Saturday, November 9, 2013

Jon Stevens of The Dead Daisies
Interview by The Dedicated Rocker Society

It’s all about timing, this music business – timing and chemistry. Singer-songwriter Jon Stevens, the voice that launched the hits of Australian rock legends Noiseworks and fronted INXS for a few years after the untimely passing of Michael Hutchence, had originally met songwriter and guitarist David Lowy, fresh from his first major musical foray into original music with Red Phoenix, fronted by another Australian music icon, Doc Neeson, back in 2006, but the timing wasn’t right and each went their own way, pursuing other projects.

Then in 2010, “I was looking to do something new,” Lowy remembers. “I hadn’t done any music for a couple of years, having been very busy with other business projects, and David Edwards, who used to manage INXS, rein introduced me to Jon and said, ‘Why don’t you get together and see if there’s any chemistry?’” They got together with a couple guitars and six hours later they had 12 songs – and The Dead Daisies were born. Now that’s chemistry.

Riffing around the kind of rock they each liked – late ‘70s early ‘80s hard rock in, say, that soulful Bad Company meets Foreigner via The Faces kind of vibe – big choruses, powerful melodies, strong hooks – the pair then thought about who could best capture the sounds in their heads. Stevens had previously recorded in Los Angeles with American engineer, producer and multi-instrumentalist John Fields, whose CV includes records for artists as diverse as diverse as The Commodores and Andrew WK, Delta Goodrem and Pink, and so he and Lowy headed over to Wishbone Studios, Blind Melon’s old studio in North Hollywood, and with Stevens writing lyrics in the studio as the songs were being recorded, they finished the debut Dead Daisies album in two weeks.

Apart from the music and that chemistry, The Dead Daisies are about having fun. The fun began in earnest with The Dead Daisies being invited to open for ZZ Top in Southport, Queensland, and Sydney in March 2013, but then the news leaked about their debut single, Lock’N’Load, a new track co-written by and featuring none other than Slash. As Stevens reminds us, “He doesn’t just play on anyone’s album, as you would be aware; this is a labour of love.”

The Dead Daisies officially released Lock’N’Load through Spitfire records on the 19th of April, 2013 and Rolling Stone soon named the track their Daily Download. The band then joined legendary American rockers Aerosmith on their first Australasian tour in 23 years. Then, The Dead Daisies were invited to be a part of the massive 28-date Rockstar Uproar Festival through the US and Canada in August/September, joining Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction and Coheed & Cambria among others. The Dead Daisies Uproar lineup featured, alongside Jon Stevens and David Lowy, Americans Richard Fortus and Marco Mendoza, both of whom have toured with Thin Lizzy, along with Frank and Dizzy Reed from Guns N’Roses. The Dead Daisies’ self-titled debut album was released through Caroline Records in August, perfect timing, what with more than 20 radio networks across the US having added Lock’N’Load, the accompanying video receiving huge support, including play on Much Music, which beams into more than 30 million homes across North America.

The Rocker and I caught up with The Dead Daisies frontman/singer, Jon Stevens before heading over to Europe to tour with Black Star Rider and Western Sand to talk about his band and here is what he shared with us...

How long has the band been together?

JS : “Myself and David Lowy put the band together about a year ago. We wrote some songs and it sounded good. There was a chemistry there that’s for sure. Surprisingly everything came together is very short amount of time. It’s been a whirlwind of a ride ever since.”

How would you describe The Dead Daisies to someone hearing about you for the first time?

JS : “We’re a straight ahead rock and roll band trying to make good music. “

Did you already have an idea on how you wanted the band to sound?

JS : “Yeah, I just didn’t want any technology involved. I wanted to make a straight ahead rock record that was a bit melodic. Like Free or Faces.”

Why no technology?

JS : “Today’s music is done with so much technology like “Pro-Tools”, you just don’t know what’s real anymore. I came from a rock and roll background. I want to record the way it’s supposed to be made, recording a record that I can play “Live”. I wanted to capture the real energy of the band.”

Any memorable moments in the making of the album you would like to share, good or bad?

JS : “You know we made the album in twelve days. There were no expectations making the record. The first song we wrote was called Man Overboard. We ended up with, like, 34 song ideas after about half a dozen get-togethers, narrowed it down to 11 songs, and they’re the songs we recorded. Overall though, making the record went really well.

How did Slash get involved with the project on “Lock N Loaded”?

JS : “I’ve known Slash for years. We wrote a song together, “Locked ‘N’ Loaded”. Right before I finished the record, I wanted to include that song. So, I called up Slash and said, “Remember that song we wrote? I want to put it on my band’s record and I want you to play on it.” He remembered the song and agreed to come down and do it.”

How long did it take for the band’s chemistry start to connect?

JS : “We actually did some recording in a studio in New York for three days last week with a line up and it went really well. It was awesome. It’s still a work in progress, but as far as the band chemistry goes it’s definitely getting better. So by the time we put another record together we’ll be ready.”

You mentioned “This Line Up” has there been any changes since the start?

JS : “We’ve actually had a change in the line-up which has seen Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy) and Dizzy Reed (Guns ‘n Roses), step in for Jim and Alan.”

We noticed you guys were on a morning news show in Utah today. How did that go? What songs did you guys perform?

JS : “We had a great time. Everything went really well. Got up at 4am to do the show. We did, “It’s Gonna Take Time”, “Washington”, “Miles In Front Of Me” and “Man Overboard”.”

How has the Uproar Festival experience been so far?  How has the response been?

JS : “The Uproar Festival has been a blast. The response has been really amazing. Especially when we are fairly a new band like us and to hear people sing your songs it’s a great thing.”

On the road through Sept. Talk about road warriors. Then off to Europe with Black Star Rider and Western Sand. You guys up for it?

JS : “Yeah it’s been a pretty good year so far for us. We just have to go with the flow and feed off the energy. We’re definitely up for it mate (laughs).”

Jon, it’s been pleasure talking with you thanks so much for sharing your time.

JS : “I had a great time. Thanks for the support! I’ll see you guys soon.”

For more info on The Dead Daisies:

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