Archive for the ‘living colour’ Category

Living Colour’s Corey Glover On Life Behind the Sun

October 5, 2009

Living Colour’s Frontman Talks About the Re-introduction of the Band

Written By: David Carr
Photos By: Hali McGrath

New York based rockers Living Colour are back with a vengeance. They have a new disc out (The Chair In The Doorway) on a new label (Megaforce) and they are in the middle of their first US tour in nearly six years. The band is fronted by the dynamic vocalist Corey Glover. Glover not only sings but he is an accomplished actor and recently stared in the musical/touring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I had the opportunity to chat with Corey Glover before he and his bandmates put on a jaw dropping live show in Hollywood CA. Corey gave his insights on the band, their new disc, fatherhood and on how he deals with “the chair in the doorway” and life” behind the sun.”

David Carr: Corey how’s the tour been so far? What has it been like to reintroduce the band to the music public?

Corey Glover: The tour is going really well. We knew we had to start over again, but the shows have been good. The people who are coming out to the shows are the die hards. These are the folks who have been with us from day one. Those folks are the ones who are actually bringing the new fans who have never seen or heard us. The old school fans are bringing the new ones along.

DC: I know that a lot went into recording this latest disc. How has the new material translated in a live setting? Did you always keep that thought in the back of your mind, the fact that you wanted these tunes to be able to connect live?

CG: The new songs have worked really well on stage! We absolutely thought about how these songs would work live. We based a lot of what we did in the studio around the idea of playing these songs live and really connecting with the audience.

DC: The single off the new disc is “Behind the Sun”. The song itself is about the tragedy that was, Hurricane Katrina and the government’s slow/botched response. How did the tragedy affect you?

CG: The whole thing was just sad…the fact is people, human beings and history has been eradicated by what some have called a “near miss”…near miss?!!? That was not a near miss! For me it really hit hard because New Orleans is the birthplace for the music I do, it’s the place that created the music I do in order to have a livelihood and now it looks like a third world country!

DC: You and your wife have been very active in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Tell me a little about what you are doing?

CG: The New York to New Orleans Coalition – NY2NO was founded and is led by NYC high school students. They’re a consensus-based organization working to create a network of young people who are interested in organizing and mobilizing across NYC. NY2NO works in solidarity with those most affected by the social, racial, and economic inequalities in both New York and New Orleans.

The Primary goals are organizing trips of NYC high school students to New Orleans, bottom-up organizing NOLA residents, rebuilding, clearing lots, and setting up sustainable gardens to help provide healthy food to folks in the Lower Ninth Ward. NY2NO was also involved with the inception of Our School at Blair Grocery, a freedom school and the only high school in the Lower Ninth. Another goal is keeping the NYC high school students involved after they come back home with organization efforts in NYC.

DC: Sounds like you are doing a lot to help with all of the issues still affecting the Lower Ninth Ward.

CG: We want to rebuild, we want people to come back home…we just want folks to understand that things are still not back to normal in New Orleans.

DC: During the last few recording sessions of your latest disc your mother passed away. I am very sorry for your loss. I believe your father had passed away years ago, during the early years of the band. Were your parents supportive of what you were doing?

CG: Yeah, they really were supportive. I mean, like any other set of parents they were a bit surprised but me doing this wasn’t a shock to them. I have been singing since I was six years old! They just wanted to make sure I would be able to make a living at this. They were supportive and when things started to work out for the band…they were proud.

DC: You are now married with children. How has fatherhood been for you?

CG: Well, I do miss my family and my kids have started school so I can’t take them on tour with me. They have come to gigs before and my oldest has told me that he likes Living Colour, HA!

DC: Corey you are one of the few vocalists from your era that still has a very strong voice! You have not slowed down at all when it comes to your vocal ability. What’s your secret?

CG: SLEEP! HA! I sleep a lot. My throat is a muscle. It has to rest so it can get strong and rebuild itself after it gets used. I try to get as much sleep as I possibly can.

DC: In getting to know Living Colour over the years is it safe to say that when you all are on the same page it’s sort of an “us against the world” attitude but when there is disagreement it can get pretty ugly? Is that the dynamic of the band?

CG: Well when families have real knock down, drag out fights are they really fighting about the issue at hand or is there something else that the person needs to deal with? Is there something else going on that the person is not dealing with? That’s what we have been through and that’s what the title of the disc is all about.

You can walk around the “chair”. You can walk around the issues but in the end you have to confront them head on or you won’t get anywhere, you won’t grow. That’s what this band has had to do in order to create this music and record this disc.

DC: I saw your performance on the Jimmy Fallon show. There is no doubt you all are playing with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. What’s next after this US tour?

CG: We go to Europe and then South America. After that we are ready to tour with anyone here in the states!

Living Colour North American 2009 Tour Dates (remainder)
Sept 30 – Fine Line Music Cafe – Minneapolis, MN – Ticketmaster
Oct 2 – The Magic Bag – Detroit, MI – Ticketmaster
Oct 3 – Lee’s Palace – Toronto, ONT – Ticketmaster
Oct 4 – Double Door – Chicago, IL – Ticketmaster
Oct 5 – The Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH – Ticketmaster
Oct 30 – Highline Ballroom – New York, NY – TicketWeb

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Living Colour Returns to Los Angeles to Greet Fans with “Chair in the Doorway”

October 1, 2009

Written By: Natalie Hamingson

On September 15, legendary experimental hard-rockers Living Colour released their fifth album, “Chair in the Doorway.” The album’s title serves as a metaphor for self-created obstruction, and was partially recorded at Sono Studios in the Czech Republic. The studio, where bassist Doug Wimbish had previously been a client, may “as well have been the surface of the moon,” according to guitarist Vernon Reid. Though the experience was isolating, Reid says, “it was actually good for us to be in that context,” as it made for a more productive experience.

Now that the band have been able to get away from all the distractions and complete the record, they’ve set out on an American tour to promote their latest work. Nine days after the record dropped, the tour made a stop at Hollywood’s Key Club for a headlining show.

The show was opened by Just a Theory, whose performance I missed, and Sarah Wasserman, whose latest album, “Solid Ground,” features a guest performance by Reid. Wasserman’s powerfully angelic voice was accompanied by keyboards and an electric stand-up bass, played by her father Rob.

Around 10:30 PM, frontman Corey Glover appeared onstage in a gas mask and butcher’s apron, along with Reid, Wimbish, and drummer Will Calhoun, and kicked into “Middle Man,” off of “Vivid.” (I feel I should mention at this point that I have a personal history with this band, as I made a brief appearance in that song’s video at the age of 3 months old. Though I may have an obvious bias toward the band, nothing could change the fact that their performance was nothing short of stellar.)

The tight, nearly two-hour set was a mix of classics like “Glamour Boys,” and “Cult of Personality,” and new tracks from “Chair,” like “Burned Bridges” and “Bless Those.”

As psychedelic images were projected on a screen behind the band, all songs had hardcore fans grooving, jumping, and singing along. Glover commented at the end of one song, “and to answer your question, yes I am hot in this fucking outfit!”

Highlights included Wimbish jumping offstage to jam in the middle of the crowd, and a ten-minute drum solo by Calhoun. Midway through, the lights around Calhoun went out, so that all you could see were the swirling neon lights on his drumsticks, as the room was literally vibrating from the force of his performance.

After an encore performance of “Love Rears its Ugly Head,” the band announced that they would be signing stuff at the merchandise table in 15 minutes, before shaking hands with the entire front row, and exiting the stage. Apparently, these meet and greets are standard procedure after every show. Though you would think they’d want to relax after their long, energetic sets, the band is incredibly appreciative of the thankful reactions they get from most fans.

Reid says he hears comments like, “I started to play guitar because of you,” and “I changed my life because I heard this song.” He explains, “It’s kind of a trip to get that energy from people because I remember how I felt when I met Carlos Santana and [other] people that I was HUGELY into.”

Will Calhoun Breaks Down the Learning Process with Living Colour

August 17, 2009

Written By: David Carr
Photo Credit: Bill Bernstein

Will Calhoun is a hard rock drummer. He is also an esteemed graduate of the Berklee School of Music. He has recorded indigenous music, Moroccan music, he leads his own jazz combo, and he is also a photographer and an accomplished songwriter. In short, Will Calhoun is not your average, ordinary heavy rock drummer, but you see in the long run this makes sense. Calhoun is the driving force behind the rock band Living Colour, and Living Colour have never been your average, ordinary heavy rock group.

Living Colour burst onto the music scene in the late 80’s with a signature hit “Cult of Personality,” a unique sound (hard rock turned inside out with funk, soul, blues, punk, metal and hip-hop) and a knack for lyrics that took a hard critical look at the world around us. The band rose to success quickly only to flame out in 1995. After reuniting in 2000 and releasing a disjointed reunion disc, “Collideoscope,” Living Colour is back this September with a new, more cohesive offering: “The Chair in the Doorway,” and a fall US tour which will include one gig with Fishbone and another with The Roots.

When asked how he feels about Living Colour’s forthcoming release, Calhoun casually states, “Well I feel great about it. I not only like the disc, but I like the effort that was put into making the disc happen. We had a lot of assistance from some really great people… We got a lot of help on this record and the songs had total democratic input from all four of us and the people helping us.”

The band’s latest effort was recorded in Prague. When asked to comment on why the group chose to record outside of the US Calhoun explains, “We were playing a lot of gigs overseas and in Europe. Once we got some time off, we just decided that we would send the crew home and we would stay. We recorded most of the tracks at Sono Studios… The place is amazing and we really got a chance to get in touch with a very international vibe on this record. It’s easy to get caught up in being an American band and having an American sound, but we do have an international fan base, so it was good to get some more exposure to what was happening internationally with regards to the different music scenes.”

Calhoun is no stranger to international music scenes. After Living Colour’s break up Calhoun embarked on a journey that took him around the world in search of indigenous music being done in Australia, Brazil and Morocco. Although his travels began in 1995, Will is quick to point out that his interest in other cultures started very early on, before his tours with the Stones and Jane’s Addiction.

Calhoun explains, “This thing really started when I was a kid. My favorite magazine was “National Geographic!” We had things all around my house from all over the world thanks to my dad. By the time I was in Living Colour, I was planting the seeds of my travel plans when we toured overseas. I would keep in touch with the people that I met and send post cards and letters to these individuals. After the break up of the band, I figured this was my chance to travel, take pictures and learn about these different types of cultures and peoples, so I went to Africa, I went to Brazil, I went to Morocco and South America. I did a ton of recording and got incredible insights into these places.”

Calhoun’s insights have not only found their way onto his solo CD/DVD, “Native Lands,” but he will also be publishing a book of photographs from his travels around the world. He has been on many panels on university campuses, discussing his travels and studies pertaining to world music, rhythms and rhythmic patterns. Many of these rhythms have also been integrated into Living Colour’s brand of “heady” hard rock.
Calhoun is also helping to integrate the art of communication into the band’s repertoire, in an effort to ensure the miss-steps that broke the band up in ’95 are not repeated in 2009.

“Communication in the band is a thousand times better,” Calhoun states, “Thanks to age and experience we are much better at dealing with each other. Most successful bands that are able to stay together for the long haul learn how to deal with each other… We are trying to be open to each other’s musical opinions. Good bands know when its time to take a 3-4 year break, away from each other, and they know when its time to come together again to make the doughnuts!”

Doughnut making aside, one would think that this type of revelation would have shown itself in 2003 when Living Colour got back together to record and release “Collideoscope.” When asked to explain what happened during the initial reuniting of LC, Will takes a deep breathe and exclaims, “That was a really bad time period for us! It was like, everything we had was bad. We wanted to be back together again but we were not dealing with what broke us up, meanwhile things that were supposed to happen just didn’t. A lot of people who said they were going to help us, really let us down… At that time everything was bad – Bad management, bad relationship with the label, bad relations in the band, bad shows at some tour stops and then with all that going on, we tried to record ‘Collideoscope.’ I think we all knew that there was no way we were going to be able to record a focused record but we had to go through the process… We had to suss out all of these things in order to be this band… ‘Collideoscope’ became a psychological process for the band. In order to have a full cohesive album like ‘Chair in the Doorway,’ we had to go through the psychology of making a disc like “Collideoscope.” It wasn’t easy at all, it was a learning process for all of us. Most bands get a therapist, we recorded “Collideoscope.” That record was our therapist. We dealt with what we needed to on that record in order to record this one.”

This isn’t the first time Living Colour’s stickman has used music as therapy. Calhoun wrote the haunting ballad “Nothingness” on the band’s third studio disc “Stain.” The tune was about a relative of Calhoun’s who had slipped into heavy drug abuse. Calhoun relates that a song on their latest disc, “Not Tomorrow” also has special meaning to him and the band.

“I came up with the lyrics/lyrical idea for that song… It just came from my travels and meeting people from various cultures, countries and backgrounds and seeing how they dealt with stuff within the here and now, it’s the idea of not waiting and just getting to what you have to deal with. The song has a syncopation that is similar to Gnau music with hand claps and such. I showed the lyrics to Corey, and Vernon put some bluesy guitar on it and we decided to record it. The night we recorded that tune, Corey had finished his vocal tracks and had just found out that his mother had passed away that evening. He knew she was sick, and we knew it was coming, but still… Corey was going to re-record some parts, but we told him he could go. We said he could finish later. He was adamant about finishing the tracks that night, not tomorrow… Not tomorrow… We were up till 3 AM when we finally finished that song, and that was the last song we recorded for the disc. It was his way of dealing with the loss of his mother, he wanted to deal with his loss and finish the song, and he didn’t want to wait to do both.”

As Living Colour prepares to hit the road, Calhoun is anxious to perform some of their new material on stage. The band has always felt they could only stay together if they had something relevant to say. When asked what does “The Chair in the Doorway” have to say or mean, Mr. Calhoun explains, “The title really says it all…the concept is a visual one.”

“The idea of this chair, this thing in your way. It’s a real thing and you have to do something about it. It’s a real obstacle in your way. You can’t pretend it’s not there. You have to deal with it if you want to move forward. We had to deal with it as a band if we wanted to move forward musically… You have to figure out how to deal with obstacles and not ignore them, whether it’s in politics or in your personal life. All around the world folks are dealing with these obstacles whether its racism, sexism, homophobia, terrorism. Whether you sit in the chair or move it in or outside of the room, you are gonna have to deal with it…for me that’s what this record is all about.”

As Will Calhoun gears up for the band’s fall tour, one can’t help but hear the anticipation in his voice. Calhoun says the band is ready to show what they can do not only on their own tour, but also at any and all festivals.

“We like to keep it challenging!” Calhoun claims, enthusiastically, “I’m looking forward to playing out at metal festivals, funk festivals, jazz festivals and rock festivals… We can hold are own on these bills and keep it interesting while we challenge ourselves and the audience.”

Will Calhoun and his bandmates seem poised and ready to challenge the rock world once again. Hard Rock fans should take heed, Living Colour is back and they have positioned themselves right in the middle of the rock music doorway. They will not go quietly nor will they be ignored, so you the music fan will just have to deal with them.