Tuesday, 1 January 2013

CORKY LAING: The ongoing saga of the drummer, the academics, the opera and the ethics of genetics (Kolmas osa)

Corky Laing (pictured on the left with Gonzo grande fromage Rob Ayling) is a legendary drummer. He joined Mountain just after Woodstock, and has been playing with the seminal Canadian hard rock band on and off ever since. But he has also had a rich and varied  solo career, and - in a pattern which is beginning to seem familiar - is now involved in one of the most peculiar, demanding, challenging and certainly interesting projects of his career..

Now, this is very difficult to explain, so forgive me if - over the next few days - I give you a series of glimpses into this remarkable project. If you missed them, you can read Part One Here and Part Two Here.

JON: I wouldn’t have said it sounded heavy metal at all – I don’t know what it is, but it’s really good

CORKY: Heavy metal – yeah I’m having trouble with the heavy metal thing too.  I don’t know what that is, when you have the vocal octave divider etc., I don’t know, you know that’s interpretable. What do you think is heavy metal?   Is AC/DC heavy metal to you?

JON: I would have said AC/DC – I hate to categorise - is what in my day they used to call hard rock.  It’s what Mountain is, is hard rock, not what I would call heavy metal.

CORKY: Right.  Yeah that’s what Mountain was called.  Mountain was called the hard rock band of the time and there was really no other band like that except Cream and Hendrix in ’69. We were the first people to really say play it loud.  I say first people .. on the record. But the category thing I can’t stand actually, and I am starting to get fed up with art too, I don’t know what art is anymore. I used to like the mysticism of certain things, I like the unknowns and when you categorise things it’s because you’re trying to relate, and I think which should relate should be the content itself whatever it is.  You’re transformed by the sound, the binaural situation or visually you’re transformed and so yes I agree with you on the category so you know what, we’ll leave the description of the music out, because now oddly enough I am falling in love with some of the South African chanting thing that has the chants with the words on top – it is very hypnotic.  And to me I am trying to insert that little bit into the play at the end. 

The villain is the scientist doctor who fucks up everybody and never tells the truth and in the end he is basically crucified. And I thought the ending part should have the whole town doing this chant, scaring the shit out of him.  Building to the fact that everyone finds out one at a time so that’s still going on.  We’re working on that aspect right now.  

JON:  Well I’m very impressed with what I’ve heard so far.  It’s a very, very interesting idea. Are you going to be acting in it? Is your involvement as an actor, or as a musician or as both?

CORKY: Well they want me to do this one character, Luke who is a washed-up drunk who made a deal with the devil because he had to pay back his dope-dealing debts or his gambling debts, and he made a deal to be experimented on, but he’s a miserable guy with a miserable life and what happens is that by mistake they gave him another 60 years to live, in other words they extended his miserable life. I thought that was kind of a little bit of play there.  They wanted me to play it.  It starts off with him saying ‘Here I am, back in Happyville.  I’ve been travelling around with my guitar and my pills and I made a bad deal and I’m just going to off myself’, so basically right at the beginning of the opera you have this musician killing himself.  But the gods won’t take him because it’s all fucked up, you know the gods have it all structured who is dying and who is coming, and so he goes up to the terrace of the gods and they say ‘No, no, no Luke, we’re not ready for you yet.  You go back and find out what’s going on down there, because there’s something going on in this town – there is no praying.  They stopped praying’.  

I just come in – it’s kind of a nice thing – I’m commissioned to make an ambient musical background to it and of course as you can see from College Girls there’s a lot of fucking drumming here. I love the drums and you’re going to hear a lot of drums in this play and …

JON: I would hope so.  You’re a legendary drummer.  I would really not be pleased if I go out to see a Corky Laing project and find you playing harpsichord. 

CORKY: I do play a lovely harpsichord <laughs>   Well the thing is that yes, it’s a very challenging project for me and I’m really loving it – I’ve been back and forward to Finland like 10 times in the past year. But of course I’m doing some lecturing too which is a lot of fun. 

And there the interview ends. There will be more. Watch this space! 

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