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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Union

Interviewed by Brian Angotti
Interview with John Corabi of Union From 2000


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

On the new album musically and lyrically it is easily seen Union has evolved. What was different in writing for this record compared to the first?
Usually when we go into write we don't go in with one set thing in mind, we just write. With the first record Bruce and I were politely shown the door with our previous bands. We weren't even sure if we'd get a record deal with the state of the music at that time and still kind of is. Basically we had just done a bunch of demos and tried to make them sound as great as we could because at that point Bruce and I used to laugh about it. Bruce would say that he loves this material and if he had to we would press them and sell them out of the trunk of his car. Without knowing if we were going to get a record deal we went through the whole demo process. With this album we had some ideas individually. Each guy would put idea done on a cassette recorder or whatever. We would get together to discuss and show each other our ideas. Once we had lock out rehearsals and started putting songs together we sat down with our producer Bob Marlette and the five of us worked the songs out together. It was a lot of fun this way Bob is a very interesting guy. He is a really busy guy but he likes to make it fun and interesting for everybody. I didn't think I'd be able to top the fun Bruce and I had on the first album but Bob is a really easy guy to work with even when you make a mistake he'll let you know but in a manner where you are not intimidated so that your self confidence isn't cut off at the knees. It was a very enjoyable experience.
MSJ: The first album was released on Mayhem and the new one is on Spitfire. Why the label change?
We really didn't have a choice - Mayhem went belly up. Three months into our deal our record came out and we sold a lot of records for an independent label, us being a new band starting out again. Unfortunately we shot all of our money in the first three months and they really didn't know what to do. The things that needed to be done required money and with them being a privately owned label they didn't have the means. To be perfectly frank they weren't paying their bills they and weren't coming to the table. They just didn't have the money. Actually a majority of the people of the people are at Spitfire. We are working with a lot of the same people again but it is now a big corporation and yet still an independent label from Europe. I'm not one hundred percent sure but I think Intel computers has some invested interest with the company. So this time around we won't have the same problem.
MSJ: Any plans to tour this summer, maybe as a package with other bands, such as the successful Poison tour?
I'd love to but unfortunately Bruce and I fall into this weird gap. Where you see those packages tours go out like Poison and L.A. Guns thing they are considered... I hate labels with a passion but a lot of those are eighties bands and we don't fit into that. Bruce and I to a degree still have that eighties tag to our name so a lot of the new bands look at the baggage of our previous bands and the old bands don't want us because we don't fit onto the bill. We are cruising up the middle but whatever is cool we still have fun on tour. We all understand that this is a new band and everything will take patience and persistence. We are just going to keep knocking away. We are going to be like those roaches you just can't get rid of.
MSJ: You and Bruce Kulick were in Kiss and Motley Crue respectively... do you get frustrated when people say "formally of"?
To a degree it has opened a lot of doors for us because we do have a history even though we are a new band. So it has made some things easier but I can't stand it because a lot of the people who talk to me will ask like it Tommy Lee really that big. That was five years ago and I really don't talk with those guys that much. If they want to know about Motley Crue ask Motley Crue I'm not in the band anymore. That part of it bugs me because I want Union to be able to stand on its own merit. I guess it is a good thing and a bad thing.
MSJ: You've worked with a lot of musicians. Is there anyone else you'd like to work with?
I just like music so I'd like to write with anybody. Obviously I respect Jimmy Page, Steven Tyler, and Paul McCartney and would love to work with guys like that. Not only do I think we could write some really great music but it would be a treat for me because I'm a fan. I like writing with different people. I'm not saying that Bruce isn't great at what he does because he's awesome. For me personally it's interesting to write with someone new because you get comfortable with one person and you know when that person is going to take a left, where when you are writing with someone new they don't always take the left. Recently I've talked to Mike Inez from Alice In Chains. We were in Las Vegas together and he has a new studio and wants to get together and write. Also Marti Fredricksen who has written a bunch of stuff with Aerosmith said he'd like to write. I'm up for all of it...come on let's go...I don't give a care lets do it. Who says it is in the rulebook that I have to write all my songs with Bruce, James, or Brent. I don't care what Union records if it is a good song. Like if Bruce was to write a song with Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons, I'd record it. I have no ego that way at all. In fact "Empty Soul" on our last record was written by many people. Curt started writing it with two other guys and I heard it and thought it was great. I thought it could go one way and Bruce thought it could go another. We all got to get out and put our two cents in and came up with "Empty Soul".
MSJ: How did the whole ESP (Eric Singer Project) come about?
That was from a Kiss convention. Bruce and Eric do a lot of the Kiss conventions and I happened to be with Bruce a couple of times hyping Union. We were asked to jam for a little bit. So we put together songs that we knew everyone would know like "Tush", "Honky Tonk Woman", and a bunch of Kiss songs. Everyone loved it, so Keith had this idea. He said he'd give us some money and wanted us to pick someone songs and record them. The idea was to put the album out over the Internet for the Kiss fans. This guy who runs a Japanese label got a copy of it somehow and he wanted to release it there so they bought the rights and released it there. This album that was only supposed to be available over the Internet is now available any where in the world now. It was a lot of fun we would sit around and have a glass of wine while we recorded the album. We would play the Humble Pie tune and Eric would tell us how when he was thirteen or fourteen and he got this Smokin Humble Pie album and he would tell us his story and then I had a story about when I went to see Humble Pie. It was a lot of fun.... it was a lot of reminiscing.... it was to be none other than a good time had by all. It is actually growing into this whole other entity.
MSJ: What are you listening to these days?
A lot of people ask me this question. People would actually be surprised by how many different types of music I do listen to. Right now I'm really into that last Black Crowes record. I had it for awhile and pulled it out again. That record is amazing I can't believe it didn't sell. I was just told that the other day and could be a rumor but they got it from the record label. I just dig the Black Crowes; so anything they've done I've bought and thought it was cool. Each record had it's own personality or element and as far as being commercial and that could be played on the radio. The first two records were great but this one is the most commercial but still a great record. The song "Horse Head" just kicks. I have also been listening to Fuel and these friends of mine Laidlaw. Laidlaw is out right now with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top. They are a cool bluesy southern rock band and they are all buds, so I've been listening to that. I have everything from Sadé to Jamiroquai and punk stuff. My son is into Limp Bizkit and a lot of different punk bands. I'll listen to anything as long as it is good.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended?
The other day I went to see Sofa King. The last big concert I went to I believe was Motley Crue and the Scorpions at the Universal Amphitheater.
MSJ: Was it weird to be on the other end of that show?
It was funny because Nikki and I settled our differences. We're actually cool with each other...it isn't like we talk to each other like we used to. What happened was Nikki called Bruce and mentioned that he wanted to chat and told Bruce that he missed me. So I thought all right...I'll give him a call and he invited me to the show. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to go because I didn't want to sit in the audience and have a bunch of the fans that were there to see them or that knew me from the band go "so what's up with the lawsuit man...what happened". Nikki understood that so it was very cool. They gave me tickets and backstage passes. I went backstage and said hi and everybody was happy and cool. Then I watched them from the side of the stage.
MSJ: With that in mind, would you ever work with Crue again?
There has been some rumbling about me lately jamming with a couple of bands. There has been some rumors that Van Halen's lawyer was trying to get in touch with my management after Gary left or was asked to leave what ever happened there. There also has been some rumblings that I'd possibly get a phone call from Ratt. To be honest I would write with Van Halen, Ratt, or Motley Crue but to physically join another band where I would be filling someone else's shoes, I don't think I'd ever to that again.
MSJ: It seems that the fans are so set in their ways when it comes to the original line-ups. In my opinion, the Motley album you played on was probably one of their best musically.
I just told someone yesterday that I'm extremely proud of that record and still listen to it occasionally. Everyone came to the table as far as the writing went and even with everyone's playing. I'll say it flat out, Tommy Lee was a monster on that record. Tommy was always an unbelievable drummer but turned it up a few notches on that record. It is really difficult to be involved in that. I got a ton of support from the fans and magazines in the very beginning. Then when it didn't work the fans that supported me through the whole thing were still there. Now the fans still support Motley, but me, as well. I got a lot of the blame from the media. Motley's first bad album... what's different... the new guy. It was kind of a weird thing for me to have to hear almost on a daily basis that in a lot of people's eyes I was to blame for the record not doing well. So I don't think I'd want to do that to myself again.
MSJ: What do you think will be the next big thing musically?
I don't know because I really don't care. That is one of the many things that bugs me about the music industry. I can't stand the fact that whatever the next big thing it means that Korn and Limp Bizkit are out dated. That is going to mean that Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, And Pearl Jam are that much more out dated. It makes all the bands like Poison, Winger, Motley Crue, and Scorpions all them and makes them golden oldies. I don't understand that whole theory or concept of why everything has to be passé just because something new came along. That shouldn't mean anything if a band can continue to play and write and kick. Why shouldn't they be allowed to? I'm not saying I was old enough to go to Woodstock, because I wasn't, but when you see something like Woodstock that has become a historic concert. You had three days of different artists and types of music and people then could appreciate different types of music. You have the Rolling Stones who started in like nineteen sixty-five, and here we are thirty years later and they are still playing music ... still doing their thing. It just bothers me that today we are so quick now days to say I'm done listening to that because this is the next big thing. Why? Because MTV, magazines, and the radio said it was. Hence the lyrics to "Do Your Own Thing" or "Who Do You Think You Are". It is just music enjoy it all!
MSJ: What is your funniest Spinal Tap moment?
There are so many of them. One thing I can say is that it doesn't matter if you are in a huge band or a brand new band just starting out everyday is Spinal Tap. I would have to say the funniest thing I've ever seen and just completely blew me away was when I was in The Scream. We had this guitar tech that came out with us on tour. While in Florida we met these girls and everyone would tell us to stay away from them because they were really young. Our guitar tech, being the nitwit he was, invited them to come our next gig. They go to the next city and get a hotel room. Mike, our guitar tech, had been drinking all night. He decides to stay in the room with the girls. An hour later there is a knock at my door. When I open the door Mike is standing there completely white as ghost. He's like, "dude you have to check this out". We went into the girls' room and the two girls were out cold. Mike was telling me that he didn't sleep with the tall one but he did with the smaller chick. I don't know how he did it but the girl was wearing a skirt, black stocking that you can't see through, and high heels. So he slept with this chick... and after she was all done she put her leg up and turned it and took one leg off and sat it beside the bed. She then did the same thing to her other leg. I am just standing there staring at these two legs up against the bed and I can't believe that just happened. We would make fun of him through out the whole tour about that. Telling him he'd have splinters. He was kind of buzzed, but had no idea when he was with this chick. He was doing things and I don't know how he didn't notice, and he doesn't know how he didn't notice.
MSJ: When does the Union tour start?
Hopefully by March fifteenth with a few dates before that.
 
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