By David E. Gehlke
Former MÖTLEY CRÜE vocalist John Corabi was recently welcomed back into THE DEAD DAISIES, whom he fronted from 2015 to 2019. Corabi's output with the rock supergroup is considered by many to be their strongest, a fact not lost on the frontman when he started pondering career moves in 2019 after experiencing burnout from touring. Corabi subsequently resumed his solo career, penned an excellent autobiography ("Horseshoes And Hand Grenades") and managed to stay on good terms with THE DEAD DAISIES organization, which undoubtedly contributed to his return when his successor, former DEEP PURPLE bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, announced his departure in May.
Corabi will forever be identified by MÖTLEY CRÜE's 1994 self-titled album, which has entered the rarified air of gaining appreciation even though it was a commercial flop. But with tour dates looming for THE DEAD DAISIES (and possibly new music) and MÖTLEY CRÜE embroiled in a public dispute with ex-guitarist Mick Mars, not to mention unending accusations of faking their live performances with backing tapes, Corabi appears to be content with sitting back and watching everything unfold. It was one of the many topics on hand when he connected with BLABBERMOUTH.NET en route to a tattoo appointment.
Blabbermouth: You left THE DEAD DAISES in 2019 over concerns regarding their touring workload. What changed to bring you back into the band?
John: "Honestly, it wasn't about what I wanted to do with my career. For the lack of a better term, the last tour we did and I hate to say this to sound arrogant, but something happened from that first record I did with them [2015's 'Revolución']. The band exploded and took off. We did all these tours with KISS and WHITESNAKE and festivals, then Japan, Israel, Europe. By the last tour that we did in 2018, I honestly think that all of us, including management, were so fucking frazzled that we were like, 'Let's just stop and breathe for a minute.' I thought I was going to do my own thing. I had my son in my other ear telling me on a daily basis how much I sucked because 'The solo band isn't doing anything!' I stepped away. Obviously, they got Glenn and did their thing and I did my thing. 2019 was insane. I was busier than shit. I turned 60 in 2019 and went, 'I want to take some fucking time off.' My wife and I went down — I have a motor home that we packed up with our dogs, went to Key West for a month, chilled out on the beach and celebrated 60 years of life. But I did it at my own pace. Then, who saw Covid happening? Everybody was affected by that. Whatever their reasons were, I don't know; it doesn't seem there was anything bad between them and Glenn. Glenn had some things he wanted to do. They called me up and said, 'Hey, dude. You got some time? Do you want to?' I said, 'Fuck it. Yeah. Let's do it again.' But we sat down and figured it out. If you look at our schedule for this year, it's busy but paced much better. I'm looking forward to getting back on the stage with my old friends and having some fucking fun."
Blabbermouth: It doesn't seem like people are good at leaving bands. Reading between the lines, you parted on good terms.
John: "We genuinely like each other. There was no bad blood or bullshit. It was literally, 'Guys. I love you. I had a great time, but I'm tired. I need to step off the carousel for a minute and try something else.' I did it. I wasn't overly productive, but I still did a book. I took some Pro Tools classes. I've learned to record myself, which I'm still slower than shit at. [Laughs] But, whatever. It's at my own pace. I've got a bunch of songs in the can. Now, it's the right time. I think I missed those guys. I still feel very fondly about all the music that we did and all the tours we did. Nothing was bad. Even the whole time I was out, I'd send joke memes to [THE DEAD DAISIES guitarist/founder] David Lowy. He'd send shit back. There was nothing bad. It was just, 'Okay if that's how you feel, then okay. Awesome.' Even when they were looking for singers, it was like, 'Hey, do you know anybody?' They got Glenn. I love Glenn. I'm still in touch with him. Even a couple of days ago, Glenn and I sent each other messages. There's no animosity or weirdness at all."
Blabbermouth: Is the expectation, then, that you will write new material?
John: "I'd like to. We're not putting the cart before the horse. Right now, the idea is to get back into the room. We already did it for a week. Honestly, it sounded pretty good. We still got some work to do, but these songs, some of them, I'm doing some of the Glenn Hughes and Jon Stevens stuff. Some of this stuff I've never done. All the other stuff, even the stuff that I wrote, I haven't played these songs in four fucking years. But neither have they! There were songs they were doing with Glenn that they had never attempted. This is about us blowing the rust off of shit and getting prepared."
Blabbermouth: Were you a little rusty from taking a break?
John: "Yeah. I'm one of those fucking singers that the first day of rehearsal, sound like someone skinning a cat. [Laughs] By the end of the week, my cords start getting stronger. It gets better and better. After the first round of rehearsals, we're probably 70 percent there. We're getting back together for a week. I will take a break from the Tom Keifer / WINGER tour and we'll meet in New York and rehearse for a week. Then we'll get together before the DAISIES go on tour again. We'll tighten everything up and make sure it's awesome. We're getting there. We'll be fine."
Blabbermouth: What's your relationship with touring? A lot of guys in your age bracket are hanging it up for health reasons and just not wanting to do the travel.
John: "I'm fine with it. I've never done anything in excess. I've taken reasonably good care of myself throughout the years. I like to drink, but I've realized I can't drink as much as I used to. I've cut that down. Now, I recently reached out to this vocal instructor, Ken Tamplin. He was very kind and sent me some warm-up and warm-down exercises — things I never did when I was younger. I'm 64 years old. We're going to go out and do a two-hour show every day. I need to figure out at 64 how to maintain. But I love it. I love getting out there, seeing people, hanging out, being on tour and being onstage. I'm not at that point where I want to stop doing it."
Blabbermouth: Do you think you are helped because you sing with a nice mid-range and don't have to rely on high notes as much?
John: "There's a few I have trouble hitting. Songs like 'Catch Me If You Can' from THE SCREAM record. Some of them, I listen to, fuck, in 2019, I did the whole MÖTLEY thing [where he played the 1994 album in full]. Oh my god, dude. I was listening to shit like 'Smoke The Sky'. I'm going, 'Holy fuck. What was I thinking?' I figured out how to do them and for lack of a better term, I cheat a little bit. Instead of going up, I'll do a bluesy little thing and keep it down here. It's still in the ballpark. I haven't resorted to using vocal tapes yet. [Laughs]"
Blabbermouth: I wasn't going to ask that since I know the answer: You're not a guy who uses them.
John: "I don't want to. I talked to somebody a couple of hours ago and he asked when I sing, do I 'sing-sing' or run it through Auto-Tune. I said, 'Dude, even though I love Pro Tools and the technology, I don't see it.' I had a fan ask me at a show. This kid asked me, 'Hey man, do you run your vocals through auto-tune when you sing?' I said, 'No. I sing it until I get it right.' I'm that guy. But it is what it is."
Blabbermouth: Do you cringe when you find out bands you were formerly associated with rely on them so heavily?
John: "I don't. Honestly, to each his own. Whatever makes you feel better onstage — I don't give a shit. I don't worry about it. I will say this: I love you guys [BLABBERMOUTH.NET], but I swear a relative of mine is running your web site. Whenever I open my mouth, it's BLABBERMOUTH going, 'John Corabi said this.' I'm like, 'Ugh!' With everything, including politics, to each his own. Whatever floats your fucking boat. I don't give a shit about what you're doing. You shouldn't give a shit about what I'm doing. I'm having fun. I hope you're having fun. Let's call it a day."
Blabbermouth: Maybe that's the best approach.
John: "I don't care. If a band wants to use tapes to enhance or pull off their show, knock yourself out."
Blabbermouth: But you, John Corabi, won't be doing it.
John: "I hope not. I don't want to do it. At this point in my career, I haven't had to. I hope I can continue. The guys I look up to: Steve Marriott [SMALL FACES / HUMBLE PIE], Paul Rodgers [FREE / BAD COMPANY] and Robert Plant [LED ZEPPELIN] is a prime example. He can't sing 'Black Dog' anymore, so he writes new shit and has reinvented himself so he can still go out at 77 years old and still walk onstage and people are glad to see him. That's who I want to be."
Blabbermouth: What do you think has helped keep you relevant? You've done enough between THE SCREAM, MÖTLEY, UNION and now THE DEAD DAISIES that you don't have to rely so much on the past.
John: "I don't want to. I'm at a point where I don't want to be in a band where I have to babysit everybody. I don't want to be miserable. I never have. I'm not here coming up with a cure for cancer or world peace. Dude, I play an A-chord and put a melody over it. I try to come up with reasonably decent lyrics. I just want to have fun and do my thing and make music. I never focused on the good, bad and ugly of the music industry. I stick to my own thing. I don't understand why more people aren't like that. Everybody gets so caught up in what the other guy thinks. It's crazy to me, commenting, 'This guy said this.' 'Well, he's wrong and I have to tell him he's wrong.'"
Blabbermouth: You've stayed in your lane.
John: "Yeah! That's it. That's the problem with everything anymore. I can't even go online half the time and read comments — for example, this thing with Bud Light [where conservatives heavily criticized and boycotted the beer company for having a transgender spokesperson.] I'm sitting here and I've been asked about it and go, 'No, man. I'm going to stay in my lane.' People like Kid Rock are upset. It's great. Be upset. I don't understand what they're upset about. It's not like they're putting gay hormones in the beer. Budweiser is exercising its right to branch out to another market. What's the deal? It doesn't affect you at a football game or wrestling match. Who cares?"
Photo credit: David Pear