Antihero Magazine’s Mark Dean recently had the opportunity to chat with Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover about the band’s upcoming sixth full-length release, Shade, due to be released on September 8, 2017 via Megaforce Records.
Corey Glover: Well, I think it’s about that time.It took us a while to make this record and we take a long time between records usually, between the last record we made and the record before that I think it was 5 years.So, you know, we don’t have really good timing when it comes to putting out records.We take our time in making a record.We take our time and make sure that it’s right.We make sure that all of our ducks are in a row before we make that plunge into putting a piece of work out.
ANTIHERO: The band has been together almost 30 years. Can you attempt to explain the enduring appeal of Living Colour?
Corey Glover: Well, you know you’re in a band of 4 somewhat very studious, very precise people and that has its ups and its downs, and it’s like a marriage, you have to navigate what works and what doesn’t work and use your best judgement on most cases. Doug has this expression that says, “it’s hard enough for 1 person to walk in a straight line let alone 4”.
ANTIHERO: Once again with the album release you’ve gone with the Megaforce label. I just wondered why you’ve decided to stick with them. Traditionally, they’re renowned for being a label that has generally a lot of bands of a heavier sort of style on it.
Corey Glover: Yes.I mean they have a lot of music, and you know we run the gamut of doing something that’s very hard and very heavy to something, the things that are a little funkier or some things that are really soulful.They’ve been very accommodating and with that in mind they’ve been very, very, very nice to us and we appreciate that.
ANTIHERO: Debut video of the album is the cover “Who Shot Ya” by Notorious B.I.G. What lay behind the inclusion of that track?
Corey Glover: I, in particular, am a very big fan of the Notorious B.I.G. Christopher Wallace was a genius lyrically and I think that a song like “Who Shot Ya” in a world where gun violence is almost too prevalent in our society, it was a necessity. You know, to think about how we use guns to solve all of our problems whether good, bad or indifferent, whereas guns are really the problem. Our discourse has escalated to the point that the only way that you feel like you can solve a problem is with a gun, and when I say gun I don’t just mean a pistol or a rifle but inter ballistic missiles, it’s just things that cause destruction on a massive scale, it’s not necessary and the idea of who does it and why they feel the need to do it is what we’re dealing with, what we’re trying to deal with on that song.
ANTIHERO: And of course, countries are spending a phenomenal amount on Defense and buying weapons which obviously could be money diverted elsewhere and used to create some good instead of some threat.
Corey Glover: Yes, it would be much better to spend that money on feeding people or educating people rather than killing people.
ANTIHERO: If I could pick a track from Shade, you have George Clinton appearing on a track. That must have been a huge buzz to have him play on that?
Corey Glover: Absolutely. We’re big devotees of Parliament, and P-Funk, and Parliament-Funkadelic, and we feel like it was an honour for us to have George Clinton on that track and he did it really well and it is excellent what he did.
ANTIHERO: Had you met him previously or was that your first time that you’d met him?
Corey Glover: We’ve known George for a very long time. As I said, we’re big devotees. We have known people who have come and passed away unfortunately, and as I said we’ve known George for a very long time.
ANTIHERO: What about creating an album in Living Colour? The whole creative process, recording, writing, is that pretty much the same as what it was when you recorded those first couple of albums or has the process somehow changed over the years?
Corey Glover: It hasn’t really changed. It’s a very collaborative process. We take what we do very seriously and we make a concerted effort to get it right based on our particular… This record, we tried to focus on the blues as Living Colour would see it, as a band that has the elements of jazz and the blues and rock and heavy metal and soul and gospel, all sort of intertwined.You mentioned earlier about “Who Shot Ya”, we thought right to us certain parts of hip-hop are the modern-day blues in that they really talk about the internal as well as the external, and we thought that was a great idiom to use what we felt was the blues into a song like that.We have traditional stuff on this record, we have “Preachin’ Blues”, which is really a Robert Johnson tune and was the impetus for us to get started on making this record in the first place.So, we felt like the whole ideain its inception was sort of the news with a beat really, or an emotional journey into your own mind musically, and we thought that was a great sort of starting off point to make a new record.
ANTIHERO: August you’re getting over to the UK. How much of the new album will actually feature in those dates?
Corey Glover: That all depends on the date.It depends on where we play and what the audience feels like and where we are at emotionally and musically.
ANTIHERO: You’re not a band that goes out with a set list for a tour and rigidly sticks to that every night?
Corey Glover: No.The set changes every night. And will change from the beginning of the show to the end of the show as well.
ANTIHERO: It keeps it fresh for you guys as well, I guess?
Corey Glover: Yes, it keeps it fresh for everybody.If we are in a particular mood, certain songs will work and some songs won’t.
ANTIHERO: You’ve got a band, Stone Broken, who are supporting you on those dates. I just wondered if they’re a band that are familiar for you guys, or is it all a management decision that picks the support bands?
Corey Glover: We’re not really familiar with Stone Broken. We’ve heard really good things about them, but we’ve never really had a chance to meet them and really have a conversation with them.
ANTIHERO: These dates, I think they were rescheduled. I think you were due to come to the UK last year with Glenn Hughes. Exactly what happened there? Did those just fall through?
Corey Glover: They just fell through, honestly. We were still working on this record and trying to get that right and the timing was really bad.
ANTIHERO: Obviously, you said earlier you like to take time with recording an album and making sure all the ducks are in a row, as you say, and obviously that you just need a little bit more time with that. I just wondered if I could take you back. Can you recall your first introduction to music? Is there any sort of early memories there that you know where music was presented to you for a first time and that stayed with you?
Corey Glover: Well, I had siblings who were very much singers. My brother was a singer and I would listen to him sing. My family were very musical, although not professional musicians, but they were very musical, listening to the music in the house, hearing certain things and watching certain things on television when I was a kid. I remember seeing the Jackson 5 for the first time on a television show. I remember watching the Glen Campbell Show, or the Johnny Cash Show, or the Tom Jones Show, and all these television shows with these musicians playing in them and just being fascinated by the music. My parents then were very much into jazz and jazz fusion, so Miles Davies’ Bitches Brew was playing in the house constantly. Carlos Santana was playing in the house constantly. That was sort of the linchpin between my siblings and my parents, was that they had similar musical styles and so there was always music playing in the house.
ANTIHERO: That’s a nice connection as well between the offspring and their parents to have that connection, I think that’s very good as well. You’ve achieved a massive level of success primarily in the 80’s with the MTV era and those first couple of albums. I just wondered what impact fame had on you personally. Was it difficult to deal with at the time or was it something that you just took in your stride?
Corey Glover: You look back on those times and it was really like the late 80’s/early 90’s that we were doing that sort of thing and in my early 20’s it was disconcerting to say the least when you get on the subway and people stop and look at you because they saw you on television an hour ago or you see some people that you’ve known your whole life and they treat you differently because they think there’s something different happening with you and nothing has really changed with me. I’m still Corey. You know, this story I love to tell is we were opening for The Rolling Stones in 1989 and during the run of the tour we had a break and we all went home, and I went home and my mother handed me a bucket of paint and a paintbrush and said go paint the porch stoop and that’s what I had to do, and my friends came by and they were like what are you doing. I’m painting the stoop because my mother told me to paint the stoop Nothing has changed in my world. I’m on the biggest tour in the world yes great it’s wonderful, I’ve still got to paint the stoop. I have still got to go and walk the dog, I still have to… So, the impact musically was different than what I considered my real life.
ANTIHERO: Of course, certainly would keep you grounded. I am sure that you’ve seen many changes in the music industry from those early days. I just wondered if it is easier these days or more difficult to earn a living as a professional musician?
Corey Glover: That’s hard to say. In as much as it seems like it’s difficult, the people that you love musically are still doing it and they find a way to sustain themselves with music. So, there are some difficulties in that there are certain folks that aren’t live artists, that don’t play live, and they subsist being in the vacuum of the internet and then there’s some musicians and artists that go out and pound the pavement and hit the road and tour constantly. I mentioned The Rolling Stones a little while ago. They still tour. So, how difficult is it for them to go out whereas a DJ can go play at a club and make money doing that and make a living doing that. So, there are ways to do it.
ANTIHERO: What are your views as well on a lot of bands now charge money to fans, some bands a couple of thousand pounds to actually meet them? Do you feel that’s wrong?
Corey Glover: No, not necessarily.If you have a need to meet somebody.If you pay for a ticket to go and see a band and your experience of dealing with a band is sitting or standing in a club, a hundred feet away from somebody and you really want to talk to them, you want to pick their brain in some way, shape or form, it’s just the same as hearing them at a concert.I don’t think it should cost you thousands of pounds to do it, but I don’t see anything wrong with that.
ANTIHERO: Do you have any spare time interests or hobbies outside music or is music everything in your life, there’s no separation?
Corey Glover: I’m also a parent, that takes up a lot of my time. Like I said, I live my life. At some point, I’m going to have to paint the stoop again. I do have other hobbies. I do love art, I love art in all its forms. I love to write. I’m also an actor. So, these things are a part of my life. Art is life and life is art for me. It’s all included.
ANTIHERO: Outside of musicians, I’m sure you’ve done many interviews over the years, but who would you personally like to sit down and interview yourself? Maybe a personal hero?
Corey Glover: Yes. I would love to have met Elvis Presley. I would love to have been able to sit down and really talk about his early life and the music that he enjoyed and the things that he did back in the day.
ANTIHERO: Thank you very much Corey,that has been great. I’m looking forward to it, I’m actually going along to the Manchester show at the end of next month. So, as I say I’m really looking forward to that. Thanks very much for chatting.
Corey Glover: Thank you.