An Interview with
Lead Vocalist/Drummer of Revolution Saints
and former Drummer of Journey
that took place on September 13th, 2017.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: Hello Deen, how are you doing? It's Glenn from Metalliville!
Deen: Glenn! How's it going Brother?
Glenn: Good Bro. Good to hear from you.
Deen: Good to talk to you too my friend.
Glenn: Thanks Brother. Last time I saw you, you were on stage at the Randy Rhoads Night.
Deen: Yes! The Randy Rhoads Remembrance tribute thing. It was awesome.
Glenn: It was. I got a few good shots.
Deen: I think that was the first time I'd been back playing for almost a year and a half. I hadn't touched the drums for a year and a half. They asked me to come and do it and I said, “Yeah that would be a lot of fun. It was kinda nice to get back on the drum seat and play a little bit.
Glenn: Do you know what? You'd have never realised that because it was absolutely sh*t hot perfect. It's like riding a bike – it's straight back onto it.
Deen: Totally. When I got home I thought, 'Did I actually play?' I don't even remember it well. Yeah it's like riding a bike. Once you start you think, 'I know how to do this' (Laughs)
Glenn: How did you become a part of that show? Did Brian Tichy just ask you?
Deen: Yeah. Brian texted me one day. He wrote, “Dude, you are going to be in one day for NAMM. Do you want to play the Randy Rhoads Remembrance Show? We play a lot of Ozzy songs. Why don't you play a couple of songs?”. I said, “Dude, I would love that. That would be awesome”. After I committed to that he said, “Do you want to do the Bonzo one too – the John Bonham one?”. I said, “Yeah that would even be cooler”. I got to play both of those and it was so much fun.
Glenn: Sweet! How did you enjoy NAMM as a whole then?
Deen: Well the last time I was at the NAMM show it was 1990. That's because once you get your endorsements and all that stuff, it's work just to hang with musicians. It's a lot of fun but for me to come back after (nearly) 30 years and got it NAMM, it was so different. It was really cool. I was like a kid in a candy store again. I was saying, “I want to get that! I want to buy that!”. It's not good. My fiancee wasn't happy when I came home with 12 drum sets. (We laugh) I can't help it dude! Drums sets and cars.
Glenn: And no titty bars! (We laugh) The fiancee wouldn't be pleased about that, but then again, you never know. What I find out NAMM is that you might go around NAMM looking at a few bits, you then bump into somebody for twenty minutes and that's it. You are just gassing with buddies or folk you interviewed two or three months ago. You will be into guys like Graham Bonnet or Simon Wright and it'll be, “Glenn, how are you doing mate? Good to see you!”
Deen: That's cool man. That for me, even though I'm a musician and I do this for a living, I'm still a fan. If I do see guys I'm a fan of I get like a little girl (We laugh). There was so many people I met at NAMM that I hadn't seen in years and people I'd never. It was 'Wow'! We were there for about three or four hours. Me, my Son and my drum tech. After three hours we said, “We're fried!” You only walk a block in that whole place – back when I was 23 - no problem. I'm 53 now – it's not as easy. (We laugh)
Glenn: It's a killer. I did the full thing just about and it kills your back when you are walking round. I didn't get see the Bonzo one but I saw you at the Randy Rhoads Remembered show and I was very impressed.
Deen: Very cool! I'm glad you liked it. That's a good thing. That's cool!
Glenn: The new album's out next month - 'Light In The Dark'. It's a great cover. Did you have the cover with the Owl on it because they are like lights in the dark or are there other reasons behind that. Was it autobiographical as well?
Deen: Well it's funny Glenn because the album cover was already done. They sent us the pictures and said, “Here's your album cover”. “Wait a minute, you mean we don't have a say in what the album cover looks like?”. He just said, “Here's your album cover!”. We said, “Can't we maybe do this or this?”. He said, “Nope. That's it.”. We said, “Well okay!”. A lot of it was, “Well you guys know what you are doing. I just sing and play drums. That's all I did. (We laugh). They deal with the business end. I deal with the music end.
Glenn: It was the guy from Frontiers Records – Serafino?
Deen: Oh yeah. That was his call. It's his baby. This band is his brainchild. We just let him roll. We call him 'The Pope'. Seriously, we call him 'Your Excellence' or 'Your Highness'. It's hilarious. “Hey Pope, we need some money. We're doing this big tour of the Vatican. We need some cash!” (We laugh). It's 'Revolution Saints – The Vatican Tour 2018'. Perfect!
Glenn: I mean, it's not cheap these days to tour is it as a band. It costs a fortune. Especially if you lot want private fucking jets! He will be said, “No – can't afford that”.
Deen: I wish I was in 'Dead Heat' – what a cool gig that is! Private jets everywhere! What a cool gig!
Glenn: Exactly. What would you say your favourite songs are that you've written or co-written for the album and what do they mean to you? The first couple of songs – the teasers 'Freedom' and 'Light In The Dark' itself. They come across very much autobiographical or semi-autobiographical – very much about whats happened to you. Maybe it's just coincidence. I don't know.
Deen: That was the cool thing. When they were talking about doing the record, I would sit down and have really deep conversations with Alessandro (Del Vecchio) about what had happened. How I was dealing with different things. Basically, talking about my life in the last couple of years. It was really new with the talks that we had where he was gonna go lyrically. Once he sent me the lyrics and I looked them over I was amazed. Honesty Wow! All it needed was a few changes here and there. He definitely had the feelings that I was going through totally on this record. He knew – he saw. It's a biography of my last two years. For me Glenn it was cleansing.
He'd be fixing the lyrics and I'd be sat there doing the vocal tracks. There were times when I looked at Alessandro and shook my head. You get choked up sometimes because the stuff is pretty deep. What I went through was not easy by any stretch. I did nothing. God pulled me out of this. I should be dead Glenn. By all charges and purposes I should be dead.
That's a huge thing and for Alessandro to capture that was amazing. The only lyric I totally did was 'Freedom'. I wrote the entire lyric to that. That was notes. There were journals that I would do every day while I was in treatment. They make you journal. They say, “How do you feel today? What were you going through when you felt this and all that? At the end of each page of each page of my journal. I would write every day for 90 days 'Freedom is coming my way'. I kept writing that every day at the very end of each day. 'Freedom's Coming My Way'. It was really weird. I had a guitar riff. I sent it to Doug (Aldrich). Doug fixed it and once he got it down he said, “This is your guitar riff bro! Let's write a song around it!”.
It took us probably half an hour to write that song. Then lyrically, I had all these notes and I just sat down saying, “This is my tears guys. Let me see what you think. I think the sentiment's here. We can fit this in”, and that was a no-brainer too. In literally probably an hour, that song was done. It was so cool. That is my favourite one on the record. It's the very first song I've ever written ever! I think for more first time.. I mean definitely I could use some improvement but for my very first shot I'm pretty proud of it.
Glenn: I guess somewhere in the journal towards the end you wrote 'sweet' because you'd got through therapy and got through to the other side of it? Hence (the lyric) 'Freedom Sweet Freedom'.
Deen: Oh dude, totally. The lyric itself - it was me. That was me in treatment. Dealing with everything. All the legal charges that I was dealt with. I'm grateful that my fiancee is still here – all due and better than ever because I'm sober. It's amazing when you take drugs and alcohol out of an addict how we actually turn into human beings. Feel, breathing, loving, compassionate human beings. I'm just grateful that Deidra stayed. I'm grateful that she knew that that man two years ago was not me. This bro, who you are talking to now – this is me.
Two years ago I was a cloudy, foggy mess. Doing things I would never ever would have done to my girl who I love beyond measure. I'm grateful that she stuck by. She told everyone. She said, “Look – that's not the man I fell in love with. That is not him”. To me, that was huge – huge! Now, my sobriety is a living amends. To my fiancee, my kids and my Grandkids – my parents and my family. That's what this is all about. Staying sober for me is as easy as thinking about my kids, thinking about my fiancee and say, “You know what, it ain't worth it! It ain't worth it!”.
Glenn: Yeah! Because at the end of the day they are your life. Life ain't drugs and alcohol but your family and your friends are your life and of course, your music.
Deen: Yeah! You wouldn't believe the wreckage that addicts cause. The wreckage that I caused in my life with the family and losing my job with Journey. All that stuff was just horrible and I could have just gone right back in drugs without caring – ended my life or whatever; have an overdose or whatever it was. There was too many people believing in me, praying for me and supporting me. It's like failure was not an option for me Glenn. Not at all. Not an option.
Glenn: It's good that you got through it.
Deen: I was doing amounts that could kill a Rhino. It was crazy Glenn! I don't do anything halfway. (Laughs).
Glenn: I've met a few people who have been through sh*t like this. I think, 'Christ! How the hell are you guys still living?'. Loads of people have been through so much crap because of the excess. I guess it just becomes part of the make-up of normality and then it f*cks them up.
Deen: The story about musicians being drug addicts, it has been going on since Rock 'N' Roll began. Drugs and alcohol are not an option.
Glenn: It's a good thing.
Deen: To be honest, this is one of the best interviews I have done because you are just being real.
Glenn: That's the only way I can be. No bullsh*t. You were honest as you could be.
Deen: I'm an open book bro. I've got nothing to hide. The stuff that happened, I own it and I'm doing everything I can to never go back there again. Everyday I make that choice. It's a beautiful life now even when it's crappy. It's a beautiful life.
Denn: Because I'm breathing. I'm alive.
Glenn: Exactly and that's the way to look at it. I agree completely.
Glenn: How did you become to be signed to Frontiers? Did Serafino just get in touch with you guys and say, “Look, I've got this idea, do you fancy it?”
Deen: Yes. That seems to be it. I remember getting a call from Journey's Management when I was out on the road with Journey. They said, “Serafino would like you to do a solo record”. I said, “Wow! Doing what? Just playing drums?”. They replied, “No he wants you to be a lead singer”. I said, “Okay, I've never done it but I'll give it a shot. What the heck? It'll be fun”. So yeah, this is totally Serafino's baby. Then he started naming off musicians. “Who would you like to have as a guitarist?” He named off two guys and then he named Doug. I replied, “That's it. That's the guy. I love Doug with all my heart. He's an animal – that's the guitarist. He's perfect”.
Glenn: A nice guy as well.
Deen: Yeah! Jack (Blades) was a no-brainer too. I've known Jack since I was 17. When he recommended Jack I said, “Again perfect!” One of the greatest songwriters of my time. He's an incredible songwriter. When it all came together we were all just about having a lot of fun. None of is were going to take it too serious because we all had other things. It was something fun to do. It really caught on. People actually loved the record – the first one.
Glenn: Yeah it's a good album.
Deen: I said to the guys, “That's cool then that they like it and we're having fun – how much better can it get? That's awesome.
Glenn: I mean, this is no word of a lie. I was playing it last night, I cranked it up and my Dad walked in and he said, “Is that Journey?”. I said, “No that's Deen, I'm interviewing Deen tomorrow”. He said, “Oh cool. Nice One!”. When I played it, I thought, 'Holy sh*t, it's like you've has been singing forever and you just had a microphone at the back when you were singing with Journey in concert and it's just sprewn up'. Did you always realise that voice was there?
Deen: When I was 11 or 12 years old I remember the guitarist (of a band I was in) bringing in Journey's 'Infinity'. I thought, 'Man, this band is awesome! The singer, Steve Perry was amazing!' They wanted me to learn the songs and sing them. I hadn't reached puberty yet and I could hit those notes. At 11 or 12 years old it was just coming in. For me, Journey is a gift. I can't help but have that influence. Steve Perry is still my favourite singer of all time. Journey, for me, is by far the greatest melodic rock bands that ever was in entirety. That's my opinion. I can't help having the influence. I was in the band for 17 years - since I was 24/25. I can't help it and being a fan before that.
Glenn: When you are playing live, are you going to be up on the kit playing and singing at the same time? Or are you going to be up front and someone else is going to go and play the kit and swap around when you need to? How is it all going to work?
Deen: We're going to do both. It's going to be kind of a melodic rock Phil Collins if you want to call it that. I'll get behind the kit and play drums on the songs that I play drums on and sing. We hired my drum tech, Steve Toomey. Steve's been my drum tech for 10 years and that guy knows my playing inside out – all of my chops and all of my modules. It's like watching a little mini Deen. He's going to be playing drums while I'm upfront singing. That guy's an animal – wait till you see him play. He's a beast! He's a better drummer than he is drum tech.
Glenn: (I laugh) Sometimes you've got to be haven't you? You've got to see all the things. You've got to be above and outside the bubble to see what's going on when things could possibly go wrong. They've got to know your sh*t better than you know your sh*t, so to speak. If that makes any sense?
Deen: That was the beauty of it. There was a show. I think it was in Germany. I ended up getting really, really sick. I caught ecoli. Thank God Steve was there or they would have had to cancel the show. Steve said, “I know the stuff. Let me give it a shot”. He goes up and does the sound-check with them and the band say, “Are you kidding? He knows every lick. He knows every fill. Every fill that Deen does he's got them”. So thank God Steve was there. The band didn't have to cancel the show and he killed it. His sh*t was amazing.
Glenn: Sweet! That's awesome! It's good that you can work like that. That's a proper brotherhood right there musically among you guys. It's got to be something special.
Denn: That's the cool thing. It's very simple. We are brothers. He knows me and I know him really well inside and out of the playing. It's pretty cool.
Glenn: When are you guys going to do something or will this just be a project band? I know you've done a show or two for Frontiers but when can we expect something materialising with regard to gigs and touring? Even a UK Tour or any place whatsoever?
Deen: This is the plan Bro – schedules permitting because Jack has got Night Ranger. That's his baby and Doug's got The Dead Daisies. This is the only thing I've really got which is great. I'm looking for other things to do but it's not like my phone's ringing off the hook. This is my priority right now and I'm going to make this priority until it dies. As in “We tried it and it didn't work” or “We tried it and it's kicking butt”. I think schedules permitting, we'll play. We want to play.
Deen: But everything has to align perfectly. Everything has to be right in order or it's not going to be able to happen. I'm hoping and believing that it's going to pan out. We'll be out on the road hopefully next year.
Glenn: Yeah. I was thinking that it's always down to the scheduling and that you could possibly do a duo-headliner with The Dead Daisies and Revolution Saints but Jack's got to be available hasn't he. It all relies on Jack really when you think about it.
Deen: Yeah, that's the thing. Jack is a very busy man. He knows and understood that goal and he said, “If we can, we will”. I would love to. I've already talked to Journey's Manager to see if we can open up some shows for them next year if they let us do it. I haven't heard back but I had to give it a shot. Just 45 minute set if they'd let us do it. Let see if they allow us to do that or not. They may not.
Glenn: You never know.
Denn: That would be the coolest tour ever! Revolution Saints, Def Leppard & Journey – that would be sick!
Glenn: Yeah! It would!
Deen: Yeah it'd be cool. We'll see what happens.
Glenn: Yeah! Makes a lot of sense. It would be good to get you here for that. Touring with Def Leppard – play Sheffield!
Deen: Yeah because they are Sheffield boys. That's how I met Doug. It was a little tattoo party who Doug rates.
Deen: Very cool.
Glenn: Awesome! That's great! The other time I saw you play and this is how scary and a small world it gets: This was 2008, the exact date was 27th June and it was at Nottingham Arena – Trent FM Arena is what it was called at the time. Obviously you were with Journey.
Deen: I remember. Keep going.
Glenn: John Parr was the support act. His drummer is Bobby Arechiga – he's from Sheffield. I've known Bobby a few years as he was in Strongheart. His drum tech is a good friend called French Freddy.
Deen: French Fred?
Glenn: Yeah! French Freddy the Filthy Philanderer
Deen: Oh dude, I love it! That's classic! Only in Britain could they come up with a name like that. That's awesome.
Glenn: Yeah! Do you remember hanging out with Fred or Bobby or anyone? Did you get to associate and have any good times. I know it was only 5 dates you did. I wrote to Fred and he said it was Manchester, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Newcastle and London. He asked me to pass on his regards as well.
Deen: Well you know what, I love the name man! I bet if I fell asleep it'd be, “I remember you!”. (We laugh!)
Glenn: A little French guy in a baseball cap who will say to you (in French accent), “Hello, how are you doing?”
Deen: I love these kind of interviews. They are funny. It's upbeat and no 'so serious'.
Glenn: Oh god no, I avoid that.
Deen: That's a cool thing bro. I'm like you, I'm a fan. I still freak out when I meet guys like Jimmy Page. When I met Jimmy Page I thought I was gonna die. I met Brian May. I thought I was gonna die. It was like 'Oh my gosh!”. These to me are like icons.
Glenn: I was just about to say that word.
Deen: Icons! Yeah I'm still a fan dude. Are you kidding? I'm just like you. If I could interview anybody I would love to interview Corey Taylor. The guy's a genius. He's just so all-rounded as an artist and he just seems like a really down to earth, cool guy.
Glenn: Yeah. I think a lot of people are. There are many people who you could sit down, have a drink and a chat with and even become friends with because we all sh*t the same don't we?
Deen: Exactly Dude! Unless you are old and you are using a catheter. (We laugh) I'm really close to that Glenn, I'm really close.
Glenn: Yeah! (We laugh)
Deen: Pretty soon I'll be having my hoveround with spinners and a nitrous system on it. My wheelchair is fast! (More laughing ensues)
Glenn: You'd like to be on Jackass then as the old guy in the wheelchair?
Denn: Oh yes! We'll see if I can jump 10 Semi's with it! (More laughter). I bet I could do it dude. If I have enough nitrogen I could do it.
Glenn: Awesome! You know, anyone could do it. You have just got to have to insanity level to go and do it really. It's the nitrogen that makes it f*ckin' work!
Deen: With me being a drummer, I hit things in time with pieces of wood on metal and nylon. You're crazy already.
Glenn: Yeah (We laugh)
Deen: That's how I make a living. “Well what do you do you get these pieces of wood, you hit these metal discs and then these round pieces of plastic. It's pretty awesome!”.
Glenn: It beats licking windows doesn't it?
Deen: Oh totally! (We laugh) I love it. That's what the interview is gonna be – just us laughing!
Glenn: Yeah this is great. This is just fun, fun, f*ck*ng fun!
Deen: Hahahaha! My stomach's starting to hurt dude!
Glenn: Sorry I apologise. I'll get a lawsuit in the mail next. It'll be something like, 'Deen Castronovo dies during Interview' or something like that! It's my claim to fame!
Anyway, how was it for you us laying down the drum and vocal tracks for the forthcoming album? How did the process differ compared to when it was done for the last record?
Deen: The drums took a day and a half. Literally a day and a half. I got the tracks done quick because I knew what I was going to do. The last record I went for it because we didn't have a lot of time. I just laid through it. Now I can't even listen to the first record because I pick it apart Glenn. I say, “ Oh god, I let that drum lick slide. Oh that's sloppier. God that vocal's terrible.” I can't even listen to it anymore. I'll just pick it apart.
The second record after we got it done, I can actually still listen to it. I made damn sure on the drum tracks that they were going to be a little more straight-forward. It's going to be a great feeling record. It's going to feel big. That's how I would drum like. As far as vocals, the songs are there. I tended to go in and do my best to sing them. I think I did a better job on this record than I did the first one.
Glenn: Yeah. I guess it's because you knew what to expect. You weren't an amateur on it this time. You knew the deal more and knew what to give to it.
Deen: Yeah because we ended up in a room together playing. That was a huge thing. That was massive for us. We'd never really played live and that Frontiers Festival was the first time we had ever played live. Then once we did that we got the itch. Oh man, that was strong! We thought, 'We've got to do this'. Definitely, I want to go on the road. I'm ready to play.
Glenn: Maybe this time around it was a case of, “We want to do a new album”. It wasn't Serafino saying, “You are going to do a new album”. Was it a case of you guys saying, “Serafino, we want to do our next album, when can we do it?”. How did it work?
Deen: Well when I first got out of treatment – I'd been in treatment for 90 days. I came out and Serafino had gotten hold of me via e-mail and said, “Do you want to do another Revolution Saints record?”. I told him at that time, “No Serfino, I'm not ready yet. I need to focus on recovery. That's the most important thing right now. Getting my family back and healing up”. I told him when I was ready to do it I'd let him know. About a year and a half went by.
Then after I did the Bonzo Bash and the Randy Rhoads Remembrance, it was time. I knew then it was time. We made sure that Doug was available and he was thank goodness. We asked Jack and he was. Everything worked out perfectly. We flew in on 18th April. I was home by about 14th May. I did the whole record, it got done and it was finished. I'm really proud of it.
Glenn: Awesome! I'm looking forward to it. What I've heard of it so far sounds amazing.
Deen: That's awesome!
Glenn: I was checking out what was available on i-tunes but because they are just little snippets, you don't remember things right. I thought, let's wait until it comes out and we can hear it properly. Rather than just work on a minutes worth of a song. I would sooner here it properly. How did you get to know Tracey (Weideman - Revolution Saints Manager)?
Deen: I met her in 2003 when Journey was touring with REO Speedwagon and Styx. That's how we met. We just hit it off. She's such a sweet girl and she's very, very good at what she does. I mean, I don't know of anybody that can wear the same amount of hats as Tracey does. Not only wear those hats but actually suit them perfectly. She's so good at what she does. We're grateful. Dude, when I asked her if she would help us she said, “Yeah, I'd love to”, I said, “God, thank God”.
We've got somebody who knows what they're talking about and somebody that will go to bat for us. We were kind of on our own. We didn't know what to do. Having Tracey at the helm now has taken a lot of pressure off us. Oh man, she's great! A wonderful human being and constantly professional. She's amazing.
Glenn: She's a lovely person as well.
Deen: Yep. That's what I like the most. The person that she is because she actually gives a sh*t Glenn. You know she cares. We know it's not just a pay-check for her. Its not just a job. She puts her all into anything she does. She's that kind of a person.
Glenn: The original guy who started Metalliville, when it was just a paper zine that he used to put down in various shops in Sheffield, is a guy called Dave Attrill. It's his 40th birthday today. His favourite band is Journey, so I guess you're his favourite drummer. So, there you go!
Deen: Hah! That's awesome.
Deen: So at least somebody likes me – that's good. Somebody out there really likes me!
Glenn: Exactly. I said to Dave last night, “I'm interviewing Deen tomorrow, is there anything you want me to ask him for you?” He came back to me and said, “What band or project has been the biggest departure for you?”
Deen: The biggest departure for me would have been the Social Distortion record because I'd never played that style ever. I did all the drum tracks in three days – 14 songs in three days! That one was really a departure because I had never really been a punk drummer. That whole thing. It was something that I didn't really pursue. I was more of a progressive/metal drummer. When they asked me to do I said, “Yeah, I'll give it a shot”. I learned the stuff and we really nailed it. I thought, 'Wow!' Now I can say I've played on a punk record. How cool is that?'
Deen: That was probably the biggest departure for me as a musician.
Glenn: I couldn't believe my buddy Dave used the word 'Departure'. I said to him, “Scuse the pun, but that's a Journey album".
Deen: Yes. I think it is, isn't it? (Laughs)
Glenn: It is bro! And to finish off the interview, what would you say your proudest moment is either personal or as a musician?
Deen: I have to say two proudest moments. It's when my to boys were born. That was definitely the proudest moment. I'd say the second proudest moment would be Kyle playing with Wednesday 13. He's the drummer for Wednesday 13. He's touring all over the world now so he's following in my footsteps only he's a lot better. He's an amazing drummer and a songwriter. Those are my proud moments. Music and all the accolades I've accumulated – all the Platinum records – all that stuff. It's wonderful, it's great, I'm humbled, grateful and fortunate.
But I'll tell you man, when you've gone through what I've gone through the last couple of years, you realise again what is important. Family is the most important thing to me now. I mean, if I never play drums again, I would be okay because I've got an amazing family that I've connected with again. I really didn't have a chance to because I was either on the road the last 30 years or I'd come home and I'd be drinking hard and doing drugs hard. They never really got to know their Dad. Now they're getting to know their Dad. That's huge for me Bro! I trade it all to have those years back with my kids.
Deen: It's hard. You got kids man?
Glenn: Not me personally I never even got married. I've not even gone down that line yet.
Deen: Good idea. You don't want to get married though. (We laugh) Choose life. Keep it fun. I'll never do it again. I'll stay with Diedra – we're gonna be fine. (More laughter)
Glenn: Awesome Man!
Deen: Dude, thank you for the time man. I appreciate it. This was a great interview. You're the best Man! Alright Brother.
Glenn: You take care. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Deen: You too Brother. God bless you.
Glenn: You too mate. Take care.
Big thanks to Tracey Wiedeman for setting up the Interview and recent images and of course Deen Castronovo for an in-depth interview that was jam packed with plenty of humour!
A big thank you to Ron Lyon Photography for the Images from the Journey show @ Irvine Meadows Amphitheater 2014