For the new album, “Shade,” Living Colour puts a modern spin on the history of the blues. The material includes a handful of blues-rock originals and diverse covers like Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues” and Notorious BIG’s “Who Shot Ya?”
Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitar), Doug Wimbish (bass) and Will Calhoun (drums), currently on tour supporting “Shade,” perform at Oddbody’s Music Room in Dayton on Saturday, Oct. 21.
“The blues is part of our lives,” Calhoun said recently. “It was inspired by doing the 100th anniversary of Robert Johnson at the Apollo. We got a standing ovation that night and we didn’t expect that kind of response so we decided to use that song as the impetus to put together a new record.”
“Shade,” released in early September, is the band’s sixth studio album and its first release since 2009’s “The Chair in the Doorway.” While most of the new songs are just the four longtime members of Living Colour, the sessions included a few special guests on organ and horns.
“We wanted to include some friends so we called on some people,” Calhoun said. “When you’re making music, the music dictates what you need. Marc Cary, my friend from D.C., played an organ solo on one song. Corey and Doug go to Jazz Fest every year in New Orleans and they’ve become allies with Big Sam Williams and some of those guys and we sent them a track.
“A lot of it is compadres coming to the table,” he continued. “Chuck D did some things, some of them made the record and some of them didn’t. We like to work with other people because the magic can happen at any time and then we just keep what works for the project.”
Living Colour formed in 1984 and released its debut, “Vivid” (1988), which spawned the Grammy-winning hit “Cult of Personality.” The band took a five-year hiatus in 1995 but has been performing and recording since reforming in 2000.
“We perform in usual rock venues but with the climate we have now, it’s important we display the music on different platforms,” Calhoun said. “We’re not a typical rock band. We get into different kinds of covers that make it a really unique live experience. I’m biased because I’m the drummer in the band but that’s what I feel.
“Next year is the 30th anniversary of our first record,” Calhoun added. “We’ll celebrate that with a tour but right now we’re looking forward to coming out and playing the new music.”