Interview and Photos: Robert Cavuoto
The Dead Daisies have just finished an extensive tour of the US opening for Kiss this summer. The tour began right on the heels of the release of their third CD release; Make Some Noise, on August 5th. It celebrates the kind of classic rock that has gone missing since the early 1970’s when performed in sweaty clubs and hallowed concert halls. The CD is dripping with a strong hook, memorable riff and an uncanny knack for melody.
The band includes David Lowy guitarist and founder, John Corabi of Mötley Crüe on vocals, Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake & Dio on guitar, Marco Mendoza of Whitesnake & Thin Lizzy on bass and Brian Tichy of Whitesnake & Billy Idol on drums!
I caught up with the guitar duo of David Lowy and Doug Aldrich at their Webster Hall show to discuss the team’s chemistry, their stage guitars, and the quest for tone.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me about the chemistry that the two of you share when recording as well as on stage?
Doug Aldrich: I knew the other guys in the band so when I got the call about the opportunity I was excited. David who is the founder suggested I come over to Europe and hang out with the band but after talking on the phone for a couple of hours, he said: “Let’s just do this!” We both thought that we can add to each other’s sound and that is exactly what has happened. Our two sounds work well together and that’s what you hear on the CD; Make Some Noise as well as live. You’ll notice on the CD there are very few overdubs, David is on the right side and I’m on the left.
David Lowy: I grew up in Australia on Aussie rock like AC/DC and a band called The Angels; which I did play with the singer of The Angels for a period of time when one of the original members was sick. I play that straight up Aussie rock really well and that blends well with what Doug does. It fits really well and we don’t step on each other’s toes. We have a really good sound together.
Doug Aldrich: We have been fortunate to be touring with Kiss on really big stages where there is a lot of room. We video the shows and like football players review them. We can tell that the chemistry is really coming together. On a smaller stage like tonight our chemistry experiment might be different [laughing].
David Lowy: As a band, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We united as a team.
Robert: Tell me about the writing of the CD, how do you divide up the guitar parts?
David Lowy: We each came in with a heap of ideas and riffs. We bounced the ideas off of each other.
Doug Aldrich: Then we would tell each other which one idea was crap and which were good [laughing].
David Lowy: Every idea is collaboration and not all knowledge should lie with one person. The best results come from collaboration. It adds a level of complexity that requires a lot of give and take. I think the end result of the collaboration is better than working alone. If there is a good riff or part we put it in. Maybe the one I came up with was not as good. We were dealing with a limited amount of time and wanted to use it to its fullest to get the CD done then tour; two weeks to write and four weeks to record. In six weeks we were done.
Robert: Tell me a little about the last two Daisies’ CDs with John Corabi. They both sound different yet equally as good?
David Lowy: I really think it’s an evolution of the band’s sound. We don’t have keyboards on this CD so it changed the dynamic. It was great having Dizzy Reed but he went back to Guns n’ Roses. He is irreplaceable so we didn’t replace him [laughing].
Robert: Was the CD written together in the studio during those two weeks?
Doug Aldrich: We were all together which made it great. I give credit to David and management for the decision to get all of us together to write the CD. It’s how you thought a band worked when you were a kid. Everyone has a vested interest in the daily recording process. Our producer was with us and he participated as well.
Robert: How did this process compare to writing and recording with Whitesnake?
Doug Aldrich: It was totally different and not that one is better than the other. The Dead Daises have more of a normal band process. We recorded live together and many of those initial tracks were kept because the vibe of it felt good. David Coverdale and I would spend months writing a Whitesnake CD, then months recording the CD. I co-produced Forevermore so Brian Tichy and I went to LA to record the drums and rhythm guitar. Then went back to David’s place and did bass, vocals, and keyboards. Reb Beach came and we did more guitars. The instruments are stacked vs. what we did with the Daisies and play off of each other. Good things come with both but I love what we accomplished in a short amount of time with the Daisies.
Robert: Tell me a little about the guitars you brought on tour?
Doug Aldrich: I have three main guitars that I brought with me. The first guitar is a Gibson R8 Les Paul Gold Top. I just did a deal with ESP and playing one of their Ron Wood Telecasters, it’s awesome and I’m blown away by it. They are great guys to work with and were really interested to get involved with The Daisies. When we were in NY rehearsing Brian bought a BC Rich Bich and had it sent to New York. He was so enthusiastic and excited about it that he wanted me to take it with us on tour. I wasn’t sure what guitars I was taking but he was so persistent that I agreed. I tried it and thought it was cool, the front house engineer said it would be great for slides so I decided to start using it.
David Lowy: I’ve got two guitars with me. I have a bad back so I had Frank Grubisa make me a custom light-weight guitar which weighs only 1.8 kilos. It’s mahogany and fully chambered. It’s really simple, one knob and one pickup. The other is a guitar Richard Fortus gave me which has an aluminum top.
Robert: Every guitar player I speak with is always chasing tone. What is your take on the eternal quest for tone and how important it is to you when recording?
David Lowy: It’s incredibly important and I’m still looking for it like everyone else [laughing]; whether on a big stage like when we play with Kiss or small venues like this at Webster Hall. I know my tone and how it’s different than what Paul Stanley or Tommy Thayer has. I want to get the sound down to a simple process preferably starting from the guitar. The amp I use is a Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 Watt Tube Head. It’s really simple and easy to operate.
Doug Aldrich: The amp that I have with me is a 78 JMP Marshall that has been modified with different filter caps to run on low voltage so it doesn’t sag. Like any amp sounds best when the guitar is plugged straight in. I’m using a few pedals but that’s my main tone. There is a wireless company that we use which is as good as a cable and it’s called Lectrosonics. I’ve always used a cable even back with Dio, Ronnie would say, “Get a wireless system; I don’t want to trip over these cords.” I would tell him that the wireless doesn’t sound as good. So when I started using the wireless he would tell me to turn up but we could never get it loud enough. This wireless system is pretty kick ass. You can’t believe how important the cables are to your tone and even the length of the cable can affect it. I’m using cables they cost hundreds of dollars on my pedal board sand they told me that they sound better when warmed up. It’s pretty technical stuff.
Robert: Which song on Make Some Noise would you say has your favorite tone?
David Lowy: I would say “Long Way to Go.”
Doug Aldrich: You quite often find that you change guitars or amps depending on the riff but I would have to say “How Does it Feel” or “We All Fall Down.”
Robert: Is there a guitar that you loved and lost?
Doug Aldrich: My favorite guitar which I no longer have was a 73 Gold Top Les Paul Deluxe. I had a copy of a Gibson up until that point and finally got the money to get half of the real thing so my mother loaned me the other half [laughing]. I worked it off and paid her back. I regretted it and replaced/routed out the mini -humbuckers to put in a Super Distortion and a PAF DiMarzio. I ended up selling it and got a Strat or something. I wish had that guitar back.
David Lowy: I started this later in life than most people so I’ve accumulated quite a few guitars. I love giving them away to kids who can’t afford a guitar and have the desire to play. I really only use 3 or 4 guitars and my prize guitar is a 1952 Fender Esquire which my brothers bought for me from Paul Stanley as a birthday present. Richard Fortus organized the sale of it as my brothers spoke to him and he worked with Paul. The one I really love that I don’t use much is my 1962 Gibson Dwight Coronet. There was store in St Louis called Dwight’s and Gibson made these guitars for this store and put their name on it. It’s pretty rare.
Robert: The tour is coming to a close in a few show, how was the experience?
Doug Aldrich: We have been working hard and traveling a lot. The band is getting better each day. The CD is important to us and we had a great time making it.
David Lowy: The tour has been quite grueling and the guys have put in a huge effort besides the traveling and playing but also handling all the media. Bands have to market themselves nowadays. John has been out there almost every day doing press. Trust me; this is harder than it looks.