We are still reeling from the devastating news we brought you last night of the devasting loss of Punk and Metal legend and drummer Reed Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity. While we gather our thoughts to prepare a proper tribute, the entire music world seems to have mobilized an outpouring of love for Reed and support for the C.O.C. family at this time. Here are some remembrances from across the music world right now of the life and times and of Reed. Continue reading
If you saw Corrosion of Conformity this winter in the US with Black Label Society, Red Fang and EyeHateGod, you may have noticed a certain punk and heavy metal legend was missing behind the drum kit. Reed Mullen was sitting out the tour with a knee injury, that he eventually got replaced this spring. Redd has announced that he is rejoining the band this summer, but not before their upcoming European tour, taking place soon.
Teenage Time Killers, the supergroup put together by Mick Murphy (My Ruin) and Reed Mullen (COC) is putting on a one-off all-star concert in Los Angeles on September 12th. Featuring many of the big names that make up each of the tracks ofGreatest Hits Vol 1, (Rise Records) taking the stage with Murphy and Mullen will be Randy Blythe, Corey Taylor, Neil Fallon, Lee Ving, Tommy Victor, Vic Bondi, Phil Rind, Ron Beam, Tony Foresta, Clifford Dinsmore, Tairrie B. Murphy, Jonny Webber, Greg Anderson, Pat “Atom Bomb” Loed, Karl Agell, and Trenton Rogers. Tickets are already on sale at this link:
Have you ever heard an album so good you thought it was made just for you? Like someone reached into the great boombox in your brain and pulled out just what you wanted to hear? Well, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Rise Records) by Teenage Time Killers is that album for me. If you have yearned for some new tunes to come along and kick your ass back to 1988, then this music is for you. Masterminded by Mick Murphy (My Ruin, and Reed Mullen (Corrosion of Conformity),the core band is rounded out by the ubiquitous Dave Grohl and chipping in everything except lead vocals and Greg Anderson (Sunn O)))/Goatsnake) and his mighty axe. In addition to a cavalcade of former and current stars from across punk and metal, it’s an ambitious attempt to turn the idea of a supergroup on its head.
Certainly, a lot of hype has gone on about the assembled players, especially the vocalists. If you re thinking of Grohl’s Probot project, you are not far off. That was Grohl paying tribute to his metal heroes. TTK is all about paying tribute to a certain mindset. An era when writing fun, smart songs that hit you where you live was the norm. Mullen has put his distinctive angry yelp on many C.O.C. albums and does a fine job here on the opening track ‘Exploder’ and on ‘The Dead Hand’. ‘Exploder’ is just a classic punk track with all the whoa-oh-ohs you can handle. Second track ‘Crowned by the Light of The Sun’ sounds like an early-era Clutch song and thus Neil Fallon is right at home singing over some stone grooves. The most blistering track here is the thrash/punk ‘Hung Out To Dry’. Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) just slays the track with his parts.
Following these first salvos the rest of the album is a tad uneven in a few places, but on repeated listens the entire thing holds together well. Jello Biafra is predictably pissed off in the too-short ‘Ode to Hannity’. ‘Barrio’ featuring Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio/Blink 182 has the second-best track on the album. It’s another fun old-school sing-a-long that is both fun and political. Mike IX (EyeHateGod), Tommy Victor (Prong/Danzig) and Tairrie B. Murphy (My Ruin) anchor the three of the remaining real standout tracks. While it’s great to have an album in 2015 with Lee Ving (Fear), Karl Agel (COC Blind/King Hitter) and Phil Rind (Sacred Reich) altogether, at times you wish the tracks were a little stronger. Although a little short of total greatness for all the meaningful names, Teenage Time Killers backed up having the stones to call this album Greatest Hits Vol 1.
The reunion of the classic Deliverance line up is hotly anticipated with a sold out crowd ready to greet Pepper Keenan and the rest ofCorrosion Of Conformity.
Kicking the night off in fine style were London based bringers of sludgy despicable metal Hang The Bastard, and boy were they sludgy. Looking like the Born Too Late-era Saint Vitus (only with less convictions for holding onto Walter White’s stash) and sounding just as punishing, like a wave of grim descended upon the venue. Drawing mainly on their last album Sex In The Seventh Circle the five piece slam through their 45 minute repertoire of heavy lumbering riffs and ear piercing vocals against a constant wall of nothing but uninterrupted feedback. The simple stage set up of red lights throughout added to the hazy almost bleak red room from Twin Peaks feel to the evening, if only instead of weirdest the backwards talking dwarf was replaced by riffs that made your brain want to dribble out of your ears. The fact the PA in the venue was blisteringly loud didn’t half improve the bands’ set, making a hypnotic wall of sound that crumbled each time the bands rumbling bass sound kicked back in.
Playing a set comprised of In The Arms Of God and fan favourites Wiseblood and Deliverance this evening has a greatly celebratory feel from the off as ‘These Shrouded Temples’ and the stomping ‘Señor Limpio’ kick tonight into gear.
Keenan grins from ear to ear as fans raise their fists and voices for ‘King Of The Rotten’ and underground hit ‘Albatross’ which threatens to take the roof off. Woody Weatherman clearly enjoys having his fellow riffmeister back in the fold, trading off licks while Messrs Dean and Mullin hold down the groove with an almost telepathic ease. There are plenty of surprises too. ‘Goodbye Windows’ is given its live debut and ‘Broken Man’ is aired for the first time in nearly twenty years. A stellar performance which receives a rapturous reception, the North Carolinians reputation as a jewel in the crowd of underground metal was cemented tonight.
WORDS: ROSS BAKER AND DAN O’BRIEN
Corrosion of Conformity continues to mine away at our collective psyches, grooves crushing so hard as a power trio with their latest album IX (Candlelight). The band is out on the road supported by hardcore mainstays B’last, Brant Bjorkand The Low Desert Punk Band and Lord Dying; tearing up stage after stage, night after night. Ghost Cult’s Curtiss Dunlap caught this tour in Portland, OR, (minus B’last) at Dante’s. Check out his photos from the show:
Brant Bjorkand The Low Desert Punk Band on Facebook
PHOTOS BY CURTISS DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY
Corrosion of Conformity have a great new album out, entitled IX (Candlelight). Still a trio, I had the pleasure of interviewing the very cool Mike Dean about this latest killer release, which is chock-full of southern-fried grooves, a touch of punk and the tasty riffage COC is known for. After exchanging pleasantries, we got right down to business…
I loved the last record (Corrosion of Conformity, Candlelight, 2012), but I’m digging this one (IX)a lot more. How do you feel this release compares?
“I like it a little more myself. I think one the things that differentiate this one from the self-titled – which I’m proud of – is the fact that we dusted off that trio lineup and put in it in effect around the same time as the record so we hadn’t really…owned our identity as three-piece in this era. It took a lot of going out and playing in front of a lot of people to sort of develop that. So the whole ‘identity’ factor, was one, and the other factor was our experience with the self-titled. At that time, we got on a plane, we flew to California, we made a record at a far away studio, and we didn’t actually have all of our equipment, so we just looked around for what we could find, and we utilized that, and it was kinda challenging, but the short version of it is we didn’t really get a sound that reflected what typifies what we do together. So when we made this record we took the approach of capturing that.”
So then there was a bit of…not finding your feet, so to speak, because obviously you guys have been playing together forever, but getting that comfort level back, plus not having your own equipment, being away from home…
“Yeah, it just made us hungry to sort of, say, yeah, let’s get Woody Weatherman’s entire battle-rig, his entire guitar set up, and let’s find a place to put some microphones in front of it so it’s like being there, and in terms of the drums, let’s document Reed Mullin and his 30-something-year-old drumkit he’s had since before he could legally drive and really capture that, and it interacting with the room and the acoustic space.”
What is your favorite track on the record?
“I have to say…it’s kind of a toss-up…today, I’m gonna have to say…’Brand New Sleep’. It wasn’t supposed to be on the record. You know, you write 14 or 15 in order to get 10, so I think those guys didn’t think we were recording it for the record, and they were just having fun, and didn’t even know we were getting a take, it was a real casual run through. So they were a little surprised when I put a vocal on it and it ended up as the lead-off track on the album.”
There is definitely an almost funky vibe in some spots on this one. Was there anything in particular that lent to the groove, or was it just getting even more reacquainted writing and playing as trio again?
“Well, ya know, we’ve got big ears, we listen to a lot of different stuff. Rhythmically, Reed Mullin has a lot of tricks that he does. The inspiration for some of the funkier parts would be ZZ Top, stuff like that. Even the jazzier elements like what Bill Ward would bring to the table. There are a number of moments that are in reverence to Black Sabbath, it’s all over certain songs, like ‘Elphyn’…we just listen to a lot of music, and I think it’s kinda fun to do that in heavier music, because it’s not often used to good effect, in that there may be a kind of stiff, Hip-Hop, type of mechanized mall-Metal version. so it’s fun to do that in a more organic, heavy fashion.”
Obviously you guys can go through styles very easily, you’ve pretty much covered it all. When you say Sabbath, the eleventh track (‘The Nectar Reprised’)…that is SOOO Sabbath! The first track of it was it’s own thing, but the reprise you went all out with the Sabbath
“Yeah, there is a particular lick, it’s not anything verbatim, but I know what your mean!”
Can you give us any info on the upcoming video for ‘On Your Way’? Did you choose this song, or the the label decide to use it?
“We had a little talk, and we told them four songs that we were okay with making a video for and that happened to be one of them. Ya know, they do whatever scientific process of deciding what they’re going to invest their dollars in, and it happened to be ‘On Your Way’ which is fine because that was one of the tracks we were okay with. I don’t quite know what the process is.”
Well, at least you had some say in it…I know some labels are like, “here is the single for the video, go here and film it”…
“Yeah, and moreso in the past, when there was just more money at stake in general with music, but now it’s a smaller part of the economy, and it’s more a kind of informal thing.”
Which leads me to the next question, you guys have been around long enough to remember when a video was the big thing to do…how do you feel about even doing a video now having seen the video golden age come and go?
“Well..I don’t know if we saw the Golden Age…you saw the age where there was gold in a video because there was a big time expensive TV airtime (for them) and a lot of eyes on it so I guess that was the Golden Age. I don’t think it was the Golden Age of artistic content I mean, some of the music would be good, but we all know that the video essentially was at that time a TV commercial for a song, and now an Internet commercial for a song, and the people that directed them, you know we were lucky to get something that was non-formulaic or interesting into it. We’re hoping this one turns out a little difference. Yeah, I think it’s a good thing to shoot for, uh, a lot of times I wish I had an idea sooner of whether or not there was going to be a video so we could prepare for it and really do something special with all that kind of rush. But right now, the director is doing some raw footage down in Louisiana and told him I wasn’t worried about it, but I am a little worried about it. (laughs)”
So…it’s kind of a surprise; you did your footage and not you have no idea what he’s doing right now?
“Well, we kinda have an idea because we all came up with the concept together, but in speaking conceptually and writing a little description in an email and talking about it is a whole lot different than actually putting it together and putting in context. So, uh, yeah, I’m just preparing my, “Okay, well, we could change this type of uh…” tactful, helpful voice, steering it in the direction it was originally intended. It’s all just conceptual words on paper, but as far someone actually get all of that footage, combine it and get a look…but I trust the guy, I like his stuff. I like his work. He was able to work with Pepper Keenan, who can be super – when it comes to aesthetic things – he can be super controlling or at least super involved, and he was able to come out on the other side of that successfully, so that’s a good thing.”
Because of outside projects, I heard the recording for IX was a bit disjointed. What was the time frame between when you guys started working on songs and when you finally all hit the studio for real?
“The whole thing – songwriting, making the demo and doing some basic tracks, doing some overdubs, and finally finishing some vocals, and mixing and getting it to mastering, took about a year, but it really only took about 9 weeks of work. There were a couple of COC tours in there, and Reed Mullin was off working on the Teenage Time Killers.”
…And you were doing the Vista Chino tour, correct?
“Yeah, I did a couple of Vista Chino tours, a little recording and this and that…”
Was it hard to get into the groove so to speak, or were you and Reed able to just jump right into it?
“Nah, it was kind of welcome, it wasn’t long enough to where we had forgotten anything by any means, or it was unfamiliar. But after the time away, it was a welcome thing. You know, sometimes you can really get stuck on a piece of music, and you’re focusing on individual grains of sand instead of stepping back and looking at the beautiful beach. I think it actually helped the process. There was kinda of a point at the end there where we felt like we were up against the gun, and we really needed to adhere to some deadlines, and that can go good or bad, but I think it kind of helped us to just get the job done. The one thing I really don’t like in a lot of contemporary music is the fact that people will mess with it endlessly, and they will strive to make it perfect, whether it is the good ol’ fashioned, honest method of, “do it again, do it again”, or the contemporary, “I have a computer, I can do anything” in either case, to me, a lot of those performances that are achieved like that, you kind of smell a rat, even if they’re good musicians, it lacks the immediacy and the cohesiveness of some competent people that got almost perfect but not quite perfect. It needs the human element for me to enjoy it. Which doesn’t mean it has to be sloppy, or anything like that…”
COC’s records are never over-produced, never overly processed; they have that great live swing to them. Is that always the goal, or that’s just how it works out between you guys and (producer) John Custer?
“Well, I think originally when those guys started working with Custer while I was out of the band, it kind of went from, “what will these poor dudes are gonna do without me, man?” until a record called Blind (Relativity) come out, it’s just super musical and super kick-ass…I think that one, there was an emphasis of taking that idea of perfection almost as far as you can take it before you smell a rat or before you suck the life out of something but stopping way short of it. From what I told, now that I’m one of the engineers, and I know the guys in the back, it was a pretty exhausting process. At that point, those guys and Custer working together, they were really trying to make a statement and really make a tight, tight, tight, record. And it worked. From then on, all of us, and Custer in particular, he’s going for the performance. He has the ear for the performance, having a little something special about it, less on the technicality. There is a bare minimum of technicality, and he’s helping us with quality control and all that, but I find that his suggestions are…they’re fewer and farther between, but they’re just more…dead on. Everybody’s taste on that kind of thing has been pretty much in sync, there’s no telling how far we’ll take that aspect the next time just to see how it feels…it’s kind of what the material dictates to.”
Well, it is definitely refreshing to hear that “live” quality when everything is so overproduced and all of the souls is sucked out of it.
“Yeah, especially in the world of Metal when everything it gets, super-mechanized and all the drums are triggered. You, know you don’t even hear a drum set, you don’t hear a drum kit, it’s not like a unified thing, with a common ambiance, it’s more of a collection of drums that are all carved up to be individually controllable. That can be impressive in small doses, and it’s impressive that technology has made it a possibility.”
Certain bands do call for it, I mean, I can’t see a band like Fear Factory doing what you guys do. Certain bands call for that sort of thing. The downside is that you couldn’t hear the bass player, so it’s nice that a lot of newer recordings are getting off of that, and bringing back live sounds and bringing the bass back up. Which I’m sure you appreciate!
“Yeah, yeah, I do mixes for people and I have been accused of burying the bass a little bit, particularly if it’s my own, sometimes you have to step back and listen to the whole picture.”
I’m a fan of all of C.O.C.’s incarnations, but I’ve noticed that as a trio you never do any Pepper (Keenan) songs live. Is that a respect thing, or is it that you want to be true to the current lineup? What about singing ‘Damned for All Time‘, I think you would sound awesome on that!
“That would be challenging, man, that’s a serious Karl (Agell) groove! That’s Karl in full, almost Ian Gillan-eque mode. I guess, basically a lot of those songs, Pepper songs, Karl songs, it’s just…I don’t know if I would wanna hear someone else sing those. You kinds what…it is kind of a respect thing. I mean, respect for the original creator and singer, even more respect for the audience you don’t wanna try to…you know, sometimes these bands are like an ongoing circus they bring in members, then they kick ’em out, and live they try to grind out the hits, or whatever, but it’s not quite the same, you know, someone else besides Ian Gillan singing ‘Highway Star’”
Some people are happy being hoodwinked like that, and are upset that you don’t, but I think a slight majority appreciate it.
“One of the reasons we started off doing an original band is ‘cos we were hardcore punk, then we started putting in new influences, crossover, you know, whatever you wanna call it, the fact it, we couldn’t be in a cover band because we would mess up somebody’s song that was familiar to people, and they would call, “bullshit, you played it wrong!”, but when you create your own music there is no wrong, because it’s your own. So that’s how we started out, and years and years later now you have the pull of playing someone else’s material, that I was familiar with as a listener and give it the attention that it’s due, it’s real outside of my comfort zone, and kind of a challenge but it was a cool thing to do, and I enjoyed jamming with that.”
LIVE PHOTOS BY CURTISS DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY
Be still, my beating heart! One of my fondest memories was when I discovered that my father was a Corrosion of Conformity fan so imagine our mutual excitement when this beauty was thrown my way.
My favorite track off of IX (Candlelight Records) has to be ‘The Hanged Man’. I actually threw it on repeat for a good while. I would normally hate the little radio intro but it works when kept as short as it is here. The song overall has that old, doomy vibe to it that you feel right in your bones but with a faster pace. Seriously, just go put it on right now., it’s hauntingly beautiful and feels like it should be part of a much longer piece.
Some honorable mentions include the second track, ‘Elphyn’. I found it to be more catchy and interesting than some of the other songs and certainly worthy of terrible karaoke. ‘Who You Need to Blame’ falls into the same vein with its infectious grooves. It’s this kind of songwriting that has continued to draw fans in despite the lineup and stylistic changes over the years.
As for what I didn’t care for, let’s take a look at ‘Interlude’ and ‘The Nectar Reprised’. I know that a lot of bands and artists will include something similar on their releases but I’ve never seen much of a point to it when you can take that time to include another song or something that doesn’t otherwise interrupt the flow of the album. If I had to pick one song that I don’t care for, it would be ‘Denmark Vesey’. I respect the throwback to their punk side of things but it’s just not my bag. That being said, ‘Tarquinius Superbus’ isn’t bad.
There was a lot of hype surrounding this album and, while it’s not absolutely mind melting, it has its strong parts to suck you in. If you’re a fan of southern metal (and you really should be), IX is a great record that deserves a listen. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to enjoying this around a bonfire or two this summer.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE