With a career spanning more than three decades, Corrosion of Conformity have been through many guises since the release of debut album 'Eye For An Eye' in 1984. Through shifting musical styles and numerous line-up changes, it's the band's 'Deliverance'-era that remains their most popular. Returning after an incredible fifteen years, 2015 finally saw the Southern rockers restored to their Pepper Keenan-fronted best, with the 'Deliverance Revival' tour paving the way for a new start, and a new album. Now back with the long-awaited 'Now Cross No Crown', we sat down with drummer Reed Mullin for a chat about the new album. Without wings; Eamon O'Neill.
How are you today?
Well I’m doing pretty goddamn good! I’m stoked we’ve got a big tour with Black Label Society for two months. It’s going to be great; it’s like forty-five shows, which is a lot for old geezers like us.
You’re gearing up for the release – at last – of the new album ‘No Cross No Crown’; how does it feel to be finally getting it out?
Oh man, such a relief, because we worked on it for a while. We’re really proud of it. I think it’s organic. It’s got a got a lot of energy to it; it’s a fantastic album. I think we did a really good job with our producer John Custer. He’s been our producer since the ‘Blind’ album, and he’s like, the fifth member of the band. He did an expert job of capturing that live energy and live sound. It’s not too overly-produced, but man, there’s some crazy good guitar work on that.
‘No Cross No Crown’ is the first Corrosion of Conformity album to feature the 'Deliverance'-era line-up since ‘America’s Volume Dealer’ back in 2000.
That’s right, yeah. It’s a bit of a break. Well, you know, we’ve been through changes in our history. If you count, we’ve had eight different singers, so we’re like Sabbath who’ve had different singers too. Woody [Weatherman, guitarist], and Mike Dean [bass player], and myself have known each other forever - as a matter of fact, I’ve known Woody since fifth grade. I think as we played together and learned how to play music with each other, it seemed automatic. And it was fun too, definitely a blast.
Is it a big thing for you to go back to being the four-piece with Pepper Keenan in the band, after releasing two albums as a trio?
Oh no, not at all! *Laughing*. We took to it like ducks in water; we came back, and it was automatic. We did that nostalgia tour [‘Deliverance Revival’ 2015-2016] kind of to test the waters, every barometer I guess, to see not only if the fans would take to it, but also how we’d get along and stuff like that, because like you say, it’s a little while since that line-up played. But man, it was a blast, and it’s still fun after how long? Jesus Christ, 35 years?! Is that right?
The sound of 'No Cross No Crown' is very much rooted in the same vein as ‘Deliverance’; was that a conscious decision?
No, it was just kind of what oozed out of us. It wasn’t a conscious decision to make ‘Deliverance II’, really. But I know what you’re talking about; there is a lot of similarities, for sure.
One of those similarities is the return of the short instrumental pieces between songs which made ‘Deliverance’ so unique.
Oh yeah, the seques. I think we first started fucking around with those things on the ‘Blind’ album, just doing little piece of music. We just always enjoyed them. Black Sabbath is obviously a big influence on us, and they did quite a few of those things. I think we’ve had at least one on every album since ‘Blind’. One of my favourite things about ‘Deliverance’ is those bits.
Like the song ‘Shelter’?
Yeah. Pepper was fucking around with that, and I was like; “You’ve got to record that, it’s so bad ass!” It adds a lot of depth to the ‘Deliverance’ record, for sure.
The first track to be released from the new disc was ‘Cast The First Stone’, which really sets the tone from the album; is it like planting the flag and declaring the four-piece line-up is back?
That’s exactly right, yeah. I think we did a good job on arranging the songs, and the order of the songs. I think that everything flows. Don’t you? Yeah! You and I agree on everything!
There’s a real Celtic vibe on ‘Forgive Me’; Were you listening to Thin Lizzy’s ‘Emerald’ before you recorded that one?
Oh my God, yeah. We’re huge Thin Lizzy fans. Actually, one of my best friends, he moved to Dublin just to meet Phil [Lynott]’s mom. *Sings* “Forgive Me! Forgive me!” – there ain’t a bad song on there, buddy!
Over the years’ the band has had an output that has varied in style; what have been your personal favourites?
Well, of the hard core punk area, I think I like ‘Animosity’, and then I love ‘Blind’. That was a really fun album to do; look at the drums on there - they have weird time signatures. But it’s a hard one to pick from the Pepper-era. I guess it would have to be ‘Deliverance’, but they’re all pretty damn good.
What have been the most memorable tours that you’ve been on?
The first tour that we did in the UK and Europe, I think it was ’89 or something like that, and it was us and D.R.I., and I can remember almost every freaking show from that, or when we toured with D.R.I. in the States, because we were little punk rock kids, just getting out in the van. If you think of it; it was always an adventure, just to get gas! Bands back then didn’t make all that much money, and the biggest bands to us were Black Flag, The Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and stuff like that. But then [in 1996 - 1997], we went on the Metallica tour, and I remember some of the shows, and it was so comfortable and plush and lush, and it’s interesting, because I can remember almost every D.R.I. show from thirty years ago, but not the Metallica dates.
Those Metallica shows were during the ‘Wiseblood’ era.
Yeah, and they were so cool, they really were. I got to play drums on that Misfits cover they do; ‘Last Caress’. I think the last night was in Copenhagen, and Hetfield comes up to me and he goes’ “You’re playing the Misfits song with us tonight, right?” And I said; “WHAT? Dude, are you sure?” So, I was nervous as fuck, and I got up there and I killed it! I was like, man, poor Lars’ drum kit is like, bashed in because I was playing so fucking hard! At the end of the song I had Hetfield, and Jason [Newstead] around me, and the next song was ‘Master Of Puppets’, and they were trying to get me to play it. And I’m thinking; “Oh man, this is a dream come true!” So I’m about to count off, they’re egging me on, and I get a little tap on my shoulder, and it was Lars, shaking his finger at me; “You can play the punk song, but not that one!”
Finally, and back to the present day, and when can we expect to see Corrosion of Conformity live dates in Europe?
We’re looking at doing a lot of the festivals. I don’t know if they’re announced yet, but we’re talking about doing a bunch of those. That would be cool.
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Corrosion of Conformity's 'No Cross No Crown' is released on 12th January 2018, via Nuclear Blast. Click here for various coloured vinyl and CD options from the Nuclear Blast store.