The Dead Daisies' John Corabi
By Jay Oakley
Let's start right off with The Dead Daisies. Your latest album, Make Some Noise, came out last year so how have you felt about the reception?
Well, the reception was awesome. It was unbelievable, we did all the festivals and stuff last year, then we did a little headlining run on our own through the clubs. Then we came over here after leaving Europe, I believe, in August and we jumped on the Kiss tour and we did everything from Green Bay, Wisconsin and East with Kiss. We played in South Korea, we went and played for the troops, we were in Japan for the Loud Festival and then we went back and did another co-headlining tour of Europe with a band called The Answer and we just, kind of, took some time off and everybody's just spending a little bit of time with family.
I did some solo stuff on my own and now we're getting back into the swing of things because we recorded a bunch of shows when we were in Europe last year with The Answer and we have a new record coming out in May, a live album called Live And Louder. So, we're cranking everything up for that tour.
How is everything going in the band? You, Doug (Aldrich,) David (Lowy,) Marco (Mendoza,) Brian (Tichy,) how has it been being in that band, with that family? It sounds like from everywhere you've been going and everything you've been doing that it's been going quite well.
Yeah, it's been great, man. Honestly, it's like anything, we love each other to death, we're all very good, old friends. We all respect each other's abilities and talents and different things like that but it's like anything, when you're on the road with somebody seven days a week, forty hours a day [Laughs] there's going to be moments where things get a little edgy or people get short with each other but, for the most part, life is good, man. The one good thing I can say about The Daisies is that we are all seasoned veterans, we've each been doing this for twenty and thirty years a piece and we've, kind of, figured out in our older age that even if you disagree with someone we've, kind of, figured out how to be a little diplomatic and democratic about it and not hurt each other's feelings and still get your point across. So, it's been cool. I'm very pleased with where the band is going and how it's getting there and life is good, man. It's been awesome.
So, this is your second album with the band, coming off of Revolución, which came out a year before the current record. What can you say about the new record as it compares to your first record with the group? Was Make Some Noise easier being that it was your second with the band or do you take all albums that you do, kind of, album by album?
It's album by album but the one thing I can say about The Daisies is because of the talent pool that's there and let's face it, having two guitar players like Doug and David is unbelievable. So, when we get together and we write, everybody's so talented, Marco is an amazing bass player and, obviously, Tochy is an incredible drummer but the other thing too is, we all play guitar as well. So, Brian's an amazing guitar player, Marco's an amazing guitar player, I play guitar and even when we were working in the studio on this last record with Marti Frederiksen, Marti would sit there with a guitar as well. So, ideas come pretty quickly with this band and it's been pretty crazy when you think about it. Even on the first one, Revolución, we wrote it, recorded it, mixed it and mastered it in, like, thirty-three days. Then, the last one, Make Some Noise, we wrote it, recorded it, mixed it and mastered it in about the same amount of time. So, we, kind of, do our homework, we all get our ideas together at home on our own and we're, probably, at the end of this year, we're going to go out and do these shows and then go home, take a little bit of time off, collect our thoughts and then it's going to be back up to New York and rehearse and just write, just get together and write and put music together. Then, once we do that and we feel we've got enough ideas, we will then get into the studio with Marti and hammer everything out and lay it down. It will, probably, be the same process and again it doesn't take long for this band to come up with material.
I know that Marti produced your current record but not your last and it looks like he's going to be your guy for the next record. What was it about working with him? Did you guys strike a chord with him? Did everything just work really well with him?
Yeah, Brian's worked with Marti in the past, I've known Marti since I was in The Scream and I've always admired Marti's work. He's one of those chameleon dudes, man. You can stick Marti in a room with just about anybody and he's going to come up with something great. I like the fact that we got in, we worked on the songs, laying the tracks down and then Marti and I just, kind of, went on our own and really sat down and fine tuned the melodies and the lyrics and I just sat and I sang next to him and he threw ideas at me and I threw ideas at him and he's just really easy to work with. So, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do on the next record with Marti and to see how the band grows even more.
So, I've been an enthusiast of your work for quite a long time but how did you get into The Dead Daisies? How did that come about?
Well, they've been around since 2012, they had a different singer named Jon Stevens and I was on tour with my solo band, who I believe you saw at M3, and I was out doing my thing and then I got home, it was like early January of 2015 and Marco called me and he's like, "I've got this thing, it's called The Dead Daisies, we need a singer and we're going to Cuba." So, I went out to LA and I met everybody and it's just been a whirlwind since then. We immediately went right down to Cuba, rehearsed for a week, did two shows there, then they said, "Can you go to Australia and record?" A month later, I was in Australia doing an album and it's just been a whirlwind since.
It definitely seemed fast like that because I remember seeing you with your solo band, a few months later, I saw you perform acoustically and you had mentioned trying to do some tour dates around the anniversary of the 1994 Mötley Crüe album and then I hear about this Dead Daisies project. Suddenly, you've got an album coming out and you're touring overseas and I was like, "I just saw the guy doing something different and now he's got a band!"
It's funny because I did do that. I came home, after the M3 Festival, I came home, we put together the entire album, the '94 album, we learned it, we went out and did a bunch of shows and I was just getting back from a run that I did, doing those shows, the Mötley '94 thing and that's when Marco called me.
So, I did some stuff and then I had some time off, I had like a month here, a month there between stuff I was doing with The Daisies and I would go back out and I would play more solo shows or what ever and something I did do, here in Nashville, where I live, I, basically, took this club and brought people down, open to the public and we played the set, the Mötley '94 live, we did it from top to bottom and I recorded it. So, I turned that record in, like, a year ago and that's also coming out later this year. So, I'll have two live records out this year, one with The Daisies and one with the solo '94 live thing.
The Daisies' record is, again, called Live And Louder and then the other one that I did is called '94 Live: One Night In Nashville.
I did want to touch on your time with Mötley Crüe because I believe there is value in it and it was a big part of your history. How was doing that '94 album, playing those dates and how do you look back on your time there?
The weird thing is looking back, not many people know this but some probably do, what's funny is when I was with Mötley, we didn't play a lot of places in America. We did a lot of stuff in the Mid-West and I think, on the east coast, we did Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina and I don't think we did anything north of Charlotte. We never did, like, my hometown is Philadelphia, we never did Baltimore, nothing, it just never happened.
So, the reason we did it, the '94 anniversary shows, I was doing my solo band and we would do a few songs from the record, I was, kind of, doing a retrospective thing of all the bands I'd been in and I was getting emails from people saying how great the Mötley stuff sounded great and wishing they had seen me with the band. So, it was my manager's idea to put the whole thing together and go out and tour that. The minute we did it, I rehearsed it with the guys and I have to give hands up to my guitar players and I don't know if you remember, my son (Ian) was my drummer and I have to give it to them because I was out doing acoustic shows with Cinderella and they, literally, went back and said, "Ok, lets learn this Mötley stuff." and they tore it apart. I did the shows with Cinderella, then I went over to Europe and while I was gone they went through that album with a comb and learned every little note. It's funny, we went out, we did some shows and the response we got was great and I think most of the people would say that the one little hero in the whole thing, not to sound like a proud papa, but everybody was, kind of, sitting there holding their breath to see, whether or not, my kid could pull of the drum parts that were on that record and they were just blown away. We just did the Monsters of Rock cruise, a couple months back, there was a bunch of my friends there, musician friends that I hadn't seen in a while and they were standing on the side of the stage and they were like, "Alright, lets see what the kids got. That's my favorite Mötley record. I want to hear him do the drums." The minute he broke in to the drum parts, they were like, "Holy! He's crushing it! He's nailing it!" So, it was cool and they once I realized, I did it for the 20th anniversary, I did a handful of shows, whatever it was but at the end of it I'm like, "Let me record this because I don't know when I'm going to get to do this again." I've been so busy now with The Daisies and I do have time off, here and there, but trying to coordinate that and then giving my personal agent and my manager enough time to set up shows for my solo band has been a little difficult to coordinate. But, it's coming together, we did the record, I turned it into Rat Pak Records so as soon as we put out The Daisies' Live And Louder because I'm focused on that, we're going to put that one out, go out and do the tour and as soon as things start settling down from that, I'll drop the Mötley '94 album.
Nice, man! I had one other thing I wanted to touch on with Mötley before I bring it back around to The Daisies. I went and saw them a few times on their final tour and when I saw them on the first leg out in Virginia, right before Tommy (Lee) did his drum solo they actually played a clip of "Hooligan's Holiday" to kick off the music he solos too. I've got to tell you, I actually thought that was really classy because I wasn't sure how they were going to work Mötley's overall history into this final tour.
Yeah, it's funny because I didn't expect that and I guess Tommy, when they started the tour, they started it in Michigan I believe and all these people started writing me saying, "Dude! Tommy's giving you props." I was like, "OK." and I watched a clip, I couldn't really make it out, it was like a home video, but I could make out the beginning of "Hooligan's" but apparently, later in the drum thing, he was also doing "Hammered" or there was another song he was doing. I don't know if he continued to do it through the whole tour but I wrote to him and I said thanks.
That's cool, John. The other thing I wanted to ask your opinion on was, when it came to their final show in LA, I was actually a little surprised that they kept it a little basic and very much like the show I saw a month before in Baltimore, I thought they might do something bigger or longer. Were you ever contacted, were you curious or would you have even been interested in being involved in that final show?
No. No, they never contacted me and as far as doing something bigger, from everything I've been led to believe, the show was pretty big to begin with but no, they didn't contact me and I think I still would have said no. At this point, the fans spoke, Mötley is Nikki (Sixx,) Vince (Neil,) Mick (Mars,) and Tommy and to be honest with you, I was in the band for five years but it's like a blip on their career. Somebody else just asked me, "If they get inducted into the Hall of Fame, would I go?" and I said, "No." It is what it is and If I wind up being an asterisk on the side of a plaque for them then that's fine, whatever. I don't want to come off and I don't want to mislead anybody and I'm not really interested in riding anybody's coat-tails. I do appreciate my time with the band, I think that we did do a lot of great music and I'm cool with that. Now, I'm twenty years removed from it and I'm literally sitting here and I'm in a great spot right now. I've got a great solo career, I'm going good with The Daisies, I've been doing tons of acoustic shows, I've got a great wife, great kids, life is awesome.
A funny, weird story, somebody sent me a Facebook page that's called The Waves of Mötley Crüe or something and they literally added a section of photos with me. It's really funny though, some fans are all about it and then there's other ones that are like, "Fuck that guy! He was only in the band for five minutes. Who cares? He's not Crüe." It was very hard to be in that position and it's very hard to sit and read that stuff at times so I don't need to open myself up to anymore of that bullshit. I'm good with it. Had they called me, I, probably, would have respectfully declined.
I totally get it and when it came to this interview I chose my questions carefully because I'm a facts kind of person and I take what I do very seriously. I was excited for the interview, just being a fan and I wanted to touch on the band and your history but I also read just like anyone else and I've read the online shit where you can tell people are just stoking the fire when there is not fire to stoke. So, honestly John, I appreciate you being so open and willing to touch a bit on it.
Totally, people are going to write what they want to write and they're going to think what they want to think. It's funny there was that little back and forth shit that was going on between me and Nikki and whatever and it was so stupid. It wasn't even me that was doing it. It was one of those things where I saw the original thing and thought it was cool and then my phone started blowing up, friends calling me about if I heard what was said. So, I just made some general comment, I tried to take the high road and say, "Thank you for everything." and blah, blah, blah and that's my two cents, so I laid that out there. So, somebody puts that on and then somebody else asked me about it and I make a comment and I'm just talking. That's all, just talking so the guy printed that up as I said it and the next thing I know it's, "John Corabi says this about that." and I'm like, "God damn it! I can't fucking say anything." That's when I said, "I'm done with this, I'm not talking about this anymore." and then a big deal is made out of that so it's like I couldn't catch a break. [Laughs] I'm not harping about it, it's just whatever. Everybody just takes every little piece of tid-bit information and they're so fucking literal about it. It's all good, I don't mind talking about it, I don't have any issues with the band. Mick lives here in Nashville, I live here, Vince lives here, I've seen them both many times and I get along with everybody, Tommy, all of them.
But, it is what it is, I'm proud of the record. I'm proud of the fact that they called me. They asked me to join their band and at the time it made sense to them and there's a reason for that. I'm very proud of my time with the band and everything that we accomplished and that's it. I don't usually look in a mirror and look behind me. I try to move forward with everything and I may not be the fastest moving person on the planet but I'm moving forward and like I said earlier, life is great and it's awesome.
Two of the other projects, of course, that people know you for are The Scream and Union. Do you keep in touch with those guys? Do you talk to Bruce (Kulick) every now and then or do you talk to The Screams guys much?
Yeah! Bruce and I just did a little, funny email, text thing back and forth. He was at a Kiss convention that I was also asked to go to and I didn't quite make it. So, he sent me a photo of him and Eric Singer and I sent him one back, it was all good. The Scream guys, I just talked to Juan Alderete not that long ago. We still talk, I'm, kind of, friends with everybody that I've ever been in a band with. We still chat once in a while, life is good, man. It's like, "Why hold a grudge?" It's all good.
And, to pull it back to The Daisies and put a nice little bow on everything, you're two albums in, plans for a third and the live record coming out soon, where do you want to take this band? What's your goal?
I just love the fact that we're still writing good music, people are still coming to see us and we're picking up steam. Obviously, we would love to see this thing get to the point where we're playing U2 sized gigs. [Laughs] But, there's no rhyme or reason for anything. The fans are either going to connect or they won't. We're just happy that we're given the opportunity, that we are growing and I just want to keep moving forward. I want to grow as a musician, grow as a band and that's all you can do is just, have a vision or keep your fingers crossed and go. I, kind of, learned that with Mötley. That was one of the things that I did learn. I really, truly, I think we all did, truly believed that musically we had written an amazing record and I think we just took for granted the fact that Mötley was Mötley and we were just going to go out and sell millions of records. And, we all realized, or at least I did, that it's not just about the "you." There's so many other moving parts in a successful band's career that if any one of those moving parts is out-of-sync, at any given time, you're not going to get the same outcome. All I can control is what I do and I just want to do the best and I want to grow as a musician and then, hopefully, the rest of the team and the rest of the moving parts will be just as "on-board" as we are. I know it's probably an asinine way of looking at it but I think I'm just looking at it in a practical manner.
Absolutely. John, thank you so much for calling me and taking some time for us to kick it. It was a real honor, a real pleasure, man.
Alright, brother. Thank you.