that are in the song, it’s still relevant today, lyrically. We just, we said, “Let’s do it.” It was a bit of risk on the song Revolution, it’s like I said, it’s such a classic song. But, we did it, we liked the way it came out and we said, “Let’s just put it on the record. Let’s put it out there.” It came out great.

Band members from L-R: Marco Mendoza, David Lowy, John Corabi, Deen Castronovo and Doug Aldrich

Toddstar: I think you guys nailed it. It is close to one of my favorite covers that you guys have done – Alex Harvey’s “Midnight Moses.” Whenever I see you guys, I can’t wait to hear it in the set.

John: Yeah, and it’s weird because that’s become our anthem. It’s weird. It’s usually, we’ll do it a little later in the set, sometimes the end of our main set or the beginning of the encore, it’s just crazy. We just did six weeks in Europe and it doesn’t matter, every country that we were in, it’s just the entire audience is just singing it back to us and singing along with us. It’s just become such an anthem for us, it’s become pretty cool.

Toddstar: Awesome. Last time you were in town you guys played The Shelter here in Detroit. We were talking a little bit before the show and you and I were reminiscing about the show you had at Harpos when you were doing a solo show way back in the day.

John: I don’t know if reminiscing would be… It was more of a nightmare, but whatever. (laughs)

Toddstar: You have played smaller venues in Detroit, like Harpos and The Shelter, and you guys have a date coming up in August at The Machine Shop in Flint. For a band like The Dead Daisies what’s it like for you guys to play the smaller, intimate gigs where the audience is right there versus Pine Knob or Huntington Center in Toledo when you’re doing the KISS gigs? What is it about those smaller places that really just fits the groove of the Daisies?

John: Honestly, it’s just, there is that closeness. You’re right there, you’re seeing immediate reaction. I love playing the bigger places as well, because it’s obviously, you’re getting a ton of feedback from thousands of people, so there’s an energy there. It is cool doing the other gigs as well, because it’s a different energy. I can literally look through the audience and I can see faces all through the audience, and they’re singing along with us, and they’re giving us the thumbs up. I don’t know. I like both. For me, I do a lot of acoustic things on my own, as well, and it’s just great to play the smaller places because you can talk to the audience. I’ll see someone in the audience and I’ll kid around with them. That intimate thing where you can actually see someone’s face and talk to them, “Hey, what’s up? How you doing?” I’ve had a few where a girl will make that little heart sign with her hands, and then you can go, “Hey darlin’. How you doing? Glad you could make it. Thanks for coming down, blah, blah, blah. Whatever.” I like both. They’re apples and oranges, but we have a great time. At the end of the day, not to sound clichéd, or weird, all of us in the Daisies have realized that it’s pretty rare that you can… If you look at Marco’s career, or Doug’s, or mine. Dean, David, we’ve all been doing this for 30 plus years, and the fact that we’re still here and we’re still able to make records and people still want to talk with us, we realize that it’s a gift. It’s definitely, there’s a lot of bands that it fizzled out and fell along the wayside, and the fact that we’re still here, is a gift to us. We just want to have fun, go out and do what we do. Lord knows you don’t want us coming to your house to use any power tools or anything. You wouldn’t call any of us for repairs on anything in your house. This is what we do. We’re happy to be here, and we’re just happy that the fans are embracing the band the way they are.

Toddstar: I have loved the band from the start, but once you climbed on board, it was a no brainer for me to dig the band once they got a front man of your caliber. I have followed you forever, from The Scream, and side projects like ESP and 24/7 and things like that. What makes this band stand out for you personally and professionally compared to other bands you have been in, such as The Scream, Union, or Mötley Crüe.

John: I just think, honestly, with age comes wisdom. And we don’t make any bones about it. People ask us how old we are or whatever, we don’t care. We’ll tell you the truth. At the end of the day we’ve, again, we’ve all been doing this so long, obviously we all have expectations, but we realized that there’s so many variables about being successful. Really successful, like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, U2 successful. You just do the best you can, and then you turn the record over to the label guys and you hope that they do the best they can. There’s a variable there that nobody can really bottle and figure out, and there’s a huge part of this that is luck. There’s a lot of luck involved. We’re seeing growth, we’re happy\ about it. We truly have, I know every band says it, and again I don’t want to sound clichéd, but we truly have some of the greatest fans like ever. They’ve started off suit fan clubs for us. They’re just incredibly supportive. I think, as you get older, you start realizing really what’s important in life. I think you also have expectations. We sit there, still, every record we do, when we’re done, we sit back, we listen to it, we go, “This is awesome. This is amazing. This is going to be the one.” And I think there’s, when I was younger, doing things like The Scream or doing, even the Motley record, the amount of praise that we got while we were doing the record, I bought into the hype. And when the record really didn’t do as well as everybody said it was going to do, it was mentally and emotionally, it was a bit devastating. You figure things out and the other thing with this band, we’ve figured out that part of it, but we’ve also grown up to the point where we also know how to communicate with each other. We’ve had our arguments, and we’ve had disagreements, and blow ups to the point where we we’re disagreeing about something but we’ve also figured out how to just leave the room for a minute, come back in and sit down and talk like adults. Where when I was 20 or 25 or 30, with The Scream or Mötley Crüe, there was moments where it wasn’t unusual for any of us to start swinging at the other ones. We’ve grown up to the point where we can communicate with each other and I think it’s pretty awesome. Honestly, without sounding crazy, this is probably been the easiest band to actually write and record a record with, that I’ve ever been in. It’s incredible how quick when we go into the studio, how fast the band works. But we’re again, with age comes wisdom. We also realize, “If we waste time or we sit around and jerk off, we’re wasting money. We’re wasting time.” Goofing off in the studio means extra days of studio time, engineers, producers, hotels, all these things. So, when we get in, we just we got a job to do, there’s a task at hand and it needs to be done. I just think a lot of it is, we’ve all grown up and we have figured out through all of our different separate experiences, we’ve all learned how to work as a unit.

Toddstar: You can tell listening to it, from album to album like you said, from the first album you joined in on up to Burn It Down, which is your latest release, you can hear that maturity of coming together as a group. And you can hear it in the song writing and the playing. If anybody hasn’t seen you live, in my opinion, they’re missing out because you can definitely see it on stage. You guys play so well together and you’re having fun, and you’re doing what you saw yourselves doing 30 years ago when you started.

John: Yeah. Honestly, again, it’s figuring out what works, what doesn’t work. We have great management as well, too, and they’re constantly giving us input. And we trust them. We don’t always agree with them, but we trust them. Our manager is notorious, he will literally sit on the side of the stage or he’ll go back to the back of the room by the sound board and he’ll watch the show. And we come in, at the end of the show, we’ll sit there and go, “We were awesome.” Then he’ll come in and he’s very direct and to the point and he’ll go, “Yep. Show was pretty good, but this, this, and this was off. It was a little off.” “Okay, cool. Noted.” And then the next day we’ll talk about it before we get on stage. We always get together for about 20 minutes or so before we go on and we run through the set, talk about it, make sure everybody is on the same page. But we’ve figured this all out as adults. When I was on tour before, again not to sound weird, but I just couldn’t wait to go on tour to just party and fucking chase skirt all day. Whatever. The show was important, but I would just wear myself down to the point where I’d come home and I was just tapped. Now we’ve figured out again, like I said, we pace ourselves, we talk about things, we communicate things, we’re all working together as a unit and it just works. I don’t know why it works, it works for us. It might not work for everybody, but it works for us.

Toddstar: Getting back to Burn It Down, what are the couple songs on this disc John, that you think hold up against anything else in The Dead Daisies catalog, or should always be part of a Dead Daisies live set?

John: We’re actually doing about five of them now, or six of them now in the set. And they’re going over great. I think “Resurrected “is a great one. “Rise Up” is, to me, it’s without sounding facetious, I think it’s an anthem. And you can apply that to whatever you want to apply it to. Rise Up, hey we’re on stage. Everybody get up. Or you could use it for political whatever. We need to keep our leaders in check, Rise Up. Whatever it may be, fill in the blank. I think “Rise Up” is a great one. They all have a different meaning, and it’s weird, I talked yesterday, I was giving interviews yesterday from 10 in the morning until eight last night, and almost everybody had a different favorite song. I’m sure, I used to sit there and I used to go, man, go see a band like Aerosmith and you’re like damn it, why didn’t they do “Adams Apple” Or “Kings and Queens”? Some crazy deep cut. You realize now, especially for me when I go and do my acoustic shows, or shows with my solo band, there’s people in the audience yelling, “Hooligans Holiday.” “Man in the Moon.” Or they’re yelling, “Do Your Own Thing” from Union. And now they’re starting to yell, “Midnight Moses.” Certain songs are just tied to some people and they’re just never going to get away from them. The more records you do, the more those songs are. You get a band like Aerosmith whose been around for 40 years, people want to hear the hits. They want to hear the song that they want to hear. We try, when we go out on tour, we just try to throw out, again, we’ve got great fans and we try to have them involved in as much of our lives as possible. Even like this run, and some of the last couple tours I’ve done our manager, we’ll just throw out a thing on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, and we’ll go, “What songs do you want to hear?” And we get feedback from everybody. We just help put the set together via the feedback we got from the fans. Again, we’re older and wiser, you can’t please everybody all the time. Learn to figure that out.

Toddstar: You guys have experienced some crazy stuff. You had the Harpos show where it was just a bad deal for you as a solo artist and I remember being at the Toledo gig when they cut your set because of the tornado coming through town. Having weathered these different types of ordeals or storms, at the end of the day what do you find is the most rewarding thing about touring?

John: Honestly, I love traveling. I love meeting new people. It’s crazy to me. 35 years later and I’m still meeting people that I’ve never met before. You meet new people, but for me I think the most rewarding thing of everything, we do meet and greets. We do all these things. We’re going to radio stations. We’re constantly meeting people and shaking hands, and kissing babies. But I think for me, I just love being on the stage. I love that 90 minutes. That’s what I just love doing it. I love… I feel like I’m still evolving and growing as a singer, as a performer, for me it’s the 90 minutes on stage. That feedback. That immediate feedback you get from the audience. It’s a little self-serving but you stand on stage in front of three, four, 5000 people, 10,000 people, 100,000 people and you play a song and at the end of the song they’ll let you know if they agree and if they liked it or they didn’t like it. That to me is, I don’t know, it’s an immediate stroke. Okay, they dig us. They dig what we’re doing.

Toddstar: Looking back John, and again, a lot of your songs have hit me at different times in my life, but if you had to think about a couple songs that impact you as much today as the first time you put those words on tape, or you strummed that chord, or you ran that melody through your head, what are a couple of songs from your personal catalog, whether it be solo, stuff with Mötley Crüe, stuff with The Dead Daisies, whatever. What are a couple of songs that totally resonate with you, emotionally?

John: I think, a majority of The Scream album I was still in shock that we got a record deal. But I think the one song from that record, that’s really struck a nerve with a lot of people, I would say is “Father Mother Son” for some apparent reason. And I almost had a moment there. I wrote that song, 1989 or ’90, whenever we did The Scream record, and there was a point four or five years ago, where that song for me almost came true. And it was weird. My son called me out of the clear blue and he came to live with me in Nashville, and he was going through a really rough period with, it’s noted. He’ll talk about it as well, but he got involved with some people and he started doing drugs. Bad shit. I was just sitting there thinking, “Oh my God, I wrote this song 20 years ago and I’m going through this right now. This could happen to me.” That was rough for me. I think, Mötley Crüe, I think a lot of people, with me, I think one of the songs on that is “Misunderstood.” Lot of people would get so caught up in getting ahead, that they forget to live life. They get the … And, I’m guilty of it as well. I love doing what I do, and I’ve kind of, in some way, missed a lot of things in my kids’ lives. And I had a very good, but cold awakening after Motley let me go, I realized a lot of things. What life was about, because I was the life of the party when I was in Motley, and then when I wasn’t in Motley, it was like I had the plague. It was disheartening, but it was an eye opener. I think that one is important to me. I think Union stuff, life was relatively good when I was in Union. There’s really not a stand out, but for me, for the Dead Daisies, there’s a few songs. “You and I” and “Long Way to Go” from the first record, Revolución, and then “Make Some Noise”, was impacted by a lot of the crazy shit that we were seeing on the news. That incident in some of the school shootings, we were seeing at the time, the thing with ISIS, and America. ISIS striking out at everybody. I sat down and I wrote “You and I”, and then we went on tour and that’s when that thing happened at the Bastille in Paris. It was just really, “Why is this happening?” Why is his happening? Why can we not get a person from that group into a room with people from all these different other walks of life and countries, and religions. Why can’t we just sit down and discuss this? Why does it need to get to that level? I wrote those and I think on the new record man, there’s a lot of stuff that’s really self-explanatory. But I think right now, for me, off the new record, I would say “Resurrected”, obviously because of what I was saying earlier. When I was in Mötley and Vince came back, a lot of people wrote me off. He’s done. He had his shot. He blew it. I’m still here. “Rise Up” to me it’s political, but I’m not really taking a piss out of anybody’s choices, whether you’re conservative or you’re liberal, I’m just saying Rise Up. When you see things, everybody right now is we’re so divided. I hate the fact that I can’t go on my Facebook page and talk about the good things, that if I talk about the good things conservatives are doing, then the liberals start attacking me. If you talk about maybe some good things that the liberals are doing, the conservatives attack you. It’s weird, we have so many people that are fueling that fire, and they’re just fighting. I’m just like, “Man, how do you start a debate? How do you start a conversation with an insult? You’ve already lost the debate. You’ve already lost the conversation. You’ve stooped to a level where you’ve lost. Stop fighting with each other and let’s start holding, all of us, together. Holding every elected official, whether it’s conservatives or liberals.” To me, they’re all shady. They’re all corrupt. They’re all making money that’s not benefiting us. It’s weird. Not to be weird, it’s like why are we not together, rising up? Conservatives and liberals, why are we not talking about why Flint still doesn’t have good water?

Toddstar: Right.

John: It’s like, “Come on, man. Stop fighting with each other. Stop calling each other names. And start looking at the picture here.” I think if you talk to, and I will shut up after this next statement, but I think if you took any conservative, hard core conservative, and you took any hard core liberal, and put them in a room together, and said, “What do you want out of life?” Let’s take all of the morality issues off the table, because there’s some things like gay marriage and abortion and things like that, that are moral issues. It’s not government issues, it’s a moral issue. Take the morality shit off the table and ask these people what they want out of life? And I think, most conservatives and most liberals, if they would open their fucking eyes, and just use a little bit of common sense, they would realize that everybody wants the same things. They want a nice home, doesn’t need to be a mansion, but they would like a nice home. They would like decent transportation, a nice, some sort of nice car that they can get their family around in. They want to have the two and a half kids, the wife, and white picket fence with the dog, Spot. And they want to be able to pay their taxes, have decent healthcare, and just be able to afford a reasonably good life and not have to worry about, “Oh my God, if I have to have open heart surgery, I’m going to lose everything that I just worked my life for.” That’s it. I think everybody wants the same fucking thing, but we’re so caught up in bullshit and all that stuff. Rise Up to me, and it doesn’t matter. We have conservative President now, we had a liberal President before, people were… It just flip flopped. Obama was moron according to everybody, now Trump’s a moron. Prior to Obama, we had Bush, he was a moron. It’s like, “Seriously, guys? Use a little common sense and be kind to each other and you’ll probably see…” I was raised, you get more flies with honey, then you do with vinegar. So don’t start your argument with an insult. And let’s hold all of them, all of the people in Washington, that we put there, hold them accountable. That’s all.

Toddstar: I’m with you John. We grew up in a different era. We grew up in a different mindset. And as always, I love talking to you because it’s so insightful. People think, “He’s just a rocker.” Because so many rockers can’t converse the way you do. You’re a smart dude, and it’s always a pleasure talking to you, John.

John: I don’t know if I’m smart. To be honest with you, the one smart thing is to say, I wouldn’t want to be Trump. I wouldn’t want to be Obama. I wouldn’t want to be Bush. I wouldn’t want that job because “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t” with all of them. I’m sorry. I’m just calling a spade a spade. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I don’t want the job. I think there’s a lot of common sense. Life is just about common sense. And I think, if you took all these politicians and you stuck them in a room and you said, “You know what? I think if you told the American public the truth. We’re going to be up in arms about some things, but I think if you just told them, hey man. I don’t know how to tackle this. I don’t know how to tackle this problem and here’s why. If I do this, this side is going to be angry about this. But, if I do that, the other side is going to be angry about that.” It’s a thing, one of the greatest lines I ever heard in any political whatever was when the Inauguration speech of John Kennedy, when he said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask yourself what you can do for your country.” And that’s what “Rise Up” is about. If you want to change, then you need to open your voice, but be polite about it. Don’t be an asshole.

Toddstar: Sure. Listen man, again, I know you’re busy and I thank you so much. As a fan of you personally, and The Dead Daisies, it’s always a pleasure to see you, speak to you. Even if just for a minute. To steal 40 minutes out of your day from you, is a true pleasure, John.

John: No worries.

Toddstar: I can’t wait to say hello once again when you guys play Machine Shop in August, up in Flint, Michigan.

John: I can’t wait, buddy. Looking forward to it.

THE DEAD DAISIES LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

JOHN CORABI LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

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Category: Featured Articles, Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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