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Piss, Whiskey and Styx
They're all part of actor John Corbett's rock & roll fantasy
You might know actor John Corbett from his role as Carrie Bradshaw's cuckolded boyfriend on Sex and the City, as the ruminative disc jockey on Northern Exposure, or as the matrimonial target of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Or you may have been one of the 100,000 fans he performed for at the 2005 Pepsi 400 race in Daytona Beach, Florida, when he opened for Lisa Marie Presley.
Yep, just like Keanu Reeves, Corbett is one of those actors turned musicians—although while Reeves has hung up his bass for the time being, Corbett still lives the dream. He says the pair discussed their rocker ambitions on the set of the recently released film Street Kings, in which both have roles.
"[Reeves] says he misses going out and playing some stinky little joint that smells like pee and whiskey," Corbett imparts via land line from his home in the woods near Santa Barbara, where he lives with actress Bo Derek. "I do, too, believe it or not. If I come off the road for three weeks, I can't wait to get back out and smell that smell, man."
Corbett has toured prolifically since releasing a self-titled, moderate-selling country album in 2006. He sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar in his four-piece John Corbett Band, who have opened for ZZ Top and played everywhere from Midwestern dive bars to former Sex and the City co-star Chris Noth's Manhattan club, the Cutting Room.
The shows are successful enough that Corbett could quit acting if he wanted to, although he remains on the lookout for choice parts. This critic, in any case, would prefer to see him stick with his day job, as John Corbett is a fairly bland, country-radio-friendly work with lyrics such as "Had an all-American mom and dad/Coolest friends you could ever have." It was written and produced largely by seasoned Nashville hacks, with production assistance from Corbett's longtime musical partner, Tara Novick. Corbett says that he initially wanted it to sound "like Styx" and admits it came off a bit twangy.
"I wanted to make kind of a rock & roll record, but I was kind of going for that country market, too, because I love country music," he says. "But if I do make another record, it's gonna be much more rock & roll. It won't have as much fiddle and steel guitar on it." Corbett says he currently has no plans for another album and is content to connect with his fans in person. "We just show up, we soundcheck, we rock the house, we have a few drinks, and we say hi to everybody."
Corbett's affability and aw-shucks demeanor are perhaps exactly what you might expect from a man who became a born-again Christian in the '80s ("I'm going to heaven when I die, that I know") and currently serves as an Applebee's spokesman. "I think the audience who hears me talking about panko-crusted shrimp is the same audience that would dig my music and come to my shows," he muses. "And when we're on the road, my friend, where do you think we stop and have our lunch? Applebee's! It's a whole new neighborhood."
But the most awkward part of our interview came when I confessed to having impersonated Corbett for the past couple of months on my blog, The Healthiest Man in Park Slope. It began as an April Fool's Day prank: I penned a series of profanity-laced tirades against Sex and the City: The Movie producer Darren Star. As Corbett, I accused Star of removing Corbett's part from the picture. Though Corbett is not in the film, everything else was fabricated, and these "Efron Scandal"-style shenanigans led to write-ups on Hollywood blog Defamer and the New York Presswebsite.
The admittedly Internet-challenged Corbett says he hadn't heard about it. "You didn't paint me in a bad light, did ya?" he asks, before requesting that I stop impersonating him.
He adds that he has every intention of seeing Sex and the City: The Movie. "I don't make it to the movies that much, but that's one of 'em I'll put on the list. I want to see Iron Man, though. I'll go see Iron Man first."