It takes a lot to shock the American people in 2016, but Corey Feldman turned out to be the guy for the job. The Goonies veteran basically napalmed the Internet with his outrageous Today Show appearance in September, rocking his EDM single "Go 4 It!" and busting dance moves with a band of women in angel costumes and fluffy white halos. ("Corey's Angels," of course.) After the clip blew up into a viral WTF sensation, Corey not only returned to the show, he upped the ante with the timely political protest "Take a Stand." Love it or hate it, you can't accuse him of playing it safe, for which he should be applauded.
Feldman isn't coasting on his image from Eighties flicks like The Lost Boys and Stand by Me – he chronicled the rough life of a kid star in his 2013 memoir Coreyography. And for sheer bananas-ness, you can't top his new decade-in-the-making double album Angelic 2 the Core, dedicated to the memory of his friends Michael Jackson and Corey Haim, featuring guests from Snoop Dogg to Fred Durst as well as a unique interpretation of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero." Corey took a break from the studio to go deep on his music, his message, Donald Trump, Stranger Things and why ridicule is nothing to be scared of. As he says, "The world needs a clown? I'll put on that suit."
Congratulations on freaking everybody out. You're sure not doing what people expect from you.
I guess I'm kind of like a disease. I just won't go away. They really wanted to get rid of me, many times. But I have a loving and forgiving fan base, who understand me at a very deep level. The Feldfam, they know my heart and they see that I'm here to spread a message of love.
You've taken your music high-profile lately.
I've been doing music my whole life. So the fact that people are finally noticing is awesome, but it's not my fault. Thank God for technology, to reach people directly without going through all these middlemen. Starting back in the old-school days, I recorded my first single in 1989, a song called "Something in Your Eyes" for the Dream a Little Dream soundtrack, with Michael Damian, who had a Number One hit from that soundtrack ["Rock On"]. But I never saw the single, and when the album came out it wasn't there. I didn't know the single existed until five years ago when my assistant goes, "Hey, man, I just found your old single from the Dream a Little Dream soundtrack on vinyl on eBay." I said, "Nah, that doesn't exist." We argued until he brought it over and I said, "Holy crap, there it is." So now I actually own a copy. Modern technology, there you go – how times have changed.
People feel like they know you, because they grow up watching your movies, but how do you avoid being confined by that?
I don't like boxes. I grew up in a time when if you were in teen magazines, that meant you didn't do anything outside of being a teen star, and when your teen years were over, you may as well hang it up and say goodbye. Someone might expect my music would suck, but would they suspect it has artistic integrity, or concepts and higher thought processes than your average pop candy? That's why I started this whole thing, with the concept of Corey's Angels. I thought, "Hey, let's do a concept album about angels, and let's create an all-angel band of super-talented amazing female musicians." On the album we've got Kurupt, we've got Snoop Dogg, we've got Fred Durst. I like giving people what they least expect.
When I saw the Today clip, I thought, "Here's a guy who's not taking the easy route. He's really putting his ass on the line."
Or, he's clinically insane! Not really sure, but hey, you don't have to love it. Look, not everybody loves Bon Jovi. Not everybody loves Pink Floyd. But for some people, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. So call me a one-week wonder, but that's the plan. I'm not trying to rule the world, just spread my personal message.
What's your message?
Peace and love. That's the number-one message. That's what I'm here to say. Look, I'm the guy you kicked to the curb, that you brushed under the carpet, that you swept away, so I'm here to be an example for people who think about giving up. If you can take enough crap from strangers, and if you can have enough people telling you to your face that you suck, and you can brave all that, then you can stand on the stage powerfully and say yes.
After people slammed your Today clip, you got public support from Kesha, Pink and Miley Cyrus.
It couldn't have come at a better time. I needed the love. They've all been in my position, so I think they can relate to the emotional turmoil I was feeling, because I was crying out in a very spiritual way to the universe. The barrage of negative press was like, 'OK, let's jump down Corey's throat today.' I was really honored such great artists gave me backbone when I was so weak. It made my heart melt.
"Some people just wish I would go away."
Who do you see yourself as speaking for?
The downtrodden. The abused. They know what it's like to be bullied. Every time I've gotten out of one box, I've jumped over into another one. As a kid it was like "he's a child actor," then it was "he's a teen star," then it was "he's a former teen star" – it's always something.
Who are your artistic role models?
Obviously Michael Jackson's a huge influence – MJ has to take the number-one position. I felt empowered by Madonna. Rick Springfield was always someone I looked up to. Pink Floyd – "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," that's about me. John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" – I think out of every song that's ever been written, it embodies everything I've been through. Some people have no respect for me at all; some people just wish I would go away – depends on who you ask, I guess.
How does something like Trump happen?
Oh, God – I can't even fathom it. It's like we all lost our minds and decided it was OK to turn the presidential race into some whacked-out reality show. I feel bad for Hillary Clinton – here's this serious candidate doing her job, she's educated and prepared, and she has to debate this car salesman game-show host in an orange jumpsuit. I get why Republicans aren't happy, but hey, guys, if you had a better candidate, we'd gladly look at him. Look what you gave us.
Where do you get that urge to perform?
I was singing and dancing when I was three years old – I would learn random Seventies songs, like "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" or "Junk Food Junkie" or Jim Croce. When my mom took me to auditions, instead of reading lines I was too young to read, she'd say, "Go in and sing." So literally the very first memories I have are walking into strange, cold rooms with people looking at me very judgmentally from a desk, staring down at a little child, while I sang "Junk Food Junkie" for them. I had a song in an after-school special with Drew Barrymore and Tatum O'Neal when I was 15 – it was called 15 and Getting Straight.
Is it surprising you can still shock people?
Not surprising. I know how to create a spectacle. I know how to get attention. If that's what it takes to get the message across, I'll do it. "Take a Stand" is saying we're done being controlled. We're done being bullied. We can't have some crazy person come tell us we have to register ourselves like they would have in the old Nazi days, register what race or creed or color you are. We're all individuals and we're all here for love. So yeah, maybe I'm crazy because I'm the one doing it – I don't know. Whether you love it or hate it or make fun of it, it doesn't really matter. The world needs a clown? I'll put on that suit.
It's amazing how things you did years ago still resonate with people. I don't know if you've watched Stranger Things, but it's practically a fan letter to you.
I've heard about that show. Will.i.am pulled me aside in a club and said, "Corey, Stranger Things – man, you gotta watch it. This is all about you." I just haven't had time yet. I'm curious now; I gotta see this thing. Why, is there a kid they call Mouth? A kid with glasses? Everybody picks on him? What's the concept?
It's a bunch of kids on their bikes in the Eighties, trying to figure out an evil conspiracy, but none of the adults listen to them or believe them.
Well, that sounds about right. That was my childhood.