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| 14 October 2021 | Reply

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

According to a recent press release: “Journeyman vocalist John Corabi had already been cutting his teeth in the hard rock world for nearly a decade when he landed the high-profile gig of replacing Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil in 1992. Although his tenure with the group proved to be a brief one, Corabi earned a reputation as a go-to frontman and collaborator, amassing a solid résumé as a singer and guitarist with acts like The Eric Singer Project (ESP), Union, and The Dead Daisies. The Nashville, TN -based iconic front-man, has released his new single “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful).” The song is available now on all digital platforms. “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful)” was produced and co-written in Nashville, TN, with Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne). “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful)” is the first of several new singles coming!” We were able to get some phone time with John to discuss the new tune, other past projects, and much more…

Toddstar: How are you John?

John: How are you doing? All right?

Toddstar: Good man. You?

John: I’m good. I’m just sitting out on my back patio, having a coffee. Enjoying the glorious Nashville day.

Toddstar: Always a good day in Nashville. I love that city. I spend half the year in Detroit and half the year in Tampa and Nashville’s just a perfect blend.

John: Yeah. It’s little bit of everything here. It’s pretty cool.

Toddstar: Listen, man. I appreciate you taking time out for us. We really appreciate every time we get a chance, talk to you. I’m blessed to have been able to talk to you multiple times, but especially now that you’re doing some stuff on your own, not necessarily hyping anything, any other projects that you’re involved with other than some solo stuff. So let’s jump right in. “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful)” is such a great track, and the video’s cool as hell. What can you tell us about how this one came together for you?

John: You know what’s funny dude? I’m still amazed at technology. This is a song that I actually threw on the table when we were doing the writing sessions for Burn it Down and with The Dead Daisies, of course. And in their defense, it was literally a phone recording of me and Marty sitting around, scatting a melody, no lyrics, just the song in it’s just barest form. So the idea wasn’t really quite developed, but then when COVID hit, I did a complete rethink of the state of the music industry and the state of John Corabi’s career. And how after all these records I had done, I had never really sat down behind a music or recording board to figure out how shit works. Like oh, that’s how you get the George Harrison rotary guitar sound or whatever. And due to the fact that COVID hit, and I had a shit ton of time to do absolutely nothing, I panicked. And I went out and I took Pro Tools classes, and I just started roughly, I’m still cave man with the whole thing, but I just sat there and I’m like, I got to keep moving forward some degree. So I just started recording things in my house on a laptop. And I basically started recording that song and putting in a lot of the ideas that I heard in my head, the piano, and the acoustic guitar and just all the stuff. And then when I sent it to Marty, he kind of got it. And he was like, yeah okay, what are you hearing? Because I’m hearing… So I said “Penny Lane” meets “Killer Queen” by Queen, but some cool Thin Lizzy guitar sounds. And he got it. So I recorded the whole thing. I’m still freaked out because I did the song on a fricking laptop. And then when we shot the video, I was thinking… So I’m calling all these buddies of mine that are cinematographers and videographers and whatever. And I’m sitting there going, okay, like I want to do videos, and what kind of camera do I need? And this one buddy here in Nashville, he’s filmed a couple documentaries and different things. And he was laughing. He goes, dude, I bought a camera 10 years ago, he said, I spent $20,000 on this camera. And he goes, the funny thing is now it’s completely obsolete. Like iPhone 11 and better has all these pixels. So basically long story, I’m sorry that’s like five minutes of your life you’re never getting back. I literally recorded the entire song on a laptop, sent it to Marty. He finished it on a laptop. And then I recorded the video with a buddy of mine, Chris Romero with two iPhone 12’s. Edited the video together. And it came out great. I’m sitting there going, fuck man, think of all the money I would’ve saved over the last 30 years if I just would’ve bought a computer.

Toddstar: Well, that’s the thing. COVID unleashed a lot of new animals for a lot of musicians in that not only did you all of a sudden find yourself used to have a shit load of time and nothing to do, but all of a sudden you didn’t have an outlet either. You didn’t have that stage to put your energy on or your creative juices letting them flow in front of a crowd. Do you find that all that time off has helped you stockpile some tunes that’ll start getting unleashed?

John: I’ve got a bunch of stuff… well not a bunch. You’re literally talking to a guy that I stare at my laptop and I’m like, oh, where’s the power button again. I’m not computer or tech savvy at all. So my pace has been painstakingly slow. I’m working on another song now; it’s probably going to be the second song that I release. I still haven’t quite figured out the editing process of Pro Tools. So if I do a part and I listen to it and I lay it down and I go, okay, this song is a little long. I want to shorten it up. I’m not that guy that can just go cut, cut, move that part, move this sub part in, boom and done. Where Marty can do that. But it’s for me, I have to literally go, ah shit okay, the song’s a little long, second verse maybe should be half the length and blah, blah, blah. So what I do is I erase everything, fix the drums to where I want them and then rerecord everything over again so that it’s where I want it. So it takes me a little bit longer. Even the guitar solo for example, on “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful).” I did all the guitar solos, but I had to sit there. I knew how to loop the parts so that I could practice, but I didn’t know how to punch in the parts. So I just looped it and I practiced the whole solo. I kind of figured out what I was going to play. And I had to do it in one take. And I’m like ah shit, I made a mistake, erase, okay, start over. I’m still learning how to punch in things, how to edit things, and all this other stuff. So it literally takes me days to do something that Marty could do in like 20 minutes. But I’m figuring it out. I’ve got a ton of ideas on my phone that I still haven’t gotten to yet. And I’ve got a bunch of stuff already recorded, but I wrote two new ideas. So now I’m all jacked about the new ideas. So I’m trying to finish this new one to put that out next. And so I’ve got it now. I did a vocal on it. Now I’m putting guitar parts and I’m thinking of other guitar parts. And then once I’ve got it to where I can’t think of anything else. I’ll take the files, send him to Marty. And then he’ll go, okay I like what you’re doing here, but I’m going to replay the bass and then he’ll do his thing and just make it sound like an awesome polished killer record. But yeah, there’s more stuff to come and again, I’m a bit old school, so I’m still trying to figure out this whole downloading the songs thing, streaming the songs thing, homegrown videos. I’m just like what. It’s all like Chinese arithmetic to me. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m figuring it out as I go.

Toddstar: You’ve always kind of done that though from the days with The Scream, Mötley Crüe, your stuff with Eric Singer, and The Dead Daisies as well as all your solo stuff in the meantime. You’ve had so many side projects and you sing on so many things, so you’ve always kind of figured your own way through it all. And you’re still coming out on top.

John: Well, I don’t know about on top.

Toddstar: You’re still doing what you love John.

John: And it’s all in how you look at it. You know what I mean? I have days where I go, God man, I’m so blessed. I’ve got a beautiful home and wife and kids and grandkids, and it’s a sunny day and I’m still writing music and Todd from Michigan’s still wants to talk to me after all these years. And then there’s other days where I go, wow fuck. What do I have to do to have Steven Tyler’s bank account? But I think any driven person is like that. I still think you’re like, man, what do I need to do to write “Sergeant Peppers,” or “Stairway to Heaven” or “Bohemian Rhapsody.” So you’re always thinking how do I grow? How do I move forward? How do I get bigger? I love doing what I do. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel blessed. But there also isn’t a day that goes by that says how do I sit down? I want to write a song like “I’m Too Sexy.” How did that song connect with so many people, or “Red Solo Cup,” the country song? What do I need to do? Do I need to dumb my lyrics down? Do I need to up my lyrics? What do I need to do? So whatever it is, what it is. It’s the beauty and the puzzlement of being a musician.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: It’s only one of the few pieces of the puzzle of being a musician from everything I’ve heard and know. That said, you’ve done it all. You’ve done the big bands. You’ve done the solo stuff. You’ve done the projects. How different do you approach stuff now, John, under the John Corabi name than you did when you were doing Mötley Crüe, The Scream, The Dead Daisies, or even those projects when you’re picking up the one offs, how different do you approach the whole thing now?

John: Well, I think the beauty of the way I’m doing things is there really is no parameters now. Like for example, let’s use the song “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful),” for example. Now I don’t know how the song is translating into actual downloads, but as far as the streaming world goes, it’s been picking up, been doing pretty good. Do I have Justin Timberlake numbers? No, but it’s a growing process. But the funny thing of it is like I said earlier in the conversation, I initially brought that song to The Dead Daisies. And I’ve always believed, like I heard it in my head being very much what the song is now. It’s like it rocks, but it’s got little pop elements to it. And when I took it to The Daisies, they have a parameter. There’s a box that they’re in. And so the thing now is that I think after doing my first solo record was an acoustic record. And then my first real solo outing as an electric full band, blah, blah, blah, was, “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful).” I think the boundaries have been opened up for me. I don’t think now at this point, anybody really knows what’s coming next. And I love that. All of the bands that I grew up listening to were the bands that were really kind of wide open. I love the Beatles early stuff, but I really got into them like Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sergeant Peppers, when they really started to get experimental and play around with shit. Queen was another huge band that I was just like… David Bowie was another one that kind of reinvented himself from song to song. Same with Zeppelin. If you looked at Zeppelin’s, you could sit there and go man, they would do “Dazed and Confused” and then follow it up with, “Babe, I’m Going To Leave You.” And then do “Stairway to Heaven” and then “Kashmir” and then “Trampled Under Foot” and “D’yer Mak’er” and then “The Rain Song.” I mean, they ran the gamut of influences there. And I love that kind of stuff. And one of the things that I really despised about the music business is the boxes that everybody gets placed into. Oh, that’s a grunge rock band, put them over there. This is an 80’s rock band, you know what I mean? You kind of lumped in these categories and there’s no straying from that area. And maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot. Maybe that might be one of the reasons why I don’t have Steven Tyler’s bank account or whatever. But I just love being really… I don’t want to say musical, but creative. I remember watching an old documentary on the making of Blood Sugar Sex Magik from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And there was one song where they literally recorded Flea, like hitting a pipe against another pipe. And that kind of shit fascinates me. I could care less about, because everybody’s got their own little writing process as far as songs go, but it’s like, okay, what made you think of putting a pipe on another pipe in the middle of the song? Where, where did that come from. Again, not to dwell, but I even saw a documentary on the making of Night At The Opera with Queen. And there was a part in there where I forget what the name of the song is. I think it’s called “Seaside Rendezvous” on Night At The Opera record. And there’s a little thing in there where there’s like trombone sections and there’s, sounds like somebody’s tap dancing. And after you’ve watched the documentary, I found out that the horn sections is actually Brian May painstakingly going to try and make his guitar sound like horns. And then the tap dancing was actually Freddy and Roger Taylor with metal symbols on their fingers on a metal plate with a microphone over it. And that to me is the things that intrigue me about the music industry. God, that’s so brilliant. So I just love that shit. I love the creative process. Again, even what’s the day of life that last big piano note, how the Beatles set up like eight pianos and they just had everybody hit the same note and let it sustain. It’s just brilliance. And I just love that part of it.

Toddstar: Looking back at things like that, are there any songs that you’ve wound up dropping, whether it was part of an effort or as John Corabi that you always wanted those nuances or those stories to come out? Because it wasn’t just straightforward 4, 5, 6 guys, a in a studio with a producer and a mixing board. Are any of those songs like that, that have those nuances that wish people knew all the creativity that really went into it.

John: You know, it’s funny. I wish a lot of the fans could have been the fly on the wall when we were doing “Misunderstood” by Mötley. That was really exciting because it was like sitting in a room with a conductor and figuring out, all of us just throwing stuff on the table, like what we were hearing. And how he took what we were saying and he wrote it out into a chart and then he went home and he literally charted out this whole thing. And then a week later he shows up in the studio with a 53-piece orchestra and everybody’s playing these parts that all in conjunction work together. And then mixed tone and then the underlying guitar parts that were complimenting that tone and then the vocals and the backing vocals and the little things like Glenn Hughes came in and did some backing vocals and complimented some things that I was doing. And it was just… it was fucking awesome to live through that and watch it happen. And there’s been some other things. There was a song called “Shine” that I had with Union back in the day and putting that all together. All the little mandolin and guitar parts and all these different things. When we were doing them, Bob Marlette was working with us and he was like, well what if you did something like, and we were hearing these parts going, I don’t, okay, I’ll try it. And then he would play the track and this part is this random little part just kind of fit. It was like you were saying earlier, just like this puzzle piece that just like you find that piece and it just snaps in perfect. You’re like, ah, that’s so amazing. So I’ve had a few of those. I’ve had a few of those in my past. But that’s the beauty, that’s the thing that I like about being in the studio because you have that time and that vehicle to find those little parts. Even last night, I was recording this new song and I was saying to my wife, I’m like, man, there’s just something missing on this tone. I don’t know what it is. So I sit in there, I was watching the game last night, the late-night game. And I’m sitting there with my phone, playing the track and I’m sitting there. And then all of a sudden, I just hit this cord, and it’s like this Zeppelin cord that Jimmy page uses in “Rock and Roll.” And I just started strumming it, like kind of a cold, little funky. And I just started strumming it and I’m like fuck, that’s it. And as soon as I started playing it, my wife goes, that totally changes the whole feeling of the song. Because it’s really cool. It’s funky, but it’s heavy, but it’s funky and groovy, like Zeppelin and I was like, ah, okay, cool. So as soon as I get done with you, I got another interview to do and I’m going back in the studio and I’m laying that part down. I recorded it on my phone last night, but it’s finding those little gems that the song might be going straight. And then you find this little gem that makes it veer off to the left a little bit in an area where you maybe didn’t hear it going. And it’s just like, ah, all of a sudden, it’s like, you know, you go from a worm to a butterfly. It’s awesome.

Toddstar: You mentioned gems and you’ve got two that I’ve always thought of. I loved your tune “Friends” off the Quaternary EP, but you talked about “Shine.” And to me, The Blue Room is one of the most unappreciated albums of the early thousands. That album to me checked every box for just rock, not, like you said, not to pigeonhole into grunge, new, heavy, hard, whatever. It just checked every box.

John: You know what’s funny, it’s funny because there’s moments of that record that I like, that I really appreciate. And there’s a few where now this, again, being in a band, you’re recording a record, you’ve got a producer and you’ve got three other guys in the band. And you sit there and you’re on a deadline, you got a timeline, you got to get this record done and you kind of get out voted with a few things. I was not quite ready to put a few of those songs to bed. I thought there was a couple songs, but I can look at my entire career. Maybe not the Mötley record, because I, I really like that record as it is. Every song on that record to me was the right song for that record. But I go back and I look at things and I’ll sit and I’ll listen to the Scream record and I go, God, what was I thinking on, for example, a song like “Give it Up.” I sit and I listen to it and I cringe like, oh my God, the lyrics are just so fucking cheesy. You know what I mean? Like what was I thinking? But at that point in my life, all I was thinking about was getting a record deal, becoming a rockstar, traveling the world and drinking and fucking anything with a pulse. So that’s what I wrote about. And then I got the Mötley thing. Now we had the beauty of writing for the better part of the year and then taking our time and recording again for the better part of the year. So we really painstakingly went through every song under a microscope and really developed it. And then now the Union thing, I think the first record was really good. Bruce and I had time to really put the songs together. But then with “Get Off My Cloud” from the first record, I’m like, eh, I wish I could have had that back. I could have thought of something a little better than ‘why do you have to be so stupid’ in the chorus. There’s a better way of saying the exact same thing. And then the same on The Blue Room, I loved the record and I thought it showed growth to a degree. But on the other hand, there was a few songs on that record that I really wish I would’ve been able to have back. Because I felt like they weren’t, and it was more towards the end of the record. There’s a song called, “Do You Know My Name.” Loved, the riff, loved where the song was going in the verses. And then the chorus comes in and I’m like, oh my God, to me it just plods through the thing. And I think my vocal performance on “No More.” And I’m like, ah, man, I could have thought of a better melody, but that’s John Corabi in a nutshell. I will literally look at “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful)” five years from now and go, fuck why didn’t I do this? So that’s the, you get older, you figure things out a little differently. If I could go back and re-record a lot of my stuff, there’s a few things that I probably would take a better stab at or, or redo. But again, having been in a band, I was like, ah, man, I don’t know. Not sure about this title “Hypnotized.” I already have a song called “Hypnotized” by Mötley. And all the guys are like, no, man. It’s great. Just sing it and put it to bed. We need to move on. And it’s like, okay it’s four against one. But now that’s the thing in my career now. I know I said, I’d like to release a song every maybe month and a half or two months, but I’m not going to put anything out unless I feel like, this is the shit. This is fucking perfect. It’s awesome. So I don’t have that process of, there’s no democracy now. It’s just me, you know what I mean? Marty will tell me, and I respect his opinion. Marty will tell me dude, you’re overthinking it. It’s killer the way it is. Or you’re putting too much thought into this part, dumb it down. But for the most part, I don’t have to run anything by anybody else. And that’s kind of awesome.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: Well, it’s awesome in that you’ve earned that position now, John, because you’ve played the game long enough to be able to get to where you are. And as a side note, I’m so glad when you were talking about The Blue Room and the songs you would’ve changed. They weren’t either the two that to me just are perfect. And that’s the opener, “Do Your Own Thing” and “Who Do You Think You Are” They’re so different yet so sonically the same at the same time. So those two pieces for me, just sum up so much of your career that you’ve been able to sonically deliver different sounds and messages and everything else without deviating from who you are as a performer.

John: And it’s funny because I think do your own thing, dead. Like all those songs in the beginning of the song, like in the beginning of the record, it’s awesome. I love that record. And then I start seeing like, around “Do You Know My Name.” I just start seeing a little bit of a curve downwards. Where it’s like, I hear it and I go, oh, this was a band that had a very small window to work with Bob Marlette. We had a minimal amount of money and we had to get a record out quick. And I can hear a little bit where those last three or four songs on the record is where I feel like I wish we would’ve had just another couple of weeks to really look at those songs and dissect them and make them that much better. But the front half you’re right. There’s nothing I would change about the front half of that record.

Toddstar: Well, I’ll tell you, I can’t wait to hear what’s next because “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful),” I wouldn’t change a fucking thing on that thing. It’s such a perfect track, especially for you, your delivery, your voice, every piece of it is John Corabi from top to bottom. So I can’t wait to hear what’s next. And I was going to say, I’m going to let you get to your next interview so you can go finish up that second track.

John: Well, I got one more interview to do after you, so all good. But you know what, it’s fun doing this process. And again, for me, it’s painstakingly slow because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not a Pro Tools master like Marty or Doug Aldridge or Anthony Focx or any of these guys. But it’s just awesome. I literally get lost in this room trying to come up with parts and solos. And then I go, Ooh, my back’s hurting a little bit and I should stand up and I walk outside and I’m like, oh my God, I’ve been in that room for nine fucking hours, killer. So it’s fun man. It’s awesome. Let’s just put it that way.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, again, John, I, as always as a fan of you and your catalog, I’m always in awe the moment that I get to receive a phone call; it’s just an awesome feeling as a fan. As a music journalist, I love speaking to you because you’re always so candid. And I appreciate that. And the honesty that you’re not willing, you’re not afraid to lay everything out there and say, “Hey, I might take it in the ass for this, but here’s what it is.”

John: You know what I think that’s honestly the only, I don’t know. I don’t want to sound like a weirdo, but I’ve always been that way. And again, the cards that I was dealt. I got married at 19 or 20 years old. I finally got a record deal at 30, so I had 10 years of being a husband, father. So it kind of grounded me. So even going through the wildest times in Mötley and all this other shit, I wound up being everybody’s fucking babysitter more than whatever. I was always like “do you think we should run with these scissors?” But I’ve also been, I’ve had arguments with people, like why do you always wear jeans and shirts? I don’t know. Because I’m fucking comfortable. Or why do you drive trucks? Why don’t you have a Maserati or a fucking whatever. I don’t know. I like driving trucks. Oh, by the way, have you ever tried driving a Maserati in a fucking snowstorm? Not fun. You can relate to this being in Michigan. It’s like give me a truck and a fucking bottle of Jameson and I’m going to have a picnic. So I just never, I am what I am, I can’t change it. I’m not going to change it. And now it’s too late to change it. So fuck it. Just do what you do and call it a day.

Toddstar: All these reasons you just listed John, is the exact reason why when Doug mentioned he was working with you, I said I had to talk to Crabby.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

John: It’s funny too you know. And I sit here sometimes and I go, why the fuck don’t, it’s again you go back and you start reevaluating things like, all right what do I need to do to have these perks that these other guys have, you know what I mean? And then you sit there and you go, oh, remember when everybody told you probably shouldn’t do an acoustic record as your first solo album. You know what I mean? It’s just like, ah, fuck it, whatever. At some point this has been, I just finished the book it’s called, it’s actually coming out next year, called Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. And it’s literally a tale of a guy who has been at the right place at the wrong time his whole career. And it’s the cards I’m dealt, the cards I played whatever. But at the end of the day, I’m happy. I’m like okay, like I said, it’s a glorious day in Nashville. I’m doing an interview. I’m writing new music. I’m putting it out there. People are digging it and I’m still going forward. So life is groovy.

Toddstar: You couldn’t have ended the interview any better way. John. Life is definitely groovy. And I can’t wait to see what comes next from John Corabi. And I’m hoping that somehow when, when all the planets align and you’re back out there, because I know you’ve been doing dates, but that I’m in the same city you are. So I can shake your hand once again, say hello and enjoy some great rock and roll.

John: Things are actually starting to pick back up. It’s funny in 2019, I did a hundred dates or more. And I think I’ve done maybe 10 or 12 since March 15th of 2020 when I was in, actually Michigan was my last. But putting, like I said, putting new music out, putting new books out things are starting now to look up. Okay, I’ve got some shows on the horizon. And hopefully now, like I said earlier, life is groovy. Hopefully I’ll start making some money and life will be gravy. And whatever, just change vowel, call it a day.

Toddstar: There you go. Well, listen, and again, I appreciate the time. I always have. I always will. And I can’t wait to see you again.

John: Awesome brother. Thank you.







Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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