John Corabi Interview – Dead Daisies, Motley Crue, The Scream, Nashville, Mick Mars
full in bloom: Are you in L.A. right now?
John Corabi: No, I live in Nashville. I have an L.A. number…I think I moved from L.A. in 2005, and I’ve had it since 2003, so I just thought that I would keep it.
full in bloom: We did an article on your Airbnb rental a few months ago, but it looks like you might’ve sold it.
John Corabi: We sold the house. In all honesty, my wife and I we had that house, we had another house that she bought when she first moved here in 1994 or 1995. Then she owned a hair salon. She’d be going to work and then she would have to go and let somebody in, then cleaning and changing the sheets, and we were just like, ‘let’s sell the house and just focus on the hair salon and our other house and just call it a day.’ It’s too much work. But we had a great time with it. We have a giant picture of my wife and I over the fireplace. I literally just got back from Europe and the last people that were in there walked in and looked at the photo and they were talking to my wife and they’re like, ‘is that John Corabi?’ and she’s like ‘yes’ and they were like ‘oh my God, we’re staying at John Corabi’s house.’ So my wife promised them 3 cds, so I signed them all and put them in the mail and I mailed them when I got home.
full in bloom: I would think you had a lot of fans that wanted to stay in the house.
John Corabi: There were quite a few. As soon as I put it on, people started calling…my wife handled the whole thing because I’m always gone. The burden was on her unfortunately. She took care of it all. Some people called and would say ‘I’m a big of John. I saw him on the Daisies tour.’ They would rent it and she would leave them a couple of cds. It was cool.
full in bloom: Nobody tore the house up?
John Corabi: No. Actually the house we live in now; the one that my wife bought when she first moved here, the last renters kind of torched the house a bit. It was interesting. We moved back into the place. It’s all good. But we never had an issue with the Airbnb place.
full in bloom: How do you like living in Nashville?
John Corabi: Honestly, I love it here. For some apparent reason it has become the music capital of America. A lot of people think it’s just country music, but they couldn’t be more wrong. There’s so many rock guys here now. Brad Whitford, Derek St. Holmes, Steven Tyler, our producer Marti Fredrickson lives here, Kid Rock, Jack White, three of the guys in Cinderella, a couple of guys from Winger, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Tom Peterson from Cheap Trick, Kelly (Keagy) from Night Ranger, Troy Luccketta from Tesla. There’s quite a rock crowd here….it’s pretty awesome.
full in bloom: Immediately following Motley Crue’s final tour, you went into the studio with Mick Mars to lay down some vocals on his highly anticipated solo album. I know you got very busy and had to bow out, but has there been any movement on that project?
John Corabi: No, you know Mick called me and asked me if I would sing a couple of tracks, which I did. Then we talked about doing more together, but then it came down to my schedule between the Dead Daisies and my solo career and in trying to squeeze in time for Mick…in all fairness, I didn’t want to half-ass anything with him. If I was going to do something with him, I wanted to give him 100% or nothing, and he totally understood that. For Mick, this record he is going to do, it’s a very important record because he’s the only guy in the original Motley, and some of the replacement guys, that has not done a record outside of the Motley camp.
full in bloom: Is he still working on the record?
John Corabi: Yeah. I actually know one of the guys he is working with in Nashville. I don’t want to say any names because that’s Mick’s thing, so I’ll let Mick talk about it. But I know a singer-songwriter that he’s been working with who is stupidly talented and I can’t wait to hear what these guys are coming up with. It going to be pretty awesome.
full in bloom: I thought he and Tom Keifer might be a good match.
John Corabi: I personally thought Mick should do something more on the bluesy side, but, on the other hand, and maybe I’m not understanding him properly, but Mick wants to do something heavier. I don’t know where it’s going to be or what it’s going to sound like, but I know the singer-songwriter that he’s working with and I can’t wait to hear it. I’m just as excited as all the other Motley fans out there. I can’t wait to hear it.
full in bloom: Isn’t there going to be another reissue from your pre-Motley band, The Scream (Let it Scream)?
John Corabi: It’s coming later this year on Rock Candy. It’s gong to have some bonus live tracks as well.
full in bloom: So the bonus tracks are the difference? Wasn’t there a Spitfire reissue several years back?
John Corabi: Yes. To be honest with you, I was not very happy with the Spitfire reissue. For some reason they went back in and remastered it, which wasn’t necessary. They also redid a lot of the artwork and I was just beyond pissed. There were misspelled words and song titles and I was just like, ‘if you guys are going to do this, do it right,’ you know? But I’m looking forward to the Rock Candy version and I’ve spoken with them via email and everything that I’ve been told, they put a lot of time and effort and love into their reissues. So, I’m curious to see what they come up with.
full in bloom: It’s not going to be remastered? They’re going to leave it as is?
John Corabi: I hope. I would like it to stay true to the original. If they do remaster it, maybe there’s some technology that I don’t know. The other one was so…it was almost distorted the way it was done. I hope they kind of keep it reasonably to the original.
full in bloom: Online it says that The Scream recorded an unreleased album from 1993 called Takin’ it to the Next Level. I know they became DC10 after you joined Motley Crue, but did you have anything to do with the unreleased album? Any writing credits or anything?
John Corabi: I actually sang a little bit on it, like backing vocals. I can’t remember, to be honest, if I actually co-wrote anything on it. I don’t think I did. I may have, but I definitely sang some backing vocals on it.
full in bloom: Your former bandmate in The Scream, John (Juan) Alderete, was in one of my favorite bands, The Mars Volta. I saw him when The Mars Volta opened for Soundgarden at Red Rocks. I know he also played in Racer X….Do you still keep in touch with him?
John Corabi: I just spoke with Johnny, or Juan, about two weeks ago. We were texting each other. He did some liner notes for the new Scream thing, and I did. It’s unfortunate that our drummer Walt (Woodard III) passed away a few years back. I don’t know what Bruce (Bouillet) is up to, he’s kind of dropped off the map. But we were talking about…we’ll see…I don’t know. We were just saying it might be cool…maybe not to record anything, but maybe go out and do a couple of shows at some point. It would be awesome. It’s really funny, all these bands I’ve been in, even to some degree the Motley record, all the stuff that I did when I did it, nobody cared about (laughs). It’s funny, like twenty years, thirty years later the Union stuff, The Scream stuff, and even the Motley stuff to a degree, they become these cult records. There’s some German label that took the first two Union records and boxed them up and put out a box set and I didn’t even know about it.
full in bloom: Somebody in Japan offered a bunch of money for The Scream to reunite for a show. What happened with that?
John Corabi: To be quite honest with you…there’s a little bit of weirdness going on between the other three guys. It’s just trying to get everybody on the same page mentally to go out and do something. We got offered quite a bit of money to put The Scream back together again for one show and go over and play the Loud Park Festival in Tokyo. I told our original manager that I don’t want to do it unless it’s the four original guys and Walt passed away. He said, ‘well, I was thinking you could do it with your original drummer before Walt,’ who was Scott Travis from Judas Priest. And I was like ‘ok, there’s an angle I didn’t think of.’ There’s something going on between Juan and Bruce. Bruce just wants nothing to do the whole thing; he wants nothing to do with The Scream. He’s just kind of moved on. So, we weren’t real sure if it would ever happen, or if we could get on the same page. I never say never, but at the same time, I can’t guarantee anything.
full in bloom: Eddie Kramer produced The Scream’s debut album, Let it Scream. Did he ever share any good Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix stories?
John Corabi: Dude, he had tons…You know it’s funny because he’s got a photo book out now and the majority of the photos in the book, I saw in 1990. It was crazy, some of the stories he would tell us. He had this one photo of Robert Plant when they were doing Physical Graffitti and they were doing “Black Country Woman” and if you listen to that song, in the beginning, you hear a plane and them go, ‘now let me take this plane out’ and then Robert Plant comes back and goes ‘no, leave it, leave it.’ So you literally hear a plane fly over and then they start the song. So I guess Robert and Jimmy Page were outside and John Bonham was inside. Anyway, they took a break and Robert leaned over and grabbed an acoustic guitar, it was a Gibson Dove. Eddie Kramer tells us, ‘I can’t show Jimmy Page this picture still to this day because he gets pissed that Robert touched his guitar’ (laughs). We were laughing about it…he had a ton of stories.
full in bloom: How was it working with Eddie Kramer? I heard he could be pretty hardcore in the studio.
John Corabi: He was awesome to work with; he was a great guy. He had his moments, like if he was trying to mix something and there were a bunch of people talking behind him, it was a distraction, which I totally understand. And he would scream ‘shut up, I can’t hear what I’m doing.’ And we would all go ‘oh shit, sorry’ and we would go out of the room. It’s understandable. Any engineer or producer trying to mix something needs to hear every little thing and if you’re yapping in his ear behind him, they’re not going to be happy about it. His big things were English tea and no noise distractions when he was mixing and Indian food. We used to go to Indian food constantly.
full in bloom: You released One Night in Nashville Live ’94, where you played the Motley Crue self-titled record live. I was listening to some tracks and I have to say that I was blown away at how your son (Ian Corabi) was able to play like Tommy Lee on some of those songs.
John Corabi: I got to be honest with you. I know I’m his dad, but I was pretty proud of that little punk. I basically handed him the record. I said ‘know it, learn it, love it, live it and let’s do this.’ He went away and he came in and he was playing it and he kind of knew it. But then he, on his own, he really started to microscope every little part and every little nuance. He did some of his own thing in there, too. I think he really did a great job.
full in bloom: I always thought of Tommy Lee a one of the great rock drummers, and not many people can capture his feel. Is your son jamming with anybody nowadays?
John Corabi: He’s still kind of waiting for me to get done…I’m so busy with the Daisies. I haven’t done much with my (solo) band over the last couple of years. I’m excited I have some time off in October and then I’ve got off the first four months of next year with the Daisies. I have full intentions of pulling those guys together and getting out and at least doing weekends, like Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Do what we can and then get into recording mode and start writing and stuff like that.
full in bloom: Michael Wagener mixed One Night in Nashville, right?
John Corabi: Yes.
full in bloom: Did you just hand off the tapes or did you sit in and mix it with him?
John Corabi: No, we went through it. We played about two hours, but a lot of it was me telling stories. So I went through it with Michael Wagener and I go, ‘you know what, we can lose that rap altogether. Let’s cut that out, let’s cut that out.’ Basically, it was just about shortening some of the raps and just deleting some altogether because I kind of get long-winded when I’m telling stories. We just kind of went through it together. We didn’t have to really fix anything, which is a testament to guys the band. We literally rehearsed for about a week. We did one show…we recorded it. We had a great company come down and record the show for us. Then I took all the files and gave them to Michael Wagener and then Michael did what he does and made it sound awesome. I was kind of going for, for the lack of a better term, John Corabi’s version of Aerosmith’s Live Bootleg. If there were any glitches or little blemishes, leave them in, you know what I mean?….that’s how the band sounds.
full in bloom: You had the guy who mixed Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and produced that self-titled Great White album and of course the Accept records. I’m a big fan of his work. There was a great story I read recently where Michael talks about mixing that first Poison record, Look What the Cat Dragged In, and he says he was offered a point on the record or he could take a one-time payment of $5K. Michael said he listened to it once and said that he wanted the 5 grand.
John Corabi: (laughs) That’s funny.
full in bloom: He said the guys in Poison still fuck with him about it.
John Corabi: That’s hilarious.
full in bloom: What does Michael Wagener charge to mix a record nowadays?
John Corabi: To be honest with you, I don’t know because my manager handled that whole thing. I think part of the deal was that Michael would make some money doing my live record and then he would also be part of my next solo record, when I do it.
full in bloom: He’s in Nashville as well, right?
John Corabi: Yep.
full in bloom: How’s the new Dead Daisies record (Burn It Down) doing?
John Corabi: It’s doing amazing. We just broke into the Top 40 of the Active Rock Radio chart in America for “Rise Up.” We charted on a ton of different charts all around the world, in Germany, England, France, Japan, just everywhere. We couldn’t be more pleased about the record.
full in bloom: What’s in store for the future?
John Corabi: We’re off for a couple of weeks, but we’re heading out to Japan at the end of this month. Then we’re back over to Europe for some festivals and solo shows. Then we come home very briefly and then we’re off to play North America…mainly America and a few shows in Canada on the East Coast. After that, I think we’re doing the KISS Kruise and then right from there we go back to Europe and ending the year in November and December over in Europe. We’ve got a very busy year.
full in bloom: I’m assuming David Lowy is the investor in the band. What kind of business does he do?
John Corabi: David’s got his fingers in a lot of different things. He’s very shrewd and very smart. Oddly enough, sometimes I just want to punch him in the balls, because nobody should be that talented at that many things. He’s very good at investing in general. I couldn’t even scratch the surface of all the different things David has his fingers in. He’s also a pilot. He does the stunt flying on his downtime. He could do everything that Bruce Dickinson just did on that Maiden tour. It just amazes me. I’m like ‘dude, where do you find the time to do your business stuff, write songs, play with the band?’ It’s hilarious. We’ll get done doing a gig, get back to the hotel at 12 or 1 o’clock in the morning, he’ll sit at the bar with us and have a cocktail and then he’ll go up to his room, sleep for maybe 2 to 3 hours and then he is on the phone calling Japan or all these different places all over the world and he’s handling business. Then he’ll come down and he’s ready to do it all over again. He sleeps like 3 hours a day. It’s crazy. He’s a machine.
full in bloom: Is he in the stock market or does he invest in businesses? I don’t mean to pry.
John Corabi: He’s a little bit of everything. It’s a pretty amazing story. If you go online and look up the story of his family, it’s a pretty amazing story of what they have been able to achieve. It all started with his dad, who was a refugee in WWII from a concentration camp. They basically started this corporation with a fruit stand. It could definitely be movie material. It’s pretty awesome. If you look it up, it’s all there.
full in bloom: RATT officially came out today and said they were going to carry on without Warren DeMartini. Any thoughts?
John Corabi: You know, I do. I love those guys like Stephen (Pearcy), Juan (Croucier), Warren, Carlos (Cavazo)…all the guys that have been involved in that thing. I know them all. I just wish they’d all, for lack of a better term, would get their head out of their asses. RATT’s biggest problem is it has always been fueled by ‘I’m the guy, I’m the guy’ ‘no, I’m the guy.’ You guys are RATT, just shut up and be RATT. I wish they would get Stephen, Bobby (Blotzer), Juan and Warren and get their head out of their asses and just call it a day, man. Go out and have some fun. There are a lot of fans that love that music. They want to hear the original guys. Put your shit aside and go out and play the music.
full in bloom: I saw you when you played in RATT at a club in Colorado a long time ago. My buddy was running sound and I was sitting at the bar having a drink when you walked up and sat next to me. We sat there and drank and talked for about an hour. I will tell you just like I told you back then, I always thought the Motley Crue drama and how you took the blame for everything was ridiculous. The album you did with Motley Crue came out in ’94, long after the collapse of music from the ’80s. Now, at that time, I loved Soundgarden and Faith No More and Alice in Chains and Nirvana, but I can still remember being in my car and hearing “Hooligan’s Holiday” on the radio for the first time. I didn’t care about the Crue at that time, but I remember thinking when I heard “Hooligan’s Holiday,” how amazing it was that they could still write good, solid catchy songs. I also thought your voice sounded really great on it. But for you to take the blame was just wrong, when it was really the fact that Motley had not released an album since Dr. Feelgood (1989), and they hadn’t confirmed that they too were part of the downfall. Then you get fired and Vince Neil rejoins the band for financial reasons. Never again did I think that they were good at writing songs after you departed. It’s a shame because I think if they would have had some integrity and wouldn’t have sold out for the money, their later catalog probably would have sat well in history. I’m not sure what I’m getting at, but I mainly just wanted to say that I always respected the way you handled yourself through all that and I’m really happy that everything is going so well for you.
John Corabi: I really appreciate that, man. Thank you so much.