John Corabi Interview
Kicking Off Tour
August 1, 2018
The Dead Daisies have recently released their fourth studio album titled Burn It Down. They have been touring across Europe this past spring and are currently getting ready to kick off their US tour right here in Cleveland! They will be playing the Cleveland Agora on August 15th with Dizzy Reed’s band, Hookers & Blow set to open.
We recently had a chat with lead singer John Corabi to discuss the new album, his career and their upcoming headlining tour.
Greg Drugan: Hey John, How’s it going? Where are you calling me from today?
John Corabi: Great! I am at home in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a long route getting here because I’m originally from Philadelphia. I lived in LA for twenty-one years then I came here about ten or twelve years ago and fell in love with the town and have been here ever since.
GD: Man, that seems to be the hot spot. It seems a lot of rockers are living there now.
JC: It’s crazy man! Since I first moved here, the guys in Cinderella lived here and Jack White. There were a couple people here, but now in the past ten years or so it’s gone crazy. Brad Whitford, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Derek St. Holmes. There’s tons of rock music and really a little bit of everything here. It really is a great city. I like it because you get all four seasons. It’s not quite as bad as…
JC: Right! The last time I drove through Cleveland, I remember I was driving up with my son to do some acoustic shows in Ottawa, Canada. We went through Ohio and got on I 90 and I remember thinking its supposed to be a 14 hour drive from here to Ottawa and we got there and it was a complete white-out! I was just thinking, this sucks!
GD: Yeah, our winters have been pretty rough. So you guys recently released Burn It Down and I think the album really rocks. It’s kinda a throwback to what rock records used to be. Is that the vibe you were going for?
JC: Honestly, the one thing I can say about The Daisies is that when we go into do a record, we have no idea what it’s gonna sound like until we’re done. Each one of us individually could sit down and write songs, but because it’s such a collaborative band, we usually just get together with riffs and snipits of stuff.
For example, Marco was given this bass pedal and he started noodling around with it and he came up with with the riff which would eventually become “What Goes Around Comes Around.” We all jumped on it and finished it and mapped it out and we thought it was killer. Then Doug said, “Well I have this riff.” and it ended up being the intro riff to “Rise Up.” Those two songs came together really quick and they kinda set the tone for the rest of the record. Those first three or four song ideas we worked on, we never even looked at again. So we don’t plan on anything. I know it kinda sounds really weird and cliche, but we really let the music take us where it wants to go.
GD: That totally makes sense. What’s your favorite song on the new record? I really like “Leave Me Alone.”
JC: That’s a great riff! It’s really funny because we were pulling our hair out because there’s a really odd time signature in there. We play it live. But I would have to say for me personally, from a lyric point of view I really love “Resurrected.” I got the big write off when I was in Motley (Crue). When they brought Vince back, everyone sort of wrote me off. Like this guy is done and he had his shot. So it’s my little flippant, I’m still here and I’m still goin’!
“Set Me Free” is a beautiful tune. We all love doing what we do but there can be a strain on your personal life being gone as much as we are. This year, we are gone, off and on from April 3 to December 16. It’s one of those things. My kids are grown up now and I probably missed 60% of their lives growing up. It kinda describes the feeling of having to go do the thing you love to do, you wouldn’t change it for anything. Kinda like “I love you but I’ll be back.”
GD: Sure! You guys also covered The Stones “Bitch.” What made you guys decide to add that song to the album?
JC: We’re all huge fans of the Stones. They are such a great band and there’s so many songs that you could do. We were kinda playing around with a couple of them and we thought, which ones lend themselves to this record, and hands down it was “Bitch.” It’s just that riff, and Doug kinda put his stank on it to kinda make it our own. That riff with the rest of the record just makes it kinda seamless.
GD: The band brought in a new drummer, Deen Castronovo. What kind of things did he bring to the band and how did you guys select him?
JC: Brian Tichy is such a monster drummer. In Deen’s case, Deen is a great drummer too but their like apples and oranges. If you look back on Deen’s resume and see some of the stuff that he’s played on, it’s amazing. I mean a couple of Ozzy records, Bad English, Journey records and he was also a session guy for years playing on metal stuff. Some of the songs like “Rise Up” we were kidding around and told him to put on your Bill Ward hat and he knew exactly what to do.
Deen’s had some issues a few years back and he felt kinda resurrected too. He felt that he had a bullseye on his back and he wasn’t sure if he would ever play in a band again. When we called him, he was extremely happy to hang out and meet everybody. He’s a really great dude. Now, he got off track for a minute but he’s a really great guy. He’s got a great heart and he’s incredibly generous and he’s a team guy. He believes in this thing; he’s happy to be here and he’s always upbeat and positive. And to boot, the fuckin’ guy can sing like a bird! He’s got an unbelievable voice.
GD: Looking back on your career, what first attracted you to playing the guitar? Do you play any other instruments?
JC: I’m kinda a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I think if I got back into it and messed around with it, I could play the harmonica and a little piano. I haven’t done so in a while, but I can play the drums, bass and guitar. Enough to where I might be able to pull off a Lenny Kravitz kinda thing and play all the instruments myself.
Honestly dude, the thing that got me totally obsessed with this thing was The Beatles. I got into them around their demise. So I was a little late coming to the table, but I go back and see them on The Ed Sullivan Show and other clips and they totally blew me away.
I went to Catholic school and I started taking lessons from Sister Charles Bronson. That didn’t work out well because I got bored playing “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.” My mom found a guitar teacher and he said we gotta find songs that your are interested in playing. He gave me Simon and Garfunkle and The Beatles so I got into that. So I gotta say The Beatles, so if you don’t like me, call Paul McCartney! (laughs).
GD: Speaking of older bands, who was the first band you ever saw in concert and how did that impact you?
JC: My first concert was three bands in Philadelphia at a place called the Convention Center. It was Bachman Turner Overdrive who was the headliner. The band that went on before them was a band called Wet Willie, and the opening act was this guy that nobody knew who in the hell he was until a couple of years later. It was a lovely gentleman named Bob Seger! I liked Bachman Turner Overdrive, I knew a couple of songs on the radio but I just went to go. I really went to see Wet Willie because they had a song I liked at the time called “Keep On Smiling.” But Bob Seger, I saw him open for other bands like Kiss, probably five different times. It wasn’t until “Against The Wind” or something until if finally sunk in.
GD: When did you first discover that you could sing?
JC: It was actually at at talent show at school. We had a little band and we were going to do two songs for the talent show. We got a frantic call from the singer saying he couldn’t go because he had a bad report card and his parents were grounding him. So I basically knew the words so I said I’ll try it. We did “House Of The Rising Sun” and “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” by The Monkees and we won. I think we won a pizza gift certificate and I thought, splitting the pizza four ways is better than five, so I’m gonna do this from now on!
GD: After you were in The Scream, you joined Motley Crue as the vocalist. What was it like working with those guys and are you still in contact with any of them?
JC: The only one I’m really in contact with is Mick. He and I will talk on occasion, he lives here in Nashville. I’m friends with Vince. If I see Vince, we are completely civil to each other, we get along fine. I get along with Tommy. The only one I have an issue with and it’s a one-sided thing and I think it’s more him than me and that’s Nikki. Being in the band, I had a great time with them. It was short lived, but the time I had was awesome. I really have no beef with anybody. Life is good.
GD: In the 2000s you were in Ratt for a few years. How was that experience different than being in Motley Crue?
JC: Honestly, Ratt contacted me to sing for them and I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to replace another iconic singer. There’s some people that love Stephen and some people that hate Stephen, same with Vince. The one thing you can say is when you hear Vince Neil, you know it’s Vince Neil. When you hear Stephen Pearcy, you know it’s Stephen Pearcy. When they talked to me, I said no I didn’t want to do it. So I kinda walked away from it. But we had the same manager and I knew all the guys (in Ratt) from being in Motley. Then they needed a guitar player and we had just done the Union thing. Bruce Kulick got offered the Grand Funk Railroad gig and I was at a point where I was going through a divorce. I wanted to play music but I wanted a break. Ratt afforded me a way to play music, travel the world and do the things I wanted to do, but not have to worry about record sales and t-shirt sales. It was just me showing up, playing my guitar, doing a couple of leads and just standing back by my amps. I had a Guinness, a whisky and an ashtray. It was like a six or seven year break for me. I just wanted a break from the business side of things.
If I can be blunt, it was awesome! I did my thing, I had fun, I was friends with all the guys and on Friday I would walk up and they would put a check in my hand! I was good with that!
GD: That sounds like a great gig! After kicking around for a few years, you decided to put together The Dead Daisies, how did you meet up with Doug Aldridge and figure out this could be a band?
JC: The Daisies were already formed. It started with David Lowey in Australia. They called me in 2015 and at the time the lineup was Marco, David, Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed who are now back with Guns N Roses, and Brian Tichy. I came into the thing, they had a singer prior and for whatever reason, that didn’t work out. I went to Cuba, then Richard and Dizzy got the call (from G’N’R). I have known Doug the longest out of anybody. We grew up together in Philadelphia so Doug is a few years younger than I am but I’ve know Doug before I moved out to LA. We’ve always been friends and we’ve always kept an eye on each others career. I love Doug because he’s more than just a great guitar player. I watch Doug with his kids and his wife. We might be getting to go on stage and his wife will call just so that he can see his son at bat. He’s just a good dude! I can honestly say that about all the guys in The Daisies. We’ve all been around the block a few times, we’re all married and we all have kids. I’ve watched them all with their kids, and I just like them, they are all good people!
GD: So you are kicking off your American tour in August here in Cleveland. We are excited to have you guys!
JC: I’m excited to play the Ballroom too! I don’t think I’ve ever played the Agora.
GD: What can fans expect from the show?
JC: The thing I love about this band is that I liken this band to old school Aerosmith. I’m not takin’ the piss out of Motley, but I remember seeing Aerosmith and Motley together. They (Motley) did their thing and they had the girls and flamethrowers and stuff going off. Then Aerosmith came on and they just lined up a wall of amps and they just destroyed that audience in their own way. It was no frills rock and roll and that’s what I love about The Daisies. Your not going to see a midget toss or juggling poodles, it’s just in your face rock and roll!
GD: Well, that’s what we love here in Cleveland! John, thank you so much for your time. I look forward to seeing you and the rest of the guys at The Agora in August!
JC: Thanks brother!
Be sure to check out The Dead Daisies playing the first show of their North American tour at The Cleveland Agora on August 15. Get your tickets here.