INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Deen Castronovo is an American drummer and vocalist, best known for being a member of the hard rock bands Journey and Bad English. He also has been a touring and studio member for Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, Paul Rodgers, and GZR. In the late 1980s, Castronovo worked as a studio musician and performed in several Shrapnel label releases, including Tony MacAlpine, Marty Friedman, and Joey Tafolla’s albums. Currently, Castronovo is a member of the Dead Daisies and Revolution Sants. He’s also working with his former Journey colleague, Neal Schon, with whom he will tour next spring under the banner “Journey Through Time.” I met the cheerful man in October 2018 on the KISS Kruise, where he appeared with the Dead Daisies. Castronovo had a lot to say, and here is a summary of our lengthy discussion covering his entire career.
KISS AND TELL
Deen, because we are now on the Kiss Kruise, it’s obvious to start with this question. How is your Kiss story?
Deen Castronovo: My Kiss story goes back to when I was six or seven years old. My older brother, he brought me, he had Kiss, DRESSED TO KILL, the album, and he brought it in. He said, “Check these guys out.” He was like 15 at the time. So, I was like, “Oh, this is cool.” Instantly I was hooked. I’m like, “Look at these guys. Look at them.” And then I heard the music, “This is cool.” And that was it. I heard Peter Criss playing and thought, “I want to do that when I get older.” So that was it for me, man. I have a lot of what we call ‘Kissues.’ Not issues, ‘Kissues.’ I love the band [laughter]. I have the costumes, and I got all kinds of memorabilia. Yeah, it’s pretty wild.
So, when was the first time you saw the band performing live?
Deen Castronovo: First time I saw the band, I was 11 years old. My drum teacher took me to see Kiss with Rush opening up, and Beck, Bogert, and Appice, Carmine Appice, his band, Beck, Bogert, and Appice. And I saw them open up, and that’s man, I was this little kid. Little kid, man. It was like 1974 or ’75. Yeah, I was a little kid. And I couldn’t drive, so my drum teacher took me up to see them.
You’ve had a fantastic career, and now you’re on Kiss Kruise with The Dead Daisies. Is the “Kiss fanboy” still living inside you have, or did you get over it at some point?
Deen Castronovo: Oh dude, let’s put it this way. I’m glad that I don’t know Paul Stanley’s room number or Gene Simmons’ room number, or Tommy’s, or yeah, I’d be, “Room service! Housekeeping, Mr. Stanley [laughter].” It would drive them crazy. But yeah, I’ve known Paul for quite a while, since about 2000 when the first time I met him. And that was during Journey. We were doing a live DVD in 2001. And he was at the show. And that’s how I got to meet him, and he’d always come to Journey shows to watch us play. I thought it was awesome. It’s fucking Paul Stanley, you know?
So, the fanboy is still alive and well” “Laughs.”
Deen Castronovo: Very much so. Oh yeah. I will never feel like I’m a peer to them because they’re my heroes. They were my Beatles. Like The Beatles, Kiss saw The Beatles, like, “That’s what we want to do.” They were my Beatles. I saw that that’s what I wanted to do.
DIFFERENT STYLES AND WILD DOGS
Your career has been really interesting, and it’s been full of different twists and turns. And you’ve played very different styles between heavy metal and speed metal to… I would say, “poodle metal”! “Laughs”
Deen Castronovo: [laughter] Boom! Got to make a living! [laughter]
You know, I still remember the day when I got a vinyl copy of the Wild Dogs album REIGN OF TERROR in the mid-’80s. That band impressed me a lot then, and it was your first professional band. Tell me something more about that one?
Deen Castronovo: Oh [laughter] Wild Dogs! Come on, brother. Woo, that’s good stuff. I was young. I was sixteen. The very first record was recorded when I was sixteen, or I’d just turned sixteen or seventeen, so I was very young. But yeah, that was the first kind of big gig that I got because I was doing all those Shrapnel records. And then, Wild Dogs was on Shrapnel, so it kind of moved into that, and then after that, it was Bad English and– but yeah, Wild Dogs was fun. And Matt, of course, you’ve got the record, DR. MASTERMIND. Matt McCourt is the greatest guy, and I love him. Sweetest man, yeah, good man.
I was speaking about Dr.Mastermind. That was one wicked project!
Deen Castronovo: That was fun. That was a project that Matt did outside of Wild Dogs. And it was just like, “You guys want to come up and play?” Of course, I just did it to play. We did no money or anything. We just played and had a great time. It was a lot of fun. I haven’t heard that record in years, though. It’s been ages. But it’s good stuff.
Yeah, it’s good stuff. The band put out a studio album and a live album.
Deen Castronovo: Yeah. Did I play on the live one?
I think so?
Deen Castronovo: See, I didn’t even know. Matt just puts all this stuff out.
So, you never got any money from that?
Deen Castronovo: I would never do that to Matt. Let him make his money. God bless him. I’m not like, “Hey, you owe me for that.” Nah. Let him do his thing. I ain’t-a a rock star, not like, “Oh, that’s mine.” Ah, who cares [laughter]. My wife’s a little tougher. She’s like a manager. She’s like, “You should be getting paid.” I’m like, “Yeah, let Matty do his thing.” God bless him. He’s a good man.
THE EARLY YEARS
You’re from Portland, and so are the current Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer and Jamie St. James, who played together in Black n’ Blue in the ’80s. I was thinking, do you have any common history from the early days?
Deen Castronovo: Yes. Jamie was the original drummer for Wild Dogs and the bass player– when the band before they were called Black ‘n Blue, they were called Movie Star. And the bass player, Danny Kurth, was the bass player of Wild Dogs. So that’s how we all knew each other. And I remember Tommy — they used to sneak me in. Pete Holmes, the drummer, kind of took me under his wings because I was young. I was fifteen, sixteen, and he was twenty-one, twenty-two. He would sneak me into these clubs to watch Movie Star before they were Black n’ Blue. So, I’d have to hide in the kitchen, come out and watch them play, and then they would take a break, go back into the kitchen of the club. And then come back and watch them play—all the time. So yeah, I have a lot of history with them. Tommy has been my hero forever. I always thought Black and Blue is the most underrated rock band. They should have been huge. In my opinion, the songs were great, and Tommy’s playing is incredible on that stuff. I love the soloing, and I love the way he writes. Such a great band. Sad that it didn’t take off like it should have, in my opinion.
So, you were hanging a lot with those guys back then.
Deen Castronovo: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, dude. Well, as much as I could hang with them because they were a bit older than I was. I’m 54 now, and I think Tommy’s like 57 or 58, I guess. He’s a little older than me. They’re about five years older than me. So, when they were playing clubs, I was still a little kid, so. Yeah, a lot of– I mean Movie Star, Black and Blue, they were heroes of any band out of Oregon because it was like “Oh my God, a fucking rock band made it from freaking Portland, Oregon.” so they were our heroes, like “Man, if they can do it, we can do it.” You know? And they still are. They paved the way for Wild Dogs and stuff like that. They did.
THE SHRAPNEL YEARS AND MEETING WITH NEAL SCHON
Like you mentioned earlier, after Wild Dogs, you worked several years for Shrapnel. And then you recorded a bunch of albums with many great artists for the label. That must have been a fantastic time?
Deen Castronovo: Yeah. Some of the greatest metal records I’ve ever done were on that label.
Which records are your favorites from that era?
Deen Castronovo: Marty Friedman’s DRAGON’S KISS and Cacophony’s GO OFF. Those two were my favorites as far as like metal. Then there are guys like Joey Tafolla, and then he was just a ripping player. Joey’s a monster player. I always put Tony MacAlpine… I mean, I got to play with the best of the best shredders on that label. And those guys Marty, Jason, Tony, Joey, to me, were the top of the line. James Murphy. Those were the cream of the Shrapnel group, a Shrapnel group’s creamer guys that kind of filled in, but those to me were the best guys. Those guys and Paul Gilbert too, but I never got to work with Paul. That would have been awesome.
At the time, you worked as a professional studio musician, but at which point you felt that you want to be in a band?
Deen Castronovo: A “band” band? Well, that’s the thing. I had gotten married, and I was just about to join Tony MacAlpine’s band full time. I got married, went on my honeymoon. The day after I got off my honeymoon, I packed my van and moved to San Francisco. I just knew in my heart I need to go to San Francisco. I don’t know why? Something in my heart said you need to move to San Francisco. So, within a month and a half, I moved while rehearsing with Tony MacAlpine, in walks Neil Schon to the rehearsal place. So, I’m like, “it’s Neil Schon” I’m freaking out. So, he grabs a guitar, and he and Tony start just ripping and ripping, and Neil starts playing all these riffs “play along with me” so, I started playing all this stuff with him. Maybe a half an hour’s worth of jam. And then he goes, “Hey, you know the Journey songs?” I’m like, “dude. I know them all,” because I grew up with Journey. So, we started playing Journey songs, and he was like, “man, that’s great, that’s great” He walks out, and I’m freaking out. I’m like, “I just jammed with Neil Schon” I’m looking at my drum tech going, “God, dude.” About 10 minutes later, a door opens, and there’s Neil. He’s poking his head in, and he goes, “come here.” And I did, I went, “what? Are you talking to me? I thought you were talking to my tech or something.” He said, “come here.” I go outside, I get in his Ferrari, and he’s got a cassette that he’s been writing songs. He plugs in, and he goes, “what do you think of this stuff?” I’m like, “it sounds incredible.” He was just writing a bunch of solo songs, you know?
Deen Castronovo: And he goes, “Well, here, give me your number. Here’s my number. Let’s keep in touch. I might be doing a solo record.” I’m like, “Oh, God.” So, a week, maybe two weeks go by, and I get the call from Neil. He was like, “Well, I’m not doing a solo record. I’ve decided to go down and work with Jonathan Cain and John Waite, and Ricky Phillips. And they’re auditioning a bunch of drummers. Do you want to audition?” And they go, “Oh God, yeah, I’d love to.” I went down, and I was told 36 guys auditioned for the drummer’s spot. 36! I was the last guy. I went in. I got done playing, and I got the gig. And I was only 23. So, I’m like, “Whohoo!”. I remember flying home after that audition. And my wife at the time was like, “Oh my god, you got the job.” She was like, “Oh, you want to celebrate?” I said, “Yeah. Let’s go look for a new car [laughter].” I had a cheap little rattle trap. I’m like, “I want a new car.” Ended up buying a BMW, my very first car I ever got! And that was a turning point for me. That’s when I joined a “band” band, Bad English. And I was very fortunate because it wasn’t heavy. And being in that band, dude! I joined in February of 1988, and we recorded the first record in the summer of ’88; it came out in ’89. We had a number one single, and I remember getting my first gold record, calling my parents in tears, saying, “Mom and Dad, it happened. I’ve got a gold record in my hands. I am freaking out.” It was a huge hit, and then get a platinum record, and then we did lots of touring. It was a dream come true, honestly. It’s still very dear to my heart.
OZZY OSBOURNE YEARS
Bad English split in 1991; you played with Hardline and Paul Rodgers before joining the Ozzy Osbourne band in 1993. How did that come about?
Deen Castronovo: That came about because I had done some stuff… Okay, this is the story. Bad English is opening for Whitesnake. Steve Vai was playing. And when I was playing, Steve was on the offstage watching me playing. I was thinking, “Don’t watch me, please. You’re too damn good.” We get done. He goes, “Hey, do you play with a click?” I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Can you give me your number?” And I started doing some recording for him like ALIEN LOVE SECRETS and FIREGARDEN. I had done the recordings for that. And all of a sudden, I get a call from Steve one day. And after that was all done, like two, three months later. He goes, “Hey, Ozzy’s looking for a drummer. I had another guy lined up, but I just thought that you would be better for it.” “Like you’re kidding, bro.” “Just come on in.” So here we are, right in a Steve Vai studio with Ozzy, and I’m freaking out. And we start playing and doing this stuff, and Sharon liked it, and Ozzy liked it. So, we’re like, “Okay, we’re going to take it to New York.” So, we go to New York, and we’re writing songs for the label. But they didn’t like what Steve was coming up with. I don’t know why. It was Steve Vai, me and Bob Daisley in the band. And so, it wasn’t quite jelling. So, they got rid of Steve.
Do you have any idea why Ozzy didn’t like Steve’s songs?
Deen Castronovo: The songs Steve was writing were more riff-based, you know, just different. He had written some songs but the only one used was “My Little Man.”
Maybe Steve’s song-writing was overall too complex and technical for Ozzy?
Deen Castronovo: Yeah, it wasn’t like what Ozzy wanted. But Zakk, after Steve left, they brought Zakk Wylde in. And of course, it just– it was incredible. Zakk just had that thing. And when he came in, Daisley left too, and they brought in Geezer. So, then the band was me, Geezer Butler and Zakk. So, I’m freaking out. Right now, I’ve got the freaking best of Ozzy band right in front of me, as well as Ozzy.
NO MORE TOURS
OZZMOSIS was released in 1995. The album was a big success, but soon after, the whole band was replaced with all new members. What happened back then?
Deen Castronovo: Yeah, no more tours. That’s it. Yeah. And I ended up doing the South American leg of the tour. And before that, I had done Geezer solo record, G/Z/R. And I was told that Sharon wasn’t really happy that Geezer and I had done an album. We needed to be loyal to Ozzy. So, I got canned first. And then Geezer got canned. And freaking Zakk got canned, ‘till they brought each of these new guys Mike Borden and Joe Holmes, and was it Trujillo playing bass? I think it was Robert Trujillo at the time. So, they ended up doing that. I was so depressed, and I was so bummed; I mean, to get to play with Ozzy was like the pinnacle. You couldn’t get any higher than Ozzy. You know what I mean?
Did you ever discuss with Ozzy why he decided to let you go? I mean, there must have been more reasons but playing on the G/Z/R album?
Deen Castronovo: From what Ozzy said to me, the chemistry wasn’t right. I agree. I was always too happy, and everybody– I mean, I’d command, “Let’s have a kick-ass show.” And he was like, “Don’t say that. You’ll jinx it. You’ll jinx it.” I’m like, “But isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Let’s get a pat. Let’s go do this, right?” Okay, okay. So, it was just a strange vibe. I didn’t fit in with them. I’m a too happy person, I think? [laughter]. I love Zakk. I mean, I love working with Zakk. I love working with Geezer. I also liked working with Ozzy, but it just kind of– also, I think I was told my playing was a little too busy and flamboyant. A little too much, but that’s how I play, man. “Laughs”
Well, I have seen some footage from the South American tour, and it sounded phenomenal to me!
Deen Castronovo: Thank you, bro. I’m grateful. I’m very grateful. I love what I do. And it shows. I can’t get the smile off my face, bro. “Laughs.”
After the Ozzy thing was over, I remember that the press didn’t treat you too kindly. There were a lot of negative comments said in public. It must not have felt great at the time.
Deen Castronovo: No, no. Well, there were interviews where Ozzy’s in magazines which says, “He’s the greatest drummer I’ve ever worked with.” I’ll put him up there with John Bonham.” And I’m like, “Oh, God. Don’t tell people that.” Come on, that stuff. I mean, no, no, no. When I got fired, the press release was, “He’s the worst drummer I’ve ever played with in my life. He needs to stay in the studio. He’s terrible live.” And then, wow, wow. And that’s my first taste of the negative side of the industry. I’ve never seen that before. And cross my heart, Bad English never treated me like that. You know, come on. They were my friends. It was a brotherhood. I’ve never been a hired gun. And they were like, “You know what? You’re expendable. We don’t give a shit.” And that’s okay. That’s their camp. And I didn’t fit in with that camp. That’s all good. But yeah, it broke my heart. It wrecked me. It was hard for me to see that in the press. It was really hard, but it didn’t crush me. Actually, when I got fired from Ozzy, I told my wife, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” My wife was very well off. She and her family own nursing homes and retirement centers. I was like, “I don’t want to do with this you. I just want to stay home. We’ll raise our child. I just quit.” She was, “You don’t want to do that.” I said, “Yeah, I do. I want to quit.”
Actually, you have quit music several times [laughter].
Deen Castronovo: Oh, yeah. I’ve wanted just to give it up. That was the first time I was like– I don’t like– I wasn’t used to people being so angry. It was so mean, and I’ve never dealt with that. Others would say, “Well, you’re just not the right one for us.” And let you go. Instead, I just got hammered. And that’s okay. So, I said, “I quit.” And then I get a call from Vasco Rossi, and they were like, “We want you to play?” And I said, “Well, let me think about it.” So, I talked to my wife, and I said, “What do you think, honey?” She was like, “Do you feel in your heart this is what you want to do?” I say, “I don’t know at all. I think so.” She was, “Well, if you don’t want to do it, just ask him for an astronomical amount of money, and they’ll pass on you.” So okay. So, we called Rossi, and I figured they’d say, “Oh, we can do that.” And they took it. And I was like, “Okay. Now, I got to do this.” I went in. I did that. I did the rehearsals and did it. It was the best time I ever had in my life. Great people. Great music. Touring Italy 10 months out of the year, dude. It was incredible, Marko. It made me fall in love with music again.
Wasn’t Stef Burns playing guitar with the Rossi band at the time?
Deen Castronovo: Oh, dude. Stef, he’s a monster. Great player. I was lucky to play with him. And he was like– it worked out perfectly, man. I walked in, and I did two years with Vasco. And then I got the call. I was doing records. I did the Hole record and the Social Distortion record with Michael Beinhorn, the producer for Ozzy. He brought me in to do all these records. So, I would come in, do these records for two or three days, and leave. It was great. So, I did like four records for him. And then Journey called. And all that I knew was like, “you want to do Journey without Steve Perry?” I’m like, “I don’t care who is it with. I would love to play with you again, bro. I miss you.”
Another great chapter began in your career and life.
Deen Castronovo: Yeah. Dude, exactly. And that was an amazing 17 -year ride, man. It was just an incredible time with those guys. Really cool.
The Journey thing lasted close to 18 years for you. There were a lot of great times, but that chapter was closed in 2015. It’s been a couple of years now since your departure. If you think now, what happened? Was your firing something that they just had to do because of public pressure created by media?
Deen Castronovo: Yes. Dude, yeah. With all the stuff that went down, yeah. I mean, my wife is with me. The same woman that all this stuff went down with, it never happened. 90% of that shit did not happen. I mean, with the way that the press was spearing me, they had no choice, bro. Exactly. You hit it on the head. They had to do it. They had no choice. The public would have picketed them, and it would have been bad. And I understand that. But they love me. I love them. They’re my brothers, man. You don’t spend 23 years with people and not gain some sort of tightness. And we lived and breathed that band. Journey, we lived and breathed it together. And we built it up. I helped them build it up from the ground back. And when Neal called me to do this Journey Through Time thing that’s coming next year, I just so grateful because I love the music. I really do.
Overall, what’s your best and the worst memory of your time with Journey?
Deen Castronovo: The best memory for me, when REVELATION went platinum. I finally had a platinum record from Journey. I had them from Hole and Ozzy and all this stuff, but now I had a Journey one that I played on that went platinum, and that was my proudest moment. And of course, obviously, the worst was when I got the call that– I was in treatment at the time. I was in rehab. And it was my birthday. And management didn’t know. They didn’t remember. And they called me and said, “Well, we’re going to let you go.”
On your birthday?
Deen Castronovo: They did. I said, “Happy birthday to me.” And John Barrick, the manager, said, “What do you mean?” I said, “It’s my birthday today, John.” And he was like, “Oh.” I said, “It’s okay, bro. I understand.” And I just hung up. And it crushed me. It crushed me. That was the worst memory I have.
MORE JOURNEY TALK
I saw you playing with Journey twice. The first time was the Swedenrock festival in 2006, and then the band played there again in 2009. How was it to tour with Journey, especially in Europe at the time, and do you have some special memories from those tours?
Deen Castronovo: You know, playing in Europe when I was with Journey was very memorable because Journey had never really played in Europe. In their heyday, they played Japan, and they played the States. We never went to Europe. So, I was told that Steve Perry didn’t really– wasn’t interested in those markets. So, when “Don’t Stop Believing” became a number one hit in the UK again, 35 years later, it just opened everything up. And so, I have really fond memories of playing in Journey in Europe. It was just amazing because we didn’t start in little places. We went right from basically nowhere to boom! We were playing O2 Arena. So yeah, and Sweden Rock was incredible. We did a lot of those festivals for the very first time. We did Download for the very first time; right sandwiched between Korn and Slipknot. And it was like; I told the band, “Oh man, the fans are going to kill us.” Because in America, they would have killed us. European fans are so much more open-minded. And they love all kinds of music. When it’s a festival, they want to see it all, where in America, it’s a metal festival. Journey would never make it on a festival like that, but in Europe everywhere. And so that’s what I love about the European audiences, man, they’re so open to every kind of music. They’re not close-minded. It’s a cool thing.
I agree. It’s a very different crowd and people in Europe compared to the US etc.
Deen Castronovo: Yeah, well, you’re a musician. You know, dude. I mean, you see all of this stuff, and you’re a journalist, so you see that when you go to America, if it’s not fest, you’re only going to see metal bands. You aren’t going to see Journey or Foreigner or something like that. You never– but in Europe, you would see that. Like us, it was Journey and the Faces, I think played one of the shows. And we played with Bob Dylan. I mean, it was just so random, you know? But incredible.
THE DEAD DAISIES
Let’s talk about your current band, Dead Daisies, with whom you now are in the Kruise. The classic question is, how did you end up in this band?
Deen Castronovo: I had just finished the Revolution Saints record, the second one, and it was in October, and I get a text from Doug. He says, “Hey, bro. Are you available?” And I’m like, “Well, yeah. For what?” He said, “Well, Brian just left the Daisies.”
What happened to Brian Tichy?
Deen Castronovo: I was told that he just wanted to do other things. Maybe he wanted to pursue a solo career? “Laughs” I don’t know why he left? Maybe he wanted to do other things, or he just got tired of doing it, I guess, and so they called me up. I think I got the call on a Thursday. I was in New York City on a Sunday to meet the band, hang out with him all day Monday listen to them write, they were finishing up the writing process, and then I flew home on a Tuesday and by Friday, that next Friday of that week I was in Nashville recording. So, I had all the songs, and I had to learn them in three days, and I did, I learned them all. I nailed them, I think; I nailed the drum tracks in four days which is good, and all one takes just “boom, boom, boom,” killed it.
How well did you know about the Dead Daisies and their music before joining the band?
Deen Castronovo: Oh, yeah. I had bought MAKE SOME NOISE and the live one, LIVE & LOUDER. So, I knew what they were about, and I follow them because they’re all over social media, and I knew Doug had joined them, so I want to check this stuff out. And I love the music, and I love the band, and I always told Doug, “Well, if Brian decides to leave man, give me a shout.”
It’s not a secret that many people think that Dead Daisies is all about money, and it’s not a “real band.” What do you want to say for those “nay” sayers?
Deen Castronovo: Right. Well, let’s put it this way; if it’s based on the money, I mean, we’re slugging it out in clubs, and we’re not getting paid very much. I mean, we get paid what a club band gets, and I’m like, “we’re making millions,” we’re definitely not, and David, of course, for what he does for a living and stuff, he’s financing a lot of this, so it’s coming out of his pocket, but he believes in it, and we believe it. I mean, it is what it is. There’s not a lot of bands that are doing what we do, so for them to say that we’re old billionaires play toy or– you know what, we’re not on easy street. We are not buying our way on tours like a lot of bands do, “let’s get on Guns N’ Roses; we’ll pay them $100,000; we’ll go two of that.” No, we’d rather just slug it out as every other up-and-coming band does. Why take the easy way out? I mean, if we really wanted to do it, we would buy on every tour we could. We’d get on the biggest tours in America in the world. So that’s what I’m saying, there’s like—if you have to dismiss it, come on the road with us. Yeah, we fly in his private jet, and we stay in nice hotels, but we’re still playing clubs, and we’re still playing in those places that every other up-and-coming band does play.
Yeah, I interviewed Marco and John (Corabi) a couple of years ago in Helsinki, and when I asked about the same thing, Marco said, “You know, we have earned this, we have paid the bills, we have seen it all, and now we’re here. We have earned it”. I thought that he was right.
Deen Castronovo: Exactly.
Because each one of you has already made a long career, some for over 30 years, I think you definitely earn some luxury.
Deen Castronovo: Yes, sir. Yeah, so we’ve slugged it out, and we’re out, and we’re in the trenches like all the other bands that are trying to build it up. We didn’t take the easy way, and we could have, sure we could have, but we didn’t.
How is this band different to work with compared to any other band in your past?
Deen Castronovo: Everybody in this band, everyone, I’ve been in bands where two or three guys are good players or two guys or one guy or whatever, but everybody in this band is great. They are good at what they do. So, I’ve never been in a band where everybody in the band contributes, and they’re all really great at their instruments. They play them well, and they know when to play and when not to play; that’s a huge thing. With Journey, there was always a couple of weak links and whoever that was, at whatever time it was, whether it was me one time because I’m at drinking and using or whatever. This thing is great, and I think we all have the same mindset, though. We want this thing to succeed. We don’t want to do half; we don’t want to do it halfway; we’ve got to it all the way. But we’re not willing to compromise the band’s integrity in our music; we’re talking about upcoming tours and stuff. Look, we are going to do it as every other band does, or we haven’t earned it. We need to earn it as everybody else does. These guys have never had to buy, and they’ve never asked to, and they’ve never been asked to. They just do, we play whether it’s a club or a stadium or whatever, a festival, we just play. And, so far, it’s been such a good man. So far, so good [laughter].
BURN IT DOWN was released in April this year. Do you already have a tentative schedule for the next Dead Daisies studio release?
Deen Castronovo: I was told that there’s possibly a new record next year at the end of next year, yeah. But don’t quote me on that; I’m not sure. That’s just kind of what the plan I think we might do South America next year as well, and we’ll do the festivals in Europe if we can get on them. So, we’re always working. This band definitely works hard, man.
How does look the future of Dead Daisies in your opinion?
Deen Castronovo: It looks, great man. The chemistry. I believe that chemistry is so good in this band; it’s undeniable. And with me coming in with my positive, everything is– even when it’s a bad thing, it’s like, it could be worse. I’m always like the glass-half-full kind of a guy. So, the future is bright. If we’re willing and the fans are willing to listen and come and see us play, man, the band can do it until we’re all dead [laughter], we are pushing up the daisies “Laughs.”
Here comes the critical question. Do Dead Daisies have any plans to be a part of the KISS farewell tour?
Deen Castronovo: I would love it, you know I would love it, and there was talk about doing it, but nothing’s been finalized yet. I would love it, are you kidding? Dude, that would be awesome.
OTHER THINGS COMING IN the YEAR 2019
Besides being busy with the Daisies, what other things are on your calendar for the next year already?
Deen Castronovo: The next year? It’s going to be a busy year for me. We got another Revolution Saints record probably coming up. Yeah, we’re talking about doing that.
Are you finally able to do songwriting on your own for that record?
Deen Castronovo: Yes. That was the thing. We decided if we were going to do another record, number one, Jack would be more involved in singing. I don’t want to be just the lead singer in that band. I think two of us would be better. He’ll do five songs, and I’ll do five songs.
Yeah, Jack is a great guy and musician.
Deen Castronovo: Yes, dude. He’s a great songwriter; he’s a great singer; he’s a great frontman. So, I said he needs to be more involved. Jack even agreed. He said, “Let me get more involved.” I said, “Yes. And can we write our own songs, please?” So much as I love all the songs that he, Alessandro del Vecchio, wrote, and I think he writes great stuff, but it’s starting to sound redundant. We need to come together as a band. Jack needs to bring his songs. Doug needs to bring his songs. I need to bring my ideas and bring it together as a band. So that is the plan. Dude, I’m with you too. I mean, again, I love all the songs Alessandro is writing, but both, the last two, Revolution Saints records, sound the same, and that’s because he writes all of the stuff. Yeah. We got to change that, or we’re not doing it.
That guy Alessandro, he’s putting out something like 50 albums in a year, so it’s not surprising if those sound a bit similar to each other.
Deen Castronovo: Yes, and they all sound very similar. Very similar. That’s why if we’re going to do it, we’ll do it differently this time.
As you mentioned earlier, you’re also going to tour Neal Schon and guys again next year?
Deen Castronovo:eg Rolie, yeah. It’s called Neal Schon’s Journey Through Time. And so, we’re putting the whole band together. It’s Marco, myself, Greg Rolie, and Neal, and a guitarist /keyboardist/vocal singing Chris Collins from San Francisco, who’s an unknown guy. So, we’re all coming in, and we’re going to start touring February, March probably, and April doing theaters in America and, hopefully, in Europe. So, we’re doing all the first three Journey records, which are the fusiony records, things where everybody’s playing, and then the stuff when Rolie and Perry were doing the duets on “Anytime and Feeling That Way,” stuff like that. So, we’ll be playing those, and I’ll be playing drums and singing Perry’s parts.
If you think of your career as a whole, starting from Wild Dogs, then the Sharpnel years, Bad English, Ozzy, Journey, all that great stuff, and now your current stint with the Daisies, how would you sum it all up?
Deen Castronovo: I’ve had an amazing career. I mean, people dream of having the career that I’ve had so far. So, I don’t take it for granted. I’m very, very blessed. Very fortunate to be able to do what I love and to get paid for it. I get to do what I love, be with guys that I love, and play the music I love. I mean, who could ask for more, man? I mean, I’ve been doing this since I– I mean professionally since I was 16. 15, 16 years old. So, it’s been an amazing run.
It really has not been a bad career for a young man coming from Portland, Oregon, “Laughs.”
Deen Castronovo: I know “Laughs.” I learned listening to Kiss records, and Rush records, and Journey records. I mean, I listened– I would put on records and play to them every day. All the Kiss records. All the Rush records. All of them. And that’s how I learned. I took lessons a little while from– I was telling you about the drum teacher that took me to see Kiss and Rush, but he was a rock drummer, and he was trying to teach me to read music, and I don’t want to read music. So, we would just play. He would just show me the licks, which was really cool because he knew I loved Rush, and he knew I loved Kiss. So, he was like, “Ah, screw the books. Let’s just play.” And that’s what we did. We just played. So that was my upbringing. That’s how I learned; I was listening to records. And funny enough, my son, Kyle, who plays on Wednesday 13, same thing. He listened to records. That’s how he learned [laughter] how to play. I would say, “Can I show you stuff?” He’s like, “No, Dad. I can learn it on my own.” And he’s done amazing. He’s a great drummer. Amazing drummer.
Amazing. Deen, but this is all for now. Thank you for doing this interview with me!
Deen Castronovo: Thank you, bro. It was a pleasure!