The Dead Daisies
An interview with John Corabi
by Tommy Rage
The Dead Daisies new album Burn It Down
Take the dog to the vet, drop the kids off at summer camp and stock up on bug spray & sun screen (maybe aloe for the sun burnt shoulders as well). Or…you could release a solo live album, start a world tour in support of your band’s new album, and play with the Polish Philharmonic Orchestra. If you think your life seems busy this summer, try catching up with lead singer John Corabi as he sits down for a review of the new Dead Daisies album Burn It Down.
The Dead Daisies were founded by Australian guitarist David Lowy (Red Phoenix, Mink) and have been perfecting their sound since 2013. After original singer Jon Stevens left in 2015, former Mötley Crüe singer (1992-1996) John Corabi stepped in to share his talents. Having several years under his belt with Mötley Crüe, Union (1998-2005) and touring as RATT’s guitarist, John was familiar with the labors of putting together The Dead Daisies 4th album. Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) sets Burn It Down on fire with a blazing guitar intro on the first track “Resurrected”. John Corabi praises the veteran guitarist, “I’ve known Doug since we were teenagers growing up in Philadelphia together. He is incredibly talented and well known in the guitar community. For me, to stand on stage with guys like Doug and David behind me is an honor. I’m not trying to blow smoke up anyone’s ass, but the caliber of these musicians is pretty crazy. Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Journey/drums) came into the band kind of late. He came in and heard what we were doing, he got it right away; and he has great backing vocals.”
Both Deen and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake/bass) add to the deeper classic rock feel of Burn It Down on songs like “Dead And Gone”, “Can’t Take It With You”, and “What Goes Around”. Recalls Corabi, “When we were in New York working on the album, Deen hears “What Goes Around” and says that he has to put his Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) hat on [laughter]. We were at Alicia Keys personal studio and her engineer threw this [bass] pedal at Marco. We were doing this Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad bass-tone thing. If you go back and listen to old, old Sabbath, there was this driving distorted bass sound and when Marco plugged the peddle in, he started playing this riff. We all just started jamming on his riff and threw that song together in about an hour.”
With its classic British-rock feel and bluesy power strut attitude, it’s no surprise that producer Marti Frederiksen played a role in the album’s massive sound, “People have noticed that it’s a heavier album with some blues and jamming parts. Honestly, this is what we grew up listening to, bands like Deep Purple and Humble Pie. Marti works with Steve Tyler (Aerosmith), so we went down to Nashville to record the album. With us, each guy in the band is a song writer and so is Marti, so it’s a collaborative process. We know how the record business works and we don’t dick around. We get into the studio about 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning and don’t leave to until about 10 at night, with no days off.” Corabi laughs at the process the band used to name the album Burn It Down, “Well Led Zeppelin 4 was already taken [laughter]. After the record was done, we started finalizing everything and it was a choice between “Burn It Down” and “Rise Up”. Those 2 songs dictated the overall vibe of the record, and it was between those two songs. Everyone liked the concept of Burn It Down and how it felt.”
It’s no surprise that Burn It Down is the highest charting Dead Daisies album to date. Having toured across the US opening for KISS and playing huge European festivals, Corabi reflects on playing with the Polish Philharmonic Orchestra, “We played the largest free festival in the world in Poland. We had played there the year before and they asked us to come back. We played our entire set with a 63-piece orchestra. It was one of the trippiest things I’ve ever done. Over a hundred thousand people there with the orchestra. The hair on my arms was standing up the whole time. It was intense.”
Drawing from the bands deep roots in classic rock, the Dead Daisies once again included a cover- song on the 11-track release. “Honestly, we do a cover song or two on every record. In the beginning, it was a tip of the hat to all the bands we grew up listening to, and ‘Helter Skelter’ has always been a part of our set. On the first record I did with the band in 2015 Revolución, we did ‘Midnight Moses’ by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Still to this day, there are a ton of people who have never heard of that band, but these were the bands we grew up with their posters on our wall. Even now, when we cover the Stones, a lot of younger fans know of the Rolling Stones, but they don’t know that ‘Bitch’ is a Stones song. The reason why we did ‘Bitch’ was because of the guitar riff in it. We felt it lent itself to our record. Our record is a riff-rock oriented record.”
The casual and relaxed feel of all five musicians can be heard throughout the album. Laughs Corabi, “It’s funny, on “Burn It Down” there is a little jam at the end of the song. I couldn’t get them to stop, they were just having fun and went off on a jam. It’s a fun and spontaneous kind of thing.” This devil-may-care attitude with the Dead Daisies may come from Corabi’s years of touring and the time he spent as Mötley Crüe’s front man. When asked about his time with Mötley Crüe, Corabi admits, “The Mötley tour I did in 1994 wasn’t a success, we did well in spots, but it was pretty much a disaster. There were a lot of places we didn’t tour. We didn’t tour Canada or outside the US. When I was out doing my solo tour, I would do some stuff from Scream, some Union, some covers, some Mötley [songs]. When I did a Mötley song one night, someone yelled up at me “Happy Anniversary”. I didn’t know what this person was talking about, I was dumbfounded. I asked this fan, and they said that it was 20 years ago that the Mötley record I did came out. That’s when my manager tells me that Mötley is going out for their final ‘farewell tour’ and they aren’t playing any of that material. I didn’t want to do it at first, but then I started to think about all the people that would love to hear what that record would have sounded like live. I went out and did some live solo shows with my band, where we played the whole record. We recorded that last show in one take, and it’s got a very live feel to it. I’m glad it’s out there for prosperity, but now I feel like I can put the Mötley thing to bed now. I finally released it in January and it’s been doing great!” John Corabi’s Live 94 (One Night in Nashville) is available on his website or on Amazon and iTunes.
From the ashes of their previous albums, the Dead Daisies Burn It Down rises like a classic rock phoenix. With its modern-paced tempos, mixed with a few ballads, Burn It Down pays tribute to the bands these veteran rockers grew up listening to. “Rise Up” is the band’s first radio single which is taking them to new audiences. While they may have burnt it down, the Dead Daisies have revitalized rock for fans who aren’t ready to let great modern-classic rock go up in flames.
CD: Burn It Down Record Label: Spitfire Music/SPV
• Purchase Burn It Down on Amazon
• Download Burn It Down on Amazon