by Marija Brettle
– Columnist –
He is often called one of the most charismatic characters in rock, the last true great front-man of Rock ’n’ Roll to walk the stage. Warrior Soul front-man Kory Clarke is also an artist in his own right who is often misunderstood. He is one man revolution, with an unquenchable thirst for life and a perennial ‘fuck off’ for the ‘man’ and his corrupt system. But when you meet the man himself and have a privilege to get to know him better, he’ll try to convince you that he is just this regular Rock ’n’ Roll dude, who loves his music and loathes the politics.
Detroit born Clarke, took his band recently on his European tour to promote the bands upcoming studio record, Stiff Middle Finger. The tour will cover a great part of the UK and Ireland with the rest of Europe to follow in November. During this tour, we met with Kory at the Plan B in Nottingham, to discuss his new album, his Geffen experience, his anger and frustration at the injustices corrupt system, and why he is still a tireless rebel…
HARDROCK HAVEN: Hi Kory, great to see you back here in UK, and thanks for making time for this Interview.
Kory Clarke: Hi.
HRH: From what I heard and read lately, there seems to be a lot of energy in the band and I must say there is an obvious loyalty and respect for Warrior Soul from the British crowd. Look like you guys are having a real blast on this tour?
Kory: Oh yeah! I mean, it’s a miracle that I can still handle it and having a blast to! (Laughs) Man, I love it!
HRH: What is the best thing that’s happened to you during this tour so far?
Kory: I think being able to play the new material and having people really immediately respond to it! To being able to get back in touch with the crowd… the whole thing that I truly love with the passion. You know, it’s just great to be able to get back on the road… getting back with people who always love me, and meeting the new people. Meeting my fans, who had been incredibly supportive throughout the years. Like I said, it’s about the ability to do international shows. Great way to get drunk and fucked up, and making out with chicks and whatever next! (Laughs)
HRH: You are getting great reviews from the British press. One of the critics even compared you to the lion, saying; ‘With his lion-like mane and a trademark roar of a voice to match, Kory Clarke has a commanding stage presence!” How do you take these kinds of comments?
Kory: (Laughs) Really!? I just love to sing man! I am an artist, and I do what I do best! But that’s very kind, really! I think in the past I was concentrating a lot on physical activity whilst on stage. You know the visual side and stuff… Now, I am showing off my voice…range of voice…what I can do best. I came from the old school of rock, Iggy Pop and Mike Monroe, you know. I just like to be individual and come up with unique ways. Unique ways of delivering what I do and can do best. I am not really what you call the traditional kind of singer.
HRH: You are about to release your new record, Stiff Middle Finger. Could you please take us through the whole writing and creating process of the album?
Kory: With Stiff Middle Finger I tried to come up with some interesting lyrics that have never been done before. I sing about art, chicks and about New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and stuff. I also played drums on it. I think working on this record was really hard, because we did work in four countries. We also did some work in Sweden. We did a few tracks in the middle of the coldest winter in Stockholm. Then I was in Spain, and we did one track in Sheffield. Then I was doing a lot of vocals down in Malta. So it was all over the place to bring it all together. Well, we began recording in Sweden and we mixed it all in Barcelona.
HRH: In the past your songs were a reflection of your life, your anger and disappointment with the establishment. Are there any songs on this record about relationships, love and heartbreaks?
Kory: It’s all about standing the ground and Stiff Middle Finger is not about heartbreaks. You know, fuck heartbreaks! We got to fight this fucking battle, the injustice… get those fucking corporate goof’s out! I mean this is fucking important shit! I am one dude, standing against the world! (Laughs) I write songs that are in protest of corporate government that controls us. The track ‘Planetary Revolution’ is all about the revolution worldwide and the desperate needs to stop corporate government. ‘Occupy’ is a song about Occupy Movement Worldwide. ‘Wall Street’… it’s about human greed. Then there is ‘Junky Stripper’. You know, I was living in New York in Brooklyn… Anyway, this guy would come over and he would play some stuff on guitar, and I would say, “Ok, play that again and again”. So one day out of all those little pieces, I put together this song and his guitar is actually on it. You see, it’s heavy as fuck…that’s me on drugs again! (Laughs) ‘2012’ is just me having a go at everything I am pissed off.
HRH: Well, personally I love ‘Junky Stripper’! Love the lyrics and the stunning guitar riffs. Do you have any favorite songs?
Kory: Oh, fucking ‘Junky Striper’, come on… I love this song. It’s a fucking great song! I also like ‘Wall Street’. It really was about the guitar players…Hmmm, I can’t really talk about this right now? (Laughs)
HRH: What about “She’s Glaswegian” (from WS Destroy the War Machine album)? Is this song really about the girl from Glasgow?
Kory: Yes… it’s kind of about the girl and about the city of Glasgow. You know, I was up there six years ago. I don’t know what is, but there is something… some cool vibe about this city that I love. We just finished the show and we had those guys, just like hanging out with us. So in the morning we went to the bar. It was Sunday morning and this song just came in to my head. I just started singing and singing it… (he is singing) ”She’s Glaswegian, she’s a goer, She’s a girl and I think you oughta know her”. Then I sang that song for two years. (Laughs) So one day I told this guy; ‘We have to do this song. I want you to record this song for me’. The guy who produced for me, Sue Gere Gavarrois is also my co producer and mixing engineer. He placed bass on it and did co-production with me. So he helped me, but it’s my song! Yeah, my song, my lyrics!
HRH: So it’s about a real girl then?
Kory: Yes, it’s about this girl, a booking agent who happened to be one sexy chick! (Laughs) But then it’s also about the city Glasgow, you know like LA Woman is about LA.
HRH: What do you think about the rock music right now and the music market after the introduction of the digital music era and iTunes?
Kory: Oh man…what rock music!? Rock, it’s a dying art form and one of the last true jobs! You know, all those rock ‘n’ roll guys of Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles… all that‘s gone. We grow up in those 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, when the rock was a big thing. In those days, people took it more seriously. All that stuff, the music, the bands… the power of the words. The bands had a power to affect society, and the system. So… sure all those people in power don’t want strong men as a front-men, because front-men become leaders! They want people to be followers! So yeah, I always stand up for truth, and I am holding my ground firmly. (Laughs) Listen; if Beyonce gets you up, I don’t give a fuck… you can’t be hanging around with me! You will be hanging in a different circle. But the media that creates all this fucking shit around some people! Just the actual complete attention to certain celebrities is obviously a cover for the class that rule, so they can kick everyone off the ball!
HRH: In your songs, you’ve always been open about your views on politics, and highly opinionated about standing your ground against the politicians and government. Have you ever been in trouble?
Kory: Oh absolutely! I lost my entire fucking career because of my honesty and having the guts to stand up for what I believe in! I have problems with a lot of things… a lot of people in this world! I mean, people really truly misunderstood me. I am probably the most misunderstood rock artist in history! (Laughs)
HRH: By many, Warrior Soul could have been as big as Guns n’ Roses and Metallica if you wasn’t so hung up on politics and art. Do you agree?
Kory: It’s alright. I learn to live with it. I don’t care! I can’t make them understand my sense of humor or my sarcasm. (Laughs) But I have been definitely stripped off…you know… put into a corner and been discriminated.
HRH: Are you talking about the early Warrior Soul legal wrangling with Geffen?
Kory: (Laughs) Yeah. All the way back, before Warrior Soul’s first record was even released, I tried to get rid of Geffen. You know, it was all because I wanted my black guitar player, and they said to me; “You can’t have black guitar player!” I said “Fuck you!” so they said, “If you try to leave us right now, we’re gonna keep you ‘locked up’ for ten years and you won’t be able to release records!” All that fucking covering bullshit, just because they don’t want competition for their fucking bands!
HRH: Do you mean Guns ’n’ Roses?
Kory: Yeah, and I was that competition! I actually posed a threat to them. A big giant treat!
HRH: Well, according to them (Geffen), you were posing a threat to everybody involved?
Kory: You know what I said to them, “What did I say really? We are the government?!” What is that? Is that so political?! It is very simple. It’s all about the fact that I stand up for what I believe! I guess I was saying something that was scaring those people. (Laughs) They didn’t understand me really, so they bluntly blanked me out. Then when I said I wanna leave the label and stuff, they said they won’t let me leave because, hmm… To me that is anus, you know. I said, “Fuck you! You are ruining my whole concept!” So they had to promote the “Last Decade, Dead Century” and this woman from Geffen simply hated me! Yeah, she did hate me with a passion, really (Laughs). She thought I was trying too hard to be Axl! He fucking needs a new hairdo for a start! (Laughs) She was a fucking cow and I don’t fucking want to see her stupid face ever again! Look, if I ever see her one day I will spit right on her fucking face! They had to work pretty hard to fuck Warrior Soul! Yeah, they have to work hard to fuck up my career, my life! And you know what!? If I fucking start kicking and kicking and kicking that fucking door, one of these fucking days… them stupid fuckers are gonna open and I’m gonna come through! (Laughs). You know, who cares!
HRH: Back in the 90’s, I remember so well, you were one of those wild guys, who weren’t afraid to admit that you tried it all when it comes to ‘Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. I hear you are a new man these days?
Kory: I don’t know what you talking about! (Laughs) I mean, I don’t have sex with animals. Of course I still do things, meet chicks and whatever happens, happens! (Laughs) Well, I think Slash is the best guy to talk about this! He is this one great heterosexual guy, with this bad boy reputation.
HRH: Your creative versatility is clear. You have your new album, you write poetry and you sell your original artwork on Facebook. How did you get into painting?
Kory: I am an artist! I’ve always done this stuff. I mean, I’ve been writing poems and have done paintings for years, so I put some on the Facebook. People started buying it. So it all started really from there. I am moving more into painting and the spoken word.
HRH: When’s the album going to be release?
Kory: On October 22nd. That’s right, I am back on tour!
HRH: During the Warrior Soul heydays in the 80’s and 90’s, you did everything what you’d expect from a rock star those days. And like not so many bands you are still around and stronger than ever. What would be your advice to some new bands who aspire to be like you?
Kory: Just don’t do heroin man… and don’t expect to get a reach! If you wanna get laid just do it… have a blast. Create great stuff. Get yourself a good promoter. Don’t go for the first guy! Get yourself reputable promoters, or you’re gonna be faced with the facts. You’re gonna get ripped off and lose a lot of money. You’re gonna have to work real hard, if you wanna make it in this business. But would you wanna trade it for anything else? Probably not, because you’re never gonna experience all this…
HRH: From what we know, you are an amazing writer, brilliant singer and truly passionate about what you believe. Is there anything else we should know about the real Kory Clarke?
Kory: (Laughs). What you see is what you get baby! This is all me! I am this fucking rock ‘n’ roll dude, and the guy of the fucking Wednesday bar nights… doing shots, screaming and putting on the television… you know, that’s me. I fight, I laugh, I cry… I smash shit! But I also help kids; I am just one of those guys… one regular dude! (Laughs) I am basically a writer, I did this band as a bet! Then I got sucked into this thing.
HRH: Thank you Kory for making the time to speak to HARDROCK HAVEN. Hope you have a blast with the rest of this tour!
Photos appear courtesy of: Rose Kasiliki and Jadranka Jade (live pics.)