The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




JULY 2014

They have been around for over 30 years and have gone through some musical changes during that time. But one thing that is consistent with Corrosion Of Conformity is their drive to keep delivering pure unadulterated heavy rock to the fans. Whether it's the hardcore punk/cross overs of the 1980's or the stoner rock tunes from the 1990's, C.O.C. (as they are also known) is a band that is not going away anytime soon. They're new album "IX" is a return to form that is as good as anything they have put out in the past and with some touring ahead of them in the very near future, we caught up with bass guitarist/vocalist and founding member Mike Dean to discuss the latest work and their upcoming tour to Australia.

Andrew: How are you?


Mike: Very good thanks!


Andrew: Thanks so much for doing the interview, it's much appreciated!


Mike: No problems.


Andrew: So what has COC been up to so far this year?


Mike: Well we've just been rehearsing to start our tour in New Zealand and Australia and before that we were doing some shows in Europe and playing a few shows around with High On Fire and Eyehategod.


Andrew: And what are the setlists looking like? Do you have anything planned at all?


Mike: Probably 3 brand new songs, a couple of songs from "Deliverance" and a lot of songs from the self titled probably.


Andrew: With the setlists, do you tend to play a certain amount of songs from each era or do you sort of like to play a lot of the newer ones or older ones or how do you usually go?


Mike: It usually starts with a big argument haha! We've been at it a long time so we have a lot of songs so it's constantly initiated but it's a good problem to have. It's kind of a first world problem.


Andrew: Yeah I was gonna say because you guys have been around for a long time, it must be difficult to pick a setlist to please a lot of the fans and obviously for yourself as well.


Mike: Yeah but what are you gonna do. At this point I tend to favor playing the brand new stuff and there are others involved that want to make sure that the favorites are represented so it usually works itself out, some kind of balance.


Andrew: Well let's discuss the new album (IX) and what a fantastic album this is! I think this is one of the best albums you have put out in years. What can you tell me about how this came together?


Mike: Well we just kinda came away from our last experience making the self titled and it sounded like we did a pretty good job but maybe sonically it didn't really capture the experience of what we do live. Making a record and giving a concert are 2 totally different things but we wanted something that was more representative of our identity. We started from a documentarian point of view and built on that. What is it like to stand in front of Woody Weatherman's actual live guitar rig and let's put the mic's there and capture that rig with nothing in the room with it in a natural way and just perch everything else like that and use a lot of the room's accoustics and ambience and try to paint a picture that sounds real. So that was our starting point and then add enough of the overdubs and the little interesting things without going too far so that it would sound like a legitimate rock n' roll record like we used to listen to when we were kids with headphones on and whatnot. I think we got pretty close.

Andrew: Yeah it does sound like a live sort of album, obviously that was what you were trying to go for. Is that something that you have always tried to do in the studio with other albums as well?


Mike: Not necessarily. I mean I think a lot of times even with the recordings of "Deliverance" and "Wiseblood", it was really just kind of experimenting a lot in the recording studio so there's elements of that but we were kinda open to anything really at that point. We just decided to try a different approach with this and more focused approach but in terms of the material and stuff like that really. So we're not that focused, it's really all over the place but somehow it kinda hangs together like a record so we're thankful it worked out like that. We're not really able to plan that, it works or it doesn't.


Andrew: As far as COC these days, what actually inspires you to write songs and keep on going?


Mike: Well I mean it's just what we do you know? We're musicians and we want to create music and I can't think of anything for me that's more fun than making a record, coming with this and this and trying to arrange everything together and the challenge of coming up with the vocal melody. More or less something to say, having a picture to paint, some kind of expression of the moment and make it happen. Just craft it together, get your hands dirty and make it happen. I mean that's just satisfying still, its what we do.


Andrew: It's so great that you guys keep on going, especially after Pepper (Keenan, guitarist/vocalist) left the band and all that. I guess there was some hesitation amongst the fans on whether you guys were going to keep on going or not so it's great to see you still around. Do you think that after he left that there was some kind of feeling that maybe it reminded you of back when you guys first started?


Mike: Yeah I mean the disintegration was a little nebulas because we were doing the record "In The Arms Of God", we were proud of it. There was some nice short tours on that and it was really going strong but then it came time to make a Down record so he went off to do that and we just never really got back on track. Pepper actually suggested we do some festivals a few years back and then he was unable to actually do it so we decided just as a joking suggestion that we carry on as a 3 piece. And we got some offers to do "Animosity" era stuff and I agreed we would do it as long as we make a new record and play new music and not make it some kind of nostalgia thing. So once we got that agenda out of the way and started off, yeah and it was fun because it was a challenge because Pepper contributes a lot to this band when he's on board and the quality of it is up there so you know it was a real challenge to get the energy of what we used to do and bring the quality of it up to date with more recent times. So it's definitely something to keep us occupied trying to make that happen.

Andrew: Last time I saw you, you came down last year with Vista Chino. I never had the opportunity to see COC live so it was really great to see you perform with them. So how was it performing with them?


Mike: It was awesome! First off I was really scared to death because when performing the Kyuss songs, to step in and figure out some of those parts by Scott Reeder and Nick Oliveri, yeah that was kind of a tall order. One of the reasons I've been in bands playing original music is 'cause frankly I've never had the attention span and to learn someone elses song and get it right, it's almost easier to just create something right there that can't be wrong. But yeah those are songs that people expect to hear played a certain way but yet there's a free element to it that you had to get right. It just shows that being an old bastard, if you stick out something that eventually you can probably learn how to play bass guitar well enough. The part I really enjoyed was doing the newer Vista Chino songs and being there at that moment when it went from being Kyuss lives to being Vista Chino and sort of shedding one layer of that Kyuss past and getting one more foot into a new type of band with it's roots in Kyuss and just creating stuff. All the sidewave shows in particular, the smaller shows were just a blast. Playing with Orange Goblin and Red Fang, oh my god!


Andrew: Yeah I saw the show you did in Melbourne playing with those bands, that must have been fantastic.


Mike: Yeah that's a nice bill man. I would like to take that on the road, that would be a good one.


Andrew: Yeah definitely. I think you also appeared on Vista Chino's album as well?


Mike: Yeah I played on one song at the point where these guys were suddenly...Nick couldn't travel abroad and they had the Soundwave booked and I had 3 weeks notice on this haha! I felt really insecure when Brant (Bjork, drummer) called me up and asked me, I said 'Man I'm gonna have to call you back!'. I called him back in 10 seconds haha! I've admired their music a long time, they are really awesome guys.

Andrew: So what are your plans after the Australian tour?


Mike: Right back to the U.S., we're doing a tour with Brant Bjork and Low Desert Punk and also a band called Blast, this technical hardcore band from Santa Cruz, California that we used to play with when we were barely old enough to drive and play in a hardcore band back in the 1980's. Nick Oliveri happens to be the bass player and Joey Castillo happens to be the drummer now. And a band called Lord Dying who would definitely do well in Australia, one of the more heavy bands. It's gonna be a pretty good event, a travelling circus.


Andrew: Sounds good! OK so I got a couple more questions that we like to ask everyone we interview and would be interesting to hear what your answers would be. If you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album in history what would it be?


Mike: That's pretty tough. I don't know. I've been a fly on the wall for a few records but maybe they aren't classics. I would probably say anything involving Jimi Hendrix would be pretty hip. Just when rock n' roll was a full blown type of circus and a new thing, here's this guy who's a pop star and they're trying to make him commercial but he's inherently this starry eyed artist who's kinda undermining their chance to commercialise him at every turn and you got the brilliant engineer in Eddie Kramer. There's a whole lot of things you can learn from in those circumstances.


Andrew: And for you, what is the meaning of life?


Mike: The meaning of life is to live and enjoy it because you should save the dying stuff for later because that's guaranteed. So just live haha!


Andrew: Exactly! Well it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you and we look forward to seeing you guys come down to Australia with COC. So thanks again!


Mike: You're welcome, it was good talking to you!



Mike spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe July 2014





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