Don’t Call It A Comeback- An Interview With Corrosion Of Conformity’s Reed Mullin

January 20, 2012 by Chris Grosso

In the summer of 2010, the founding members of the pioneering underground metal band Corrosion of Conformity—bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin and guitarist Woody Weatherman—gathered at Weatherman’s farm in the Virginia hill and began jamming together as a three piece for the first time since the mid-1980s.

This was the classic COC lineup behind 1985’s Animosity, the album that Decibel magazine recently called “a crucial stylistic lynchpin in the bridge between metal and punk” that “irrevocably reshaped crossover’s sonic possibilities.” The trio re‐learned songs from that album and 1987’s Technocracy, but this was not just an exercise in nostalgia. They soon began writing new material. “It was a little strange at first but pretty quickly it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat,” says Dean.

By August COC had released the single “Your Tomorrow” on experimental metal label Southern Lord Records and went on to play shows from coast to coast—everything from the renowned Power of the Riff festival in Los Angeles (with a set that LA Music Blog called “incredible”) to an underground party in the band’s hometown of Raleigh, N.C. It’s been six years since the release of COC’s last album, In the Arms of God, with the lineup of Dean, Weatherman, longtime COC vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan, and guest drummer Stanton Moore of the jazz-funk band Galactic, one of the several drummers who filled in while Mullin recuperated from a drumming-related injury. Representing the more straightforward metal sound that characterized COC’s work with Keenan beginning with 1991’s Blind, In the Arms of God earned critical praise, with Billboard calling it a “riff-fueled set that ranks with [the band’s] best work.”

Following that release in early 2005, COC toured the U.S. and Canada with Motorhead, one of their biggest influences, and later teamed up with Clutch for a UK tour. But after Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans that August, COC canceled a scheduled trip to Europe so Keenan and Moore—both New Orleans residents—could go home to help rebuild. Meanwhile, Keenan got back together with the New Orleans-based metal supergroup Down, putting out one album in 2007 with another set for a 2012 release.

COC has plans to record again as a four-piece. But for now, the new “old” lineup is enjoying the return to their roots. “Mike, Woody and I essentially learned together how to play music and cultivated our own style and sound and unspoken language,” says Mullin. “I’ve known Woody since fifth grade and Mike Dean since 1982, and re-bonding with them musically has been the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

The Reed Mullin Interview

TIS: So 27 years after Animosity was recorded, COC is back to its original three piece lineup including Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and yourself. You recently finished recording a self titled album due out in February and I’m very curious about how this experience has been for you guys?

RM: I can’t think of a more natural experience in my entire life than playing with those guys again. I really learned how to play with them in terms of drumming. Woody showed me two beats, the “do do dat, do do dat” rock beat and the “ooh at ooh at ooh at” punk beat and other than that I was pretty limited. I had just gotten a drum kit for Christmas, which I was stoked about so I was ready to go. Back then, the prerequisite for playing punk rock drums wasn’t very high, it was really pretty generic as I’m sure you can imagine.

TIS: Indeed, I can.

RM: So from that point on, the three of us all learned how to play our instruments together. We had a common interest in bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple. Bands who had different time signatures etc and for whatever reason, we morphed into Corrosion of Conformity. It’s been about thirty years now. I’ve known Woody since fifth grade and I’m 46 so that’s a long time man. There’s a lot of folks that weren’t even born yet that may be reading this (laughing). So jumping back into it was easy as apple pie, it was natural. Honestly, I’m not trying to be nostalgic and talk about the old days but I really believe wholeheartedly that the three of us, Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean & myself really learned how to play our instruments together and now that we are playing together again it can’t be anything but natural. The very first practice we did it was like, “Oh ok, I get it.” We were jamming on some crazy ass, out of the box, weird time signature riffs and I got it, whereas anyone else who was playing with them recently would have been like, “What? What are you doing?” So I think there’s something unspoken between the three of us that makes us Corrosion of Conformity.

TIS: Very nice. So COC’s has explored various styles through the years and how would you describe the sound and style of the new record?

RM: I don’t think we really planned it ahead of time but rather oozed out of our pores. All three of the demonstrative themes of COC are on there. The Hardcore/Punk from the 80’s, the late 80’s/early 90’s mathy metal and finally the more Pepper, swampy/doomy stuff. We love all three so that’s what came out on the album and I think it came out magically. I really enjoy this album a lot to be honest with you.

(Photo by Tez Mercer)

TIS: Awesome and you recorded it at Dave Grohl’s studio. How was that?

RM: It was amazing man. I have to say that Dave’s amazing too. You see all these interviews with him and he seems like the coolest and nicest guy on camera, but he really is when he’s off too! I was fortunate enough to know him before he was a big rock star when I put out his very first band’s album. I had a little indie label called No Core and his first band was called, Dain Bramage so I out an album for them and for whatever reason, he’s never forgot it and has always been super nice to me since. He’s said a lot of really nice things about me that I don’t know I deserve but it’s nice of him regardless. I saw something on Saturday Night Live he did last year when he was doing Them Crooked Vultures with John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin and Josh Homme from Kyuss. It was doing a parody on about a washed up punk rock band called Crisis of Conformity (laughing) and I ended up finding out that Fred Armisen was an old COC fan along with Dave too. So later in Atlanta TCV were playing a sold out show at The Vox and wich I got passes to from their tour manager who I knew from when he was managing D.O.A. from Vancouver. Dave didn’t know I was there and I was watching Dave from behind when all of the sudden he turned around during the middle of the set to have a sip of water and saw me and gave me this total cartoon look, like when the wolf has his eyes come out of his head. So he jumps off the drums and gives me this big sweaty bear hug and asks me what I was doing there. I told him I’d seen them on SNL the previous week and I wanted to check them out and say hi. He then asked me to hold on for a second and disappeared, this is all while the band is sitting there waiting to start the next song. So he runs up and grabs John Paul Jones from the side of the stage to bring him over to me and says, “John, I want you to meet Reed, Reed this is John. This guy is the reason I play drums, Reed Mullin right here.” I was like, “Holy fuck.” I couldn’t believe he’d say something like that. So then John Paul Jones, I mean this is Led Zeppelin’s fucking bass player says, “Well you must be pretty good” (laughing). Isn’t that fucking awesome?

TIS: To say the least.

RM: Yeah, it was a great experience. It happened to be my birthday that day too and Dave told me about the studio he had and that he’d heard the original COC had gotten back together and that he wanted us to record with him. I thought he was completely full of shit, I mean that’s a nice thing to say but he was actually sincere about it. So we stayed in touch and went in and recorded all the basic tracks and mixed the album there and it was fantastic experience. I’ll tell you what man, just for Dave to be so nice, he really is as cool as you’ve probably heard he is. He’s a fucking bad ass dude. He’s nice to the core, he really is.

TIS: I’m really psyched to hear that because I dig his endeavors and hate hearing douchey stories about people I like, so that’s refreshing.

RM: Yeah man, he’s not like that at all.

TIS: Cool. So I know there’s been a handful of drummers who filled in for COC and wondered if there was any of their particular styles that you liked or disliked?

RM: I think that Bower did great on the slow songs. Dude, you can’t fault Bower Power, on those slow fuckin doomy songs like Seven Days and Albatross, he just nailed. I think that Stanton, when he came in and did his stuff was fantastic as well. As far as overall preference, taking into account all elements, my favorite was Jason Patterson. It’s kind of difficult because I think all three drummers are fantastic. I think Bower is better at the doomy heavy stuff and Stanton has down the more mathy stuff. If the guys in COC never played with me again though, I’d prefer them to have Jason Patterson because he could accommodate all styles pretty well. How about you?

TIS: Well obviously, I prefer the original lineup including you but I’d agree on Patterson as far as diversity in style. I’m a drummer as well and dug what he did.

RM: Are you really? That’s cool man, what kind of kit do you have?

TIS: My cousin Daryl (Anderson) built it for me actually.

RM: He built you your own kit!?

TIS: Yeah man. He’s an insanely talented drummer and started building kits when we were a bit younger and mine is the first “official” one he built. He used Noble & Cooley shells and it’s just awesome. This is going back around ten years ago and it’s actually one of the only kit’s he built under his company Anderson Drums before Yamaha scooped him up to work for them.

RM: Get the fuck out of here, that’s amazing!

TIS: Yeah, it’s a really special set which I almost lost last year but my brother came through in a huge way to keep that from happening, but that’s an entirely different story…

RM: Well no shit man. How cool is that!? I still play the same kit that I used on the very first album. It’s an old Tama Superstar that I bought in 1983 but man, I just can’t get over your kit.

TIS: Thanks man. I’ll post a pic in the interview.

RM: Oh awesome man, please do.

TIS: Definitely. So you guys are embarking on a US tour in March with a very impressive supporting lineup which consists of Torche, Valient Thorr, and A Storm Of Light. Are you psyched to be going out with these guys?

RM: Definitely. All the bands we have the privilege of playing with are fantastic. I’m really stoked on it.

TIS: Yeah, I’m a big Torche & A Storm of Light fan myself. So you guy’s chose them specifically or did the label have anything to do it.

RM: It was our choice. With the exception of Megadeth, I can’t imagine any band we were hesitant about touring with. I mean we liked the original Megadeth, but I can’t think of any band we toured with we weren’t psyched about. We’ve played with Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, The Ramones. You name any punk band and we’ve probably played or toured with them all the way up to and including Soundgarden, who we’ve toured with three times now. We also toured with Metallica for a year. But yeah, Megadeth was the only one we were a little sketchy about because um, it was a little sketchy. I think Dave’s ears have gone a little bit. This was twelve years ago but he would had really long soundchecks and his guitar sound was really tingy which I think is because his ears are gone a little bit. But yeah, we’re honored to go out with these bands on this tour and have a great time.

TIS: Very cool man. So I have some various fan questions for you if that’s cool?

RM: Oh yeah man, for sure. Let’s knock them out.

TIS: Excellent, so here we go…

Ben Smith: Can you play “Poison Planet” at Gramercy in New York on 3/1?

RM: If he really wants us to do it, we’ll make it happen. It’s not on our set list now but if he really wants to hear it and will be there, we’ll make it happen. I’ll give you my email and just get in touch with me before the show about it. The song is like a minute and thirteen seconds so I’m sure it won’t be a problem.

TIS: Nice. I’m sure he’ll be psyched. Onto the next question.

Jim Callahan: Whatever happened to Simon Bob Sinister?

RM: Simon Bob is now a Deputy Sheriff (laughing) and lives in Los Angeles. He came out and sang Hungry Child with us last year and it was actually really fucking badass. He was also packing many pistols from what I understand.

TIS: That’s sort of awesome.

Toby Hampp: What’s up with Karl Agell from Seizure?

(Photo by Tez Mercer)

RM: Yeah Karl sang for our Blind album which was our second best selling record. He’s a great guy and as a matter of fact, before Mike, Woody and I really got going on touring on the old Animosity stuff, Karl & I did about a dozen shows performing the Blind album from start to finish. He’s still a good friend of mine and is now in a band called Lead Foot that’s more Rock and Roll but they’re fantastic, kind of Thin Lizzy or MC5 sounding. He still lives here in Raleigh. To be honest, I’d love to do a handful of shows performing the old school stuff, the Blind stuff with Karl and the Pepper stuff. Since it’s around our 30th anniversary I think that’d be fucking badass. If we could have a kumbaya and everyone that’s been a significant part of the band came together and revisit our discography, I think that’d be really cool. Honestly, I really enjoyed playing that Blind stuff because it’s a little more mathy and metal and as far as drumming goes, it’s a bit more fun. I mean I love the record we just wrote and think it’s fucking badass, but the Blind album itself was more drum and rhythm-centric and I really enjoyed that.

TIS: Yeah man, a reunion of sorts like that would be great. So here’s the last two questions for you…

Taylor Steele: Were Pledge Allegiance good houseguests?

RM: Hmmm, Pledge Allegiance? Let’s see I think maybe, yes. I can’t say for sure because I remember two different bands that shared that name who both stayed with us and I don’t want to say yes or no because one was, and one definitely was not. Pledge Allegiance was a pretty generic name back in the day. In the 80’s I was the promoter for all the punk rock shows and I’d book Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Minor Threat etc and I’d hook them up with places to stay if needed so it’s hard to keep track of it all.

TIS: Fair enough. And the final question…

Jim Callahan:  What’s Phil Swisher up to?

RM: Phil lives in Switzerland and is happily married and apparently doing really well. When Karl Agell left COC, Phil started the band Loose Cannon with Woody and Karl, which then morphed into a band called Lead Foot. So Phil’s in Switzerland and he’s doing okay. I’d like to see him, I don’t know if he’d like to see me but…

TIS: Well I can’t thank you enough for your time Reed.

RM: Absolutely, I really appreciate the call and I’m thrilled to go into detail like this about the history of COC. This was a lot of fun.

TIS: Cool man, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.

RM: Yeah, I definitely did. So will I see you at our show in NY?

TIS: Most definitely. Until then…

Visit COC Online Here
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Check Out The Trailer For My Upcoming Documentary Below!

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.
  1. Eric Vitelli says:

    Nice interview, Reed knows my friends and stayed with them in CA.
    Also saw Chuck Treece in your video at end! Good peeps all around, representing little Delaware.

  2. Maurice says:

    Reed is a badass singer too. Mad love for ya buddy.

  3. Jason says:

    Great interview. I was curious about Simon Bob because after Technocracy he vanished. I recall a show they played at the AMC around Nasa outside of Houston with 7 seconds. Once again great read.. 🙂