Concertfy Interview: Living Colour Frontman Talks CM Punk, WrestleMania, & New Album
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the incredibly underrated rock vocalist, Corey Glover, frontman of Living Colour. I was surprised when he recognized my area code, from the middle of nowhere in upstate New York, and realized he actually lives ten minutes from my house. After that initial surprise, we had a nice conversation about CM Punk, the future of Living Colour, and the singer’s firsthand experience of the tragic September 11th attacks.
How did you feel when CM Punk started using “Cult of Personality” as his theme song, and what was it like to perform the song live at WrestleMania last year? Did you talk to him at all?
Yeah, for him the song has significance in his childhood, which is very interesting for us to think that we impacted some kid. This is a song that they played when they were in Little League, that’s hilarious. His coach played Cult of Personality when they came out onto the field. It stuck with him. What I like about it was that it was a pleasant memory for him. And as you know the whole story about Punk, or Phil, or whatever you want to call him this week, he had a very rough upbringing. He had a lot of problems, trying to wrestle with who and what he was. And this was a pleasant memory, a proud moment for him. Him using a song for those purposes, I think is great.
My family is from Rockaway Beach, Queens, I lived there the first few years of my life. My dad once told me a story about how he remembers, in the 80’s, when he was taking a walk with a friend in Far Rockaway when he heard a band practicing. His friend told him, “They’re called Living Colour, this is their guitarist’s house.” That was supposedly before Vivid was released, or at least before Cult of Personality exploded. Did Vernon or Muzz actually live in Rockaway at any point, and do you have any memories of practicing there?
That’s weird, because we weren’t in Rockaway Beach, in the 80’s, we rehearsed in Bushwick. There was another band out of Long Island called Living Colour at the same time. I don’t think that was us!
Anyway, you were an actor when Vernon convinced you to join the band, having appeared in the movie Platoon. Having spent two years in something of an acting career resurgence with your role as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, do you still consider yourself an actor at heart?
Absolutely. If I could get more work, I would! Jesus Christ Superstar was great, I loved doing that, it really gave me a chance to do the things I love the most, which is being an actor. I grew up as an actor, I started acting as a teenager, and I love that work, that kind of work is very satisfying, satisfying to me. I try to be that in whatever I’m doing. The lessons I’ve learned from acting, which are basically about living, but its all acting is, just portraying a life, is what I try to do in anything. Any song that I sing, it has to be a character doing it.
Time’s Up and Stain have apparently been out of print for some time, which is a shame considering Stain is probably one of the more underrated albums of the 90’s. They were given a vinyl reissue recently…
Yeah, I was just talking to someone about that. There’s a company, they put it out on vinyl. Unfortunately, we have nothing to do with that. I’m grateful that people are buying and listening to it again, on vinyl, but we really don’t have anything to do with it. [laughs]
Is there any chance of them getting CD reissues?
What we’d have to do… there’s a lot of legal things you have to do to get some of that stuff back. We wanna do that, we’re trying to do that. What we did last year was play Vivid from beginning to end, and we’re gonna put out a live CD of that. The Time’s Up anniversary is coming up, maybe we’ll do a live reissue of Time’s Up. And then Stain, you know… we’ll see how that turns out.
Looking forward to that. You guys really aren’t afraid to reinvent your sound with each decade. 1993’s Stain is much darker than your earlier releases, especially with songs like Nothingness and Go Away. Though of course you have songs like Bi. Did that album come from a personal place, or was it more of a result of the times and demand for grungy material?
It involved a bit of everything. We matured, we were on the road for a long time, Time’s Up was us trying really hard to find ourselves, Stain flew along, and Doug [Wimbish] came in, where we were as a band, we were really trying to look at the world as it was with these four people.
Living Colour just played in Australia at the Soundwave festival, and you’ve got a one-off benefit show for epilepsy awareness coming up in New Jersey. You guys have any further plans to perform year?
I think we’re going away, we’re going to Europe for a couple of days to do some stuff. I think there’s gonna be some one-offs during the summer, because we’re in the midst of writing and recording our new record, so we gotta warm up for our release, which will be in the fall!
Awesome! How’s that coming along? What should we be expecting?
Well, I’m in the studio right now, that’s funny you should ask, because right now we are all in the studio!
Tell the other guys I said hi.
I will! All of our albums are sort of like a reflection of an issue of what’s going on in our lives, what’s real in the world that we live in.
Like all the September 11th allusions on Collideoscope.
Yeah, that was us really toying with that, because we’re a New York band, we were all affected by that, as the whole world was, but as New Yorkers, being in New York City on September 11, 2001… everything should’ve changed. The imagery of the city changed. Its vulnerability will show, I think. And I think we’re figuring out what that means. So a song like “Flying” was impactful in that, people’s whole lives changed in a second, whether you were in the building, four blocks away, forty blocks away.
I was eight years old, I still remember it clearly.
I mean, I was on a plane… I was on an airplane flying into New York City when it was all going down. I’m thinking about not just my life, being on that giant metal tube flying through the sky, but the person that was one of my best friends, who worked across the street from the Twin Towers. I was more concerned about her than I was myself, really. My best friend in the whole world… I was just wondering how Lisa was… where Lisa was, you know.
So, if you’re drawing from what’s around us, what in particular is influencing your new material?
I think this record is, like Chair in the Doorway, a little more internal than a lot of records, we’re using more into a mental state as opposed to the outside world that’s screwed up. The inside world is also screwed up. Any of the funny and weird things within, I think there’s a lot more focus on those kinds of things.
So that’s definitely a fall 2014 release?
Yes, yes yes. Like I said, we’re just trying to get as much of it done as we possibly can before our upcoming shows.
Time for a few reader-submitted questions questions: do you think Living Colour paved the way or at least pointed a way to the eclecticism of artists like Beck, RHCP, and De La Soul?
I think we’re part of a continuum. There was a real… RHCP have been a lot longer than we have, really, but the idea of music fusing itself with other things and ideas is in all time. You have jazz as an amalgam of stuff, taking a lot of things that sound nothing alike… Rock and Roll is obviously mixed bag of a whole bunch of shit. There’s a bunch of bands that continue to make those sort of leaps of creativity, trying to say, “Well what if this did this?”
Do you have any favorite singers?
Yeah, lots of em. Hmmm… Jackie Wilson, Sam Cook, and Michael Jackson. That’s just pulled from the top of my head. They’re pretty much favorites.
What was it like to work with Little Richard?
He was great, the first time we actually met Richard, Little Richard, was at the Stones show when we played in Los Angeles. It was sort of like “hey, how ya doing?” He was at the show, we were very excited to meet him, and a couple of days later he summoned us to his room! The time he was living in high end Sunset. He summoned us to his room to tell us about what we were doing… and how important it was that we were doing what we were doing. We got stories from him on Time’s Up, and it was amazing. It was more stories, more reasons why we should be doing what we’re doing!
What’s your favorite colour?
I don’t have one! There’s so many to choose from! It depends on my mood! You know, sometimes it can be blue, sometimes it could be, you know, jet black! I couldn’t say what my favorite color is right now!
Thanks a lot for the time… hopefully I’ll see you at the Jersey show next month. Otherwise I’ll probably just bump into you at the local mall anyway!
[laughs] Saddest mall in America!