By the time this interview is published, The Dead Daisies will have released their latest album, the fabulous Radiance. Just ahead of the release of the album, I caught up with the collective’s drummer Brian Tichy. I find Brian relaxing at home in Los Angeles, having not long completed the band’s recent US tour.
Interview: Paul Hutchings
Brian is doing well and completing a few interviews for the band. “It’s fine”, he says, “Doug and Glenn have handled the bulk of that and if they’re really wanting to kick things into high gear, throw me in there, and I’ll drive it home,” he laughs. “You know the bases are loaded. Bring Tichy up there to hit that Grand Slam.”
Brian has, of course, been a member of the Daisy collective before, spending time with the band from 2015-17 and recording Revolución and Make Some Noise. He is a man who has drummed with some of the rock world’s legends, including Whitesnake, Foreigner and Ozzy Osbourne.
When Tommy Klufetos decided to move on, Brian was the obvious choice, but what prompted his return to the band? “I figure I might as well tell the truth,” he says. “You know, rather than make up some little story for the press. I was drinking a bit too much. I went to Doug’s house, and it was like 2 AM. I knew he was sleeping. I know I was waking his family up. I knew I was out there causing a disturbance, but I started banging on his door.
“I threw some rocks at his window, started screaming his name, and then I got on my knees. I said, ‘Doug, please, please.’ He turned his porch light came on. He’s like, ‘What are you doing here, man? I said. ‘Doug, please take me back. Doug, I need you to let me back in.’ He said, ‘let me talk to the guys, but you gotta leave now.’ And I didn’t leave. They called the cops, and I got arrested.”
At this point, it dawns on me that Brian is a bit of a joker and has me hook, line and sinker.
Having wound me up a treat, Brian kindly explained that it was a much more straightforward and less dramatic return where the band called him and put the proposal to him. With the impact of the pandemic still in effect, Brian noted that everybody had experienced changes and that there was the opportunity to get back to more than just a few shows.
“It’s always been a fun band. All the line-ups I’ve been involved in, these are my good friends. Some of them I worked with for a long time, some of them we had been friends first, but we never got to be in a band together. It’s been fun, you know? It’s always been fun.”
Of course, The Dead Daisies is very much a vehicle that is maintained and driven by David Lowry. Brian explains that it’s always been David and that now it’s David with Doug and Glenn.
“I know when the Daisies say something, we stick to it when they say we’re doing this, we’re doing that, ’cause it’s all-around David’s schedule. He’s got his whole life going, his business, his family over here. So, he must set aside a certain amount of time. We need to plan. Just like most bands, you know, you must plan way in advance. So yeah, it was all good and getting back together with guys to answer that side of it.”
Returning to the Daisies for Brian is like walking in with familiar faces and old friends, but with the new agenda of making new music and recording a new record. They had the songs already, and Brian had the demos sent, but then it was just getting together in the studio and jamming through them.
Ben Gross has produced the record for the second time, and according to Brian, it was very slick. “It was smooth sailing, and it was fun, and it made it a lot easier because I’m not getting into a new situation with a bunch of people I don’t know. I’ve recorded with them, I’ve toured with them. I’ve been in bands with others. So, it was all familiar territory.”
What may be a surprise to many is just how many bands and people Brian has worked with over his career. And working with a legend like Glenn Hughes too. I was unaware that Brian had worked with the Voice of Rock in 2001. “We did a weekend of club gigs on the East Coast. But the cool thing was he called me. He said, ‘You want to do some shows?’ Glenn would come up to my house. I built a soundproof jam room in my garage, so I had PA and drums. So, Glenn would come up there, and the first time we played together, you know, I know Glenn, I know all about Glenn, but I’d never played with him.
“And he plugs into the amp and starts singing. I’m just like, whoa!! First, the setlist was killer, you know, ’cause it’s encompassing all the guy’s career, you know, new stuff, Purple, Trapeze, solo. And it was just big, huge forces of energy that was effortless, and it was a bit of fun. It’s a lot of fun to be around talent like that, especially talent that’s been proven, going on for decades. You know, very inspirational.”
One of the key things about the Daisies is that there always seems to be fun going on. The set list the band delivered on their recent US tour demonstrates this. Plenty of originals but a stack of covers as well. It’s not just the cycle of album, tour, album, and when I last saw the band (with Tommy) in Cardiff last year, there was so much electricity on stage, it looked like they could be in a jam room.
“Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, you know I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to play in bands. My past, my childhood, you know, records. I learned how to play drums from those guys, and I’ve played in those bands, you know, and I get to play those songs that I learned. I learned from those records, so that’s why I’m happy to do that. That stuff is part of my life, you know. Looking over at Mick Jones when you’re playing Hot Blooded or What Love Is, it’s just, come on, you know. But it has to be fun.
“David didn’t just put this together. He’s a loud, powerful rhythm guitar player that grew up on AC/DC and Rose Tattoo. And Zeppelin, so when he plays, it’s an energy release. I want to have fun. We do take time to be professional and work out the set, talk about the ins and outs and be properly rehearsed. It’s not just going to be like this wham, bam, thank you, ma’am jam.
“But within there, you want to get to a comfort level where you can have fun. This band has always been mostly about like the power of rock ‘n’ roll more than the power of a certain underlying message, you know what I mean? There’s no big concept going on. People come out and come to a rock show because they want to hear some loud drums, bass guitar and vocals and with people enjoying themselves, you know?
“So I’ve just been fortunate to be a part of stuff like that because we just get up there and do whatever. You get up in your jeans and T-shirt and throw down, and hopefully, there’s a charisma and band interaction that’s palpable, and you can feel that from the audience. You know, there should be some fun involved. I mean, is Angus Young not having fun? Holy Shit! Is Pete Townshend not having fun? I don’t care what he’s smashing. He’s having fun. So was Keith Moon, you know what I mean?”
I’m of the opinion that Brian is a tad modest when it comes to his achievements. Fortunate he may be, but there is an awful lot of hard work invested. Maybe a bit of luck, and the right place, in the right time, but he’s done his time. “Well, thanks. Yeah, there’s timing and luck and self-belief and hard work. It’s all a combination, and everybody lives in separate twists and turns. Especially now, after the pandemic when your work was literally just taken away. Not just two months, not six months, but it was a year and a half.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life, working on this, and at least I knew this year I was doing this, and I had this. You take that away, and there’s a bunch of empty space. But guess who’s still calling? The tax man with the bill. The freaking utility companies. They still want to get paid, you know. They didn’t go, hey, man, ah you’re a musician, there are no more electricity bills to pay for the next six months.”
A chilling reminder of what many musicians experienced in the past couple of years, Brian’s comments reinforce why the band love to get out on the road and why it remains important to support bands in all types of live settings.
The Daisies have just completed a tour in the US but were over in Europe in the Spring and summer, with a selection of headline shows, support slots with Whitesnake and Judas Priest, along with a couple of festival appearances. These were not without incident.
Brian explains that as tours were being cancelled, all seemed well in their camp, at least initially. “We were watching other bands deal with that, cancelling this, couldn’t play this festival,” Brian says. “This band just went home. We’re watching this happen every week. And it’s not happening to us, you know, and then all of a sudden, we’re in the same world as all these other bands, you know. Glenn became ill, and we’re supposed to do shows with Whitesnake, but they had their own problems.
“Weeks before that, David got sick, and that affected our whole travel. It’s changed everything. We couldn’t do a couple of shows, and this happened with Glenn, and we’re thinking, are we going to really go home?”
Luckily, it’s not a decision Brian has to make. “There are managers and people that are responsible for making these decisions, and they don’t have to worry about keeping time on the stage, and I don’t have to worry about those final decisions,” he says. “We’re a rock band, so we asked, do we just go home, or do we stay?
“Everybody who’s coming out of this pandemic that wanted to come to see us play, we’re going to give you something. We’re still going to be there. We still want to give you a rock show, and if you don’t want it, then we’ll deal with that, but if you do, we’re going to try and do the best we can.
“Our buddy Dino who was in Whitesnake playing keyboards, singing backgrounds, came in with a teeny bit of time and did the whole damn show and did a great job. It was a good experience for everybody, I think. You go through that, and you get through it. Life is short. Let’s try. And I mean, we really did a solid attempt at making lemonade with those lemons, you know?”
Brian goes back over a decade to Judas Priest, so was pleased to catch up with them and Whitesnake together in South America in 2011, where Brian met Richie Faulkner for the first time. “It was great to see them again. Richie had played in some Randy Rhoads remembered celebration events I’ve done since, so we’ve kept in touch over the years.”
As for Priest, Brian is of a similar vintage to yours truly. “I grew up on Priest,” he says. “You tell me I’m going to go open for my idols. It’s a done deal! Playing with Whitesnake would have been great. I was really, really looking forward to seeing everybody in the camp. I wish it worked out and playing with Foreigner too. We did a bunch of shows with them, they’re all my good buds, and we’re all friends, so we all see each other. It’s just a hang, but that’s what I like. I like that side of touring a lot. I also like playing the festivals a lot, where it’s like, wait, who’s on the bill that day? Who’s going to be? I’m going to get to see this band, and I’m gonna get to see my friends here.”
For many of us, a festival is a good opportunity to see a wide range of bands. For a band like The Dead Daisies, it can be a good opportunity to expand the fan base. “You have a big audience that’s not your audience. You want to win those. You want to win every one of those guys over.”
Of course, it’s often the case that bands are in and out at a festival. Brian explained that it is all about the schedule. It usually depends on what they did the night before, where they are playing the day after, and what the travel arrangements are. It’s certainly not all hanging out backstage drinking with your buds.
“If there’s a headlining band, you could be playing at 2:00 in the afternoon with the headliners on at 9:00. There’s a chance you might not be there when they finish. You might hang out for a couple of hours, but really, you aren’t realistically going to be there four hours later. So, you just hope that you’re going to run into friends.”
The new album Radiance is a stunning piece of work. From the opening power of Face Your Fear to the bluesy conclusion of Roll On, it’s surely the best album the band has released. It follows on from Holy Ground, with Hughes once more in magnificent form, whilst Brian has brought his style to the drumming. Everything about the process and the album appears to have gone well.
“It was all good,” Brian says. “As I said, I came in when the songs were already written and put together, and there was probably more than they had expected to be prepared for this because of the extra time, because of Covid-19 and all that stuff. I arrived, my drums were set up, and they threw the mics up. There’s Glenn, there’s Doug, there’s David. Here’s a riff. I got the song, got my chart.
“You know, you start talking through it, and everybody is there to make it rock. Nobody is there questioning, should we play lighter? Should this be a little more mellow? They’re all like, let’s make this powerful, and you’re all on the same page. I had a great time. A producer’s job is to keep it organised while ideas are going around. Ben did a great job with that, so that made me more at ease as well.
“I’ve been in the engineer’s chair or the producer’s chair where I must keep it all together, you know everything you’re saying and people are doing. It’s a big job. Now I just have to worry about playing drums and how they sound, keeping them in tune, and playing good parts. It was totally painless. And everybody wants the drums first. As soon as you get a drum track, everybody else is moving. And in this case, you know you can do a lot of studio trickery and cheating, little cheating in Pro Tools and all that kind of stuff. But what we did was just take advantage of that technology, and you get a drum track.
“Then Ben will go, hey, coming out of the second chorus, give me a fill to go into that bridge or give me some stuff at the end that’ll make it go a little more haywire, give me the bell instead of the high. So where Ben’s the producer, he’s handling that, and I’m like, yeah, cool. So as soon as they get all that information, they give me a call when it’s time to do percussions, you know what I mean? Because we’re gonna start throwing down guitars, bass, and vocals and all the overdubs and the layers. It was a lot of fun, and it was a great way to get back into hanging with the guys.”
The band have started to integrate some of the new tracks into their set, with Face Your Fear, Radiance, Hypnotise Yourself and Shine On all on the list for the recent US shows. But Brian is quite reserved about the reaction to them, stating that the fans are such that every song they play gets a similar reaction, be it old, new, or one of the covers that litter the set.
“I guess if you’re AC/DC and you have Highway To Hell or Back In Black, or if you are Zeppelin, you have Stairway To Heaven, maybe that song is gonna go over a little bigger than the other ones,” he says. “They’re iconic, massive, never-ending, you know, till the end of time rock songs. But in our case, you know, it’s a rock show, and we’re just giving you a lot of big, heavy dose of rock ‘n’ roll top to bottom.”
As time pressed on, it was time for me to ask a question about something that has always been a curiosity for me, the drum solo. Is it something that Brian wants in the set, or is it a slot offered?
“It’s always been there unless we’re in an opening slot or festival,” he says. “It’s always been there as long as I can remember. But every band is different. With Whitesnake, it was always a drum solo. Foreigner, always a drum solo. Billy Idol, no drum solo. Ozzy at the time, no drum solo, but he did have drum solos.
“That’s where I got exposed to Tommy Aldridge, got my ass kicked when I was a kid, with the Randy Rhoads era, you know, and I’m glad he was putting solos in there, man. Kiss. They always have a drum solo. It works everywhere. Van Halen always a drum solo. Zeppelin had a noisy drum solo, you know, till the very end. I’m all good with it. If you don’t give me a drum solo, still cool. Like whatever else, I’m there at first as a drummer. Since I was a kid, drums rule. It’s energy and power, it sounds awesome, it’s fun, it can be showy, and it can be dynamic. It’s all there. So, when I was a kid practising, I practised solo stuff.”
At this point, we start a conversation about Neil Peart and his best drum solo. It’s a conversation that two Rush nerds could have continued but suffice, Brian rates the version in YYZ on Exit Stage Left incredibly highly.
The Dead Daisies hit the UK shores again in December, and I’m one person very excited about it. Brian appears to be fully motivated as well. “It will be great to come to the UK because I haven’t been there for five years, and I know there’s a decent Daisies fan base there. I’m really excited to go.
“We have a bit of a break before that, so it’s not like we’re going to be in South America or Japan first because then it’s just part of a whirlwind, and the UK run would become another stop on a tour. We’re coming for two weeks, and we’ll get in there and throw it down.”
There is one thing Brian is looking forward to. “I was telling Doug, dude, you know what I’m doing, because I don’t really drink much beer, but I’m like, dude, when we go to Ireland, we’re going to hang out in Belfast or Dublin. We’re gonna sit in an Irish bar, and we’re gonna drink some Guinness. That’s what we’re doing.”
If you’ve searched Brian’s YouTube channel, you may have seen him singing the Grand Funk Railroad classic, We’re An American Band. Are we going to be treated to the Tichy pipes in the UK then?
“Admit it. You were blown away. You couldn’t believe the quality of the vocals. You were like, ah, there’s Robert Plant and Freddie Mercury, and now there’s Tichy!” he jokes. “Look, it’s fun because it’s a huge song, and it’s not that hard to sing. It’s a power vocal. The original is awesome. Also, it’s Don Brewer singing from behind the kit on the original version, and if you haven’t, find the show from ’73 at Madison Square Garden on YouTube. Watch it. It is just massive. Gotta give him huge respect. I love it. It’s just so inspirational, and the simplicity of the song, it’s just a big freaking winner, top to bottom.”
Returning to the question, Brian explains that they did it when Glenn wasn’t with the band due to illness and that it was part of the set to provide Dino with a break. It appears with Glenn on board, Brian’s vocal performances look to be limited. “If they all said go for it, I’m going to,” he adds.
Maybe this is one thing that won’t be disappointing if it is absent on the tour. One thing is for certain, I’ll be doing my best to get to at least one show on this tour. You should too because it will be brilliant.