Phone interview with Mike Dean of Corrosion Of Conformity
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
August 9th 2010, Los Angeles CA
Andrew: What did you think of Power Of The Riff festival last night?
Mike: The show was very good. It was an all-day affair. A lot of surprisingly good bands, people turned up early and stayed late. I quite enjoyed it.
Andrew: How did you manage playing two sets? Both your bands Righteous Fool and Corrosion Of Conformity played last night.
Mike: I think it was a little bit of a challenge to do that, but we pulled through it. It was fun! Righteous Fool played very early and COC closed up. In between there was a lot of great music.
Andrew: You guys did a couple of shows in NC at the end of July. Those were your first shows in more than twenty years. How did that feel?
Mike: It was surprisingly easy. It was not difficult at all but it feels a little strange when you start thinking about it like that. But it was good times. It's exciting to be playing with Reed [Mullin, drums] again. He hadn't played with COC since 2001 (laughs). It's been a little while.
Andrew: What can you tell the fans about the set list for the current tour?
Mike: What it boils down to is, basically four new songs, the entire Animosity recording and just a little bit from Technocracy.
Andrew: Because you guys played after such a long time, what was the rehearsal like? Was it hard to get together and play those songs again?
Mike: It was kind of unusual and surprising, because for some of the material that we hadn't played in such a long time, in twenty-something years, I remembered every part exactly, verbatim. And then if there was a part that I didn't remember, it was like I completely forgot it. I even forgot what my fingers were supposed to be like on it. It was like I forgot that the part even existed. The Animosity arrangements are a little bit intricate for that type of music and we suffered from a short attention span at that time. So we just keep the songs moving along and tried hard to make it interesting, so there's not that much repetition in it and there's a lot to remember. It is quite different from the more recent COC in that regard, and surprisingly so. So yeah it was a little challenging for sure.
Andrew: You also did a new seven-inch single 'Your Tomorrow', which has a brand new song on it. How did the recording process go?
Mike: Yeah that's two versions of a brand new song, or actually a song that's too long to fit on one side of a vinyl. We just recorded that in June in a barn in Virginia and basically (laughs), I tricked the other guys into recording it. I was claiming that we were only doing this as a demo so I could write my lyrics or whatever. The idea was to not get them into a state of mind where they try to be perfectionists, just to make it easy to get them to play naturally. We set up without much isolation. They were kind of against the idea till I put it together and they agreed to do it, and Greg from Southern Lord suggested that we should have it when we get out on the road, just to set ourselves apart from all that's coming out of the woodwork now, you know, trying to cash in a little bit while we go out and play. So we wanted to have something new and it turned out really well.
Andrew: You started the other band Righteous Fool last year. Was it because of the COC hiatus?
Mike: Yeah, originally Righteous Fool started out as a band with Woody [Weatherman, COC guitarist] but he moved farther out into the country to live in the mountains and actually started doing farming, had a kid and became less available for playing music. So I took a little bit of that material and started playing with Reed for the first time in a very long time. Jason Browning is a friend of his. We started to jam and Reed asked if we could name the band Righteous Fool, and I was like yeah, we might as well. It's a good name.
Andrew: A good name and good music. It was a good show by Righteous Fool yesterday.
Mike: Oh thank you very much. Did you stay the whole day? That was a long day (laughs).
Andrew: I did, and it was tiring! I don't remember the performance by every band that played in between but I definitely remember Righteous Fool. A long day for sure.
Mike: Yeah, definitely!
Andrew: A new COC album is supposed to be in the works. A lot of people must be wondering what's happening with that.
Mike: We actually have five new songs put together enough to perform now and the rest of it is kind of a work in progress. But creatively speaking, I think we're in a process where we're cranking out the music in a natural way and it's coming together. So I think in another couple of months we should be ready to record in earnest. I'm not sure if we're going to keep recording ourselves up there at the farm or we'll go to a fancier facility. I think we have our current take on our classic style in mind. We're definitely expanding on our past identity but we kind of have some new stuff to offer. So I'm excited about it. I want it to come together quickly without over-thinking it.
Andrew: So can we expect more tour dates once the album is recorded and you hit the road proper to promote it?
Mike: Yeah, that's the plan, to do that and also do a full length Righteous Fool recording and keep touring together. Also there is some talk of doing some shows with Pepper [Keenan, Down and ex-COC] in the Deliverance line-up format. That's sort of how this whole thing started. We had some invitations to play High Voltage festival and perhaps do some dates in UK and Europe, and then it turned out Pepper was busy with Down. So we found out we couldn't do that but the fire had kind of been lit under us and we wanted to go out and play. There were some good opportunities. I made the suggestion in just, kind of jokingly, saying that I wish we could play some three-piece shows. Nobody laughed and everybody was really quiet (laughs).
Andrew: I read that you were open to the idea of even recording an album with Pepper. How much truth there is to that?
Mike: Well the truth in that is we want to do a three-piece full-length recording and we're going to do it. But I think our next move after supporting that a little bit, will be to look toward changing it up again and depending on the schedule of Down and Pepper, doing something with him because I think people would be excited to hear that. I thought that 'In The Arms Of God', the last recording that we did with him, was really amazing. I thought he had some good ideas and really enjoyed doing it. We didn't tour enough on it, partially because of Down's schedule and partially because our record company was in the process of going under, also the hurricane Katrina striking at that time. It was bad for Pepper as he had to cancel some dates to get back to normal and all that. So we came out with a really good release but never got a chance to support it. Just the idea of expanding on what we were doing in In The Arms Of God and then bringing Reed back in to play drums, for me that would be really exciting.
Andrew: This year it's the 25th anniversary for Animosity ...
Mike: (Laughs) Wow! That's crazy.
Andrew: Is that one of the reasons why you're playing it live now and can we expect a special release of the album?
Mike: I don't know if you can expect a re-release because people who own the rights to that record are difficult to do business with. We've tried to get them to re-release it but they claim it's not available but you can buy it on Amazon. I'm kind of confused by that. To me that looks a little shady. I'm not a fan of theirs actually. I'm not sure what's going on with that (laughs). It kind of makes me sad.
Andrew: How would you compare the sound of the new recordings to Animosity for instance?
Mike: I think it sounds like the same band but it's another era. So I think it's compatible and it stands up next to the old stuff. It's may be a little more tuned down and a little more space in it, perhaps even a little melodic but without losing the intensity in my opinion. Well hopefully, that's the idea anyway (laughs).
Andrew: COC have had guest musicians like James Hetfield and Warren Haynes. Can we expect anything like that on the new album?
Mike: Actually that's a good idea. I'll let you know. I think Pepper Keenan might be a good choice (laughs). But I think it's sort of a duelling drummer scenario with Stanton Moore and Reed Mullin. May be they could be head to head on the cover of Modern Drummer (laughs). I'd just like to really get the drum geeks on board.
Check out Corrosion Of Conformity's official website.