JOHN CORABI Weighs In On MICK MARS's Claim That MÖTLEY CRÜE Relies Heavily On Backing Tracks During Live Shows
August 30, 2023
In a recent interview with Cassius Morris, ex-MÖTLEY CRÜE frontman John Corabi, who joined the band in 1992 as the replacement for original singer Vince Neil, was asked if he thinks there is any truth to Mick Mars's claim that he was the only bandmember to play 100 percent live on CRÜE's 2022 stadium tour, claiming bassist Nikki Sixx "did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour." Corabi responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Nowadays recording on Pro Tools, 'cause I released a couple of [solo] songs a little bit ago, if you said to me, 'Hey, can you just give me the rhythm guitar track?' I could literally just go online, highlight that track and e-mail you just that track. So as far as the drums go or any of that stuff nowadays with computers and all that shit? Yeah, it's possible. Is it happening? I don't know. I haven't toured with MÖTLEY for 27 years, 28 years."
Asked if MÖTLEY used any backing tracks while he was in the band, Corabi said: "No. I mean, we did use tracks. I'll say that right now. We were using some backing vocal tracks, and we used, for the song 'Misunderstood', there was a 53-piece orchestra on that track, so we just used the orchestra tracks to enhance what we were doing live on stage. But then Nikki was playing bass, Tommy [Lee] was playing drums, Mick was playing guitar, I was playing guitar and I was singing. Now whether or not they've elaborated since — I couldn't tell you. I haven't seen MÖTLEY live since… I saw them one time in my entire life, and that was a tour they did in, like, 2003 or 4 with… they toured with AEROSMITH. And I saw them that one time, and I haven't seen them since. So I don't know about Mick's claims. Mick has never really been a bullshitter in the past, so if he says they were using tracks, then, you know, maybe they were. I don't know."
Pressed about if he cares at all personally about whether or not bands use backing tracks during live shows, John said: "That's not for me to determine. Honestly, I'm sure it's out there, the bands that are using tracks to enhance their sound. If the fans wanna pay the money for a ticket knowing that there's probably tracks being played, then that's their call. Personally, I don't really believe in it myself. I have a solo band [and] THE DEAD DAISIES; we don't use any tracks at all. Are the backing vocals as strong as they are on the record? No, but it's live. I remember as a kid seeing AEROSMITH and hearing four-part harmonies on songs that AEROSMITH did [on record], and then I'd go see them live and it was just Steven [Tyler] and Joe Perry singing, this kind of ratty little whatever. And I always enjoyed it. It was about seeing the whole band, seeing the whole process and seeing the show. So personally, I wouldn't do it. But that's just me. Other bands choose to do it, and the fans are still buying tickets for 'em. Then great. Awesome. Knock yourself out. I have no comment, positive or negative, on the subject at all. To each his own. That's why they have 32 flavors of Baskin-Robbins [ice cream]."
This past June, Nikki told Jen Thomas, the entertainment writer at U.K.'s Metro that "the silliest thing" he has ever read about himself and the rest of CRÜE "was from Mick Mars's attorneys," referencing the recent lawsuit filed against MÖTLEY by the band's founding guitarist. "I'm just really sad at what's happened... They put out that the band doesn't play live. We're, like, who is playing the bass then? It's literally one of the funniest things.
"Imagine being in a rock'n'roll band for 42 years and some guy in a suit puts out that the band doesn't play," Nikki continued. "The silliest thing is, because of the way a lot of media is these days, they don't cross-check. They just run with headlines and we call it clickbait. I mean, that's about as silly as it gets."
When Mars announced his retirement from touring with MÖTLEY CRÜE last October as a result of worsening health issues, he maintained that he would remain a member of the band, with John 5 taking his place on the road. However, in his lawsuit, which was filed on April 6 in Los Angeles County's Superior Court, the now-72-year-old musician said that, after his announcement, the rest of CRÜE tried to remove him as a significant stakeholder in the group's corporation and business holdings via a shareholders' meeting.
In response to Mars's lawsuit, CRÜE's manager of 29 years, Allen Kovac, told Variety that Mars is coming out with a list of allegations "to gain leverage in a smear campaign on MÖTLEY. He's attacked the band, and he's done it in a slanderous way, with false accusations and misrepresenting the facts to the fans. Mick is not the victim. The victims are MÖTLEY CRÜE and the brand, which Mick is so prideful of." But, he added, "What's upsetting to me is not Mick, but his representatives, who have guided Mick to say and do harmful things to the brand he cares about so much, MÖTLEY CRÜE. He has a degenerative disease and people are taking advantage of him. It's called elder abuse."
Kovac continued: "Mick's representatives have no idea what they've created, but I've stopped the band from speaking about this, so they're not gonna turn the fans against Mick. But I am going to make sure that people understand that Mick hasn't been treated badly. In fact, he was treated better than anyone else in the band, and they carried him and they saved his life."
Mars suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS),a chronic and inflammatory form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine and pelvis. After years of performing through the pain, he informed the other members of MÖTLEY CRÜE last summer that he could no longer tour with them but would still be open to recording new music or performing at residencies that did not require much travel.
Regarding Mick's claim that he was the only CRÜE member to play 100 percent live on their most recent tour, Kovac told Variety: "Everything is live with Nikki's bass playing and Tommy's drum playing. When they've used loops, they're still playing. There are augmented vocals, which were (recorded) in the studio and are backgrounds behind the two ladies who are singing and (other background vocals by) John 5 and Nikki Sixx, and before that Mick and Nikki." He described the pre-recorded vocal layering as where "you multi-track and you do gang vocals with, like, 20 people, just like all the other bands do with background vocals. They've got background vocals in the mix. That's the truth.
"But Nikki played his bass and always has," Kovac continued. "Vince was singing better than he was before (on the latest tour). That was in reviews. Now, John 5 is playing like who John 5 is. I've heard John 5 perform and I heard Mick perform. Both are great guitar players. Unfortunately, Mick is not the same. He hasn't been the same for a long time. Which was in reviews! You see that the professionals knew. DEF LEPPARD (which alternated headlining spots on tour) knew. And (Mars) caused a train wreck up there, because he would play the wrong songs and the wrong parts, even with the guide tracks. When he played the wrong song, it wasn't Nikki Sixx that had a tape; it was the soundman bringing it into the mix so the audience could hear a song, even though the guitar player was playing a different song." He says audiences "would hear it at first, but (sound engineers) would fix it so that we could keep the song going. I heard it. I'd go to the soundboard."
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