By KEITH LORIA
Back in 1988 -- before "Cult of Personality" ever played on MTV and barely anyone had really ever heard of the band Living Colour, I had the pleasure of interviewing the group's founders Vernon Reid and Corey Glover at the University of Miami during a college tour the band was on. Back then, Glover told me "We're not really thinking about becoming famous. We just want to go out and play for as long as we can."
Today, with gold records, top hits and millions of fans to their resume, the message still pretty much remains the same: "We try not to think that far ahead and think about the next day," Glover says now. "We like to get out on stage and say something and I think it's just important that people are listening."
With Reid's mesmerizing guitar riffs and Glover's unmistakable powerful voice, Living Colour became an MTV staple 20 years ago and the band was considered by many to be the top rock band of the '90s. But the band wasn't thinking about conquering the music world and continued to hold true to their "just play" mentality.
"We were kind of weary of early success because that means you can become a flash in a pan, and to some degree, it was a self-fulfilling prophesy," Glover says. "There are a number of people who know 'Cult of Personality' but don't know 'This is the Life' or 'Leave it Alone.' It's a difficult place to be in, and how we dealt with it was to keep moving and keep playing."
The next few years continued their success. Along with bassist Doug Wimbish and drummer Will Calhoun, Reid and Glover's sophomore album "Time's Up" won the Grammy for Best Hard Album in 1991, they were headliners at the inaugural Lollapalooza and toured with Guns N' Roses and the Rolling Stones.
But in 1995, the band couldn't agree upon what way the music should continue, and they decided to take a break.
"We were tired and at that time we were working for diminished returns," Glover says. "People would talk about us all day long but when no one shows up at the gig, what's the point? We wanted to focus on keep moving, but we were tired. But the thing is, we never really stopped working together. There was always one or more of us working with the others at some point during those years."
A surprising reunion saw the band play at CBGB's at the end of 2000 and the band would create a stir with a massively attended show at Central Park's Summerstage in 2001.
"We were rested and ready. We were enjoying it and we played in the states and things were ok so we made a record, which didn't sell that great," Glover says. "But we told ourselves, 'Let's not get discouraged, let's keep playing' and that's what was important to us. 'We can go to South America and Europe and festivals and we can keep playing because there are people who want to see us' so we didn't need to concentrate on the United States."
Next month, the band will release a new album, "The Chair in the Doorway," which Glover describes as "one of the best records we have ever made."
"Making a record for us as a band, is difficult because we want to keep moving and to make a record you have to stop, slow down and look around you," he says. The solution was to take a 10-day break during a European tour to lay down some tracks and grooves. "We were energized and came up with some really good stuff and went back on the road and played them to see the reaction of those songs. Then we went back to the studio and made adjustments and finished the album."
On Sept. 9, Living Colour will introduce their fans to many of their new songs when the play at Fairfield Theatre Company's StageOne.
"We haven't played in U.S. in 4-5 years so it's a reintroduction to Living Colour and our music," Glover says. "The bottom line is when we play in North America, you're only as good as the latest things you have done. We are going to play the new stuff and of course the things that people recognize."
But as Glover reminds, Living Colour is less interested in the fame and glory and more interested in playing, getting people inspired and moving along.
"Whatever happens next, we just want to make sure that we do what is true for us," he says. "That's the Living Colour way."
Living Colour will be appearing at Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne, 70 Sanford St. at 8 p.m. Sept. 9. Tickets are $67.