John Parks of Legendary Rock Interviews recently conducted an interview with John Corabi, former lead singer of MÖTLEY CRÜE, THE SCREAM and UNION. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Have you ever felt boxed in by the hard rock/metal genre when writing, even going back?
John Corabi: Nope. I don’t think about it until after the fact, and the bottom line of it is that I can honestly tell you when I wrote the “Let It Scream” record, we just wrote whatever gave us a hard-on. We figured we would put the record out and people would either dig it or they wouldn’t. It was the same with MÖTLEY. MÖTLEY never once sat down and said, “Well, the music scene’s changing. We need to make this record a little darker or heavier musically or lyrically.” It was just four guys sitting in a room like a bunch of 16-year-olds in a garage and jamming on riffs. Shit just went. Tommy [Lee, MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer] used to say, “If it doesn’t knock your dick in the dirt, don’t even bother putting it on the record.” That was all we did. It doesn’t bother me when someone is totally unaware of anything I’ve ever been in or done and says, “Hey, man, I really like your music, I’ve never heard of you.” That doesn’t bother me at all. What I can tell you is, the thing that bothers me more than anything is when you do a record, and I’ve had this happen by the way, you do a record, and you’re touring, and people come up to you and go, “Man, dude you are one of my favorite fucking singers. What have you been doing since MÖTLEY?” Okay, that bothers me. I would rather have someone come up and say, “Hey, dude, I bought your record and I fuckin hated it” than have them not even be aware that I had a record out.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Or five!
John Corabi: Yeah! That’s the thing that drives me absolutely crazy and there’s a reason why, if you don’t mind me going on a bit…
Legendary Rock Interviews: No, go right ahead.
John Corabi: Okay, the reason that pisses me off so much is there was a time where Bruce [Kulick, former KISS guitarist and Corabi's UNION bandmate] and I were doing the “Blue Room” album and we finished the tracks and rough mixes and sent them to one of our managers, a guy named Larry Mazer. Larry heard three or four songs from the record and was, like, “I fucking love this record, it’s amazing” based on those tracks he heard. Now the deal that we had with Spitfire Records was that they would put our records out and basically man the ship until we got to a certain level of sales. If we sold 50,000 records, then Atlantic Records had the option, as Spitfire‘s distributor, to pick it up and run with the ball. Larry decides that he would try to bypass that whole “50,000? sales figure and takes our CD, unlabeled, just a blank CD to a guy who I’m not a big fan of but will remain nameless at Atlantic. Larry says to the guy, “Hey, just listen to this band and let me know what you think.” The guy from Atlantic was, like, “Wow, I love this, this is fuckin great shit. Who is this??” and Larry was, like, “No, nope, I just wanted to have you hear it and see whether it was worth me working with this band.” Basically, he was teasing the guy to get him excited about this unknown band and this went on for about ten days. The guy was calling our manager every day, like, “I gotta have that band. I gotta know more about that band.” And basically, after a while, Larry caved and he said, “It’s UNION. It’s Bruce Kulick from KISS and John Corabi from MÖTLEY CRÜE.” Now, after ten days of blowing smoke up Larry‘s ass and all this other shit, the Atlantic guy hears it’s us and his opinion does a complete 180 and his response to Larry was, “Well, that sucks. I really like that band, but I will never sign a band that features guys who are older than me.” That story ties back to what we were talking about when people say, “What have you done since MÖTLEY CRÜE?” because it proves the point. It is damn near impossible for guys like me, or Bruce or Tracii Guns or WARRANT or any of a long list of bands to get a major label or a major corporation like big radio or big media to pay attention to our shit and let people even know that we are putting records out. So what you have to do is just basically pray that all the stars line up just right, you do a bunch of interviews for Internet sites and Internet radio, you promote however you can, and you just hope that the entire world is watching or listening to that interview that day. It can be frustrating, because at the end of the day, I am just an entertainer, I sing my songs and play my guitar and drink my tequila and I’m the town jester just trying to show everyone a good time. I was not aware that there was an age limit on that. The artists I grew up with — Paul McCartney, THE WHO and a shitload of other bands — didn’t get that memo to retire either.
Legendary Rock Interviews: You’ve always said that when you were in MÖTLEY, it was a real tight-knit family situation and it was real. Does that ever dawn on you how difficult it is to maintain that when life events happen to you or one of the other guys in CRÜE, like Tommy‘s mom passing or Nikki [Sixx, MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist] getting engaged or anything?
John Corabi: Yeah, and if I can be honest, one of the things that disturbs me is like, when I was in MÖTLEY, it doesn’t seem like it was a long time in the grand scheme, but I spent five years of my life with those guys, almost every day. You start looking at these guys a year or so in like, “Wow, Tommy Lee is one of my best friends, Nikki Sixx is one of my best friends, Mick Mars [MÖTLEY CRÜE guitarist] is one of my best friends.” And then, all of a sudden, it’s like… you know, cut off… That was… that was a really hard thing for me to deal with. It’s like I didn’t just lose the gig, but I lost my friends too. It’s just weird. It is a very weird fuckin’ business. It’s so funny to people when I say this, but things are cool between Vince [Neil, MÖTLEY CRÜE singer] and I. If I ran into Vince tonight, he would come over and give me a hug and we would sit down and drink together all night. We get along great. But, you know, it’s the same with Nikki if he and I were to see each other. He’d walk up and give me a hug and say, “Hey, Crab, how ya doin’? Blah, blah.” Same with Mick. Tommy I just heard from not too long ago. It’s not so much that there’s no friendship at all there, it’s just not at all what it once was, and that is kind of disturbing.
Read the entire interview from Legendary Rock Interviews.