Richard Fortus discusses Guns N’ Roses future, playing with Izzy Stradlin, The Dead Daisies Revolución and more!
There is a saying in the music industry, “Have Guitar, Will Travel!” Elvis’ guitarist Scotty Moore recorded an instrumental of that name in 1958 and Bo Diddley titled an album by that name in 1960. The saying definitely fits Guns N’ Roses and The Dead Daisies guitarist Richard Fortus. His resume of session work and bands is a rather vast & impressive list, from Love Spit Love, Puff Daddy, The Psychedelic Furs, ‘N Sync, Ben Folds, The Crystal Method up through his tenure with Guns N’ Roses & The Dead Daisies.
There is no doubting Richard Fortus’ talent. I discovered through our seventy-five minute long conversation that not only is he insanely talented but he is also a very funny, down-to-earth and humble person. Traits that have no doubt helped him enjoy the career he has had. I found our conversation to be very informative and even learned a thing or two that wasn’t known until now. Richard will take readers on a very in-depth journey through the writing and recording of The Dead Daisies new album, “Revolución”, due in stores on July 31st.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Hello Richard, how are you today?
Richard Fortus: I’m good, thanks! How are you?
LRI: I’m good. Just trying to avoid the heat of SW Kansas. It’s 94 degrees right now with a forecasted high of 104 degrees so I think I’ll just stay inside and avoid the heat!
RF: Yeah, it’s hot here in St. Louis. We are at 102 degrees right now. Have you been getting a lot of rain as well?
LRI: No, not really. It rained once last week but we could use some more as we are still in a drought.
RF: Ah man! We’ve had crazy rain the entire summer! I missed most of it because I’ve been on the road but since I got home, it has been on and off. I guess it has been non-stop all summer!
LRI: If you’re ready to go, we will get the show on the road. For those not in the know, will you give our readers a little background about yourself, influences and career up until you joined Guns N’ Roses in 2001?
RF: I grew up really into Prog Rock and Art Rock. David Bowie, King Crimson to Yes, the early Genesis stuff, Peter Gabriel, and Iggy Pop. Then I got into the really classic stuff like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, The Faces and stuff like that.
Then I heard The Clash when I was about 13 and all of that changed & all I wanted to do was listen to Punk Rock. The early Punk Rock days. Bands like The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Ramones, Psychedelic Furs, The Beat and bands like that.
Then I started a band and we did that type of music. I was about 14 or 15. From there, my band became very popular in St. Louis and around the Midwest.
LRI: What was the name of that band?
RF: That was a band called “The Eyes.” We had a grass roots following from all over the Midwest. We were from St. Louis so we were really big in St. Louis so we branched out to Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, down to Springfield. The Midwest college scene.
Then we signed to Atlantic Records and changed our name to Pale Divine. We put out a record on Atlantic then we toured supporting Psychedelic Furs who were one of my favorite bands. I ended up joining those guys. So, I was with the Psychedelic Furs and then I started a new band with the singer (Richard Butler) of the Psychedelic Furs called Love Spit Love & we did two records. It was primarily the two of us that wrote all the songs.
After that, I toured again with the Psychedelic Furs. That whole time, when I joined the Psychedelic Furs, I moved to New York City. I ended up doing a lot of session work, a lot of playing on different people’s records, doing commercials, movies, TV music and stuff like that. I did a few other tours with different artists then I ended up joining Guns N’ Roses at the end of 2001.
LRI: Was it your work with the Psychedelic Furs and all the session work that lead to getting the call to audition for Guns N’ Roses?
RF: Yeah! I’d worked with a lot of different people and had a reputation in the industry. I got a call asking if I’d be interested in coming out to Los Angeles to audition for Guns N’ Roses. I had worked with Tommy Stinson and Brain who were in Guns N’ Roses at the time. So, they called me when they were looking for somebody.
LRI: Were you a fan of Guns N’ Roses before joining?
RF: No! It was totally not my genre! When I joined, Brain from Primus was playing drums, Tommy Stinson from The Replacements was playing bass and Robin Finck from Nine Inch Nails was playing guitar so it made…..those were all bands that I related to so it made sense for me. Plus, Guns N’ Roses had a lot of roots in the whole Punk Rock thing so it made sense to me and the whole New York Dolls connection, you know that….
LRI: Johnny Thunders & Duff McKagan?
RF: Yeah, that whole Johnny Thunders type thing that they were in to as well.
LRI: As a big fan of Izzy Stradlin, in Guns N’ Roses and solo. He is such an enigma in the way he is so low-key. For instance, he still puts out solo albums but you never see any pre-release hype or even any indication they are coming, they just show up on iTunes or you just hear about them on music message boards. So, I must ask what it is like when he drops in? Has he offered you any advice or are there any cool Izzy stories you care to share?
RF: There are a lot of cool Izzy stories. He’s spent a lot of time with us on the road. Izzy is one of my favorite people! He is a very genuine person, a very authentic guy and he does what he wants to do. We share a passion for motorcycles so we have a lot in common.
He doesn’t have much interest in being in a touring rock band otherwise he’d be doing it. It was great to hang out with him and to have him out on the road with us! Whenever he comes out, it is always a treat and it is always fun! He is a good hang!
LRI: Cool! Are there any immediate plans for Guns N’ Roses or are you just doing your thing until Axl calls and says he is ready to go?
RF: Yeah, there are no immediate plans for Guns N’ Roses. I have heard from our management that next year we’re going to be working. I’m hoping we’ll have an album out next year. That would be great! Then we are supposed to be doing some touring. Until then, I’m staying focused on The Dead Daisies!
LRI: You definitely have your plate full with the album coming out in the US at the end of the month, a documentary that has yet to be released and tours through the end of 2015! You joined The Dead Daisies in 2013, how did that come about?
RF: I got a call from Charley Drayton. I don’t know if you know who he is?
LRI: Is it the drummer who played on an album with The Rolling Stones and later with Keith Richards “X-pensive Winos” solo band or am I thinking of someone else?
RF: Yes! He played with Keith Richards in The X-pensive Winos, he played bass in The Cult, he’s played with everybody, he was Paul Simon’s drummer and in The X-pensive Winos he would play bass & drums. He would switch off with Steve Jordan, they’d switch band and forth on bass and drums. He’s just an incredible talent. He called me about The Dead Daisies. He is playing with Cold Chisel in Australia. Do you know who Cold Chisel is?
LRI: That is Jimmy Barnes band if I’m not mistaken?
RF: Right! They are MASSIVE! In Australia, they play stadiums! They are just HUGE! Man, Jimmy is an incredible singer and is an incredible talent! Anyways, yeah, so…..hold on just a second. Sorry about that. He was playing with Cold Chisel and just met David Lowy & Jon Stevens who had just done a record together. That was the first Dead Daisies album.
They were looking to put a band together so they could go tour that album as they basically did the album themselves. So, that first record was just David and Jon with some studio guys. They did that in Australia. They wanted to bring Charley in to put a band together and then he called me. Whenever Charley calls me, I always do it if I can because I know I am going to walk away a better musician! Charley is just that type of guy where I always going to learn from him.
I signed on and brought Marco [Mendoza] in. I had played with him in Thin Lizzy. He was the bass player when I played with Thin Lizzy.
LRI: Marco has played with everyone it seems!
RF: Yeah! (Laughs) He is incredible, Marco is fantastic! There were a couple of tours we did where we couldn’t use Marco so we brought in Darryl Jones…..
LRI: Another Rolling Stones connection if I am remembering right?
RF: Yeah and there has been quite a few tours where we couldn’t use Charley so we brought in Brian Tichy for most of them. Brian has become the new drummer and we’ve been with him for a while. He is incredible!
LRI: He is an insane drummer and a pretty good singer & guitarist as well!
RF: I agree. So, it’s been Brian, Marco, David Lowy is the other guitar player who started the band with Jon Stevens, who was the original singer and we now have a new singer, John Corabi who did the new album [Revolución] with us!
LRI: Corabi is one of my all-time favorites!
RF: Yeah, he is amazing! He is a really really wonderful guy, a great guy to hang out with and now to work with!
LRI: He is also one helluva comedian!
RF: He is very funny guy! We also have Dizzy Reed, of course. I brought him in early on because he is the greatest living Rock N’ Roll keyboard player!
LRI: Earlier this year, February to March, The Dead Daisies were the first band ever to play in Cuba…..
RF: We weren’t the first band ever. We were the first predominantly American band to be over there since [U.S. President, Barack] Obama opened the pathway to Cuba by lifting part of the trade embargo. There is still a long ways to go becoming Americanized. There are things in the way preventing that, I think. It was an incredible experience for us!
We recorded two full songs in Cuba. We had a Cuban percussionist that played with us and we recorded in a studio down there. It was an amazing experience. We ended up going from Cuba to Australia to record the rest of the “Revolución” album. We wrote and recorded the entire album minus the two songs we did in Cuba in like four weeks while down in Australia. I’d never done that before.
LRI: I’ve heard there will be a documentary about The Dead Daisies time in Cuba, when will that be released?
RF: Yeah, I don’t know anything about that. I’ve heard talk about it. I know our photographer Katarina [Benzova] shot a lot of footage and was doing it but I think the footage was taken from her & given to somebody else. I don’t know what is going on with it.
[Editor’s note, since the interview was conducted, The Dead Daisies announced that the documentary of their time in Cuba will be released online for free on August 1st. There is also a coffee table book about their time in Cuba that will be released soon! Keep checking their official website or official Facebook for more details, see links at the end of this interview!]
LRI: You mentioned you did two songs in Cuba, which songs were those?
RF: “Evil” and “Midnight Moses” were the two songs we did in Cuba.
LRI: Now, Brian Tichy did the drum tracks for those two tunes in Cuba whereas the rest of the albums drum tracks were done by Jackie Barnes if I’m not mistaken?
RF: Correct, Brian is on the Cuban sessions and Jackie did the Australian sessions.
LRI: Initially, Revolución came out in Europe. The album will come out in the U.S.A. & Australia on July 31st. You did the KISS tour and festivals over in Europe. How was the reception to the band and the album on that run?
RF: The reception to the new material has been incredible in Europe! It looks like that is going to be our initial target because it has been so well received. People are seeming to really get it there! Yeah, it’s been great! We are going back over to Europe with Whitesnake in November.
LRI: I saw The Dead Daisies were going to do some U.S. gigs with Whitesnake and they [Whitesnake] has a date at the Hard Rock in Tulsa in August but nowhere are The Dead Daisies listed as being on the bill. I noticed there is a 4-5 days gap with no Dead Daisies opening up for Whitesnake. The Tulsa show is within decent driving distance for me but you’re not playing it so I was kind of bummed! Do you know why The Dead Daisies aren’t on those 4-5 shows?
RF: That’s right! It is because it is a small venue and they don’t have enough room to have an opening band. I think we might do Oklahoma City on our own in that gap!??!
LRI: That is even closer for me! If you book it, I will be there!
RF: I think that’s what we are trying to set that up now. If you are a John Corabi fan, you should definitely come. John says this is the best album he has ever done!
LRI: That is saying something because the album he did with The Scream, the one he did with Mötley Crüe, the second studio album he did with Union and his solo acoustic album are all pretty stellar in my mind! Hell, Corabi could sing the phone book and I’d buy it on CD, Digital Download and Vinyl!
RF: He says this is his favorite record that he has ever done!
LRI: Cool! I had the first album you guys did and…..
RF: Did you have the E.P. or the record?
LRI: I have them both plus the overseas import of Revolución.
RF: OK, the E.P. is the full band with Jon Stevens singing. The songs on the E.P. were all songs I had written for a while and brought to the band. Jon [Stevens] is a phenomenal singer and I really like the E.P. that we did.
LRI: That is the “Face I Love” E.P., it has “Face I Love”, “Helter Skelter”, “Your Karma” and “Angel In Your Eyes” on it, correct?
RF: Yeah! I think all those songs are great! The new album, I’m really proud of!
LRI: I bought the import of Revolución when it came out and did a review of it for LRI.
RF: Oh cool! Did you give it a good review? (Laughs)
LRI: No, not really…..just kidding! (Laughs) I ended up burning a copy for my car, one to keep at work and one for my office so I don’t have to blast the stereo in my living room to hear it in the office or haul the physical CD around & risk losing it or it getting trashed!
RF: Nice! That is illegal, you know? (Laughs) I’m joking! Record sales don’t matter anymore! Apple’s taking care of that!
LRI: I’m “old school” you could say, I don’t like digital downloads for anything other than the convenience aspect of them. I always buy the physical product, be it CD or Vinyl, if it is released on either. They sound better plus I get all the packaging, liner notes, etc…. People say, why don’t you wait for the U.S. release? My luck, there wouldn’t be a U.S. release but thankfully Revolución is coming out in the U.S. soon. *cough* July 31st in the U.S.A. & Australia! *cough*
RF: The U.S. version is probably going to be a bit different.
LRI: Yeah, your publicist sent me an advance stream of it and it has two bonus tracks on it that weren’t on the import CD! I digg them, they have an old Aerosmith vibe to them, in my opinion.
RF: I think they are great songs! One of them does have an Aerosmith vibe, the song “Last Night”. It has a Mott The Hoople and old Faces vibe to it. The other song, “Leave The Truth Behind” is a great song!
LRI: Yeah, I really digg the whole album. I’m constantly playing it, it drives people nuts but I don’t care! I’ll email you a link of my review.
RF: Very cool! Thank you for the support!
LRI: The U.S. release is coming up on July 31st. Is that a Digital only release or will there be a CD? Also, any chance of Vinyl?
[Editor’s Note:There WILL be a Vinyl release soon, stay tuned to The Dead Daisies Official Website for details on how to order a copy!]
RF: I think there will be a physical release as well although I don’t know what that means in the U.S.!??!
LRI: Any stories you can share from the video shoot for The Dead Daisies “Mexico”? (Laughs)
RF: Actually, I’m wearing my Jumbo’s Clown Room shirt right now. That is where we filmed the video for “Mexico.” It was a good time and a fun day. We only had a day to shoot that. My friend Paul Boyd directed it and he totally did us a favor. He is one of the biggest video director’s around. Great guy!
LRI: I was going to ask you about the very athletic and talented lady in the video…..
RF: It was a lot of fun, what a great group of characters! We had a blast doing it! No specific stories, not necessarily but there is a girl in the video, a pole dancer. You only see her for a little bit but my God, she was amazing! You see her at one point where she’s completely against the ceiling.
LRI: Yeah! That’s the one I was thinking of….
RF: Yeah, she was AMAZING! It was just phenomenal to watch her! She is an incredible athlete!
LRI: That would be the best way to describe her!
RF: She’s just ripped!
LRI: The Dead Daisies have the U.S. tour with Whitesnake in July and August. You go down to Australia and New Zealand with KISS in the fall.
RF: After Whitesnake, we do KISS in Australia and New Zealand then we do the KISS Kruise again, for the second year. [October 30th through November 3rd, 2015] That is always a lot of fun! Then we go straight to Europe to do November with Whitesnake. Then we do some headline shows in the U.K. and France where the record is doing really well.
LRI: I saw you were doing some shows up in Russia, will that be your first time there?
RF: It will be my first time there with The Dead Daisies! I’ve been there a lot with Guns N’ Roses and other artists. I was in Russia with Thin Lizzy, too!
LRI: I was wondering if you’d be interested in going through Revolución, track-by-track to talk about the writing and recording process of each song as well as what gear you may have used?
RF: Yeah, let’s do that!
LRI: Alright, here we go, track # 1…..”Mexico”
RF: That is one that we wrote with Jon Stevens and that we’d been playing live. We actually re-wrote the lyrics with John Corabi, re-wrote the melody and just used the music for that but then we ended up not being able to…..we wrote this incredible song and were all really excited about it but because of legal reasons we weren’t able to do that, to release that!
So, we just went back to the original version and we will probably end up re-writing the song we did with John [Corabi] using those lyrics. It was a surprise to us when it became a single. I love the song but it is not one of my favorites on the album.
LRI: If real radio actually still existed, it’d make a good single. It has that summertime vibe to it but sadly, radio these days is just a computer program with no individual personality behind it.
RF: Radio….yeah right! Yeah, it is definitely fun song! What’s next?
LRI: The cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil”
RF: I am a HUGE Howlin’ Wolf fan! I had brought this song into the band when I first joined because we were needing to fill out the set a bit. It has just evolved and I love that track.
LRI: “Looking For The One”
RF: “Looking For The One” reminds me of an early ZZ Top type of vibe. Like something off of “Degüello” or “Tres Hombres.” This band is very unabashedly and unapologetically classic sounding. The band is very true to our earliest roots, you know, what got us in to Rock ‘N’ Roll!
It started with a riff that Dizzy came in with then it morphed into something completely different, which is, what we hear now. Ironically, it is called “Looking For The One” because David and Corabi couldn’t figure out where the one was when we were playing it. (Laughs) It was funny! So, we kept referring to it as “Looking For The One” and then John ending writing that line & ended up writing the lyrics around that!
LRI: The duet with Jimmy Barnes, “Empty Heart”
RF: Cold Chisel was in the same studio as us finishing up their new album. They were in the studio right next door. We’ve known Jimmy [Barnes] for a while and we’ve done a couple of tours in Australia with him. His son, Jackie [Barnes] was playing drums in the studio with us. So, Jimmy was coming in a lot, hanging out and listening to stuff. One day, he goes “Man, I’ve got this song that I wrote a while ago that would be perfect for you guys!”
We checked it out and we were like “Fuck! This is a great song!” We said “OK, we will do it but you’ve got to sing it with John!” Jimmy said “OK, great!” The two of them went in and sang it together. Man, Jimmy Barnes….that guy is just un-fucking-believable!!! As far as Rock ‘N’ Roll singers, he is just so identifiable as soon as you hear him!
I could have definitely seen him becoming the singer in AC/DC, you know! He was being considered. They wanted him to do it but they were afraid of him because he was sooo crazy and what they had just went through with Bon. Jimmy was really good friends with Bon. What AC/DC had just been through with Bon, they didn’t want to repeat! (Laughs) So, they decided that maybe Jimmy wasn’t the best fit but my God, what a singer that guy is!
LRI: Corabi and Jimmy’s voices work really well together for being as different as they are. They’re both raspy but…..
RF: Yeah, yeah but they are both pretty raspy singers but they are very different and it is very easy to tell them apart. They are both very whiskey soaked! (Laughs)
LRI: “Make The Best Of It”
RF: “Make The Best Of It” is another one that we started with Jon Stevens and that started with a riff that Dizzy originally brought in. Going back to “Mexico”, I know I said it wasn’t one of my favorites but it was originally an idea that I brought in. That is actually a riff that I’d had for a long time.
LRI: “Something I Said”
RF: “Something I Said” is something I brought in. I’d had that whole thing, musically, pretty much written for a very long time. It reminds me, very much of a Faces track. I used to play it on the bus a lot, acoustically. It is sort of what you do until you get it out of your system. It just keeps coming up & you keep playing around with it, an idea, developing it & eventually, you write it, finish it, record it and then you never do that again! (Laughs) Unless you play it on stage because it’s finally out of your system. That was one of those! The middle riff, the heavy riff in the middle is actually something that David Lowy wrote.
LRI: “Get Up Get Ready”
RF: That came about….that’s a riff that I was actually playing for my solo on the last Guns N’ Roses tour. That main riff. If you YouTube my solo from the last GN’R tour, you’ll hear a song that is very similar.
We sort of slowed it down a little bit and made it funkier which is how I’d originally written it. It’s got a real, sort of Steve Miller or Joe Walsh type feeling to it, to me. It also reminds me of Tommy Bolin era Deep Purple. Like Mark IV Deep Purple. I don’t know if you can tell but Corabi and I were listening to a lot of Grand Funk Railroad as well.
LRI: Ironic considering Corabi’s ex-Union band mate, Bruce Kulick plays guitar for Grand Funk [Railroad].
RF: That’s right! Crabby & I were listening to a lot of those two bands, Deep Purple and Grand Funk [Railroad] when we were recording the album…… (Laughs) ….. and I think you can hear it! At least I can. Those are two bands that we grew up loving and sort of re-visited because a lot of stuff reminded us of it. It has that type of feel. It is also my favorite track on the album & Corabi’s and Dizzy’s!
Dizzy plays a killin’ solo in the middle of that, a B-3 solo. I think it is probably the only real recorded solo that Dizzy has done… It is just real…..he’s just a monster! That solo encapsulates who Dizzy Reed is, in my opinion. He just kills it!
That little section, by the way, Dizzy plays a solo, David Lowy plays a solo and then I play a solo! Which is very old school. When we wrote that track, we were like “Shit, this has to be the first track on the album!” It is just classic, it reminded us of that whole Grand Funk-like party vibe. That is where that sort of came from and we wanted it to be the first song on the album but the record company thought differently!
LRI: Why argue with a record company, they know what they’re doing all the time! (Laughs)
RF: Yeah, yeah, that’s right, they have that crystal ball! You know, that magic crystal ball where they can tell what…. yeah, anyways! (Laughs)
LRI: “With You And I”
RF: That is another, actually, those two are my two favorites, “Get Up Get Ready” & “With You And I”. I think for Crabby, Dizzy and myself, those two songs are our favorites. It came from a jam in the studio. It was the last song we finished, I think. We weren’t sure it’d be on the album.
When John wrote that chorus, I had that riff. The main riff. Then the chorus I had for part of a different idea but I put it on there & John wrote those lyrics & I just, I love it and I think it is great! The Talk Box was the last thing to go on it and it really made the track come alive!
LRI: Off the top of my head, the Talk Box is in the intro and in the solo isn’t it?
RF: Yeah! That is a really unique sounding Talk Box. It is much bigger sounding than most others. It was made by the guy who makes my amps, Voodoo Amps! He uses a full range driver instead of a mid range driver.
LRI: Now the song “Sleep” is obviously a Crabby track! It has his Beatles influence all over it!
RF: That IS very much a Corabi track. He came in with that tune. He’d written it with a friend in Nashville. I think that is everybody’s favorite guitar solo, definitely Corabi’s & mine! It IS our favorite guitar solo on the album. That slide solo. I love that track, it has a very cool vibe to it!
LRI: “My Time”
RF: “My Time” is a Deep Purple rip off! (Laughs)
LRI: It is? (Laughs)
RF: Oh yeah! It totally reminded us of a Deep Purple track!
LRI: Marco has some serious thumpin’ bass going on throughout the song!
RF: Yeah he does! I think Marco came in with that idea or had that riff. You know, I don’t think Marco came up with that riff, I think it is one that just sort of developed as we were writing.
LRI: Your cover of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s “Midnight Moses”
RF: That was recorded in Cuba as was “Evil” and those two tracks have Brian Tichy playing the drums. You hear the Latin Percussion in the middle of “Midnight Moses”.
LRI: Bernard Fowler was on the trip to Cuba with you wasn’t’ he?
RF: Yes he was!
LRI: Is he on the album at all?
RF: No, he is not. No, he didn’t play on those tracks or sing on them but what a great singer he is!
LRI: I agree! I have some stuff he’s done with Bootsy Collins, Stevie Salas and Richie Kotzen. Incredible stuff.
RF: Yeah. Richie Kotzen, what a monster player he is!
LRI: I have to agree. I tell everyone this but Corabi and Kotzen are my two all-time favorite artists. Some people collect everything by Elvis, The Beatles, or KISS, that is how I am with those two!
RF: Right on! Richie’s a great great player! He came and auditioned for Guns N’ Roses.
LRI: Really? I never knew that! Crazy!
RF: Yeah! Maybe I shouldn’t tell people that! (Laughs)
LRI: I can leave it out!
RF: No, it’s ok, leave it in. I don’t mind, it’s the truth! He was cool!
LRI: That is interesting because he also auditioned for Ozzy, got the gig but then lost it back in 1995.
LRI: Yeah, I had read about it back in the day and when I FINALLY got to interview him last year, I asked him about it. That’s a pretty crazy story in itself.
RF: What happened?
LRI: Off the top of my head and without looking at the interview, what I remember is he auditioned, rehearsed and got the gig. Contracts were drawn up, signed etc. They told him to keep it on the down-low but that he could tell his family or whatever. So, he went back to L.A., told his wife at the time and his best friend.
The friend gets on an AOL Chat Room or whatever existed in 1995 as far as the internet goes and posts “Ex-Poison guitarist is Ozzy’s new guitar player” or something like that. Shit hit the fan on AOL then Ozzy’s camp never returned his calls and hired someone else. He also tells of a hilarious story where he’s in Ozzy’s hotel room watching “Dumb & Dumber” and Ozzy was trying to play a prank on Richie & he was oblivious to it. I’ll send you the interview.
RF: Crazy! I’ve heard Richie is a very nice guy but he does come across as very aloof!
LRI: He is. Not that I’m friends with him but the few times I’ve met him or interviewed him…..plus we have mutual friends that all say the same thing. The few times I’ve hung out with him at shows, he is a very nice guy. I flew to Nashville in 2010 for my birthday because Richie was playing there. Low-and-behold, Corabi shows up a few songs into the set.
That was pretty surreal spending my birthday watching Richie play then having drinks afterwards and bs’ing with those two. They were a fun hang! I had friends that were calling to wish me a happy birthday and I told them where I was & they all thought I was full of shit! Good times!
RF: (Laughs) That’s funny! That’s awesome though! When he came in to audition for us, it was obvious that he plays really good but he is kind of a strange guy. (Laughs) That is probably why nothing developed with that. Plus, the Poison connection doesn’t really help.
LRI: So true! Alright, back on track so I don’t take up much more of your day, we are at track #12, “Devil Out Of Time”.
RF: “Devil Out Of Time” came about when Dizzy & I were writing with David Lowy at his place last year. The initial idea came from that session. Then we got together and started playing around with some ideas. It is interesting how that developed because with David initializing this idea he had that sounded sort of like The Beatles “Money” or Ray Charles. Then I put a spin on it so it became more like a Stooges track so that’s what it sort of reminds me of.
LRI: Interesting. Dizzy really shines on it and Corabi has a bit of a snarl going with the attitude he delivers the vocals with.
RF: Yeah, Dizzy kills it but I think his real shining moment is on “Get Up Get Ready”. I have to say this too, Dizzy & Marco sang their asses off on this record. All that back-up stuff, all the harmonies, that is all those two guys! Man, they both just sing so well!
Especially, listen to something like “Something I Said” and those two guys really made that song something special with their vocals!
LRI: Track #13, “Critical”.
RF: “Critical” was one we wrote with Jon Stevens & I came in with that riff, that verse riff. Jon and I started working it up. The chorus riff was from another idea I had for another song. Then the heavy riff in the middle was something that David Lowy came up with.
LRI: On to the U.S. bonus tracks, “Leave The Truth Behind”.
RF: That was an idea that I had. I had that riff for ten years, probably. The chorus, again, is from another song, actually. We just pasted it on there. When John wrote the lyrics to the chorus and the melody line it just took it to a new place. That is one of my favorites and in my opinion, it should be a single.
Corabi & I both thought it should be a single. The thing is we did this album so quickly. We had to get it written, recorded, packaged and released in record time so that we could have it out in time for when we went to Europe. It is CRAZY how quickly we did this whole thing!
The two U.S. bonus tracks are the last two songs we mixed so that’s probably why it’s not on the European version. In my opinion, “Leave The Truth Behind” should be the single. “Something I Said” will probably be a single as well.
LRI: On to the final song, “Last Night”.
RF: That was a Dizzy idea! That song really reminds me of Mott The Hoople. Sort of an “All The Way From Memphis” type vibe. It is just real classic, almost [Lynyrd] Skynyrd-like. John wrote those lyrics about a girl that Dizzy knew. They were playing somewhere and so it makes reference about this girl they knew. I forget where it was and it’s probably best not to say where! (Laughs)
LRI: Don’t need some chick going after you for royalties or suing you!
RF: (Laughs) Yeah, exactly or defamation of character! (Laughs)
LRI: I’m curious, what gear did you use in the studio?
RF: Amp wise was really simple. Mainly because we did it in Australia and I couldn’t ship that much stuff. I used a 1969 Marshall P.A. Head that was modified by my buddy here in St. Louis, Obeid Khan. He has Magnatone Amps. He is one of the greatest amp guys there is & he did this incredible mod on that amp! It is a 50 watt and it is probably my favorite Plexi that I own & I own a bunch!
I also used a Voodoo clone of my 1973, 100 watt Marshall that I bought from Mick Mars. It was his main recording amp back in the day on the early albums. That original amp was modified by Jose [Arredondo] out in LA. I went over to Mick’s house. He was selling some stuff so I played through about a dozen or so Jose modified Marshall’s. That one, I hit one chord and it was just magic!
I’d been touring with it with Guns N’ Roses but I wanted to find a replacement and a backup so I wouldn’t have to take it out with me all the time. I had a bunch of people try to clone it but Trace [Davis] from Voodoo cloned it meticulously and was actually able to make it better. I used it in combination with the Plexi. Those two amps together are just huge sounding!
I also had a Marshall HBE by Friedman that I brought with me but I ended up not using that one as much. It just didn’t sound as good as the other two. We also had a Carr Mercury amp that belongs to David [Lowy] that I used for the slide solo in “Sleep”, actually “Sleep” is all that little Carr amp. It has like a Tweed Deluxe type vibe.
For guitars, I used my Scala Les Paul. He makes these AMAZING Les Paul’s that are the greatest sounding Les Paul’s I have ever heard in my life! I’d compare that to Paul Stanley’s original 1959 ‘Burst. It is THE best sounding Les Paul I have ever heard! I used two of those.
I also had my Trussart Strat. I forget what he calls it. I had them do a left-handed headstock so I had more tension on the low strings and less tension on the high strings. It is easier to bend and I reversed the angle of the bridge pickup so it is like a left-handed Strat. Those pickup’s are cloned with my 1960 slab board Fender Strat that I own. It is my favorite sounding Strat! I had them copy the pickups in it and it now sounds better than my 1960 Strat!
You just want to be moved! As a musician, you want to be inspired and want your tone to inspire you. I’m always trying new gear and searching for that perfect tone, our idea of what the perfect tone is. It is just that constant quest!
LRI: I’m curious, John is a pretty good guitarist in his own right, did he play any guitar on “Revolución”?
RF: No, he didn’t but he is a great guitar player. He did help write a lot of the stuff. He just wanted to sing on this album. Writing wise, we all had guitars. He may have played an Acoustic on “Sleep” actually now that I think about. I don’t really remember but he might have.
LRI: I think that about does it. Is there anything you’d like to discuss that we didn’t touch on or anything you’d like to plug?
RF: Just that I am really excited about this record! If you get a chance to come see us, please do! It’s a great band and it’s been so much fun working with John [Corabi]! He’s a great singer!
LRI: Well, thank you for your time!
RF: No, thank you! It was my pleasure! Hopefully we will see you in a few weeks! If we can book that, we will announce it soon! Hope to see you then!
LRI: I hope something gets booked within 300 miles of me because if so, I’ll be there! Once again, thanks for your time and have a good one!
RF: No problem. I’ll talk to you soon!
The Dead Daisies – “Mexico” – Official Video
The Dead Daisies – “Midnight Moses” – Official Video
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