John Corabi of The Dead Daisies and Motley Crue fame has just released a new song, “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful).” It’s a classic pop-rock song musically inspired in part by “Penny Lane” of The Beatles and “Killer Queen” of Queen. It’s a song that showcases John‘s innate ability to combine great riffs and strong melodies.
Correspondent Robert Cavuoto spoke to John if other songs are written, if an entire album can be expected, and his rationale for departing from The Dead Daisies. Check out their conversation transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
I really enjoyed “Cosi Bella.” Is this a tease for a full album?
Things are different from when I first came into the music business. A very small handful of people are purchasing records and CDs, while the people who are downloading and streaming music are massive! When I set out to do this, I started recording an album with Marti Frederiksen. My manager sat me down and asked, why are you recording an album? Let’s look at releasing one song a month? I stopped and realized they were right because my acoustic record, “Live ’94,” and the majority of The Dead Daisies records sold were sold through Amazon, my website, The Dead Daisies website, or at the shows. I have a bunch of songs already recorded, and I’m going to release a song and a video every month for four or five months to let people know that John Corabi is back and still alive! [Laughing] I’m going to print vinyl and CDs, and they will be available at JohnCorabi.com, Amazon, as well as at the shows when I’m playing live again. Once they created a computer that could fit in your back pocket, hence the iPhone, it changed how people listened to and purchased music. The song “Cosi Bella” is kicking ass on streaming sites and on 200 playlists only after a week. I hired a PR firm to help me as I don’t understand that side of the business. Then my wife said, “That great, but are people downloading it?” I don’t know the answer! It made me think about what Gene Simmons of KISS was talking about that rock is dead; he was trying to explain that streaming is fine, but what people are forgetting is that all these bands like KISS make their money selling music. That fans will stream but won’t purchase. That is the disconnect for the industry. My whole career has been like this, so nothing changes for John Corabi! The reality is that I might not sell any records until I go on tour.
Do you think your fans will be surprised by the commercial sound of “Cosi Bella?”
Honestly, 99% of the fans love it. They said they would not have expected that from me, but it’s a cool happy little song. All through my career, I have always said I was influenced by The Beatles as #1, Led Zeppelin is #2, Aerosmith is #3, and a strong #4 is Queen. Maybe I didn’t release anything like this in the past, but for me, this isn’t much of a stretch.
It’s great to hear John Corabi doing what he loves to do.
I have more songs like this and songs that fit right in line with what people expected from me. I don’t have anything heavy per se. If left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have written an album like the Motley record. That was four guys working together, and that is what we came up with. The Scream and Union albums that bookended Motley‘s album weren’t that way at all. If you listen to the extra tracks on Motley‘s “Quaternary” CD or the bonus tracks they released, there is a song called “10,000 Miles,” which is very blues-based. My solo song from “Quaternary” called “Friends” is a tip of the hat to The Beatles. I wanted to release this one first to be more musical. I hate being pigeonholed musically into the bands I have been in. Those bands had formats, and we were confined to that. I’m just a dude who sits in a room alone, records songs, and develops them in the way I see fit. “Cosi Bella” is a product of that. That song was presented to The Dead Daisies, but in their defense, they didn’t quite hear the song the way I heard it in my head. The band only heard a phone recording of Marti and me scatting the melody lines with no lyrics. They all kind of cocked their heads and didn’t get it, so they passed on it.
What made you pursue the song this time around?
I went through all the recordings on my phone and the MP3s on my computer from over the years and found this idea that I loved. I called up Marti and told him I had this vision for this song with a late 60s-70s classic rock vibe that married “Penny Lane” with “Killer Queen.” As soon as I said it, he got it, and we did it. Marti is scary good; put him in a studio with a jar or edibles, and you will come out with some awesome shit. There hasn’t been a time where I came to Marti with an idea and left with a finished song.
How were you impacted by COVID?
Last year COVID made me rethink everything. I sat down, and I panicked. Ninety-five percent to ninety-eight percent of my income comes from touring. I was pissed at myself because with all the albums I have made, I never bothered to learn or ask a question about mixing and producing while sitting in a studio. If I learned how to do ProTools 10, 15, 20 years ago, I could be here putting songs out for people to download and making some money. I took a Zoom class on ProTools and bought myself some gear. I’m still a bit of a caveman with it, but I’m learning. I have been stockpiling ideas with Marti and on my own. I set up a workshop in a bedroom and recorded “Cosi Bella.” Marti is a huge part of it, as I would take it as far as I could and then get advice for him or sent it to him. I initially did the drums with keyboards on a MIDI track, but Marti wanted all the drums separated like all good producers do. He recut the drums, redid the bass to give it a McCarthy-feel, added horns, and added some fairy dust to sound like it was done by someone who knew what they were doing.
Since you live in Nashville, the new epicenter for musicians, will you have any special guests in high places appearing any on the tracks?
Dude, I’m in Nashville, so all my friends are in low places [laughing]. Honestly, I would like to. I recently ran into Billy Gibbons at a Guitar Center before Dusty‘s passing, and I reminded him that we met several times. I told him I wrote and recorded a blues tune and asked him if he would do the guitar solo. He said to send him the track. I’ve met Brian May a few times in the past and sent him an email asking what he would charge to do the to a solo. I’m sure he will get around to answering it in a few years from now [laughing]. I thought Brian would have killed it on “Cosi Bella” and far better than what I did. I tried to get a Brian May tone right after the first chorus going into the second verse. I had this plug-in on Protools called “1 May,” not “Brian May.” [Laughing] I put the plug-in on the solo I had recorded and was like, “Oh my God, there is his tone!” but ended up using it on that one part. I didn’t want to be too obvious with it.
Songs are written in different ways and when you are in different frames of mind. Do you find yourself creating something adequate one day than creating something really special the next?
I think everybody does. I think some of the best songs I have ever written just happened. Something magical happens, and the universe opens up to drop something in your lap. The song “Father, Mother, Son” from The Scream album is an example of that. I get so many positive emails about that tune; it resonates with people really well. I wrote “Sleep” off The Dead Daisies album “Revolución,” we never did it live, but a lot of people love that tune. Same with “Robin’s Song” from Union. I just grabbed a guitar, and the whole thing just came together. It was a gift from the universe. I believe the universe gives you gifts when you need them the most. Some songs are brilliant when they come together, while others I spend two years trying to come up with a chorus. There is no rhythm or reason for it.
Is there a particular frame of mind that you like to be in when writing?
I edit myself to a degree. I can sit here all day and write happy little tunes like “Cosi Bella,” but any good artist tries to balance it all out. There are a few songs on The Scream album that I would like to have a do-over with. I was in a different place and have grown. We are inundated daily with bad news, so it could be easy to write an album and call it Songs to Slit Your Wrist To. I try to balance it out and be well-rounded. If I wrote eight songs when I was in a good headspace and put them out when the world was feeling miserable, I’d look like a jerk-off. I always want the album to be balanced with songs about reality, loving my wife and kids, and here is a song about how incredibly good-looking and well-endowed I am [laughing].
What’s the name of that song?
I think we all need some uplifting music to get us through hard times and give us hope. Nobody wants to hear depressing music during a depressing time as it only makes you feel worse.
I’m very passionate about politics, but I will not share my views. I love Pearl Jam, and I went to see them in 1993 in Vancouver when we were working on the Motley Crue album. It was the time when the U.S. went to war in Iraq. Eddie Vedder went on political rants. I was like, holy fuck, if I wanted to hear that, I would have stayed home and turned on the news. Artists and actors have large platforms, so they want to make people aware, but there is a point when you are inundating them with your viewpoints as much as it may annoy me. They are entitled to do that as it’s their right. I love Alice Cooper, and he made mention to something of that nature; I’m paraphrasing, he said, “I never understood why artists are talking politics as you are only getting their viewpoints.” Artists are doing that because they have the right to do it. On any of my sites, there is nothing negative about any political party, person, or leader. I’m a firm believer that is why they have a curtain on a poll booth, as it is between you and your choice. If I’m having a conversation and someone asks me, I’ll share my perspective, but believe me, I’m not going to fall into the trap of posting it on social media. Sometimes I will go on and tell people to take a breath and hear the other person out before slinging insults. If you want to learn how screwed the state of the world is, you need to watch three documentaries/movies. Watch “Snowden” about Edward Snowden; it will make you release how powerful the phone in your back pocket is. The second is “The Social Dilemma.” It’s a scary documentary about all the developers responsible for creating Facebook, Google, Instagram, etc., which the entire world uses daily to view and look up things. It talks about how you are profiled, tracked and that information potentially be used against you. The third one is called “The Swamp,” which follows three Republican Congressmen, Matt Gaetz (FL), Thomas Massie (KY), and Ken Buck (CO), over the course of a pivotal year in politics as they work with President Trump to “drain the swamp.”
I was so disappointed when you and Marco Mendoza departed from the Dead Daisies. I thought the band was on fire with Burn it Down. There was such great chemistry and a clear musical groove. I felt the band was resonating on stage, and fans loved it. Can you share the rationale for your departure?
When I first got the offer to be in The Dead Daisies, I was on tour doing the 20th anniversary of the Motley album. I was setting myself up to do what I was doing now. Initially, I turned the offer down. Marco called me up and said to come to Los Angeles to meet everyone. When I realized Dizzy Reed, Brian Tichy, Richard Fortus, and David Lowy were in the band, I thought this could be a great band. I never worked with Marco but respected him as a musician. I listened to the music and thought it was great. The idea was that my band would help their band and vis versa. Once we did the “Revolución” album in 2015, things started to blossom, and we took off. We went on tour with KISS in Europe, then toured with Whitesnake, and did a bunch of solo dates. Then we were in the studio writing the next album and then back on tour again. The guys in my solo band, along with my son, who moved here from LA to be in a band with me, we’re like, when are we ever going to get out and play? One thing was devouring the other. We would do morning radio, morning TV, go back to the hotel to do press, then an acoustic promo performance, sound check, the two-hour show, and then a meet and greet after the show. Rinse and repeat the next day. Sometimes we were doing five to six shows a week. I was just fucking tired. I was with them in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 and we pretty much did an album every year along with massive touring. I felt that I just had to get off this thing. It was more brutal than I thought. I have no idea why Marco left the band. I’ve seen him since we left, but we never discussed it. It was an all-encompassing thing, and I just wanted a break. I got married in August 2014, and in February 2015, I was in the Daisies and was gone. I rarely saw my wife, my kids, and my grandkids. The Daisies understood my rationale, and we are all good friends and still talk. If they do the 10th anniversary for “Make Some Noise,” who knows, maybe I’ll get involved.