Originally published in Skratch Magazine (Issue #110, April 2005)
The mainstream has finally caught up to Corrosion of Conformity, the Raleigh, NC, band that has been releasing Black Sabbath-by-way-of-Lynyrd Skynyrd albums for the past 10 years. While Corrosion of Conformity’s history actually dates back to its 1982 lineup of guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist Mike Dean, and drummer Reed Mullin, the sound of the current Corrosion of Conformity was forged when guitarist Pepper Keenan joined in 1985. After the firing of lead singer Karl Agell in 1994, Keenan assumed lead vocalist duties with the release of DELIVERANCE and has been at the helm ever since.
When Corrosion of Conformity decided to take a hiatus following the release of 1996’s Grammy-nominated WISEBLOOD, Keenan used the break to join Down, the supergroup led by Pantera’s Phil Anselmo. 2000 saw the release of AMERICA’S VOLUME DEALER, as well as the permanent departure of founding member Mullin due to a back injury. After another lengthy break, the trio of Weatherman, Dean, and Keenan reconvened in August 2004 and added jazz/funk drummer Stanton Moore of the band Galactic to record arguably its finest record to date, IN THE ARMS OF GOD (Sanctuary). As stoner rock’s popularity has grown tenfold over the past few years due to the success of acts such as Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age, IN THE ARMS OF GOD provides the perfect mix of sludgy and speedy guitar riffs with the a classic rock foundation.
I caught up with Weatherman via cell phone as he took a break from watching a NASCAR race on TV while on tour somewhere in Nebraska.
Corrosion of Conformity is out on tour now with Motorhead. Were you trying to get on this bill, or were you approached by Motorhead?
WOODY: We were still in the studio working on this record when we got the call that Motorhead was inviting us out. At first, we didn’t really know what to do; we were unprepared. We were still mixing and messing around in the studio, but we told them we’d come out and do it, and I’m glad we did. It’s so much fun to be out with this type of band, the real deal and all that kind of stuff. We’ve never gotten to play with Motorhead before. That was another reason we decided to take the tour even though the record isn’t out. We’ve played with so many of our favorite bands throughout the years, and Motorhead was one of those ones that stuck out like a sore thumb because we hadn’t gotten to play with them.
How did you wind up getting Stanton Moore to play on the new record?
WOODY: Reed left after we got done recording the last record. He didn’t even tour with us or anything. When we got around to doing the material for this record, we had a bunch of the songs written but couldn’t find the right drummer to step up to it. So Pepper blew in a call to his old buddy Stanton down in New Orleans and was asking if he knew anybody who could fill the shoes, and all Stanton said was, “Hell yeah: me.” It was kind of a surprise, because he comes from a totally different kind of world. He brought it up to a new level. Galactic is his full-time gig, but he is constantly gigging, just playing live all the time down in New Orleans. He’s not out with us on this tour: our good friend Jason Patterson from North Carolina is out with us now.
Would you be interested in playing on the Ozzfest tour?
WOODY: I don’t know if we fit into that mold so much. This year’s lineup is supposed to include Iron Maiden, a band we’ve been out with. It’s a little on the corporate end of things these days. It doesn’t really matter, anyway, because you kind of have to pay to play, and I don’t think we’d be into that.
It’s been five years since the release of the last Corrosion of Conformity CD. How long did IN THE ARMS OF GOD take to come together?
WOODY: It came together easy. We laid down the basic tracks last August. By the time we went down to New Orleans and got back up to Raleigh and put the finishing touches on it…Hell, we got done with it a couple of weeks before this tour started. It was a very easy record to make. The songs were good, and it all just fell together really quickly. We didn’t have to sit there and tear our hair out.
What are your favorite songs on IN THE ARMS OF GOD?
WOODY: “Stonebreaker” is bad as shit. There are so many tough songs on that damn thing. “Paranoid Opioid” is fucking pummeling. The whole record is good. We’re doing four songs off the new one each night. We’re diving right in; we’re not wasting any time. I can see a point when we’re able to get back out headlining and do most of the new record live after we do this thing [we’re doing right now].
The guitar solo that you play in “World of Fire” sounds like Randy Rhodes.
WOODY: [Laughs] There’s a little bit of him in that solo. You try to toss all that shit in there. There are so many great licks to borrow from and turn into your own thing. I’m a fan, so why not?
I read that when writing the new CD, the band spent a lot of time hanging out at your place and just listening to music.
WOODY: Yeah, we do that pretty often. I’ve got an old farmhouse [that was] built around 1900, and it’s got a good vibe. We sit in there and turn the jams on and drink beer and shoot the shit. As far as new stuff goes, there are just a couple of things I’ve been stuck on. That High on Fire shit is pretty bad. And some of that Mastodon stuff is pretty interesting; it’s got some cool rhythms. But there is a lot of stuff that is just Joe Schmo, and you get tired of hearing the same old crap. That’s when you start dipping into the classic stuff-and you wonder why nobody has got that sort of creativity anymore.
With a five-year break between CDs, what did you do with your downtime?
WOODY: I didn’t do much. Me and Mike were holed up writing some stuff and messing around with a couple of different projects, and Keenan did another Down record during that time. Everybody was just kind of taking it easy until the time was right for Corrosion of Conformity to get back together. When it was right, it happened.
You guys were close to Dimebag Darrell. After the situation that went down with him in Columbus, are you more cautious now when playing shows and meeting fans?
WOODY: Not so much. That’s just an extreme case of someone who was insane. You can’t think about that sort of shit. It tore everybody up when it went down. It had a big impact on all of us, for sure. We were down in the studio working on this album, when everybody’s cell phones started ringing that night. We were like, “Fuck.” Other than that, you can’t dwell on shit like that. You just can’t think too much about it, or it will drive you crazy.
Corrosion of Conformity will be touring throughout April with Motorhead and then will embark on their own headlining tour in the summer. Check out www.coc.com for current tour dates and to sample tracks from IN THE ARMS OF GOD.