The news of returning vocalist and guitarist Pepper Keenan to Corrosion of Conformity made waves across the heavy music world over a year ago. Keenan spent his time playing guitar in Down, while guitarist Woodroe “Woody” Weatherman and bassist Mike Dean reunited with drummer Reed Mullin in 2010 (the Animosity lineup) to record 2012’s Corrosion of Conformity and 2014’s II, and the 2012 free EP Megalodon via Scion AV.
This version found themselves touring and reacquainting with longtime fans, which took them through Knotfest. Following this appearance, the band is feeling good and gave longtime Southern California fans their first look at this lineup since their hiatus in 2006.
“That was totally Slipknot who that hooked us up on this. It came straight from the fucking band,” said Keenan, talking about getting onto the festival.
“They wanted COC, and which was an awesome thing. I’ve known those guys and the fact that they asked us weirdo rednecks to do this…it’s great. That carries a lot of weight. We’ve had a lot of friends support this thing. It’s been awesome.”
Having Keenan on stage with them did bring back old memories from the Deliverance and Wiseblood eras, and helped stimulate the energy on stage. Longtime fans were reunited with songs from that time period that were not played for some time.
“I think people are stoked to hear those songs they need to hear. I fucking love playing them. All of those classic tunes, from the Blind album and Deliverance all the way up,” said Weatherman.
“We’re in a weird situation because we haven’t played together in so long. What band gets that opportunity to get back out there and get so much help from fans and other bands hooking us up. So it’s really fucking cool. The songs still work. They work fucking great.”
“We’re on tour with Clutch right now. We’re using this time to get our heads together and [figure out] where do we go from here,” added Keenan.
Were there any songs from that era that they rediscovered from that era that they hadn’t performed as much? “I’ve got all the demos. There’s a song off from the Deliverance era that’s pretty strong. We probably won’t do them but the energy is there. It’s a good thing. You have to progress a little bit. I don’t go backwards,” said Keenan.
“We don’t go backwards but we still have riffs around. Shit we’ve had for a long time like ‘fuck! Why didn’t we use that? I don’t know…’,” added Weatherman.
Keenan said the four members were in touch during the time apart, even though each were doing their own respective things. “Yeah. It was a long time coming. We kept it on a lo-key thing and waited until the moment was right. We went to Europe this summer, not knowing what to expect. We went back a few times.”
So did the time apart make their bond stronger? “I think the one locking element was the songs. Playing the songs, done them, and do them again the next day. It’s all good. We’re having a good time.”
Since his time in Down, Keenan had not sang a note with a band in some time. Getting reacquainted with that role, he talked about how he worked himself back into that position.
“I hadn’t sang in 15 years. Literally. I had to fall back into it. Remember the words and write them down and then go from there.”
“Double up the Coors Light!,” joked Weatherman, with a huge laugh.
Plus with Dean handling vocals for the trio version of COC, would they somehow work the two members in to both doing vocals on future material?
“It’s possible,” said Keenan.
“When we did it in the past, it was on Deliverance – the title track on that. We all join in. We fill in where we can,” added Weatherman.
Even Mullin, where he shared his vocal skills on the Teenage Time Killers album, may make an appearance behind the mic. “He sings every night a little bit,” said Weatherman.
Speaking of Mullin, the appearance also marked his return, and had not performed with this incarnation since 2001. Having him back in the fold also added a spark that fans often missed throughout that era. Weatherman shared his thoughts on him.
“Yeah this is really…Pepper’s talking 15 years – that’s how long it’s been since all four of us – this four piece has been since ’01 or 2000-whatever it was because Reed split for a while. So it’s nice. It’s the real deal and we’re back up.”
Weatherman talked about how doing the trio brought out the punk rock side of COC, and finding a side of their sound that was overshadowed by their melodic riff driven sounds of the recent years.
“We knew all along that sooner or later we’d be back with [Pepper] Keenan doing his shit. So we’re doing a little punk rock here and there and playing some old shit,” he said.
“I’ll be honest…I want to combine some of those elements now because we’re there, where playing wise we’re going into manic crazy shit or whatever. I like the energy of whatever they did and the last album, In The Arms of God was a pretty strong record. That’s a catalyst for us,” added Keenan, praising the energy created by the trio during his time away, and possibly hinting where the new material could head towards.
As for a new record, the band has signed a new recording deal with Nuclear Blast and talks about a new album began to surface. Keenan gave their status on this and how far along they were on when such a thing would see the light of day.
“The main thing is gelling and playing together. It’s a different situation and now the riffs will start to come out. We’ll start to get organized. It’s a tall order there. It ain’t gonna be no half assed bullshit.”
By Rei Nishimoto