The Dead Daisies are a band to watch out for, especially if you’re a lover of all things classic rock. The super-group (in my words not theirs) is composed of members of Guns N Roses, the Rolling Stones and INXS and (in their words) make new music for classic rock fans. I caught up with former Noiseworks and INXS frontman Jon Stevens and partner in crime and Rhythm Guitarist David Lowy at the Shepherds Bush Empire on November 23rd to talk about touring, working with the legendary SLASH and the bastardization of music….
The Black Flag: So second night of the tour….
Jon Stevens: Yeah. It’s great to be playing in London and great to be playing at Shepherds Bush Empire. It’s one of those gigs that, well coming from Australia, we all know about this place. It’s a pretty prestigious gig you know…
TBF: You guys are something of a super group. Would you agree with that?
Jon: Ahhh well it’s not really a super group at all, it’s more a bunch of likeminded people that come together to make some music and have some fun. We all have day jobs. In as much as Daryl plays with the Rolling Stones and the other guys play with Guns N Roses. So when they call that’s what they’ll be doing. So for them to join us is a luxury for David and me. And certainly a luxury that we’re happy about as they’re like minded people and we’re playing with great guys and that are amazing players. And yeah it’s cool… And we’re making new music. You know it’s the Dead Daisies, its new stuff. Its fresh stuff. It’s Rock N Roll….
TBF: Your ethos is to make new music for classic rock fans. What do you think it is about that rock music from the seventies and early eighties?
Jon: It’s just personal taste you know. With today’s music, there’s so much, such a broad spectrum of music to choose from now. You can take your pick and choose from everywhere but I guess with us, we play real instruments and I sing. We are classic in that sense. Technology is predominant, certainly in Australia at the moment, so you don’t know what’s real anymore. We’re real that’s what we do, you know. It’s kind of weird but a Rock N Roll band in this day and age is somewhat of a novelty. ‘It’s like wow! You play that thing?’ I mean I’ve been at gig and the DJ is playing to like a hundred thousand people and everyone sees that and they haven’t done anything. It’s smoke and mirrors. We like to bleed for our art….
TBF: The albums been highly praised so far
Jon: Yeah it’s been really lovely and very well received and us being here obviously and playing and developing. We’re all seasoned guys but this is like starting from scratch again and that’s really exciting. Because we’re actually in the trenches and doing the stuff and it’s really exciting to be doing that, cause it’s real!
TBF: Is this the stuff that you want to do, compared to what you have to do?
Jon: This is the stuff that we have to do and do we want to do it? Of course, because we love playing music and everyone comes from such established bands that are playing massive arenas, but coming together and playing little things and supporting, where you’re not the main act. You know we’re shit kickers. And it’s cool because you have to remember your humble beginnings, always. You can never rest on your laurels, ever! What’s exciting for us with the Dead Daisies is that we’re making music together and it’s exciting to work together.
TBF: You worked with Slash on the track ‘Lock n Load’. What’s it like to work with him?
Jon: Yeah we wrote that together. He’s a great guy, awesome, awesome fella. You meet some of the greatest people in the world along the way and you make connections with people. That song we wrote a long time ago and I never used it for anything else, anything before, we actually wrote a bunch of stuff together actually, because to me it just never found a home, until David and I put the Dead Daisies together and it was the last thing we did actually. We put the album together and I was like ‘I’ve got this song that Slash and I wrote a long time ago and I think it will be great on this record’. And I called Slash and said I said ‘Dude. Here’s my new band, the Dead Daisies’. And I sent him all the stuff and he was like ‘Oh awesome. Love it!’ Cause we wrote it together, so I had to ask his permission, you know and as much as he’s not going to be involved with anything if it’s not cool as far as he’s concerned and I wouldn’t put him in that position. And he was like ‘Yeah man I’ll play on it and do my stuff.’ And we’re really happy that he showed up and did that.
TBF: You’ve got a long tour ahead of you. Is it exhausting?
Jon: It’s all exhausting at our age… (Laughs)
David Lowy: But hardly for men of our ability…
Jon: We’ve just done two months in America. And we came up from Australia the other day. Still a bit jet lagged its coming there slowly but yeah its different performing in these cold climates. Especially as the singer. I’ve actually got to think about being wrapped up. You’re going hot-cold, hot-cold all day, which is really dangerous for a singer cause you get bad chest colds and I haven’t had to think about that shit for years cause in Australia, our winters like your Summer. But it’s just great to be here and great to be playing in the UK with the Dead Daisies and the reception we’ve been getting has been really, really nice.
TBF: Classic Rock magazine love you guys. They gave your album away didn’t they? I think that’s great that you gave your album away. Why did you choose to do this when you could have sold it?
Jon: It’s one of those things where, if people are interested, they’ll download it anyway and you make these things and go ‘what the hell?’ We’d rather people hear it and spread the word than worry about if it’s going to sell or not. In this day and age, if you look at Spotify and those sort of things, you realise that music’s been bastardized. It’s awful, awful, awful what’s happened to music it really is. And when the artist that creates it has to give it away, well sometimes you have to do that to get noticed, you know what I mean. We’re prolific songwriters so it’s not like we’re that precious about it. We just want people to hear it.
People make up their own minds; everybody’s educated nowadays in what they want to hear. There’s so much entertainment, there’s so much out there to choose from, it’s kind of like, why are they going to listen to us? Unless you’re a classic rock fan and you think, I’ll go check that shit out, or unless you go to a gig. Word of mouth is much more important than getting it rammed down your throat by some record label.
TBF: What’s coming up next? Your still writing the second album aren’t you?
Jon: We’re actually playing three new songs tonight. And yeah of course we’re going to make another record. We just make music, because that’s what we do. On the touring front next year, when we decide to go back out again and we’ll definitely go back to America and if people are available, then great but if not, somebody else will be happy to jump in and be a part of it, because of what’s gone before and within the band. If Rich says he can’t make it because he’s got to do Guns N Roses then I’m sure there are two or three, four other players of extreme talent that will step in and protect his gig (laughs).
TBF: So what else is on the horizon?
Jon: Oh man we get home on the 24th December. So what else is on the horizon? All I ever think about is 24th December and getting home….
David Lowy: We’re doing some gigs in February and March over in Australia.
Jon: Yeah bunch a Daisies gigs, back in the home country….
TBF: Ok last question. Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Jon: Ahhh five years…. Still making music. He’s younger than me so he’ll still be around (laughs). We’ll still be around. I don’t know if any of us will be talking to each other….
David Lowy: Five years is a long time…. One day at a time. Everything’s one day at a time. We plan it and god laughs.
Jon: I guess. Don’t make any plans, apart from the immediate. What’s in front of you. There’s no guarantees for anything, certainly for us guys playing music. We’ll always be playing music. What will you be doing in five years’ time?