It is a super group of our days. It is not only a band, but a rock ‘n roll music collective, where famous musicians collaborate. Ladies and gentlemen, The Dead Daisies! Glenn Hughes, Doug Aldrich, David Lowy and Tommy Clufetos! No introductions needed, of course, however, I have to mention that The Dead Daisies’ classic rock music is wonderfully fresh and uniquely interesting, they rock like no other! “Holy Ground” is their latest effort, an album which will be a great rock n’ roll company. Myth of Rock grabbed the chance and talked with Doug Aldrich (guitar), who had so many things to say. It was a honor for us to chat with him!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Hello Doug! Let’s start! Rock n’ roll history has showed us that most of the times super groups don’t last too long, they release one or two albums and then they split up. The Dead Daisies is of course a supergroup, however, you have already released four studio albums and now you are releasing your fifth one. Which are the reasons for this longevity of The Dead Daisies? What keeps you alive and rocking?
Well, … music! I love music, I love guitar! I feel so blessed that I wake up every day and I play the guitar, I play music. You know, we need music, this year (2020) had been very difficult and music definitely helped me get through it.
The Dead Daisies were formed in 2013. After all these years, how much different is the band?
I think it is very different. This band, The Dead Daisies, has been called a collective, so basically, people can come and go, it is like a roundabout. Early Deep Purple was a roundabout, people would come in and write some songs … Purple didn’t have a solid line-up, until Mark II. And then Mark III started. That’s a big change, from Mark II to Mark III, then Mark IV, there was a different guitar player. So, it’s something like that, The Dead Daisies have changed a lot through these seven years, since David Lowy (rhythm guitar player) formed the band. However, the band has always kept the flavor of something that David created back in 2013 - straight ahead, simple rock guitar sound. And now we have made a big change, as you know, because we have Glenn Hughes in the band, it is really amazing! It is amazing for us, we are so happy with the sound, Glenn is truly gifted, not only as a singer and a songwriter, but also his bass playing is insane, you know, I love it.
How did it come and Glenn came to the band?
When John Corabi (vocals) decided to leave the band at the end of 2018, we knew that we would make a fresh start in 2019, so we began to talk about with some different people to come in, and then the management phoned me and told me that they had spoken to Glenn! Wow, I thought that would be really something! They told me Glenn would also like to talk with me. I know Glenn, we have been friends for years, I am a fan of him, we are really close, so I called him. To be honest, I didn’t think of Glenn, since he was busy, he was touring doing his Deep Purple stuff. When the management told me they were speaking to Glenn and that he was interested in us, I thought that it was perfect, an amazing change. Because that wasn’t just a little change, we were making a big change, we were going to a brand new, fresh direction. I called Glenn and he told me, “You know, Doug, it is time for you and I that we make music together”. I was like, “I know, this is awesome!”. We got together and played, so that he could meet everybody, the sound was killer! Glenn’s bass is like a whole band by itself, it’s pretty much complete! He’s got this massive sound, he is a very melodic player, I really enjoy watching him, especially when he going off! During a solo section for example, I see him playing his solo bass part and I say, “Ohh, that is so cool” and I try to play around that with my guitar, maybe he is wailing up high, so I go way down low, … it is awesome, man, really fresh!”.
Did Glenn write songs for the new album?
Yes, we all wrote songs for the “Holy Ground” album. Glenn brought in some songs that were complete, and we just put our style on them, we maybe re-arranged some stuff. When Glenn came to the band, I immediately started writing …, I got inspired and started writing for Glenn, I know what Glenn likes and I know how Glenn writes. There were some things that I maybe wouldn’t have done before, like for example in the second song of the album “Like No Other”, I basically had the musical vision for this song figured out already, I had a demo and I was keeping this track especially for Glenn, I thought that he was going to love the groove of this song. And he did … I was inspired, I thought I could see Glenn on stage, starting off the song with his bass, then the bass drops off during the verse, there are only two guitars, one on its side, I could picture me and David playing and Glenn singing his ass off, and when the chorus hits, boom, the bass comes in! Another example is the riff of “Bustle and Flow”, I thought Glenn would really like it! … We all brought in ideas, David and I had worked on some songs together, for example on “Come Alive”, we had written a part of the song, not the chorus part, but when Glenn listened to it, he liked it and suggested the chorus of the song, bam bam bam! It was done! So, we collaborated really well together on a bunch of stuff, Glenn brought four or five songs, I helped him arrange them, we made the demos so that we could present them to the band. When we get to a room, everybody does his own thing to the songs so that we make them the best they can be … if I bring a song, Glenn is definitely going to make it better, he will say, “Hey, how about this? What if you did this?”. On the other hand, when he sings something, I may say “If you are going to sing that, I will play this (on the guitar), because it will work better”. It is a natural progression.
This time you cooperated with another producer, Ben Grosse. How was it, working with Ben?
It was great, it was different. We needed to cooperate with someone like Ben, because Ben really makes everybody comfortable, he sets a really great environment for creating. He is a musician himself, I think his main instrument is drums, he has a great sense of melody … there was a solo section in a song, he had an idea for a melody and he just put that melody on his computer, he put the midi dots on the computer! He’s got melody in his head. He was perfect, because we are a new band together, we had to find where to jell, we wanted everyone to feel comfortable and he did that. The other thing that was interesting with Ben was that he got us some different guitar sounds, sounds a little different from what we had done in the past. It was cool, there were heavier sounds in some spots, we did some clean guitars and he had in mind some amps he thought I would like. He said, “Hey, I’ve got this Budda amp and it is really great for clean guitar … let’s go with the Budda!” It was excitingly fresh with Ben! The other thing that it was interesting about Ben is that he is an old-school producer. He had a list of things he wanted to accomplish. Once we had the tracks recorded, after I had done most of my guitars, Ben called me and told “Can you come in for a couple of hours tomorrow? I just got a few things I need you to do”. I got there, he told the engineer to go to the chorus of “Holy Ground”, for example, and said “I just need you here to play this part balls out!”. He set the amps and I played. Then he told me about the solo section, “I love the beginning of the solo, but the end isn’t really working”. So, I put some new, different ideas and he said “OK, I’ve got it!” … he got a list of small things he wanted me to do, and then he edited the way he wanted. It was cool! I didn’t know what he was doing, how the sound would be, he just told me what he needed, maybe more energy on the chorus, maybe the guitar was a little out of tune … he wouldn’t tell what it was, he just told me to play. When I heard the mix, I said, “Oh shit, that sounds great”!
You went to a different recording studio this time, to La Fabrique Studio in the South of France. Why did you choose that particular studio?
Yes, we recorded at the La Fabrique Studio, that’s correct, it was a great studio. South of France was perfect for us, because we needed a place where we could really focus. It was a beautiful place … we could really focus there. We didn’t have to go anywhere, basically it was just “sleep, wake up, have breakfast together, jam and write”, then we would probably go for dinner and maybe go back and record a little more. Generally, we were together all time, so that we could really focus … We were there for three weeks in November, 2020, and for other three weeks in December, 2020. Most of the album was done there, apart from a few things left for Glenn and I to do back in Los Angeles in January, 2021.
Which are the trademarks of The Dead Daisies sound in your opinion?
I would say, first of all, David Lowy’s guitar sound. Another trademark is keeping things fresh, we don’t want to fall to the same groove every time, we want to keep it fresh. Another thing that is a trademark and it isn’t a trademark at the same time, is the fact that we always want to push ourselves.
Why do you think a fan of classic rock music should listen to your music?
He/She doesn’t have to listen to our music, haha! It is up to everybody! I think the new album is a really groovy album, it has got some cool moods to it, I think that if you like classic rock, you will enjoy it. But I am not forcing anybody, they will do what they want to do!
Live shows and tours are very important for The Daisies and you, Doug. How have all these cancellations of live gigs, tours, festivals etc. due to the coronavirus pandemic affected you? How do you feel about that?
It has been a long break. We took off 2019 as well, so it has been two years of being home, which has been amazing on the one hand, but also very difficult on the other hand. Mentally I am used to playing live shows, I miss it, I really miss it. When we were making the record, that was fun, we were playing all the time. We also rehearsed for ten days in October, 2020, and that was great … Not being on tour means that I am home, which is great for my family … So it’s like juggling, because I am working but I am also a dad. There are so many things going on. When I am on tour, I am very focused on touring, on my playing, it is very easy to be focused, when I am home, there are more distractions.
Which are your resolutions for the new year 2021?
That’s a good question. I want to become healthier, I want to come back in the best shape that I can be in. I need to get my body and mind into a better shape than it is now. It is ironic, I used to smoke cigarettes and drink Red Bull, but I was super fit … I used to smoke terribly for years and I quit smoking 12-13 years ago. Of course, in this lockdown pandemic it is normal that you get a little out of shape. The gyms are closed in Los Angeles, for example … I also want to be a better father, a better husband, I want to work on my personality, I just wanna be better, you know. As my kids are growing, I am learning what I need to do, what it is important
Doug, as an epilogue, I would like you to tell me who your three favorite guitarists of all time are. Give me also your comment for the loss of Eddie Van Halen.
It is hard to pick three favorite guitarists, but Eddie Van Halen would of course be in the top five. He was one of my favorite guitarists, I respected him so much. When I saw him playing live for the first time, I thought I had never seen anything like that before. The first time I was him was in 1979. Eddie Van Halen was an innovator, not just because of his playing, but also because of the way he changed everything, the way he built his guitars, the way he made everything custom for himself, he inspired so many people to do the same thing. I think he was the most influential rock guitar player ever … it is so difficult to pick only three guitarists, there are so many guys … I have to say Jimmy Page … Randy Rhoads, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Moore … !!!