COREY GLOVER (LIVING COLOUR): “People Were Very Segregated In Their Musical Tastes. Our Goal Was To Break Down Those Barriers”

LIVING COLOUR (Live at The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., July 24, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Living Colour’s Vivid was released over 30 years ago and broke new ground combining Hard Rock with Funk. Mick Burgess called up lead singer Corey Glover to talk about the making of the album and the forthcoming UK tour.

You’re over in the UK for a series of shows later this month. Are you looking forward to coming over here again?

Oh yeah, playing in the UK is great. It had been a while since we had played when we came over last time and we had such a great response so we wanted to come back again to see how well it goes and see if we get the same kind of love.

2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of your debut album, Vivid. Does it feel like three decades have passed since you released that?

Some days it does and some it doesn’t. Sometimes it feels like, wow, that was just like last week but others it feels like years ago. 30 years ago. It’s amazing.

To celebrate you’ll be playing the whole album. How will you fit that into your set? Will you be doing it from start to finish in its original running order?

Sometimes we play it from beginning to end and start with Cult Of Personality and finish with Which Way To America and play the rest of the album throughout the show with some other songs from our other records but most of the time you’ll hear the whole of the record from start to finish in its entirety. It’s not a victory lap or anything like that. We’re just trying to get people to know that we still exist. We’ve been doing this for a long time and haven’t really had much recognition for it which is upsetting.

Is it strange having one of your biggest classics Cult Of Personality at the start of the set rather than the end?

I love the fact that we’re starting with it now. It’s great to open the show with that, get the pleasantries over and get to work.

What about the rest of the set? Will you be doing some songs from your most recent album, Shade and some of your other albums too?

We might do some songs from Shade, it depends where we’re playing and how we’re feeling. We could do Preachin’ Blues to set the mood or Who Shot Ya? We’ll just have to see.

When Living Colour first broke in the ’80’s with Vivid, you were completely different to anything else at that time. Did you realise when you were making that record that you’d be trailblazers for a new music form that combined Hard Rock and Funk?

No, not really, we were just doing what we thought was interesting. I don’t actually think that we get acknowledged for ushering in a new idea on how to do Hard Rock music. I think people seem to think the Chili Peppers invented it. I think some people think all we did was Cult Of Personality and that’s it but it’s not, we did a lot more besides that.

Who were those bands that were influencing you before you formed the band?

We were listening to Funkadelic and Parliament in those early days and they were such a huge influence on us and we also loved Fishbone who were one of our peers.

Playing such diverse music must have opened the doors for some interesting tours with a diverse range of bands and artists. Do any stand out for you in particular?

It certainly allowed us to play at everything from Rock and Jazz festivals to Blues shows in the Mississippi Delta and Chicago where we could learn and expand on what we did. We got the opportunity to play with our contemporaries and our teachers and we were able to play in front of very different audiences.

Did you get paired with any bands that just didn’t work for you?

Not really. I don’t think there’s such a thing as not working. Sure, there were a few awkward moments but I think what we do is expose their audience to us and our audience to theirs. Our goal in Living Colour is to break down those barriers. I think for a long time people were very segregated in their musical tastes as well as their lives and I think that nothing good comes from that. You become very myopic when all you see is what you know.

Did you face much resistance from within the industry with labels being unsure who to market you to?

I’m sure there were from some places but it’s not our job to define who we are. We are what we are and it’s up to you to decide what we mean to you.

You had a lot of interest though including from Mick Jagger. How did a previously unheard-of band manage to get Jagger involved in their record?

There was talk around town about us. Rolling Stone, the magazine, were touting what we were doing and at the time several things colluded together. There was a buzz around us, we were members of the Black Rock Coalition and we were getting some good press. At that time Mick Jagger was working with Doug Wimbish, who was a good friend of ours and eventually became our bass player so we had some good fortune that Mick Jagger came to know us and got involved with our record.

From a musical point of view what did he bring to the first album?

We went into the studio with him and used his engineers and one of those was Ed Stasium who produced the rest of the record. We had somebody there who knew Mick’s style and how he wanted things to sound. He was really open to us and the sound that we wanted and we weren’t hemmed into any particular way of things being done.

Did you tour with The Stones?

We did, it was on the Steel Wheels tour. It was a great tour to do. They weren’t just the biggest stages that we’d ever played on but it was an education to how a band works itself on the road. Up until that point we were in vans travelling across the country and then we ended up in these incredible tour buses. It was an amazing time for us.

You must have been doing something right as you’d won a Grammy for Cult of personality and won another one for the follow up album Time’s Up. What did it mean to you to win an award like that not once but twice?

It was a beautiful acknowledgement of the work we’d done and the award itself is lovely and I’m very, very happy that we got it.

Once that became successful for you was your label on your back to repeat that formula?

There wasn’t the pressure to repeat the formula but they wanted us to do something that people could hold on to. They didn’t say to us not to do another Cult Of Personality but they wanted something people could connect with.

There’s still three of the four original members that made Vivid in the band 30 years later. What is it about you that has kept you together for so long?

I think that we have a unique thing to say and I don’t think we can say it anywhere other than here. It’s a place where our ideas about the world converge. All four of us, five of us really including Muzz, all come from a particular background that speaks directly to where the music is.

Do you still see Muzz Skillings, your original bassist?

I do. I just spoke to him last week.

Has he made any guest appearances at any of your anniversary shows?

He’s doing his own thing now. We hold out hope but he won’t be playing anything on this particular tour.

Doug Wimbish has been with you now for 27 years. What do you feel that Doug has brought to the band?

His energy is slightly different to Muzzy’s. He had a very forward-thinking experimental thing that was a great infusion into the band.

It’s now been two years since your last album, Shade, came out. How far down the line are you with writing the follow up?

We’re talking about trying to get into the studio at the beginning of next year. Sometimes we write when an idea comes along and sometimes, we get inspired in the studio so our ideas come from different places but we hope to get a new record out sometime next year.

Living Colour’s UK Tour starts on 23rd July in Glasgow.

Interview and Live Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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  1. I certainly love LC and the RHCP, but as far as breaking ground, P. Funk (mentioned by Corey) and Mother’s Finest preceded these guys by 15 to 20 years. It’s not like it was poof, out of nowhere there was Living Colour. (And to reiterate, the Colour were one of my very favorite bands of the 80s.)

  2. I discovered the original band on Youtube and I really liked their spontaneity. Also in their texts one finds truths. I also appreciate her new formation and her style change. Especially the video “Who Shot ya?

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