by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist –
Break out band of the summer The Dead Daisies are currently on tour in support of their latest EP entitled Face I Love. This Summer finds The Dead Daisies playing to the masses opening for Kiss/Dep Leppard throughout August.
The band is comprised of Jon Stevens on vocals, Marco Mendoza on bass, Dave Lowy on guitar, Brian Tichy on drums, and GNR guitarist Richard Fortus and GNR keyboard player Dizzy Reed. The Dead Daisies are a cross between Buckcherry meets the Black Crowes with a distinctive classic rock vibe.
GNR and The Dead Daisies guitarist Richard Fortus spoke with Hardrock Haven regarding the current Dead Daisies tour, Face I Love EP release, guitar gear, and of course Guns N’ Roses.
HRH: Richard welcome to Hardrock Haven. It is an honor to speak with you. The band is currently playing to the masses opening for Kiss and Def Leppard. Tell us about the tour. It must be amazing opening for Kiss every evening.
Richard: It is amazing. What an honor to be playing with these two bands. It has been a great experience and going down very well. We are making a lot of new fans.
HRH: That is great. Were you a huge Kiss fan growing up?
Richard: When I was a kid. I was a massive Kiss fan. It is actually one of the first concerts that I ever saw.
HRH: Oh cool. Now tell us about your set list. How long does the band get to play? Are you playing songs off of your new EP?
Richard: Yes, we are playing all the songs off of the new EP. We are playing some that are even newer than that we just wrote and recorded. We get to play about half an hour. We play 7 to 7:30 pm. These songs are going down really well.
HRH: Are there plans in the works to put out a full-length album?
Richard: Originally we were going to do another 4 song EP. We just actually finished recording and mixing that. I think we are going to wait on that. And go ahead and put out another full length. It might include three songs off of the EP that just came out. That will probably be out early next year.
HRH: I listened to the EP Face I Love. It sounds amazing. It reminds me a lot of Buckcherry. Tell us about the recording process for the EP. I know you joined the band in 2013. I know that you have a classic rock sound. What did you have in mind when you went into the studio?
Richard: That is pretty much it. It is very true to our influences that we grew up listening. It is new music for classic rock fans like ourselves. That is what we set out to do. It is funny that you mentioned Buckcherry because those guys are good friends of mine.
HRH: I have listened to a lot of bands from the classic rock era. Did you go into the studio writing a lot of four chord progressions to leave a little space open for the guys to jam? Because classic rock bands are noted for their jam sessions. This EP has a lot of great guitar riffs.
Richard: Cool thank you. A lot of these riffs are riffs that I had awhile. We just sort of sat together in a room and when somebody had an idea we would just sort of work it out from there. It was very much organic in where we would write and then record. It was very casual and organic. It happened very quickly.
HRH: Now “Angel In Your Eyes” has the sultry vocals of Jon Stevens. Tell us about this song. It is kind of bluesy too.
Richard: It actually started off with a guitar riff that I came in with. It sort of evolved into that roadhouse blues time of thing that it is. It started out a little heavier and more like an Alice In Chains kind of riff. Once everybody got involved that. It reminds me of “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors. A lot of that has to do with Jon.
HRH: The song “Your Karma” reminds me a lot of The Stones?
Richard: The Stones yes a little bit? It kind of reminds me of The Who.
HRH: The cover song is “Helter Skelter.” Are you a huge Beatles fan?
Richard: I think everybody is a huge Beatles fan. (Laughter) That cover was something that we started doing live. It just sort of became a known thing. I think Jon just sings the hell out of it. We figured we might have put it on the EP because it always goes down so well live.
HRH: Right. Tell us about your gear. Did you use your Les Paul and Taylor guitars on the EP?
Richard: You know what? I used my Strat that I have been playing with this band. Which is sort of exclusive to this band. I have never used a Strat with GNR or Thin Lizzy. I do use my 56 Les Paul Jr. on a couple of the tracks but other than that it is all the Strat. And a real simple amp set up. Just my Voodoo Amp. My signature amp. It is the same amp that I use for GNR. And some pedals and that is it. It is really straight ahead.
HRH: How long does the tour run through? Does run through August?
Richard: Yes, we go through the last day of August. And then we are off for a little bit.
HRH: Any plans to do some club shows?
Richard: I know we are going back to Australia to do some of our own shows there. Hopefully, we will do some clubs back in The States.
HRH: Now you hail from the Midwest. You have an extensive guitar history with Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love. Tell us about this because I can hear some alternative playing in your style too?
Richard: I have a classic punk rock style. I listened a lot to The Clash. I started playing with The Furs and then started Love Spit Love with the singer. It is definitely a big part of who I am. And still the new music that I am drawn too these days are more Indie bands like Black Angel.
HRH: I want to thank you so much for checking in with Hardrock Haven. I have one more question because I know you are on a time limit. The new GNR DVD is out. What was the highlight playing in Las Vegas?
Richard: Well that was the first time we did a Residency in Vegas. The last time we just finished up a month and a half ago. It’s fun. It is a different experience. It is fun to get to really build a show like that. You don’t have to tear it down every night. You can do things that you would normally do every day in your set. It also gives you a chance to stretch out a bit. In case we get bored? We can change things up. Especially Axl, he doesn’t like anybody to be too comfortable.
HRH: Right. Axl is brilliant. I have to tell you. He is an amazing singer. I love how he gives every member his moment to shine onstage. It’s a real band. I do like this version of GNR better in a way.
Richard: That is cool. I know some people do and some people don’t. But it is a really a fun band to play with.
HRH: We wish you the Best of Luck with The Dead Daisies! And thank you for your time.
Richard: Thank you so much too.
Visit The Dead Daisies online: www.facebook.com/thedeaddaisies