Wednesday, 30 September 2015 09:15

Four-piece Corrosion of Conformity hits the road with Clutch, eyes return to the studio

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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Corrosion of Conformity Corrosion of Conformity COURTESY PHOTO

CLUTCH with special guests
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
Psychic Warfare World Tour
The Orbit Room, Grand Rapids
Oct. 15, 6 p.m. doors
$25, all ages / orbitroom.com, (616) 942-1328

When people ask Woodroe Weatherman what kind of band he plays in, the affable guitarist for Corrosion of Conformity describes it simply as a rock group.

But really, the Raleigh, N.C.-based COC has long stretched the musical boundaries for hard and heavy music, morphing from a band that lays down blistering one-minute-and-30-second-long hardcore punk, flat-out thrash, southern-fried metal and stoner rock — sometimes all on the same album.

“I could name off eight genres — sludge metal, stoner metal, heavy metal, hardcore. We’ve dabbled in a little bit of all of it,” said Weatherman, who just turned 50 this year. “Back in the day, we knew we did not want to get pigeonholed, ever. We did not want to be labeled just hardcore or heavy metal, although our music tends to be heavier. We love all that stuff.”

For fans who came to know and appreciate the band in the ’90s and early 2000s during the Blind, Deliverance and Wiseblood days, COC played a brand of rock heavily steeped in the sludgy tradition of Black Sabbath with doses of St. Vitus and old-school Metallica thrown in for good measure — except James Hetfield wishes he could croon like Pepper Keenan, COC’s longtime vocalist, guitarist and songwriter.

Weatherman believes COC really arrived at something special on their seventh album, 2005’s In the Arms of God, which featured Galactic’s Stanton Moore on drums. The riff-heavy, raw, nearly jazz-like album drew praise as a departure from the highly polished America’s Volume Dealer (2000) and the band was preparing for a widespread tour supporting Motörhead in the U.S. and Canada. But their plans were ultimately interrupted by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Keenan’s hometown of New Orleans.

“We put a lot of effort into that and it took some doing to get it done,” Weatherman said of In the Arms of God. “But I think it didn’t get a fair shake. We got cut off from supporting it.”

In the interim, COC went on indefinite hiatus as Keenan returned home and focused his efforts on Down, his NOLA-based project with Pantera’s Philip Anselmo. COC would eventually pick back up in 2010 as the original three-piece lineup with bassist Mike Dean and drummer Reed Mullin, dropping two records and an EP, although Keenan never officially left the band.

The four kept in touch about reuniting, but none of the members wanted to force the issue, Weatherman said.

“It just got to the point where the timing is right,” he said. “It’s just fun to play those songs again, I won’t lie to you.”

After a tour of Europe, COC played its first U.S. gig as a four-piece in almost a decade in April as part of Munster, Ind.-based Three Floyds Brewing Co.’s Dark Lord Day beer release party.

Now the band is headed on the road with familiar tour mates Clutch for its Psychic Warfare World Tour, including an Oct. 15 stop at the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids. There’s also talk of a U.S. headlining tour to pick up after the trip with Clutch wraps up at the end of the month.

After that, Weatherman said the band hopes to hit the studio to record another album with Keenan and John Custer, COC’s perennial producer.

“With our last record (with Pepper Keenan), In the Arms of God — we want to pick up where that left off,” he said. “We were on to something there, and then Katrina happened. Then the band went on hiatus and we never picked it back up until 2010 when we started doing the three-piece stuff.”

The formula for hitting the studio remains the same as it was all along, he added.

“When we started out, we loved a lot of the classic bands,” Weatherman said. “We’re huge Sabbath fans, and we love Bad Brains and The Melvins, and we just tried to meld it together in one big pot.”

That said, even after 33 years of being in COC, Weatherman approaches each new chapter in the the band’s history with an open mind.

“It’s hard to predict where things will go,” he said. “Since we’ve got the ball rolling back in mid-2010, COC has been working nonstop. We haven’t stopped yet. You’ve just got to keep moving.

“It’s nice that when we take a break and come back that the people are still there,” he said. “It’s not that I’m shocked, but I’m stoked that they’re still there and remember us. We’re lucky that way and I really appreciate it.”

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5 Questions with Woodroe “Woody” Weatherman

Ahead of Corrosion of Conformity’s tour supporting Clutch across the U.S., co-founder and guitarist Woodroe Weatherman spoke with Revue West Michigan in a wide-ranging interview about his career, the music business and COC’s history. Here are some highlights from the conversation with Revue editor and resident metalhead Joe Boomgaard.

Why did signing on for the Clutch tour make sense for COC?

It’s been a little minute or two since we’ve been out with Clutch, but we alway have a blast with them. The bands together have some history. We’ve traded off on tours on and off over the years. The one thing that keeps those two enjoying touring together is that we enjoy some of the same fan base — it melds together pretty well. People ask for it, believe it or not, and we take people’s advice some time. (Laughs). They’re a great band to tour with.

You just turned 50 a few weeks ago. Does that qualify you as an elder statesman in the heavy metal scene?

(Laughs.) Yeah, I get free cups of coffee all over the place now. (Laughs.) I don’t know, man. It’s been 33 years of being in the band. We played our first show in June ’82, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. It’s been a lot of fun.

What stands out to you over your career in COC?

When we were young and first got to do some traveling, it was super exciting when we’d show up in a city we’d never been in before and have people show up. Still today, there are some cities I’ve never been to, and it’s still always a thrill. And then I love it when we show up a second time and more people than the first.

What keeps you fresh as a guitarist?

It’s not so much on the musical end. I don’t know, man. I’ve got some land here (in Virginia) and I raise animals. I’m here on the farm right now. I’m sitting here looking at chickens, cows and goats. Sometimes I like to take a break and not even look at a guitar for a week or two.

Looking back on more than three decades in COC, what would you do differently?

Ah, shoot. Occasionally, we’ve taken breaks and I’ve thought that maybe we should have kept the breaks to a minimum and not taken as many hiatuses. We should stay working, but it’s hard to stay out there constantly. A lot of bands do it — and have success, so it pays off for them. Look at Clutch: Those guys work hard and never stop. In all honesty, it’s hard to stay on the road all the time, but it’s nice to have work.

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