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Chatting with John Corabi of The Dead Daisies

John Corabi of The Dead Daisies discusses the Cuban trip which inspired the title Revolucion, the new album and how they actually recorded between January and February of this year while in Nashville; the meaning behind the song “Long Way to Go”; how I really loved the ballad “Sleep” from Revolucion; the classic rock sound of the band and how they achieve it; his health routine for maintaining stamina and his voice; and the emotional concert in Paris, barely two weeks after the massacre at the Bataclan.

TO LISTEN TO THE AUDIO INTERVIEW CLICK ON THE ARROW ABOVE

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent

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 OR DOWNLOAD AND LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW ON iTUNES HERE

Rock At Night keeps up with bands around the world and yes, each of us has favorite genres. Last Spring we were following bands heavily who were playing in the Detroit area and John Corabi played a solo gig, which was really well-received by fans. I dug a little further and saw he was going to join “super group” the The Dead Daisies on tour. Hmm…Dead Daisies? I needed to look up this band so I gave their new video “Mexico” a whirl, and boy, I was blown away by their hard classic rock sound which was familiar yet fresh. Since the Millennium began it seems synth-driven pop songs with fake harmonies have been a mainstay on FM radio (the main reason I switched to Sirius XM) so the song “Mexico” gave me hope.

Essentially The Dead Daisies, which has a rotating line-up of members from well-known 70s and 80s bands such as Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie—has been touring since 2013 with the likes of ZZ Top, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Bad Company, just to name a few. Last summer, Rock At Night interviewed bassist extraordaire Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake) and also had the pleasure of seeing The Dead Daisies with Whitesnake in Clearwater, Florida. The band was promoting their new album Revolucion, (which I proudly purchased that night) before heading out to tour—again–with Def Leppard and Kiss.

The Dead Daisies has continued to tour around the world in 2015—Europe, Australia, Russia, Macedonia, Israel—you name the country, they’ve been there. The band is currently in the UK before heading over to Germany (Rock At Night will see them there) right around the time of the release of their latest 12-song release entitled Make Some Noise. Look for a review of this bad boy soon!

Last week Rock At Night spoke with lead singer John Corabi on the eve of the Ramblin’ Man Fair. He called via Skype (although the wifi in rural UK was intermittent) and we chatted about everything—the Cuban trip which inspired the title Revolucion, the new album and how they actually cut it between January and February of this year while in Nashville; the meaning behind the song “Long Way to Go”; how I really loved the ballad “Sleep” from Revolucion; the classic rock sound of the band and how they achieve it; his health routine for maintaining stamina and his voice; and the emotional concert in Paris, barely two weeks after the massacre at the Bataclan.

Listen to the audio of the interview or read some of the highlights below:

Cuba

DSC_0561-1Dead Daisies traveled to the island that time forgot, Cuba, early in 2015. There is a short documentary of The Dead Daisies trip on YouTube which shows the band playing a concert as well as mingling with local musicians during a “culture exchange”. Having lived in Venezuela and of course Florida, I’ve always been fascinated with Cuba.

John Corabi described the trip saying, “The entire trip was a highlight…the weather was beautiful, the people were amazing…They were SO happy to see us! The fans there….I don’t think they’ve had many rock bands there at all? It’s funny because the fans showed up with Led Zeppelin shirts and Motorhead shirts and Guns N’ Roses shirts. It was amazing! The whole thing was amazing….the food, the music….The music culture that is there is off the charts. Like I said, the bands were just so grateful that we came!   Our manager was just saying ‘I’d love to have you guys go back there again’.”

I commented, “I saw a video online that showed you playing with a bunch of local musicians. I bet they really enjoyed that experience.”

John said emphatically, “Well, we did too! The talent that is there is amazing! Because most of America…they’ll never know.

“We went to a school and the school that we were at was ridiculous. It was like an institute where they teach kids to read music. We saw these kids on cellos play an arrangement of a Metallica song that was absolutely brilliant.

“Marco our bass player who is pretty much an encyclopedia of music the guy can literally play anthing…He sat in with some of these kids…They did this incredible impromptu…funk…jazz, R&B…salsa…it was truly incredible.

“I’m really hoping to some degree the American economy can get in their and bolster them a bit but I’m hoping it doesn’t change too much, you know what I mean.”

DSC_0565-1I asked, “Become commercial?”

He said, “Yeah, like the Starbucks and McDonalds.”

Later we discussed the band’s experience with the Cuban people. John described, “They don’t make the kind of money that we make but they don’t need to. Like for the locals…all kinds of things are free for them…their medical, their food, schools….

“It’s a Third World Country but they have one of the strongest healthcare systems on Earth. It’s mind boggling. It’s not like I’m waving the Communist flag or anything like that…It’s was just really an awesome, awesome trip that kind of made you think about lots of things and priorities.”

With the name of the album Revolucion, I figured the music was inspired by the Cuban trip. Actually, as I found out, it was not so much the music but the graffiti on walls around the island.

John explained, “The artwork. Well, we actually did a couple of tracks while we were down there. We did ‘Midnight Moses’ and ‘Evil’ when we were down there. We did have a couple of musicians play with us on those tracks but it was just weird how they still have all these things painted on the walls…It’s been there for like 50 years, you know what I mean? We saw the word ‘Viva la revolucion’.”

The new album Make Some Noise

TDD-MAKE SOME NOISE album cover 1500x1500 FinalTypically interviews are lined up with a schedule and our calls kept dropping due to the Skype. I noticed we were running out of time and still wanted to ask about the new album Make Some Noise which I have listened to and know this is going to be a big hit. Rock At Night will publish the full review soon but there are solid lyrics and the great 70s and 80s rock sound I crave. If you love Aerosmith, Faces, or even Bon Jovi, you’ll love this album.

I wondered about the new line-up for this album and tour. John noted that last year when I saw the band Dizzy Reed (keyboards) and Richard Fortus (guitars) were in the band. They are now touring with Guns N Roses so “there are no keys” in the new album which now has a “more aggressive edge”. The current line-up also features guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake), drummer Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne/Billy Idol), and guitarist David Lowy (Red Phoenix/Mink).

Two really welcome songs in the new album pays tribute to the band’s heroes—The Who and John Fogerty. I noted, “ I was so happy that you did ‘Join Together’. That’s one of my all time favorite Who songs.”

John said, “That’s my all-time favorite as well.”

I remarked, “You’ve got the harp going on and the voice box.”

He explained, “We didn’t do anything crazy but we’ve actually been playing it in our set for over a year….and it really goes over great!”

I reiterated how nice it is to hear “Fortunate Son” since it is such a timeless piece—relevant even today’s current political climate.

John said, “You know with everything going on today, in the news…Last year we were kind of playing it as an encore song . We literally did it all through Europe, Russia, Israel…and we were going, ‘You know what’s weird. They know every fucking word to this!”

John explained how they are playing homage to their heroes they grew up with and it kind of shows that “we aren’t just what some people would call a ‘supergroup’ or ‘rock stars’, or whatever term you want to use for us. At the end of the day we are just music fans as well. It’s the tip of the hat.”

I noted, “What I like about your music is that you have captured the classic rock feel. It could have been written in the day. I don’t know how you do it? Is it because you guys grew up during that period? You were influenced by the bands?”

John noted, “Yeah, at the end of the day we are fortunately or unfortunately….well, we’ve all been doing this for 25 or 30 years.” He explained that the band members are constantly checking out old YouTube videos on their phones and seeking out “little gems” they didn’t know were out there.

The new album Make Some Noise was produced by Marti Frederiksen in Nashville who has worked with notables such as Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Buckcherry. John explained how Marti’s style is comfortable and easy-going saying, “he was like a laid back hippy dude…like Shaggy of Scooby Doo. He helped him fine-tune some of the lyrics…”

DSC_0606-1I asked if he had a favorite song on the album and he listed the following: “We All Fall Down”, “Last Time I Saw the Sun”, “Long Way to Go”, and “Main Line”.

The new single “Long Way To Go”is really a hard driving, almost 80s style number with a message about hate, discrimination, and more. Some of the lyrics say, “One step forward, two steps back, stuck in the middle and way off track….we’ve got a long way to go!”

Regarding the lyrics, John said, “You can’t help [but notice] the fact we are being bombarded by the news everyday…..David came up with the title.”

We discussed the cool 70s sound and the wonderful harmonies that he and Marco do on songs like my favorite “Last Time I Saw the Sun.” The song has almost a Faces sound with the harmonies and blues-rock, vibe. I even confessed that I loved the ballad “Sleep” from Revolucion and was surprised to hear that “it fell flat” when the band played it during some acoustic sets. I suggest that people re-listen to the song….really listen!

Health on the road

I wondered with all the traveling and singing (no belting) songs every night would wreack havoc on John’s health. He apparently tries to get plenty of sleep and does not favor drinking much, other than some tea during the day. He says he smokes, drinks diet sodas, and does not really adhere to any kind of special regime for the vocal cords, contrarily to a lot of folks. He said the most difficult thing to do is to get up early and be in form for a set. I remember he was on the morning TV station in Sarasota while in Florida, so being bright and perky can be jolting.

Paris and a bit of politics

 The Dead Daisies played an emotional concert in Paris on November 27, 2015, just shy of two weeks after the massacre at the Bataclan. A lot of bands canceled engagements but apparently many of the fans (and even survivors) were happy that The Dead Daisies played, which became an important factor in the healing of the city. Without giving away the story, listen to what John had to say about emails he received after the concert.

We closed out the interview with a little discussion of politics and again how the song “Long Way to Go” is truly relevant to today’s current atmosphere, not only in the US, but in the world. Rock At Night covers a lot of events in Orlando so the Pulse massacre really hit home.

So, if you aren’t familiar with The Dead Daisies, I suggest cueing up a couple of videos and check out the new release on August 5th when it comes out. Retro fans will be glad to hear it is being pressed in vinyl too! Woohoo!

 OR DOWNLOAD AND LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW ON iTUNES HERE

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Chyrisse
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Chyrisse

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse
Chyrisse
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About Chyrisse (395 Articles)
I live and breathe music through playing, writing, and photography.

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