It took The Dead Daisies a few years and a lot of lineup changes to find their identity, and now that they have, the world is taking notice. The band founded in 2012 by Australian guitarist David Lowy has been around the globe multiple times, building its fan base by playing some of the biggest rock festivals in the world (Download, Graspop Metal Meeting, Woodstock Poland), opening for some of the biggest bands in the world (KISS, Aerosmith) and headlining shows of its own. This month, the Daisies are set to play first their North American headlining dates, dubbed the “Dirty Dozen Tour.” The band members—Lowy, bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders, Whitesnake), drummer Brian Tichy (Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne, Pride & Glory, Whitesnake, Foreigner), vocalist John Corabi (Motley Crue, Union, The Scream) and lead guitarist Doug Aldrich (Dio, Whitesnake)—might not be household names, but they should be. All seasoned professionals at the tops of their games, they have come together in a band that’s flying the classic rock flag loudly and proudly. Mendoza recently called in to talk to Live Metal’s Greg Maki about the upcoming tour, why the band doesn’t charge fans for meet-and-greets and more.
LIVE METAL: It’s been a busy year, busy summer for The Dead Daisies already. You’ve been to Europe, Japan, South America, Mexico. How are you holding up?
MARCO MENDOZA: Well, I don’t mind telling you we are a little bit beat up. But I can’t complain. When you’re a little kid starting to play music, these are the things that you dream about. You always remember going to the first festival, the first show. I remember going to the first show I ever went to. It was Alice Cooper, and I looked up at the stage and I go, wow, I dream about doing something like that. Yeah, I could sit around and complain and bitch and moan, but I don’t. I choose to embrace it. I love it. I love what I do. We’re very privileged, and we’re very lucky that right now we’re on an upswing. People are interested in what we’re doing. I tell everybody, bring it on, man, let’s do it. It’s a team effort—cats like you, the fans, the band. We’re all trying to make something happen here.
Physically, yeah, I don’t mind telling you it’s a little draining. And this is another fact: I’ve played with quite a few bands—I’ve been around for a while—but I’ve never worked this hard. It’s a sign of the times. You have to work very hard to stay relevant, on the map and on the radar. It’s OK, man. We’re having a blast. We’re lucky to be getting invited to play all these places.
Speaking of that, I follow the band and you on all the social media stuff. You guys just look like you’re having so much fun out there—playing the shows, meeting the fans, kind of taking in the places where you’re playing. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We understand the importance of the social media thing. Like our founder, David Lowy, says—it’s very true—we’re trying to include the fans on our little journey, because if we include you guys on our little journey and you can see what we’re doing and where we’re at, you become more interested. Without sounding pretentious, not only do we have good music—we have good songs and all that—it’s about the fans participating these days. You feel like you’re part of the journey. I don’t mind telling you there’s some great stuff, amazing stuff—99.9 percent of the stuff is great. But there’s some freaks out there that are just out to do no good, and they have too much time on their hands, they don’t have a life, and they do nothing but spew negative, venomous bullcrap. But you’ve got to put up with it. That’s the reality of the business that we’re in.
It’s like we want you guys to see what we’re doing, and it’s working. People seem to be more interested and engaged. So we’re doing everything possible to do that.
The band has taken—I don’t know if you want to call it a stand, but you don’t do the paid meet-and-greets with the fans. The signings after the shows are for free. Today, that’s an avenue a lot of artists are going down to bring in some extra funds. Why have you guys stayed away from that?
I think it was a conscious effort. I’ve got to give management credit for that. We have a guy—every team, football team, baseball team, you always have the coach, right? You have the coach that’s on the outside looking in, looking at all the stats, putting the best social media team together. Again, without sounding pretentious, he’s got the best band he could possibly put together these days—with the cream of the crop, everybody at the top of their game, with profiles, credits, names. The initial interest is there, so now it’s up to him to look on the outside in and see where he can take it. That was one of the things that came up in our conversations, because yes, I’ve been part of bands where we will do the VIP package—we’ll do an acoustic set before the show like KISS does. It’s not a bad thing, because the reality, touring these days has gotten to be really, extremely expensive. At the end of a two- to three-month run, you want to go home with a little bit of profit in your pocket so you can support your kids, pay your mortgage and live.
But he made it a point to point this out to us, and I tend to agree. It’s like, “Guys, it’s kind of gotten out of hand.” If the fan who buys the album—we put out a package deal now with “Live & Louder,” which is a very cool package—if you go out of your way to spend 25, 30 bucks to get that, then you come to the show and you spend another 20 bucks. If you come with a partner, that’s 40. And then you drink a couple, it’s a hundred-buck endeavor. The reality is, today’s economy, not everybody has that kind of income that’s expendable. So it’s pretty important that we do everything possible.
The short answer is yes, we don’t charge for it. We are trying to make friends and build a fan base. We want people to be interested in who we are and what we are doing with our music, and it seems to be working, to the extent where, Greg, it was getting out of hand. Honestly, without exaggerating, we would play normally an hour and a half to 100 minutes a show, and then we get off, and we call it a quick “towel-off,” because we go straight from the stage to the signing area, and we’re still sweating. We’ve got a towel wrapped around our hair, and we’re dripping on the posters that we’re giving away. But people got wind of it, and then we were doing 200, 250 people average. So you do the math. We do the show, we get off, we would spend two, sometimes two and a half hours signing and saying hello to the fans.
So what we decided to do—management and the team got their thinking caps together. We decided to invite the first 100 people at every show. What you do is you get a wristband, and you get to hang, and we’ll do that. That’s an hour and a half average.
It’s more manageable.
Yeah. It also gives incentive and motivation for the fans to show up earlier and catch the opening band, if there is an opening band. So everybody wins. That’s the idea. The idea of trying to get every cent out of the fans, I never agreed with that. It never felt right with me. I did it out of necessity with the other projects, the other bands.
So we have a nice, comfortable middle ground here. Everybody seems to be happy, and they really appreciate it. They talk about it like water, like they’re just discovering water. (laughs) I’m serious. It’s like, “This is amazing.” So we really appreciate it. It seems to be working.
Coming up next, Aug. 3, you’re playing Woodstock Poland with a 60-piece orchestra. Have you ever done anything like that before?
I have to say, I had a chance to go to college, and I played with a big band in an orchestra. Even though it was a short-lived thing, I did some TV shows, some talk shows where we had a full thing, arrangements, and we had special guests. So I’ve had a little bit of experience with that. I’ve done some movies, movie tracks where you’re in a room with a big orchestra and you play and record it. So I’ve had a little bit of experience—not a whole lot but enough to be introduced to it, to know what to expect. But to be doing The Dead Daisies, I think it’s going to be really cool. We have a few surprises in store, as far as what songs we’re going to be recording. We’re all excited, man. It’s a new chapter in the Dead Daisies’ journey.
The other thing that’s really cool about this band is we document everything to have content for social media purposes. Every so often, we have a piece of film, like we did with the Cuba trip—I don’t know if you ever had a chance to check that out—but that’s a little documentary, a short film, and again, it lets you in on what we’re doing, and I think people get more engaged and more interested. So we’re going to do the same thing with the festival there in Poland, Music for Freedom. I think we’re celebrating peace and love and freedom and everything we all stand for, and the fact that we’re playing with a 60-piece orchestra is amazing. We’re gonna have a blast. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see the finished video and the audio. We’re probably gonna do that.
Yeah, that’s coming up next. We just got back from Mexico City on Monday or Sunday. But now, after Poland, we’ll be doing some dates in the U.S. We’re coming to your area, right, which is going to be Baltimore.
Yes, I’m very excited about that.
At Rams Head Live. What’s the venue like, man?
It’s good. Yeah, it’s a real good place to see a show. Bands I talk to all seem to like it a lot.
Can I ask you something, Greg? It’s been a while. Every time we come around—we’ve been very lucky; we do the arenas or festivals, so huge venues. I don’t know how old you are, but were you around for Hammerjacks in Baltimore?
I was just a little bit too young. I’m 37.
You’re 37. I’m going to be 85 next week. (laughs) Only kidding. But I’ve gotta tell you, talk to anybody in Baltimore that’s maybe 10 years older than you. Hammerjacks was the place in Baltimore. It was legendary. It was historical. It was prestigious to play there. I played there quite a few times; it was part of the circuit. I don’t know what happened. I think they built a stadium in that area or something.
There have been movements to open a new one in a different location. I think something is happening with that now, but I’m not really sure.
That would be so cool. I would endorse that, because it was like playing the Whiskey in L.A., same thing in Hollywood. A lot of history, a lot of good times there. So I’m hoping and I’m thinking Rams Head Live kind of took its place?
There’s a couple places there. There’s Rams Head, and then there’s Soundstage just down the street, and they get most of the shows there between the two of them.
We know this for a fact: All of us come from a lot of different bands, with a lot of years of experience, but we know that sitting around, we talk about Baltimore being one of the highlights of this next run in the U.S. So we’re hoping that all the folks listening or reading come out and check it out, because it’s a great band, man. And I’m really proud to be part of this lineup. The guys couldn’t be cooler. We’re all friends. We’re in a different place in life now. We’re older, we’re married, we’re husbands, we’re fathers. But we still love the rock ‘n’ roll and music, and we love to perform on stage. We’re supporting “Make Some Noise” that came out last year, ‘16, and “Live & Louder,” which is a compilation of a little bit of the history of the Dead Daisies catalogue.
Yeah, man, if you like bombastic, no-nonsense, in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll with a little bit of attitude at the front, The Dead Daisies is definitely a band for you. We’re flying the classic rock flag, which is something that’s disappearing these days. You know that. So every little bit of support helps. Talk to everybody on social media. Go in there and join the fan club—it costs nothing. Come out and support the gigs, and we will try our best to make you feel welcome and appreciated. We’ll give you a little memento at the end of the show. So there you go: Everybody wins. La la la. (laughs)
Read part two of the interview here.
Buy tickets to see The Dead Daisies at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Md.