Since their formation back in 2013, The Dead Daisies have witnessed a meteoric rise in a short period of time.
This dynamic five-piece features a who’s who of the hard rock world that includes ex-Motley Crue frontman John Corabi, former Whitesnake and Dio axeman Doug Aldrich, bass player extraordinaire Marco Mendoza of Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake alongside the band’s founding member and guitarist David Lowy. Following the departure of sticks man Brian Tichy last year, the band recruited Journey/Bad English drummer Deen Castronovo to join their already stellar line-up.
It goes without saying that The Dead Daisies is packed full of talent; this US-based outfit is the very definition of the term supergroup. Subsequently, the band collectively went into the studio in Nashville last year along with producer Marti Frederiksen at the helm to lay down their fourth album Burn It Down.
National Rock Review recently caught up with the band’s most recent recruit drummer Deen Castronovo before The Dead Daisies show at the O2 Academy Newcastle to talk about life on the road, the band’s latest album as well as Deen’s plans going into 2019.
NRR: So obviously this is a new tour. You guys are in Newcastle this evening as part of the Burn It Down world tour. I’ve been fortunate enough to see you play several times in the UK in recent years. It feels like with each show you seem to be getting a great response in the UK to the point where we’ve almost adopted the band I think.
Deen: Dude, totally.
NRR: Do you feel that even during the time that you’ve been in the band that the momentum has been constantly building within the group?
Deen: Yeah, Dude. I mean I’ve been in the band – when I joined in November, we started the tour in April and it’s been progressively getting bigger and bigger, especially in the UK. I mean sold out shows in London and everywhere we go, it’s pretty incredible. Really incredible. I’m excited. It’s very cool.
NRR: Obviously, it’s a lot colder here, but you guys have just come off the KISS cruise. What was that experience like?
Deen: First one for me – first KISS Cruise. Yeah, so it was intense, you know, the fans – being close to the fans and stuff. That’s where me and John ended up getting sick – shaking hands with the fans. Then we were in that hot weather and then we went from hot weather to freezing cold in New York for rehearsals. And boom, that chest thing came on and I think it was already there with my grandkids. But yeah, kind of progressively just kinda snowballed into that.
NRR: Also, on these shows, you’ve been doing a Daisyland acoustic set and meet and greet with the first 50 fans in the queue. Obviously, all of your songs are hard rock. Have you had to think about the arrangement of the tracks to play them in that kind of acoustic format?
Deen: Yeah, I do especially because, I mean usually when we do an acoustic thing, we don’t do the mode two thing as much, which is with the real drum kit, but we just started with the Daisyland thing. Before, it’s usually just, you know, five guys and me and a shaker and a tambourine or something. So yeah, I’ve got to think more like, okay, am I playing too loud? Am I playing okay? You know, so I’m still feeling myself out on that, but yeah, it’s going really good.
NRR: So you became the newest member of The Dead Daisie’s last year; we just mentioned in November. I was just wondering, could you tell us a little bit about how the opportunity came about, you know, who contacted who. What was the chain of events that led to you joining the band?
Deen: I believe it was Brian Titchy who said that you know, he went to management and said, well why don’t you call Deen? It’s a no-brainer. The guy sings, he plays, he’s not doing anything right now, call him up. So Doug sent me a text saying are you available? I’m like, for what? He said The Dead Daisies are looking for a drummer. I said oh God, yes – now, just get me in there. And I think I got that call on a Thursday, and by Sunday, I had flown into New York, hung out with the band Sunday and Monday, flew back home Tuesday with the songs that they had written – eleven songs. So I had three days to learn all those songs and I was in the studio by Sunday. So yeah, I think I finished the drum tracks in three or four days. Just one takes, two takes. Thank God my mind is still there.
NRR: Obviously, you’ve got a good relationship with Doug anyway because you do the whole Revolution Saints thing together. I mean that must have helped out.
Deen: Yeah, and with Marco as well because I’ve worked on a couple of records with him with Neil.
NRR: I believe the first song that you guys tracked together was “Can’t Take It With You”, which obviously that’s your current single. It’s getting a lot of airplay over here. Can you just tell us a little bit about the song and the idea behind it?
Deen: Well, for me, I came in on the writing process way late. They had already finished it and then the lyrics came after we had already done the tracks. So I went home and then I didn’t hear the finished product with lyrics and everything until like a month and a half, almost two months later when it was all mastered, mixed and done, and they send it to me. I was like, oh my God, this sounds amazing. We’re really proud of it, man. Very proud of this record. It’s a different style of playing for me.
NRR: Have you already started thinking about the next step beyond this album? Is it on the horizon or is it just at the minute, 100 per cent focused on this record?
Deen: We are pretty focused right now. And then once the first of the year starts, we’re kinda gonna do our plan of attack, management has a plan of attack and they kind of go with it and then they tell us what we’re going to do.
NRR: Obviously, this record it’s got such a raw sound to it. I just wondered in terms of the recording of the album, how did you go about capturing that sound. Were you all in the same room at the same time or were you laying down the tracks separately?
Deen: It was all together. You know, we would work out the arrangements and once we had the arrangement down, we would kind of cut and splice as far as demos and go, okay, here’s the tracking. You lay it down, they put the click track on it and I just, you know, just go. I have a good memory. So we’ll just go and blaze through. Yeah.
NRR: You worked with, I think it was Marti Frederiksen on this album as well and he is a bit of a legend himself. What was it like working with Marti and what did he bring to the table?
Deen: He’s a musician first, a producer yeah, but a musician. He’s a drummer, so we spoke, drums (makes drum sounds). So we really hit it off very, very quickly. It was great, so very easy to work with. Probably the easiest producer I’ve ever had worked with. He’s amazing. Yeah.
NRR: Do you have a favourite song on the album and, if so, which song and why?
Deen: Wow, there’s three of them I’m going to say, and that’s the first three tracks – “Resurrected” I love because it’s got – John said it was kind of lyrically, a lot about him and kind of about me, you know how we kind of rose from the ashes. “Rise up” it’s just got that (makes heavy drum sound noises); I love that vibe. And “Burn it Down” has got a really cool groove to it. I remember that Marti was like I’m not sure what we should do with this. I said, let me sit down, what do you think of this? He said it’s perfect, it’s perfect – just leave it like that. So that was cool. Those three I love.
NRR: As we said earlier, this band, it’s had many line-up changes over the years and I think you must be like the third or fourth drummer in The Dead Daisies. I’ve lost count. I’ve seen every incarnation of the band – I’ve lost count. I just wanted to know how do you feel about playing the songs from the earlier incarnations of the band and have you tried to put your own stamp on those songs?
Deen: I have a little bit, but I’ve got to say that Brian’s parts are so darn good and if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. You know what I mean? There are certain things I’ll embellish on, but his parts are so good and I did that with Journey too – try to stay true to what, you know, what has already been laid down. Maybe for a little bit of stuff here and there, but I try to keep it as original as possible.
NRR: It feels like everything happens so fast within this band and you don’t really rest on your laurels at all you know. Like “Burn it Down”, followed in quick succession from “Make Some Noise”, which again was released two years ago – I have to say that The Dead Daisies must be one of the hardest working bands around. How are you managing with all that? Does it ever get overwhelming?
Deen: Sometimes, yeah. You know, I’ve got to say, I mean, how do I put this? I’ve had it very easy. My career has been very, very easy. I went from, you know, playing with some major guitar shredders back in the 80s, you know, to joining Bad English and then from Bad English to Hardline to Paul Rogers to my stint with Ozzy and then Journey for 17 years. So I’ve had it pretty easy. This band busts your butt – I’ve never done five shows in a row in my life. It helps you get in shape, but you know, I love the hard work, it’s good for me because I feel like I’m earning it, you know, instead of just riding on a legacy like Bad English was and Journey was and Ozzy was. This is something I’m working for and we’re all working towards the same goal. So I feel like I’m helping to build something instead of just popping on somebody’s coattails and cruising off into the sunset.
NRR: Just going back to Revolution Saints, because I know that that band, it’s still active to an extent. Have you got any plans to do anything with you and Doug together again?
Deen: Yeah, we’re talking about March of next year. Yeah, I’m talking about doing another record and hopefully do some shows if we can, but Jack is very busy with Night Ranger, but I think on this next record we’re going to have him sing a bit more. It’s kind of like talent wasted with him not singing and writing and doing his thing, you know, so we’re hoping that that’ll happen. But before that, I’ve got this thing that I’m doing with Neal Schon and Greg Rolie again, which is the Journey through time thing. So, I’m excited about that – Marco is coming out with that and Marti Frederiksen possibly may join that, which would be really cool. So I will be touring all of January, February, March and April of next year.
NRR: Well that can lead to the last question. Obviously, we’re nearing the end of 2018. Do you know what you’ve got on the cards for next year besides the stuff you already mentioned, is there anything else in the pipeline?
Deen: That’s it. Being with my grandkids and my kids and my wife and my family. Yeah, that’s the hard part – being away from them, but this is part of my job.
Burn It Down by the Dead Daisies is out now.
Photo credit: Danny Jungslund