John Corabi – Union [Scream, Motley Crue] : Interview from the Archives (2000)

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In March of 2000 I interviewed John Corabi for the release of the 2nd Union album Blue Room.  There was also a live album released in there, but this would be the last from the band, which is a bit of shame. Corabi went on to record a number of other things, solo and with the Dead Daisies – which were all solid hard  rock albums. Unfortunately he left the Dead Daisies a while back, but here’s hoping he’s got something new in the near future. He released an excellent acoustic CD in 2013 and a live album in 2017, where he performed the Motley Crue 1994 album. He was also on a couple of releases by ESP [Eric Singer Project], which also included Bruce Kulick, and Chuck Garric [Alice Cooper].

Well, if ya liked the debut album from Union – featuring John Corabi [ex Motley Crue / Scream] and guitarist Bruce Kulick [ex Kiss] – you’ll  like this! “The Blue Room” is every bit as strong as the debut, yet a bit heavier in places, and bit more refined – sounding more like a distinct band than the debut [IMO]. Lead off tracks “Do Your Own Thing” and the Sabbathy riffs of “Dead” set a heavy, almost darker tone. “Everything’s Alright” is interesting lyrically more so, with it’s Beatles’ references; musically more reminiscent of Corabi’s Crue era. The Blue Room does have a few lighter moments such as the Kulick sang “Dear Friend” – which has acoustic verses before the pace and band kick in for the aggressive chorus. “I Wanna Be” is probably my fave here; it’s a bit lighter than the heavy stuff, and has a decent melody and vocal to it that make it stand out as memorable. A pretty decent HR album all-round. I recently had the opportunity to speak with singer John Corabi about the new album, and a few other aspects of his career. John was pretty cool and I wish them luck with the new album and tour.

How’s the response been to the new album?

It’s been pretty good, I mean the press has been cool to us, and radio’s embracing more than the last record. But it’s gonna take time getting this thing off the ground, ya know there’s still a little resistance [I guess] because basically we’re not the flavor of the month.

I found when the first album came out, it was a good album, and it got decent reviews and press in the metal mags and that, but I didn’t hear anything on the radio around here….

Yeah, it’s just weird! I mean, everybody’s concerned with playing the new Limp Bizcuit, Kid Rock, Korn – that kind of stuff; and that’s basically what’s happening right. What we’re doing which is just straight ahead rock n roll, as far as the radio stations go, is not in demand, but I find it really odd that when Poison and Motley Crue go on tour and they basically sold out last summer every show in America; I find it odd that there’s that many people at every show but according to the radio stations and MTV nobody really cares anymore. 

Union – Everything’s Alright – YouTube

About the Live album…Did that come about intentionally or kind of by accident? because it’s kind of an odd time for a ‘live’ album.

It’s definitely an odd time to do a record, but ya know the bottom line is Mayhem was falling apart, we had no support, and basically they went belly up and we were kinda out there with no support from a label, no label to be honest with ya! And we came back to LA and we did 2 shows with Cinderella, and the first show we did was at a place called the ‘Key Club’ here in Hollywood, and they were doing some recording for a live record. And the guy from the record label heard the band, and he thought that we were really cool, a great band live, and he wanted us to record our set as well and do a live record for his label, and we thought it might be kind of a cool idea considering we had no label and didn’t even know if we would get signed again, so we just figured it’d be a way for us to take those songs from the first album and kind of re-release them in a different format, and hopefully keep our fingers crossed that we were sitting on “Frampton Comes Alive” – ha ha…

It was a good live set because you did a couple of the Crue and Kiss things, and a cover of the Cheap Trick tune…

We also did The Beatles’ tune “Hide Your Love Away”.

I noticed on the new album there’s the one track that makes a lot of references to the Beatles.

Well, “Everything’s Alright”. I tried to make some kind of a statement but with using all Beatles’ titles. So it’s weird, it turned out that it’s a lot of peoples’ favorite tune on the record.

On the first album you and Bruce wrote everything. How does this album differ from the first one, were the other 2 guys more in to the writing?

Well yeah, we all kinda developed the songs together. the first record was Bruce and I in the studio with this guy Curt Cuomo, and we recorded it at home, and Curt basically sat down with us, and we all figured out what drum parts to play and played them on a drum machine, and then between me and Bruce playing guitars and stuff like that , we played all the guitars and bass, and then basically when James and Brent joined the band we just had them play what we already played. This time there was no demos, we had ideas on tapes, we just got together with Bob Marlette and jammed everything as a band, and we kinda sifted through what we thought were the 10 best ideas, and then we developed them as a band.

How did you hook up with Bob?

We actually have the same manager. I have 2 managers that I’ve had since my days with The Scream, and Bruce has a manager that – Larry Maser – who used to manage Kiss there for a while. So when we joined forces we kept our managers, and my managers and his manager work together. But my guys handle us and they handle Bob Marlette. So I guess they must’ve been playing him our first record and telling him we were getting ready to do another album, and see if he’d be interested in working with us. We sat down, and we talked with him for a while, and he had a lot of great ideas. So we said “all right, f**k – let’s try it! Cool”.

For a ’90s [2000] you guys keep it to 10 songs, where as a lot of bands go overboard these days and put like 15 songs on them, and half of it’s garbage and that. What’s changed over time that where bands are putting 14, 15 songs on albums…… ?

Well, I think that as a whole – if you look at society in general, everybody goes for quantity not quality, know what I mean!? And some of my records don’t even have 10 songs on them. There’s some Zeppelin albums that have like 7 tunes, Aerosmith’s “Get Your Wings” has like 8 songs it, but they’re all great! And we just wanted to make sure that we had a great album; and I hate when bands put out a record with like 14 songs and you get through the first 4 or 5 songs and the record just blows after that. So we just said “F**k it! Let’s just concentrate on 10 tunes; get them all dialed, write the best lyrics we can, write the best guitar parts, best vocals, and do the best production we can…” I guess it always boils down to how many records you sell; a lot of press and a lot of the radio interviews we’ve done they’ve said that, that the album is a complete record – it’s a great record from front to back.

How did you guys approach this differently, as far as what you were aiming for sound-wise. On the first Union album I could pick out certain Motley sounds and certain Kiss sounds, but this one you guys have a more definite sound of your own, and there’s not so many traces or ex bands and that; you know what I mean!?

Right. We’ve been together now 2 years, and that’s the idea. Any bands, like Zeppelin, The Beatles, Stones, or Aerosmith – they all kind of bartered on their past or influences. I mean Zeppelin on the first record or so was like heavy blues, and then as they started to grow and go further in to their career they started to develop, and they started to encorporate things like acoustic guitars, Indian sounding things, funk, and all this kind of stuff, and made it their own. The same with Aerosmith. And the Beatles and Stones – the first records they did were covers, and then they developed into great songwriters that they are. But I think, it takes any band, like in ours where you got 2 guys who got together and decided to put a band together with no real long-standing run in the clubs, I think it’s a great sounding record for a first album, and now it’s like we’re kinda growing in ourselves and we’re figuring out like the writing and stuff, and hopefully the next album will be even better. I just think that band’s are supposed to grow and figure out what their sound is, and as they go they kinda figure out where they’re going. 

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Where do you see Union fitting in [and I hate to use labels], but you have the metal labels and the newer alternative stuff, and you guys kinda come across the middle somewhere…..

To be honest with you, I think we’re kind of sitting on the fence. I don’t really consider us an old, yeah there might be a history there and there might be traces of where we came from, but we’re definitely not an alternative band either. Although if you look at it, we’re definitely an alternative to the alternative. Right now down here it’s all Korn, Limp Bizcuit, Kid Rock, Backstreet Boys, and we’re not jumping on a bandwagon, I don’t want to be a ‘flavor of the month’. Bands used to have 15 minutes of fame, now they got like 5! And I don’t want that! For me personally, I hate being mediocre, and settling for anything; I just do what I do, and do it the best I can. And that’s all I can do. I work hard; I like working real hard, and I like trying to give people my personal best every time that I go out and sing, or every time I step on stage – that to me is what it’s all about. And if people like it then that’s great; if they like it don’t that’s fine too, because I’m not making any changes; I don’t think people would buy it if I came out air-baggy pants on, and a hat with my hair in braids, and started doing rap or try to be like Limp Bizcuit — I don’t think it’d be believable.

As far as the lyrics go, what did you guys draw from?

Just life. Songs like “Do Your Own Thing”, “Dead”, and “Who Do you Think You Are” kind of have a common thread through. Basically those things are about like “I’m doing my own thing, and if you don’t like it – f**k you!” It’s like “this is how I feel the way I do, and dressing the way I dress, and looking the way I look….” And it’s good for people to have an opinion about things, but when they become condescending that’s what I f**king hate! Songs like “Shine” and “No More” – that’s just about life. You turn the news on any given day of the week, and it’s hard not to realize we live in a pretty shitty f**king society – where kids are going to school blowing other kids away…’s pretty shitty place! I think that if kind of take a step back and take a deep breath, somebody could make some changes, know what i mean!? But i think as a society we’re just content to sit on our fat asses and do absolutely nothing about it. I’m not trying to preach, but in my world – there’s a line in one of my Motley songs that’s “you can do what you want with your world, but my world ain’t gonna stay the same”. Ya know – I want to make a change, make everything better for myself and everybody around me. It’s just my way of telling people to take the blinders off.

What are you guys pushing to radio as far as a single?

Right now “Do Your Own Thing” is at radio in America, and is actually doing quite well; we got about 80 stations in America playing it, and we’ve got a great response from some of the tracks. Some people like it, some people don’t. But that’s why Baskin Robbins has 32 flavors of ice-cream — not everybody’s going to like the same thing. But that song’s doing really well, and a lot of people have been showing interest.

Are there any other songs that stand out personally for you, or any that have any sentiment or anything whatever…?

I don’t know, that’s a tough question. A lot of people ask that, that’s like asking me which testicle do I like better! ha ha – my left one or my right one! The thing that I like about music is depending on what mood you’re in you can create, and depending if you want something that sounds evil or somber there’s a song on there for all those different moods; I just like creating moods, and there all favorites in their own little way, they’ve all got their own little personality to them.

What happened with the ESP thing [Eric Singer Project]?

We kind of do occasional gigs here and there. It was only meant to be a fun thing. We went to a Kiss convention, and we just kind of jammed. The guy that ran the convention asked us if we wanted to record a few of those songs and sell them [basically] to the Kiss fans through the internet; and as it turned out some people bought it and liked it, and some happened to be presidents or vice-presidents of record labels, and the thing wound up getting a deal here in America, and one in Japan, and one in Sweden… so it actually did better than I thought it would do. It was all in fun, and it was cool thing to kinda sit around and talk with Bruce, Carl, and Eric about like when the time I got high at the Philadelphia Spectrum and saw Aerosmith, and we just started reminiscing. It was a blast doing it. We still do a few things once in a while, but when our regular schedules allow us to.

What else in the future plans for Union?

Just to go out on tour, and hopefully we’ll get some support from radio and MTV, and the bottom line is that hopefully the Canadian fans and the American fans will embrace what we’re doing, and we’ll continue to have a career. The bottom line of it is, is unfortunately this art that we call music is also a business and if we sell records then we’re going to be able to continue to make music; if we don’t sell records then what happens is bands get dropped. …. I still think there’s a lot of fans out there that want to go and see a guy walk on stage [and i hate to say it, but] have that rock star mentality. I think people are tired of seeing a guy on stage that looks like the guy that delivers their mail. And I think they wanna go and have fun and sing along, and have their balls kicked in, and have their loud music, and just live vicariously through the people they’re watching on stage. That’s what I’m all about. I love the kind of music that we do is the kind of music that we grew up listening to like the Zeppelins, the Aerosmiths, the Beatles, and the Humble Pie’s … and so that’s what I draw from. I think that there still is a lot of people out there that enjoy that kind of music.

Yeah there is; it’s unfortunate the way the business is.

It’s the industry [pardon the term] ‘gurus’ – that think they have their finger on the pulse of America or Canada, and it’s sad because it makes a lot of musicians like myself sound like we can’t stand bands like Limp Bizcuit or Korn – when in all actuality I love those guys; i think they’re f**king great! I know the guys in Korn, I wouldn’t say we’re friends but i can call them and I can sit down and talk to them, and to be honest a lot of those guys are fans of stuff that Bruce and I and Motley Crue and Scorpions and all this other kind of stuff; they’re fans of this kind of music, and they just took it and put their own twist on it. Unfortunately is when a band like that start selling all these records then all these industry jerk-offs decide that that’s what they need to sell. It’s what sells, so they go out and sign 50 bands like that, and hence the 15 minutes of fame gets cut down to 5 because the market just gets completely saturated with the same kind of music; and people get tired of it. You can listen to some R&B stations right now, and all you’re gonna hear is Backstreet Boys, then there’s N’Sync, and then there’s 98 Degrees – and they’re all the same; it’s just like a formula. I see the figures in magazines like Poll-Star where you have a band like Motley Crue or Poison, who are technically on paper not the flavor of the month, but when you see them go on tour and have astronomical numbers, and do astronomical amounts of business in the concert world it’s kind of makes you scratch your a*s and go ‘what the f**k is going on here!?’ And i think why don’t these people get it.

Were you familiar with Bruce before you actually hooked up with him?

Yeah; actually Bruce and Nikki used to hang out quite a bit; so Bruce used to come by the studio or hang out at Nikki’s house when there was like a birthday party or something; so I was familiar with him, and his wife at the time [Christina]. But as far as his work with Kiss, I gotta be honest — yeah I was familiar with songs like ‘Domino’ or different things I heard on MTV or the radio, but I wasn’t like a really big Kiss fan; I was when I was younger I got like the first Alive album and ‘Rock n Roll Over’ and I was a huge Kiss fan, and then after that I kinda went on to checking out bands like Humble Pie and Led Zeppelin, and I really got more into the British stuff.

Any favorite songs or reflections from the first Union album?

Well I was just telling my girlfriend the other day that I really thought the song “Empty Soul” should’ve been released as a single; I thought that was a really cool tune.

“October Morning Wind” was my favorite.

We did release “October Morning Wind” as a single, but again radio just didn’t embrace it. I think we had like 20 or 30 stations playing it – which isn’t bad, but if you really want to move records and become a household name you gotta have like 150 to 200 stations playing your song constantly.

Was ‘The Scream’ your first recording band?

I was in a band before that , and we did some recording for demos as different record companies had advanced us some monies to do demos, but nothing ever really came out of it. But as far as released to the masses, yeah it would be The Scream.

Got a favorite recording or memory from that era?

It was like 10 years ago; it’s weird how time flies! The whole time was just so new and so fresh and so fun. We were all green behind the ears; just pumped about being on a tour bus, and going into a studio with a guy like Eddie Kramer. We were just so excited about the whole thing that everything was amazing to us. It was our first opportunity to go over to London and play over there; it was a lot of fun. The whole thing is kind of a blur to me because it was all fun!

[Regarding the Crue album]. What can you tell me about the song “Drift Away”, as far as the lyrics..?

That’s actually a song I wrote right before I joined Motley, and I played it for the guys and they really dug it, so we just kind of kept it the way it was. It was just kind of one of those time where even though I had a lot of fun doing The Scream record and going on the tour, there was just so much shit that I wasn’t really prepared for. I wasn’t prepared for the politics in the music industry; and there was a lot of things that were happening like the label was pushing us to release this song and we wanted to release this other one, and then it kinda started to become like conflict and turmoil with the members of the band [The Scream]. So when I came home from the tour I kind of sat down and wrote that tune, and was kind of aggravated. It was like where ya just go to bed and you’re trying to figure out like ‘what the hell happened during your day’, and you get up the next morning and look in the mirror and you’re like ‘F**k – what am I doing? why am I doing this? It’s nothing but a headache!’ … And I was just really at the point where I didn’t like the way the label was handling things with The Scream, and I was actually contemplating just giving up and leave the band and not play music at all. It was weird; it was like no sooner said and Motley called – which gave me a whole new booster shot in the arm. But it seems weird sometimes when you’re at the end of your rope something will just come along and hook you for a little longer. 

Mötley Crüe-Hooligan’s Holiday – YouTube

Glenn Hughes was on the Motley record. How did you get him on there?

He was friends with Mick [Mars]. It was awesome, Glenn’s always been like one of my idols. So that was just insane having Glenn come in and do some vocals with me. Also Billy Preston came in and played on the record too. It was a blast – we had Glenn come in one day and Billy come in another day. But the song that Billy played on didn’t appear on that Motley record, there was another record called ‘Coronary’, and Billy plays on a song called “Baby Kills”. And we hung out, and be jamming and talking with him, and Billy would break into the keyboard solo of “Get Back”.

You’re involved in some of the Tribute projects that Bruce and Bob Kulick are as well….

Yeah I’ve done a few, probably more than I should’ve, but these record companies call up and ask if I want to sing on a track or 2. Some of them are really cool, but other ones I don’t really care for because I’ll go in and sing ’em and then they take them and they do these industrial remixes. I’m a traditionalist – I like hearing 2 guitars, bass and drums, and some of that stuff is just not my bag.

What are you currently listening to?

It’s weird I’ve got everything from Erica Badue to Led Zeppelin. I’ve got Jemerique. My girlfriend went out and got the Tommy Lee record. I like this band ‘Fuel’, Marylin Manson’s last record I thought was real cool. I’ll listen to anything if it’s good. Oddly enough I thought that Backstreet Boys song “I Want It That Way” – love it or hate it [and I know they played the shit out of it!], but if you just break it down and listen to the song – it’s a well written tune. And I think Celine Dion has an amazing voice as well.

Are you friendly with any of The Crue guys?

Yeah, I’ve been talking with Nikki, not on a regular basis because he’s so busy. But everything’s cool now, we’ve actually patched up our differences, and we’ve actually done some talking about possibly doing some writing again in the future.

You mentioned your favorite singers before – Plant, Tyler, and Paul Rodgers. Do you like Steve Marriot?

Yeah I liked Steve Marriot too.

Guitar players? Bands?

I love Jimmy Page; i think Page is amazing! Hendrix was great. I think George Harrison was completely underrated. But I also like Eddie Van Halen, and the guy from Rage Against The Machine – Tom Morello – I think he’s awesome. I love a lot of different bands; but again a lot of stuff I listen to is old classic bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin – all the old stuff, because basically all the new stuff today is derived from it, so why not go to the source!? But [as i said before] I love Zeppelin and Humble Pie, and some of my favorite bands are Aerosmith, Grand Funk … Grand Funk was just brilliant — vocally and they all played their asses off, and they wrote great songs.

Anything else you want to add in regarding anything or the new album?

I just want to thank everybody for supporting the band, and hopefully we’ll get up to Canada and do some shows for you guys.

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UNION Featuring JOHN CORABI And BRUCE KULICK – Vinyl Reissues Coming Soon – BraveWords

KJJ,   03 / 2000,

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