INTERVIEW RICHARD FORTUS (GUNS N ROSES | THE DEAD DAISIES) 2013
of GUNS 'N' ROSES
talks about his new project with Jon Stevens
THE DEAD DAISIES
THE DEAD DAISIES, for those out there that haven't yet heard, is the new Rock 'Supergroup' fronted by Australia's own Jon Stevens. With a sound that captures the essence of all that was great about Seventies Rock if you take a few moments to check out the samples of their website you'll be as excited as us to hear a band that we hope will become a permanent fixture. We spoke to Richard Fortus (Guns 'n' Roses Guitarist for the last twelve years) as he was about to take the stage with the Gunners in Abu Dhabi. He'll be back downunder to play with The Dead Daisies in support of Aerosmith downunder in late April. Oh, and it seems that Guns 'n' Roses new album is coming along nicely too...
Mark: Hi, Richard, it’s Mark from The Rockpit in Australia. Thank you for talking to us, how’s Abu Dhabi treating you?
Richard: Thank you for calling. It’s good! It’s always fun here.
Mark: Are you playing tonight? It should be a good show.
Richard: Yes, it was great here last time, the hotel we’re in is just so opulent, and everything’s just over the top, it’s crazy here!
Mark: So soon after playing here in Australia, you are coming back, you’ve already played a few dates with The Dead Daisies, but you are coming back to be part of the Aerosmith show. Is that a break in the Guns ‘n Roses tour for you?
Richard: Yes, we are doing some dates sporadically, but we are trying to focus more on getting the next record ready, the next G ‘n R record. So, the touring has not been steady, and it won’t be for a while.
Mark: How’s the new album coming along?
Richard: We are working on it! Hopefully within the next year we will have something out.
Mark: That’s great news, obviously you were heavily involved with Chinese Democracy, but there are a lot of people waiting to see what the follow up to that is going to be like. So, how did you get involved with The Dead Daisies?
Richard: I came in to it through Charley Drayton, whenever Charley calls!! For my money, he’s the greatest drummer on the planet, and whenever I work with him, I walk away with better vision.
Mark: There are some great musicians involved, were you familiar with Jon Stevens before the project?
Richard: Yeah, I knew the stuff he did with Noiseworks, and he was a presence in LA for a little while, and I knew people that had worked with him.
Mark: He has a great voice, and it’s always good to see him out there with a new project. Hopefully this will create a bit of interest, and be something a bit more long term.
Richard: Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping. He has an amazing voice and he’s a really great guy too. Everybody that is involved is wonderful to be around.
Mark: The songs that you are sampling on the web site are amazing. I grew up with Free, Bad Company, and The Faces, and you can definitely hear that influence in the songs. Were they the sort of thing you listened to growing up?
Richard: Absolutely. Free, The Faces, Humble Pie, Thin Lizzy, all those bands were just huge to me!
Mark: Yes, we miss that sort of music that had real warmth, soul and depth to it, so it’s great to hear that sort of sound again. If we could talk about some of the songs, that would be great. “Lock and Load” is an interesting one, written by Jon and Slash, it was written a while ago, but it’s going to be the first single from the album. To me, listening to the other stuff, it’s not hugely representative of some of the material that’s on there.
Richard: Yeah, I think what it’s developed in to live is, it’s evolved in to a really classic sounding band.
Mark: “Washington”, has that seventies vibe to it, it reminds me of what The Black Crowes did with “Hard to Handle”, do you get that?
Richard: Yeah, totally!
Mark: “Can’t Fight This Feeling” is one of those classic blues fuelled, sing along ballad! My favourite, is “It’s Gonna Take Time” which starts out as a “rocker” and then mellows out to a real Bad Company vibe.
Richard: Yeah, I really like “Yesterday” as well. I think that’s the best Faces song I’ve heard in a long time!!
Mark: That’s right! There was talk of The Faces reforming a while ago.
Richard: You always hear that!! Without Ronnie Lane, though, no!
Mark: I loved some of the work he did with Steve Marriott.
Richard: He is one of the greatest singers that ever lived in my opinion!
Mark: He is my all-time musical hero, so you are preaching to the converted here!! I met him a couple of years before he died; he was playing some pub shows in England, and he stood next to me at the bar, a pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he smiled, and it was the first time I have ever been star struck in my entire life! What a legend that guy was!
Richard: Jon had a great story about meeting him when he was like 14 years old, in New Zealand. It was a little tiny bar, and he’d been staying with his sister, and he’d had an argument with her and left and he went to a bar, and Jon had just been playing a gig, and he got to meet him.
Mark: As far as music is concerned, you have obviously been involved in a lot of projects over the years; you’ve done a range of things, and played with some very interesting artists. Is the music you’ve done with The Dead Daisies, something you always come back to, the seventies vibe?
Richard: That’s where I sort of started as a kid. When I was young I wasn’t really in to the bands that were out at the time, it was the metal thing, like Motley Crue, Def Leppard, which were popular when I was a kid. I was in to the older stuff like The Faces, and The Stones, and then I heard The Clash, and my whole life changed! Everything just shifted, and I was all about that for years, and through my time with The Psychedelic Furs, and Love Spit Love, I was just so in that world. Then everything changed and took a big turn, with the GnR call, and I got in to them because Tommy Stinson was a friend, and Robin Finck, that put me in a different world and reconnected me with my roots.
Mark: How would you summarize your time with Thin Lizzy? That would be one of my dreams to play with a band like that!
Richard: It was! That was totally the zenith of my career, just because that band was so important to me growing up. To be part of that guitar legacy was an honour. It was a wonderful experience, and amazing people, it was such a great vibe every night, and those guys are still like family to me.
Mark: I met Scott Gorham a few weeks ago, before they played here in Perth, a great guy, and I got to hear The Black Star Riders stuff.
Richard: That’s a great record, it’s really good. I think it’s the best Thin Lizzy record since Chinatown!
Mark: I also liked The Psychedelic Furs, growing up, are you going to be working with Richard again in the future?
Richard: We’ve been talking about writing a new record for a while now, and whenever I can, I play with those guys. I spent so much time with Richard, I was with them every day for so many years, and we are still very, very close. I love working with him, in my opinion, he is a great singer with such a distinctive voice, and a great friend. But you know he is doing so well now with his painting, it’s like music has become a hobby! But I would love to make another record with him.
Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album, what would it have been for you and why? This will be interesting for me, as we have similar tastes in music!!
Richard: If you’re serious, that’s a very good question!! Wow! I think “Exile” (0n Main Street), or “Pet Sounds”, that would’ve been fantastic!
Mark: Both of those would have been very different kinds of crazy, I think!
Richard: Yeah, but to witness the genius of that, and how it was stitched together, that would have been fascinating!
Mark: Our easy question, to finish with, is what is the meaning of life?
Richard: I don’t necessarily know that life has a meaning; it doesn’t need to have a meaning does it? I think our goal is to be connected with the universe, and to realise the essence of being one.
Mark: I like it! I think I’m with you on that; personally speaking is there a meaning to life? I think it’s all about defining you, and finding a place for yourself, Thank you for taking time out of your day to speak to us, it’s been a pleasure, I hope you have a blast tonight!
Richard: It should be good; Beirut’s going to be interesting!! Last time we were there it was an interesting experience!
Mark: Yes, it will! What happened there?
Richard: We had a wonderful time there, the audience was fantastic, the people were beautiful, and then we went to leave, and they took our passports and told us to return to our hotel. We weren’t going to get on the plane, and they weren’t going to tell us anything. It turned out that somebody wanted us to meet their daughter!! We weren’t allowed to leave until that happened!!
Mark: Hopefully she won’t want to meet you again this time!! Anyway, we’ll see you on the Aerosmith tour, thanks again and take care.
By Mark Diggins April 2013
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