New York-based band Living Colour got their start in the 1980s. They’ve toured all over the globe with bands such as The Rolling Stones, Bad Brains and many others.
Secret NYC caught up with Living Colour frontman Corey Glover while he performed on ShipRocked 2023 Cruise. He spoke candidly about growing up in Brooklyn, living in Newburg, his favorite spots in New York and much more.
Also find out why the singer wasn’t impressed with seeing an icon perform at The Apollo! Check out our interview with Corey Glover of Living Colour below:
You were born and raised in Crown Heights Brooklyn, can you talk about growing up in that neighborhood and how it shaped you as a musician?
That’s where it really started from. Walk from Eastern Parkway to Empire Boulevard and you can hear every type of music: salsa, soca, reggae, reggaeton. That was a thing about bands from New York City – it’s like they were rehearsing in their parents’ basement because that’s where they could. But walking around Crown Heights, you couldn’t not hear music. It’s just a part of it. And even when you left your neighborhood, on the subway – you could be in a concert anywhere, at any point in time.
I went to Julia Richmond High School on 68th Street on the East Side, so I had to take the train from Brooklyn into the city. And in that hour train ride, I got more of an education there than I did in school. The 4 and 5 trains are no joke. I took the train to Fulton St. Then 2 or the 5 trains all the way back to Flatbush and it was an education.
There was a point in time when if you wanted to go out in Brooklyn, you had to sit on a bus for an hour. You go from one neighborhood to the next neighborhood, and you see everything and you see everyone. You think the train is gonna do it to you, [Laughs] the bus will.
What was one of the first concerts you went to in New York?
One of the first concerts I saw was James Brown at the Apollo. I didn’t get it and hated it. He was screaming, he’s jumping up and down, he didn’t make any sense. I didn’t understand the words he was saying or whatever. Jump cut 30 years later and I do this for a living. But at the time I was like, ‘That’s this dumb.’ I was around nine or 10 years old.
My brother took me and James Brown was doing like three shows every day – an afternoon show and two evening shows. And we got to the third evening, at the second show and it smelled like ass in there because he was sweating all over the place. I just thought, “Why? What the hell? No.” I look back at it and go, what’s wrong with me?
Do you have a favorite venue in NYC to perform at?
CBGB every time. It was the dirtiest and the nastiest place in the world; I love that place.
The Chance in Poughkeepsie – I love that place. It’s old and rickety. You feel like you’re gonna fall through the floor in any second but you keep going.
Growing up in Brooklyn, what were your spots for good eats?
I don’t know if the spots are still there. Allan’s Bakery, and their currant rolls. I used to get the Easter buns after Easter [Laughs] because it was cheap and they were still soft. I had the patties, everything else was amazing. There was a doubles spot on Flatbush Avenue and Church Avenue, I can’t remember the name of it.
You no longer live in Brooklyn, you’re in Newburg, talk about that part of New York.
Newburg is slowly becoming like every place else in New York, unfortunately. Originally, they got pushed as far out as they possibly could and then Black folks realize this is really good. This is a good place to live, this is an amazing place to live. [In Newburg] these houses are some of the oldest in the country. I love this town, it’s got tons of history, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
What’s the music scene like in Newburg?
There used to be a lot of different kinds of music, there’s a big Latin community. There were bands and hip hop coming out of there as well because the living was so cheap. There’s a lot of talented people who were amazing because all of these folks, all of these kids from the church were doing incredible things. And then they’d move to Poughkeepsie or they’d move across the river to Beacon because that’s where everything was. Or they would just head on down in the city or head in to [New] Jersey and start performing with other folks.
Favorite spot for you in Newburg?
It’s a whiskey spot on Broadway. Everything’s on Broadway. Everything you want is on Broadway. Anything you don’t want is on Broadway too. [Laughs] Because sometimes I forget what year it is or what decade it is on Broadway in Newburg – it’s sometimes the land that time forgot. People are trying desperately to turn it into Brooklyn. They want to build a promenade and all kinds of stuff.
Can you talk about why gentrification is a thing that people, mostly native New Yorkers, are upset about? For example, you’re a person who was born and raised in Brooklyn and you’ve said you can no longer afford to live there.
You can say you’ve had a legacy of living and having something there. The way economies grow depending on where you are, all you have are the cultural touchstones that these places are. Harlem, you say the word “Harlem” and you know all about Harlem and what it is. You go to Harlem now, that ain’t it.
If you’re moving into that from Connecticut, Ohio or wherever it is you’re coming from and you don’t know what Harlem was. You don’t know where the Savoy Ballroom used to be. There was another ballroom on the corner, now turned into condos as well.
That idea of commerce versus culture is what you fight against the whole time. This idea that the neighborhood change negates the fact that these neighborhoods have a relevancy to the people who are from there. It’s a passed on legacy as if you own a house and you pass it on to your kids.
Crown Heights, parts of it are still true. It’s just too far from the city right now for them [transplants] right now. But the closer you get to Nostrand, you’re like, ‘That’s different.’
It’s just the amount that all this cultural and financial change is coming but only in specific places. It’s not affecting and it’s not changing for everybody. Some of these tenements are still there and there’s some highrise right next to it. They’re not doing anything for the tenements, but this gleaming thing that’s designed by some crazy architect is right next door. It’s a doorman building next to a tenement, I don’t get it. Who are you trying to let in and keep out?
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from growing up in Brooklyn?
Every day is an education. [Laughs] Every day, you can walk down the street and learn a whole lot about a lot of people. I was in high school and I decided to walk from 68th Street [in Manhattan]. I walked across the bridge and I walked through Brooklyn. I watched the neighborhoods change from where I went to school to the bridge, to Crown Heights. I recommend that to anybody: walk through your city; you’ll learn a lot, a whole lot more than driving past it.