“…we’re always constantly learning stuff, something new has to be learned when we’re together, someone is always going to come up with something we don’t know, so that’s something new and I love that and I love that I’m constantly learning and I’m constantly getting an education.”
From Release: Spearheaded by guitarist Vernon Reid, Living Colour emerged onto the scene and made the people stop and take notice – their music became a creative fusion influenced by free jazz, funk, hard rock and heavy metal. By 1986, the band started to solidify, with Corey Glover joining on vocals, bassist Muzz Skillings and drummer Will Calhoun anchoring the rhythm section that helped hone their unique blend of music with broad-based appeal. Their debut album, Vivid eventually became a multi-platinum, Grammy winning success. Living Colour’s instrumental prowess gave them a level of critical respect most other bands of that genre were not afforded. Politically driven in their lyrics and eclectic & experimental in their sound, the band built up quite the following in their original eleven year run, picking-up two consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Hard Rock Performance and three MTV Video Music Awards.
At home In New York Corey Glover gave us a call to talk about Living Colour’s return to Australia, their forthcoming album ‘Shade’, guns, ‘Purple Rain’, and more…
You’re heading back to see us in May, how do you go about shaping a set list for tours these days?
It’s interesting, we have to take a lot of things into consideration we’ve done five albums and a couple of EPs to sift through and get all the best bits and pieces of that out there so that we can really sort of give a cross section of where we are, where we’ve been, where we want to go and it has to all sort of come together. Not only do we have to play stuff from ‘Vivid’, ‘Times Up’, ‘Stain’, ‘Chair In The Doorway’, ‘ Collideoscope’ and you know, plus our EP’s and the mixtape and also ‘Shade’. So it’s a lot, it’s gonna be a lot.
I look forward to the six hour show then, it’ll be great!
Oh yeah, but seriously how do you fit all of that into like two and a half hours. How do you fit a twenty seven year career into two and a half hours?
You were last here in 2014 and before that far too long, do you have a great memory of a previous trip to Australia?
Last time we were in Australia when we were there in 2014 we actually got to see more of the country than we did in 1993, in 93 it was do the show, get on the bus go to the next town, this that and the other and then we’re gone, we go home. So this is the first time to go back and revisit it and check it out and really have a good time and really enjoy ourselves.
Seeing you guys live is such a pleasure as the musicianship between the four of you is something to really behold. What is it that just clicks and works for you as a band?
I think that we have and know each other really well, we’re family and we’ve known each other in some cases longer than we’ve known our spouses, longer than we’ve know our children *laughs* so I’ve know these people longer you know? So it’ll be a very interesting for us that we understand each other’s shorthand, we know where the other person wants to go or where they’re trying to go and we try to facilitate that, so we’ve got a little bit of telepathy going.
Let’s talk new music as I believe we have a new album in ‘Shade’ coming soon, is there anything you can give us the scoop on as to what we can expect?
Well ‘Shade’ is going to be our sixth album… Geez… And you know some bands have been around this long have as many records as they’ve been around years playing, that’s not the way that we do things, but for us to know that in our lifetime we have made this many albums and these many songs and certain songs I can’t remember for the life of me the circumstances as to how they were created, but you know this record is really talking about as all our records are about is talking about the times that we live in. What we did was we had an overarching theme in we were really trying to understand the blues, now when I say that you think I’m so sad I’m so lonely, my woman just left me, that kind of stuff, but the blues has so much more to say than just the sadness, the blues is just as happy as it is sad but the blues is everything in between and the length and breadth of it and every variation in between that there is a bit of revenge as an emotion. The melancholy is just not what it is, the joy and your righteous anger, it’s a righteous anger, it’s an emotion and it’s a social thing that also connects to the blues that very rarely gets talked about, that Robert Johnson talking about a hellhound on my trail he wasn’t just talking about that he was talking a little bit more than the metaphor of meeting the devil at the crossroads you know what I mean? That had a much bigger subtext to it than just that and I think some of the stuff we’re trying to get in to.
When can we expect it?
Ahh that’s a good question… I don’t know. *laughs*
Being your first album since 2009, why was now the right time for new music from Living Colour?
Seriously, we’ve been making this record for a number of years now and trying to get it right, the live thing we were talking about and a lot of circumstances that you are dealing with take time to master so it took a minute to really get it right and took a minute to get where we really wanted it, and to be satisfied to say look this is what it is here we go. We like it, we like it a lot and we hope you like it as much as we do, we don’t want to do it wrong.
We’ve had a taste of new music by the way of ‘Who Shot Ya?’ What was the idea behind covering this Biggie track?
Well it was the whole idea of violence, gun violence, guns, the idea of a gun what is the purpose of a gun and in today’s society to have a gun it’s your problem solver, and the size off your gun is comparable to the size of your problem *laughs*. If you think that your neighbour is encroaching upon your property, how do you keep them off your land? Show them your gun, that’s your first and only option, but it’s not. The perception of guns in society is a problem there’s very much a problem and that all depends on, and some people look at it and there’s not enough guns and some people think the fact that I don’t have a gun is a problem and I should have one or somebody would think that I shouldn’t have one. It’s so much a different issue and you can drill down to something that’s very, very personal to you that’s been very much how you see the world and how you interpret the world and how you see it in terms of what a gun is for. We haven’t really talked about that, I know in this country the idea of having a gun is connected to your rights as an American, you have the right to shoot people is that what they’re saying? You have the right to have a gun, so practically what you’re saying is I have the right to shoot people. Is that really something we really want to do? Is that really something that’s necessary? For some people, yes! For some people the idea that I have a gun and I need to use it and I have to use it is an affirmative sort of idea, for some people it isn’t and some people don’t have an opinion on it, but we have too much of it to not be talked about, for it to not be a discussion about but for people to talk and there’s been so much talk particularly about police violence and guns, police brutality, it warrants a discussion on the subject, it warrants something to be done about that.
So over your time together it’s easy to say what’s changed but what would you say is the one thing that’s stayed the same in your time together?
The conversation, we’re always constantly learning stuff, something new has to be learned when we’re together, someone is always going to come up with something we don’t know, so that’s something new and I love that and I love that I’m constantly learning and I’m constantly getting an education.
I did want to ask as I didn’t get to see it live personally but in 2014 you got up and played ‘Purple Rain’ with Richie Sambora, how was that?
That was fun, that was a lot of fun. I’ve known Richie for a minute and he was playing in Melbourne and we had a day off and went down and he was like ‘I’d love you to sing’ and I was like whatever you need me to do and he said ‘I do Purple Rain in my set’ I said ‘excellent I know Purple Rain let’s do it’ *laughs* a mutual friend of ours set this up and Richie said ‘think he can you do this?’ *laughs* just watch and wait, so I think it went very well.
Lastly let’s look ahead to the future, finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2017 Living Colour want to…
Be on a major tour, we want to reintroduce ourselves to the public so they know who we are and we know who they are, I want us to grow, I want us to all grow.
Saturday 13th May
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Tickets available at:
Sunday 14th May
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets available at:
Friday 19th May
Astor Theatre, Perth
Tickets available at:
Full concert information – www.zaccariaconcerts.com.au
From: New York City, NY, USA
Band members: Vernon Reid – Guitars, Corey Glover – Vocals, Will Calhoun – Drums, Doug Wimbish – Bass
Forthcoming Release: Shade (2017)