Warrior Soul Biography
Last updated: 04/05/2013 01:45:57 PM
Some say WARRIOR SOUL could have been as big as Metallica if only their singer KORY CLARKE wasn't so hung up on politics and art. Some say they blew it simply because of the drugs. Here follows the WARRIOR SOUL true story and it was made by Philip Wilding and it was first published in Classic Rock Magazine UK in February 2001.
It is sometime after nine on the evening of November 3rd. Inside the Long Beach Arena, in Los Angeles, proto-punk femme Patti Smith has already sung protest songs while a topless drunk guy danced around making whooping noises with both hands raised in the air like a shaved gorilla. Former Dead Kennedy sometime politico-activist, Jello Biafra, has said a few words and a surprisingly youthful-looking Jackson Browne has strummed his acoustic guitar and then raised it heavenward in support. It's the Green Party's final string of rallies before America goes to the polls a few days later. Hindsight's given us a clear view of that debacle, but for now, Ralph Nader' s party is attempting to fight big business with a tour designed to raise their profile and win a five percent share of the vote that will make them eligible for government support the next time around.
Warrior Soul vocalist Kory Clarke has spent time doing volunteer work in their campaign offices, and being an admirer of the Greens wants the Classic Rock photographer and myself to hear Nader's keynote speech. The capacity crowd, some 18,000 people, are enraptured. The air is heavy with the smell of dope. Cheesecloth shirts and frayed denim are still big here and whether it's the self- satisfied complacency, or the lack of electricity in the air that sets Clarke off isn't clear even to him but suddenly he's on his feet facing the crowd. We're seated on the floor at the foot of the stage, and Kory's got his fist in the air.
"We are power'" he cries "We are power! We..." One woman tuts and tells him to sit down. He turns on her, screwing up his face with contempt. "Freedom of speech, baby!"
George the photographer takes a shot, a news camera crew catch the flashlight and start filming Kory trying to ignite the crow d. Heads swivel, Kory pumps the air, and the camera keeps rolling... I 'm reminded of the time, back in 1991, when I saw Warrior Soul at the Boston Garden. They were opening for Queensryche and the show, though a sell out, was not going well for the support act. The core of Queensryche's audience didn't understand or like Warrior Soul's iconoclastic rage and didn't bother to conceal their confusion.
"I'm doing the 'We Are The Government' chant," says Clarke, now 35, "shouting 'Fuck Bush!' - all the critical presidential stuff - and the crowd are just booing me. I don't think their fans thought we even deserved to be up on stage with their band, all these single guys with pimples and bad mullets. "I should have got it before then. They were the band singing 'Rage For Order' and I was raging for disorder. Their fans were there to hold a lighter up for 'Silent Lucidity' and instead they were getting 'We Are The Government' right up the ass. "I'd never seen or heard anything like it. I was just standing there and people were throwing stuff at me, the whole place was erupting. Warrior Soul fans and Queensryche fans are going at it in the crowd and these people up on the balconies are screaming, 'Fuck you!' I'm just there with a fist in the air getting hit with shit and being spat on. In Boston, of all places. It was awesome.
"So we get off stage and the guys in the band are like, 'That really sucked' and I'm like, 'That was unbelievable, we really tore it up, that was great!' And my guys were, 'You're kidding, that was horrible'. But I was delighted, people hated us, it was awesome. was like, 'Guys, didn't you feel the power?'"
THE SUN LIES LOW OVER THE LA skyline. it's the day after the lifetime before. Wilshire Boulevard's quiet on a Saturday and the occasional hum of traffic below the Sheraton is a minor distraction out on the sun deck facing the low circle of jagged hills in the distance. In the last year Kory Clarke has reformed Warrior Soul, the band he fronted out of New York from the beginning of 1990 until the tail end of 1995. The band ended in disarray, pulled apart by spectacular infighting; drugs (how many other bands had a rhythm section comprising a cocaine addict and a junkie?]; the final fall-out of a deal with Geffen Records that ended in bitter acrimony on both sides; and Clarke himself fighting his way through divorce proceedings.
Kory, a native of Detroit, has been here before In 1983, his then band, The Trial, decamped to LA for six weeks to work on their debut album with legendary Runaways producer/svengali Kim Fowley. Kory sang and played drums in the band that pushed the performance envelope to a new degree with a then untried multimedia approach that utilised films and video screens. They almost signed to Britain's Bronze Records, but the label was unsure how to market them and the deal was dropped. For a while, they kept working thanks to the financial backing of a local drug dealer, Charlie, that Kory used to work for, and who would later reappear very nearly fully formed on the song 'Charlie's Out Of Prison' from Warrior Soul's debut album 'Last Decade Dead Century' (see sidebar). "He was absolutely insane," Clarke recalls. "He ended up robbing banks and liquor stores to pay for the album sessions. He was promoting shows in Detroit for a while because he had a lot of money from doing lots of illegal things. He did a pretty good job too. Then he started losing his mind. I got into some very scary situations with him. He almost beat his girlfriend to death in front of me and when I tried to intervene he put a loaded gun to my head.
" And like it says in the song, I really was his driver, we'd go all over Detroit wheeling and dealing. We'd get some coke and then we'd trade some of that for heroin and then we'd drive out to the suburbs and we' d trade some of the heroin for pharmaceutical drugs. We'd go out and buy all these cases of champagne and then we'd wheel and deal all day. By the end of it, you'd have a chunk of change and then just go back to his place and toot some blow and drink some Moet or whatever. And that was pretty much how I spent '82 through to '83."
And so, he admits, things might have continued had The Man not intervened. "I called Charlie's house one day and the FBI were there and then I knew it was time to leave Detroit."
He moved to London, briefly, and then back to New York where he ran into an old friend from Detroit named Jane. They dropped E together, when it was still legal to do so in New York, and wound up moving in together and then, later, got married. Kory got ajob as a VJ at the achingly hip New York nightclub called Danceteria, controlling the giant video screens there three-nights-a-week. On nights off he performed at the Pyramid Bar downtown, a transvestite bar that specialised in spoken word and performance art.
"I remember that I didn't want to do another rock project then. It had been about a year or so since The Trial and I was doing a ton of E and the thought of being in a band felt like such an antiquated concept. So I started running tapes, playing drums, doing some performance stuff I've got some videos of it and in a weird way you can see the beginnings of the band. It was called Warrior Soul, too.
"I'd be down there being a total nightmare, scaring people, putting a gun to my head, that sort of stuff. God, it was so dumb, everything had to be 9, so fucking heavy,"he laughs, then shakes his head. "And there'd be like, two people out there clapping like seals and I remember this girl who was promoting the shows turned to me and said, you need a band. And I'm, 'Fuck bands!' I said, 'Tell you what, I'll get a band and in six months well be the best band in this town'. And I was signed less than three months later." Kory Clarke signed to Geffen Records in 1988, but legal wrangling and changes (Geffen insisted he fire at least two of his guitaris) meant that the debut Warrior Soul album would not appear until 1990. At a time when Geffen label-mates Guns N' Roses was still considered 'the most dangerous band in the world'. the musical climate was hardly conducive to an artist and band singing about politics and the state of a nation.
"I remember going to out to visit the LA office and they just hated me," he smiles ruefully. "I actually sat in a marketing lunch and all they talked about was Axl Rose. They wanted tattoos and heroin problems and cherry pie and I've got a poem on my album. God, they couldn't stand me. When it came down to it, they wouldn't do promotion on the album. I don't think they knew how to do promotion on the album." Without a promotions department to back him up, Clarke went all out to create space in the press for himself He baited Skid Row's Sebastian Bach for his idiotic 'AIDS Kills Faggots Dead' T-shirt' "I wanted to start a war with him about that in the press, I wanted to bait everybody. I remember calling Chris and Rich Robinson the Rolling Crowes. I thought I was a pretty smart-ass fucker then, I thought I was a genius. I remember our lawyer calling me up and saying, 'You do realise that you can never tour with anyone again?' I just wanted to stir shit up, get things rolling." The band finally managed to get a tour supporting Danzig in the US through their management company, Q-Prime (Metallica, Queensryche, Def Leppard).
"That whole tour was unbelievable," he says now. "Glenn [Danzig] had been out supporting Metallica and he hadn't got his right volume during his set or whatever and he sees us coming along and he just treats me like crap right off. If you were standing outside your own dressing room talking before a show his minders would come out and tell you to get back inside and keep quiet because Glenn couldn't be disturbed. It was shit like that all the time. And he was turning us down every night. So we got to Texas to do a radio interview and they ask me how the tour's going and I'm, 'It sucks, Glenn sucks', you know? The next day in Houston, I'm in the toilets down at the venue doing an interview because Danzig's soundcheck is so loud and Pete [McClanahan, Warrior Soul bassist] comes running in and he's like, 'Glenn heard the interview and he's pissed! He just went by us and said he was going to dust our whole band'"
He sprays his beer laughing. "So they're running back and forth and l'm like, 'Send him in here if he's going to kick my ass'. And there were all these rumours that they had guns and stuff on their bus. Then as the tour went on their road crew would take me into like these closets and there'd be bits of my hair and pictures of me burnt and covered with hens blood. It was a nightmare. "It got to the point where I ended up calling some of the guys I knew in LA, Jimbo who's one of our merchandise guys [and about the size of most war memorials] and a few of his biker friends and they came down to San Diego. They're walking around shouting, 'Where's Glenn?' But he must have seen them pull up because he never showed. Man, the fact that you even have to deal with that, the whole rock'n'roll thing is so macho and stupid and its always been stupid."
WARRIOR SOUL'S SECOND album, 'Drugs, God And The New Republic' followed in 1991, the band spending $80,000 on a video for 'Hero' which floundered due to lack of radio promotion. The Queensryche tour had fallen to pieces, the album wasn't selling and Q-Prime were attempting to get Kory to change tack.
"I just blew my contract, man," he shrugs. "Maybe I should have just been lame and played along [but] I think our management wanted out on the Queensryche tour. They came to see us in Baltimore and they were, 'Kory, stop shouting at people and stop the poetry and the spoken word stuff, its fucking everything up'. And I'm, 'It's my trip, its about anger, passion and frustration, you know about that shit?' It was a shame because I liked those guys, but they had their way of doing things and I had mine. They were still around for 'Salutations From The Ghetto Nation' in 1992 and the band was still sort of intact. Geffen had a new regime and I'd managed to get a few people fired there. Then the new radio guy said he wouldn't push anything political, and that was it, gone. "We really made a good record for them, we spent a lot of money on it and then they wouldn't promote it, too political. And they still wouldn't drop us. We had no tour support, so we went out on our own and that's when I started attacking [Geffen] in the press. They picked up the option on the 'Chill Pill' album rather than let us walk away and that's when it all started to unravel."
It was 1993. Warrior Soul was still holding on, but the looming pressure of eventual failure after years of praise and promise was starting to tell. "I think even with the solo shot of me on the 'Chill Pill' cover, I must have been having aspirations of going on my own. It all got too weird. Pete started doing smack on that tour, I don't even know why he started doing it. In the end he was jacking it up big time and I didn't even know how toasted he was. I mean, what does that say about me?
"Mark [Evans, drums] I knew about. There was a place right across the street from where he lived that would take his TV or chair and give him coke. His wife and kid came home and he'd cleared out half the apartment. I didn't care if he did coke or not, but he started missing gigs because of it. We couldn't afford to miss $2000 shows. He did the 'Chill Pill' tour, but you know, two guys with opposite problems in the same band. They both ended up in rehab before they finally cleaned up." The band had gone up to a house up in Massachusetts after the 'Chill Pill' sessions to write new material. Tense and tired, infighting broke out. The band had dropped acid together and, catching sight of himself in the mirror, Kory grabbed up all of his hair and cut it off.
"Looking back now, I think it was a cathartic thing, I left my hair up there. I was sick of the whole thing, what it represented. It was a couple of days after that that I got into the fight with Johnny [Ricco, guitar]. I wanted to rehearse and they didn't want to, they were all acting like assholes. So I said to John, 'OK, you take over the band. Here's the numbers to call, management, promoters, the label, so what are we going to do now?' And he just goes, 'We're going to get some sleep and I just grabbed him and punched him right in the face. "He got a hold of me and he's banging my head on the stair step, and Pete and Mark are like, 'So what, he's going to kill you'. I finally get up and grab this six- pronged hoe to kill him with and he comes out with these nanchuck sticks and smacks me, and I'm bleeding everywhere. I'm like, 'Fuck you guys!' and I grab all the equipment, put it into the van and drive back to New York, busted lip, the whole lot."
BY 1994, JOHNNY WAS GONE AND SO was the Geffen deal. The band limped on with the independent 'Fuckers' collection of demos and outtakes. They also reIeased the well-received 'Space Age Playboys' album and made a farewell appearance at Donington.
Kory got divorced, moved to LA and played briefly with Billy Duffy (The Cult), but that came to nothing even though Metallica's Lars Ulrich expressed interest in signing them. He then formed the mind-numbingly stupid Space Age Playboys. "You only thought they were stupid because you met them," he laughs. "It was the antithesis of Warrior Soul. It was deeper than people thought but they just wanted Warrior Soul over and over again. It was meant to be this Sex Pistols for 2000 thing. I guess it wasn't."
In the interim, Mark had written and called repeatedly to apologise for missing gigs and messing the band around. Clarke held off calling him back untiI the beginning of 2000 after Ricco had also phoned and asked about the possibility of reforming the band. "I thought, fuck it, it'll be cool. Pete was the only worry because the last we'd heard he was putting a $120-a-day in his arm, he was a real junkie by then."
They reworked the best of their catalogue for the recent 'Classics' collection and if they don't kill themselves before then there might be a brand new Warrior Soul album before the end of 2001. "You know, looking back like this, I remember when the label meltdown was happening and I just used to go and read biographies of people like Winston Churchill, people who were just pushed out of what they wanted to do for so long and they just kept forging ahead, and that helped a lot. And I think that's where I am now; pushing ahead. Maybe even just staying on course is enough..." And then we go out into the Hollywood hills to get some photos taken.
'Classics' is available now.
WORDS: Philip Wilding
Geffen press release from 1991
In the winter of 1990, singer/songwriter Kory Clarke explained why he titeld Warrior Soul´s debut album Last Decade Dead Century. "It´s the last decade in a century where there´s been more death, war and famine than any other point in history,"he told kerrang! magazine. His anger exploded in ferocious songs of rebellion and revolution leading critics to dub his music,"the first hard rock music in a long time that has a mind to it." It is now winter 1991.Another war has been waged. Armies have clashed, innocents killed, blood spilled--the last decade of a dead century careeing towards destruction. Clarke, this long-haired agitrocker, had hoped for better but indeed said as much. The message Clarke sings on Drugs, God And The New RepublicDGC Records, initially produced by Geoff Workman (Motley crue) and Clarke, then mixed by Kory an Don Fury--"question aythority, be true, be free"--is heard in the "We are the government!" call-to-arms chant in "intro," the bitterly sarcastic "Jump for joy/World´s end" chorus to "Jump for joy," and the "no motherfucker´s gonna tell me what to do" challenge of "Wasteland." But, he adds,Drugs,God And The New Republic is more than merely an outlet for his frustation with the world. "There´s more than anger on the album. There´s a rainbow of emotions, from sorrow to happiness to pride."
Warrior Soul toured with Metallica in the spring of 1990 throughout Europe -- Holland, Germany, France, Scotland, and particulary England -- where the band played with headliner Metallica at Wembley Arena and headlined their own show at the Marquee in London, and was especially well-recived. English and European music magazines, including Kerrang and Sound, voted Last Decade Dead Century(which was also produced by Workman and Clarke) as best new album in many year-end Top 10 polls. Warrior Soul also scored in America: the album reached the Top 10 on many metal charts and the single "The Losers" was woted best "metal" song in CMJ´s 1990 reader´s poll. The band enjoyed a two-month cross-country U.S. club tour in the summer and a mid-size venue tour with Danzig and Soundgarden in the fall. Returning to the studio for its second album, Clarke says he "wanted a more rock sound and less of the floating poetry than on the first one. Hard and simple, less running around rampant, more separation, more live sounding. The idea was to hear each instument really well instead of layering the guitars so much. It was a nice switch to go more straight-ahead". Though Warrior Soul has been hailed as providing intelligent "metal," Clarke insists that Drugs,God And The New Republic is not a metal album. "It´s more like psychedelic hard rock. It trips but it´s hard. And it´s the real thing. The album´s themes of survival and fighting back, of taking a stand in a world that´s screwed, of discovering your own freedom, of desiring a better world, are more than mere jumping-off touchstones for songwriting; they discribe Clarke´s own life.
Musically, he has always been very experimental, beginning in teens as a jazz fusion drummer, taking lessons from a meber of the Chicago Symphnoy Orcestra to broaden his percussive abilities. However , schools and the Establishment in general didn´t "get it". "I caused problems playing my music. Finally, the school had had it. They were trying to calm everyone down and then i come along, stirring everybody up. I was immediately ostracized". After leaving high school , he took a few college video classes, veejayed at various clubs, and became a leading influence in some of Detroits most avante-garde psychopunk bands, including L7 (an early `80s cult legend that boasted a few independent releases) and Trial, wich featured two video cameras, two 25-inch television screens playing pre-recorded tapes. Trial, an underground sensation, led to Clarke being named best Rock Drummer and best New Artist by local magazines.
In 1985, he left Motown and settled in New York. He recruited Pete McClanahan, a long-time New York Boogie blues player as his bassist. Guitarist John Ricco, originally from Milwaukee, joined next. School of Violence Mark Evans was later recruited to replace the originaly drummer who left after recording the firts album. Clarke gave up the drums to concentrate on being the vocalist and songwriter. Then after only 5 shows they signed with DGC Records. "I´ve always said what i thought. I`m very blunt. I´ve got a mike and a band and i can get people to hear me". He´s become a champion for those without a mike or band. "There are people who are neglected and ignored while others with lesser qualities get all the attention. They want to be heard -- it´s time to revitalize our industry". It is spring 1991. Another war has ended. There is yet time for change and,for Clarke, there is even a glimmer of hope. "I don´t belive the world will get better," he says, "but i believe it could get better."
Until it does, Warrior Soul fights on.
Where the band name came from
Curiously inspired by wartime hero,George S. Patton, and, more specifically, a line at the end of the Oscar-winning film about the man: "He´ll be back the next time the world needs a Warrior Soul"