On January 12th, Corrosion Of Conformity will release No Cross No Crown upon the masses, a pile-driver of an album that is sure to please long-time COC fans. With Pepper Keenan now reconnected with the core Corrosion Of Conformity trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean, and Reed Mullin, anticipation has been high for this pending new release, their first with the Nuclear Blast family.
A few weeks from now, Corrosion of Conformity will be out on the road with Black Label Society, EyeHateGod, and Red Fang. When the release of this beast of an album finally happens, they shall be only a few weeks into the tour. They plan to focus on touring heavily for the remainder of 2018.
Woody Weatherman spent 15 minutes talking about No Cross No Crown with PureGrainAudio in this exclusive interview. The audio file is included here on Soundcloud if you’d like to hear Weatherman’s voice as he answers these questions.
Have you guys started rehearsing for your upcoming tour in a few weeks?
Weatherman: We have done some rehearsing, yes. Getting stuff together, trying to get at least a tune or two off the brand new record into the set. So it’s looking good.
I don’t know how you are going to pick, man. There isn’t a bad song on that album. It’s phenomenal.
Weatherman: Aw, dude. (laughs) Well, you know, it’s tough. Especially when we are doing, you know, a support slot? I mean shit, it’s tough picking a set list. There is a lot of material to choose from.
Yeah. I’ll bet. I don’t know. I think that album finishes really strong with “The Quest To Believe” and “Son And Daughter”. Those two tunes are just frigging insane.
Weatherman: Aw thanks, man. You know that’s a Queen cover, “Son And Daughter”. I’ll tell you a story about that song. John Custer, the producer we’ve worked with forever, the first record we did with him was Blind, and we have done everything else with him. The last several records really, at least two or three, he’s been talking like “Man, there’s this Queen song ‘Son And Daughter’… And we’ve been like “Aw yeah, that’s a good one.” And he’s been saying that’ we’ve got to do it. We’ve just been ignoring him on doing it. Finally, this time he put his foot down and said, “You guys are going to do a cover of this song. You’ve GOT to.” We sat down and learned it real quick and a couple of hours later we had that version on tape. And it was like “OK, cool. Good idea, John.” (laughs)
Heads-up! COC have “Cast The First Stone”.
Tell me a little bit about John. What is it that you enjoy about him the most and why do you keep going back to him as a producer?
Weatherman: You know, John is kind of an alchemist, a musical wizard, you know? He’s an amazing musician. I mean he makes Pepper and I look like idiots on the guitar, you know, he’s a wizard. But really, I think just because we know him so well and we have done so much together that he knows musicianship-wise what all of us can do and where our strong points are. So he knows how to kind of extract that out of us. He always has good suggestions. He’s just somebody we can fall back on if we run into a wall, you know? We can say “John, we are at this point where we’ve got a bunch of shit figured out and we need to go here with it.” And he will throw two or three awesome ideas at you. He’s just one of those types of guys, he doesn’t really get into it with the song-writing part with us, but he kind of lets us do our thing until we’ve got we want kind of there. And then it’s all the extras and all the stuff on top of it; the vocal timing and the guitar solos timing. Stuff with the rhythm and the bass. And even drums, he’ll have suggestions where he’ll suggest where a drumroll should be. I don’t know; we just keep going back to him because he’s awesome, I guess.
So at what point after your reunited shows with Pepper did you all start talking about maybe writing new material?
Weatherman: Well we had kind of been doing that from the get-go. That was the whole sort of point of it, from the point where we got back together with Pepper. He’d been gone all that time, and we’d been doing some three-piece touring and recording and stuff. We were always talking to Pep, and it was always known that when the time was right that we were going to give it a go again. We would meet up with Down on the road and Pep would come and play songs with us, you know? We’d do three or four songs on stage. It was all good. Whenever the time was right, we knew from the get-go that we were going to write music. We just thought initially that we should go and play four or five shows together and see if we still gel and everything is cool. And of course, it was cool, and it did gel, and we just kept getting offered tours. (laughs) We’d all say “Ok, let’s go in the studio. But so-and-so wants us to go out and do a string of dates.” Ok, we’ll do that. Next thing you know Randy and the Lamb of God guys were calling up and saying we should go out and do a month here and few dates there. And we’d say OK to that. Eventually, it got to the point where we just had to put our foot down amongst ourselves and say “Ok, No more shows right now. Let’s jump in the studio. That’s kind of how that came about.
Did you approach this material differently than you had in the past working together?
Weatherman: Yeah. As far as recording, we did. Because we didn’t do any demo work per se, prior to jumping into the studio. In past recording sessions, we’d demo some songs at least a couple of times, you know, and work on them a bit. This time we kind of sort of had that intention – we’d get some stuff on tape and see how it goes, but from the onset of this album, we were recording everything properly. Putting drums to two-inch tape and doing it like you were supposed to with a real record. But we got into it, and we were like, “Well, this sounds fucking good. I guess this is the record.” (laughs) We’re not going to fuck with demos, we’re just going to make the god-damned record. And that’s what we did. I think it captured some of the rawness. Really, when you look back on past records, we would do demos and then do the record and be very happy with it. But we would go back and revisit some of the demos and think to ourselves “Shit – The fucking demo was better, heavier and rawer than the real actual recorded version,” you know? It’s something to think about. I’m sure a lot of bands run into that type of thing, where they feel the demo was better, you know? So this time around there was no fucking demos. We just made the record.
That’s a thing you guys can feel as a band, then? Knowing you are crafting catchy material. I genuinely think that you’ve made your best album with No Cross No Crown. It stands up to everything that you’ve done in the past, and then some.
Weatherman: Ah, shoot man. I appreciate that. It’s a tall order to try and go in and top. We’re going to take it seriously. We’re not going to just go in (to the studio) and just fuck around. I mean, we work on it. I appreciate the compliment.
Can you talk about how some of these songs came together? And by that I mean, which songs came together first and which songs came together last?
Weatherman: Mmm Hmm. There was a couple of older riffs laying around that we dove on. but really, “Forgive Me” was one thing that Pepper had that we were playing. Not a whole song or anything, but a couple of the riffs that we were jingling with at soundcheck during the past year or two, and fucking with a little bit. But really the vast majority of it came together in the studio. Just everybody together. Mike, myself or Pep would show up with a riff or maybe two riffs. I myself had a riff, and Mike Dean said “Hey man, I’ve got this middle part that would probably go with your two riffs, and I’d go “Shit, that’s cool.” And vice versa. A lot of that kind of shit went on where probably more than half the song has a riff from everybody in it, you know? Half the songs on the album anyway. I guess that’s sort of always how we operate, you know? It’s a band, you know?
Can you tell me how Reed’s been doing? He’s been struggling publicly with drink. He’s brought his A-Game to this album, and I really hope he’s ok.
Weatherman: Yeah. I mean, you know, he did great on the album. Like all of us, he goes through his periods of where he has some trouble. I know he’s got a really bum knee that he’s been dealing with for a while. You know, parts start failing – especially on drummers, man. Elbows, knees, things like that. As we age, we all have our physical problems. But he has been having some issues, especially with his knee, man. Things happen. What are you going to do?
Do you reflect on your history with Corrosion Of Conformity? It’s been a long time since Eye For An Eye came out in 1984.
Weatherman: Yeah! It has been a long time. And really, that album was recorded mid ’83. It came out January of ’84. I was re-thinking about that. Holy shit!! You know, we were kids. 1982 was probably the first time we played a show under the name COC. We were sort of a band before that, but we didn’t have a real name. From the get-go we were kids. We just wanted to play some tunes and go crazy. At that time, we just wanted to go as fast as we could and play as hard as we could and be crazy. And really the icing on the cake was being able to hit the road and see these cities and places I’ve never seen and probably never would have seen if I wasn’t in a band, you know? I still kind of have that same mindset. I just want to go out and be crazy and play music and travel. And have a good time.
Would you ever consider blowing the dust off those old songs off Eye For An Eye and Animosity? I know the sound is quite different from what you guys do with Pepper in the fold. But some of those songs are still pretty cool.
Weatherman: Yeah, well you know, whenever we were doing the three-piece thing, of course, we dusted off a bunch of that shit. And even as a four-piece version of the band, we have visited a few things off of Animosity especially on different occasions. At the moment though, we’ve got so much material that we just don’t have time to reach back that far. And to be honest man, it’s been a lot of fun to re-visit the tunes off of Volume Dealer, In the Arms of God and obviously Wiseblood and Deliverance and all that stuff. That’s kind of keeping us occupied right now. We’re just having a good time playing those songs.
Well, the album is not even out to the public for a month. But my hope is that it comes out, gets realized as the milestone that it is and that maybe you guys might take that on the road and do a special run of dates where you just play the album. And service some hits afterward.
Weatherman: (laughs) You mean play No Cross No Crown and that’s it?
Yeah! Why not? Mastodon toured Crack The Skye that way.
Weatherman: Well, it’s possible man. We’ve already been working on several of the tunes, getting our live versions up. Because, really, you go in the studio and you make a record like this. But technically, you’ve never played the songs live, per se. Sort of, the few times you ran through it just to get it on tape. But then you kind of have to go back and re-learn the songs. (laughs) A couple of months down the road you are asking yourselves “How the fuck did I do that again? What tuning is this song in again?” You forget you know? It’s almost like you are re-learning your own songs. Even with the older songs, were preparing for a tour and you want to add things to the set list that you maybe haven’t done in quite a while, it’s almost like you are learning a cover song. It’s pretty weird.
And you’ve got an audience that wants to hear a lot of your back catalog and a lot of your hits. So throwing out a full 60 minutes of new stuff at them, and then saying that you’ll pay a couple of old songs, it’s challenging for some of them. I get that.
Weatherman: Right, right.
Watch the band’s video for the single “Wolf Named Crow”.
How many sessions did it take for you realize the entirety of No Cross no Crown? Were you going in and doing one song at a time? Was it two or three at a time?
Weatherman: Well ok, What we did was Keenan would fly up and I would come down out of the friggin mountains – I live out in Virginia – and we would all converge there in Raleigh. We would literally jump in the studio for these five-day sessions and we would walk out of there with at least one song, and probably two songs at each session – pretty much done. Then go home for a week or two and then show back up again and do another four or five days of sessions and we wound up doing that probably eight or nine times and then the record was finished. They took it off to Vancouver to mix it. Next thing you know, here it is coming out. (laughs) It took a while. It was months – over the course of months – that it really took. I don’t know how long per se, I guess maybe seven or eight months? I don’t really know how long. That’s how we did it, man. It was a little bit of a different trip for us. As opposed to where you’d go in and just spend six weeks straight in some studio somewhere. We just kind of did it a little different this time. I think it has a cool vibe to it because every song has a different vibe and has different tones in it. Everything would be different every time. So it was kind of cool.
Did you cull everything out of those sessions into these fifteen songs? Or is there anything b-side wise that you are hoding back?
Weatherman: We pretty much used everything that we finished. There was probably, I would say, at least four songs that we just threw away. We would get into, and after you work on something for a bit, at least the way we were going about it, if you spend three hours on something and we’re really intense on it and it wasn’t gelling, we’d toss it. We probably did that with about four or five songs. But they never got enough on tape to be b-sides or anything like that. We used everything we had.
Cool. This album is your first with Nuclear Blast, Is it not?
Weatherman: Aw man. Nuclear Blast! Monte (Conner), he’s the one who was really brought us into that family. He was talking to them for over a year before he even signed us. He eventually just said “I’m putting you guys on Nuclear Blast.” We didn’t really realize how awesome of an operation it is, man. These guys are on top of it, you know? I mean, here I am talking to you, for instance. We’re all talking to people and it’s like a different world. They’re on top of their game. There is a reason why they are doing so well, you know? They push their bands. They don’t give you any grief. They let us take as long as we fucking wanted on this record and never said word one. As a matter of fact, they said: “Take as long as you want.” (laughs) And we kind of did. But they were cool with it. So far I’m super happy with Nuclear Blast and all of the people that work there. They are treating us really well.
And they have so many great bands on their roster. The opportunity to go out and do a package deal with some other bands that are on the Nuclear Blast label – there’s just so many things you could do there.
Weatherman: That’s true, yeah. We’ve thought about that. They’ve got a lot of great bands.
I’m just going to finish up with a fun one. Are you a collector? Like, do you en-masse anything aside from guitars and peddles?
Weatherman: Ah, you know, I’m not really a collector of musical items. What the hell do I collect? Shit. I dunno. Lately, I’ve been collecting cows. (laughs) I’ve got a field full of cows. I don’t know man. I used to collect different things and especially as a kid, you know? Little cars and crazy shit like that. Not really. I ought to get back into something and find a hobby of some sort. It’s not something I talk about that much. But I do enjoy getting out and doing some target shooting. I’ve got this property up here, and I’ve got my own little shooting range. I’ll get out and shoot a few firearms out here on my own little range. That’s kind of a hobby of mine, but I wouldn’t call it a collection. But that is sort of like my hobby.