By Chris Epting

Photos by Kimberly Annette

_H5A4743If you haven’t yet heard of Dead Daisies, one of the best bands that played at Uproar, you soon will. Lead singer Jon Stevens, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus on guitar. ROCK RAG sat down with this amazingly talented lineup at the Uproar Festival. You must check them out if you get a chance.

ROCK RAG: Jon, first of all, you’ve been performing on the Uproar tour with a boot on your foot. Can you describe the injury?

Jon: Well, I was fishing for crabs Down Under, where I live, and a crocodile came up for one of the crabs. 24 hours later, I was airlifted out of there. We go diving a lot along the Great Barrier Reef and stuff happens sometimes.

ROCK RAG: Outside of that, how has the tour been going?

Jon: It’s been awesome because we all come from different bands and we all bring different things to the table. When we started writing songs, right away it felt like Bad Company, Free—you know, big choruses and all. And recording them was nice, too. Really warm, analog sounds like the Faces. That’s the sound of this band—keeping it real. I’m not a major screamer. I like to sing melodies.

Dizzy: This tour has been a blast—just old-fashioned rock and roll. I’m kind of sad it’s ending so soon. We’ve had really fun crowds, it’s been great, and we work extremely well together. I’ve met all these guys over the years and played with a few of them. I met Jon when he was singing with INXS. We hit it off back then and it’s nice how things come around. Good thing we were nice to each other back then.

Jon: I’m nice to everybody until they are not nice to me (laughs).

ROCK RAG: You guys have just finished recording some new basic tracks?

Dizzy: Right. They should be finished soon. We recorded them in New York when the tour stopped there.

Jon: Having just done so many gigs together, the chemistry was amazing. A perfect time to record.

ROCK RAG: Looking back, was there a first live show that influenced you?

Dizzy: I saw the Doobie Brothers and Golden Earring when I was a kid in Boulder, Colorado. War also played. As soon as I saw that, I knew what I was going to do in life. I tried to see every band that came through and with each band that I saw, I wanted this career more and more.

Jon: I grew up in New Zealand. I’m the youngest of 11 children and I’m half Polynesian and half Mali, so I grew up in a house with lots of different culturalDizzy_Reed_H5A4782 influences—people singing and playing guitars all the time. My eldest brother was always involved with bands, in fact he went to England in the ’70s to manage The Jam, wound up managing The Cure, and has been with them ever since. But as a kid, I was sponging up all the different influences, from The Stones to The Beatles to Tom Jones.

ROCK RAG: How do you see the future of the band shaking out?

Dizzy: Well, most of us have day jobs, but we are really hoping we can keep this thing going.

Jon: We are going to Europe and the UK in November to December. In the next year, we will make another record. I really like this group. We all get along and in today’s day and age it’s strange how much easier it is to get things done. Technology really does take off a lot of the pressure.

Dizzy: It’s nice that we don’t have a major record company forcing us to do things. We’ve all been doing this for a long time and this band in particular is really a lot of fun. It’s refreshing how much everyone likes each other, and so when it’s this much fun, you have to find a way to do it. At our ages, it really comes down to enjoying what you’re doing. There’s no reason to do something that doesn’t make you happy. If I didn’t like this, I wouldn’t do it.

ROCK RAG: You’ve both been around long enough to see a lot of industry changes.

Dizzy: For sure. And there’s good and bad good things about now, just like there are in the days gone by. One thing today I think is really a positive is how much more access there is to music.

Jon: Also you can speak directly to your favorite artists, thanks to social media. Back when we were growing up, rock icons were untouchable. But today you’re no longer locked up in your castle. And for us, that’s a really good thing, because we like being in touch with our fans. We also like the ease of reaching out to other artists.

Dizzy: I do like how bands can be more accessible to one another. What it makes me think about, too, is that I wonder back in the day, when record companies really were in charge of everything, how many bands never had a chance to see the light of day? Today it’s so cool how anyone can put music out and make it available to the masses. But back then when all those controls were in place, I have to believe there are some amazing bands that we never heard from.

Jon: Personally, I have no great illusions. I look at myself as a pretty simple person. I’m a singer. In 1981, I first came to America when I was 19 years old, I went to the Roxy in Los Angeles and saw Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. Willie Dixon went to the stage with a walking stick to do his set and he was amazing. And then Muddy came out and sat on that stool and just blew me away, and made me realize that if you have a simple love of music than you can live out your dreams. That’s really all we are doing here, is living out our dreams. I’ll never forget the lessons those two old bluesmen taught me in Los Angeles. I could see it in their eyes. This is what they were born to do. And they probably couldn’t do anything else as well as they got up there and sang the blues.

Dizzy: I could not agree more. I’m very fortunate to make a living in rock and roll. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do it for very long time. I’ve had the good fortune to play in some really amazing bands, including this one right now, with this singer sitting right here, who I must say it is an honor to play alongside.

Jon: Thank you, mate (laughs).





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