Interview: Woody Weatherman of Corrosion of Conformity
In 1985 the world of hardcore and metal were served a thick and heavy helping of the future with the release of the Corrosion Of Conformity album Animosity. The album was completely unique, bridging the gap between the hardcore of the Cro-Mags and the thrash stance of Metallica. Since its release, Animosity and COC have gone on to influence two generations of bands. Everyone from Pantera to Lamb Of God owes a debt to both the band and their iconic history in music.
Jump ahead thirty years and the original three piece is back. Mike Dean on bass and vocals, Reed Mullin on drums and Woody Weatherman on guitar reformed and spent most of 2011 touring and playing the Animosity album front to back. Not being a complement bunch, the reinvigorated COC kicked out some new jams and 2012 will see the release of their self-titled album (check out my review here). I got to spent a little quality rock time with Woody Weatherman where we talked the past, the future, the new album and, of course, what’s up with Pepper Keenan.
CRAVE ONLINE: So you’re back together, out doing the Animosity three-piece tour and everybody loves it. Was it always your intention to record an album of new material or did it start out as just for fun?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: There was always the intention of having new songs, which we did almost right off the bat. We had written two or three new songs to help supplement the Animosity album stuff when we played it live. I think maybe at first we just wanted to test the waters and see how much fun we were having but it didn’t take too long to realize that we wanted to write an album as a three piece and tour off of it.
CRAVEONLINE: So this was never just a walk down memory lane?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: No. We definitely didn’t want to do a nostalgia thing and just go out and do the Animosity record. We wanted to have new songs, a least to play live.
CRAVEONLINE:What was the mindset for the new album?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: I don’t think we really had a goal as far as direction or an idea. I think most people thought that since it was the trio we would just go in and do another Animosity record. We didn’t intentionallynot do that, but we also didn’t want to only do that. I guess we just let the songs come naturally as we always have. Probably in the back of our minds we thought we should have some upbeat songs since people will expect them but once we started writing all of that went out the window.
CRAVEONLINE: The new record really sounds like an amalgam of everything COC has done over the years.
WOODY WEATHERMAN: I agree with you man. Looking at the record now and hearing it I really think it touches on all the things we’ve done and the different incarnations and time periods of the band.
CRAVEONLINE: That’s a lot of history for one record.
WOODY WEATHERMAN: It wasn’t hard to get all those styles together when we were writing. I really think it touches on the history of the band without going off too far in one direction. It just happens, I don’t know how.
CRAVEONLINE: It’s been over two decades since Animosity. Has the writing dynamic changed between the three of you?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: Maybe a touch. I think Reed contributes a little more actual riffs now. He’s always been an amazing drummer but now he has his song writing going on and that’s been coming in. In general we’ve always been a unit, even if it’s just Reed humming a riff to one of us. One song might have parts that we individually wrote. It works because our heads are all in the same place.
CRAVEONLINE: How did you guys get back in touch with Reed anyway?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: Reed’s in Raleigh North Carolina and even before we decided to bring the Animosity thing back he and Mike were involved in the Righteous Fool project, which they still have rocking and rolling. Funny enough what spearheaded the whole Animosity thing was Pepper (Keenan, former guitar/vocalist) who called us individually with some thoughts on doing a few festival dates in Europe. Mike and Reed and I started jamming in preparation for that but they never really happened. We just decided to keep on jamming because we were having such a good time.
CRAVEONLINE: COC has always had a social consciousness to it. Does the new album continue that tradition? Are there any particular songs that address politics?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: I think Mike does a great job of touching on subjects without being too pointed about it or too obvious. We like to leave things open to interpretation, especially Mike and Reed. There are several subjects broached on the new record. One in particular is “The Money Changers”, which harkens back to the Bible days and then through today. We actually just shot a video for that and Jesus does in fact make an appearance as well as some bankers and riot cops. I think we’ll touch on the political a little bit in that one. (Laughs)
CRAVEONLINE:Is it about greed?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: Yeah but not so obvious. We’re not saying “so and so is bad”. Things like that tend to seem a little dated.
CRAVEONLINE: Bands don’t really do videos anymore because the music world is so in flux. What does a grass roots band like COC think of the state of music and in particular how the internet plays into it?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: Obviously the internet is a wonderful tool. You mentioned making a video, well maybe MTV doesn’t play videos anymore, they never really played many of ours anyway, but now there are other outlets online like You Tube and such. More people probably see it on there than on MTV anyway. Then again you get into the whole piracy situation. It’s really detrimental to the record labels but with bands it’s more of a catch 22. It lets a lot of people get turned to your music but then its up to them. I guess if they truly like the music and your band they’ll buy the record. It’s a weird situation but I don’t think the music industry is dying the way a lot of people cry about it. It seems pretty robust from where I’m standing.
CRAVEONLINE: It also makes bands step up the live show if they really want to impress folks.
WOODY WEATHERMAN: That’s where you make your living and pay your bills is going on the road. Working, being out there and people coming to see you. You’re not going to make a living selling records anymore. If bands are going to pay their mortgage or rent they’ll have to hit the road.
CRAVEONLINE: Metal used to be a lot more socially conscious. Do you think it needs to return to that given how fucked up the world is right now?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: If they want to they should. It is a little surprising because the world is so fucked up, you’d think there would be more political songs coming out of the heavy scene.
CRAVEONLINE: Why a self-titled record? Is it a statement about the band coming full circle?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: I don’t see it as much of a statement. We needed to do a self-titled record and I thought why not now? It makes sense to me because it is back to the original guys who cranked the band up thirty years ago but people tend to see a self-titled record as you definitive work and all that. I do think it’s a great record but I would never say anything is our definitive work because that takes away from the next thing we do. We always try to do our best each go ‘round.
CRAVEONLINE: Do you think the next record will be a three piece or will you get back involved with Pepper?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: Who knows what the future holds. Pepper is a buddy and when we head down to New Orleans he’s going to come out and party with us. He came out and jammed with us a little last year. Down was on a couple of festival dates that we were on so I got up and jammed with them and he jammed with us and we’re all cool. The doors open. Nobody knows the future. It’s possible but it also may be that the next record is a three piece.
CRAVEONLINE: Would you rather do another record as a three piece or do you care either way?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: It’s all fun for me. Pepper is great player and songwriter and a big influence on the band when he’s rocking with us. I’d be happy either way. I enjoy both. It may also offer a chance to do some songs from our past catalog that we don’t do now.
CRAVEONLINE:Any particular moments on the new record you love or songs you dig playing live?
WOODY WEATHERMAN:“Your Tomorrow” is a lot of fun to play live because it’s so chunky and rocking. “The Doom”, we have a blast on that. We just added “Leeches” and Psychic Vampires”, which is a classic Mike Dean riff. We keep breaking out more songs and eventually we’ll just play the whole new record live.
CRAVEONLINE: COC, Down, Eyehategod, Pantera, Throttlerod, there is a rich history of heavy music from the south. Why do you think that is?
WOODY WEATHERMAN:You could really say that about so many geographical areas. I don’t know. There are a lot of great bands here but that’s true of anywhere. It could be that people grew up on certain things down here, more groove or butt shakin’ kinda stuff. That could add something to it. You have the Texas swing going on which lends itself to heavy music. It gives a bit more nod to it; people can really bang their heads to it.
CRAVEONLINE: What are COC’s tour plans?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: In March we head off with the Torche guys plus Valient Thorr and A Storm Of Light, which is a great bill. Then we head over to Europe in April for some festivals and then the West Coast in May. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more after that.
CRAVEONLINE: Perhaps an Eyehategod, COC and Down rock tour?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: That would so much fun. I mentioned earlier festival dates and one of them Down and Eyehategod are on it with us so who knows.
CRAVEONLINE: Outside of heavy music, what do you listen to that inspires you?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: It’s always been Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Carlos Santana and the Doobie Brothers. Then you get the craziness of a Greg Ginn from Black Flag and that’s where I’m coming from.
CRAVEONLINE: Does it ever bother the band that, as influential as you are on so many, you haven’t seen more mainstream success?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: No, not really. We’ve had enough success to keep us going out there and touring. We have fans that aren’t here today, gone tomorrow or fly-by-night. From that perspective we’re pretty lucky. Thirty years later we’re still touring and putting out records.
CRAVEONLINE: Looking back on the Animosity record. Do you see it differently now than you did when it first came out?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: It’s not that much different really. You’re just bludgeoning the guitar and having a blast. I do think we play those songs better now than we ever did and they sound better live. We approach it with the same gusto and feelings. It’s not that far removed we’re just a little tighter I think. When you’re twenty compared to your forties your perspective on life is a little different but when it comes to playing those songs my head is in the same place.