INTERVIEW: Glenn Hughes and Doug Aldrich – The Dead Daisies
It’s been a crazy 2020 without live music and one of the bands that had big plans for touring before Covid struck were the latest incarnation of The Dead Daisies. Those plans currently have been pushed back into 2021 and so what better way to start the year than with a new record ‘Holy Ground’ out globally on January 22nd?
A new album from this collective is always big news around these parts, and this one, their fifth since 2013 has the added anticipation of featuring a rather familiar name taking double duties on bass and vocals – Mr. Glenn Hughes. We caught up with Doug and Glenn to talk about the album and if you like what you read you can find more from them on our latest Dead Daisies sponsored Podcast!
Mark: Thank you both very much for doing this today we really appreciate it, I must admit I’ve been listening to the album back to back since I got it and there’s just that little more I get with every listen. It sounds wonderful. To me the interesting thing about The Dead Daisies is that they are constantly evolving can either of you take me back to that first jam session as the new line-up. I read about the get together with David when the idea came up and I know you both have played together before but what was it like that first time in the same room? And what did you play?
Glenn: Well we didn’t play any Daisies songs, actually we played a couple of the songs I did with Doug five years ago when Doug played with me. We played like ‘Mistreated’ we played ‘Highway Star’ we played ‘All Right Now’ and some other cover songs: we just basically had some fun you know?
Doug: It was great, it was just a loose jam. Obviously Glenn and I – we have chemistry – we found that out back in 2015 and so it was just a matter of us all getting together and playing and seeing how it went. It was totally successful.
Mark: It’s obviously unusual times for releasing an album what with Covid but I guess as a band being all over the world it must make things even more difficult, but even though I know the album was in the can pre-Covid there’s a wonderful prescience about the lyrics?
Glenn: (laughs) When you listen to this album Mark and you listen to the lyrics, you’ll think well surely Glenn knew about all this Covid stuff?
Glenn: But it’s just a coincidence what I’m singing about, I only sing about the human condition, feelings and being of service to the human race, you know. So I’m glad the album will be with us soon, I know a lot of people want to hear this album, it’s rich and deep with musical heritage. You can’t label it a Classic Rock album, it’s a bit different to any other Daisies album, and we’re gonna march on!
Mark: It sounds a bit heavier to me Doug too, what are your thoughts?
Doug: Yeah, I mean I’m too close to it to know but somebody else said that to me the other day and I believe you Mark. Some of the riffs might be heavier, some of the sounds might be a little bit more raw and in your face, but really it was all about finding the right sound for each song and making it each song the best that it could be. A lot of that goes to Ben Grosse because he had certain things that helped the sound – he had certain guitar amps for example that he really loved and I loved as well and so we kinda mixed it up a bit. So there’s definitely some heavy stuff and there’s some more delicate moments too.
Mark: It’s interesting Glenn that you mentioned the precognition of the lyrics because this album was started well before the outbreak.
Glenn: Yeah, we started in the August of ’19 and we did ‘Unspoken’ and then we took a break and then started back in November in France. A lot of the songs were written ‘on the go’ a couple were written in the studio but Doug ad I put a lot of stuff together at home here in L.A. and in the studio we really worked as a team.
Mark: There’s been some great singles so far from the album to give us a taste, but I think when the title track hits that’s really going to deal the deal. Wat a fantastic song to open the album with – a real rocker!
Doug: Yeah it turned out great. That was one of the ones that we started early, Glenn brought that one in in August and then later having a fresh set of ears on it and getting everybody involved we decided to make some changes and simplify it a little bit and basically just look at a couple of sections where we “heavied it up” in the intro riff then brought it down in the verse, it turned out great man.
Glenn: Yeah, the chorus is a big, big chorus and Doug playas amazing on that song. And you know writing here with Doug in mind this album is guitar-driven music, and it’s refreshing as I had been writing for keyboards with other people I work with, but this album is definitely guitar-oriented!
Mark: But there is that diversity too, we don’t want listeners to think it’s all hard rocking! Right at the end there’s a wonderful song I keep going back to ‘Far Away’ what can you tell me about that beautiful song, I guess that sits at the other end of the spectrum?
Glenn: Thank you, it is. Funnily enough Mark I hadn’t played it to Doug, I hadn’t played it to anybody. We did two sessions in France and the last session was December 2nd – I wrote that song on the first of December in a hotel room in London.
Glenn: I wasn’t sure if the band would dig it? I just thought maybe it could be the slower song? And I played it to Doug a few days later at the Chateau and he suggested that we get David and Deen into my bedroom – and we did and I played the song to them. I think Doug was really intrigued by the song…
Doug: Yeah, Glenn had all the parts and he said “I don’t know, what do you think?” and I immediately knew that all the parts were there it just came down to arranging it and making it build and come down. It was a really difficult song to capture because it has a lot of ups and downs tempo-wise and it starts off with this really moody part and by the end it’s all chaotic and unbelievable! So it took us what do you think Glenn? Four takes, five takes?
Glenn: Yeah, just to get the feel.
Doug: And then once we got the feel right it was just about the treatment of the instrumentation, but definitely I could hear right away it was like a ‘cornerstone’ track.
Mark: It certainly feels like that to me.
Glenn: You know, I’ve been writing these kind of songs for a while now and I honestly wasn’t sure if this was gonna make the album, but
Doug was really intrigued by this track and he gave it the wings to float to the other guys and Ben (Grosse) loved it. And I was really happy that we got to finish it as I do think it’s a great way to close the album, and it’s also a message to fans that we’re moving on now. We really appreciate all the love from The Dead Daisies fans for the older band, and we are the next level of this band. This particular song I think is a door-opener for us.
Mark: I couldn’t agree more it’s a very special moment for me. Great opener, wonderful closer and not a dull moment in between and also in the tradition of the band there’s a cover song on there too, one which just happens to be penned by one of my musical heroes – Steve Marriott. Who brought that? Who’s the Humble Pie fan?
Glenn: I am, but I said to Doug who suggested we do this?
Doug: I think it was David Edwards, management, David’s like the fifth member of the band and I think he thought it might be a good option for one because of Glenn’s connection to that era and also because if there was to be a duet situation it might be fun for Deen to sing as he has that kind of gravelly voice that is very different to Glenn’s. I think this is the first album where to cover was less of a think, this time we just did it for a gas you know!?
Glenn: And Steve was a good friend of mine and that song is just an amazing song. And it’s a song that you have to respect and pay tribute to the amazing singer that wrote that song, so we had to make it a little different because you just can’t copy the classics you have to try to add something. So Deen and I did our think and it worked out great.
Mark: Yeah, it did. It worked out great and after hearing that and the wonderful singles then listening to the rest of the album, I don’t often say it, well I don’t often mean it…
Glenn: Go on! Go on!
Mark: There’s no filler on there Glenn!
Mark: Every track is just great.
Doug: We don’t even think about that, we just had a great time together as a band isolated in the chateau. We’d eat breakfast and then go to the studio and we’d play together every day and we really gelled and it was very creative. Glenn had a bunch of ideas and we all had a few things and by the end of pre-production we had a bunch of songs and then it came down to everybody picking the best ones for a the album.
Glenn: The only song that we did not work on until we got to the studio was ‘Come Alive’ – we had the verse but we didn’t really have a riff or a chorus so Doug and I got together with David Lowy in a room and we just bashed it out. That ‘Come Alive’ is an amazing song and just written there on the spot. I really love the way that one came out.
Doug: Yeah it was a really tough one though and it has a real background to it because originally I had the riff and I was thinking of Glenn and thinking it would be really cool to have Glenn sing on top of it and then Glenn said, no we need a chorus and so we worked on it night and day for three days and Glenn and I were both looking at each other thinking “this is not coming together like it should.” So I went to management and said “I just don’t think it’s gonna happen, I’m sorry we’ve just tried everything and it’s not happening so we’ll just knock it on the head.” And he said “Get your ass back up there and you guys finish that track, let’s go.”
Mark: That doesn’t sound at all like David (Edwards)!
Doug: So I went up to Glenn’s room and said Glenn we gotta give it one more try and somehow we came up with the stab chords and Glenn started singing and I though “Wow, that’s good.”
Glenn: And when you’re writing you gotta take a minute to step back. You know I know people who can stay in the room for ten hours just bashing it out, so it’s good to take a little break, have a little dinner and revisit the song, and sometimes that’s the way it works. That’s the beautiful thing about it.
Mark: I think interestingly that is probably one of my favorites on there maybe add ‘Saving Grace too – I just love the grove of that song.
Glenn: ‘Come Alive’ is definitely one of my favorites.
Mark: I even got to listen to the Japanese bonus track ‘Inside and Above’ which is another great song.
Doug: I like that one.
Mark: I guess the next question is almost impossible to answer but I had so many people ask me to ask you when I said I was talking to you both. I think they’re just looking for a shot of ‘hope’ really. When it planned to get back on the road?
Glenn: I told Doug today Mark that I really want to get back down under, but as we know things change, but I’m hearing the first tour might be in Japan in May. But we have been trying to get out there: the first dates were meant to be in February but that’s not gonna happen so we hope that the first dates will be in May in Japan. And we are coming to Australia (laughs)
Mark: I know Glenn, I’ve been promised that this time! (laughs)
Glenn: I love playing there I did a couple of tours there, I always love playing Australia.
Mark: The last time we spoke was when you were over doing the ‘Purple’ Tour we had a great chat, so it’s been a while.
Glenn: I remember you, you did a great interview.
Mark: (laughs) Why thank you Glenn, and I spoke to Doug a few weeks ago so I have a great feeling about all of this!
Doug: But we haven’t seen each other for a long time! So we’ve gotta change that! (Laughs)
Mark: (laughing) We have. It has been a few years. I just have time for a final fan question out of the hat to close “If you could have been credited with one song you didn’t write, what would you like to be remembered for?” well remembered for erroneously I guess?
Glenn: Well there’s so bloody many, you know I’m a Beatles nut Mark so… Oh my God there’s so many in my mind now! I’d have to say ‘Eleanor Rigby’ for me – it’s an incredible song, I wish I’d wrote that.
Doug: There’s so many, but you know it’s a toss-up because you know Millie Vanilli had that one hit but it was a big one, but I’m gonna go with Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
Mark: Two absolutely iconic songs, both utterly brilliant. Thank you both so much for your time this morning gentlemen hopefully next time we speak it will be down under and face to face.
Glenn: Let’s hope so. See you soon, God bless you all.
Doug: Thanks Mark, we really appreciate what you are doing and give our best to all readers and listeners, stay safe we’ll get through this and move on.
Mark: Thank you, take care.