Corey Glover of Living Colour: The Interview

Corey Glover Interview

Feature Photo by Rob Shotwell

Corey Glover has never been afraid to make a statement, not with Living Colour or as a solo artist. By his admission, if he could go back, he might have done some things differently, but regardless, his fearlessness as a musician, vocalist, and activist is second to none.

And that brings us to Sonic Universe, an utterly honestly, and wholly bombastic project that Glover formed alongside guitarist Mike Orlando of Adrenaline Mob, whom he met on the ShipRocked cruise, and whose first record, It Is What It Is, has lit a raging creative fire under Glover. “It’s definitely put a battery in my back,” Glover tells

“You know, Living Colour is going back into the studio pretty soon,” Glover reveals. “And this experience with Sonic Universe has put me in a mood to want to make a declarative statement there, too.”

The idea that Sonic Universe—a band with no track record but formidable chops—might impact Living Colour—a band that’s been around forever and has boatloads of musical and social expectations tied to it—is intriguing. Then again, it checks out, seeing as Glover has never been one to worry about expectations anyway. “My whole career has been about fucking expectations, like not dealing with people’s expectations,” he says. “So why would I do that now, you know?”

Fair point. Living Colour—and its anticipated follow-up to 2017’s Shade—aside, Glover has a job to do with Sonic Universe, though it might be tough to balance the two. But he’ll figure that out later, and surely, gaps in his schedule will open.

For now, Glover is just excited about the reception for It Is What It Is, a project that means a lot to not only him but Orlando, too. “As it stands down, you know, we’ve been doing press for the last two or three weeks,” Glover says. And it seems to be all positive at this point, you know?”

He continues, “I mean, not for nothing; it’s getting really good reviews, and I think people who are fresh to this idea are very much amenable to liking it. I can’t ask for much more than that. It’s been better than I could have expected, personally. It’s giving me as much joy as it possibly can.”

“And I just love what it’s doing for Mike Orlando’s career,” he beams. He deserves so much. In my opinion, he deserves so many kudos and accolades for everything that he does and for this record.”

He concludes, “As for what I’m gonna do next, Living Colour has got some stuff to do, so hopefully, in the fall, when I have some downtime, I’ll be doing more Sonic Universe.”

You’re known for Living Colour, obviously, but Sonic Universe is an entirely different animal. How did this project kick off?

I met [guitarist] Mike Rolando, on the ShipRocked cruise. I saw him play and was like, “Jesus, H. Christ, what an amazing guitar player.” I know a thing or two about guitar players, and he is one of the best I’ve ever seen. So, I immediately struck up a conversation and friendship with him on the boat, and we got together to write and see what we could do.

We went to his recording studio a couple of weeks after the cruise and started writing. And we started writing really good stuff, you know, the first one we wrote was “I Am,” and I just thought, “It’s my first day, but this is a really good thing; this is the amazing thing. And as we kept writing, it just felt better and better. We’re like, “We should do something with it.”

This is not something that we did just to put it on a shelf, and to see what we could do. And so, to Mike’s credit, he sought out somebody who could help us out. We got to deal earMUSIC, they were very excited about it, and we went from there. And here I am, talking to you about it now.

To your point, you’ve worked with some great guitarists over the years. But what is it about Mike that sets him apart?

It’s just watching him work; it’s so effortless. Some guitar players make a concerted effort to do everything they can to make noise out of this piece of wood. But with Mike, it’s second nature, like he’s a part of it. And his choices are always on the money. He’s, you know, contrary to popular belief, extremely focused, which I really appreciate.

Coming from where I come from in life, I wanted some of that to be evident in there. And he knows how to… he knows how to work with the rhythm. He’s an amazing guitar player, he’s got a great ear, and to that end, he’s a great engineer. His engineering and production chops are equally on par with his guitar chops. Again, I take my hat off to Mike Orland for making this thing work.

The title of the record, It Is What It Is, says a lot. But from your perspective, as far as lyrics go, what themes started to crop up for you as you were writing this record?

You know, we set a precedent with the first song [“I Am”]. And basically, that song was just to say, “You paid us very little to no attention. We’re still here.” You know, say what you want about me and my proficiency as a singer, songwriter, and performer, but sometimes, I’m kind of like an afterthought in people’s minds. And I think it’s the same Mike, too.

And so, “I Am” was designed to give a declarative statement: “We are here. We are not to be fucked with, and whether you think about us or not, you’re going to hear us.” And the rest of the record is sort of like defined by that one song. Everything else is sort of an affirmation on that theme, you know?

Like, with “Higher,” it’s really just saying, “You have the ability to go above and beyond which way you are right now. Even if you feel like you’re on top, you can go higher than that.” It felt like we were really trying, I mean, I think we’re trying to be as positive as we possibly could and put out a very positive message through this music.

I liked that you’re making declarative statements. That’s important, because these days, there’s a lot of watering down in music, especially from a lyrical and thematic perspective.

I agree. You know, I think that most people tend to want to be dour when it comes to music and be very angry. And I’m not gonna lie to you, I can be, and have been pissed about a lot of stuff, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t find the good in anything. That’s what I’ve tried to do, which is very personal.

I don’t have to be specific. Living Colour is a little more specific about what’s on our minds and what’s bothering us. But this one is a little more internal in terms of the world going to hell in a handbasket. Part of it is because you feel so bad about yourself. What do you do about it? How do you find a way to find a positive?

To use a painting analogy, it’s kinda like rather than creating something defined, you’re working in a more abstract context. 

I think you’re absolutely right. And I think that’s an interesting space to be in.

And I think a lot of people do have expectations of you, which are obviously based on Living Colour. It must be refreshing to step outside of that.

You know, it’s a different kind of headspace to be in when you’re trying to find the good in people, and trying to be as operational and positive as you possibly can. And that’s what we’re really trying to do.

Interesting. What also stands out is how great this record sounds. Did you have a specific vision as far as sonics go?

Well, I wanted some bombast to it, and given Mike’s track record, I knew he could definitely deliver that. And there is a feel, a certain depth of modern music, because it’s in a digital space, you can widen the portrait as far as you can possibly go.

This one goes deep as opposed to wide, I think. And that’s what I really dig about Mike’s production, like, you can hear the bass, the drums, and the visceral feel. You feel the thump of the drums hitting, and where the riffs are, but it feels very sort of comfortable as far as listeners, and it doesn’t fatigue your ears.

Another important thing to note—and what you’ve told me about the importance of the statement only drives this home further—is that we live in a world where singles are king. It’s not the best landscape for full-length records, but this one seems like one that, to get it, you need to hear it end-to-end.

Yeah, I would want you to listen to the record in its totality. And that, as we said earlier, the singles that you hear are only a fact of what’s going on with the whole record. If you listen to the whole record, you’ll walk away from that experience with a little more lift to yourself, like a little uplift, I would hope. I would hope, though I don’t know if that’s gonna happen or not. But when I listened to it, I felt a little bit better about myself. Not because I’m on it, but because of what these songs are saying.

A lot of artists—especially veteran artists such as yourself—seem to be weary of releasing full albums, especially ones that have a statement like this. I like that you’re not afraid to do that, that you’re not giving up on albums, even in a climate where we’re full-length records aren’t always embraced like singles are.

You know, because of how I feel about working with Mike, there had to be a complete sense, as far as I’m concerned, you know, that you can listen to one song and go, “Wow, that’s really good,” and then move on to the next song. And if you do that, you’ll see that it’ll get better and better and better as you listen.

And when you’re doing it, when you’re dealing with a band that that has some sort of track record, there’s some expectations, too. There are no expectations with this. It’s new to you; it’s definitely new to me, so check it out. Check out the whole thing. And then, you can pick and choose the one thing that you want to listen to over and over.

If you could give your younger self a piece of advice based on what you’ve learned over the years, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to say what you need to say. Don’t make middle-of-the-road statements. Say it in a way that it can’t be anything other than exactly that. You don’t need to use any metaphors to make a statement.

Based on your career, you’ve never been afraid to say what you need to say, no?

Sometimes, I look back at some of the things that I said or did with Living Colour, and I go, “It could have been so much more forceful as to say what if we wanted to say. And I’m sure that given the amount of talent we have in the band, it would be received very well. I don’t think that any of the four of us would ever not give it our all.

I mean, we gave it our all, but the statements, for example, we put out a single called “Leave It Alone,” and if I had a chance to go back and do that over again, I would, and really sort of say exactly what it is I feel. I’ve tried to get there, personally, I tried to get there, I think it was last record [Shade], and it’s there. But I still think that we can say whatever we need to say a lot more forcefully than we’ve attempted.

Moving forward, how will you balance Sonic Universe with Living Colour?

Well, you know, I have to do what I can right now, but Living Colour is taking precedence because we’ve got lots more stuff to do. We have to make a record and that kind of stuff, but I do have breaks when it comes to my schedule with Living Colour. And in those gaps, I will be filling them with Sonic Universe.

Read More: Complete List Of Living Colour Albums And Discography

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