17th June 2016
The Dead Daisies
Q: It’s been a while since we chatted – 2014 when you were here with Black Star Riders – you’re a busy man, what have you been doing?
MM: After that I had some good opportunities, one of which was to pay attention to my solo career and also The Dead Daisies. I’ve down a few albums since which I wouldn’t have been able to do because of my commitment to Black Star Riders so it’s better for me.
Q: There was quite a buzz that went round the Rock fan grapevine when it was announced you were playing Loud Park this year. In fact, there seems to be a buzz about them everywhere. Everybody seems to like them. All of this touring that you’ve been doing, Kiss, Def Leppard, Whitesnake….
MM: …Aerosmith, Bad Company…yeah…I’ll tell you what happened. I was touring Australia with Thin Lizzy. Brian, Ricky, Scott and Damon Johnson and we were opening up for Motley Crue/Kiss. It was a great run but Brian started talking about not doing the Black Star Riders and I wasn’t really happy with the way things were going, some business things were not cool so I was already looking at the other side of the fence. Then the Daisies approached me and said they wanted to put this band together, for me to be a part of the music and that they were trying to open up for Aerosmith so they wanted some names to get the slot. They asked if I could help them and I said ‘Of course’ so it was Richard Fortus, Dizzy Reed, myself and Frank Ferrer from Guns ‘n’ Roses, a great line-up and we got the Aerosmith tour. After a week of rehearsals though, David Lowy and I started talking and saying it was a real cool thing. It felt like a band, everybody was writing, everybody was collaborating, a non-corporate thing, just a bunch of guys on the same page being influenced by the same era of Rock ‘n Roll (‘70s and ‘80s) and we all agreed to see if we could take it further. We told the manager to get out there and see what he could find and because we were doing the Aerosmith run we got a bunch of offers. The first one was across the US with Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction and it started from there. A lot of it is that we all bring our profiles to it so right off the bat, people want to hear us ‘Wow! that’s so and so and so and so’ which is a hook and then, without sounding pretentious or boasting too much, we deliver! We have fun on stage, it’s the formulae classic Rock writing with big hooks and big guitar riffs so people are digging it. We also have the funding which puts it all together so what’s not to like or be involved?
Q: Yeah but there’s something different hear Marco. We’ve all seen these super-groups before and they don’t last long. I don’t know what it is, the fun onstage, the mutual respect but this band is going to go on.
MM: Yeah. The mutual respect has a lot to do with it and the fact that we’ve all worked with each other at one point or another. There is a lot of mutual respect, we all know what we all bring to the table so we’re pretty relaxed. There are of course a few things we don’t agree on but the major baggage that breaks bands up, egos and all that, nobody’s there. Then as people started changing when we lost Dizzy and Frank, we all started putting our input in and we choose who we want. I have to say, I did put a lot of input in but I gladly did it because I was taking under consideration cats that can deliver. We know a lot who can and because I live in L.A., I can call half a dozen drummers and a dozen guitar players that would jump on the gig but taking into consideration the kind of gig it is and that we want to go further, we have a good talk about the longer term plan. The people that have been able to work around their schedules and give us a full commitment, those are the people that come in. We’re all busy, we all have other projects but we all work around it. We have great management as well taking care of the path and the social media thing which is a big part of why we are getting a lot of focus right now. I was in Moscow for three weeks and since I got home, I must have done twelve interviews like this one – you’re my third one today.
MM: Yeah and we’re all doing stuff like that. All very active and understand what needs to happen.
Make Some Noise
Q: What can you tell us about Make Some Noise? (Ward Records Released in Japan July 27th)
MM: The writing process started last year when we had a meeting with everybody on the Kiss cruise. We had interest from two or three labels who really wanted to sign us. This was because of the social media stuff we had done, the tours, and everything and we were on the radar. That’s the way it’s done these days: you get on the radar and then the interest comes in. So we set out the plan for the next year, deciding the label and negotiating with them, booking a studio, we wanted to work with Marti Frederiksen (Producer, Aerosmith, Def Leppard) and we wanted a commitment from everybody and from that point on, we all wrote, we all had ideas we could throw in the mix. We’d record some rough things and then had a session where we kind of filtered all this stuff and picked the top twenty-one or twenty-two ideas so we’d have more than we needed. There were a few more that happened on the spur of the moment as well. There is a lot of music, let’s just say the well is full. A lot of talent, a lot of ideas and we could go in so many different directions but at the end, we all agreed that our favourite stuff was from the ‘70s and ‘80s. That ‘crank it in your face’ guitar riff and two or three chords, focus on the choruses and the hooks and keep it as simple as possible. There were a few times as musicians where we’d complicate it a little bit but that’s where our producer would step in and say ‘Guys, this is what it is’. We had a lot of talks with Marti about what direction we wanted it to go and he kept us going there. I remember backstage in Berlin, David Lowy was playing a riff and I recorded it saying it was an odd metre thing that would go really well up against a 4/4 beat and that was the seed. That was just one idea I had but we all had stuff like that to throw in the pot so when we got together we had so much. We are ready for another album to be honest.
Q: It’s good to hear that. There’s not much real Rock out there these days, everyone favouring their own genre they invent or trying to break the speed of sound musically.
MM: Everyone is having fun and we fly the classic Rock ‘n’ Roll flag. We feel there is a need to represent that era and we are big fans of the same bands which is where the emphasis and the inspiration come from.
Q: I can’t let you go without asking you about Cuba. (The Dead Daisies played two shows in Havana 2015 and were instrumental in bringing Cuba to the attention of The Rolling Stones). The documentary speaks volumes but how different was it to everyone’s pre-conceived ideas of Cuba?
MM: It’s always been a place where as a musician, I’ve wanted to go. I know and have worked with a lot of Cuban friends here in the US and in L.A. in particular because I do my Fusion Jazz/Latin Jazz thing so I’m around those circles and being Latino myself, for a while I was getting a lot of calls for that genre. Also, when you are fan of Cuban rhythms, which I am, you want to go to the source so Cuba was on a bucket list. When it came up that we could possibly go there, we all gave it a thumbs up and said let’s try and get on. It would be not only a place we wanted to go but we understood – just for a fleeting minute – that it would be a cool place to go, meet the people and experience the music but we didn’t realize the importance of it until we were actually flying there from Miami. We all looked at each other and without sounding pretentious again, suddenly thought we were in a small way representing the future for Cuba and relations with the US with regards to opening doors. When we got there, we were received with arms wide open, all the hospitality you could imagine and people were really elated and excited about us going there. A lot of us donated time. I put something together with my sponsors (bass, amp and string companies) to donate some stuff to the schools because I knew they had a hard time doing without. I walked away from Cuba, justifying what I do to be honest. I was reminded of how important music is and culturally speaking, how important it is to connect with countries. Also, the fact that I spoke the language, I ended up being one of the interpreters so I got to experience the local sentiment of where everybody sat and the bottom line Glenn is that the people of Cuba are dying to connect with the rest of the world without compromising their own commitments to way of life. They are hungry and thirsty for it and I think we represented that drop of water to quench their thirst a little bit and as history has it, The Stones went down there, Obama went down there, Kiss are thinking about going so hopefully it was a crack in the door for the rest of the world to connect with Cuba. I tell you, if you ever have the chance to go down there, you will walk away and marvel of what the people and country are.
Q: How was the music scene?
MM: We were all surprised how many Rockers there were. They are fans but for a long time, for political reasons, they kept it under the radar and now they are starting to come out. They know their history as well from the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll right through the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Some local Rock bands blew us away man! They were so good! I walked away fulfilled in a big way. We’ve talked about going back and I can see it happening within the next year or so but make it there before it starts changing. It’s a place to experience.
Q: Will do. Marco, thank you very much. We’ll see you in October.
MM: Ok brother, take care.