In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, the classic mid-’90’s version of Corrosion Of Conformity is back! Back as a quartet! Back with Pepper Keenan! Back on tour! Back with a new album! Back!!!
But I digress.
Most recently, they were back in town when they hit the Worcester Palladium as direct support for Black Label Society where we had an opportunity to sit down with founding guitarist Woody Weatherman and pick his brain about how the amazing No Cross No Crown came to fruition before taking the stage later that night for a blistering set that included staples like “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” alongside fan favorite classics like “Vote With A Bullet” which is even more relevant now than when it was released back in 1991.
Speaking of new songs woven into the current set, Weatherman discloses that only one has made it so far while more are on the way:
“There’s a bunch of new songs that we HAVEN’T played live. The only thing we’ve been doing on this trip so far is ‘The Luddite’ off the new record. We’ve got a couple others worked up but really just no time to get ’em in because we’ve got all these other songs we wanna do, too. There’s a few that people expect to hear when they come to a COC show…and there might be complaints if we didn’t do ’em but there’s some other ones comin’. I think we’ll be bustin’ out ‘Wolf Named Crow’ and we’ll try to figure in a couple more when we get to the headline thing again.”
Since COC returned to the road to feel things out as a quartet in 2015 they’ve done stints with Danzig, Clutch, and Lamb Of God as well as their own headlining treks across Europe and the US. But with a catalog as vast as theirs, do they prefer opening or headlining?
“Both are great! I like ’em both but it’s good to switch up! Of course, if it’s your show and a headlining gig you get to play longer. Also, a tour like this with Zakk (Wylde) is awesome! We’re still doing around 50 minutes so we squeeze a lot in there and you can reach a slightly different audience. It sounds weird but there are people that come every night where it’s (COC) a new band for them, believe it or not! They’re Zakk fans or Black Label fans or whatever and they may have heard the band but never seen us so it’s nice to be able to grab some new fans out of it, too.”
With the current tour wrapping at the end of February, plans for what’s next are obviously in the works:
“We’ve got a bunch of stuff lined up. We’ve got the obligatory festival run in Europe coming up in June so that’ll be fun, and possibly some more dates with these guys (Black Label Society) if it all works out which’ll be cool…and we’re thinking about a headline run in the States so we’re trying to fill up the next year. We’ll see what happens.”
Getting back to the latest opus, Weatherman admits there was a little pressure this time out versus previous Pepper-fronted releases but not from where you might expect:
“There was more internal pressure because we weren’t just going to throw some piece of junk out there. Amongst ourselves we were all ‘Man, it’s gotta be good!’ As far as matching older records, we weren’t really thinking like that. It was more: where do we hop off from? [And] looking at the last few things that we did, we just used that as our hoppin’ spot. I think it worked. It wasn’t like a conscious thing when we started writing. Riffs are just riffs, y’know? They’re gonna be a little different on every record and we’re not going to write the same song over and over thank goodness. I think it encompasses COC, sort of like the whole picture, there’s a little bit of it all mixed in the record.”
When asked if the experience with Keenan this time around was different, Weatherman offers this:
“A little bit. We pretty much just wrote the whole thing in little sessions in the studio. We all showed up and had ideas and all that stuff so from that perspective it was a little different, just the entire approach. Just camaraderie and knowing what everybody does, well, it was just like ridin’ a bike. You just get back at it. So from that perspective, it was business as usual.”
But at the end of the day and with a band that’s had a number of iterations, line up changes, and still has a solid catalog …which version does Woody prefer?
“Obviously there was a big leap from the 1985 COC to the 1994 COC, we evolved and things change but mindset, it’s all the same to me, man, we’re just playing music and doing the best we can and having fun. Personally, I like this version that we’re doing right here and what we’re gonna keep doin’. I love playing all these songs. I love those albums. It’s a real joy for me to get up there every night and do it.”
The incomparable No Cross No Crown is out now through Nuclear Blast. You can read our review here complete with purchase info then head on over here for up-to-date info on COC, including where you can catch them live next!