by Mark Kadzielawa
Corrosion of Conformity is a name associated with hard-core, crossover, speed metal, heavy rock. Call them what you want, but their musical transitions over the years are nothing but impressive. This band is a real chameleon, but all of its colors manage to attract a following.
Formed back in 1982, the band began to make waves. The line ups changed over the years, but the three names managed to reappear as the core of the band. Drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, and guitar player Woodroe Weatherman. The trio is responsible for one of the genre defining albums, "Animosity," which they released back in 1985. They were hailed as one of the biggest hopes of the 80s. As the time went by, the band progressed musically, and naturally altered their style. Only to peak once again with "Deliverance" in 1994. That version of the band included Pepper Keenan on guitar and vocals.
In 2010, Corrosion of Conformity returned as the original three piece. The band toured around the United States and Europe, and intended to make a studio record. Now in 2012, the self-titled, album is out, and the band is back on the road promoting the new release. The new album, has all the ingredients C.O.C. was known for over the years. It's a release that's very difficult to pin down stylistically. It fits with everything the band has done thus far, without compromising a single era. C.O.C. certainly plans another record with Pepper Keenan, who is currently on the hiatus from the band. Corrosion of Conformity is an American classic, and there is no doubt about it.
Guitar player, Woodroe Weatherman, shares his thoughts on the new album, and the mechanics behind the band.
As a guitar player, what was the biggest challenge for you to go from the way you play as a trio, as opposed to a quartet?
Woodroe Weatherman: Well, you know, it’s kind of the same thing for me. I’ve got my hole to fill there, and make enough noise to do it. The three piece is kind of a little bit of a different animal. But, really Pepper, with the singing, he concentrates on that as a four piece. He takes mostly the rhythms stuff, but we have a few parts where we would do some harmonies, and what not. In general, I just do my thing, and it’s kind of the same deal to me.
So, the mindset isn’t really that much different.
Not so much. I mean, the writing for the new record, we geared it a little bit towards the three piece band. But, that’s what we grew up doing. That was the original incarnation of the band, sort of speak.
The new album isn’t really a retro album. In fact, it sounds as if this configuration of players continued on through the years, and naturally progressed.
It wasn’t an intentional thing, you see. When we first began writing for the new album, I wanted to do a bunch of fast and heavy tunes that were reminiscent of what we did in the past. But, once we started writing, we just went into a direction that we always do, which is whatever comes out, comes out. It’s silly for us to plan anything when it comes to the writing. We never really do any pre-conceived kind of music because once we start messing with it, it all goes out through the window, anyway, you know.
How long did it take you to write this record?
It really came quick because everybody showed up with a bunch of ideas. Reed (Mullin) had several songs that were kind of done. Mike (Dean) had a few, and I had a bunch of stuff that was sort of halfway there. And we just kind of got together, worked on it, and finished them up. The writing went really quick, and the recording would’ve gone a lot quicker too. We’ve actually recorded it very quickly, but then we were like doing shows and stuff in between. We were doing some touring, so it kind of seemed like it took a long time, but we actually did it pretty fast.
Now with three tours, and a record under your belt, how are the people responding to the this version of the band?
It seems pretty damn good to me. I just feel lucky we’re able to tour successfully, and have a good time still. Of course having a brand new album out makes a big difference. People actually know the new stuff, and sing along, so that helps. We were actually doing several of the new songs on the two previous tours. But it makes a difference when people know the new stuff.
And what’s the initial response like?
Pretty damn good (laughter.) As a matter of fact, Mike and I were just talking about it. We need to create a little bit of negativity, just to get a buzz going. You know how it is on the Internet. There is always gonna be people who will say, “hey, it sucks!” But, I think that’s good to have a little bit of a sway back on it.
I’m sure everyone who expected a sequel to “Animosity” will be a little bit disappointed that it doesn’t sound exactly the same.
And I think that’s good to have people from all camps. Have people who love it, people who think it’s all right, and some people who think, “they didn’t do what I wanted them to do.” So, it’s good, because we always get that. All through the years, we would do a record, and with every record we always kind of do our own thing. It’s never exactly the same thing. And there is always people who go, “that’s not what I want my band C.O.C. to be sounding like.”
What’s so special with the three of you playing together? I mean, even as a four-piece, there is still the three of you that make up the bottom end of the band.
There is some weird rhythms there, you know. Strange timing, and what not. It’s just something that we seem to be able to do. Like I’ve said a bunch of times before, we’ve just sort of learned how to play our respective instruments together. And that’s coming from scratch for the most part, and I think it makes the big difference. Whenever we start playing, we don’t have to tell each other what we are thinking, that’s already kind of happening anyway.
Despite your music being called hard-core, crossover, or speed metal. There are a lot of odd influences if you listen to the band closely. You can probably track down certain songs to NWOBH bands like Iron Maiden, or so. What is what initially drove you into playing?
I personally grew up in a musical family. My Dad is a musician, so I was exposed to it from an early age. I didn’t know that I really wanted to play, but I was exposed to music, and going to the festivals. And I acquired an instrument at a pretty early age. I kind of fell into it, and once I sort of figured out how to play a few things, I went and saw some bands. Bands like Black Flag, and a few others. Once I saw them play, it dawned on me that it was the music I liked, and I’m gonna dive into it, head first, and we did. Next thing I know, we are playing. I think what helped C.O.C. a lot in the early days was that we immediately started traveling. We didn’t wait around. Before we even had anything solid out, we were already traveling to other cities and playing shows.
Come to think of it, you did exactly the same thing before the new album came out. There is definitely a pattern there.
That’s true. That’s our thing. You’re probably right, yeah. The history repeats itself.
Now the album is of course out, what are your immediate plans?
Tons of touring. Well, that’s it. We got a lot of touring for the new album. We got a lot of stuff already going. We already planning a follow up tour for the U.S. We got a couple of European trips planned, and more after that. And hopefully if we continue to have fun like we do right now, we’re gonna dive right in, and start writing some new songs.
There is always the four-piece version of the band that is waiting to happen. How far away is that from becoming a reality?
Well, you know, it all depends. The door is open. We’re having a blast now. We’ll see where it takes us. Like we keep on saying, Pepper is a good friend, we talk all the time. We’ll be seeing him in the New Orleans when we play there. He’s gonna be in town, so he’s gonna come out and party with us. I mean, who knows? Maybe we’ll talk about it then. We’ll see what his long term plans are. I know, Down, has some stuff coming out. But, we’ll see, the door is open. I think we all want to do it at some point, but there is no rush.
Do you happen to run into some of the former C.O.C. member like Carl Agell, Phil Swisher, or Simon Bob Sinister?
Well, Carl is around in Raleigh. I don’t see him much, but Reed runs into him every once in a while. I had an e-mail from Phil Swisher recently. He’s overseas, he actually lives in Europe. We saw Simon Bob out in Los Angeles, not too long back. He came to the show. So, we definitely see folks around.
In the past, C.O.C. was a very politically conscious band. How are the recent political developments influencing your lyrical output?
I think its touched upon pretty adequately on the new record. I mean Mike Dean and Reed, and Pepper for that matter, have crafted the lyrical message to be a little bit less in your face and obvious, and leave a little more of it open, to each person to interpret. Which I think is good, and keeps it from being so dated. I think there is always sort of that political undertone to all of our stuff.
Read our previous C.O.C. feature with Mike Dean, from 2010: