Editor’s Note: It is pretty well documented that legendary drummer Corky Laing of Mountain should belong on the who’s who list of drumming in rock music history. After all, Mountain, along with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. On Record Store Day, Corky Laing is releasing “Pompeii: The Secret Sessions”, which will feature the singles “Knock Me Over” and “Growing Old With Rock & Roll”. In this special release on vinyl, “The Secret Sessions” will feature the likes of Andy Fraser of Free, Ian Hunter of Alice Cooper’s Band, Dickey Betts, and the legendary Eric Clapton. Fans can find Corky Laing at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Let’s talk about the release on Record Store Day entitled “Pompeii: The Lost Sessions”, what can fans expect from it?
Corky: First of all, thank you for having me, I’m enjoying this release, but to be honest I’m still learning about Record Store Day. I’ll be honest I don’t know much about Record Store Day, however, it’s catching on to be a big deal! It’s just amazing that after all of these years I get to release The Secret Sessions, it’s almost like the future is becoming the past again with Record Store Day. We are offering two songs digitally with the purchase of The Secret Sessions. I love the old school part of Record Store Day where people physically get the release of their favorite artists, it is just a really cool thing that is happening.
Madness To Creation: Tell us about some of the highlights from “Pompeii: The Secret Sessions”.
Corky: Tell you, there was no agenda when it came to this, we just wanted to make good music and have the freedom to do just that. It wasn’t about having the famous people on there, it was about the music. There wasn’t any particular record deal, it started, then it was dropped like a bad transmission. The quality and the performances on it were amazing due to the engineering work of Bobby and because of the punk movement of the late 1970’s, it got pushed off to the side. The president of Elektra wanted to put together a supergroup, I hate supergroups, Ian(Mott The Hoople) and I were faced with the challenge of writing songs that we loved and Ian wanted to make rock music and didn’t want to be known as a ballad writer. Then this “supergroup” idea came in, we got Andy Fraser of Free to come in and play bass, Lee Michaels played on the piano, and it was great! We also brought in Steve Hunter from Alice Cooper’s band to play. We wanted to make it about the freedom to perform, I didn’t want to play to a click track, I wanted to be in a group because that’s what I knew and that was what I was used to, although playing briefly with Meat Loaf and Peter Frampton was great to fill-in, but I wanted to be in a group. During that time, you were who you played with. Going to vinyl for me is going full circle.
Fans can expect so many collaborations with artists on here. Growing Old With Rock & Roll and Knock Me Over are the two main songs that we will be promoting off of the vinyl release. Knock Me Over is about having the industry being a bottleneck so to speak when it comes to the music, and how you really really have to stick your neck out there and stand out in order to blow people away sonically, vocally, and lyrically, it is what is missing from a lot of bands nowadays. Growing Old With Rock & Roll is about feeling young at 70 years old and still playing and making music and how rock & roll is in my soul. I’ve had so much coffee I can tell you for days about this project. It showcases many wonderful artists such as Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Andy Fraser of Free, whom I love as an artist and a songwriter, the drummer from Ted Nugent, and it’s about not who is on it but what comes through the microphone, that’s what I look for in songwriter.
Madness To Creation: What was some highlights working with Eric Clapton?
Corky: Long story short, I have a ton of memories with Eric Clapton. I first met Eric Clapton on Cream’s first tour in 1967 or 1968 and he was sitting alone at a hotel and he was pretty shy at the time and we decided to keep him company. He heard about this project and he came over and he wanted to play on the record, the Secret Sessions. When Eric dropped by Capricorn Studios, he asked if I needed help and when Eric Clapton comes to the studio where you’re working and asks for help, it is absolutely a no-brainer, he’s one of the all-time greats at what he does. We wrote “On My Way To Georgia” and while I was singing the track, he started playing rhythm guitar on it, the tones on his guitar were so amazing that it just went right through you like a knife. Then Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers came calling.
Madness To Creation: What were a couple of memories that you have with Dickey Betts on this record?
Corky: Dickey Betts heard about it as well and we weren’t sure if he would be able to play on the record, because the word on the street is that he takes days and days to come up with guitar parts and guitar solos because he is very slow about his playing because he wants it to be perfect. Dickey was such a kind gentleman and we got to learn a ton from each other and it was an honor playing with him. He came down from Macon, Georgia and he came in and played slide guitar and he absolutely killed it! Again, it wasn’t about the celebrity level but what comes in through that microphone, I don’t care if it’s some Joe off of the street, if he can play, then he can play. I was fortunate to have collaborated with Eric and Dickey.
Madness To Creation: What has blown you away about this project, I can’t help but sense your intense enthusiasm about it?
Corky: The fact that I’m getting interviews from sites like Madness To Creation on something that I helped created 50 years ago! *laughs* When John Sebastian came in on drums for “Silent Movie”, he was playing to a melody and harmonically, it blew me away! The idea behind this as well, picture an abandoned house in a village that looks like Pompeii and there is one light and one mic with everyone gathered around singing and making music in the middle of nowhere, it was such a beautiful feeling that probably won’t ever be captured again. Todd Rundgren’s work was also amazing, not only he is incredibly gifted when it comes to harmony, but he is incredibly gifted when it comes to pushing artists to sing notes and melodies that they didn’t think that they could reach. Everybody stepped out of their comfort zone to complete this record. Plus playing that music that comes from the body and soul, there is really no feeling like it.
Madness To Creation: What keeps you doing this?
Corky: First of all, what has kept me going was the positive energy and the spirit of making music and performing. When it comes to my drumming, I’m not a technician by any stretch of the imagination, I am a performer. I have always tried to make my music feel like a performance and feel as organic as possible because I believe that’s where the feeling in the music comes from is in the performance aspect and not from making sure every drum part, progression and time signature is absolutely perfect. Music is soul and I feel that the industry is screwed because there’s no emotion behind the music these days, I feel that we need to get back to that. I don’t want to judge it though. To play what you feel, when that happens, no one is going to get in your way, and we need to push the envelope as an artist. I may be 70 years old today, but I feel like I’m 17. I guess you could say that 70 is the new 17! *laughs*, and this has happened because I feel good, I’m fueled up on 17 cups of coffee and music makes people feel good, I love having an audience to perform for, whether there’s 20 people in the crowd or 20,000 people in the crowd, I get the same rush from it. I have great musicians that I play with now, I play with people that understand and get the era that I played in, and when that happens the soul and the emotions behind the music come out!
Madness To Creation: Tell us about the song “Knock Me Over”.
Corky: Here is the literal explanation of the song “Knock Me Over”. We have so many bands and so many recording artists out there that you need to make that song that is going to captivate an audience and simply blow people away so much that you knock people over. With this song, that’s what it was talking about, in the world of YouTube and all of these digital download formats, we wanted to make that song to capture that mindblowing feeling of hearing a song so wonderful that it knocks you over after you get done listening to the song, we were searching for that killer thing, which is in the vinyl package that will be released on Record Story Day on April 21st. The band is called Silver Paper, which is a very popular song from Mountain, and we have some shows coming up in June including a big show coming up in Long Island. We’ll play some new material, we’ll also play some Mountain songs, it’s been going quite well. “Knock Me Over” is a bonus track, with this package you have the past and you get a taste of the future. It’s all going back with the freedom to play and make music.
Madness To Creation: Anything else you would like to add in regards to this release?
Corky: We did play 25 shows as Corky Laing Plays Mountain, where we hit up west coast to east coast and even Canada for the tour and we do plan on doing some finishing touches as I fly out to Toledo next week. The audiences loved the shows, and for this run we want to play music off of this album as well as go through some Mountain material, tell you what the audiences loved it as we had no expectations, they love it when they get to hear some great rock music, it’s what keeps me young and keeps me playing drums everyday. I may be 70 but I feel like I’m 17. I’m looking forward to seeing audiences all over the country this summer and looking forward to seeing what people like you have to say about the record! Thank you for your time!
And there you have it! Corky Laing Plays Mountain has some dates coming up!
Saturday, April 28th- Patchogue Theatre in Patchogue, New York (w/Kofi Baker)
Sunday, April 29th- Patchogue Theatre in Patchogue, New York(w/Kofi Baker)
Tuesday, October 9th- 100th Club in London, United Kingdom
Wednesday, October 10th- Talking Heads in Southampton, United Kingdom
Thursday, October 11th- The Haven Club in Oxford, United Kingdom
Friday, October 12th- Moon On The Water in Cleethorpes, United Kingdom
Saturday, October 13th- Whitby Blues, Rhythm & Rock Festival, United Kingdom
Sunday, October 14th- Clitheroe Blues, Rhythm & Rock Festival, United Kingdom
Monday, October 15th- Robin 2 in Bilston, United Kingdom
For tickets and further information on any of the shows listed above, click here!