Living Colour Capture Spare Moments to Create New Album About Disillusionment
When they’re ready to make a new album, most bands write a bunch of material and practice it until their fingers bleed. Then they book studio time, hire a producer and track the songs. Living Colour aren’t most bands. Their fifth album, ‘The Chair in the Doorway’ was written during spontaneous on-the-road jams and recorded at various locations around the world.
“It wasn’t a hard record to make. It was just hard getting us all together so we could make it,” vocalist Corey Glover tells Noisecreep. “We solved that problem by going out and gigging. And if we were in a situation where we were playing constantly, what’s to stop us from going into the studio? So we reached a point where we went, ‘OK, we’ve got a couple days here, a couple days there. Let’s go into the studio and put some grooves down.’”
Just when they had finished enough songs for a new album, they had to leave for a tour of Europe. Rather than let their road commitment stall their creativity progress, they found a way to benefit from their hectic schedule, fine tuning songs during soundchecks and rehearsals. After the tour, they spent 10 days at an inexpensive but well-equipped studio in a town right outside of Prague and recorded much of the new album. Then, when they returned to the States, they entered a studio in Massachusetts for another three days to finish up the tracks.
“We discovered that the most work you have to do is the mental work of being present for something,” Glover says. “If you can do that, if you can get yourself to be there and be present with the people you’re working with — then the rest just comes together, because I love these guys. We’re brothers, and something magic happens when we get together.”
Once the music for ‘Chair in the Doorway’ was recorded, Glover sat down and did some soul searching to give the album a lyrical voice. While he had often addressed themes of racial discrimination and feelings of personal disenfranchisement, this time he wanted to deal with more universal subject matter.
“There’s a lot of disillusionment in these songs,” Glover says. “Sometimes you want to say, ‘Man, I’m just gonna pack it all in and start all over again. I’m gonna do something completely different.’ And then you wonder, ‘Well, how much will my life change if I do that? What will happen to me if I decide I’m not gonna do this shit anymore?’ Well, these days, a lot of people are being forced into that situation because of the economy. And that’s very confusing for them.”
Before Glover reunited with Living Colour, he starred for two years in a touring production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ so he hasn’t really faced the financial hardship he speaks of. However, he has many friends in the entertainment business and the professional world who have suddenly found themselves without work, and he empathizes with their plight.
“What if you went to school for years to become an engineer of some kind, and your whole world and your whole life was that, but all of a sudden circumstances decide you can’t do that anymore. So you have to change everything?” he posits. Now, everything you ever thought and dealt with in the whole world is now completely different, and your whole mindset and thought processes have to change now completely. You have to think differently and live differently. You might suddenly find yourself strapped for cash, working as a busboy at Chi-Chi’s and suddenly you see the world of excess around you. You see how much food people waste, and you think about decadence.”
The metaphor holds psychological weight for Glover. Though he’s loathe to admit it, there’s still a part of him that misses the immense success Living Colour enjoyed in their prime. And no matter how he tries to convince himself and us that “it lasted as long as it should have,” the reality of having slid from the top still colors his world, at least a little.
“I was once on top,” he admits. “I was the person that people envied. I was that person in decadence. There was so much s— to do it because I could do it. And now I can’t. And all the things I do to try to escape, all the things I do to try to make those [memories] less of an issue in my head, that’s what keeps me making music. And maybe that’s why we all still need this.”