A year after the release of “No Cross No Crown,” Corrosion of Conformity’s first album with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in the fold since 2005’s “In the Arms of God,” the band is gearing up for a North American headline tour starting Jan. 19. Support on the run will come from Crowbar, Weedeater, The Obsessed and Mothership. Ten days before the tour’s launch, Live Metal’s Greg Maki caught up with COC guitarist Woody Weatherman to talk about the trek, the latest album, Queen and more.
LIVE METAL: Since we’re barely into 2019, did you make any New Year’s resolutions or anything like that?
WOODY WEATHERMAN: (laughs) I tend to stay away from that, ‘cause you never keep ‘em. (laughs) I’m just glad that we’re gonna be out there working, man. We’re gonna be doing it the whole year. So I’m looking forward to another year out there supporting the record. We’ve got stuff lined up ‘til the end of the year already. So it’s gonna be a good one.
The North American headline tour starts Jan. 19. You’ve got a bunch of bands you’ve toured with, and I’m assuming you’re probably old friends with all these guys—Crowbar, Weedeater, The Obsessed, Mothership. It sounds like that’s gonna be a lot of fun.
It’s like the big brotherhood on tour. We’ve all toured together through the years. Us and Crowbar, we’ve done so many shows—Weedeater and The Obsessed, too. Of course, Mothership, we’ve taken them out with us several times. It’s gonna be a fun trip, man.
Have you started putting together the set list? Are you gonna be working some more new songs into it?
Yeah, we’ve been tossing around some ideas. As a matter of fact, we were just talking to each other yesterday about a couple more off the new record. We’re not making a big deal out of it, but 2019 is the 25th anniversary of the “Deliverance” record, so we’re trying to squeeze a few more of those songs in. We always play a few of those things live anyway. But we’re trying to squeeze a few more of those in and just trying to get as much in there as we can. Most of last year, we did some headline stuff, but we were out as a support band to Zakk (Wylde) and Black Label Society and several other things, so we didn’t have the chance to play as long as we’re gonna be able to this trip. So we’re gonna get a lot more in there. We’re gonna give it the whole hour and a half, bludgeon everybody. After Crowbar, they’ve got another hour and a half of COC. (laughs) People are gonna be tired at the end of the show. (laughs) It’s all good.
When you start playing new songs live, have you ever been surprised by how certain songs either go over or don’t go over?
A little bit. The weirdest thing is, especially with this new record—a lot of it we wrote just right there in the studio. So a couple of these new ones that we’re gonna throw in the set are things that we really haven’t played since we recorded ‘em. So it’s sorta like I’m having to relearn the suckers—like “What we did do? What key is this in?” (laughs) That part’s kinda fun. But it is always exciting to do something you haven’t been doing live. People seem to follow that stuff—what tunes are in the set list and if you’re doing different ones than you did last time. It’s interesting to watch people’s reactions.
I’m in Maryland, and you’ll be playing in Baltimore on Feb. 18 at the Ottobar. Do you have any memories of Baltimore or the area that stand out to you?
Oh, many memories. As a matter of fact, we did that same venue there with Eyehategod and HIgh on Fire and Corrosion—it was a crazy day. But we go way back with Baltimore. We were talking about The Obsessed, I remember probably one of the first times we ever came up to Baltimore was ‘84, and it was The Obsessed, COC and Slayer. That was a hell of a memory right there. Through the years, we played everywhere up there. We’ve got a lot of friends. Looking forward to it. It’ll be nice to go back.
As you mentioned, last year you were doing a lot of supporting shows and tours. What are the advantages and disadvantages of headlining versus supporting?
Well, the advantage of headlining is, obviously, we get to play more material. Support act, it’s kinda fun doing that, too, because you get done with your set and then you get to go out and hang with fans and watch the headline act. It’s more of a social thing if you’re doing that kind of stuff. But I kinda prefer doing our own shows. It’s a better fit for us, I think, just because we squeeze more material in there.
I don’t know if you’ll want to comment on this, but for most of last year (drummer) Reed (Mullin) was out of commission. What is his status now?
He’s got some health issues. We’re wishing him well. He had some shoulder surgery, and he’s still having some complications from that. I’d like to see him get back as soon as he can, as soon as he’s healthy. But for now, we’ve got John Green from Manchester, England. He’s been out touring with us. He’s fantastic and does a great job filling in for Reed. So he’ll be back on this run, as well.
The latest album, “No Cross No Crown,” has been out for just about a year now. Now that you’ve had that time to kind of live with it, how do you feel about that album based on the expectations you had and how it’s gone since then?
You never know when you start out. The only thing we do know is whenever we start making a record, we’re gonna take the time to make it right. It was exciting for it to come out, and it’s been very well received, which is always good. You don’t wanna put out an album and have it panned. So once we got cranked up on it and saw everybody’s reaction, we were like, well, we’re gonna stay out and support this thing for as long as we can. And as long as people keep hiring us and bringing us back to their town, we’re just gonna stay at it. Like I said, we’ve got all the way to the end of 2019 already getting full. I don’t know if we’ll go much further than that, but we’ll see. We’ll see, and it might be time to do another record. In this day and age, there’s so many places to go to, it takes you two years to support an album and go everywhere.
It really sounds like with this record you kind of just picked up right where you left off with “In the Arms of God.” Was that the intent?
It was. It was the intent, yeah. We sort of looked back and we were like, “Where did we leave off as the four-piece? What were we doing? What was in our heads?” We used that as the jumping-off platform. Of course, once you get started, things sort of deviate from there. I think it falls right in line there, which is cool.
Which songs are you looking forward to adding to the set list from the new album?
We’ve been doing “The Luddite” quite a bit, so we’re gonna leave that in there. That goes over well. “Wolf Named Crow” is a lot of fun. There’s been some talk about adding another one, but I’m not gonna break it out just yet. (laughs) But they’re fun. It’s nice to do new stuff and then be able to slide right into a tune off of “Wiseblood” (1996) or something off of “America’s Volume Dealer” (2000) or something. We were just talking about “In the Arms of God”—we’ve got another surprise off that one we’re throwing in the set, too. So it’s gonna be fun.
Since last year when the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” came out, there’s been kind of a resurgence of interest in Queen. COC was a little ahead of the curve. On the last album, you covered “Son and Daughter.” How did that come about? Are you a longtime Queen fan?
We are. We’re massive fans, and John Custer, our producer, is the biggest Queen-head on the planet, I would say. He’s been ribbing us to do that Queen song for years and years. We just kept blowing it off—”We don’t wanna do that right now, John.” This go-round, he put his foot down, and he was like, “You guys are doing this song.” When we showed up in the studio that morning, we just learned it and recorded it right then and there, and that was it. I love doing that sort of stuff, where at the beginning of the day, it didn’t exist in our world, and then at the end of the day, there it is on tape. And next thing you know, there it is on the record. It came out good. I don’t know how they went about it, but I guess you sorta have to semi-ask for permission to do something like that. And we did, and we got the OK, and we got the thumbs up from (Queen guitarist) Brian May on it. That meant a lot to us.
COC and Queen aren’t two bands you normally would think about together. I think people know the big hits, and they don’t realize, especially in the early days, how rockin’ and heavy they were.
Yeah, man, absolutely. And that song is a really good fit for our style, too. And I think we did it justice. It’s a lot to bite off when you cover somebody like Brian May and Queen, but we tried to do it justice.
As you said, a very busy year coming up for COC, and this band has been around for a long time now. What is it now, 36-37 years?
Yeah, this will be our 37th year. Of course, we don’t look like it. We look like young men. (laughs) But ‘82 ‘til now, who wouldn’t thought we’d still be doing it? It’s crazy.
Is there something you would point to as a highlight for this band during that period of time?
There’s been so many things. I think the chance to play with some of our favorite bands ever. There’s several highlights—being able to tour with the Ramones, Motorhead, Soundgarden. Just all the tours and the diverse kind of bands we’ve been to play with and pull it off—it’s been a thrill and a great ride so far. Let’s hope we can keep it going.
Is there anything else you’d like to say right now?
Just as usual, man, we would be digging in the dirt if it wasn’t for the fans and the people that support us. As always, man, we appreciate the hell out of it and look forward to seeing everybody out there in 2019.