Corey Glover is the frontman for the legendary and highly influential band, Living Colour. The band played at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT this past weekend and before the show, I sat down with Corey for a great interview.
I had never seen Living Colour live before and once I did, it was an incredible experience that I will most definitely cherish. Upon getting to the venue, I was surprised to see what it looked like on the inside. Corey even described it on stage as “memories of being in my eighth grade auditorium”.
I was curious as to how a venue like this would handle a performance from the band, whose style contains elements of hard rock, funk, metal, jazz and hip hop. I’m generally used to see rock bands at either small clubs or at full-blown arenas, so this was going to be interesting. After a fine acoustic opening performance from NYC’s Station, the crowd made their way from the bar area to inside the showroom. What caught my attention right away was that Living Colour walked on stage to rousing applause while greeting the crowd and getting warmed up. There wasn’t any sort of over the top intro with the lights going out. I could sense how humble Living Colour was and how much they cherished both their music and their fans.
Kicking things off with a cover of Robert Johnson’s Preachin’ Blues, all eyes were directed on four of the finest musicians around. As I said before, they are as humble as they are talented. In between songs, the bandmates would engage in banter between themselves and the crowd. Nothing about their banter on stage felt artficial or rehearsed, like many bands unfortunately do. It felt like these were four of your good friends sitting down with you for a nice conversation. I see no sign of any rockstar egos or anything of the sort. Doug Wimbish was especially glad to engage with the crowd because he informed us that he too is from Connecticut, specifically Bloomfield. Vernon Reid and Corey talked about the single-digit degree weather outside and joked about being available to shovel our driveways. Will Calhoun rocked the house with his incredible and engaging drum solo, while Will wowed and amazed the entire audience earlier in the set with his marvelous bass solo.
After a night of performing hits like Love Rears Its Ugly Head and Middle Man, as well as covers of Who Shot Ya? and Memories Can’t Wait, a very familiar quote from Malcolm X hit the speakers and everyone in the crowd stood up. Everyone was excited and ready for Living Colour’s signature hit, Cult of Personality. With everyone on their feet, Corey got off the stage with his microphone and walked into the crowd during the performance and even made his way to the upper balcony! Afterwards, the band promised that they would head to the lobby to meet their fans for autographs and photos. I took so much out of the whole experience and got to see how incredible Living Colour is both on and off stage. Classy, witty, talented and humble. That’s the way to do it!
As mentioned in the beginning, I sat down with Corey prior to the show and I can say with confidence that he is one of the friendliest and most down to earth musicians that I have ever met. We discussed performing at this year’s Shiprocked, CM Punk, That Metal Show, James Brown, his vocal influences and much more.
COREY GLOVER INTERVIEW
Alex Obert: You just performed at this year’s Shiprocked. What did you take out of it?
Corey Glover: We had a good time. We had a really, really good time. We spent about a week there. This is our second time doing it and this time around, there was a lot more people that we had actually worked with and known. There were also some folks that we met on the last go around that were here this year and we had bonded with them. And there’s some things I wanted to see. I wanted to see Black Label Society. I was very into seeing Crobot, I didn’t get a chance to see them, but those were some of the bands that I wanted to see. This is a chance for you to go see musicians and see people that you enjoy without the hassle of it being a festival where it takes a lot to walk from one stage to the other. It was all just accessible and all just there. As a music fan, it was great. I think we were a little more acclimated last year when we did it. We did one on the Deck Stage and one in the atrium, which is basically like the reception area of a hotel. It was kind of weird. But this year, we played both shows in the theater. It was comfortable, the gear didn’t have to move, and everything was set up. I think those were one of our better shows of late, actually. We did really well. What was interesting about that was that we hadn’t played in like three months, we hadn’t picked up an instrument and played together until then. To know it came off well, I was very happy about that. It was good to see folks like Scott Ian and Alex Skolnick and Mike Portnoy and Fred Durst and Wes Borland. All these folks that you see every now and then, you get a chance to say hello when you’re at a venue somewhere, you shake hands and keep it moving. Now you can actually sit down with some of these folks. And people who are usually audience members can sit down, fans can hang out with these people. And it’s not a big deal, you can have a good time. It’s all good.
Alex Obert: On this year’s event, a lot of people have been talking about your performance of Cult of Personality with Lajon Witherspoon from Sevendust on stage with the band. How was that set up for him to perform you?
Corey Glover: We just asked. We asked him if he wanted to come sit in with us. Last year, we always conflicted and clashed. When they were on, we were on. We never got a chance to hang out. Last year, we did a show on the Deck Stage and as soon as we were done, I ran down to the theater to go check out Sevendust. I’d never seen them live, I had only heard the records and seen the videos. So it was great to see them live and in person. We’ve been friends online and that kind of stuff, so when we hung out with him and his wife, we had a really good time. And he’s a fan of Living Colour. So it’s a chance for him, if you wanna do this, let’s do this man. He was great, he was amazing at it.
Alex Obert: What was his reaction once the performance was finished?
Corey Glover: He said he was very excited, yet very nervous. His wife said this is the most nervous she’s ever seen Lajon ever.
Alex Obert: With Cult of Personality reaching an even bigger audience through CM Punk and the WWE, how was it set up for him to use the theme? Did he request the theme in exchange for re-signing with the WWE?
Corey Glover: My guess, and I don’t know this to be true or not, my guess was he was making as many outrageous demands as he possibly could to see what they’d say. The WWE has all in-house music, other than Static-X and Motorhead. It’s a very rare occasion if somebody uses outside music. So it’s like that was one of his negotiating demands. “I want this, I want that. I want this, I want that. And I want to use Cult of Personality as my entrance and exit music.” They relented and I’m sure he was happy about it. We were certainly happy about it. He had been using it in Ring of Honor and before that, he was doing backyard stuff as well. And on his backyard videos, he’d use Cult of Personality. There’s a running theme with us. Phil’s a nice guy. He’s really, really nice guy. We saw him in Chicago when we played there last year in September. We hung out with him and he was telling me he’s doing MMA stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if we’ll be brought along as well.
Alex Obert: How was the idea pitched for you to perform his theme live at Wrestlemania 29?
Corey Glover: Wrestlemania 29 was supposed to be this big blowout and every superstar had their own musical theme. There was one dude that was doing a salsa kind of thing, P. Diddy was on it and a few other bands were on this thing. With Punk having a really big fight that night, might as well have us there. And we’re a New York band. It was at the Giants Stadium, a skip and a jump from home.
Alex Obert: With Cult of Personality being featured on Guitar Hero III, were you satisfied with the rerecorded version that you guys did?
I was. I think we really had a chance to do the things that we couldn’t do before. What was fortunate for us was that we actually got Ed Stasium, who actually did the original production, to come in and put the finishing touches on it. We were very happy with it. Very, very happy. It sounded great.
Alex Obert: You appeared on That Metal Show a year ago. What did you take out of that?
That was fun. The real big interesting thing is that it was in the middle of a snowstorm and half the audience wasn’t there. It took us forever to get there. It was snowing from the time they came and got us to the time we left and it didn’t stop snowing for another four hours. That was the biggest thing about it, just trying to trench through the snow to get to this thing. But doing it was great. Joey from Manowar was hilarious.
Alex Obert: When you were on, you had said that seeing James Brown at eight years old blew you away. What was that experience like for you?
Corey Glover: It was transformative, actually. I saw James Brown at the Apollo and my brother and his friends took me. It was the wildest thing I had ever seen in my life. The audience was screaming and reacting. The band was on fire and at the top of their form. And James Brown just seemed magical, that’s the best way I can describe it. He was doing things that made no sense to me, really that made no earthly sense to me. He’s screaming and the audience was reacting. He fell to the ground and the audience reacted bigger. He tried to walk away and come back and they were losing their mind. There was a juxtaposition between James Brown on stage and the audience and how it all sort of moved together. People reacted to these songs that were memorable. His slightest gesture caused an uproar. I just thought it was the most interesting, weirdest shit I’d ever seen in my life.
Alex Obert: I can see and hear in your music that he influenced you a lot that night. With all of the musicians and bands that you have influenced throughout the years, what is your advice for singers to help keep their voice as strong as you have?
Corey Glover: Sleep, hydration and a good vocal coach. You should always try to avoid the bad stuff, but if you do, take time to recover from it. If you go on a two day binge, you’ve gotta give yourself at least two days to get over it. No matter what it is you’re doing. Your body needs time to recover in order for you to be at your best. Right now I have a cold. And it’s gonna be difficult, but I have to power through it. The best way to do it is to have rest and be hydrated and be able to keep your voice working by exercising it. It’s a muscle, it’s an internal organ, basically. If it’s in good shape, it can get through some adversities. It can get through having a cold, it can get through a hangover, it can get through you not being at your best. But you have to treat it special.
Alex Obert: Which singers really helped to shape your vocal style? Who do you find yourself studying?
Corey Glover: I listen to a lot of Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. They were very emotional in how they approached things. As a rock singer, not many people say this, but Michael Jackson was a major, major influence on me. Especially in terms of getting to the emotional core of songs. Say what you want to say about his personal life and the things that he did, but musically and vocally, he was very much on point. I listen to Elvis as well, he’s an amazing singer. The Beatles were amazing songwriters and song-crafters. They weren’t the greatest singers in the world, but with what they had, they made very much do with what they had. In terms of rock singers, I listen to a lot of Led Zeppelin. Even though I can’t do what Robert Plant does, I can make do with what I have. His deal with blues is amazing. And of course, I listen to the Rolling Stones. That goes to another story, when we were first starting out, Mick Jagger did some demos for us and I struck up a conversation with him about music and in particular, about the blues. He had gone home to his apartment that night and made a mixtape for me to listen to, which he gave to me the next day. It had all this blues stuff like Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Water, all this really rare stuff. It turned a lot of things around for me because I started re-listening to all the blues records and heard them completely differently at that point. It was very interesting.
Alex Obert: In regards to the future, where are you currently at with the next Living Colour album, Shade?
Corey Glover: I’d like to say we’re about eighty percent there. We’re gonna write a few more songs and go back into the studio next month. We’re gonna try to get it out by the fall.
Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, there’s something in particular that I’m curious about. You were known for wearing the flashy and colorful outfits in the late eighties, but now you dress with a mix of casual and formal on stage. What inspired your current style for live performances?
Corey Glover: It’s age-appropriate. It’s just as comfortable and it’s just as much of who I am as the wetsuit and the spandex and all that stuff. I think it’s more appropriate to what the music is saying since we are at a particular age. It’s a youthful thing and we try to exude some youthfulness into it, but it’s more about “this is who we are at this point”. We moved on, things change and evolve. You have to roll with that and that’s what we did.
Alex Obert: And your fans mature and evolve with you.
Corey Glover: Exactly. And even if you’re new to this and go back to see they were there then and they’re here now, they’ll get it and understand it.
Alex Obert: I’d love to thank you so much for your time and a great interview.
Corey Glover: Thank you very much, Alex. I appreciate it!