For the longtime southern punk/metal hybrid juggernaut Corrosion of Conformity, the last year or so has been gone explored their past and setting a path for their future at the same time. With long time guitarist and lead singer Pepper Keenan pulling double duty with C.O.C. and Down for many years, Keenan has been working exclusively on material for Down, which left the rest of C.O.C. itching to play more with or without Keenan.
Starting early last year, the guys in C.O.C. decided to carry on as a trio and started touring a lot of festival dates, including last year’s Maryland Deathfest and numerous European festivals. The energy level ended up being so strong between the three that they went into Dave Grohl’s 606 Studio in California and recorded the band’s eighth album, due out February 28th.
Lead by the Sabbath meets punk meets southern metal tracks “The Doom” and “Psychic Vampire”, C.O.C. is proving that they are just as lethal as a trio as with four guys in the band. To promote the album recently, the band just finished up a bunch of dates with Clutch and are going out on the road with Torche and Valient Thorr with dates lasting through March.
Prior to the band going on tour, I had a chance to chat with drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin, who returned to the band late in 2010 after 8 years away from the group. Reed and I discussed how he had ended up being in the C.O.C. fold and his passion for the music has only increased over the years. Here’s my interview with Reed:
AM: How does it feel to be back in the band after the hiatus?
RM: I’m very fortunate. I’ve known these guys for 30 years now and in this band for that long. I got back together six months prior to all the touring that we did. I knew from the first time we all started jamming again that it was like the old days and it felt really good. I’m incredibly grateful to be doing this again, I feel like a kid again (laughs).
AM: How did you originally come back into the group?
RM: Well, we had been asked to do some dates with Pepper (Keenan), who had been in contact with us about these shows. But after we finished these shows, Pepper went to go work with Down and we were figuring out our next step. There was a lot of interest in the old school C.O.C. and we were way too engaged and excited to not continue, so we started doing these shows. We especially wanted to do shows this year, with being our 30thanniversary of the band.
AM: How did the band end up recording at Dave Grohl’s studio?
RM: It’s funny, I’ve known Dave since the mid-80’s when our bands used to play shows together. Right after my birthday, I went down to Atlanta to go see Them Crooked Vultures. It was right after the time they played Saturday Night Live, and did a skit where they played a wedding band with a name very similar to ours, which was funny. I went to the show and watched from the side of the stage and about a third of the way into the stage, Dave sees me between songs and runs over, giving me this sweaty ass hug and tells me how great it is to see me. Afterwards, Dave brings over John Paul Jones and introduces us and told him how great C.O.C. is. I was just in shock meeting him and had a great time. But from there, Dave invited us out to the studio and it was incredible. It’s one of the best studio’s I’ve ever recorded in and I’ve recorded in Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland studio and a lot of other good ones as well.
AM: The band has not recorded as a trio in well over 20 years. What were some of the advantages and challenges to recording as a trio?
RM: Actually, there were no real challenges recording this way. A guy like Woody (Weatherman-guitarist) taught me the mechanics and the basic principles of drumming 30 plus years ago. It is good to be in the band were you’re grown up with those guys and we all learned how to play together all those years ago. When we first started out, I thought we were kinda of a generic punk rock band, But over time, we brought in more Sabbath influences and the music started to sound a lot better. Being with these guys is as easy as eating apple pie. When it comes to music, I don’t really know anything else besides playing with Mike (Dean) and Woody.
AM: What were some of the things that you did in your hiatus from the band?
RM: I was in a couple of bands. One was called Man Will Destroy Himself. I had another band with John Custer, the producer for a lot of C.O.C. records. But a lot of that time was hanging out with my folks and doing the family business. They were totally supportive of me during that time. My folks were there in the beginning and were supportive, helping us book shows in the early days. During that time, my back was all f—ed up and needed some pretty extensive surgery and they were there the entire time. They’re getting older now, and it’s time to pay them back.
AM: Beyond the obvious things, what still motivates you after all this time in the band?
RM: I think all of the recording and touring is just awesome. I’m almost 50 now and I get a lot of people telling me “you don’t look anywhere near that old!” and things like that. I think part of that is the amount of pleasure I get from making music and the performances. I mean, we’re not rich from it, but it gives us a lot of pleasure to still do what we’re doing. I always like to remember a line that Henry Rollins told me that fits best, saying that “the recording process is the documentation of getting off musically”. It fits even more so now.
AM: What can fans expect for the upcoming tour?
RM: We are gonna give them some old school songs that people know and want to hear. There will be some new ones, like “Psychic Vampire” probably. But overall, we plan to mix it up a bit and make things quite interesting.
Corrosion of Conformity plays in Grand Rapids at the Pyramid Scheme on Tuesday, March 6th. Tickets are $20 and are available at www.ticketweb.com. The band’s upcoming self-titled album is due out February 28thon Candlelight Records. Additional tour dates and band info can be found at www.coc.com.