John Corabi and The Dead Daisies just released a smoking new record called “Burn it Down.” The Daisies have slowly been chipping away at the stone for a few years now and are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. On his own, John has been a part of amazing bands such as The Scream, Union, Ratt, and Motley…something or another. He also has an established solo career that he has maintained in between the Daisie’s busy schedule. Luckily for the rock n’ roll faithful, the guy truly never stops. We were fortunate enough to get to speak to John about the “Burn it Down” record, the band’s fresh approach to “the business”, and the Daisies world tour. We think you will agree…John Corabi flat out rocks!!!
The Music Room: First off man, congratulations on the “Burn it Down” record. It’s a great straight up, rock n’ roll record. I love the theme throughout the record of rising up and a call to action for change. I’m curious about what the creative process was like going into the record. Was there a plan going into to writing to focus on this idea?
John Corabi: First off, it’s very collaborative how we do it. We don’t do anything via e-mail or whatever. The five of us meet up in some place, this time it was New York. Obviously David (Lowy), our guitar player…he’s not just a great bandmate, he’s a very successful business guy as well. David was in New York handling some business so we all got together up there. We basically wrote for ten days. There’s no rhyme or reason for anything. We just say okay, everybody get together because we’re getting ready to do an album. Nobody really shows up with finished and completed songs. It’s more about coming up with riffs or cool chord progressions that we can all work on together. We just get into a room and we’ve all got acoustic guitars…Marti Frederiksen included. We just sit around and start working on stuff. Everything just kind of goes where it’s going to go.
Oddly enough on this record, we had about three or four songs that we thought were pretty good. We were actually writing in a studio that Alicia Keys owns. It’s her personal studio. Her engineer gave Marco (Mendoza), our bass player, a bass pedal. We were trying to get an old-school sound on a couple of tracks, so this guy gives us this pedal. We were laughing because he said, this thing is going to change your life. Marco plugs it in he started noodling around on the thing and started playing that riff that would eventually become “What Comes Around Goes Around” and we were all like woa…what are you playing? He’s like, I don’t know…I’m just jamming. So we all started working on that song. That kind of triggered us to say, well that’s a bit heavier than anything we’ve ever done but… Then Doug (Aldrich) says I have this other riff. Then he started playing us the guitar part of what would become “Rise Up.”
We had those two songs mapped out and done and went over it real quick with Marti. We were listening back to it and the whole record just took a little bit of a turn. To the point where the first three or four songs we worked on, we never even looked at again. We just went in a different direction. At that point…not to sound like an old hippie, we were vibing out on the new direction we were going on. We were like okay, let’s run with this. For us it was heavy, but not like new heavy. To us, it was like old Sabbath or old Zepplin. We followed where the music was taking us.
TMR: I think it sounded fresh because you got to the roots of rock n’ roll. It’s honest and real without trying to be something else.
JC: And that’s the thing dude. Honestly, you can’t reinvent a wheel. And I’m sorry, but…and I’m not taking a piss out of anyone else, but there is nothing out there that is original. Nothing. It’s all been done before. I remember fifteen years ago, my wife was arguing with me. She was sitting there saying how much of a genius Marilyn Manson was. I was like yeah, he’s definitely a rock star. I’m giving the guy credit. I have his records. I thought they were brilliant, but I said he’s really not doing anything original. She took offense to me saying this. I told her she was missing the point. I love the guy, and I can relate to what he’s doing. I think he’s a combination of the androgynous David Bowie, with the shock-rock of Alice Cooper, mixed in with Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails. About a month later I’m sitting there watching the Independent Film Channel and they ran that old movie about David Bowie’s last show as Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The kept showing live clips of Bowie from the back of the room and it dawned on me…I called my wife into the room and I said, watch this movie with me for a minute. I asked her what she saw. She was like, he’s crazy and other stuff. I said no, no…look at the stage and tell me what you see. Oddly enough, David Bowie had a giant red backdrop behind him and it was just a giant circle. If you remember, Marilyn Manson had that emblem that was a circle with that lightning bolt arrow in it. I said look at David Bowie’s backdrop, it was the same exact symbol from the Ziggy Stardust days.
I’m not saying that Marilyn Manson is a bad artist at all. At that point, he was the rock star of the time. But what he’s doing is taking bits and pieces of things that he saw or grew up with, and he’s making it his own. To me, it was David Bowie, Alice Cooper, and Trent Reznor all rolled up into one. So The Dead Daisies aren’t reinventing the wheel. We’re doing what we do. Our influences are all the bands we grew up listening to. Zeppelin, The Beatles, Aerosmith, Grand Funk Railroad…all those guys. We all come in with a different thing and we throw it into the pot, we stir it up, and we’re having a blast doing it. Ou fans are seeing it. We have a great fan base. We’re just having fun and I think that they see that. That’s the honest part of it all.
TMR: I love the way that you guys do things. I have noticed that with The Daisies, you do things a step above what most others do. For instance, I bought the vinyl of “Burn it Down” and I didn’t have to pay thirty bucks for it. It was like fourteen or fifteen bucks. I opened it up and there was a sleeve in there. There was a cd in there. There were liner notes. It wasn’t just a white paper sleeve with a record in it. Then your fan club is free to fans. You guys do free meet and greets. The band seems to take a conscious effort to do things the right way, and that is lacking in a lot of bands right now.
JC: When David started this thing, and this is just our mentality…David put this thing together and he said, I don’t understand this concept. Why do bands charge for meet and greets? We told him because of the record sales, bands are just trying to make extra money. He said, I just don’t understand the concept of having a fan buy a record, then they get in there car and spend gas money, they buy a ticket to a show and more often than not they buy a t-shirt or something at the show. I don’t understand the concept of charging them to say thank you. He made it very clear…he started this band way before I was involved in it. He basically said to the manager, I don’t ever want to hear about charging for any of this stuff. We don’t need to. David is all about doing something he has a passion for. He loves doing what he’s doing. He’s like, I just want to do this until I’m not having fun anymore. If it becomes a chore, or not fun, then I don’t want to do it anymore. And that’s across the board.
I will say one thing, the fans are excited about all of those things you just mentioned. They are very understanding. We would do the meet and greets after the show. We would just say hey, we’re going to do a signing and all of these people would line up. It got to the point where a lot of these places we were playing, the management and staff would be like we want to go home. So we had to cater it a little bit. We told the fans that due to the time that it takes to do a signing, we can’t do everyone. So what we’re going to do is the first 100 people who get to the door, you’re going to get a wristband and be able to stay and meet the band. We just did it for six weeks in Europe. We had 100 people line up and we did the signing. There were a few of them that said hey, can I get a photo with the band too. Yeah, just stand over here and when we’ve done the signing part, we’ll take a few photos.
TMR: Guys in the band have had success in other projects, but The Dead Daisies are certainly not an overnight success. Like you said, the band has been going on now for a while. They have opened shows and have been paying dues. Now you guys are starting to headline your own tours. Do you feel like this current lineup has some roots to it? Do you think the guys in the band right now will be the identity of the band for a while?
JC: You know what’s crazy? A lot of people don’t realize this, but the band has done…I’ve done three studio albums and a live album. Obviously, they had another lead singer prior to me. They did an album and an E.P. before me. So we have five and a half albums of material to choose from. We have been trying to bang away at the stone for a while. David started this thing in 2011. I’ve been with the band for…in 2019 it will be four years. It’s been a blast. It’s been a grind and it’s been hectic. It’s been crazy and chaotic, but it’s awesome. We all realize that the music industry is not quite what it used to be. We’re all just kind of happy to be here. We know that the industry can be so fickle, or up and down, or fleeting…whatever adjectives you want to use. It is what it is. For us guys, we’re just sitting there pinching ourselves saying oh my God, I’ve been doing this for thirty plus years. I’m still going! This is awesome. Not to sound cliche, but its a bit of a blessing.
TMR: It’s funny you say that. One of the questions I have…you are just non-stop. You just finished up the “Live ’94” record and tour then went right into the Daisies. Is that just in your nature to stay busy, or is it just a matter of I better stay hopping while the iron’s hot?
JC: In all honesty, my record label has been asking when I’m going to do a new solo record? So, that’s my goal now. I’m going to have some time off in October. I’m going to get my band. I have a solo band with my son (Ian Corabi) as my drummer. I just want to get out and have some fun with them. Hopefully, in October I can get out there and do something with my kid. Early next year I have some time off, so I already told my agent I want to go out on the weekends and do some full shows with my band. But I want to be able to come home and start recording a new solo record with all new material. If it came down to going out and doing shows or staying home and mowing my lawn, I’d rather go out and do shows (laughs.) This is what I was put on earth to do. I love doing it. As long as my health stays put, I’m going to keep on doing it.
TMR: I can attest to that. I saw you years ago with Union. You are doing what you are supposed to be doing.
JC: And I’ve kind of set myself up. Over the last couple of years, I went out and purchased a tour bus-sized motorhome. This weekend I’ve got a few interviews to do then I’m going to pack up the motorhome and drive down to a huge lake in Nashville. We’re going to hang out there with Marti Frederiksen and Chuck Garric of the Alice Cooper band. We’re all going to just go and hang out and chill for three or four days. So, I can use this thing for my wife and me, but I’m actually looking forward to grabbing my guys and loading it up with our gear and just go out and do some shows. It’s cool. I love working and doing what I do, but I also want to be with my family. I’ve kind of figured out a way that I can do both.
TMR: You, Beasto Blanco and Marti Frederiksen hanging out…I’d like to be a fly on the wall there.
JC: Yeah, it’s really just so chill man. My motorhome, I have a t.v. on the outside under a yawning. I’ll put the awning out and turn the t.v. on. We’ll all just sit there and chew the fat. Marti will show up and we’ll bullsh!t about his tour with Steven Tyler.
TMR: I had no idea how talented Marti is. I just saw him with Steven in Nashville and watched their documentary. That guy is killer.
TMR: Before we go, I want to talk about the tour. You guys just finished up places like Italy, Germany, and Demark. Then you head off to Japan before starting the states in August. What has the tour been like so far and what’s the differences in the overseas audiences versus here in the U.S.?
JC: It’s really weird. For some apparent reason, the band has more of a foothold in Europe and Japan at this point than we do in the states. But the states is growing, it’s coming together. We just need to be patient. We’re still not where we want to be. We’re watching it grow. It will get there. The last tour we did the U.K. and Europe and it was complete lunacy. The U.K. was completely sold out before we got there. A lot of the shows in Europe, I’d say 90% of them were sold out. There were a few that if they weren’t sold out, they were close. Japan, we got word that the three or four shows we are doing there are already sold out. It’s coming, man. It’s happening. We’re not playing Budokan quite yet, but there’s definitely growth.
Honestly, there are so many variables in this business. You have to do the best you can do. Then you have to hope the record company does the best they can do. Then the PR people, and then the fans. Then there’s this one variable that no one really has figured out how to bottle, but it’s called luck. There’s a huge part of this that is luck. So far so good. Luck has been on our side.
TMR: I have to say that I love the dedication of Daisies fans. I am friends with a guy named Alex. He lives in Italy, but I love watching him travel all over to see you guys. I think he is planning on coming to New York or L.A. to see you guys this summer. The dedication…
JC: It’s insane. You know what’s funny? I met Alex years ago. I was doing an acoustic show in Palermo, Sicily. It was me and Bruce Kulick. We’re setting up and I was out of cigarettes. So, I go into this little shop next door and Alex was in front of me in the line. He got something and walked away. I can see in the corner of my eye that Alex kind of stops and he turned around and looked. He looked and me and he’s like ah, John Coabi. He was so excited. I love that dude to death. My wife has met him and she’s like, how’s my little Alex doing? You know what I mean? He’s such a great dude. He was literally shaking. He said I came from Roma to see you. So, I brought him into the club and we gave him a t-shirt and all of this other stuff, and he stayed and watched the show. And now it’s hilarious, in February I went up to New York to do an acoustic show. I pull up in my motorhome and when I step off the motorhome and the first person I run into is Alex. I’m like dude, what are you doing here? He said I came for the show. He flew to New York the night before and hung out with some friends that he met through the internet, he came to my show, and then he was getting up the next day to fly back to Italy. I was like, how awesome is this? Then I walk through the door of the club is this girl who is another huge fan of the band named Sochiko (sp?) from Tokyo!! I said what are you doing here? She said I came for the show. I did New York, Connecticut, and Massachusets. She came to three of the shows and then flew home.
TMR: Talk about waiving the flag,
JC: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s hilarious, the other day I’m getting dressed and I pull out a pair of Chuck Taylors. My wife looked at them and asked if they were new. I was like oh, my friend Sochiko gave them to me for my birthday. We were in Europe and she showed up. She had this really great chocolate from Japan and said here’s a gift for your birthday, and give this to your wife. Just the coolest fans ever. I have another Japanese fan that every time I come to Tokyo he finds me a pair of Chuck Taylors in my size…I still haven’t figured that out. But they are some kind of Chuck Taylors that you’re not going to be able to get in America.
TMR: Man, I really appreciate your time. The Daisies are going to be playing Bogart’s in Cincinnati on August 30th. We’re really looking forward to seeing you guys. Like I said, it’s been since the Union days since I have seen you.
JC: You will all have a blast brother.