INTERVIEW WITH THE DEAD DAISIES AND FORMER MÖTLEY CRÜE AND THE SCREAM FRONTMAN JOHN CORABI
Date: March 6, 2018
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography (1, 4, 6)
Singer John Corabi has just released his live album ‘Live ’94; One Night In Nashville’ via Rat Pak Records and on April 6th, 2018, The Dead Daisies will be releasing their latest effort ‘Burn It Down’ via Spitfire/SPV. If that isn’t enough, The Dead Daisies launch their world tour on April 8th, 2018. “Right now, we don’t have anything yet confirmed for North America but management is aiming for a mid-August  six-week tour in [a] supporting role,” says Corabi cautiously. “We hear from fans, ‘Well, why don’t you play in my town?’ Well, if your readers would demand the band come to your area, we will play there, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t drive around in a tour bus and dictate where we will play next. We play where we get offers,” sighs the frontman. Corabi spoke with Sleaze Roxx while on a press junket for the new The Dead Daisies album and as with previous interviews, it was a fun, candid and revealing one.
Sleaze Roxx: ‘Burn It Down’ came together relatively quickly like the previous record and the one before that…
John Corabi: It’s pretty insane, dude! It’s the one thing that everybody comments on. They’re like “You guys just literally finished the tour and you’re back at it.” I’ve actually never been in a band that works like this band works. When we did The Scream record [‘Let It Scream’], we took a year to write. The ‘Mötley’ record took a year to write. With this band, we go into the studio on average and take about five weeks. We’ve done this with the three studio records. We go in with no ideas at all — just some riffs — and the riffs that people gravitate toward are the ones that are to become songs. We begin tracking them and even while we’re tracking them, we’re tweaking them. So we’re writing, recording, mixing, mastering and we even get the artwork done in those five weeks. So it was relatively quick — as usual [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: With previous bands, did you work the opposite from this? Like, for example with The Scream, did you write, then refine the songs while working them out live?
John Corabi: Yeah, I think with The Scream, I think that’s the only band that I did that on. We signed our deal and then the label locked us away for about a year. I recall we would write 3-4 songs, then we’d perform them and we’d gage the reaction from the audience. We’d come back, then work on the next batch of songs. The Scream had that luxury. Mötley Crüe was a different animal, different beast. Once I joined, we locked ourselves away for a year and we just wrote. I think the large part of it was that Tommy, Nikki and Mick — they were adamant that they wanted to be in a room with someone that they all got along with. They wanted to make sure that I wasn’t coming in with an ego and that I wasn’t going to be ‘difficult’ to work with. They essentially wanted ‘one of the guys.’ We took our time. It was odd to me because we’d go in and write 3-4 songs, we’d demo them and then they’d all go on vacation somewhere [laughs]! “I was like, wait guys, we’ve worked like three weeks!” “What are you talking about [laughs]”? I realized they had a different work schedule and that was fine. They earned it. They were one of the biggest bands in the world. When Bruce [Kulick] and I put together Union, we took a year to write and get the band assembled.
The Dead Daisies is something so different. It’s like management gives us some slots to get things done in a certain amount of time. The next thing you know, we’re touring, then we’re writing and recording another record! They don’t want to waste time or money. We all live in different corners of the earth. David Lowy is bouncing between Australia and New York. Marco [Mendoza] and Doug [Aldrich] are in L.A., Deen Castronovo lives in Portland, Oregon and I’m in Nashville [Tennessee]. When we get together, we’re aware that we know we have a record to do, we have a record to write, so we know if we screw around and take a long time to write and record, it will take up resources and it adds up. We write in New York so that David can still do his business there, then we’ll head to Nashville, Tennessee where Marti Frederiksen has a studio and we live there and work 10 am to 8-9 pm everyday until we knock it out.
Sleaze Roxx: When Brian Tichy broke the news that he was leaving The Dead Daisies, I was really curious as to who you’d get in the band to fill his shoes. He’s a great drummer but he’s also a show man. ‘Burn It Down’ marks the debut of Deen Castronovo on drums. How did he land on your radar? Was it his work with Doug [Aldrich] with Revolution Saints?
John Corabi: Well, Marco has worked with him before and they’re both friends with Neil Schon. As you said, Doug has worked with him before. David and I hadn’t met him before but the other guys were convinced he was the guy so we flew him out. At the end of the day, I’m the singer and the whole world revolves around me [laughs]! I’m just kidding [laughs]! Deen hung out with us for about 4-5 days and he immediately had input with the songs. I know Deen has been through a dark period but he’s just a positive guy. He’s so grateful for everything. He’s a fun, sweet guy. He explained what went down with him and his sobriety. We felt that he was ready to go. I fucking love the guy. We talk like once or twice a week.
I wish Brian the best. He’s a fantastic drummer, I hope I get to work with him again sometime. They’re entirely different drummers. Deen is just as much of a beast on drums as Brian. Deen came in and fucking destroyed these songs! Deen sings too! He’s going to definitely be The Daisies’ secret weapon with him on background vocals.
Sleaze Roxx: One of the things that I take away from ‘Burn It Down’ is that the band has gotten heavier — still melodic hard rock but definitely heavier.
John Corabi: We didn’t do that by design. That’s just how the songs started formulating. Marti [Frederiksen], our producer, is really good at finding a thread between all the songs. He says “that’s your fucking record right there with those 9-10 songs.” There were no shortage of ideas either. We could easily have another record with songs that didn’t make ‘Burn It Down.’ We’re like a fucking ‘think tank.’ One guy says something and it sparks everyone else. It’s pretty awesome!
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The Dead Daisies‘ “Resurrected” song:
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Sleaze Roxx: What’s the tentative plan to support ‘Burn It Down’ in terms of touring in North America?
John Corabi: Well, management is looking at sometime around mid to late summer of 2018. We’ll hopefully be supporting in larger venues for 5-6 weeks. That’s the best answer I can give you right now.
Sleaze Roxx: You just released the ‘Live ’94’ album and no sooner did that come out, and now you’re gearing up for a new Dead Daisies album. I guess now we can stop asking you about the ‘Mötley’ record.
John Corabi: Yeah, man. It’s pretty amazing the response that we’ve had with this album. The label did a run of vinyl and I’m still scratching my head about this one but they did a pressing of cassettes [laughs]! They’re completely sold out of the cassettes and the vinyl!
The Daisies have been pretty cool about me talking about my live record while doing press for ‘Burn It Down.’ I don’t go out and solicit any press for ‘’94 Live.’ I’m just trying to be respectful that I’m doing something with The Daisies, right now. It’s been amazing how the live record was released and it’s been selling based on word of mouth. I received some stats from the label that the album is actually charting! I think we’re like at #4 on the ‘Heatseekers’ chart. That’s awesome. I’m so proud of that record and unfortunately, it’s been released as close as The Daisies’ record, but as soon as things die down with The Daisies, I will start soliciting press for the album.
It’s crazy, I’ve got a live record out and this will be my fourth record with The Dead Daisies and now Rock Candy Records contacted me about doing an interview for the reissue of The Scream’s ‘Let It Scream.’ I’m like fuck! Are you kidding me [laughs]? I sent [label owner] Derek Oliver eight live tracks to consider for the reissue and spoke with Malcolm Dome for the expanded liners. Derek and Malcolm lost it when they heard the live tracks! I hope they use those for the reissue. Dude, like who knew? I’m like almost 60 years old and I’m having this resurgence in my career and I love it [laughs]!
The Scream‘s “Man In The Moon” video:
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Sleaze Roxx: There was video footage that wasn’t up to snuff of the Nashville performance of the ‘Motley’ record. I have read where some of that footage was shot by the fans? Is that true?
John Corabi: There was some audience footage that is up on YouTube. It’s weird but the audio portion of it came out great… I did hire a company that came out and shot the show. Afterwards, I looked at the footage and… it wasn’t good. So then I thought, is there a way to take this footage and fuck it up even more? I wanted to go for a look that was like Aerosmith’s “Let The Music Do The Talking” music video. I wanted something like that. It didn’t work, so we scrapped the DVD and went with just the audio.
We knew we were going to get one shot at this so we booked the show in Nashville. We recorded it and we gave the record to Michael Wagener. I said “There’s blemishes, but I don’t want to fix them.” One of my favorite albums of all-time is Aerosmith’s ‘Live Bootleg.’ It’s not the greatest sounding live album ever but it gives you the vibe of being there and that’s what I wanted.
So Joe O’Brien [Rat Pak Records] contacted me and asked what I wanted to do for the artwork. I said just think Aerosmith’s ‘Live Bootleg.’ That’s what I want. I just got the album in the mail the other day and while it’s not Aerosmith’s ‘Live Bootleg’, it’s very reminiscent of it. I thought it was fucking awesome. I called Joe and said “Job well done.”
Sleaze Roxx: Has it ever crossed your mind to perform ‘Let It Scream’ from top to bottom live? Like you did with the ‘’94’ record?
John Corabi: There’s been talk of me doing that with my band. A couple of years ago, the three remaining members, we were offered an astronomical amount of money to reunite in Japan to do a show at Loud Park Festival. It was weird. I felt weird about doing it without Walt [Woodward III] who passed away a few years ago. It wasn’t all the original members. They came back with “Well, Scott Travis [Judas Priest] was your original drummer before Walt. Why don’t you do it with him?” We couldn’t get on the same page. We couldn’t make it work. I’ll be honest with you, it would have been a lot to get that done because I have other commitments and the amount of rehearsal. I want it to be great, otherwise won’t do it.
You never know though, I just spoke with John Aderete about the Rock Candy reissue… They interviewed me, him and [producer] Eddie Kramer. We’ll see how that goes? Anything could happen but we’d have to figure out the logistics. I also think that some of us are going to have to bury the hatchet about things that happened all those years ago for it to work.
Sleaze Roxx: Which is most likely to happen first — peace in the Middle-East or David Lowy doing an interview promoting The Dead Daisies?
John Corabi: [Bursts into laughter] Oh, dude! Definitely peace in the Middle-East [laughs]! David is a funny guy. He’s very intelligent. You obviously know David’s history. He’s a successful businessman. I admire that guy so much. When we’re on tour, he will get off stage. We will drive back to the hotel. He’ll be sitting there all excited, “Hey man, that was such a great show!” Then two minutes later, the guy is fast asleep [laughs]! Then we get to the hotel and the guy is making business to Europe and Japan till three in the morning [laughs]! Then he goes back to sleep [laughs]! I have never been around anyone that can carpentalize so efficiently like he can. I admire the guy. He’s in a rock band, he’s a successful businessman and he’s also an accomplished pilot! The guy can fly a 747! We could do our version of ‘Flight 666’ [laughs]!