North Carolina’s Corrosion of Conformity became an exalted member of the world’s metal hierarchy by doing exactly that: Conforming to absolutely nothing expected of them.
Formed in 1982, COC was one of the first bands to puree pummeling metal with the speed and energy of punk. Which, combined with excrutiatingly solid musicianship, good songs and a take–no–prisoners live show, made the band stick out, get noticed and get the primo seats at the big table.
Amazingly, it’s been 30 years and bassist/singer Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin first got together to rock in Raleigh (both Dean and Mullin left for brief periods, only to return to the mothership).
For a stretch, the band included guitarist and singer Pepper Keenan, whose allegiances were divided between COC and Down, the group he formed in the early 1990s.
Keenan remains a “sometimes” member of COC.
Corrosion of Conformity released a self–titled album, its ninth, a few months ago. The newly–revitalized trio’s cross–country tour brings them to the Jinx, June 28, along with Prong and Monstro.
I’m trying to picture what the metal scene was like in Raleigh in 1982 ...
Mike Dean: There wasn’t really that much going on. It seemed like a much sleepier place in general. There was this vacuum to be filled — a good situation to make an impact on. We were a hardcore band at the time. That whole thing was just barely starting to take off, and there was a built–in audience for that phenomena, beyond individual bands. So if you were deemed to be affiliated with that, there was an audience. And that made it interesting.
How did the band evolve in the early days?
Mike Dean: We were heavily influenced by Black Flag and the Bad Brains a lot. But there was also a lot of the new wave of British heavy metal, like early Iron Maiden, that Woody and Reed were into. And I had a long history of listening to Black Sabbath — I had the benefit of the older brother’s record collection, and I was really fascinated with Paranoid. So that really kinda shaped everything.
You’d see Black Flag, and they were already antagonizing what I like to call the orthodox hardcore community with slower jams and rock ‘n’ roll–esque concepts. They were listening to a lot of MC5 and stuff like that. So we kinda picked up on that. Did our version of that, with a few original ideas thrown in. And that was enough controversy to get people talking.
Reed says that the new album “defines the history of the band a little bit more.” What does he mean?
Mike Dean: It utilizes a lot of the stylistic devices for just about every era of COC. Just thrown in there for variety, but that wasn’t really the intention. Early on, the intention was to make something that was really informed by Animosity, the last record we did as a three–piece, but to keep it current and honest. I think the project grew a little broader than that. And as that was happening it seemed like a good thing, so we just rolled with it.
Was this originally going to be a four–piece record, with Pepper?
Mike Dean: We were talking about playing some shows with Pepper, and we’re definitely open to the idea of doing an album if he had time. What happened was, he didn’t have enough time to do the shows due to commitments with Down, and with family and things like that. Living in New Orleans, and us living here in beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina.
Since we were going to go out and play some shows as a three–piece, it didn’t seem right to kind of ride some wave of nostalgia, and just play old stuff. We wanted to demonstrate that we had somethnig new to offer, and that made it feel a lot better.
Thirty years later – were you thinking this far ahead?
Mike Dean: Most people at that age don’t really have a concept of 20 or 30 years forward. Some of them do, but I don’t think I did. As far as sitting here now, it’s all good. But it’s pretty terrifying when you do the math.
Corrosion of Conformity
With Prong, Monstro
Where: The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
When: At 10 p.m. Saturday, July 28
Tickets: $15 advance, $18 day of show