A metal institution, Corrosion of Conformity have consisted of many guises over their four decade history. Their most enduring however, has been the four-piece 'Deliverance' line-up, featuring Pepper Keenan out front. Featuring founders Mike Dean on bass and guitarist Woody Weatherman, the passing of drummer Reed Mullin in 2020 brought the curtain down on this era. Looking forward, they're bringing back 'In the Arms of God' drummer Stanton Moore for a new album, and are as focused as ever. "We miss him, but it's all part of moving forward", says Woody as we sit down for a chat. We caught up with the guitarist and bassman Mike Dean ahead of their Dublin show to talk about the passing of Reed, and what lies ahead. Pearls before swine; Eamon O'Neill.
Hi guys, you're back in Dublin for the start of another tour; what's it like to be back in this part of the world?
Mike Dean: It's great to be back anywhere, yeah! It's the first time we've been out of the United States or out of North America since the plague. We're always happy to be in Dublin, and this time, it's the first stop, so we're a little messed up from the travel, but we're gonna endeavour to persevere.
How long has it been since you played a gig?
Woody Weatherman: Well, we did a US tour.
Mike: The last gig we played was in Toluca, Mexico about three months ago, on December forth .
So it's exciting times for us, because we haven't seen you in a while.
Woody: Yeah, because we had a trip over here booked, during the, as Mike says "the plague", and it got shitcanned.
Mike: Yeah, we had some stuff cancelled. We were supposed to be back over in like, 2020. I was hoping I'd still have some airline credits!
You guys are regulars to Ireland. I think the first time you played here was on the Megadeth tour for 'Youthanasia' in 1995.
Mike: That was a good time. That was also the first time I've ever been to Europe, or Ireland, or anyplace, really. It was a big show. Just seeing how a big show, a big tour like that works was interesting.
That was in the 'Deliverance' era, which was very successful. You played with Metallica at Donington on that run too.
Mike: They didn't even call it 'Monsters of Rock', it was just Donington.
Woody: It was the Donington festival, and back then it was just one day.
Mike: That was like a quick 35 minutes or 30 minutes at 11 in the morning. People showed their appreciation by urinating, like, they bring in plastic bags full of beer, drink the beer, then piss into the bags, and they would show their appreciation by hurling the bags at the stage.
The last time eonmusic spoke to COC was around the release of 'No Cross No Crown', and that was with Reed Mullen who has sadly passed since then. First off, condolences; was it a shock when he passed?
Mike: It's a shock when you know, when you really realise it. Yeah, it was kind of a shock, yeah. Such an important musical contributor, you know? Definitely an innovator.
Woody: Nobody really plays like Reed.
How's it been for you moving forward?
Mike: You can't replace him, for sure.
Woody: But you know, it's all part of moving forward. We miss him.
I was so happy to read that Stanton Moore is going to be playing drums on the new album.
Mike: That's the plan. Yeah, we've been down to New Orleans and had a little writing session. We got together and picked it up pretty much where we left off.
Woody: We turned the embers over a couple of times, rebuilding the fire!
Mike: Yeah, he's amped to do it, and he's got his indomitable style, so that's a good way to follow up the last one, for sure.
He last appeared on 2005’s 'In the Arms of God' which is such a great album. Have you any plans for him to play live with you?
Mike: Probably not. He played a couple of like, one offs with us. He might have played five shows with us in history. It was complicated for him to keep all the material in mind because he'd be playing and he'd be on tour with Galactic and learned a bunch of stuff and he had other people that he collaborated with. So it was kind of hard for him to retain the repertoire. He's used to playing more improvisational, kind of winging it on the fly type of stuff, and some of our stuff is pretty composed; it's got a lot of stops in it and things like that.
Did you reach out to him for the new album because he's obviously part of your history, or was it a combination of things?
Mike: It's like, what he could bring to the situation.
Woody: He kind of spearheaded it, if recollection is clear, because him and Pepper, they both live in New Orleans.
Mike: Yes, they talk to each other all the time, so yeah, it just kind of happened.
Woody: He expressed his interest, and we were like; "yes, that would be awesome, if, you know, if you got the time". I mean, we'll make up time and we'll do it.
Mike: But it's always, you know, the stuff that he did, when Reed came back, it was fun to hear Reed interpret, like the songs that Stanton did a little bit. And it's fun to hear Jason who's playing with us tonight, like, you know, him interpret those parts.
In that last interview with Reed, he enthused about playing the 'In The Arms of God' material.
Woody: Yeah, we did quite a few tracks off of 'In the Arms of God'.
Mike: Yeah, I liked his interpretations of those things, for sure.
The title track of that album is so brutal. I remember you played a killer show at the Astoria in London around that time, with Clutch opening.
Woody: That was a great bill.
Mike: The fact that that you mentioned Clutch, we worked up a version of that song with John Paul [Gaster] from Clutch, and he played it like in a kind of a lazy way, and then we were like; "yeah, I don't know", and then he did in a way that was more over the top, like Slayer. And we were like; "what if you split the difference?" And that's why you have that change. So that was kind of a... well, John Paul Gaster kind of like, helped shape that song with his interpretation when we were just just working on some stuff. Because there was a point where we were considering doing a that record with him.
Looking forward to the new album, how far along are you in the process?
Mike: We have demos that we made that we're working on, and before we get to recording we need some more ammunition. We need to do that again a few times.
Woody: We went down and we spent what, three or four days. Mike and I went down to New Orleans for four days with Stanton, and Pepper, of course.
Mike: I drove from Raleigh, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a day and a half driving, but I had to bring, you know, we couldn't do it without like, Woody's guitar rig, and we needed to bring some recording gear down there and the bass amp and stuff.
Speaking of gear, I think I saw you using borrowed gear at Bloodstock a few years ago!
Woody: The last couple of times we played over here we've had some issues getting into the U.K. The luggage didn't make it in time so he's [Mike] played Hartke. At Bloodstock Hartke were kind enough to loan out some genuine Gibsons as opposed to the ESPs. It happens, you know; the airlines lose your guitars.
Mike: They almost lost our singer for 24 hours really. He's just gotten into town today. As I was leaving the hotel to come here, he was arriving.
What's happening next for you?
Mike: We need to get home and write, jam was Stanton and write. And we have something called Milwaukee Metal Fest which apparently is now run by Jamey Jasta [Hatebreed], so it's like a lot of very familiar bands playing out there in Milwaukee, so as soon as we get home we're gonna go fly to Milwaukee and do that. Then it’s just work on songwriting, jam together and come up with the best parts, distil that down into a song and them learn it and record it.
Any idea about when the new material will get a release?
Woody: It’ll be ‘24. I mean, we’re almost halfway through ‘23. It’ll be early ‘24, we’ll see. I don’t want to make any promises.
In terms of sound, will it stick to the same kind of mould as ‘No Cross no Crown’?
Mike: You know, it’s hard to say. I think you’ll hear some new ideas, but I think you’ll hear a little bit of the ‘In the Arms of God’ vibe because that’s where we’re picking up with, in terms of jamming with Stanton. And he’ll have his Stantonisms!
Woody: It's probably four or five pretty solid ideas in the process so far. It’s pretty brutal sounding. We’re jamming a couple up that show promise. I mean, you never know what will happen.
Mike: It shows promise. I think we’ll stick with it.