John Corabi On Life With Mötley Crüe, The History Of ‘Motley ‘94’ & Touring Australia

Most hard rock and metal fans would be familiar with John Corabi. The long list of bands on his CV include The Scream, ESP, Union RATT and, currently, Dead Daisies. Corabi first came to prominence though, for his work with Mötley Crüe when he replaced Vince Neil as lead singer for 1994’s self-titled album, aptly renamed, Mötley ’94. While the album never took off, it gave Corabi a lasting legacy within the band, one of which he was able to springboard off, with the multitude of projects he’s worked on ever since.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the record, Corabi is on his first ever solo tour of Australia to perform Mötley ’94 in its entirety. Always charismatic and never dull, Corabi is a busy and restless man.

During the interview with Music Feeds, Corabi was candidly honest about his history with Mötley Crüe, establishing himself as a solo artist and dishes on new music in the woodworks.

Music Feeds: Apart from the fact that it’s the 25th anniversary of the album what is the significance of doing a memorial tour for Mötley ’94?

John Corabi: Well to be honest, I was doing it for the 20th anniversary and I hadn’t done it in a while, because I joined the Daisies. Danny from Silverback Touring basically requested it. I kind of stopped doing it because the reaction I was getting from the audience was great but they were a little bummed out I didn’t do any Scream or Union or the Daisies. So I just said I’m not going to do them anymore. That’s why I did the live record, that’s my tip of the hat to the record.

However, my agent called me and said, “they want you to come down to Australia to do 4 shows. All they want, what they specifically asked for, is the Mötley record.” So I was like, “OK, let’s do this.”

MF: You didn’t necessarily sound too excited about that?

JC: No it’s not that, it’s just that for me as a singer, it’s kind of difficult to do that record. I actually do the album, for tuning purposes, a half-step higher than the record so it’s a little bit of a challenge, vocally. If you listen to the record, I’m just going at full-tilt the whole time, on every song. More than anything, it’s not that I don’t like doing the record, it’s just that I’d rather do a whole retrospective of my entire career. I’m fine with it man, we’re gonna have a good time. I’m really excited to come down.

MF: There must be a market for playing a tribute show for Mötley ’94 though?

JC: Well I guess right now, it makes sense for me to come down and do the record. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Mötley record. Plus Mötley’s releasing a movie, The Dirt and I’m coming down 5 days later. So, from a Mötley point of view, it makes sense to do this.

MF: While this is your first ever solo tour of Australia, this isn’t your first time in Australia. You’ve come down with other bands. How do you find Australian audiences?

JC: Yeah, I’ve been there with Union, The Dead Daisies, RATT and ESP. I’ve been down there many times. It was great. When I came down with ESP, we did a DVD at a place called the Marquee Club in Sydney and we had a great turnout. It was awesome. I know a lot of bands ignore Australia but I’d love to make it a yearly thing.

I’m hoping that I can just establish John Corabi as a solo artist and then I can come back in the future when I have my new record, which I’m hoping to start in May. I would love to be able to come down on a semi-regular basis and build an audience. I love it down under. The fans are awesome, I’ve become friends with a lot of them. I’d like to visit your lovely beaches, once a year.

MF: Take me back to 1994. What was it like replacing Vince Neil as such a rock icon and trying to follow in the ultra-successful footsteps of Dr. Feelgood?

JC: I’m going to be honest here on several different fronts. I’m not saying I wasn’t a Mötley fan, I just wasn’t very familiar with their entire catalogue. If you go back and look at my music library, it’s all ’70s stuff. The stuff that I great up listening to was Zeppelin, The Beatles, Queen, Slade, Bad Company, Aerosmith, AC/DC.

A lot of the ’80s stuff, I just didn’t get it. When Mötley called me, I came down and we just jammed. I wasn’t really thinking whether I’d get the gig because I wasn’t pursuing it. It just kind of landed in my lap. And then when I was there, I didn’t overthink it. Replacing Vince Neil, the people that came to see our shows, came with an open mind.

The thing that was always awkward for me to deal with, being in a band with the 3 guys, was just how over-the-top they were with how they did things. When it comes to money I never really had money, I always tried to look for the deal. These guys were multi-millionaires at like 18/19/20 years old. I just came into this situation and was like, “why are we taking a helicopter to the gig. Why can’t we just take a car?” I didn’t understand a lot of it. That was the hardest part of being in Mötley Crüe, trying to blend in with the guys.

MF: You have been stated as saying that, “The album (Motley ’94) would have made it if this was under a different band name,” can you explain what you meant by that?

JC: Well we did wanna change the name. We were actually putting names in a hat. It was the people making an income off Mötley Crüe that talked us out of it. You have to look in hindsight, the record label just gave them a contract for 30 or 40 million dollars, as Mötley Crüe. The booking agent was getting them between a half a million and a million dollars a show as Mötley Crüe. Then there was the manager who got 10-15% off Mötley Crüe.

These people that were making an income off Mötley Crüe were like, “you can’t change the name. You’re gonna make one tenth of what you’ve been making.” It scared them more than it scared us. So we eventually caved and didn’t change the name. Then oddly enough, when the record didn’t sell well, they all said we should’ve changed the name. You can’t win.

MF: In saying that, it seems that Motley ’94 has slowly become a bit of an underground gem. Touring the album now, is this your way of bringing an under-appreciated album to a new generation of fans?

JC: I hope so. If it was up to me, I’d do a little bit of everything. It is the 25th Anniversary. The Mötley Crüe movie is coming out in a day or two. Danny (Silverback Touring) was looking at everything that was happening. Plus I think he’s a fan of the record as well. And you know what, it’s my first solo trip to Australia. When I do our last show I can tell the audience that they will have seen something that will never happen again.

MF: Changing tact a bit here, it sounds like you want to talk about some new music you’re recording in May, that you alluded to before?

JC: Yeh I’ve got a couple of songs I’ve worked on with record producer, Marti Frederiksen and I’ve got a tonne of riffs and it’s time. I’ve been working for the last three or four years with the Dead Daisies. We’ve done four albums and six or seven world tours. My son, is my drummer in my solo band, and he’s like, “Dad, when are we gonna play again?” Now I’ve got a year off from the Daisies and I wanna maximise it with my son.

This will be his first trip to Australia. I wanna come down and do these shows and come home, celebrate my birthday, get some much needed rest and relaxation and I wanna focus on new music. The idea is to at least have the album recorded and get out and do some shows starting August 1st.

John Corabi’s Australian tour kicks off this week. Dates and ticketing details are below.

John Corabi Australian Tour Dates

Thursday, 28th March

Crow Bar, Sydney

Tickets: Silverback Touring

Friday, 29th March

The Prince, Melbourne

Tickets: Silverback Touring

Saturday, 30th March

Crow Bar Black, Brisbane

Tickets: Silverback Touring

Sunday, 31st March

Enigma Bar, Adelaide

Tickets: Silverback Touring

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