Tonight, at Adelaide Entertainment Centre, KISS return with their 40th Anniversary World Tour.
Supporting them is musical collective The Dead Daisies, a band made up of some of rock’s most accomplished musicians.
Fronted by John Corabi, The Dead Daisies are touring Australia with David Lowy (guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass), Brian Tichy (drums), Dizzy Reed (keys) and David Leslie (guitar).
John Corabi of Motley Crue and RATT fame, and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake) spoke with us from their hotel room about the new album, Cuba and Jimmy Barnes.
Touring the world is nothing new for these guys and John says he’s been to Adelaide a few times, even if the memory is a little foggy.
“I have been here before. I don’t remember what year it was, but it was with Eric Singer from KISS, he has a side thing called ESP, with me, him, Bruce Kulick (KISS) and Chuck Garric (Alice Cooper’s band) so we came and did a show here. Then I believe I was here with Bruce Kulick doing an acoustic show,” he says.
“Bruce was here this year and Marco and I went and saw him play at a place called Frankies because we were recording the Dead Daisies album in Sydney.”
The new album he speaks of is called Revolución and is inspired by a recent tour, which changed their lives.
“We started the album in Cuba. It was pretty fucking cool, even just from a history point of view,” John says. “I vaguely remember (and I’m giving my age away here) the Kennedy assassination but when you go back in history and you think of the Bay of Pigs invasion when Russia was trying to put the missiles in there and then when Kennedy was assassinated, everyone thought it was Fidel Castro.”
“There was all this crazy shit and there was all these conspiracy theories; but we put all these sanctions on Cuba and blockades. The guys had been working on going to Cuba for about a year and for whatever reason, and I don’t know what happened between Jon Stevens and the band, but he couldn’t go to Cuba with them so they called me and asked me if I wanted to go, and two weeks later, I flew from Canada to Cuba. We did a show in a club and one in a grand amphitheatre for a few thousand people.”
Playing different venues, and working with local musicians, John says they were able to create an album they love, a coffee table book full of awesome photos and a great documentary about the trip.
“There’s a song on the album called ‘Midnight Moses’ and that’s a cover of an old Sensational Alex Harvey Band song. The minute we started singing it, the audience started singing back. We had such a great response we started recording stuff,” he says.
“We decided to bring in some Cuban musicians. We had this percussionist, Yaimi Karell Lay; she was amazing. So we did the album and a coffee table book, and a documentary on the whole thing. We were looking at photos and all the film stuff, and all through Cuba, there’s signs saying ‘Viva la Revolución!’ so we were trying to come up with a title for the album and someone said, what about Revolución?”
Settled on Revolución, they set about making the book and the documentary, which is being seen far and wide.
“We have a photographer who travels with us and she took some amazing photos which you can buy as a coffee table book or as an e-book. The photos are just genius.” John says.
“The documentary came out about a month ago on Twitter. It’s about 25 minutes, but it’s fucking awesome. It’s so weird, we’re flying on QANTAS and they’ve got the documentary so it’s pretty cool.”
The tour kicked off in Perth on Saturday night, and even after a less than pleasing AFL Grand Final result, the crowd were ready to party.
John says it’s great playing with the friends and musicians he’s known since the 1980s.
“I’ve known Eric Singer since 1985 when I moved to California. My ex-wife used to work for a hair salon he used to go to so I met him then. I moved from Philadelphia and Gene Simmons was very interested in the first band and wanted to sign them. It was a band called Angora,” he says.
“We changed our name about ten times because we couldn’t figure out what the deal was. The whole thing imploded. I met Paul (Stanley) through Union, the band I had with Bruce Kulick and he came to a few shows we did. Then Tommy (Thayer), I’ve known from Black n Blue. Prior to me joining this thing, the guys have toured with them before but they all dig the band and they love the old stuff and the new record and they wanted us to come out with them. Since I’ve been in the band, we’ve toured Europe, then we’ve got this one and then when we get home, we have about a ten days off and then we go on the KISS Kruise, which will be fun.”
Unfortunately, guitarist Richard Fortus had a motorcycle accident recently and is unable to make it on this tour; he will be replaced by Dave Leslie from Baby Animals, but John says Richard is on the mend.
“I called Richard from Sydney and he’s much better. He’s out and about doing his thing but he’s still in some pain. Everything’s a little foggy. I asked him if a car hit him, but he said he doesn’t remember because he has a concussion, but things are starting to come back to him and Richard says the last thing he remembers is he was riding his bike with a buddy and a bee got into his shirt and stung him. He has a giant welt on his chest so maybe he was allergic and he passed out,” he says.
“He’s pulling his hair out that he couldn’t be here. The guy’s tough as nails, he could have been here and done the shows. He said he could get a bar stool and sit on that to play but he’d have to switch his pedals. My concern was whether he was ready to be on an aeroplane for that long. He’ll take some time and heal and maybe do the KISS cruise.
“Dave (Leslie) is awesome. He’s a really good guy. It’s funny because our first show in Perth, even Dave Lowy couldn’t do it and that’s the thing about this band; they all know we have other things so everybody harps on that list of names who have been with the band, but they aren’t band members, there is a core band that does the record.”
At this stage of the interview, Marco Mendoza wanders into the room, greets me with a kiss on each cheek and apologises profusely for his tardiness.
He’s just as charismatic as John Corabi and between them, they are a headlining show just in conversation.
We start talking about ‘Empty Heart’ the song on the album that Jimmy Barnes appears on and their enthusiasm for the Aussie star is more than apparent.
“I love Jimmy!” John says. “It was a weird story, Brian (Tichy), our drummer started the record with us in Cuba but he couldn’t come to Australia due to other commitments so Jimmy’s son, Jackie jumped in and finished the record. So Jimmy was in another studio at 301 in Sydney and, being a dad, he came in and checked on his kid and he heard some of our stuff.”
Marco interjects, “He said, ‘Hey, I’ve got some songs you guys would love!’ So he brought them in the next day and we were digging them but when it came down to it, we decided to go with ‘Empty Heart’. And then again, I don’t think it was planned, but he was checking in on Jackie and Jackie said, ‘Hey Pops, it’d be cool if you sang on that song!’ so one thing led to another and John and Jimmy did a duet.”
The new album is a collection of classic tracks; the kind of album that takes you back to a time when rock was raw and real.
Marco says it’s hard for him to find a track he likes most, because the whole album is a compilation of memories for him.
“‘With You and I’ is a last minute track and it’s one of my favourites. We’re playing it live and everybody says it’s a good one, but there’s so many; and I finally got to hear the album and I couldn’t stop listening because every track has something really special; of course, because you’re involved in it, but we have a lot of great memories in the studio,” he says.
“Commercially thinking, it’s an album with a wide spectrum stylistically speaking; and people are digging it because of that, it’s a trip. It’s got the concept of a ‘70s vibe. Of course I was only two, or three then,” he laughs.
The album is available on vinyl (red vinyl, Marco tells me) as well as CD and download.
“Vinyl in America is the fad right now,” John says. “It comes with a download card because a download is almost limitless but vinyl can’t store as much. There are 13 songs on the CD but you can only get 10 on vinyl, but you can get the rest on the download.”
The Dead Daisies will play the KISS 40th Anniversary World Tour in Australia and New Zealand. They’re in Adelaide tonight and tickets are still available.
KISS have extended a very special offer to the Daisies fans who would like to attend the concert supported by The Dead Daisies. This will be Gold Tickets ($138.00) for Silver price ($99.00) including all floor and Gold seats available. A promotional code can be found at: http://www.thedeaddaisies.com.
Written by Libby Parker