WHITESNAKE (Live at The Metro Arena Newcastle, U.K., May 22, 2013)
Photo: Mick Burgess

He’s worked alongside some of the biggest names in the business from Ronnie James Dio and David Coverdale.  He played in his own bands Lion, Bad Moon Rising and Burning Rain and recently toured with Glenn Hughes.  He’s now the latest member of the revolving lineup of The Dead Daisies. Mick Burgess called him ahead of the tour to talk about the new Dead Daisies album, Make Some Noise, the UK tour, writing with Dio and Coverdale as well as auditioning for KISS as a teenager not to mention an update on the elusive Kal Swan, singer in Tytan, Lion and Bad Moon Rising.

You’ll be back over in the UK for a run of shows in a few days time.  Are you looking forward to play in the UK again?

 Yeah, absolutely.  We played at The Ramblin’ Man Fair this summer which was great and we also did a couple of mini festival dates so that was fun but this is a proper UK tour.  I can’t wait to get started.

 You are joined on the tour by co-headliners The Answer.  That’s a great lineup for the fans.

 They are awesome.  I’ve known them since 2006 when they supported Whitesnake on some dates. They are great guys, I can’t wait to see them again.

 The Dead Daisies were originally formed to feature a revolving door of musicians who join and leave as and when other commitments allow.  Who is in the touring lineup for these shows?

 The touring line-up will be me, John Corabi, Marco Mendoza, Brian Tichy and John Lowy, the guys who made the record.  I think the line-up will stay like this for quite some time. It took those guys some time to figure out what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it.  They kind of did things in reverse to what bands usually do.  They had written a bunch of songs when Jon Stevens was on vocals and then they decided to put a band together and they didn’t really know who they could get so they hired some people and got some friends in to play.  This is the first time that the band who played on the record is going out on tour with it.  Everybody on stage played on the entire record all the way through.

 What sort of setlist do you have lined up for this tour?

 The new album will be a big feature on the tour with about six or seven songs being in the set.  There’ll be a couple from Revolucion and a couple from the first album.  We also do some covers.  We’ll do some new covers that we haven’t done before so there’ll be some surprises this year. We’re excited about breaking out some new stuff.  It’s good to mix things up and we’ll do some stuff we haven’t recorded yet that are fun to play. We did some Free songs last time but I don’t think we’ll be doing any this time, it’ll be different songs.

 You have members who have been in Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Dio, Ozzy, Foreigner, Motley Crue and a fair few others. Are you planning on dropping a song or two from their catalogue into the set each night?

 We try to steer clear of doing music that we’ve done with our other bands and prefer to concentrate on music we’ve created together or are cover songs that are fun for us to do.  I think in the Dead Daisies we are going to concentrate on stuff that we all mutually grew up on.

 You’re the newest member of the band.  How did you end up joining the Dead Daisies?

 I was on tour with Glenn Hughes when Marco Mendoza called me up to say Richard Fortus had cracked some ribs in a motorcycle accident and he wasn’t able to do play for a while and he asked if I could fill in but I was committed to doing some shows in Japan with Glenn and it just wouldn’t have been cool to not finish the tour with Glenn so they found someone else.  A couple of months later they called me to say Richard and Dizzy had dates with Guns n’ Roses and they said they wanted to make a brand new record with me and that sounded great.  These were old buddies of mine so I knew it’d be great to do. Obviously Marco, Brian and I were all in Whitesnake but all three of us weren’t in at the same time but I did play with them both at different times when I was in Whitesnake. I thought those two guys together in the same band would be really fun and I was right.  They are really awesome together.  I encourage everyone to come out and see those guys.  Corabi too, I’m blown away at how great a singer and a frontman he is.  I’ve worked with some incredible singers including Ronnie James Dio and David Coverdale so it’s with such respect that I mention John Corabi is becoming one of those guys. He really is one of the best.

 Last year you toured with Glenn Hughes.  That looked like a good match musically.  Was that only intended as a tour or were you planning on developing a band together?

 That was only going to be for the one tour.  Glenn has a solo band that he uses he likes his band and I do to.  I think he just wanted to go out as a trio and make some changes and have some fun and get a ringer in so he called me and asked if I’d be up for it which I was.  We talked about maybe doing something together again in the future but as the year progressed and he heard that Deep Purple were going to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame he kind of switched gears a bit and we agreed that it’d be better for him just to feature himself all the way.  He’s made a new record that I know he’s really excited about and I know it’ll be awesome. Me and Glenn are all good and hopefully we will work together sometime soon.

 Back to the Dead Daisies. Did you all write together or did a couple of you focus on the writing?

 We all did it together.  The whole project was done together as five guys from start to finish from writing to recording.  It’s cool as you can hear the energy on the record. It’s really raw but has a great feel to it.  It’s got a good vibe to it. It’s kind of old school how we did the whole thing.  The whole band recorded together and I haven’t done that for a long time since I was in Dio.

 You’ve written with some great song writers over the years including Ronnie James Dio and David Coverdale.  What did you learn from them about the art of song writing?

 Ronnie was so focussed exactly on the little things that he wanted. He wasn’t so much into jamming or experimenting.  His focus was incredible and he knew in his head what he wanted.  David on the other hand was more into jamming so I could throw something out there and he’d just start singing.  Quite often I’d play a riff and David would start singing and we’d record it and capture it before the moment had gone. Me and David had a great chemistry together and I’m really proud of what we created together.

 What was your aim when you started work on the album?

 Brian and I had worked on music together in the past but Marco and I had never written together and John and I had never written together but these guys are old friends and I knew they were all great players.  The idea was to sit down and break the ice in terms of what we could come up with. Right from the start everybody had ideas, everybody had riffs and we immediately came up with a few things that we were all excited about.  It just went from there.  The aim really was for us to find music that we all really liked.   The song Last Time I Saw The Sun started off as a Dancing Days sort of riff but by the time I’d finished it, it had a real dirty Aerosmith vibe.  It didn’t start out like that but that’s how it ended after we’d worked on it.

 This is your third album in as many years.  That’s pretty quick work in this day and age.  Do you feel that the band is particularly creative at the moment?

 We’re quite geographically challenged.  We’ve got one guy in New York, another in Nashville and a couple in LA so it’s difficult to get us all in one spot at the same time so when we do we just want to kick ass.  We didn’t know what we were going to come up with but after two weeks we had 45 songs.  We didn’t need to meddle around too much.  We just got into the studio and played. The more we played the tighter it got and then we recorded it.  It was really a natural process.

 Why did you decide to cover the Fortunate Son by Creedance Clearwater Revival?

 The Dead Daisies have done that song live for a number of years now before I was in the band.  It always went over well on stage. So we decided at the last minute to record the song.  We did it in two takes and we were really pleased how it turned out.

 When talking about singers that you’ve worked with the two obvious ones are Ronnie James Dio and David Coverdale but you’ve worked with other great singers such as Kelly Hansen and James Christian and also Kal Swann who you worked with in Lion and Bad Moon Rising.  Do you know what he’s up to these days?

 He tapped out in 1995 as he wasn’t interested in pursuing a career in music anymore. We had a lot of pressure from the record company to change the sound and then kept changing their minds.  It just became uncomfortable for him and he wasn’t having fun anymore.  I talked to him recently and they ended up using a song of his in a movie.  He’s doing really good in Hollywood making great money behind the scenes.  Another singer I’ve worked with who’s in Burning Rain with me, is Keith St. John.  He’s a great guy and an incredible singer so I’ve been lucky with having worked with so many great singers.

 You were involved with House of Lords for a while too playing on the Sahara album.  Were you a full band member for this or were you brought in on a session basis?

 I played on some demos for the second record and Gene Simmons of KISS who owned the record company, asked me to join the band.  I recorded the album and I did the tour for it and it was a lot of fun but I was never a full member.

 Going right back to your early days, I understand that you once auditioned for Kiss?   Was this to replace Ace Frehley?

 Yes, that’s right. I’d just come to LA and was playing around for a couple of weeks. When we were playing a show on Sunset Strip a girl came up to me saying she was the girlfriend of Eric Carr, the drummer in KISS and that I should audition.  A couple of weeks later he came back with her.  He was a really nice guy and he really liked my playing.  We went to the studio a couple of days later and I met Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. It was quite surreal but it was a great thing.  We rehearsed together a couple of times and I recorded with them.  I was just too young.  I was only 18 and had just moved away from home for the first time.  The Dead Daisies have just done a run of shows with KISS.  Those guys are just so cool. Me and Paul have talked about everything under the sun from guitars to kids, we both have kids the same age, but we never talked about that audition.

 Last year you released the Revolution Saints album with Deen Castronova and Jack Blades.  Was that a studio only collaboration or did you get to play some live shows too?

 That was a studio only creation.  We could never get our schedules together to get any live shows done.  That’s a really cool album and maybe someday we’ll get something together and do some live shows.

 Outside of your current work with the Dead Daisies, do you have any other projects lined up?

 I am doing another Burning Rain record and Keith and I are banging some ideas around now for that. We have a rough outline of the songs and just have to put together a schedule.  That could be out sometime next year or maybe the year after.

 After you finish your UK shows do you head off to Europe for a while or is it back to The States before Christmas??

 We’ll be doing some shows in Europe and we’ll wrap up those shows towards the end of December.  I’ll stick around in Germany for a while with my family and we’ll have Christmas over there.

The Dead Daisies and The Answer ‘s co-headlining tour starts on 12th November in Aberdeen and finishes in London on 23rd November. 

The Dead Daisies new album, Make Some Noise is out now


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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