John Corabi of The Dead Daisies (ex-Mötley Crüe) Interview

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN CORABI OF THE DEAD DAISIES (EX- MÖTLEY CRÜE)
Date: June 29, 2016
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda

WE LAST SPOKE TO JOHN CORABI AT THE TAIL END OF 2012 WHEN HE HAD ISSUED HIS ‘UNPLUGGED’ ALBUM AND WAS HOPING TO TOUR BEHIND IT. TRUE TO HIS WORD, CORABI TOURED BEHIND HIS ACOUSTIC RECORD BWFORE EMBARKING ON ONE OF HIS MOST SUCCESSFUL TOURS PLAYING THE ENTIRE MÖTLEY CRÜE ALBUM. IN 2015, CORABI CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF THE DEAD DAISIES’ GUITARIST DAVE LOWY AND WAS ENLISTED TO FRONT THE BAND. IN AUGUST 2015, THE DEAD DAISIES ISSUED THEIR SOPHOMORE ALBUM AND THEIR FIRST WITH CORABI ENTITLED ‘REVOLUCION.’ FAST FORWARD TO JUNE 2016, THE BAND HAS ITS THIRD ALBUM ‘MAKE SOME NOISE’ COMPLETED AND IT WILL BE RELEASED ON AUGUST 9, 2016. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH CORABI WHILE HE AND THE DEAD DAISIES WERE REHEARSING FOR THEIR UPCOMING EUROPEAN TOUR DATES.

John Corabi photo

WITH STANDOUT TRACKS LIKE “WE ALL FALL DOWN,” THE CCR COVER OF “FORTUNATE SON,” “MAKE SOME NOISE” AND “LAST TIME I SAW THE SUN” — THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT ‘MAKE SOME NOISE’ WILL SECURE A SPOT IN MANY A ROCK FAN AND JOURNALISTS’ YEAR END ‘BEST OF 2016′ LISTS. THE DEAD DAISIES WILL RETURN FROM EUROPE IN AUGUST JUST IN TIME TO PROMOTE THE NEW ALBUM WHILE OPENING KISS’ REMAINING TOUR DATES. NOT BAD HUH?

Sleaze Roxx: You’ve been in The Dead Daisies for over a year now. How did you get approached about fronting the band? I know initially you did a show in Cuba in 2015.

John Corabi: I had just gotten off the road in February [2015] and I travelled from Toronto, Canada to Miami [Florida] to meet the guys. We then travelled to Cuba and we rehearsed immediately after we arrived. We put two shows together and we did a little bit of recording while there. I kind of feel like it was an audition. I feel that they wanted to know what I was like as a person. I also think they [The Dead Daisies] wanted to see how I handled an audience. After we came back to the U.S., I got a call at my home in Nashville [Tennessee, USA]. The band wanted to know if I was interested in doing a record. Next thing you know, I’m in Australia!

Sleaze Roxx: You had two covers on ‘Revolucion’ — “Evil” and “Midnight Moses.” Who brought those two songs to the table?

Dead Daisies CD coverJohn Corabi: The Dead Daisies were already doing “Evil” in their set when I came on board. I don’t know if it’s by design or what but they’ve alway done one or two covers on each record. We were at dinner talking about cover songs. I don’t know why but I’ve always loved The Alex Harvey Group’s “Midnight Moses.” I remember growing up as a kid there was a Philly cover band called The Dead End Kids who I thought could have been huge in the Philadelphia/New Jersey/New York area. These guys could have been the next Mötley Crüe. They were very visual and doing a lot of things that most bands weren’t doing at the time. They used to open with “Midnight Moses.” I used to think it was one of their originals until I discovered an Alex Harvey hits album and I was like “Oh my God! I love this song!” [laughs]

When we were at dinner I brought up “Midnight Moses” and the guys hadn’t heard it before. I pulled it on YouTube and played them the song. Richard [Fortus] immediately said “Yes! I’ve heard this song” and played us the riff. So when we were rehearsing for the Cuban shows, we learned it, rehearsed it and played it in the set. I’m not kidding you the moment I sang that first “Hey!” — the audience went fucking crazy man [laughs]! The reaction was so great during those shows that we said “Fuck it! Let’s record this too!” [laughs] We actually recorded “Evil” and “Midnight Moses” in Cuba. Man, thinking back now, I have to say that ‘Revolucion’ is an awesome record. Given that I had officially been in the band like a month, we were all trying figure each other out.

Sleaze Roxx: You have a new album coming out in August titled ‘Make Some Noise.’ You guys cranked that album out relatively quickly. ‘Revolucion’ still seems like a new record to me.

Dead Daisies CD coverJohn Corabi: It was pretty quick. We worked quickly on ‘Revolucion’ too. We had that album done within a month. We started writing that album on March 10, 2015 and we had that album written, recorded and mastered within a month. We shot the video for “Mexico” during one of the days while we were in L.A. rehearsing for the tour. That was around the last week of May [2015] and we started out with KISS in Europe the first week of June [2015]. We were pretty much on the road non-stop from the first week of June [2015] through the week before Christmas.

I recall we had done the KISS Kruise and it was around that time that David Lowy and our manager mentioned that we were doing another record. We were going into the studio at the beginning of 2016. I was surprised as well. These days, bands tour behind a record for a while. The truth is the band was unhappy with our previous label and the distribution of the record. We switched labels and the new label wanted a new album from us instead of working the old record while we recorded the new album. We have our own imprint ‘Spitfire Music’ and we have these record labels distribute the album for us.

I have to say that the only difference between ‘Make Some Noise’ and that last album ‘Revolucion’ is that this album is more ‘straightforward’ rock ‘n’ roll where the last album was more ‘eclectic’ in my opinion.

Sleaze Roxx: I remember ‘Revolucion’ was issued in Europe months before the U.S. and it was hard to find. I don’t think I got my copy until early September 2015.

John Corabi: It was really odd what they did. They issued the album in Europe in June since we were on tour with KISS, then it was released in North America in August [2015]. Then we went to Australia with KISS in October [2015] and I think the album wasn’t released there until then.

Sleaze Roxx: When did you know that Dizzy [Reed] and Richard [Fortus] would depart The Dead Daisies?

John Corabi: It was after the KISS Kruise in October that we found out that they were going back to Guns N’ Roses for the huge tour. It was at that point that Richard suggested that we get Doug Aldrich. We all knew Doug so we gave him a call. He was into it Doug Aldrich - John Corabi photoand he immediately started stockpiling ideas and riffs that he had for the writing sessions. I remember that I took my wife on a vacation at the first of the year and by the end of January [2016], we were writing the next record. It wasn’t that different than the last record even though I’d never written with Doug. We basically wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered the new record ‘Make Some Noise’ in 35 days! Everything we do happens really quick.

Sleaze Roxx: Since you’re down a keyboardist, how will you address that in the live setting?

John Corabi: We’re trying different arrangements on the songs that had keyboards. We won’t be adding a keyboardist. I have to be honest with you and I can only tell you what I know. When David Lowy put the band together, he wanted two guitars, bass, drums and singer. The way I understand it is that it was [former singer] Jon Stevens that wanted a keyboard player in the band. So when we lost Dizzy, we went for a heavier direction and we all dig it man.

Sleaze Roxx: You launched the new album ‘Make Some Noise’ with “Long Way To Go.” It’s riff oriented and has a social commentary theme to it.

John Corabi: Yeah man, the whole album is riff oriented. We didn’t do a lot of overdubs on the album. We recorded the album in Nashville, which is where I live. When they guys left, I played around with some of the lyrics that [producer] Marti Frederiksen and I thought could be better. You know usually, when I do a record with the exception of the Mötley Crüe record, you get a copy of the album to the label and they get a group of associates to listen to it. Then they’ll get a vibe from it and decide what song to lead the album off with. They come back to the band. It’s always been that way. I’m okay… I mean, if I don’t agree, I’ll speak my mind but when you deliver an album to a label, they’re the ones that have to sell it, you know what I mean? I think it was pretty much unanimous that we should lead off with “Long Way To Go.”

The Dead Daisies photoSleaze Roxx: You’re currently rehearsing in New York City for the upcoming European tour. With three album’s worth of material, it’s probably making it interesting when it comes to drafting a setlist?

John Corabi: Honestly dude, we’re doing stuff that was written and recorded with Jon Stevens. We’re doing several off ‘Revolucion’ and several off ‘Make Some Noise.’ The other thing that this band has done is we throw in a cover song or two in the set. We change those up but we still do them. As you know, we covered The Who’s “Join Together” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” on the new album. We not only do ones we’ve recorded. Last year, we did Deep Purple’s “Hush.” We realize that we’re a new band but we’re picking up steam fast — but we are a new band.  When we play festivals people don’t know us so we play something like “Hush” or “Helter Skelter” or “All Right Now” — something that they know along with our originals. We just think it helps if we do something familiar.

Sleaze Roxx: That’s a brilliant strategy.

John Corabi: You know what it is too? I can’t stress this enough. We’re fans. Call us rockstars, musicians or whatever at the end of the day, we’re ‘just fans.’ I still get off on “Honky Tonk Woman” which I still think is one of the greatest songs ever written. I still listen to “All Right Now” in amazement. My wife’s like “If you fucking tell me one more time that the singer on ‘All Right Now’ is a 17 year old kid? I’m going to kick you in the balls! Stop!” [laughs] To some degree, every aspect of The Dead Daisies is classic rock, not just the music that we play. The thing that I loved about bands in the ’50s and the ’60s is that they didn’t have any qualms about doing other artists’ music. If you look at Grand Funk Railroad, they had a hit with their cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimmie Shelter.” Deep Purple covered “Kentucky Woman” which was recorded by Neil Diamond. It wasn’t odd for bands to do that. I mean The Rolling Stones’ first hit was a Beatles song! I don’t know why bands went away from that in the ’80s and in the ’90s.

John Corabi photoSleaze Roxx: John, I remember the first time I heard you. It was on Much Music’s ‘Power 30’ when they played the music video for “Believe in Me.” I’m a huge fan of your work with The Scream, Union, the acoustic record, The Dead Daisies and of course the Mötley record.

John Corabi: You know a lot of the fans come up to me and say “Dude, I’m a huge fan! What have you been doing since Mötley?” [laughs] I’m sitting there thinking “Are you serious?!”

Sleaze Roxx: I get it. I’ve interviewed Eddie Trunk who you know. This seems to come up in our conversations and comes up weekly on his radio show when some ‘fan’ calls in asking “Whatever happened to said band?”

John Corabi: Absolutely! [laughs]

Sleaze Roxx: You did a solo tour recently where you played the Mötley Crüe ’94 album from top to bottom. There was talk prior to that tour that you would like to record a show for a live album.

johncorabi31John Corabi: Yeah, I wanted to put this album out. Not to bring up business, but I get asked all the time to do that ‘Mötley thing’ in Australia and all these places. I sat there and I started doing the math. I’d need at least five [plane] tickets for everyone in the band, five hotel rooms, we’d need to feed five guys twice per day, five salaries… The money that I’d need to do it wouldn’t pencil out. I don’t know how a promoter would be able to afford it. In talking to my manager, he said “Why don’t you just record it?” So we talked about doing a DVD and a live album so we did it. So we talked to Rat Pak Records and they were into the idea. It was one show so it wasn’t something from multiple nights that needed to be pieced together. We went in, we sound checked, we recorded the show and then we gave the files to Michael Wagener to mix. All I asked him to was to make it sound huge. The tentative time frame right now is to issue it sometime September or October of 2016.

Sleaze Roxx: This Spitfire record label isn’t the same label that reissued The Scream’s ‘Let It Scream’ and the Union albums, right?

John Corabi: Correct. It’s funny because I keep telling the guys in the band that I was on a label in America called Spitfire for a while.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you hook up with John Alderete and Bruce Bouillet? They were known as ‘shredders’ from their days in Racer X. Here they were playing stuff that’s more like classic rock than neoclassical metal and it worked. And wasn’t Scott Travis the original drummer in the band?

John Corabi: That’s correct it was the three Racer X guys and myself. It just worked man. I can’t really explain it. I just started writing with them. I told them I was into Zeppelin, The Stones and Aerosmith. They were too. They were into everything from rap to R&B to The Stones to Skid Row — you name it. They were very eclectic.

John Corabi - Vince Neil photoSleaze Roxx: Last thing, for years Nikki Sixx said nothing but complimentary things about the ‘Mötley Crüe ’94 album. Seems like somewhere along, the way his feelings changed. He’s done this before when at one point he asked fans to burn the ‘Theatre Of Pain’ album. You think he really feels that way about the album you worked on with the band or is he simply doing it to stir up some controversy?

John Corabi: For the life of me, I have no idea. It’s funny, I was hanging out with Vince. We did a festival together called ‘Farm Rock’ and we were talking. I was like “Vince, what the fuck is up Nikki’s ass right now? 22 years later, he decides that it’s a ‘very unfocused record’, there’s no choruses and John Corabi couldn’t write and he had to do everything?! Where does that come from Vince?!” He laughed. I think he wanted to say something but he came back with “Dude, you know Nikki. Whatever, fuck it!” If my phone didn’t start blowing up with calls and texts regarding that comment, I would have never known it. I am so far removed from that record. Let me be clear. I love that record. I’m very proud of that record. I’m good with Tommy [Lee]. I’m good with Mick [Mars] and I’m good with Vince [Neil]. I have no idea why Nikki feels that I’m the biggest piece of shit to roam the earth?

Sleaze Roxx: Thank you John and we didn’t even get to touch on the work you’ve done with Mick Mars for his solo album.

John Corabi: Yeah. I did those two tracks that he posted snippets of online. I’d love to help Mick in any way possible as long as I can give him 100% attention. Right now, my schedule is so full that I haven’t been able to do that. So those two songs are all I have contributed to the album.

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