John Corbett has a special nickname for Modesto. One born out of love and affection – and a lot of ladies getting handsy.
“We call it Molesto,” said the former “Sex and the City” and “Northern Exposure” actor. “There were about 500 girls at the Fat Cat, and they were grabbing our a---- all night long.”
The actor and singer played his first show with his then-new band at Modesto’s Fat Cat Music House & Lounge in 2005. He returns with the same band Jan. 24 for a show at the State Theatre.
Since last playing in Modesto, Corbett and his band have played more than 600 shows and just released their second album. The new release has a more stripped-down sound but stays true to Corbett’s West Virginia roots and love of country music.
“The first album had lots of background singers and horns and violins. There was orchestration,” said the 52-year-old. “I wanted this to be a little bit of an Americana record. It’s more of a four-piece thing, like how we are on the road. And so far, the critics have been just so kind to me and said things that I didn’t think I’d hear about my second record. I didn’t set out to please anybody on this record except me and the guys.”
His self-titled 2006 debut release climbed to No. 42 on the Billboard Country charts. His newest, “Leaving Nothin’ Behind,” was released last year on his own Funbone Records label. And everything, including the publicity, is more laid back this time around.
And, yes, ladies, he knows you still might be coming to see him because he was Aidan Shaw on “Sex and the City” or Chris Stevens on “Northern Exposure” or Max Gregson on “The United States of Tara.” But he said the more the band plays, the more fans it makes of the music as well.
“I’ve seen the change go from ‘Sex and the City’ people to people who like country music,” he said. “But the girls will still come out and drink cosmopolitans and come to see Aidan in person. That’s cool, too, I don’t care. I just want to get them there.”
Corbett spoke with The Bee while on the road in San Francisco about being taken seriously as a musician, breaking out of his nice-guy persona and missing the Southern California ranch he shares with his longtime love, Bo Derek.
I spent a lot of money on a publicist and radio promotion team that first go-round. We went to every major city, we played 225 (to) 235 shows, which is a lot of shows that first year. But we’ve managed to go back just about every year to a lot of those cities we first went to. So we have a following now. I actually do not like playing at performing-arts centers or places where there are chairs to sit down. I like bars, I like people to be able to dance and be loud and talk. I don’t need silence when playing songs. I like it rowdy.
He said, “Dude, there’s no way I’m going to make a record with you singing all of my songs. I’d look like an egomaniac.” But there are still seven to eight Jon Randall songs on there. You listen to (his songs) and you can paint your own picture. He doesn’t have any slick production.
But something like “The Lookalike” is where I have more fun. Someone called me up to go to, of all places, Alaska, where I’ve never been even though I did “Northern Exposure,” which we shot in Seattle. They asked me to play a nice-guy cop in a movie. If I’m going to go to Seward, Alaska, and leave my beautiful home in Southern California, I have to really want to go. And not for another nice-guy role. Maybe the bad guy, but not the nice guy.
I live (on a ranch) about two and a half hours from L.A. If I did the show, I’d be living in a hotel every night away from Bo at home, my doggies at home, my horses at home. We have a place here and it’s where we live; when I have to go someplace else, I get really homesick. Going on the road with the band is fun because there is a beginning, middle and end. I go out for two weeks and come back. But a TV show is like six or seven years.
That’s a long way to answer the question, but I’ve taken myself out of that (TV) equation for this year, anyway. When the spinoff wasn’t picked up, at first I was old-fashioned disappointed because of the rejection. But after four months went by, I realized I would have started up in May and then been gone for 11 months to shoot. Add I realized I was not ready to do this. Now I’m completely through the roof that I don’t have to do that every single day.