Bob Daisley has long been one of the preeminent bassists and songwriters in the rock world. His work with Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep, Gary Moore and Rainbow has long been celebrated by fans and critics alike, as has his less known work with groups like Mother's Army and Widowmaker. His globetrotting career has taken him from the local clubs down under, up through the ranks of the British blues scene and ultimately to album charts and concert stages around the world. A few years back Bob returned home to Australia, where his career began over thirty years ago. Having stepped out of the spotlight, it appeared for a minute or two as though Daisley might have been contemplating retirement. But thankfully 2003 was one of the busiest years in recent memory, and Bob Daisley spent much of it jetting between Australia, the US and the UK completing one project or another. Following up last year's extensive Fuze interview with Daisley, we found that Bob again had a lot to talk about. When The Fuze called Bob in Sydney this time, he had just celebrated a birthday - we talked to the birthday boy about his recent recordings with Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men; we got the lowdown on his new collaboration with members of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep & Jimmy Barnes, and much Moore. With a new single, "In the Name of God," released on March 9th, 2004 and an album due to follow April 26th, we've come to find out Bob Daisley is still living loud.
As we speak, it's still your birthday in my part of the world so…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Oh, thank you!
What did you do to celebrate?
Just a few friends, relatives and I went to an Indian restaurant. It's probably my favorite food.
Well, the past twelve months finds you with more irons in the fire than in the previous few years. You're awfully busy lately.
Yeah, last year was a very good year. Sometimes you get periods where you don't do much. And then, like last year, it all happened at once.
I'd like to talk to you about Silver, the Hoochie Coochie Men, the live dates with Jon Lord, your project called Living Loud, the new Gary Moore recordings and the reissue of the CD by The Stream. Whew!
So did your phone just start ringing off the hook last year or what?
(laughs) Well, I had a friend of mine in Melbourne, which is about 500 miles from Sydney, phone me. He told me Jon Lord was in town, and as it happened he was staying only a few miles from where I am in the Northern Beaches part of Sydney. He was actually here doing his classical thing at the Sydney Opera House. Jon and I hooked up, we had dinner together and talked about doing something. It had to happen really quickly, because he was only here for a short time. We ended up doing some shows together, one in Melbourne. The Hoochie Coochie Men hadn't actually played together for quite some time because the drummer broke his leg, and then not long after that I hurt my ankle and couldn't get around. So everything was a little bit rusty. We did one rehearsal. We flew down to Melbourne, did a show there, flew up to Sydney the next day, did a sound check very quickly at The Basement - kind of like The Bottom Line in New York, where more of the serious musician types play - and then we went out to the ABC, which is the Australian version of the BBC television channel, and we did a show there. That was a live broadcast. Then straight back to The Basement to do the gig. They filmed it and recorded it, and now there's a live DVD and CD from it. It would have been nicer for us if we'd have had a bit more time to actually rehearse and work things out better, but as it turned out it's quite raw and it's got a bit of spontaneity about it. So it actually turned out quite good anyway.
I think that's the charm of it…that rawness.
Fly by the seat of your pants and see what happens.
(laughs) Yeah, that's right! A wing and a prayer.
The two ABC clips you mentioned are actually on the DVD, right?
That's right. I think we just did two songs, because they had a lot of people on there. It's kind of a variety show.
Who decided to film the show at The Basement? This all seems a bit short notice to have a video crew lined up to do it.
I think they film most of the shows there. I guess they sometimes have, on satellite television, a program where they show some of the stuff from The Basement.
There are moments on the live DVD, during "Green Onions" and especially "Who's Been Talkin", where the performance goes from a groovy blues jam to a whole other level.
It worked out well. I suppose anything can happen when it's not rehearsed that much. Fortunately, the way it did happen, everything came together.
What kind of sound were you aiming for on 'Hoochie Coochie Men'? I can hear everything from John Lee Hooker to The Doors and a bit of Rory Gallagher.
It wasn't a conscious effort of "Let's try to sound like this." It was just the way it turned out, I guess.
Has Hoochie Coochie Men turned out to be everything you hoped it would be?
Well, the guitar player/singer, Tim Gaze, I'd worked with when we were just teenagers many years ago. He moved to another state, so if we get together again it's going to be arranged to put a couple of weeks aside and do something, which we've been talking about. And Jon's back in England now. But we might get him to play on a couple tracks, if he will. We'll just send him files, I guess. I suppose you're aware that there was a song called "Hoochie Coochie Man" written by Willie Dixon.
I thought "That's a good name for a blues band." Some people that aren't in the blues think it's a weird name, but I guess they just don't know the song. The funny thing was, after we'd been using that, I saw a recent interview with Rod Stewart. He was talking about how, when he was very young, he did some vocals with Long John Baldry. He had a blues band. Guess what it was called? (laughs)
It wouldn't be the first time for that to happen. Look at band names like Skid Row, Fish/Phish or Widowmaker. What comes around, goes around.
Yeah. It's probably quite common.
Was Jon Lord originally going to be involved in the group Living Loud?
He's friends with Jimmy Barnes, a big name singer here in Australia. The guy in Melbourne that I mentioned earlier, Drew Thompson, knows Jimmy Barnes. It's sort of like everybody's in everybody's pockets. (laughs) Lee Kerslake and myself had talked about re-recording some of the Ozzy songs years and years ago, before they even removed us from those performances. So that had nothing to do with it. And it wasn't retaliation on our part. For years I talked about doing some of those songs again, but doing them with different arrangements, and getting people to guest on them - like Gary Moore, Steve Vai and people that could play Randy Rhoads' stuff and do it justice. And then when we talked about putting this together, because Drew Thompson is the representative of Deep Purple management here, he suggested Steve Morse. Well, you know Steve Morse is a legend in his own lifetime! I thought that would be great, but none of us really knew if it would work or not. Quite often, you can put big names together - or people that are very well-respected and are great musicians - you might put them in the same room and it just doesn't happen. There's no chemistry, or it just doesn't work for whatever reason. But Lee and I flew to Florida, and we went out to Steve's place. He's got a rehearsal place and a little recording studio. From the first few notes we played, we all looked at each other and thought "Wow, this is going to work!" It was immediately enjoyable, and just sounded great. Jimmy Barnes came over when we'd been knocking out some song ideas for new stuff as well. What made it really quick was that Jimmy had his book of lyrics with him. He said "Oh, I've got some lyrics that'll go with that." We were going to have Don Airey and Jon Lord on the album, to do a few tracks each. I think they both, originally, would have done that. And it wasn't politics or anything, but I think maybe Jon, at the end of the day, said "Well, just let Don do it." As it turned out, that was the best thing that could happen. It gave it more continuity. It was Don Airey, myself and Lee Kerslake back together again for the first time since we did the very first Ozzy album ['Blizzard of Ozz'], which as you know has become a classic album. We did the keyboards last. I think we had a window of about three weeks to actually rearrange six of the Ozzy songs - three off of 'Blizzard of Ozz' and three off of 'Diary of a Madman'. They're quite different, actually, to the originals. Some of the parts aren't in there anymore, and other parts are new parts that no one's ever heard before. We had three weeks to rearrange those six songs, write five new songs and record everything. That was some serious hard work, nonstop. Not a day or an hour off. It was like "Get in there and do it!" And we did it. Then the co-producer, Darren Schneider - Darren and myself produced the album - we flew across to London and hooked up with Don Airey. We went into AIR Studios in London for two days and did all the keyboards on the album. Even "Mr. Crowley" has a slightly different intro. All the Ozzy songs are quite different. The way it all turned out, it's actually better than I'd even hoped for!
Oh yeah. We were all more than happy with it. Even as we were doing it, we'd listen back to it and think "Fuckin' hell, this is really good! This is better than we had planned or hoped for." It was better than we thought it could be.
Whether or not it was intended, it's ironic that three former members of Ozzy's band have now united to record those classic songs without Ozzy singing them.
It happened right at the right time. Like I said, it's not retaliation. But it's come at a good time. For years and years - I'm talking at least ten or twelve years - I've been talking about redoing some of those songs, and just getting people to guest on them. Different singers, different guitar players, whatever. But as it turned out, it's better this way.
Honestly, I can't picture Jimmy Barnes singing those songs - what do they sound like?
When Jimmy Barnes was first suggested as the singer for this stuff, nobody really knew if that was going to work or not. But he did a brilliant job. He was guided, and produced, and the way it turned out is really, really good. Jimmy can be a bit of a screamer sometimes, with his solo stuff and his band Cold Chisel. But on this, he's got good voice tone. He used that good voice tone rather than scream it. When I play people this stuff, they say "That's Jimmy Barnes?!" (laughs) Because it sounds a bit more, I would say, between Robert Plant and Steve Marriott. You can hear his influence from Otis Redding as well. He's very into Otis Redding.
Wow, that's going to be something to hear then. Because my reaction was "I like Jimmy Barnes a lot, but I don't know about this…"
Everyone was saying that to me. When they'd say "Who's singing on it?" I'd say "Jimmy Barnes." And they'd say "Hmm…do you think that's going to work?" (laughs) It worked. The whole thing has turned out great. I'm more than pleased with it. Anybody and everybody that's heard it, or had it played to them, they just sit there with their mouths open - "Wow, this is fuckin' great!"
I've heard the song "In the Name of God", for which there's apparently a video tied in to UNICEF. Is that song representative of how different the album will sound?
Um, yes. I would say so. There's one track that sounds a little bit like a Hendrix sort of thing. There's another track that sounds a bit Who-ey. There's a good cross section. I wouldn't say "In the Name of God" is a song that would represent the whole album. There's not one song that represents what it's all about. And I would also say if you listen to the six songs we redid from 'Blizzard' and 'Diary' with the new arrangements, there is continuity with that stuff and the new stuff. They don't sound like something from other albums, and then five other songs we wrote. It just happened that way. It did just naturally happen.
It doesn't sound like people should expect a blazing hard rock album.
Yeah, but it is quite hard. The reason I came up with the title 'Relentless'…when we started, I'd look at Steve and say "No apologies and no padding. I just want this to be relentless." There is no let-up in the album, even though there's light and shade. Everything has got meaning. There's no sort of boring or padding bits, if you know what I mean. It's difficult to do classic songs, or redo them. Some people attempt to do something by the Beatles, or a Zeppelin song. It's a bit like that with those songs off of 'Blizzard' or 'Diary'. I really do think that we've done them justice. I'll even go to the point of saying I almost prefer to hear the new versions of those songs now to the originals. I suppose in some ways you can't really compare them because one is from twenty years ago, or more, and has a certain magic from that time. But these have been updated. They're still recognizable as those songs, but different now.
It's like visiting an old friend - the friend changes through time, but they're still the same.
Just dressed differently.
Any plans to take the album on the road?
Well, we'll need to wait and see what everybody's schedule is, and how the album's actually doing. I would expect for it to do well, but I suppose as we all learn, there's no such thing as a sure thing in life. What should be, and what is, are quite often two different things. Hopefully, it should do well. It is, in my opinion, a really good rock album. Plus, everybody's in different bands. Steve's in Deep Purple, Don Airey's in Purple with him, Lee's in Uriah Heep, Jimmy does his solo thing and Cold Chisel…so I guess we'll have to see. I suppose if it did well enough, we might form it permanently. Who knows? That'd be difficult for Steve and Don to not be in Deep Purple, or to give this priority. I don't know.
The Living Loud album was the second time in 2003 that you found yourself working on a project with Don. The other was the Silver album 'Intruder'.
That's right, yeah. We didn't do that together. I came in and just played on a couple of tracks. I was in England at the time, flew across to Germany, got picked up at the airport, went straight to the studio, did a couple of tracks that night, got up the next morning, went back to the airport and flew back to England. I was only there, really, in the studio a few hours and did a couple of tracks. I think two or three…it happened so quickly (laughs).
And of course Bernie Torme's also on the Silver album. You just can't seem to get away from these Ozzy alumni.
Yeah, I know. Well, this whole business of that type of music gets kind of incestuous, doesn't it?
Yeah. I think the branches of the Deep Purple family tree grew very much into the Gary Moore camp.
Well, if you look at it all there's the Deep Purple tree, the Black Sabbath tree, the Gary Moore tree…and all the trees are growing together.
Well, for fans of this type music that's how many of us came to discover other bands, and other musicians, by following those branches.
There's even a few of the same faces in the Uriah Heep tree, as well.
Apparently the 1998 album by Stream has been re-released with new artwork and a new title, 'Chasing the Dragon'. This is an album that, unfortunately, was missed by a lot of people. What are your thoughts on the Stream album?
I was in LA, and I got a phone call from Eric Singer. He knew this guy Peter Scheithauer. He was doing an album, and he asked Eric and me to play on it. And then he got David Glen Eisley.
It was a very heavy album, heavier than most of your other material.
Yeah, I think Peter was trying to make it seem like it was a band. But Eric and I just went in, really, to do it as a session for him. I think David Glen Eisley wrote most of the lyrics on that, him being a lyricist and singer. Musically, Peter and I put most of the music together.
Does it surprise you, after doing a session like that, to find that sometimes they take on a life of their own?
I didn't know what to expect of that album, to be honest with you. And I didn't know it had been re-released. There is also a song on the album called "Chasing the Dragon".
Now let's get to the nitty gritty - when we last spoke you lamented the fact that it had been your idea for Gary Moore to pursue the blues, which he did more or less without you.
Yeah, we were in Germany somewhere touring - what I call the 'classic' lineup of his band - with Neil Carter, and I think Chris Slade. We used to sit in the tune-up room and just mess about playing a bit, and I said "Gary, why don't we do a blues album?" And he thought that was a good idea, but I had meant as that lineup. But I guess he got really into doing the more authentic blues thing, got other people, and I ended up playing on three or four tracks or something. Then it took off.
I remember saying "Gary, this'll be the biggest thing you've ever done." It must have been New Years Eve that year when he phoned me up to say "Happy New Year". He said "You were right. It's ['Still Got the Blues'] done three million so far, and still selling." So it went very well. But I almost felt like saying "Hey!" (laughs)
Remember where the idea came from?!
He did actually give me credit in one of his interviews.
Now for the first time since 1992, you're recording together again! What's the story behind this turn of events?
It was the beginning of November, last year. I was sitting there watching television, just relaxing, thinking "Oh good, I don't have to fly anywhere for a while. It's November, there'll probably be nothing going on now until after Christmas." I'd been watching this program about air disasters…
…and the phone rings? (laughs)
(laughs) About two days after seeing that program, the phone rang. And it was Gary. He said "What are you doing?" So I told him what I'd done during the year, the Jon Lord thing, the Steve Morse/Jimmy Barnes/Lee Kerslake thing…and he said "But what are you doing now?" I said "I've nothing planned". He said "Do you fancy playing on an album? I'm doing an album next week. Could you get over here?" So I had to sort of drop everything, jump on a plane and went over there. I think I got there on Friday, and was in the studio on Monday morning, jet lag still hanging around. But it worked very well. Although it's still blues, it's blues with a bit of a harder edge and a bit more aggression. Gary's influences are along the lines of Cream, Mountain and John Mayall - that sort of stuff. So it's kind of got those sort of flavors.
What did you think of Gary's last album 'Scars'?
I thought it sounded a bit derivative of Hendrix stuff.
I think that was his intention - to translate Hendrix' sound into a modern context.
Yeah, and he wanted to do the 3-piece thing. I don't think it quite came off, though.
Without giving away the farm or stealing Gary's thunder, what's the new album all about?
It's just a trio. There are some keyboards on some tracks, and maybe one or two tracks have got some horns on it. But that was when I was there. Whether they left the horns in the mix, or they've changed, I don't know. On one of the songs that's got horns, he said "I don't know if this is right for this album." Maybe they took the horns out. I spoke to the producer, Chris Tsangarides, a week or two ago. I phoned just to see what was going on with it, and to see how it was going. He said everybody was very happy with the way it is, so it's obviously turning out pretty good. I haven't heard the finished mix yet. They may have finished mixing, or they're in the final stages of mixing now.
When you're recording something as a trio, does that change the way you play? Do you start adding more bass chords or moving bass lines?
It does a bit, yeah. Gary likes that sort of style of bass playing like Jack Bruce. And Jack Bruce was an influence on me - I've got to say that. Some of the tracks are a bit more toward the authentic blues and other tracks are a bit more toward the white blues of bands like Cream and Mountain. On a couple of tracks I used the Fender bass that's got a sort of fat, warm sound. And the more aggressive stuff, I used the Gibson EB3, which gives that more sort of "growly" sound.
What have you thought of Gary's albums over the last ten years, particularly 'A Different Beat'?
(laughs) I thought that was a bit strange. I think he was trying to do what Jeff Beck had done on some of his stuff, where it sounds almost industrial. It was different. Gary's good at whatever he does. If he attempts something, he does it well.
I read a lot of comments from people that basically said "What in the world is this?!"
I know, like "What brand of glue has he been sniffing?"
Right. And I'll admit that was my first impression too, but I now consider that to be one of my favorite of Gary's albums.
I'll have to listen to that again. I remember he gave me a copy when he did it. I listened to it, and thought "This is a bit left of center."
He was trying something totally different, and he pulled it off. And maybe it's not something he'd revisit, but it was exciting to hear such a contrast to what he's known for.
I know he's very influenced by Jeff Beck. He's probably one of the favorite players for Gary. Have you heard any of Beck's stuff that's a bit like that?
Yes, I picked up 'Who Else?'.
That's great. I like that album. 'Who Else?' is really good, but 'You Had it Coming' is fuckin' brilliant! Oh, it's great. I love that album. I'm a Beck fan. I used to say he should be called Jeff Best. (laughs)
One thing that people always say about him is that he's consistently inconsistent.
So back to Gary…have you discussed any plans for touring?
He said he's gonna be doing some shows through the summer over there, which will be around June, July, August. He asked me to do those, probably as a 3-piece. So what I would do is go over there and stay for a couple months. It's not gonna be a tour, as such. It'd be going out on weekends, two or three gigs a week, doing festivals and things like that. I don't think he works the full three months of the summer. He takes one off, and works two, whenever the main festivals are. And then I'd go back towards the end of the year, October or somewhere around there, and he would do his own British tour as well. Gary and I have always got on well together. We laugh a lot. He's got a good sense of humor, and he's quick witted. We get each other's jokes before anyone else does.
While everyone else is left thinking "What the hell are these guys going on about?"
Anything else you want to add to all this?
The lawsuit is still going ahead. We've had setbacks, and we expected setbacks. We appealed one of the decisions. I can't say for sure - and I couldn't say officially - that there are rats to smell. But in my opinion, there are rats to smell if you know what I mean.
The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal was released last year, and referred to the bogus reissues of 'Blizzard of Ozz' and 'Diary of a Madman' as "…mildly creepy at best, and downright sacrilegious at worst."
Yeah, well they [Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne] insulted the memory of Randy Rhoads, for a start. Which is a really disrespectful thing to do. Then they insulted the record buying public by not having anything on those albums to say 'This is not the original recording, and this is not the original performances of the original band.' It's only after you buy it and take out the booklet inside that you can read that. I think they shot themselves in the foot by ruining their own product.
A buddy of mine was telling me that when he heard of the new versions being released, and the original recordings recalled, he ran out and bought the originals while he still could.
Yeah. Not only did they ruin the product, they took all the original product off the shelves. They recalled them all.
And of course, they new versions totally change the dynamics of the songs.
It did. The spontaneity, you can't recapture. It was caught at the time. That's why all the performances on those albums are the ones we chose - because they had the magic. There are probably other outtakes and other versions, but they're the ones we used because they had the magic.
Upon hearing that your new group was redoing some of the classic Ozzy songs, this same buddy of mine said "You know who they should have gotten to sing those songs? Ronnie James Dio." Now that would have been a slap in the face to the Osbournes.
Oh, it would have. I thought of that years ago, when I was talking about doing various tracks with various people. Ronnie would have been one of the people I would have phoned to get him to sing on some of them. What I would love to do, if I could, would be to re-record both of those albums - just using the original music of me, Lee and Randy - and have Ronnie Dio sing all the vocals! (laughs)
Well, I want to mention the web site www.bobdaisley.com before we go, and wish you best of luck with Living Loud and the new album 'Relentless'. I'm anxious to hear it, and see the response to it.
Thanks. It's one of the best things I've been involved in for many years. Even the doubting Thomases are raving about it. That's a good sign.
All of this is certainly a cause for celebration - what'll be your drink of choice this time?
If the Living Loud thing goes well, I'll break open some Dom Perignon, I think.
I think Lee [Kerslake] would join you in that. It was one of his drinks of choice.
(laughs) Oh, he would. He likes a drop of the ol' Dom.