Corrosion Of Conformity: "We didn’t sell ourselves out to get a record deal"
When Corrosion Of Conformity’s classic line-up reformed in 2014, they realised they still had a spark. Tenth album No Cross No Crown finds them as bluesy and ballsy as ever
How many times have you seen bands get back together, some bunch of old dudes, and they make a record after so many years and it’s like, ‘Damn it, so close!’?”
When it transpired that plans were afoot to reunite the classic Corrosion Of Conformity line-up that made 1994’s major label breakthrough, Deliverance, it felt like a big deal to a lot of people – frontman Pepper Keenan included. Speaking to Hammer as the band prepare to release their long-awaited 10th album, No Cross No Crown, Pepper recalls the moment late in 2014 when, after a decade of focusing on playing guitar with Down, he took a leap of faith and reconvened with founder members Woody Weatherman (guitar), Mike Dean (bass) and Reed Mullin (drums) in a small practice room in Raleigh, North Carolina. Nine years after the release of his supposedly final album with the band, In The Arms Of God, it was time to see if the old chemistry was still there.
“I think at this point in the game I’ve learned to not close any doors, but it has to be done right,” he says of the decision to rejoin his former comrades. “It was always a matter of when we all had downtime, so we could do it for real, and not just some money-grab thing. Eventually we all showed up at this little place we used to call the Wig Shoppe, in Raleigh, and honestly, I hadn’t sung in 10 years! It was a whole new ball game and a real challenge. But it was just like back in the day, like a weird fuckin’ time warp. The next thing I knew we went back on the road for nearly two years. To be honest, I think we fucked up, because we kept touring but we didn’t have a new record.”
Despite getting great reviews for their reunion shows, COC have clearly spent much of the last two years itching to get back into the studio. As Pepper avows, the band’s ethos has always revolved around the thrill of making new music, but being stuck on a bus somewhere in Canada wasn’t proving terribly conducive to the creative process. Luckily, fate intervened.
“We had riffs and we jammed at soundcheck, but anyone who says they write songs on the road is full of crap!” he roars. “We can’t just spit something out. People kept asking us back so the gigs kept coming, but then we signed with Nuclear Blast. They came poking around and that made everything a lot easier. I was very happy that we didn’t have to spend years selling ourselves out to get a record deal. They just came to us and said, ‘Hey, we want a record!’ OK, cool, you know? Let’s make a record. It was pretty simple.”