With their 4th studio album Burn It Down just released, listeners around the world can hear for themselves once again just how fine this band is at putting out quality rock albums. With Marti Frederiksen once more at the producer’s helm, Burn It Down boasts ten new door-shaking tracks that are sure to set your stereo afire. David Lowy, Doug Aldrich, Marco Mendoza, John Corabi and new to the line-up drummer Deen Castronovo knock these new songs right out of the park.
A few weeks back, John Corabi took a healthy chunk of time to talk about the new album, touching on the band’s creative process, their shorthand style of writing new material and working with Marti Frederiksen, their sixth band member. The audio is embedded here for fans who’d like to listen to Corabi’s answers in the real.
In the time since I’ve last spoken to you, which has been just over a year, The Dead Daisies have released a live album, toured that album, headlined the USA, serviced that Grand Funk single for “We’re An American Band,” and gotten a new drummer. AND recorded a new album. You guys really don’t screw around, do you?
John Corabi: No. It’s pretty crazy. When I think about it, since I’ve been in the band, and that’s three years, and we have actually done four albums. And obviously a tonne of touring in between. So, you know, at the end of the day we are all just pretty grateful. Without sounding weird or sappy, the fact that I’m still doing this thirty-plus years into my career and still making relevant records and people are still showing up to see me play them; I’m just happy about that, you know? So when management goes “Hey, we’re going to tour, and tour until December.” Okay, great. “And we’re going to try and do another record in January / February.” Awesome. (chuckles) You know what I mean? I’m just happy to be at the party. It’s all good.
Crazy. Was all of the material written when Brian left? Did Deen come in and have any input into any of these new songs?
Corabi: Yeah. To be honest with you, we got together at the end of October in New York, and we wrote for about ten days. Brian, upon arriving, I didn’t realize. I knew Brian was jamming with other people. Like Don Felder, and he had done some shows with Steven Tyler. Brian is always busy. He’s a great drummer. He’s an insane drummer, so he’s always in demand. So he had a bunch of stuff, and his schedules were clashing, so when we got off the plane, unbeknownst to us, we all arrived in New York, and management just said: “Hey, Brian had to bail.” So we had about 24 hours of panic there, where we wondered what we were going to do. We just got into a room with Marty (Frederiksen), and we started working on stuff, and we threw a bunch of drummers names out there and Deen, across the board, was someone somebody that everyone had on their list. So we gave Deen a call, and he flew out, and he came in about midway through the writing process, and he was interjecting some things. He obviously had some input.
And then after we were done the ten-day writing thing, we came back to Nashville, went into the studio and started tracking. Were just one of these bands where we just kind of get these things – when we write, we don’t really write and finish a song we just kind of get what I call maps. We get like a loose map together, and we’ll go “I think this is a good start.” And then we go in, and Deen started tracking drums and guitars. As we’re tracking, we are still tweaking and changing shit. Deen had a lot of input as we were playing stuff. He’d come in and go “Ah, that verse seems a little long.” We are constantly changing and tweaking things. Then once we’ve got the idea down, then I’ll go off, sometimes by myself or with Marty or whoever and we’ll just sit and start working on melodies, and I’ll start working on lyrics. Then I just go in and sing, knock it out, and then onto the next song. Everybody has equally as much input as the next guy.
Okay. Is that how you’ve always written? Or is that specific to The Dead Daisies?
Corabi: That’s how the Daisies do it. I’ve got to be honest with you, the first record I did with them Revolución, we wrote it, recorded it, mixed it and mastered it in four weeks. Make Some Noise was about four and a half to five weeks. And this one was about the same amount of time. Five and a half to six weeks. Six and a half. Something like that. So, in that aspect, The Daisies, once we get together, it’s just like a team effort, you know? If I get into a pinch and I think I cant get anything together here lyrically, then everybody will get into the room with me and just start throwing shit at me. And then they allow me to kind of formulate it and put it together in a way that makes sense to me. It’s very communal how we do everything, and it’s fast. Every other band that I’ve been in, The Scream, Motley, Union, we probably wrote for each one of those records for the better part of a year before we even went into the studio. So this is a very quick process, but it works for us. I’m not saying it would work for everybody, but it works for us. I’m stoked about it.
It almost sounds like you are describing shorthand. You are just putting notes down and assembling them all afterwards. That’s kind of cool.
Corabi: Pretty much. Even this last record. We came in, and for example, one song that comes to mind is “What Comes Around Goes Around.” That was a riff that Marco had. He just had the riff (vocalizes it), and we all thought that was cool and everybody jumped on it. We immediately started jamming it, we put the song together and boom. Doug had the riff for “Rise Up” and we all thought it was old-school Sabbath and immediately started jumping on it. But that’s all we come in with, are riffs. And then the ones that everybody kind of gravitates towards, they’re the ones that we work on. It’s pretty seamless man. It’s pretty awesome.
In the three albums that you have been involved with has there ever been a complete demo of some songs? Or is it all done in this kind of fashion you are describing.
Corabi: Um, the first song that I did with The Daisies I brought in the song “If I Could Only Sleep.” It was pretty close to being done. But then we took it and redid it and rearranged it and added some other instruments and different things like that. That was a song that I was going to put on my solo record that I wrote with a guy in town here named Matt Farley (in Nashville). So I said “hey, check this out” and everybody liked it. So we put it on the album.
Watch the visualizer video for the guys’ song “Rise Up” right here.
Can you talk a little bit about working with Marty again on this second album? You seem to like working with him.
Corabi: I love working with Marty. And I’m hoping that this is something that will go on and on and on for a very long time. I even said to our management at one point when we were doing the album about working with Marty – if you go back and look at bands like The Beatles, or Queen. Jimi Hendrix. Even Aerosmith way back in the day, you look at these bands, and they just had this other hidden weapon. That guy that understood their vision. Understood what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. That was George Martin for The Beatles. Roy Thomas Baker for Queen. Eddie Kramer for Jimi Hendrix. Marty is that guy for us.
He just totally understands what we wanted to do. He’s beyond talented. It’s not just about somebody who can get sounds. It’s also somebody that’s a songwriter and an accomplished songwriter, and he can come in and go “I think that part is too long.” Or “I don’t think it’s long enough. Let’s do a longer guitar solo. Let’s jam out at the end. You know, whatever.” Marty is the same school as us. We all grew up listening to the same shit. And he gets our vision. We are all very much into seventies rock, and we are just trying to put our stamp on it. Marty gets it. I love working with the guy. He opens my eyes on a daily basis to a lot of different things. Even singing. Different melodies that I might not necessarily hear. He’ll just sing something to me and then it makes the light bulb go off, and then I’ll take his idea and add things to it or whatever. So I love working with that dude.
I feel like I can hear a little more blues coming through on this album. On songs like “Burn It Down,” “Judgement Day,” “Set Me Free,” and “Dead and Gone,” there’s a kind of a nice underlying blues sound to those songs.
Corabi: Uh huh. Yeah, I think it’s always been there for me. It’s just one of those things, you know? Sometimes, most blues things are like ‘E-A-B.’ Sometimes somebody will throw a ‘C-Sharp’ or a ‘D’ in there, and you’ll wonder “What do I do there?” And you’ll have that puzzled look on your face. Marty will just be like “how about this?” And then he will hit you with something, and like I said, the lightbulb will go off, and you’ll be like “Ah shit, I would have never thought of that.” Okay cool. What if I did this on top of what you just said?” It’s just lightbulbs going off the whole time. Honestly, I can’t say enough about Marty, and I hope Marty becomes our Jack Douglas or Eddie Kramer or Sir George Martin. I hope that we can just keep growing and getting bigger and better and faster in the future with Marty. I’m looking forward to what we are going to do next.
Check out the video for previous single “Long Way To Go” below.
Some bands will sit on new material for almost a year before the label puts it out to market. You’ve already announced an April 6th release date, and you are taking orders for it online already. That is pretty quick and impressive.
Corabi: But then again, that’s credit to the management. While we were doing the record, we had some people from our label from Europe come over. They were kind of checking out what we were doing as we were doing it. And they were getting a vibe for everything. And they were beyond pleased. It was funny, as we were doing the record, they were sitting there doing their homework, and they had already come up with the album title – obviously one of the titles of a track on the record. They had an angle. They had the artwork done. So when we were done, we were DONE the record. They literally had the artwork was done already and everything. They didn’t waste any time. They took it back to Europe at the label, and they said here’s the deal. Here’s the album and here is the artwork and here’s the songs – let’s go. We took off for the holidays, and they hit the ground running. They were already setting shit up; setting interviews up and setting all this stuff up. Putting a tour together. They immediately, I think the end of January, they put out the song “Resurrected” as a little teaser. And I think we are getting ready to go once again with “Rise Up.” So by the time April 6th comes around, we’ll have two songs out, and we will already be on tour. That’s a credit to the management. They don’t waste any time.
Can we talk a little bit about demographics? I like that you mentioned Europe. Your band seems to be quite popular over in Europe.
Corabi: Yeah, I think we’ve got a nice little foothold overseas. We’re actually picking up quite a bit of momentum over there. Japan as well and South America. I think North America is a little late coming to the party, but it is growing. I laugh because I just sit there and tell my friends that ask “What’s in America?” I just think that there is so much stimulation. I’m just as guilty of it man. There will be things here in Nashville where my wife will say “Oh hey, so and so is coming to the Bridgestone Arena. Want to go an see them? And I’ll be Yeahyeahyeahyeah!” And then she will get done work, and I’ll be out doing whatever and then we get home, and we sit down for a minute, and then we’ll just sit there, and we’ll look at each other, maybe have dinner or whatever, and we’ll just look at each other and it’s like (sighs) “Do you really want to go out?” Turn the TV on, and I’ve only got like fucking thirteen hundred channels to choose from. And then you’ve got on-demand, and you’ve got all of these movies. And you get a bit like “Oh man, I don’t want to get up off the couch. I’m really comfortable right now. And then we’ve got to drive. And then I’ve got to park.” And I’m just as guilty of it. I think that there is so much of THAT here, it’s hard to get somebody to put the remote down and get off their couch and spend money on gas; spend money on parking; spend money to get in the door; spend money for drinks, and spend money for a t-shirt. It’s just hard. But, I do believe that America and North America, it’s starting to come to the table. It is growing. It’s just going to take a little bit longer.
You did do a successful North America tour. I know it was in some smaller venues, but my God, those shows were awesome. The Toronto one was great. I’m so glad I was in the room for it.
Corabi: Yeah, we had a blast. And I love coming to Toronto. I joke about it all the time that it seems like every time I do come it’s in January or February when you guys are being pummeled by snow. So it was very cool to come up there this year in the summer. Even some of my Toronto friends were like “Dude, if it snows while you are here – it’s YOU. You are the bad weather magnet.” We had a great show. It was a great turn out. And I’ve got some really really great friends up there. The Killer Dwarf guys and one of my dearest friends Sass Jordan. So I love coming up there to see everybody, and we just rock out with the crazy Canadians. It’s awesome.
Viva la “Mexico”! Watch the steamy video for the group’s single here.
Can we assume that you are going to give North America another run for the money and do another headlining tour or maybe a supporting tour?
Corabi: They are trying to. Last I heard, management was trying to put together a five or six-week run. Where they go, I have no idea at this point. I’m just the singer. At this point, they are trying to put a nice run together, but it will probably be later in the summer. So we’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll get back up to Toronto. I know we had a great response last year. So if we are coming back to North America, I’m sure Toronto will be on the list.
Most of my friends, after they saw some of my photos, were just surprised at who was in the band. You know? They were like “Is that Doug Aldrich?” I was getting that from a few of my people. And John, and Marco… (laughs) Just running through the list of names in the band…
Corabi: Yeah, and it’s weird. Like even after all of the shit that we have done at this point, it’s funny. As crazy as our management is bombarding the internet and social media, it’s really surprising to me how many people don’t really know who is in the band. It’s funny. But it was REALLY funny years ago when I did my acoustic record, and I had the entire heading of my facebook page was “The acoustic record.” Plain as day, it said John Corabi Unplugged – Available now at these websites and locations. Amazon, you name it. The whole top of the page. And almost on a daily basis, there would be five or ten people would write to me via Facebook and say “Hey man. I see you have a new record out. Where can I get it?” It got to the point where my guitar player at the time (Dan Karkos) would just put an arrow there. His response would just be an arrow pointing up to the top of the page. Just read the page! It’s right there. You know what I mean? It is funny that. And I’m not taking the piss out of the fans at all. But it is funny to me how little a lot of people (not all of them, but a lot of them) just don’t read shit. They see it. “Oh, he’s got a new album out. “where can I get it?
I think it’s a symptom of the universe right now. Did you have a back-up plan when you were younger John? Like a skillset that you maybe would fall back on if the rock and roll thing didn’t work out?
Corabi: God no. Not at all. You know, there is a movie. I can’t remember what it was. It resonated with me so hard. It’s Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen. So a real father and son are playing a father and son in this movie. The Father’s son Emilio has gone to college, and he has decided to drop out of college for like a year or so, and he wants to walk this trail. I want to say it’s in South America. But whatever, he wants to walk this trail. And the father just doesn’t understand it. And he is saying to him “Why do you want to do this? I know you dropped out of school. I know you want to do this, but you’ve got to have a backup plan. You’ve got to have a Plan B. I know it’s a movie, and someone wrote it or whatever, but it was the most genius line that I’ve ever heard in my life. And it definitely resonated. Emilio Estevez turns to Martin Sheen and says “I don’t want a Plan B.” And the father says “Why?” And he goes “If I have a plan b, I’ll use it.” I just never had a plan b. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I have been able to stay in the industry as long as I have. Because I can’t do anything else. It’s hilarious – you do not want to see me with a fucking power tool in my hand. My wife comes out when I try to do shit around the house and unplugs whatever I’m using and starts counting my fingers. This (music) is all I know how to do. To me, I don’t want a plan b because I’ll use it. So fuck it, man. I’m GOING to do this. I haven’t made Michael Jackson money or Steven Tyler money or Nikki Sixx money or any of that shit, you know what I mean? But I’ve made enough money to take care of myself and my family and be happy. And that’s all I give a shit about. So I don’t need a Plan B. There’s no Plan B in my world.
Resurrected / The Dead Daisies (From the new album “Burn It Down”)
If you can, can you describe what the scariest situation you’ve ever been in while on tour is?
Corabi: Well, there was two things. With RATT, we did a thing called Rocklahoma, obviously in Oklahoma. Right before we were playing, and towards the end of our set it got really grey, and they had a tornado come through. Right at the end of our set. Which was pretty crazy. I would have to say probably the scariest was a record listening party that I did with Motley Crue in Europe. We were in Milan. Before we even got there, there was this little club and they probably had five or six hundred fans in this club and they played the “Hooligan’s Holiday” video and they had the record playing on loop and then at one point we were supposed to come in and sit down in these chairs and do a Q&A. Which we did. We came in, and they introduced Nikki, and then I came in and Tommy and then Mick, and we sat down, and we took questions from the fans.
And we did it for about 45 minutes or so. An hour. And then we had to say goodnight, and we all stood up to walk out the door, and I think every person in that fucking club rushed the stage and just started tearing our fucking sleeves off and pulling out our earrings. It was crazy. And at one point after they rushed the stage I kind of fell and I was laying on my back, and all I could see was fucking feet and elbows and asses and I just kind of panicked for a second, you know? I thought “Oh my God, I’m actually going to get trampled to death. This is how I’m going to go out.” Which is kind of cool, right? It’s not like I got struck by lightning while playing croquet or anything like that. So if I had to go, that was a cool rock way to go – trampled to death at your own Q&A is kind of cool. But, that was pretty scary.
Let’s say you’re in a shitty mood. Pick an album that always cheers you up.
Corabi: Abby Road always makes me smile. Aerosmith Rocks! Zeppelin Physical Graffiti. There’s a live album that Grand Funk did called Caught In The Act – I’ll listen to that. That usually puts me in a pretty good mood. There’s so many though, dude, you know what I mean? It depends on the mood; you know what I mean? Sometimes I’ll just listen to an obscure record like Jellyfish Spilt Milk or Bellybutton or one of those. They are pretty cool. It really depends, you know? If I’ve actually listened to Physical Graffiti before that a few times, then I’ll want to listen to something different, and I’ll find something that floats my boat at that moment. But that’s a good question.
Could you name a rock and roll crush from when you were younger?
Corabi: Rock and roll crush….
Yeah. A female singer that you were right into.
Corabi: Oh dude, hands down – Heart. Without a doubt. I went and saw them a couple of times. I just actually saw the sisters a couple of years ago here in Nashville they did a very private show oddly enough at the Country Music Hall of Fame. There’s a theatre there. And they just did a small gathering. There were maybe 150 people there. And they only played about seven or eight songs, but they did the “Rain Song” and “Stairway to Heaven”, and they did a bunch of their stuff. And then an old friend of mine Pete was tour managing them, and he called me up and said come on back and say hi to the girls. I was completely speechless. I had no idea what to say. Those two? That’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant with boobs for me. They’re fucking awesome.