The Jimmy Cabbs 5150 Interview Series conducted an interview with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY bassist Mike Dean prior to the band’s February 27 concert at The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, California, in support of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On working guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan back into the band after an eight-year break:
Mike: “Well, we never had any type of falling out. I mean, we made another great record with Stanton Moore playing drums and Woodrow [Weatherman, guitar] and Pepper called ‘In The Arms Of God’ back in 2005. We did it in 2004, it came out in 2005. That was some pretty out-there shit; it was pretty creative. We were into it. We went out to tour and this whole [Hurricane] Katrina thing happened, so Pepper was kind of back to New Orleans, just taking care of family and stuff like that. That whole story just kind of happened and the guys from DOWN are suddenly putting out another record. We sort of intended to tour more, but it wasn’t like we had a falling out or anything like that. There was never anything really to overcome more then, like, ‘Okay, what do we do now?’ We started off and reconnected with Reed Mullin and we started off in a band called RIGHTEOUS FOOL, which didn’t do that much, but sort of paved the way for C.O.C. getting back together and it took off from there. We were exploring some of the hardcore influences, but getting into that heavy ’70s kind of thing a little bit too, just playing around with it. To me, it’s fun to play bass, be an accompanist, throw some riffs some people’s way, see if they like them. On one hand, what we’re doing now, that’s cool, maybe throw in a whole song. But, it’s also fun to kind of be the guy, you have to come up with some lyrics, you have to write the majority of the song, or you have to take a weird Woody Weatherman riff, incorporate it, and throw some vocals on it. It’s all fun either way. I just like messing around with music.”
On the various styles C.O.C. has played since its 1982 formation, including hardcore and Southern-infused heavy metal:
Mike: “The places where I put my fingers on the neck are pretty much the same thing. A lot of it’s kind of a blues box or a pentatonic thing that’s kind of, frankly, very BLACK SABBATH, derivative, very blues-based. We played hardcore songs instead of being major-key, whatever, they were like blues box clumps of chords. It’s kind of always been there, but I think, stylistically, when the band did ‘Deliverance’, that sort of refining that Southern thing, that took a step forward, just through production and being methodical. It’s kind of always been there. I think every time we put out a release, the people selling it have to think of something to say about it and the publicist has to think of an angle, it’s just talking about it that is problematic. [Laughs] It’s hard. I’m glad they’re out lobbying for it.”
On the songwriting process for the band’s new “No Cross No Crown” album:
Mike: “We were still on our games. It was just a matter of seeing if we still had the chemistry with Pep. The idea was to play a few shows. We played a few shows in Europe and then we got offers and we kept getting offers and we had a record deal and it was like 18 months before we really got around to getting to work on it. When we did, it was fun and it came pretty naturally. It was a little bit of hard work. It was a little intense. But, you know, the general compositions and stuff like that, just getting it down. Pep lives in New Orleans and we live in North Carolina so you have to have him up for four straight days and go 16 hours a day and stuff like that. I like working like that.”
On how having Keenan back in C.O.C. increases the band’s visibility over the power-trio incarnation of C.O.C. that Dean was fronting:
Mike: “I have some perspective on it because people have all kinds of ideas. [Laughs] You can’t really control what people’s perception are to that degree. It doesn’t bother me. I get that. There’s some stuff that we did in the last two records before this and the EP with Scion, the ‘Megalodon’ EP, there’s some good shit there.”
On the death of former C.O.C. vocalist Eric Eycke, who sang on the band’s debut album, “Eye For An Eye”:
Mike: “It was rough because I hadn’t gotten along with him since I was elected to break the news that we were kicking his ass out of the band, for strangely enough, being loaded all the time. He got the point where he would just drink a good size amount of Southern Comfort. But, he’s the dude that was like, for us, he was kind of like the cultural tastemaker. I might have heard of BLACK FLAG, but he had 20 more records I never heard. I might have messed around with skateboarding, but he was the dude who could really catch some height on a plywood ramp. I was into a lot of reggae, but he was the dude that was into all the big youth records. Him living up the street from Reed Mullin, who was a little younger, he was the guy who was, like, ‘Don’t listen to that.’ He was only a couple of years older, but acted like a leader. He’s a big cultural influence on a lot of people in Raleigh.”
“No Cross No Crown” was released in January via Nuclear Blast.
C.O.C. will join BLACK LABEL SOCIETY on the second leg of their North American tour along with EYEHATEGOD this summer. Set to commence July 14 in Cadott, Wisconsin, the trek will make its way through nearly two dozen cities, coming to a close on August 11 in Sayreville, New Jersey.