Thursday, December 15, 2011

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY an interview with guitarist Woodroe Weatherman

interview questions and intro by Mr. Wolf
main photo of Woodroe Weatherman by Jodi Donkel
new album artwork courtesy of Candlelight Records
band photos from their website

(Corrosion of Conformity perform "Holier" off of their 1985 album "Animosity" at the Roadburn Festival of 2011. Recorded live @ Main Stage, 013 in Tilburg, Holland on April 15th, 2011)

The first time I ever set foot in Raleigh, North Carolina was in the Fall of 1985. I was in the Army then stationed down at Fort Bragg and looking at the end of my time in the service. Once I met like minded friends in uniform who were into extreme music (punk & metal) we took a road trip up to Raleigh. There were four of us in the vehicle. We found the cities' two main clubs, the Fallout Shelter and the Brewery also we hooked up with some locals at a sandwich shop/bar called Sadlacks Heroes. I was quick to ask one local guy we met, Rich, who were some of the cool bands from that area. The first band he told me about was CORROSION OF CONFORMITY.

Fast forward to the present and it's been just a few weeks since I even asked Woodroe on Facebook if he would wanna do an interview. Here's were it gets funny. In February 1987 after finishing my tour in the service I decided to make Raleigh, NC my new home after many weekend visits to it while in the military. By June of 1987 my entry into the underground world of publishing started. Over all of those years I've seen COC over a dozen times, mostly as a three piece doing Animosity stuff, twice with Simon Bob singing for em while doing Technocracy and once under the Blind line-up. I never bothered to see them after that and I never once interviewed them. Actually I never wanted to because what could you ask them which hasn't already been asked year after year, release after release. Trust me I read every interview and review I saw about the band. Hey they were the hometown band so you keep up with that stuff.

One thing about living in Raleigh and being into extreme music is that you are bound to bump into a member of COC almost anywhere. I'd see Reed at a local record store, sometimes I'd try to see what he was buying. I'd always see Mike in grocery stores shopping. Last time was earlier this year at the Krogers, he was carrying one of those 10 packs of toilet paper. Woodroe I'd usually see at shows. He would come out to the Caboose where I worked security to see some bands. Then when I worked at this sandwich shop/bar across from the college he would come in for a beer or two late in the afternoon once in a while. One time I had an old homemade Hardcore comp tape from the 80's with me that I was playing for someone else. Woodroe was sitting at the bar when the tape was playing and he'd recognize each band as their song played. He'd then start talking about each band on the comp remembering times when COC played with them or about buying the LP, etc. It was cool having him in there.

So here we are now 2011 and COC is back after a five year hiatus. They're also a three piece again, touring and have a brand new release coming out in February 2012. After all these years I figured now was a good time to ask Woodroe a few questions. Once again I've been keeping up with the band since they've gotten back together. I've read, as well as seen on Youtube, various interviews they've done. So I promised Woodroe I wouldn't ask the exact same questions. If you've been keeping up with their recent return to form then you know what questions I'm talking about, nuff said.

SFM666 - When I first saw that you, Mike and Reed were getting back together to play gigs doing Animosity and Technocracy material my first thought was "holy crap there's a whole generation of people out there who never really heard those songs" at least not as a full set. For me, as well as a lot of people my age from the old Hardcore days, that's the COC I know since I seen ya so many times playing here in Raleigh but for others you're like a whole new band probably to them. So when you first went out on tour doing that material did you ever get any similar reactions from people?

WOODROE - Yep, it seems like a lot of folks that used to show up many years ago made the trek out to see us since we started playing again as a 3 piece. Some of them I'm sure came out because that is the version they first heard. Of course for us guys it's never any kind of nostalgia trip or anything, we always show up with new songs in tow.

SFM666 - Now not very long ago, weeks really, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY had the honor to open up for Vince Neil here in Raleigh. Yes I'm being sarcastic because to me that's like when Hendrix opened up for the Monkees. I'm thinking you must have blew a few, if not many, CRUE fans away who came to hear "Home Sweet Home".

WOODROE - Yes and what an honor it was indeed. We seem to enjoy doing the occasional off the wall gig, it keeps folks guessing. The funniest part of the evening was after our set they proceeded to run us and anyone else that happened to be in the backstage area out before 'ole Vince showed his face. I even retreated to my truck that was parked back there and they threw me out of that.

SFM666 - OK so according to this video interview I watched on You Tube, a good one actually and very funny, when you all first got together again to work on new material you supposedly wrote four new songs in a week. Now obviously you've known each other forever, there's lots of chemistry to make the process run smooth but during that process did you ever stop and look at one another and just laugh about it. I'm getting the impression that the ease of which you can come up with new stuff that fast is because of a lack of pressure and it's just a lot of fun.

WOODROE - Right off the bat when we'll get started on new stuff it does go fast, usually because we all show up with ideas and some are close to being complete songs. And this time around it seemed like we all had some faster more upbeat stuff to show each other at the start. Maybe we were all thinking the 3 piece ought to harken back more towards the "Animosity" album. But anyone who picks up the new record will see that of course we had to venture off that path somewhat.

SFM666 - I saw this compilation CD which came out last year called Playlist: The Very Best of COC which came out on Columbia Records. So was this like their way of trying to cash in seeing that you're back together now and obviously just as popular as you were before?

WOODROE - That was their version of what they perceived as a greatest hits package, we were not very impressed. Of course it was all picked off of our material we recorded while on Columbia, but even then I would have chosen different tunes.

SFM666 - Years ago I was reading some publication with an article on you guys where the writer called you "the Tony Iommi of Southern Metal." Now when I first listened to your new single, "Your Tomorrow (Parts 1 & 2)" I remembered that quote cause I have the music cranking and I'm thinking "damn that is a good riff". So do riffs come easily to you? Also on a side note you ever meet Iommi ya know like share a couple of riffs?

WOODROE - Riffs always come pretty easy when you've got the guitar cranking and you're just fooling around, it's good original riffs that make rare appearances, for me anyway. That one you speak of is a Mike Dean riff. I did meet Iommi one time but it was just a casual backstage howdy/wassup kinda thing, unfortunately no jamming or him showing me how to play an old undiscovered Sabbath tune were involved.

SFM666 - Your guitars are specially made, correct?

WOODROE - Well I sent ESP my fave old '72 Gibson SG that played cool but would not stay in tune for me and told em to make me some like it that would take a good beating and remain reasonably in tune. They made me 3 of them and shortly thereafter, from what I understand, they received a rather interesting cease and desist letter from the Gibson Guitar Company. So I hope I don't break em because that's all there will ever be.

SFM666 - Alright so lets review here. You first were called a punk band or hardcore at least. Then you were labeled crossover, which was a label I never cared for back in the day. Next came sludge, because the band wanted to move into that heavier direction, soon to be followed by Southern Metal or I could have those in backwards order. So now, according to a doom metal website, you (the band) are now DOOM. Now do you laugh about all these labels or do you like them? I ask that because COC always had a distinct sound (basically your guitar sound and playing style) even though the band morphed into different styles but never lost it's identity.

WOODROE - I was always into us just being us, in the beginning I think the Punk/Hardcore label fit us pretty fairly. Most of the labels that followed seemed kind of silly to me. And all these sub-genres now are just plain absurd.

SFM666 - I guess it's time to ask an obligatory new album question. Now I'm not gonna bother with the redundant "what are we gonna expect to hear" question. You had John Custer as producer again. Now when you first got together with John this most recent time what were some of the things you discussed as far as the way you wanted this new release to be? What makes Custer your producer?

WOODROE - Well with John at this point it is more like we play him our rough demos and Ideas we have on tape and do not really talk much about musical direction. He sort of lets us do what we do and then when we mess up or it's not working he tells us so and offers up new ideas. Especially timing wise and getting sounds etc. He's great at the quality control with us.

SFM666 - Now the new release is coming out on Candlelight. Were you guys just shopping it around or did Candlelight show extreme interest in it?

WOODROE - One good thing for us this time around was we had the album about 90% finished before we started really hunting down a label. That way we could play them stuff and give a better idea of what they were getting into. Those guys are on it and we feel good about the Label so we went with em.

SFM666 - Now for those out there reading who don't know this, you have a farm. And it's kinda interesting when I'm Facebook because I read posts by other people talking about politics, the bands they like or that their baby took a big crap that day. Then there's you posting something about splitting four cords of wood, riding around on the tractor (John Deer right?) or sitting around a bonfire drinking a beer. Is it a deliberate separation in order to have some semblance of peace from the music life? Does one influence the other in some unique way?

WOODROE - Man we have a blast up here in the sticks, got just enough room to run around and act like a fool and sometimes the boys come up here to Rehearse etc. It can be weird to be up here for awhile and then get thrust all of a sudden back out into the real world of airplanes and large cities and what-not. It would probably be hard for me at this point to move back to the city. Nice to visit though.

SFM666 - Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull has a farm and they won a Grammy for best metal album that one time so you never know, right? Yes I'm laughing.

WOODROE - Ha, you never know man. No fingers crossed though. And that was the year they beat out Metallica if I'm not mistaken. Best "Metal" album…………

SFM666 - One of the best things to happen this year was that there were two deer, male & female, living in the woods behind my house and I live in the city. They would come right in the yard and eat what they found, usually something I didn't want them to. They would be out in the yard in the late afternoon every day. They're gone now and the neighbors don't know why. I bet you see a lot of wildlife out where you live.

WOODROE - That could have been some good eating man. Got tons of wildlife here, coyotes, deer and bear come off the mountain in early fall, but ya know I saw a lot of wildlife when I lived in town too.

SFM666 - So after the holiday COC goes back on the road with CLUTCH then you're back home for New Years then do a show in late January in Asheville. So what is the release date for the new CD?

WOODROE - Due to be released on Feb 28th 2012, then a lot more touring next year too, that's all part of it. It will be nice to tour with the new album out though. We did all that stuff last year with nothing new out there.

SFM666 - Last one, you've been doing this now for around thirty years. Obviously you survived with no worse for wear as opposed to others who didn't. Looking back on your career do you have any insights you would be willing to share on why you survived and certain choices you made which were to your benefit?
WOODROE - I don't know about the no worse for wear part, but I think we have always been able to play with such a wide range of different bands and that has helped us not fall too far into any niches. We'll continue with that spirit going forward, I'm sure we'll mix it up on this next round of touring as always.

Candlelight Records confirms February 28, 2012 as the North American release date for the self-titled new album from CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. Scumfeast Metal 666 considers it to be one of the most anticipated releases for 2012. Also thanks Woodroe for taking the time out for the interview and I'll see ya around town sometime, probably at a show.

1 comment:

  1. The non performance photo was taken by Jay Beadnell at Stageshotz Photography