The Dead Daisies
An interview with Guitarist Richard Fortus
by Tina Ayres
The Dead Daisies
Richard Fortus has graced the stage with artists like Rihanna, The Psychedelic Furs, Nena, Love Spit Love, Honky Toast, The Compulsions, Thin Lizzy, and Guns N’ Roses, with a stage presence that is nothing short of amazing. His work with the music production company “Compound” has been featured in various tv, film, advertising and video game projects. Fans of the former television show Charmed have enjoyed his work on the theme song, as well. His work ethic and drive led to his being one of the most sought after first call sessions artists in NYC. He recently joined forces with the band The Dead Daisies. It is my pleasure to bring our readers a little more information on the latest project.
Maximum Ink: Where are you from? What were you like as a child? What would you say are your most fond memories from that time?
Richard Fortus: I’m from Saint Louis. I started playing violin and drums around 4 or 5 years old. I didn’t pick up guitar till I was around 13. I don’t think I was a bad kid. I got in to some trouble, but I wasn’t too bad. I really fell in love with rock n’ roll at an early age and used to go to every concert that I could. It didn’t matter if I was really a fan of the band or not, if they came to St Louis, I went. I definitely have a lot of great memories from shows.
MI: What do you love most about the act of making music?
RF: The spiritual high that is achievable through music is unlike anything else. It’s a place where you are completely out of your body and mind and are acting only as a conduit or channel. It’s something that I’m also chasing. My primary objective is to reach that place every night. Some nights it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, it is bliss.
MI: Why do you think music has always had such an appeal through the ages?
RF: For THAT reason! Music is a spiritual experience for the musician and the listener. It can move you unlike any other art form. It’s immediate and can be incredibly powerful.
MI: What advice would you offer those wishing to learn to music regardless of their instrument of choice?
RF: You have to love it so much, that it possesses your body and soul. If you don’t have that passionate love, you will never be great. That is, of course, only if you want to seriously make music a career. If not, as long as you enjoy doing it, you are doing the right thing!
MI: You have a lot of great ink work. When did you first become interested in tattoo art?
RF: I have been interested in the art of tattooing since I was a kid. I always thought that it was a very strong statement and expression.
MI: What have you been up to since we spoke last?
RF: I’ve become very involved with the Dead Daisies and trying to build that.
MI: Are you excited for the release of the new The Dead Daisies EP? What can fans expect from this one?
RF: I’m super excited about it. I haven’t been this excited about a project in quite a while. I love the new songs that we’ve written. We recorded them all live in the studio (for the most part). They have a real vibe and you can hear the excitement in everyone’s playing.
MI: Have you enjoyed working with Dizzy Reed, Jon Stevens, David Lowy, and Marco Mendoza? What do each of them bring to the table?
RF: I love working with these guys. We are all great friends and we all have a lot of respect for each other. Everyone brings something unique to the project, yet there is a real ease to the musical dialogue, as we all come from similar musical backgrounds and share a love for a lot of the same music.
MI:Will you also be touring with the band? Are you looking forward to it?
RF: I’m touring with the band right now! We are out supporting Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Two bands that were very influential to us. I think it’s an absolutely perfect bill for us and we will walk away with a lot of new fans. After we finish with this tour, we go straight on to the Kiss/Def Leppard tour for a month.
MI: What do you love most about performing live?
RF: Being in the moment and hitting that space that I spoke about before. Connecting with other musicians and listeners. It’s unbeatable.
MI: What do you look forward to most when you get to head back home?
RF: My daughters! As much as I love to play music, I miss them every day that I am not with them. It’s definitely the hardest thing about what I do. I have a very difficult time touring now, because I split with their mom and things are very difficult. I feel that my girls need me, but this is how I have always made my living and I don’t really know anything else.
MI: Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being?
RF: Not really. The Dead Daisies IS a dream project. It’s hard to imagine a better group of people to work with and make music with.
MI: What other projects are you working on at the moment?
RF: I’m hoping to finish up the next Guns ‘n’ Roses album soon and to get back out with those guys.
MI: How has fatherhood changed your outlook on life in general?
RF: It’s changed everything. I don’t look at life the same way anymore. It’s funny how you work your entire life to achieve something, and then everything changes and what seemed so important for so many years, seems to pale in comparison to your children.
MI: What do you think is the key to a life well-lived?
RF: I think that as long as you are always continuing to grow and learn, you are living your life well. Stagnation and complacency can often times lead you off of your path. Always continue to shine your light as brightly as possible and all else will fall in to place exactly as it is supposed to.
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