Back with a new line-up featuring none other than Voice of Rock Glenn Hughes alongside mainstays Doug Aldrich [guitar], Deen Castronova [drums] and David Lowy [guitar], the Dead Daises have been positively rejuvenated. With the fruits of their labours in ‘Holy Ground’ set for a January 2021 release, we sat down with Glenn and Doug for an in-depth chat about the album and the reconfigured band, as well as touching on Glenn’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction with Deep Purple, and more. Bustle and flow; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi gents how are you today?
Glenn Hughes: I’m good. We’re home and it’s a nice day, and we’ve been working on promoting this record, and it’s good to see you, man!
Doug Aldrich: I’m good. I’m just in guitar world over here at home. It’s bizarre being at home. Usually when I’m home I’m just doing the parenting stuff, and writing and whatever, and now I’m doing a lot of juggling; I’m doing a lot of renovation on my house, and parenting, and playing and writing, and hanging with Glenn.
The middle of a pandemic must be a strange time to be releasing new music; Glenn, even with your lengthy career in music, surely you’ve seen nothing like this where you’ve had to just sit and wait.
GH: No, it’s remarkable, but it has not stopped us from producing music and writing music. You know, I’m not waiting around. I’ve been working hard at home in my studio, and getting together with Doug. Doug and I get together quite often, to stay in the moment. We have to have some sort of sense of humour behind us, because it would appear now we have a vaccine coming, and the world is waiting for this. I’ve been praying so hard for this, so hopefully we’re on the back side of this now, to get back to some kind of normal.
You guys go way back, but Doug; what’s it like having Glenn in the Dead Daisies?
DA: It’s amazing, plus, he’s one of my all-time favourite people in the world. I mean, he is one of my best friends, and I love him dearly, and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years, and hopefully, he feels the same about me.
GH: I do.
DA: I was blown away, when that it came that we could get Glenn Hughes. Obviously, I wanted to call him and say; “yes!”, but management asked; “what do I think? How would it work out?”. It was the most exciting thing we could do, because, you know, you always think about who could replace, but it’s not about that; we wanted to take a new direction - to bring something fresh - and he does that. He’s incredible, and right away, obviously, he and I had a vibe, and it was clear that there was a great vibe there.
Glenn, had you any trepidation about becoming part of a band again?
GH: Well, for me, Black Country Communion is still in my life, of course, and as a solo artist, you know I’ve been doing the solo work with the Classic Deep Purple live show – I’ve done that for a couple of years – and it came to a point, around early last year, I’m thinking; “what do I need to do now? Is there something?” And out of the blue, I get a chance to meet David Lowy – the founding member of the Dead Daisies. We met in Los Angeles, had a nice dinner, and he told me the band were having some changes, and asked me if I wanted to get together with them in New York and have a rehearsal, and write new songs and hang out. For me, it was very important; if I’m going to be involved with anybody musically, I have to be part of a team, a family, if you will, and David Lowy wanted to know; could I be part of this family, the Dead Daisies? So we got together in Hollywood and wrote a couple of songs; ‘Holy Ground’ and ‘Righteous Days’, and here we are now talking to you after making this album in France, and we’re getting ready to release it.
Doug, you’ve previously worked with David Coverdale in Whitesnake; what’s it like come from one unrighteous brother to another?
DA: That’s a funny thing that these guys have had forever! They’re both great guys. It’s such a small world, and when you think about it, there’s so many bands under the umbrella of Richie Blackmore. And to work with two of Richie’s singers and band members – actually, three! There was also Ronnie [James Dio] – it’s crazy! But, I’ve learned a lot. I learned so much from David. We spent so many years together, writing and recording, and now the same with Glenn, and I love it! When we were working on the songs after the initial recording sessions that we had at Sunset Sound [studios], Glenn said; “I’ve got these other songs that I want to present to the band”, and I said; “cool, well, I could come down and help out, make some proper demos”, and I just came down and Glenn had these things, so I just recorded him, and really just tried to get his vision down, and it was amazing because his playing is undefinable; it’s just something from where he grew up, I guess. We’d refer back to it, and figure out the nuance that made it special, and that’s part of the reason that this record is so special.
Glenn, you mention the song ‘Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)’, which opens the album; that is one hell of a way to kick off an album, isn’t it?
GH: Yeah, that’s the first song I wrote for the band. They didn’t even know I was writing it, and I played it to Doug, and then we played it to Dave and Deeno [Castronovo, drums], and then we said; “let’s go record it”. Again, I wrote the song, but I wanted to make sure it was the right song for the band. They wanted it to evolve. Everyone in life is evolving, so I was thinking to myself, the band needs to move on now, and hopefully, this song has built the foundation for the album ‘Holy Ground’ would be. It was the first song we recorded, and I think it has been a great foundation for the band.
DA: Yeah, when we recorded it, initially, we jammed it out together, and everybody got their feelers on it, and then when we got to France, when it came to doing guitar parts, I wanted to take a little liberty and kind of build it up in one section, so the main riff got a little more dynamic, and I think it worked out really well.
GH: We recorded it in Los Angeles, and then we rerecorded it a little slower in France, and it worked out much better to sing to, because it was a little bit too fast.
Song two on the album; ‘Like No Other (Bassline)’ is another kick-ass song, and Glenn, you’re the voice of rock, but is it nice to remind people about what a fantastic bass player you are too?
GH: Thanks! Okay, a true story; we record live, and I like to record live, and there’s always a microphone for me to sing if I’m playing live, and I hadn’t wrote the lyrics yet for ‘Like No Other’, and I wrote the title, but in the chorus I’m singing [sings]; “can you feel my bassline?” and I’m going; “this sounds pretty goddamn good here!”, you know? So I kept singing it, and when I went to hear it in the control room, I’m going; “this is pretty mega, here, so let’s keep it in the song”.
DA: Musically, once Glenn got in the band; that was the one where I was really; this is the music that Glen’s going to love. I was like, coming up with the grove and trying to arrange it where he had room to sing, and that was something that the Dead Daisies wouldn’t have gone for before, but I knew Glenn would dig it.
GH: Yeah, I thought it was great. It’s a great combination, and Doug and I worked really hard on that song, and it really fell together pretty quickly.
David Coverdale recently praised your abilities as a producer Doug; how much were you involved in the production of ‘Holy Ground’?
DA: Working with David was a great opportunity to learn, but working with a producer, outside of the band on making the final decisions and stuff, I think, actually, the teamwork of Glenn and I with Ben [Grosse, producer] was really good. He was open to our ideas, and with regard to me, he would help me pick the work, so it’s the best record that I’ve ever been a part of. In the past, I’ve always been, after hearing it at the end; “next time I want to do this”; there’s always something to learn, and somewhere to grow to.
Another song I really enjoyed was ‘My Fate’, which sees you take your foot off the gas a little and sing in your lower register, Glenn.
GH: It’s low, yeah, and it’s something I spoke to the band about, about singing lower. People know me as a singer that can sing high, but I really do love singing lower, and that song is very doomy and very melodic, and it’s obviously about what it’s talking about; a fateful song. And so it needed to be dark; the riff is very, very dark, but the verses are very, very melodic, and the reason it’s a great song is because it’s so dark, and then so melodic, and it meshes together.
My favourite song on the album is the closer ‘Far Away’, which is something of a mini-epic!
DA: Ah, it’s an epic! That is definitely an epic.
GH: I didn’t think we had a closing song. We didn’t have a slow song on the album, so I was doing a U.K. tour last November, and we finished the tour, and on the 1st December, I’m in a hotel, and I’ve got an acoustic guitar, and I’m thinking; “I’m going to try and write a song”, and I did! I wrote this song ‘Far Away’, and I got to France and I didn’t tell anybody except Doug, I said; “Doug, I’ve got this idea”, and I played it to Doug, and he said he loved it, and we rearranged the song together, and then we played it to everyone. It was a moment, and I think it was a moment for all of us, to fall in love with that track and have it as the closing track. It’s pretty epic, so I’m glad everybody got it.
DA: That’s a cornerstone track of the album; that’s the glue of the album, and when I heard Glenn play it, he played it on guitar, but I immediately heard the different places it could go, and the different dynamics that could happen. Of course, Glenn already had those things in his head as well, but I heard it, right away, when he played it; I could tell.
Glenn, you sound so into this, coming into the Dead Daisies.
GH: You know, I have to make it clear; I had to fall in love with being in this band. David Lowy wanted me to fall in love with this band, and it doesn’t take a lot for me to fall in love with something if I really believe in it. Again, I have to be friends, and I am such a good friend with Doug. I am an only child, a Northern lad, and I want to be part of something; I’m a hippie, and I like to hug people, and I want to be part of this, so being able to be free to write this music – especially with that song - meant a lot to me, because I knew it would be great for the band.
So, thank you for your kind words. I did fall in love making this album, and life itself, and this omnipresent, one day at a time – you know I’ve been sober for a long time – but living in the moment for me, is so very important, and on this album I was so in the moment.
As you mentioned, you went into this coming off the back of the ‘Glenn Hughes Plays Classic Deep Purple’ tour; did that help reenergise you as well?
GH: It did, and when I was a young man in Deep Purple, I wasn’t the song writer that I am today – maybe because I was drinking a lot, I don’t know – but I think I was 21 years old, and the older I get, I think I become a better song writer. I mean, I don’t know when it’s going to stop – I hope it never stops! But what we’ve done on this album is a really great standard for class rock fans. We’ve worked a lot of hours on this particular album, and I think we’ve worked more on this album than the Daisies have worked on any other album, and we’re very, very happy for you to hear it.
Even though you and Doug have worked together in the past, the album marks the first time you’ve written together.
GH: We have never written before. I think the first song we wrote together would have been ‘Like No Other’, and I knew at that moment that we had a great opportunity to make a great thing for ourselves, and here we are now, relishing in that moment.
With 2021 looking more optimistic, the Dead Daisies will be hooking up with Judas Priest for a tour next year; that must be pretty special for you especially, Glenn.
GH: Well, I’ve known Rob [Halford], and Ian [Hill] and Glenn [Tipton], and Kenny [K.K. Downing] since the ‘70s. I think Priest opened for Purple at one point. But they’re from the Black Country, as I am, so I’ve known these guys forever, and Rob’s a dear, dear friend. It’s going to be great to go out with those guys. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
DA: We’ve gotten close with those guys. Richie Faulkner’s a great friend of mine, and all those guys are super cool, so that’s going to be fun. But, as Glenn will tell you, I think I’m more excited about our own headline shows, because that’s what it’s all about.
In terms of what you plan to perform, will it be purely new album material?
GH: I think, as you can well imagine, when you have a new album out as strong as this one, the primary focus is that you promote this album. We will be doing a selection of older Dead Daisies songs, and a couple of classic songs that I’ll probably bring with me, but primarily, we’re going to be promoting this album because we believe in it, and I think fans will understand what we’re doing.
Looking back through your own solo set lists Glenn, and you don’t seemed to have performed any of the material from Black Sabbath’s ‘Seventh Star’ album live; have you purposely steered clear of those, or would you like to play them some day?
GH: I have. Anything with Tony [Iommi], I’ve setter clear of. I don’t know why; I loved working with him on those songs, but there are a selection of songs I haven’t done. Maybe I will one day. I’m sure that at one point I’ll do a ‘Greatest Glenn’ evening of all the songs I’ve ever done. That’s probably the end of my career, whenever that’s going to be, not right now, but my primary purpose is elevating the Dead Daisies to the next level, and to see as many fans as we possibly can.
You performed with Tony when Heaven & Hell paid tribute to Ronnie James Dio at the High Voltage Festival in 2010; how was that show for you?
GH: You know, regarding singing Ronnie’s legacy; I’m not sure if you know, but Ronnie opened for Purple in 1974. I had no idea who Elf were, but I was in my dressing room, and I heard this singer opening the show, and I go; “oh my god! I’ve got to see who that is!” And I went to the stage, and after Ronnie came off stage I have him a hug, and I said; “you’ve got to come with me later”, so we have a long history of being friends. But I adore his work, and adore Ronnie as a human being, and unfortunately when Ronnie passed, Tony immediately called me to see if I’d like to do this tribute to Ronnie, and in a way, I was thinking to myself, because Ronnie loved what I did, and I loved what he did - I think Ronnie would have probably wanted me to have done that. To honour Ronnie as a human being is very important to me, so I was glad I was chosen to do that.
Doug, you obviously must miss Ronnie, having worked with him in his later years.
DA: Yeah, I mean, it was an amazing opportunity to join his band. He put me out there; Ronnie was the one that put me out and got my name out there, and if it wasn’t for Ronnie, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. We had great times. He was a great friend, and I really learned a lot from him. One of the main things I learned from Ronnie was about performance, because Ronnie would own the stage, and I love that.
Is there anything in the vaults from your time with Ronnie; there has been talk that he was working on ‘Magica II’?
DA: There might be some bits and pieces, but I don’t think there’s a full album. We were starting to work on ‘Magica II’, and he asked me to join him on a tour to get in shape for Heaven & Hell, and he asked; “why don’t we record a song together to promote the tour?” And so, it was a song called ‘Electra’, and that’s as close to ‘Magica Expaneded’ that I know of.
We’ve lost some huge musical icons this year, including Eddie Van Halen.
GH: Well, I knew Eddie from… I don’t know if you know this, but Eddie’s manager, Noel Monk, used to be my front of house and tour manager in Trapeze, and so I got to meet Eddie, when they were opening for Sabbath in ’78, because I flew to Dallas, Texas for a night off. I didn’t know about Van Halen, and of course, I saw Eddie play, and the whole world changed, didn’t it. I became very good friends with him back in that time, and he’d come to my house many times. So, he was a very good, kind, sensitive guy, and he was a very good man. He changed the whole dynamic of guitar playing, and I miss him dearly.
You also knew Ken Hensley, who passed in November, didn’t you, Glenn?
GH: I’ve known Ken since 1970, when Uriah Heep played with Trapeze in the Black Country. So I’ve known Ken for five decades, and about twelve years ago I went to his studio in Spain, and I sang a song called ‘Last Dance’ on his album ‘Blood on the Highway’, and he wrote that song, and it’s a wonderful song. But when you listen back to Ken’s work; what an amazing keyboard player and song writer, and singer he was.
On another subject, I wanted to ask you Glenn about your own experience of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because on speaking to David Coverdale, he eluded to some tension with the current band.
GH: Well, you’ve seen it. It was a little difficult because of; let’s call it ‘personality problems’. It was David and I holding hands, and the other guys, unfortunately! We just don’t get along with the other guys, at all. So, we kept ourselves to ourselves; David and Glenn, with our wives, and it was great. David and I, what a great time! And we closed the show with Cheap Trick and Sheryl Crow, and our friends in Chicago. You know, it’s a touchy subject. It was not an easy night for us. If you look at the body language, it’s pretty obvious, you know? But again, David and I have been thick and thin for so long, I just dearly love him. Regarding Deep Purple, I have no idea what they’re doing, and I don’t really care.
You did briefly mention Black Country Communion earlier; what’s the cureent status of the band?
GH: It’s on ice, but again, there will be a number five [album]. I speak to Joe [Bonamassa] all the time, and we are talking about a window to do the next album. I don’t know when that will be, but there will be a number five album. We’ve managed to keep our chins up, and there’ll be number five at some point.
Finally, what are the plans for the future with the Dead Daisies?
GH: Please understand this, anything with the Dead Daisies, this is a workhorse that likes to travel – in style, of course – and it’s a wonderful opportunity to travel with David Lowy. And so we will be touring extensively, and the only way to do that, of course - for everybody reading this - is we have to do this appropriately; let’s get this pandemic under control. I believe now, I think it’s very obvious that the vaccine will be available, hopefully, so we’re looking forward, and I would say, to be safe, we’re looking at mid-next year  to get this thing going, realistically.
The Dead Daisies' 'Holy Ground' is released on 22nd January 2021. To pre-order, click here.
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