INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
The Dead Daisies are an Australian-American rock band formed by guitarist David Lowy in 2012 in Sydney, Australia. Although the band is still relatively new, they already toured the world with names such as ZZ Top, Aerosmith, KISS, and Whitesnake, with whom they arrived for the first time in Finland this November. The band’s name might not be very familiar to many, but it surely helps that Lowy has put together a band of prominent and well-known musicians. The band’s current line-up consists of Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Blue Murder, Thin Lizzy), John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Union, Ratt), Brian Tichy (Billy Idol, Whitesnake, Pride & Glory) and Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed from Guns’n Roses. I met a cheerful Mendoza and Corabi in Ice Hall’s cafe just before the band’s first-ever gig in Helsinki. And here is a summary of what they had to tell about the Dead Daisies’ new album REVOLUCION and much more…
REMEMBERING THE PAST
First of all, a warm welcome to Finland, guys!
Marco Mendoza: Thank you very much.
John Corabi: Thank you.
You both have been here many times before, especially Marco. Maybe this is your tenth time or something in Finland?
Marco Mendoza: You’re counting? Yeah, I’ve been here a lot of times. Scandinavia has been a big part of the bands that I have been involved with.
I think that the last time you were here was with Black Star Riders, and that was two years ago or something?
Marco Mendoza: Was it? I don’t remember. It was Black Star Riders? I think I came here with my solo band after that?
Yeah, you’re right. That show was in Club Tavastia.
Marco Mendoza: In Tavastia, yeah! But Black Star Riders, honestly, it’s a blur. It’s a bit of a blur. There is so much going on at any given moment. I’ve been very lucky.
And John has been here with ESP and as a guest in our KISS Expo.
John Corabi: ESP. I think I played here with Union as well?
No, no. Union never played in Finland, but you played in Stockholm and…
John Corabi: And Norway, we did play in Norway. But ESP and Ratt. I know I played here with Ratt as well.
Yes, and actually, that show was in this same venue “laughs.”
John Corabi: Yes, and that was with Dio and Alice Cooper.
Yeah. I remember that day because then I interviewed with Bobby Blotzer, and you were sleeping next to us on the bus. It was fun times. “Laughs”
The Dead Daisies: Richard Fortus, John, Brian Tichy, Marco, Dizzy Reed, and David Lowy
THE DEAD DAISIES
However, this is your first time here with Dead Daisies… And to be honest, a lot of people here do not know much about the band. Tell us briefly what Dead Daisies is all about.
Marco Mendoza: That is a bunch of cats that love to play music, that has a lot of experience. That we got together through circumstances, and we have an opportunity to make a difference. Right here, trying to record the best music we can and put on the best shows. What else?
John Corabi: Yeah, just have fun.
Marco Mendoza: We have fun doing it.
John Corabi: This is fun for everybody but our guitar player David, who’s kind of the founder of this whole thing, and the manager David Edwards. All of us guys are kind of blessed in this whole thing because we were invited to make this music and contribute writing music and recording records and touring. We get to kind of just have fun with it. Those guys worry about all the business and the PR and all that other kind of stuff. We just get to hang out with each other and have fun and joke and kid and just go out rock out. It’s cool, and it’s kind of…
Marco Mendoza: Dead Daisies is a freaking great band. I’m a fireman, we’re coming, and we’re getting in your brain. We’re going to knock you out. Is that good?
John Corabi: This is John. Forget everything I just said “Laughs.”
Marco Mendoza: But yeah, “Laughs.”
One thing known about the band is that you are flying around the world in private jets. Do you want to comment on it? “Laugh”
Marco Mendoza: It’s a blast; I’ve done it before. In my journey, I’ve had a chance to do that. It’s one of the things, and like I said earlier, for some reason, only here they’re focusing on that. It’s the first time to come up. That’s alright. Like I said before, in these phases that we’re in, we work very hard. I mean hard, for years and years to kind of build something develops skills. You go through the trenches, man, and you go through this and blood, sweat, and tears and broken marriages and family and issues. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse and all that crap that life sometimes gives you. Then every so often, now we seek an opportunity to reap the benefits, the fruits of your work. I, for one, welcome it; I enjoy it to the max. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you get to get on this plane, and you go; wow! I’ve had a good journeyman, and it’s been a great journey. This is the fruits of all the work, all the shit we’ve gone through. How many vans, how many freaking little miles and years.
John Corabi: I just wanted to get from point A to point B in the quickest way possible. I didn’t want to have to be on a fucking bus with Marco Mendoza for eight or nine hours. I’m like, fucking, get me a fucking plane because I am not doing this shit. I’m tired of him climbing into my bunk. Singing Spanish love songs “Laughs.”
Marco Mendoza: Yeah, it’s great. “Laughs.”
John, you have also used a private jet before during your time with Motley Crue and so on, so it’s not a new thing to do for you either?
John Corabi: Yeah, it’s weird like… It’s funny. It was crazy; I did it with the Scream on certain gigs. We would be over here, and a promoter would really want us over here, and so they’d send a plane and… It is what it is, and I enjoy it. But sometimes…. I know the last tour that we did with KISS was many nights. That I was just like, you guys go, I’m going to ride with the crew guys on the fucking bus. You just chill out, watch a movie. Have a couple of drinks, climb into the van. I’m not doing this for that. It’s a great band; there is a lot of talent here. That’s just one of the things that come along with The Dead Daisies. But if it wasn’t here, I’d be completely content riding on the bus. Having Marco in my bus singing fucking Spanish love songs, whatever. I would deal with it. You know, you’ve seen us on a Union tour. Being on a bus, I’m just grateful to be out playing for people. I don’t care how I get there, whether it’s a boat or anything “Laughs.”
Marco Mendoza: But yeah, going back to the private jet thing. That’s what you see in social media. We do the bus; we do what we got to do. Vans and all of that. But things like that pop up; me, I’m not a young cat. I welcome it. I’ve never been a bus guy. For some reason, I don’t sleep well; I don’t get the rest. To get from point A to B as quick as possible, yes, count me in.
John Corabi: The thing about this too is obviously we do have a great social media team. So when we do the plane, they’ll take photos, pop them up there. At the end of the day on this tour, we’ve used a plane for the first three or four shows. Because we had to, tomorrow or the next day a bus comes. But logistically going from Moscow to Finland and the amount of work, like Moscow to St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg to Helsinki. Helsinki tomorrow in Stockholm. It’s like boom, boom. In Stockholm, we get our bus, we all get on the bus, and then we do the rest of the tour on the bus. But financially, it made sense for us to use the plane.
Marco Mendoza: Actually, we’re traveling with Whitesnake, so it’s been a lot of fun.
I know. I was just going to ask that it isn’t a little bit strange to travel on the plane with David Coverdale; who is your and Brian’s (Tichy) former bandmate?
Marco Mendoza: David and I are always…We’re always going to be friends. Traveling with him, you mean? No, he loves it too. No. As far as my history with him, we’re always going to be friends. I have so much respect for that guy, beyond explanation, because of who he is. Any opportunity that I had working with him, I learned so much. But the traveling, he’s taken…
John Corabi: I have been sitting across the table, and for me, it’s such an honor. Deep Purple was such a huge influence on me. I remember seeing them on California Jam. So I’m just going to sit there like damn. He’s shown me all these little things, and he’s like, Johnny, let me show you. He’s given me all these little vocal T things, and it’s been awesome. I’m hoping that it will be a thing where we can exchange numbers by the end of this thing, and if I ever go through wherever it is that he lives. My wife and I can visit him and his wife. He seems like a great dude. He’s been nothing than cordial with me. Awesome.
So you now have a lot of experience touring with Whitesnake, but how about the KISS tour? You actually have toured with them a couple of times already. How did everything work with them on tour?
Marco Mendoza: Quite a few. We did a tour with KISS in the US last year. We did KISS Kruise and Australia tour, the European tour, and the KISS Kruise again this year. So we have toured for five months with KISS already.
John Corabi: Those guys were…
Marco Mendoza: Also another great team.
John Corabi: To be honest with you, like I’ve obviously known Gene and Paul for years, Eric. They went out with him before; I’ve never toured with Kiss. So I wasn’t really sure how it will be, and I was so surprised. I was kind of taken a back, though at how open they were, to like they let us use the whole stage. Whatever lights you want to use, PA. Like; here, take. They have their sound guy helping us out. So it was very… Gene would come into the room, tell us a couple of jokes, and then he leaves. Paul would be showing Marco and me his new band Soul Station. Videos and stuff. So it’s like a family, we’re all friends. It’s been so cool, really cool.
Marco Mendoza: Most of the time, when you’re a supporting side because we’ve been on both sides. You don’t get a lot of love or whatever, because of whatever. They’re showing all the support and all the love from the legendary freaking KISS, and they love the band—same thing with DC, with David. I’m like, they’re very cool. We’ve been very lucky; we have good friends out there.
I have one question about David Lowy. He seems to be a really interesting person, but nobody knows too much about him. Is that the way he wants it to be?
John Corabi: He likes it that way. It’s very funny. He’s a very successful businessman, a very talented musician, songwriter.
Marco Mendoza: Pilot.
John Corabi: Yeah, he’s a pilot. He’s just one of those guys that can pretty much do anything if he puts his mind to it. But it’s funny, like this. He’s like, I don’t need the lights, I don’t need this and that. He likes to keep everything low-key and will go in and will rehearse, and he’s very methodical. He likes rehearsing everything very quickly before we go on. Great dude. But he doesn’t like the limelight. He’s cool.
Marco Mendoza: He’s an outstanding human being; that’s all I want to say.
JOINING THE FAMILY
This band was formed officially around 2012, and you Marco joined the band first time in 2013, right?
Marco Mendoza: No. I did one in… Was it 2012? Yeah, I guess. They did a few shows more than two years ago, I believe in Australia opening for ZZ Top. Shortly after I was on tour, within weeks or the same time period, I was touring there with Thin Lizzy and KISS, Motley Crue. David Lowy was there with his band. So his manager and David and I started talking and hanging, and we all got along really, extremely well. But before the tour ended, they said; we have this little thing that we’re doing, I would love to have you if you’re interested in collaborating, and we have a chance to open up for Aerosmith. So they sent me music as I got home and it really spoke loudly to me.
If I remember right, the Thin Lizzy shows in Australia were the last show’s band did before it transformed into Black Star Riders?
Marco Mendoza: For Thin Lizzy, for now? But it’s already booming for next year, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it.
Is it going to be the same band again, with Brian Downey and Darren Wharton in the band?
Marco Mendoza: Yes. There is a lot of rumors, and I don’t want to get into that much because there are so many rumors and other stuff going on. But I would love to do it if my schedule allows it. But that’s my connection with the Daisies. Then we did an Aerosmith tour, and the fire was lit, and we were all like, this is cool, man. We’re going to take this to the next level, and the rest is history.
John Corabi: Were you in the band first or Richard Fortus?
Marco Mendoza: We all… Richard did two shows. Richard did two shows and one or two shows, but we all got here at the same time. I had to finish a tour with Thin Lizzy.
John Corabi: See, I don’t even know the history of the band “Laughs.”
We both are learning here. “Laughs”
Marco Mendoza: David Edwards would know a little more detail, but we got here at the same time, and I when heard Richard’s name. I go; wow! Yeah. Richard and I had worked together during that time.
And John, you joined the band last February when the band did that Cuba thing, correct?
John Corabi: Yes. That was kind of my audition. Marco called me, and I flew out to L.A. first to meet… I knew Marco and Dizzy and Brian. I never really met Richard before and David, and I just wanted to make sure that… Again, I don’t really care about a fuck. I give a fuck less about planes or even the money thing, and I don’t care. I just don’t want to be involved in something where I’m going to be miserable. So I just wanted to go feel everybody out and see how everything worked. So we went out to dinner with Marco, Dizzy, Richard, and David. We just kind of hang out. Their manager David was there, my manager, and we just kind of bullshit, hang out, and we went back to my hotel. We had some cocktails and just chewed the fat, bullshitted a little more. I was like; everybody seems pretty normal, pretty cool—no crazy egos or attitude. The next thing I know, it was, hey, can you come to Cuba. I think on their behalf. I may be overstepping. I don’t know what their thinking was, and I wasn’t in the room. But I think they thought, let’s bring him to Cuba and see how he stands up in front of an audience. See how he…
Marco Mendoza: More than anything, it was like we knew he had everything we were looking for. But we wanted to feel it and which is great. I suggested that to everybody, if you can do that before you commit to each other and get to feel and know each other a little better. Because in my experiences… I’ve been in situations where you put things together, and then it’s not happening for whatever reason. So very carefully, that’s been going on…
It’s a thing called Chemistry.
John Corabi: Chemistry, yes.
Marco Mendoza: Yeah, the chemistry. That’s the word. It was all there, and we were so happy with his performance. He’s a great frontman, a great singer, and a strong songwriter. We said; what else? You don’t sleep with me, but I’m still working on it.
John Corabi: I have my limitations. Before you buy a ring, if you want a ring, it will be in the tub “Laughs.”
Marco Mendoza: Drop the soap “Laughs”
NEW ALBUM – REVOLUCION
Let’s discuss next the new album REVOLUCION. If I’m right, you did some recording in Cuba; at least you recorded a couple of cover songs there?
Marco Mendoza: We did. We did a couple of the songs there. But how that whole thing happened again, it wasn’t; I think that it was mentioning… It had been mentioned for…
John Corabi: We wanted to try and record something while we were there and pulling some Cuban musicians with us. But we were rehearsing in that studio, and we first put the set together, and we worked out some parts with the other outside Cuban musicians. Then we did the show, and at that point, I don’t know if we really even thought about doing “Midnight Moses” for the record. We did it live, and we got such a great response; we were like, fuck! We should record this.
Marco Mendoza: We were right there. We were in that quintessential studio in Havana, Cuba.
John Corabi: So we laid the tracks down, and then we were like, it would be cool in the middle of the breakdown of the “Midnight Moses” to have that girl do the percussion thing and the cowbell and all that stuff. So we brought them in for the parts of that stuff, and we had them play percussion on “Evil.” There was a couple…. We had a lot of musicians; we had a saxophone player, a percussionist, singers, and more.
Have you used those original recordings anywhere?
John Corabi: We haven’t yet, we haven’t. We have all that stuff, but we have them live…
Marco Mendoza: A lot of it is on the documentary, though; if you see the documentary, there are all these different people. So we wanted to record at least one song there, so we could say we did. But honestly, with “Midnight Moses,” we just got such a great response. Right out of the gate, we were like, let’s do that one too. We threw it, and it worked out. We wind outputting them both on the record.
It was a good choice. You know, I can bet that eight out of 10 people don’t even know that it’s not your original song! “Laughs”
John Corabi: It’s good because eight out of ten people honestly maybe here in Europe know. But in America, they have no idea who Alex Harvey is here, and I’m going like; they don’t. It’s funny, and it’s surprising to me. Even here, when I say; The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, people, go; who is that? Not a clue.
Marco Mendoza: I must admit I was one of the… You get a little bit like here in California and the same thing with Thin Lizzy; I hate to admit it. Until I got to…
John Corabi: I never heard of Thin Lizzy in America. I was growing in Philadelphia, and that was it.
Marco Mendoza: All they knew was “Boys Are Back in Town,” “Jailbreak,” and maybe “Whiskey on the Jar,” that’s it. But when I got into California, it was…
John Corabi: I only heard “Boys Are Back in Town,” and it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I realized how fucking big Thin Lizzy was.
Here in Finland and Scandinavia, everybody was listening to that stuff. Nothing else.
Marco Mendoza: Yeah, they used to tour here a lot.
John Corabi: But in Philadelphia, nothing.
Marco Mendoza: Australia, too, is a good example. With their own little fire going on, but it doesn’t cross over.
But going back to the album. The recording like which I was told, you started that in Cuba. But how the recording process progressed thereafter ??
John Corabi: We went from Cuba; we all took a little break at home. Then we set a date, we went into Sydney, and we just showed up with acoustic guitars, and we did 32 days or 35. Yeah, it was like 32 days, actually. I went there, and we sat down, and we wrote, recorded, mixed, mastered 18 songs.
Marco Mendoza: The artwork, all of it.
John Corabi: Everything
So that was a quick run.
John Corabi: 30 days, we did it all in 30 days.
Marco Mendoza: But David, we got to give a lot of credit to him because he’s kind of like cracking the whip. Because we had these tours ahead of us and we had this short period of time back. Where we need to get something out, they couldn’t come so smoothly, it was great. But the team, when we sing a song, it’s a level that is so strong. It was great.
There are some songs on the album which… I think some of the songs must bit a little bit older because some of the songs are co-written by your former vocalist Jon Stevens?
Marco Mendoza: Yes. A couple of songs, I think, two or three are older. Maybe three? These were songs that were around when we had started playing our live shows. We just hadn’t had the opportunity to record. But if you go back a little further, the “Face I Love.” So it’s just been the projects. That’s the other thing that’s really great about this. Whenever we’re given a chance to go in and record, there is a demo, and there is writing constantly going.
John Corabi: We’re actually going back to the studio in February and do another record.
Marco Mendoza: How great is that? Who does that these days?
The bands used to do that a lot in the ’70s. AC/DC, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, KISS, etc., worked like that back in the day. They went to the studio every six months or so “Laughs.”
Marco Mendoza: Exactly. So it’s like, yeah, man.
John Corabi: They go on and play the songs, and they go in and record. That’s great.
But still, the quality of the albums was amazing.
Marco Mendoza: That’s what we’re trying to…
That what you’re trying to do as well??
Marco Mendoza: We achieve, yeah.
BUSINESS TALK AND NEAR-FUTURE PLANS?
You’re doing great with the Dead Daisies. You have good tours and big plans for the future. But how other you see the business side of this thing? Does it actually make any sense money-wise to make albums and stuff?
John Corabi: It’s very weird now; it’s like years ago, like Marco was saying earlier. He’s doing a record, and he would go out and tour to support the record. Now you do the record to support the tour.
You need to have a reason to tour.
John Corabi: Yes, exactly. Eventually, I’m hoping that they’ll figure everything out, and now there is all this resurgence with vinyl, it is coming back again. I’m hoping that people will get more into the actual, physical hard copies of whether it’s a CD or vinyl or whatever. They’ll get more into that. I know in America right now, they’re trying to figure out how to do the streaming radios and make sure that the artist gets paid downloads and all this sort of shit. It’s all very convoluted right now, but I know the American government is trying to figure it out, and they realize like; we’re kind of ripping these guys off, or they’re not being paid properly for their services. So they’ll figure it out. But you can’t really change anything; it’s the direction the world is going in. So we just have to kind of adapt and make the best of it and do what we can do.
Marco Mendoza: You know what? The bottom line of the game. The game has changed, but there is still a game. So we have to adapt, and we want to stay in the game. I can’t do anything else; I’m only safe here. That’s what I do. This is what we do.
What you’re going to do next once this Whitesnake tour is over? You said you’re going to the studio with The Daisies in February but is it just vacation before that?
Marco Mendoza: No, we have a cruise to do.
John Corabi: And I have…
Marco Mendoza: He’s doing a bunch of stuff, and we have cruise stuff.
John Corabi: I just recorded a show in Nashville for a DVD and a live CD of the Motley ’94 band. I did that. So when I go home from this, I have to mix that. Check it and make sure everything is cool. Do the artwork, get that ready. January, I’m going to start writing. If anybody has ideas, we’re going to email them to each other. Start working on ideas, February in the studio. End of February, we’ve got Monsters of Rock Cruise, and then after that, I think… I don’t know where we’re going, but I know there was some stuff about South America.
Marco Mendoza: Big ones.
John Corabi: Yeah. So we will see, whatever.
No sleep till Hammersmith. “Laughs”
John Corabi: No Sleep ‘till Brooklyn. “Laughs”
Marco Mendoza: When you love it, man, when you love what you do, you just do it.
Okay, this is it. Thank you, guys.
Thank you, Marko!
THE DEAD DAISIES LIVE PHOTOS FROM HELSINKI, FINLAND