【face-to-face / interview】THE DEAD DAISIES
Influenced by ’70s and early ’80s hard rock, THE DEAD DAISIES are a powerful musical collective created by a rotating lineup that features some of the world’s best rock musicians. Their second album is titled “Revolución” and features keyboard player Dizzy Reed (GUNS N’ ROSES) and lead guitarist Richard Fortus (GUNS N’ ROSES, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS) who we interviewed.
The new album ‘Revolución’ is the follow-up to 2013’s self-titled debut and is available since June the first. How is it greeted by the fans and the critics so far ?
Richard Fortus : For my part, I must admit that I do check the feedback and it has been excellent so far. But it’s only been a couple of weeks, it was just released, as you said, so I don’t want to cry victory too early. I hope the reviews carry on being positive. It feels always amazing to read nice words towards things you do, towards your work. It’s very fulfilling for sure.
Dizzy Reed : It’s like preaching to the choir. You can’t really help it, you can’t help checking out what people say about things you’ve put so much effort into. Fortunately for us, it’s been very positive so far and we can just hope it continues. Let’s keep our fingers crossed ! Please, if you read this interview, check our new album out. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.
As it happens, for those who haven’t heard it yet, what would you say about it, music-wise, to make them want to give it a listen. What can they expect ?
Dizzy Reed : Hum, I think we wanted to make something that was honest, genuine, straightforward, something full of passion. We wanted songs that come from the depth of our hearts and souls. Because, that’s actually what we do best. In general, if you give 100 pourcent all of the time, things will work out in the end. I guess you can hear it on the album. Music-wise, people can expect classic rock songs with a Rock N Roll spirit. If you appreciate any of that, rock-oriented music from the late 1960s to the late 1980s and passion, you’ll get satisfaction. I don’t know if I’m being objective, but ‘Revolución’ is a great album (smiles).
Richard Fortus : It’s very classic-sounding. If you’re a fan of classic rock, you’ll definitely appreciate this record. It’s worth checking out !
In late February, the band played in Havana, Cuba which proved a revelation to you. What you experienced there made you start conceiving the new album. Can you tell us more about this experience ? What was so special and inspiring about Cuba ?
Dizzy Reed : The trip to Cuba was certainly inspiring, yes it was — very much. Just to be around with the people of Cuba and play for them was fantastic. People were really responsive to us. We played together with absolutely fantastic musicians too. So much passion was coming out from them. People of Cuba are passionate, it was a refreshing and very much inspiring experience. It was like a spark, we just had that special connection that couldn’t go away. We clicked instantly with the country and its people. I can’t explain it with further details, it just felt good. Their enthusiasm and excitement just sparked energy, creative energy in us. I don’t think we wrote about what we experienced there, we didn’t write about the country so to speak. We just got influenced by its energy and passion. They kind of breathe new life into ourselves. We were, each of us, immediately absorbed by the creative atmosphere that was everywhere in Cuba. We already wrote songs before this trip, but when we got there, the passion that was floating all around us, gave us the inspiration to write the rest of the album. We then recorded it within five weeks.
Richard Fortus : It was really exciting for us to see fans of Rock N Roll being so hungry for it and so enthusiastic. It was beautiful to witness it. I think the rest of the world has become somewhat jaded and satiated. We hadn’t seen people so much stimulated and agitated by the music, by Rock N Roll, in a while. We loved it, really !
This event was held within the context of a cultural exchange organised by the Cuban Ministry of Culture, the Cuban Institute of Music and the Cuban Rock Agency. It made The Dead Daisies become the first western rock band to play in Cuba since the Obama administration reopened trade ties. How does it feel to be part of such historic event ?
Dizzy Reed : It’s really cool ! Music ties people together. It’s a powerful instrument for positive change. To be part of this human connexion is really fantastic. And, to be able to do it, to play music for a living is definitely a blessing. I think we did a good job and we learned a lot. I walked away as a better musician… just because I spent time with many talented people. Being around with positive people definitely provide benefits in your lives. It gives strength.
Richard Fortus : There is so much passion about music. It’s a very special instrument. It’s powerful and usually has a massive impact on people, wherever they come, whoever they are. It has the ability to alter our moods and emotions. It influences thoughts and feelings. Being part of a historic event through music is very intense, it goes beyond words.
You said you guys have learnt a lot from this trip. Can you give specifics ?
Dizzy Reed : I learned that I really like the Cuba Libre (ndlr cocktail with rhum) (laughs). Seriously, in the process of creative collaborations, of playing music with talented people for passionate people, I learned why I started doing this in the first place. It made me realize I’ve chosen the right path. This trip had a positive impact on me. And I guess it had a massive impact on all of us.
Richard Fortus : Definitely !
The album was produced by Craig Porteils (GUNS N’ ROSES, BILLY IDOL) and mixed by Ben Grosse (MARILYN MANSON, SEVENDUST). What were you expecting from those collaborations ? How did they affect the sound direction of the songs ?
Richard Fortus : Actually, Dizzy worked with Graig prior to this record.
Dizzy Reed : Yeah but last time I saw him, he was the assistant engineer of the GUNS N ROSES’ for the song ‘Knockin On Heaven’s Door’. That was a very long time ago. Well, we needed someone in Australia and he was available. He did a great job on ‘Revolución’.
Richard Fortus : We worked him too hard (laughs).
Dizzy Reed : We did (laughs) ! We demanded too much of him, constantly. We didn’t take any days-off, it must have been tough for him. We were so earger to work, we were so inspired. He got a couple of days-off, but, as for us, we worked straight through. We had so much to do and it’s not an easy job to do well. It’s not an easy job, period. It’s very demanding. You have to remain so focused and strongly motivated. It’s tiring, you know. You have to remain on the alert in case magic happens. You can’t miss any opportunity. You have to be on the lookout to catch that special performance.
Richard Fortus : As for Ben, I worked with him on a few different records before. I wanted him to work on this one because I knew he would fit the job perfectly. We come from the same musical background. He have the same tastes in music, we have the same influences so it was obvious that he would understand and catch right away what we were looking for, music-wise.
The band is currently touring with KISS on their 40th-anniversary tour. How’s it going so far ?
Dizzy Reed : It’s been going great so far.
Richard Fortus : KISS’ audiences have been welcoming us very well.
Dizzy Reed : Yeah, for whatever reason, KISS’ fans are pretty stocked that we are there. They have been treating us great which we feel blessed about. It’s always challenging to open shows for big names like KISS, so we can just hope it continues and makes people want to support us even further.
Richard Fortus : Every night is a challenge. Everytime everything goes well, it’s a great victory.
Tommy Clufetos is the guy who plays the drums on stage with you even though Brian Tichy (and Jackie Barnes) played on the album. Why have you chosen to have a rotating lineup for the band ?
Richard Fortus : Actually, Brian wasn’t available to do the rest of the album and this tour. Otherwise, he would be with us right now. Tommy does a great job though.
Dizzy Reed : We just have a lot of talented friends we want to work with. We want to collaborate as much as possible with them. Through years, we made connections, we developed relationships. It’s amazing to be able to work with so many talented musicians who happen to be your friends. They come from the same place, we have the same tastes. So it’s always very efficient to work with them. It’s cool to have the opportunity to hang out with them (laughs). We’re happy that Tommy joined us. He’s doing a good job, he’s a great guy and great drummer !
How has John Corabi got involved in the project ?
Dizzy Reed : Again, we were looking for someone and he kind of was the first name that poped in our heads. We were looking for someone who is a great frontman, a great performer. I’ve worked with him in the past and I knew he would fit the job perfectly. I’ve done acoustic shows, just the two of us, they were amazing experiences. We’ve done a few other things together. But well, it turns out, I was correct to choose him for TDD.
Richard Fortus : We had a few other names in our heads. We spoke to them but John stood out. He’s a great guy to hang out with. He always has stories to tell. He’s funny. He’s down-to-earth. If you catch him later on after this interview, talk to him, he will tell you funny stories (laughs).
What does the DD bring you as a plus compared to the GNR ?
Richard Fortus : I feel a lot freer with the DD compared to the GNR.
How much will you be involved in the creation process of the new GNR album ? Have you written new stuff ? How’s it going ?
Richard Fortus : Definitely going to be involved. There’s so much stuff that was done. I mean, there’s two or three albums’ worth of material, seriously ! We’ve all been handing files back and forth to one another. We so look forward to getting at it seriously and release a new album as soon as possible.
Dizzy Reed : It’s good stuff ! That will come out awesome. When will it come out ? We just don’t know it yet. Only Axl knows and he’s very secretive. Be patient !
Thanks both of you for your time.
Dizzy Reed : Thanks for having us.
Richard Fortus : Thanks.