Corey Feldman's 'haters' have him 'smiling all the way to the bank' as Philly show approaches

Don’t count Corey Feldman out just yet. These days, the former childhood star has found new life in music, and Philly will get a glimpse this week at his angelic act.

Known for his roles in 1980s classics like Gremlins, The GooniesStand By Me, and The Lost Boys, the 45-year-old Feldman is now focusing on fronting his newest project, Corey Feldman & the Angels. With Feldman and a backing band of female musicians in angel outfits, the group released a double album last summer, Angelic 2 the Core: Angelic Funkadelic/Angelic Rockadelic.

Many fans (and “haters,” as Feldman calls his detractors) were first introduced to the band in September, when the group gave a particularly interesting performance on the Today show of their song “Go 4 It” that managed to rocket them to viral internet fame. Complete with Michael Jackson-inspired footwork and an EDM vibe, the performance was slammed online as a “bizarre” stunt, as Rolling Stone wrote at the time. Feldman later returned to the show to perform “Take a Stand,” after which he was criticized for dropping an American flag.

Now, the star has worked that newfound viral attention into an extensive U.S. tour for him and his Angels, including a stop Thursday in Philadelphia, at Underground Arts, presented by the Awesome Fest.

We recently caught up with Feldman by phone to discuss how the Angels front man finds his band members, about knocking his tooth out onstage in Milwaukee, and about why his “haters” keep him “smiling all the way to the bank.”

What has the reaction to your live show been? Is it a situation where you have to win people over because of your prior film and television work?

I don’t know if it’s win people over so much as weed out the fans from the skeptics. Basically, I divide it into three sections: 50 percent hardcore fans, 25 percent curious onlookers who know the buzz or saw the Today show, and 25 percent coming because they’re haters, and they think I’m going to be a train wreck.

When those people show up, they realize there’s nothing to laugh at. It’s kind of like when the class clown makes a bad joke. They get that experience, like they’re naked in the middle of the crowd, and everybody’s looking at them like, “Shut up, dude.”

How do you view the response to that Today show performance? It must have been rough.

In the beginning, I was very shocked and very hurt, like, “What are you people thinking?” I saw it as a very painful thing.

But obviously [the performance] doesn’t suck. We all know it doesn’t suck. We all know it’s great, and if it wasn’t great, people wouldn’t be watching it over and over. That’s a sign of greatness. Even if you say you’re a hater, I’m sorry, but a hater who watches something over and over is not a hater at all, they’re a fan.

You seemed mostly bothered by the idea that the Angels didn’t play their instruments on the show, like in Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video from the ’80s.

Obviously, the easy way to go would have been to grab a bunch of girls and fake it. I guess if I wasn’t a real artist, I might have. But I’ve never half-assed anything in my life. Anything that I put my name on is going to be top quality if I have any control over it. I can solemnly swear that I have gone through all sorts of different trial-and-error to come up with five girls that are the best female musicians I have found on the planet.

So these Angels touring with you aren’t the Angels on the Today show performance?

It has gone through different incarnations. The first incarnation was the band I took to Bonnaroo back in 2015. The girls we had on the Today show, although talented enough to pull off one song, certainly would never have been able to pull of 35 songs and be able to play for two hours live.

You’ve said that you find the Angels band members through your Corey’s Angels management company. How does that process work?

Everything I’m doing now is through Corey’s Angels, because Corey’s Angels is kind of the powerhouse, the principle player. The main focus, of course, is the 360-degree management, development, and production aspect. We scout talent, we broker talent, we develop talent, and then we utilize the talent, both in our own projects and sending them our for other projects.

The company, however, deals exclusively with female clients. How do you respond to the criticism that Corey’s Angels is exploitative of women?

After having a business like this run on beautiful women for five years and never having one negative story come out in the press, I think you could say the proof speaks for itself. When you’re dealing with only women — and especially beautiful women, as I’m sure many men know — they can get quite moody, and they can also have lots of bad days. Let’s just say that if there was anything negative going on, it probably would have come to light.

Why do you think the company has faced that type of backlash, especially online? 

The thing is, you call it backlash, I call it an upswing. People have this narrow-minded view just because of a few negative media [folks] out there. We can call it “fake news” or whatever you want to call it. But because there is no substance to it, it just keeps blowing up in their face. We’re pure, and we are what we say we are, and that’s it. Keep hating. Because we’re smiling all the way to the bank, I promise you.

Though knocking your tooth out onstage in Milwaukee the other night may have paused that smiling, but you kept playing.

It’s called dedication, bro. I felt embarrassed, of course. Luckily, we had an honest angel in the audience — we’ll call her a “fangel” — and she found the tooth and held onto it for dear life. She was an honest girl. As she was standing there with it in her hand, there was another girl next to her who she didn’t know going, “Oh my god, you got it? You should keep it.”

So what can fans expect when you come to Philly this week?

Anything can happen, as you’ve seen. We put people in a time machine, where we start off playing some of the new album, and go back to the past in the early ’80s to show people all the connective tissue of my film and music careers. We’ve got videos, we’ve got lasers — even bubbles. Bells and whistles.

It’s a lot of fun — like eye and ear candy for two hours. And it is a two-hour show, so people should be prepared to make a night of it and stay out late. You won’t be home early that night.

Any particular message you want your Philly fans to take away from the coming show?

The message, at the end of the day, is really about love and light. All my songs do reflect a message because I believe as a songwriter that my responsibility is to preach a positive message. Most songwriters write a lot of negative [stuff], and there’s a lot of self-fulfilling [nonsense] that’s out there. It’s very ego-driven and monetary. I’ve just never believed in that.

Corey Feldman & The Angels, 8 p.m. Thursday, Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. Tickets: $20-$95. Information: 215-627-1332, www.undergroundarts.org.