INTERVIEW WITH JOHN CORABI
By Sally Steele
It has been awhile since I have interviewed John Corabi who is currently fronting The Dead Daises. And with the incredible show coming up with The Dead Daises and Hookers and Blow at the Fremont Country Club September 12th, it was a perfect time to catch up with John! The All Star power line-up of THE DEAD DAISES is Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake), Deen Castronovo (Journey) David Lowy and of course John Corabi (Motley Crue, Ratt) John is always so cool and was currently in Europe for our early/late night phone interview and it was a pleasure to speak with him at what I consider a historic and eye opening interview!
Sally Steele(VR): Hey John where are you in Europe right now?”
John Corabi:” I am in Prague, Slovakia. We actually had a day off yesterday. We bopped around Prague a little bit. Went and got some dinner. Just chilled out which was definitely needed.
Sally: “Cool- It’s great to speak to you again.”
JC: We did an interview before, was it for this record?
VR: No, I only remember meeting you at Vamp’d, here in Vegas. Mori gave me your cell number but I already had it.”
JC: I think we did an interview too. I definitely met you and what did we do the interview for? I can’t remember. I thought we chatted for nothing crazy long. Like twenty minutes, thirty minutes. I think we did do an interview. A year ago, or something like that.
VR: Could be. 14 years of a print magazine about killed me. Yeah, it is all a blur.
JC: 14 for you and about 40 for me. I remember doing the interview I just don’t remember what it was about.
VR: The Dead Daises are coming to Las Vegas. We are all really excited about that.
JC: It is going to be a good time. To be honest with you I don’t know where we are playing. Vamp’d again?
VR: No, the Fremont Country Club downtown. Kinda a little different place than Vamp’d. I am looking forward to it. I’ve heard your CD. That CD just blows me away. The power, it just rocks. One of my favorite CDs right now, of any new record.
JC: Thank you
VR: So, you are in Europe right now. Who are you on tour with?
JC: Actually, we have had only a couple of shows where we had an opening act. We are doing this thing now called “Daisyland”. Basically. Its been pretty cool. There is no opening act. Normally after shows we do a meet and greet. This year we decided to do something different. Basically, we go early to the gig and we have all of this like a little acoustic set up on the floor of the venue. We invite fans to come early and kinda do a mingling thing. Take photos with them. Hang out. Sign some stuff. And then play ½ hour acoustic set. 20 minutes. Something like that. Acoustic thing. Then hang with them some more. Give them some posters. Then we go on stage and play two hours with no opening act. It has been …we tried it over here. It has been awesome. We had a really great time. We like doing the acoustic thing. I don’t know if we will do it in America because we are taking Dizzy Reed out with us with Hookers and Blow. That will be a lot of fun anyway. Dizzy was obviously with us. With The Dead Daisies. And then I used to play with, on occasion, Dizzy used to call me up and ask me to play guitar with those guys. I guess you could say I am a Hookers and Blow alumni.
VR: Alex Grossi is in that band. He lives here in Vegas. Is he still in the band?
JC: I know that Johnny Kelly is playing drums. From Type O and Danzig. I know Johnny from the Motley tour because Type O Negative opened for us. Robbie Crane on bass who I spent eight years with in RATT. So, it is going to be a blast. Bunch of old friends getting together, jamming, playing pranks on each other. It will be a party every night.
VR: Kinda off the subject but what do you think of the new RATT line up. Have you heard some things? I know you were with them for a while.
JC: I’m not talking negative about them. More power to Steve and Juan if that is what they want to do. I just personally, I just wish that Juan, Steven, Juan, Bobby could just get their head out their as**es and put their bullsh*t, and their egos aside and just go out and play for the fans. It is kinda well documented even Motley, who weren’t the greatest of friends when they were on tour, a lot of the time, but they made it work. Steven and Juan, they want to go out and play. They deserve it. Steven and Juan have been there from the beginning. They were apart of making RATT what it was. But for the life of me …I was in that band and I know one of the reasons I left the band, at the time that I left, the night they got a record deal is the night that I told them I quit. I could not imagine being in a room with all those guys trying to get a record done. When I saw how much they argued with each other trying to get through a rehearsal. I wish they would just …honestly, just go out and play the songs people want to hear and wear a smile on your face. Two hours. How hard is that? For the fans. Put as many of the original members together. Who cares who owns the name. Just hash it out and play. You’ll play bigger places, make more money. They’ll have more fans come because they are happy. It’s become a joke now. I hate to say it …without Warren DeMartini and now Carlos. Carlos has been there since I left. I left in ’08. He has been there 10 years. Get Bobby, Juan, Warren and Stephen, get Carlos back again, and go out and tour. Have fun and just make it work.
VR: I agree. You get along with the guys in The Dead Daisies is all that matters now.
JC: I mean, again, I hate talking ill about anybody. From my perspective I was a huge RATT fan. I have worked with them, I saw them as a fan. I just wish they could work all of their bullsh*t out. And go out and play music. It’s not that hard. Poison does it. Motley did it. Somehow figure it out.
VR: You mention Motley. I want to talk about The Dead Daisies, but I have a question personally. Did you ever meet Vince Neil? Did you ever talk? How was that?
JC: I have been in Vince’s company many, many, many times. When he come back to do “Generation Swine“record, I sat in Micky’s garage with him. Most of the record was recorded at Micky’s house. I sat with Vince many, many days. Sat there and talk to him about the situation. His daughter, my son. Talked about life. He’s a good dude. He’s always treated me really, really cool. I have run into him a few times. At different festivals, things like that. Always extended an olive branch. Invited me on his bus. We’ve had a drink together. Now he lives in Nashville, where I live, and I have run into him in Nashville. I get along with Vince fine. No issues at all.
VR: You would definitely would have a lot to talk about being the only front men for Motley Crue.
JC: He was the front man and I am very content being the asterisk next to his name.
VR:” [laught]Darn Wikipedia. Are you still friendly with the others? Do you talk to Nikki or any of the guys in Motley?
JC: To be honest with you the only ones I talk to is Mick and Vince. Not like I have Vince’s phone number and I just pick up the phone and call and invite him for dinner. If I run into him at a festival or something like that we sit down and have a cocktail. Actually, we did a photo with each other at this festival in Nashville. I got hired to play both nights. I did one night acoustically opening for Tom Keifer and one night I opened for Vince Neil. Then I went to Vince’s bus and we sat, and we talked about a lot of the fans think we hate each other. So, we took a photo and we posted it on his Instagram and I posted it on mine and we both wrote “Hey look who I ran into”. I talk to Vince and I’ll talk to Mick on occasion. I have reached out to Tommy, a few times, and Nikki and I don’t get anything back, so I decided I’m done.
VR: I read somewhere that Nikki was mad at you and you had no idea why.
JC: I don’t know what it was. Someone asked him about an album, and he started critiquing me. It wasn’t a nice critique either. It’s weird like you’ll see one interview with Nikki he says I hate that record, it was unfocused, Corbai couldn’t write. Then you’ll see another interview with Nikki in a month, two months later and he’ll say “Oh yeah I love that record. We were firing on all cylinders”.
VR: Did you read “The Dirt”?
JC: Yeah, I read it. I actually did a couple of days of interviews for it. I am in the book.
VR: Do you think they will mention you in the movie they are doing for Netflix?
JC: If I am in the movie I hope I am being played by Morgan Freeman. That would be awesome. Someone with a little Academy award expertise. I am incredibly good looking. I am incredibly talented, and I am an incredibly complex human being. And also, the fact that I am incredibly humble.
VR: You’ve got it all John! [laughs]. Looking back what has been the highlights of your music career and the low points of your music career?
JC: Honestly, I think Motley could be both. Obviously when I joined Motley, they were probably the biggest if not one the biggest bands in the world. Obviously, Guns ‘n Roses, U2, all of those bands were having massive careers at that point. Motley was right up there. They just come off doing “Dr Feelgood”. They sold 16 million records. Then they followed it up with the “Greatest Hits” thing, which sold another 2 or 3 million copies. They were massive. So, from me to go from, I don’t want to say obscurity. But The Scream was starting to pick up steam. To go from The Scream, which was doing well, but not Motley Crue well. So, to go from The Scream to that was a huge, huge thing for me. I had money in my bank account. I was able to go buy a new car. I didn’t do anything extravagant. I bought a new truck. I moved my family into a nicer neighborhood. Put my kids in a better school. That was great for me. Then 4 or 5 years later, I was out. I had to basically start over again. It was a life lesson. It was a cool lesson because I learned that a lot of the sh*t that goes along with the music industry is all kind of a facade. Its like the Wizard of Oz kinda thing. Everybody was calling me and asking me to go to parties. I had Gibson guitars. Like “Oh you’re great” “We love you” giving me free guitars. Like all of these companies just wanted to give you free guitars, amps, shoes, free clothing, jewelry. Then all of a sudden it was completely out of my control. It had nothing to do with talent or anything like that. They decided to bring Vince back. Then all of those people that were in my corner, inviting me to the parties, were all gone.
VR: Who told you that, did a manager call you up and say “Look Vince is coming back” or did Nikki call you?
JC: Well, we went to the studio. I lived about 10 minutes from Nikki. And we went to the studio after we had been working on the “Generation Swine” record a year, year and half. Something like that. I went to the studio and everybody was there, management and basically sat me down and said, “Hey look, sorry”. Doesn’t matter, in their words “We could have Paul McCartney sing for this band right now, the record label wants Vince Neil”.
VR: Who said that? Nikki or the management?
JC: The Manager. It doesn’t matter. We signed a deal with Electra. Which they did. They had signed a record deal with Electra for 40 or 50 million dollars guaranteed. Literally six months afterwards they basically called the label and said “We fired Vince. Or he quit or whatever. We got this new guy.” So, the record label kinda had a chip on their shoulder. Which I would too. You buy a car and say you want leather seats and you get cloth. Or vice versa. You’re gonna be pissed about it. You’ve spent 30 grand or 50 grand on this car and it’s not exactly how you wanted it. I understand it.
VR: Did they discover you because you were in Scream? How did they even find you to audition you?
JC: It was funny. Nikki had done an interview for a magazine. There was a picture of Nikki Sixx on the cover. He was wearing a cowboy hat. So, they did this thing with him. They were riding high on the Feelgood record. The touring. The decade of decadence. Somewhere in the interview the guy said: “What are you listening to nowadays Nikki? And he went on this long tangent about how awesome the Scream was. We were on the road and somebody gave me the magazine. Like dude you got to read this. Nikki Sixx is giving you guys props. I read the magazine and I was like “Holy Sh*t”. Nikki loves our band. So, we were touring through America. We had a show in LA. We got back to LA. The last show of that leg of the tour. We were going back out at some point. I picked up the phone and I kinda contacted a few people. I knew Doc Mcghee was managing the band. They had a falling out with Doc. His partner was now managing the band. So, I called the office and I just happen to say, “This is John Corabi, from The Scream.” And This girl answered, and I said, “This is John Corabi, from The Scream. I am just calling to thank Nikki Sixx for the plug in the magazine.” She was like “Can I get your number?” So, I left my number not thinking anyone would call back. I was just leaving a message, so I left my number. I was literally reaching for my bag and my stuff to walk out the door to go to sound check for our show that was in Orange County in LA. I was walking out the door and the phone rings. My wife answered, said “Hello”. Then she said, “Hey babe I think you should take this call”. I said “Get a number. I gotta go.” “No, I think you need to take this call.” So, I said “Hello” and it was Nikki and Tommy. They said, “Hey dude”. So, I started talking to them. Then they finally said “Hey listen. Got a question for ya. We haven’t made an announcement yet, but Vince is out of the band. And we would like you to come down.” This is a Friday. They asked me to come down on Monday and jam with them. I was like “Yeah. OK.” I went and did my gig. Monday, I went in and jammed with them. They asked me to come back Tuesday. I jammed with them again. We started writing. And they told me that night I was in.
VR: So, they really didn’t audition you. You just kinda hung out.
JC: They told me later, once I was in the band, they told me it was so weird. I always tell a lot of bands. You can have your talent, don’t take no for an answer. Keep plugging away but there is a bit of luck involved. Apparently, Tommy and Nikki told me that when I called, and the secretary answered the phone. I was just calling them to say thank you. But I called them, they were on the other line talking to Doug Thaylor, saying “We want to get ahold of that kid in The Scream. How do we get a hold of them? Does anybody have his number? We have no idea how to get ahold of him. Does he live in LA? We know nothing about him.” They were there.
VR: So they were In the office or on the phone?
JC: On the phone the exact same time I just happened to call and they were saying, “How do we get ahold of him?” Stephanie then ran into the office, “You’re never going to believe this, but he is on the other line!” They said, “Get his number.” So, they immediately called me right back.
VR; WOW! That was a great secretary! What a story!.
JC: Well they knew they were trying to figure it out and they couldn’t figure it out. But as soon as I said, “Hey it’s..my name is John Corabi. I’m in a band called Scream. I just want to call and thank him for the props he gave us in the magazine article.” She was like “Give me you number.” She ran in, gave the number to Doug and he says, “I have it”. He gave it to Tommy and Nikki. They called me within 10 minutes.
VR: Wow it is luck. The Universe works in strange ways.
JC: I was at the right place at the right time. That’s all it was.
VR: If they hadn’t been there she would have just said, “Oh thank you I’ll tell him that” and she would have never asked for you number. Amazing. Well you are definitely a part of rock history. You are making more rock history with The Dead Daisies. I mean you guys are great. What do you want people to know most about The Dead Daisies?
JC: Honestly, I can sum this whole thing up pretty quickly. You got a bunch of friends that are hangin out together, that are finally jamming with each other. I’ve known Marco 20 years. This lineup is going to be set. Obviously with Richard and Dizzy they had to go back with the G’NR thing. When I first got involved with this thing, I knew Brian Tichy for 20 years. I knew Dizzy for 20 years. I knew Marco for 20 years. Now we’ve got Deen, Doug, Marco.
VR: Why is Deen now in the band and Brian not in the band?
JC: Honestly, I think Brian wanted to focus on his solo stuff. Brian is so f*&kin talented I want to stab him in the neck with an ice cream scooper sometimes. As great as he is on drums he is that good on guitar. He’s a songwriter. He’s been talking about solo record. Honestly, I think he just wanted to be closer to home. So, what he is doing now allows him to go out and do his Bonzo Bashes. He can do his Randy Rhoads tribute. He can go a fill in with Steven Tyler and Don Felder. He was doing a lot of those shows last year. So, I think he can just hang out at home, with his wife and his daughters. He can record at home. Do whatever. I think that is what he wanted to do. Brian has always been a bit antsy. He just wanted to go home and work on the music. I wish him the best of luck. Enter Deen Castronovo. We didn’t miss a beat on the drumming thing. Deen is an incredible drummer. And now it’s weird like our backing vocals have never sounded better. Deen’s just a monster singer. So, it’s been great man.
VR: We are so excited for you to come here to Vegas. You’ve had a great career. And now doing it again with The Daises. Can’t wait to see you guys. I might be hosting or co-hosting so I will definitely be there for you guys that night. I think it’s September 12th. Anything else you want to say about the band?
JC: Well anybody that wants to check out tour dates..thedeaddaisies.com. Make sure you put “the” in there. Everything is there. Merch, tour dates, pictures, videos. Everything is going great. I am really lookin forward to gettin back and doing America again. The band is morphed from being an Australian band to an American band. So, I’m lookin forward to comin home and conquering our own country. Makin some noise there. No pun intended.
VR: Last question, if you had to do your music career all over again is there anything you would have done different?
JC: I think in a lot of ways I kinda screwed myself. I’ve become friends with different people in bands and different people I was working with in one capacity or another. Throughout my career. And I kinda screwed myself looking at the relationship as a friendship. I made decisions based on what I thought was a friendship. I learned a very valuable lesson..yes there may have been friendships there but at the end of the day what we do it’s a business. So basically I would have just ..if I could do it all over again..there’s a couple spots in my.. throughout my career where I would have maybe paid a little more attention to the fine print in some contracts. And just made sure that I had a lawyer read everything. I just basically looked at, and I am not insinuating about Motley or The Scream. I’m just saying in general. There have even been some companies I dealt with, whether it be Gibson or whoever, where I was “Oh I get along with that guy great. They would never do this to me.” “We’re friends. That guy loves me”. And then you find out later that you were looking at it as a friendship, I am looking at it as this: I didn’t cover my own a** a lot of times. You learn. That is what I tell a lot of bands. I was just sittin the other day here in Prague talking to a young band. I was like listen man it’s different but here is one thing I can tell ya, it’s a business. If you do this, you’ll be fine. Keep doin your own thing but remember one thing…read the small print. Get a lawyer. Make sure you don’t sign anything until you have a lawyer look at it. You see it every day. You see these bands that go “Yeah man we sold like all these records. But we didn’t make any money.” Then they go back and look at the contract and realize “Oh I signed all of my royalties away.” So just different things like that. You figure things out as you go. You make mistakes and try not to make them twice.
VR: You certainly have it all sorted out by now. Glad you are in another great band.
JC: If you see me on a street corner in Las Vegas with an open guitar case you know that I obviously made some more mistakes again.
VR: We won’t let that happen. But if you are I’ll make sure to throw a dollar in the case! [laughs]
JC: I appreciate that!
VR: Thanks John. See you September 12th. Keep rockin!
John: Thanks Sally!
Don’t miss THE DEAD DAISES show September 12th at the Fremont Country Club!
Get your Tickets here! https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1695948
Transcribed by Alzi Clayton