INTERVIEW WITH TORA TORA SINGER ANTHONY CORDER (PART 2 OF 2)
Date: January 29, 2019
Interviewer: Tyson Briden
HERE IS PART TWO OF THE TERRIFIC AND INFORMATIVE INTERVIEW I CONDUCTED WITH TORA TORA LEAD SINGER ANTHONY CORDER. AS WE ARE ABOUT TO BEGIN, SOMETHING OCCURRED TO ME. IT WAS THE FACT THAT I HAD NOT DONE A REVIEW OF THE BAND’S NEW ALBUM ‘BASTARDS OF BEALE’. THERE IS A REASON FOR THAT. I FELT IT WASN’T REALLY NECESSARY AS CORDER HAD DONE A GREAT JOB OF EXPLAINING MANY ELEMENTS OF THE ENTIRE RECORDING PROCESS AND EVERYTHING LEADING UP TO THE RELEASE. WHY BEAT SOMETHING TO DEATH IF IT IS NOT NECESSARY? WHAT I WILL SAY ABOUT THE ALBUM IS THIS, ONE WORD, “FANTASTIC”! NEED I SAY MORE?
Sleaze Roxx: So let’s talk about the new album, ‘Bastards of Beale’.
Anthony Corder: Oh yeah. This is awesome!
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve had a chance to have about three listens to it. It’s fantastic. It really is. The thing I notice about it is that you nailed the fact that all four releases by Tora Tora don’t sound anywhere to being the same.
Anthony Corder: Oh man. Thank you. We were really nervous man! It had been a long time for us. We were kind of thinking the same thing everybody else was thinking, “What is this going to be? What’s it going to sound like?” The first time that we got together, we were doing shows and one offs, but when we were going through material, we walked in and kind of hit a couple of chords man, I’m not kidding, I closed my eyes and I could smell stale beer and cigarettes. I was like, “Oh yeah. I remember this! This is going to be fun!” We did a lot of pre-production on this record where we wanted to go in and cut it as live as possible. We were on a budget two faux kind of. One, is just time ’cause I was going back and forth between the places and then the availability of everybody’s schedule was kind of crazy. Two, was just our budget overall. It was getting in and getting the stuff done that we needed to with the kind of budget restraints. We were so lucky. Patrick, our bass player, back in 2016 had been diagnosed with cancer and we had done a benefit show for him in Memphis. It actually got filmed and we did a DVD. We raised money for him.
I was completely blown away at this event man. I actually thought it was just going to be a few friends getting together and we’re going to be in this little bar somewhere, but man it turned into where people all over the industry sent things for us to auction off. I’m not kidding. They were sending memorabilia. They were sending all kinds of stuff. The next thing we knew, we were in a big room in Memphis. It was actually the place we just played this past visit. It’s called Minglewood Hall in mid-town. It was just amazing to seeing this outpouring of support for him personally and for us as a group of people. We’ve been friends for almost 30 years or at least 30 years. Keith and Patrick have known each other since they were eight years old. So they’ve known each other for a long time. It was just amazing to see that, but anyways to get around to the story, we had some people that came and would get up between acts.
We had a bunch of Memphis bands. Every Mother’s Nightmare, Todd [Poole] from Roxy Blue, Zack Myers from Shinedown came and played acoustic. We had Jeff Caughron and his wife Leslie. Anyways, it was all these different bands. We had a guy named Lance McDaniel that was playing the bass with us on the gig. Patrick was still kind of recovering. It was just a special day. In between all these acts, people would get up and say something about Patrick. They’d talk to the crowd. One of those guys was Jeff Powell. We’ve known him since the Ardent days. He was there doing his internships in his assistant engineer stuff and he assisted on ‘Wild America.’ We did that with John Hampton and Sir Arthur Payson, the guy that had done Ratt and Mitch Malloy. We were really wild by then. We had kind of went through ‘Surprise Attack’, it being a new experience, then we went on the road which we had never toured or anything.
By ‘Wild America’, we were good and seasoned. We kind of knew what was going on, so Jeff was the guy that once the session was over, he would have to stay there with us to make sure we didn’t touch anything, like recording over the masters or anything. He goes, “You know, here’s the volume knob and here’s play. You can’t touch anything else!” We would be in there and we’d stay in there. I know we drove him nuts. We’d stay in there overnight. We’d drink and listen to stuff over and over. Anyway, we’ve known him for 25 years. It was just the craziest thing. So he came and spoke at Patrick’s thing and a few months later, he wrote me out of the blue on Facebook. He messaged me. He was at Abbey Road. He had studied under Tom Dowd. He had learned a bunch of the recording techniques. He had gone over and been very successful winning Grammy’s and all kinds of stuff. He just wrote me out of the blue one day and he said, “Hey man, I’m working at Sam Phillips studio in Memphis and I’m cutting vinyl. I’ve got a machine and I’m cutting straight to vinyl.” He said, “Do you want to come cut a couple of singles with me?”
He didn’t know this, but at the time we were in negotiations with Frontiers. So I wrote him back and said, “You’re not going to believe this. We don’t want to come cut two songs ’cause we want to cut a whole record with you!” So that was at the end of 2017. We scheduled it out on his schedule. We just said, “Whenever you have time and whenever we have the songs ready, we’re gonna come and just knock this thing out!” For all of us being there and it being like family. Man, we’ve know each other forever. He knew our sound, he knew everything about us ’cause we were kids when we met. It just made it the most incredible experience. Honestly, I can’t put it into words how awesome it was. Not only was it in this historical place that had had everybody from Bob Dylan to freakin’ Robert Plant to people like Stax and all that, but it was the fact that we were in there together. It was all these years later. Twenty five years later and we’re standing there looking at each other going, ‘We’re fixing to cut the first track on our new record man! This is freakin’ awesome!” It was just incredible to get to share that with everybody.
This record was scary for us because we were wondering what the audience was gonna think. They still don’t know yet. They’re getting some sneak peaks! We’ve done “Rose of Jericho” and we dropped “Silence the Sirens.” Giving you kind of the first heads up on it, we just shot a video. Our third song is going to be “Son of a Prodigal Son.” We’re dropping it the day before we go on the Monsters of Rock Cruise. The record will be out on the 22nd of February. Then we get on the boat the 23rd and take off on the 24th. We’re super pumped about it. Doing the project was so fun. I’m not kidding. From a creative standpoint, we got in some different tunings, some weird creative things that were fun to do. Everybody contributed on all the writing. Keith even actually made a trip up here to Nashville. He spent a Saturday writing session with me up here, which was kind of fun. We tried to do the majority of everything in Memphis, but just to get a different vibe, he came and hung out with me for a minute. I tell you one thing too, getting acclimated to having technology and stuff was really awesome for us. We didn’t have all this a long time ago but we were taking videos of our chord progressions and sending them back and forth to each other. When we were on the road doing shows with each other, we could record each other in the hotel rooms doing the parts so that we could spend some time working on it. It is a lot different than how we used to have to scribble lyrics on a bar napkin, then come back home and try to figure out what the hell it said because it was all stained. It is a great, useful tool to have technology the way it is now.
Tora Tora‘s “Son of a Prodigal Son” video (from the Bastards of Beale album):
Subscribe here for more videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album BASTARDS OF BEALE. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/bastardsofbeale | L…
Sleaze Roxx: So in terms of the lyrical content, do you write most of those?
Anthony Corder: Yeah. I think something about community really resonated with me on this. The rock community in general is just incredible. They’re loyal as far as these friendships. Just doing this Monsters of Rock thing, people are talking about this a year out. They can’t wait to see each other and do this party again. It’s just amazing. I thought about our fans. Our personal fans that were in Memphis then. I know that was a retrospect thing. It’s probably an age thing for me, but I thought about them on this record. Then when we started backtracking all the people we had met. I mean all these different experiences flooding us. We just starting telling all these things that we had forgotten about. When we actually had time to start talking about it, the fans had a lot to do with the lyrics for this record. I was telling earlier that when I met John Corabi at this group of musicians. They were doing these tributes and they turned into Thee Rock N’ Roll Residency. I know you’ve heard of it! Now they’re backing up Gene [Simmons] and Ace [Frehley]. They’re super humble guys. They are freakin’ incredible musicians. I’m not kidding.
I thought about how they grew their audience here. They actually helped me find my tribe just by inviting me to that one thing five or six years ago. I’ve bumped into all these kick ass singers, musicians and I like my community man! The culture they created was us getting together and they would play all these really deep cuts of all these awesome heavy metal songs. Whenever they were in town, if they weren’t travelling, you went just to see what they were gonna pull out this time. What is this gonna be? Who’s the singer on this track? Every singer that you saw there you went, “Oh my God, you can’t any better than this dude!” Then the next guy would get up and you’d go, “Holy shit, this dude’s bad ass! I can’t believe this!” They brought people together to that to celebrate the music. I think that resonated on this record. Especially the very first track, it’s geared towards that image in my mind of thinking to the people of Memphis this and this community that was here in Nashville that kind of embraced me a little bit. Or I embraced it more than they embraced me. It just gave me a place where I felt like I belonged. I think that’s what music does for everybody. No matter what genre it is or what your following is, it gives us that sense of belonging. We’re getting this moment together and having this experience where we’re just constantly getting our face blown off! It’s like, “Dude, this is it! Man, this is awesome!”
Sleaze Roxx: My wife and I actually went to Thee Rock N’ Roll Resedency when we were in Nashville last May. I was familiar with it. I told her we had to go on Tuesday night. We got to experience it.
Anthony Corder: Oh, man. That is awesome
Sleaze Roxx: Everything you described was exactly as it is. They played a lot of obscure material. I don’t think my wife dug it as much as I did. She’s more into Top 40 stuff. The venue’s cool. It was just a cool experience. We’re going back to Nashville this June, so we’ll probably go again.
Anthony Corder: Yeah, we’ll have to catch up when you’re down here, but getting back to the record, something really cool lyric wise — the video we just shot, we actually went to the room where we shot “Walkin’ Shoes.”
Sleaze Roxx: No way?
Anthony Corder: Yeah, it’s still there. It’s Handy Hall on Beale Street.
Sleaze Roxx: What is it called?
Anthony Corder: Handy Hall. You know Handy the trumpet player that kicked off the blues in Memphis? I took my children there — my sons and stuff. I looked at them and said, “I was your age the last time I shot a video in here! This is crazy!” So we’ve come full circle. We shot the video in there and then we shot a portion of it in Sam Phillips Studio where we recorded the record. It was a surreal experience. Walking in there was so many emotions hitting you as you walk in. You think about, “After all this time, I get to walk back in this place and we’re gonna crank up and do a song!” We’re really looking forward to releasing this song. We can’t wait for them to hear it, but I just wanted to mention that ’cause I know it’s coming and I want people to be watching for it. It means something to us because we kind of went back to our roots again. We said, “We’re going back to where it all started!”
Tora Tora‘s “Walkin’ Shoes” video (from the Surprise Attack album):
tora tora – walkin’ shoes
So, now when you were talking about lyrics though. I don’t know man, a lot of them just flowed this time. I think it was just I had some things that I wanted to say and things that were around that I wanted to talk about. A lot of it, even “Son of a Prodigal Son”, there’s lyrics in there that are real things that happened. One of the lines talks about, “Walking through the cleansing fire!” When I was a little kid in Mississippi, somebody was burning leaves off. I walked over, saw it and thought it was beautiful. It was red and blue and orange. It was just glowing and everything. I thought it was so beautiful that I walked on it barefoot in the coals. Dude, I’m not kidding. This was so long ago when I was a little kid. This was when I was out in the country. They brought a block of ice and put it in the tub for me to put my feet on ’cause I burned my feet so bad. It was crazy. So I had these images for some of the lyrics that just boiled to the surface. I was kind of putting things together for this record. I guess the real take away is what I said earlier, “It was all the people that we had been exposed to and had experiences with that wrote this record!” We were thinking about the titles of the songs and all of them have meaning to us. People had a huge effect on us. You don’t realize how much you touch each other’s lives. It’s kind of weird. It may not even come to life as you’re meeting somebody. It may take time to go by that, then you go, “Wow, I didn’t recognize how much that affected me!” It’s in a good way.
I mean, we feel so fortunate and lucky that we’ve been afforded an opportunity to have a platform and a voice to talk to these people. We haven’t seen them in a long time, especially when Patrick was sick and he got the green light from his doctor. They said, “You’re cancer free. We got everything! All you’ve got to do is start coming back for your scans.” All he wanted to do was go see the fans. He said, “I want to go play!” We didn’t care about what venues it was, or where it was, we just wanted to go out and play some music. Now that we’re kind of at a point where — we had kind of stepped away to raise our families, but as our children are big enough now where we can kind of sneak off and do some dates. We’re not cool anymore and they have their own agendas [laughs]. It’s not hurtful or anything, but it’s kind of exciting that they’re bigger. We kind of just said, “Let’s just see what we can do. Let’s get out and go to some of our good markets. Go to some of these festivals.” If I could say anything that really helped us was going on the Monsters of Rock Cruise. When we went and did that, we had been asked a couple of times to do it and our schedules logistically weren’t lining up, but we finally, after Patrick was sick, we said, “Look, we’re blocking a week out. Let’s go do this thing if we can get accepted on the cruise by the Monsters of Rock people!” There was a girl, April Lee, that’s here in Nashville. She was the person that connected us to that. We owe her a hat tip because we went on there and found our tribe right away. All the bands that were on there, we were huge fans of. We went and saw all the shows. I mean Kix. I love them.
Sleaze Roxx: I love them!
Anthony Corder: They’re still the same. It’s so damn good. That guy [Steve Whiteman] is incredible. Anyway, all those people that were on there, we saw everybody. Tom Keifer. Vince Neil was on there. I know going this time I’m thinking about Kings X. I gotta see them. We did some tour dates with them a long time ago. Man, they’re super talented. And of course, Tesla. I love Jeff Keith man. His voice is awesome. He’s so good. He’s an Arkansas guy too! I gotta catch up with him. We’re just so thankful for the opportunity that we got. When you were talking about the record, we can’t wait for everybody to hear this thing. The production on it is different and we did that kind of on purposely. We went in and we wanted to try and track live as much as we could. So the band was all in the room together. They had me in an iso[lated] booth where we could all look at each other. They just set a mike in on me and said, “If you get it great, if you don’t, you can come back and hit your vocal.” We really tried to get the bass, drums and guitars as much as we could.
Jeff was in there just messing around and he stuck a slapback on my vocal. As soon as I heard it, I said, “Man, I don’t want to change it. Let’s just leave it like this!” So, we kept that and some people were like, “It sounds like a demo!” I’ve had a couple responses where people are sending me a message on Facebook or even at a live show they said, “Do you really want to know what I think?” We did that on purpose. To me, it sounds like our influences showing. The bands that we listened to that were out in the ’70s. Aerosmith, Cheap Trick. I even hear in one of the songs, some Deep Purple. From a vocal standpoint, I was thinking it reminds me of an old ’70s record. It sounds like the guy just walked in there, hit the microphone, turned the button on and just sang it. Literally for people that hadn’t heard it, there isn’t a keyboard on it. The friggin’ tambourine is nothin’. It’s just me and the band singin’. That’s it! It’s the closest thing you’re going to get to seeing us live.
Sleaze Roxx: I don’t have a complaint about that vocal whatsoever. I agree with you.
Anthony Corder: It was so fun. I’m tellin’ ya, it was the craziest experience. Everything about the recording session was everything we could make it. We were on limited time. I was going down there on the weekends. We started on June 24th, 2018. We did the whole record in six days. We did two days of tracking, two days of vocals and guitars. Then they took two days to mix it. It was like the old time rock n’ roll man.
Sleaze Roxx: You know how sometimes you envision something in your head? Did it turn out how you had envisioned how it was going to sound?
Anthony Corder: Man, you know, we didn’t know what it was going to sound like until we got in there. When we were done, we were very happy. Keith and I had had some conversations about how we going to approach it as far as his guitars and my back-ups — how selective we were going to be as far as parts. We wanted to kind of keep it raw. Honestly, we’re super pleased how it turned out. We’re biased of course. We’re living with it and working on it. Kind of investing in it. We were just excited that it sounded the way it did. We weren’t sure ’cause we were older. It’s weird for me to have to have this conversation, but I still think I’m 20 until I open my mouth and I’m like 20 years later. I’m not that guy from ‘Wild America.’ I’m a little further down the road now. I went in and had this conversation with Jeff and I said, “I’m not that dude. I’m not 20 anymore!” He said, “Just come in and do what you do. I’m gonna make ya sound good!” We didn’t use any Autotune. There’s places in the record where you can hear where I’m kind of wavy or something. Of course, we’re analyzing the hell out of it when we’re recording it. I think it flows. John [Patterson] didn’t use a click track. He had an app on his phone and he just put it next to his drum set. If we said it was 150, then he set the beat on 75. He’d sit there and watch it. We’d laugh. He’d say, “I don’t know, I think I sped up that drum fill!” We just said, “It feels great! Let’s just leave it how it is ’cause it feels so good! It feels organic and authentic like a real person!” This is it. There’s ways to go in there now with technology and straighten everything out. Wind the templates up and all that, but that kind of takes the human effect out of it. So we just wanted to sound like this is it. This is what we sound like right now.
What was also cool about this album was that in pre-production with Jeff, we went in and mapped the songs out. We’d rehearse at John’s house. He’s got a drum room that’s soundproofed. It’s got like a bunch of deer heads and turkey’s mounted on the wall. Jeff came over and we mapped these things out. They were sitting there talking about the kind of high hats John would have on specific songs. The snare sound he was gonna have. In Jeff’s mind, he was already thinking production wise. I’ll tell you another thing about working with Jeff from John’s side of it was the miking techniques that they used in the studio. He had learned some of those cool things from Tom Dowd. He goes, “Man, I’m gonna go really sparse and do it kind of like the old days where we kind of spread these mikes out different in the room!” We still got to be creative. It wasn’t like the old days. A long time ago, we might have spent a week on drum sounds. We may try 50 different drum heads and different snares. Miking the room a thousand different ways. It wasn’t that, but we did get to experiment a little bit while we were in there for the time that we had. It was great having Jeff because he had so much experience. It was kind of like he knew ahead of time how we wanted things to sound. So that gave us a lot of freedom and just to be totally honest, we just had a lot of confidence in him. He could work with anybody he wanted to. He didn’t have to work with us. It was something we’ll never forget.
Sleaze Roxx: So I have my ‘Surprise Attack’ album here. It’s on vinyl. I bought it on ebay probably 10-15 years ago. This was before the vinyl resurgence. So I got this in the mail off of ebay. It was opened, but the plastic is still on the sleeve with a price tag of $8.49 and the sticker that says, “Featuring: Walkin’ Shoes, Phantom Rider and Guilty”.
Anthony Corder: Wow, man!
Sleaze Roxx: You would swear this thing was printed yesterday.
Anthony Corder: Oh my gosh! That’s incredible! That’s a cool thing to have the sticker on it and everything. That’s crazy.
Sleaze Roxx: I pulled it out a couple of months ago. I have a lot of albums. My wife and I listen to a lot of vinyl. I said to her, “Check this out!” The artwork on that first album is so fantastic.
Anthony Corder: Isn’t it awesome?
Sleaze Roxx: When you guys first saw that, you must have thought, “Awe man, that is perfect!”
Anthony Corder: Yeah, it’s actually a giant poster. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the full sized poster of it, but A&M drew that and they sent it to us. I remember seeing it at the studio at Ardent when it came in. It’s full size and it showed the majority of the plane. We were thrilled. Honestly, that album cover got a lot more attention than we did. It had a lot of press. When we were touring, we used to tell on the radio stations, we’d say, “Hey, we’re looking for the girl that’s on the front of our album. If you look like her, could you come down to the radio station? We want to talk to you and give you tickets to the show tonight!” People loved it. They would come down. It was crazy. All the guys that heard it, they came. They wanted to see if the girl showed up. I think that is one of the highlights for me a long time ago and this is really dating myself, but A&M just totally flipped. We had a pen that was promotional item that the girl was on it. If you turned it upside down, the towel fell off. Entertainment Tonight picked that story up showed it at the end of their show. Man, it was like we hit a goldmine. People went crazy. They said, “We gotta see this cover. We gotta see this pen. Who’s this band?” It was just funny. I know it was the marketing department and PR people at A&M that had done that. It sure got us a lot of press for a minute.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you still have one of those pens?
Anthony Corder: Yeah. I actually do!
Sleaze Roxx: That is amazing! Does it still work?
Anthony Corder: Yep! It does.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s wicked! I wanted to ask this – the original EP, do you actually have a copy of that?
Anthony Corder: I do! I still have a t-shirt that was printed back then with that cover on it. That was a wild experience because this was before Ardent. We went into Ardent to do “Phantom Rider” for sure. Before that, we were working at this place behind a guys house called ‘Powerhouse’. A guy named Steve Howe. He was the guy that really stuck some time in with us. We walked in and he goes, “Man, you all gotta find your groove!” We were like, “What’s he talking about groove?” We were a garage band that just kind of went off and everybody did a solo. I screamed the highest note that I could. He was the kind of guy that worked out in the very beginning helping us getting arrangements. We had done “Wasted Love” and “Time on the Edge”. Awe man, I don’t remember what else is on there.
Sleaze Roxx: “To Rock, To Roll”
Anthony Corder: “To Rock, To Roll” — yes! The title cut.
Sleaze Roxx: Of course, “Love’s A Bitch”
Anthony Corder: Yep… “Phantom Rider”, I really loved that version because it had the piano on it. That was the first version and it was — I don’t know. After we re-cut it, if just felt different. You know I still like that song. People still are still listening to it and they still sing it today. It was definitely had more budget and production. At first, Paul Ebersold was the producer, he was actually the reason that we got signed to the production deal with Ardent. He took us in, pitched us to the staff at Ardent and said, “I think I can cut some songs on these guys! Maybe we can shop them!” He actually lives here in Nashville now. I still see him every once and a while. We reconnected when John Fry passed away a couple years ago. I wrote him and said, “Man, this is ridiculous, we’re in the same town and I don’t even sit down, come and have a cup of coffee with you!” He’s got a studio here in town called The Bakery. I went to visit him. I said, “I just want to come see ya for a minute”. He knew when John Fry passed away. John not only helped me in a musical aspect and totally changed the whole trajectory of my life, but when I was older, I met my wife. I actually went to college and got my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree in the entertainment industry. So he wrote some letters of recommendation for me. I’ve got my life experience in the music industry, which helped me tremendously getting into college after leaving or dropping out. So he had a profound effect on my life. I actually think we were closer when we were older. It was probably because of me, not trying to get heavy on the conversation either, but I recognized how much of a big influence he had on my life. So I went to tell Paul Ebersold about it. What I wanted to say was, “Man, I don’t know if I’ve ever done this, but I just wanted to say thank you because you shopped us to Ardent. All these crazy things and all these crazy people I’ve bumped into. Experiences I’ve had are because you took a chance on us!” Anyway, that EP is super special. It was our hometown. It was our crowd. Our tribe of people, they kind of launched us out of there. That has a real special place in my heart for sure.
Tora Tora‘s “Phantom Rider” video (from the Surprise Attack album):
Tora Tora Phantom Rider Belongs To Respectful OwnersYear:1989Band:Tora ToraVocals:Anthony CorderGuitar:Keith DouglasBass:Patrick FrancisDrums:John PattersonL…
Sleaze Roxx: There is one thing that I found funny. When ‘Surprise Attack’ came out, I opened up RIP Magazine and there was this ad in there that I thought was odd because it was ‘Surprise Attack’ and the first Extreme album on the same ad.
Anthony Corder: Yeah! Wasn’t that crazy? We were on ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ with them. A&M ran that soundtrack. Then our records were out at the same time. Those guys, I’ve got to tell you, I remember seeing them in Memphis for the very first time. They played a venue that’s still there now, called The New Daisy on Beale Street. They freakin’ put on a great show. I’m not kidding you. It was so good. I couldn’t get over that Gary [Cherone] was incredible on stage. Nuno [Bettencourt] was blowing your head off. The band was so tight. The bass and drums were just locked in. They were just a machine. They were really nice. We didn’t have a lot of interaction with them because we were all travelling. Looking at it in hindsight, it was a lot of activity on A&M at the time. They had a lot of big acts. We were really, really lucky that we landed on such a great label. To be totally up front with you, I still see some of those guys from back in the day here in Nashville. There’s about three or four of them that I’ve bumped into that were in product management, part of the marketing team, A&R or radio promotion.
There’s a guy here that was just starting out. He used to show up at the radio stations with girls on his arm. We thought he was a rock star. He was showing up with people with him. We still laugh about all that stuff. We stay in touch with him now with social media and stuff I can reach out. It is nice to go sit down and have a lunch or a cup of coffee with somebody. Those experiences that we went through I can’t even explain them. I can’t even put it into words to you. It was everything that you would imagine that was happening was probably going on. That six year run was — we looked at A&M and we said, “We don’t want to go home! We’ll do some recording, but please keep us on the road!” Back then, we were lucky enough that they had tour support that they could give us. Especially being a new band and not having credibility or proven track record, they kind of had our backs. They were like, “Look, we’ll find the tours for you. We’ll find some places for you to play. We’ll help you financially to get yourself out there and build your brand up.” It was like getting hit by a strike of lightning. I’m not kidding ya!
Sleaze Roxx: You know what is nice, is to actually hear, especially back then, that you were on a label that believed in you and promoted you because that was not the case for a lot of bands.
Anthony Corder: Yeah and it was hard man. When the ‘Revolution Day’ thing got shelved, that was a big blow. It was a hard tablet to swallow. Our A&R guy, when you mentioned Extreme before, he had worked closely with Extreme and Soundgarden. We were his third band that he had signed. He got approached by another record label to come and run their A&R department. We were really close to him. His name was Brian Huttonhoward, and he said, “This is the offer that could be a house in the Hills in Hollywood. This is going to be something amazing.” In hindsight now, after working at record labels, losing your voice, your champion in the big corporate wheel is a pretty big blow. It’s not that the company didn’t set somebody up but they just weren’t as invested in us as, finding us, grooming us. It was that part of it that was just a little shaky. As soon as he told us, we were like, “Go get everybody you can find and get them in the studio ’cause we don’t know what’s going to happen!”
So we had the Memphis Horns back. We had Susan Marshall and Stacie Quant sing backgrounds with us. We were inviting our friends from Beale Street to come and hang while the Memphis Horns were playing. That was kind of a dark time right there at the end of ‘Revolution Day’. We had such an incredible experience, but the world was changing. Our world that we were in, but it wasn’t a bad thing. A lot of people here, lately especially talking about when the music industry changed. Did we realize or do we have bad feelings towards artists in that era? When we did those shows with Alice In Chains, we just thought it was another rock band. We liked them. We talked to them. We stayed friends with them after we had played with them. We didn’t really realize the effect that was going to happen with the grunge movement. The hierarchy of the music industry saw an opportunity to find a new group of people to sell too! The part of the industry changing, it was just something so different. It was just fresh. A lot of the production and singers had all started to sound alike. When that came out, it was just, “Hell yeah! I wanna hear that!”
Sleaze Roxx: The funniest thing I find about the Seattle grunge thing was that before Nirvana broke, Much Music up here in Canada, on the show the ‘Power Hour’, it was like MTV’s ‘Headbanger’s Ball.’ They played Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. They originally lumped them in with Tora Tora, Junkyard and Kix. All of a sudden, because they’re from Seattle, they’re lumped into the grunge movement. Yes, they did have a different sound and I don’t know if I’d call it grunge, but a hard rock/metal sound maybe. I don’t know, but it was just bizarre that they tried to lump them in with the hair bands, but then saw the avenue of change and lumped them in with grunge.
Anthony Corder: Man, I will tell you this, Chris Cornell’s voice. The first time that we heard them, somebody gave us a CD. We put it in and I mean I could not believe it. His voice was incredible. It was just undeniable. He was a star. You just knew it. He was just so good. The tone and the texture. We thought of it as more of a Black Sabbath sounding thing then we did anything else. We had a little bit of interaction with them just because we were label mates. We were all so caught up in our own survival and being on the road, we would crossover once and a while. Everybody that we have met, that had something to do with A&M were incredible. They were great musicians. We felt pretty honored that we were a part of that history!
Sleaze Roxx: Another thing that I find funny is that ‘Wild America’ came out in ’92 right?
Anthony Corder: Yeah!
Sleaze Roxx: In that time, ’92-’93, bands like Tora Tora released some of the best albums of the genre. It was disappointing because you’d listen to these albums and think, “Oh, this is going to do really well!” Then it didn’t go anywhere to as well as you thought it would because things were beginning to change.
Anthony Corder: Yeah, that was definitely true on the ‘Wild America’ thing for us. I think a lot of it was that we had become more confident in our abilities. On the first record, we were just trying to just get through the process. We actually worked on that for a year. That’s what we did with ‘Wild America.’ We were busy touring, so when we’d come off the road, we’d do demo sessions. Five or six songs, but man, I’m telling you, we had been on the road so much, we were just a different band. We were tight. We were doing eleven shows in a row at certain points. Patrick and John were just like locked in together. Then our experiences, traveling, going around meeting all these people and touring with all these bands, that definitely had an influence on us. So when we went into to write, I think we were just getting confident in our abilities. We felt like, “Hey man, you know what? We can have a little more input this time and feel like we kind of know where we want the ship to go!”
They gave us a lot of freedom. Ardent did and John Hampton definitely did. I don’t know if you’re ever read anything about him or know anything about him, but he was an incredible drummer. So he’d come to our rehearsal rooms, he’d sit in there with us and jam. We had a building that was an old ’70s jingle studio that was about a block from Ardent. It still had the big 2” window in it. It had a studio ‘A’. It had a reverb chamber in it. It was a little dilapidated, but perfect for us. We were in there drinking, writing and partying. John Hampton would come over every day and he’d bring keyboards. We’d go over to Ardent and get microphones and chords. We just walked in. It was like raiding the closet and going, “We’ll bring these back ya know!” Back then, we had some four track recording and eight track recording, you know little tape machines. We were over there doing pre-production. John was a huge influence on that record. He would push us every day to be creative, think of stuff and take time to write the lyrics and melodies. Sir Arthur Payson did a lot too. He came in and remixed some of the stuff, but to me if I picked something, I love ‘Bastards of Beale’ now because it’s the latest one that we’ve done, but that ‘Wild America’ one is us hitting on all cylinders. That isn’t an ego thing or anything, it’s just from an insiders view of watching what was going on, everybody was really, really tuned in on that one! I’m proud of all of them.
Sleaze Roxx: They’re all fantastic. There was a video for “Amnesia”, the first time I saw it was on the ‘Power Hour’. I was actually listening to it in the car today. That opening riff is so killer.
Anthony Corder: We wrote that with Taylor Rhodes. We had toured and done some dates with Kix and Taylor had worked with them. He had done some writing with them. So A&M set us up. He wrote on that one and “Faith Healer”. We love both of those man!
Sleaze Roxx: I would assume you guys still do ‘Amnesia’ live?
Anthony Corder: We do. We’ve done ‘Faith Healer’ maybe once. Last year. We haven’t done that one a lot, but ‘Amnesia’ had been kind of a mainstay. We’ve kept that one in. We love the riff. Sometimes on the ballad ones, we’re trying to figure out. You know, I love “Nowhere To Go But Down.” We’re always trying to put that one in. I think I’ve played that at every gig since I wrote that song. That’s one of my favorites. We wrote that with Stan Lynch from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Sleaze Roxx: He collaborated on “Dead Man’s Hand” as well?
Anthony Corder: Yeah, yeah. He’s awesome man. We loved working with him. We worked with him out in L.A. Then we went to St. Augustine in Florida. He’s just a great dude. He made us feel really comfortable. We just jammed on a bunch of music. We sat around his house listening to Jimi Hendrix for a long time. Just talking. It was just such a crazy experience. When I think about it now, it feels like another lifetime. It kind of was I guess. It’s such a crazy trip to think about all that stuff.
Sleaze Roxx: Man, thank you so much.
Anthony Corder: Anytime you wanna talk, just shoot me a text and I’ll give you an update on what’s goin’ on. I’m sure after Monsters of Rock and we’re doing Rocklanta on the 30th. That’ll be a two day event. That’s gonna be amazing. Then we’re hittin’ the M3. That’s coming up. We’ve never done that. That’s been going on for 11 years. We can’t wait to do that. Then we’re headed out to Denver, Colorado at a place called The Venue. It think that’s in May. It’s Wolfpack Productions. There’s a group of guys that are out there, they’re promoting new rock n’ roll bands that are coming out. They’re nice enough to let us come out and do some shows with them. We’re thrilled about it. Listen, the one thing I want to tell you is that I appreciate you so much. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I was telling my wife that I could not wait for this interview. I’ve been a fan since the beginning. Not the very beginning, but since that first album. So it was an honor to talk to you. The amount of great stories you told, I appreciate that so very much.
Anthony Corder: Oh man, thank you so much. I am pretty sure “Bastard of Beale” is gonna create some pretty crazy stories and stuff. Great talking to you. See you later!
Sleaze Roxx: You too! Take care!
Tora Tora‘s “Amnesia” video (from the Wild America album):
Music video to the song “Amnesia” off of Tora Tora’s album “Wild America” 1992
Tora Tora‘s “Rose of Jericho” (from Bastards of Beale album):
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