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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Corrosion of Conformity

Interviewed by Mike Heitzman

Interview with Reed Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity from 2012

MSJ:

You have a new CD out that has some hints of the Animosity days, what can you tell us about the new music?

I think the album encompasses all three big generations of COC. In that me, Mike, and Woody started the band together. I, as a matter of fact, came up with the name in chemistry class. I had the s****y looking mohawk and the jocks were throwing s*** at me. The dudes dug it. When we first started it was more rudimentary punk rock - American hardcore. And slowly we got to learn how to play our instruments a little better. But, we did it together, so we became this one creature - this one living thing. So, we were going to do some reunions shows with Pep, some reunion shows and festivals, and it ended up not working out. But, we had already been jammin' and it was so much fun, we were like, “f*** man, a lot of people want to hear the old hardcore stuff. It hadn't been played in 25 years, but let's just do it, let's do it and have some fun.” Mike said, “I'll do it, but only if we write a couple new songs, I don't want it just to be a nostalgia trip.” So we wrote four brand new songs in like two weeks. It's like I said, we evolved, or devolved, how ever you want to say it, and we all like the same kind of music pretty much. I think not consciously, but the new album ended up being the representative of the Animosity, the Blind, and the Pepper era. I think you can hear something from all that, you can hear some doobie stuff, some punk stuff, but it's all COC. That's another thing I like about the name we have. I feel like we can do whatever the f*** we want. If you are expecting a dub album the next year or some industrial stuff, that might not happen. In terms of heavy rock, I feel we can do whatever we want.

MSJ: There was a pretty long break between albums. Was it difficult getting back into a practice routine and touring?
Not at all, instantaneous. Songs just oozed out of us. Riffs...sometimes we don't even have to talk to each other. It's weird.
MSJ: What did you do to keep yourselves busy during that long break? Any side projects?
I did a couple things with COC's producer John Custer. And I had a little hard core band called “Man Will Destroy Himself.”  But, we just played around town though. Mike split the band first in '87. Then Woody split the band in '94. Then I left around 2001. I was having some back problems and wasn't really that happy of a camper. My folks helped COC immensely throughout and from the beginning. They bought our first van and back in 1982, my Dad actually had a FAX machine, and a Xerox. I was a promoter for Raleigh, too. That was a big advantage because we were between Washington D.C. and  Atlanta so bands would stop at our place. They liked our place because I would give them all the money from the door. I was like, “punk rock is my religion.” So I got to meet all these cool bands like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Toxic Reasons, Minor Threat, DOA, you name it. So when I got to know all those people. I would call em' up and say “look I'm trying to book a tour. Oh, call Tim Mays.” When I wasn't playing with COC, I would hang out with my Dad at his company. I had been on tour for so long.
MSJ: Are your parents heavy metal fans?
They are COC fans.
MSJ: What does your Dad's company do?

He's retired, but he invented the world's first computerized saw.

MSJ: Who wrote the songs on this new CD?
All of us.
MSJ: How many tattoos of your infamous skull do you think are out there?
That is a good question. I kind of wanted to have on our new album some pictures like that, something on Facebook where you could put a picture of your tattoo and we could use it. I bet there are thousands. I met some guy about twelve years ago who got that skull and didn't know it was a band. He found out later of course.
MSJ: Since this is an election year. I am curious if you still feel like voting with a bullet?
Ya can't really say stuff like that anymore.
MSJ: Do you even have an interest in the current presidential elections going on?
I will when I find out who Obama's opponent is going to be.
MSJ: Do you have a candidate you are favoring?
Santorum, because I think he is crazy. I think he is crazy and he is going to lose.
MSJ: What is your opinion of the Occupy Wall Street movement?
I think that it is good that they are bringing attention to the fact that the government is bailing out all these already rich as f*** motherf***ers. And they're non-violent and stuff like that. You look at Wall Street, those f***ers bounce right back. I just lost my unemployment. If I didn't have this band, I'd be fucked. My opinion is if they don't do anything stupid, and keep attention going to the fact that...

I used to date this girl from New York that worked for Morgan Stanley.  When they do IPOs initially, like when a privately owned company goes private and you can buy their stocks. When you do that, these big firms like Morgan Stanley, get a huge amount of stock at a very low price and they divvy it up to all their biggest investors. They'll be like, “Hey, hey, this thing is going to go sky high today, you need to buy, you need to buy $50,000 worth of it.” It's all like insider trading. It's all like the rich getting richer man. And because I was dating her, she got me in to class with those guys. I was supposed to have a million dollars in their account. I had like, I don't know, certainly nothing even remotely close to that. And she made me like boat loads of cash.
MSJ: What is next for COC?
We are just going to tour our a**es off. We are doing the American tour right now. Then we are going to Europe in April. Then we come back in June... do some more states. Hopefully in the fall, record a new album.

We are supposed to see Pepper down in New Orleans towards the end of this run. I got a text from him yesterday and he was like, “The new album is great and I knew it would be. Everything is all like kumby-ya.” So, we'll probably do some s*** with him later. This is our 30th anniversary and it is my wish that we do maybe three concerts, in big cities, maybe New York, Chicago, L.A. with the old school line up, the Carl line up, and the Pepper line up. I think that would be cool, man. You know, like three and a half hours of pure Corrosion.
MSJ: What was the last show you attended for your enjoyment?
I'm trying to think... I have seen so many shows just being on the road. It was Weedeater, good North Carolina boys, Dixie Dave.
MSJ: Do you have any Spinal Tap moments you wish to share with us?
Statute of limitations have run out on some of them, but... I'll tell you a cool story about Slayer. It's not really Spinal Tap, but it's a good story. It's 1984 and it's the three piece line up that we have right now. We were pretty popular in Baltimore. They had a good punk scene, Washington D.C... We had already been touring around so we were friends with the Slayer guys, and the Death Angel guys, and the Dark Angel guys, Metallica guys...even though we were a punk band. So, we got offered to play in Baltimore with the Obsessed, and then it was going to be us, then Slayer. And it was Slayer's first tour. We were cruising around in a Trans Am and a U-Haul truck. So, we already knew the Slayer guys and they were like “good seein' ya, etcetera.” But, then the Obsessed hear that they are opening the show and they freak out. We're friends with them now, but we didn't know them from Adam back then.

They were like, “We aren't going to open up for any punk rock band.”

We're like, “whatever, dude.” The place was like packed. Tt was packed to the gills already. So, we went on and we just killed it. We were just bad a**. It was like a popcorn machine, people flying everywhere. So, we're done and we're taking our gear off and the Obsessed was trying to bring their stuff on stage.

Slayer, when they heard about this thing with the Obsessed, they got mad. They said, “Don't worry. We'll take care of this.” Anyway, they got their whole crew to stand in front of the Obsessed and not let them bring their s*** on stage. And then Slayer went on next and absolutely destroyed the place. Then poor Obsessed had to play to nobody, the roadies and maybe three other people. Everybody cleared out. After Corrosion and Slayer, everyone was just bloodied and...

Anyway, like I said, we were friends with Tom and all them dudes, and after the show we were packing up the U-Haul and Tom and all those guys come up to us and say, “you guys put out your own album right? You need to get signed dude. Are there people interested in you? We're going to get you signed to our label, Metal Blade.” I thought he was just being nice. So, I gave him all my scoop. Sure enough, that s*** was on a Saturday night. That Monday morning there was a contract in my Dad's FAX machine. That's how Animosity came out - all because of Slayer.  
MSJ: Anything you want to add?
Us being able to record at Dave Grohl's studio was kind of cool. It is in L.A. I was old friends with Dave when he was in a punk rock band called “Dain Bramage.” This was before Scream and obviously before Nirvana and stuff like that. He was a bad a** drummer. He was like 15 or something like that - little kid that his band would play with us and he would come to all our shows. He was a big fan. I had a little Indy label that put out like a dozen records, and I ended up putting out the Dain Bramage thing. And he never forgot it. So, 25 or 30 years later, whatever it is... he's in that side project Crooked Vultures with John Paul Jones and Josh Homme. So, they’re on “Saturday Night Live “and I haven't heard them yet. I wanted to check them out, so I checked them out on “Saturday Night Live” and it was involving a punk rock wedding band called “Crisis of Conformity.” Apparently Fred from SNL came up with the whole thing. Fred stage dives, I mean cake dives in to the wedding cake, and I was like, “you motherf***ers, ‘Crisis of Conformity...’” And it is like full on old school COC.

So, I find out they are playing Atlanta the next day. So, I was like, “I am going down there to f*** with those dudes.” They played in the Fox Theater and I drove as fast as I could to get down there. It was late and they were into their second song. I knew their tour manager, so I got a good pass. I was sitting behind Dave, and about two songs later he turns around.

He sees me and he is like, “Reed, what are you doing here?” and he jumps up, gives me this big sweaty bear hug, and I'm like, “argh/yuck.” And he is like, “hold on Reed, one second, stay right here.”

Meanwhile there is like 3000 people waiting and like, “Where did the drummer go?”

Well, he runs to John Paul Jones’ side, grabs him, brings him back to me back stage, and says, “John this is Reed. Reed this is John.”

And, I was like, “I know who he is...wow.” 

Then Dave says, “this guy Reed Mullin, he is the reason I play drums.”

So, John Paul Jones goes, “whoa mate, you must be pretty god damn good.”

So anyway we end up hanging out with those guys the rest of the night after the show and Dave said, “Hey I heard you Mike and Woody got the band back together. I have a bad ass studio back in L.A. You've got to record there, I'll set the whole thing up. It will be the best deal you will ever get at any studio.”

And we were like, “whatever.” We thought he was being nice like the Slayer guys. So he gave me the studio manager’s number and I kind of just blew it off. But two weeks later Dave calls me and says, “hey what’s going on? You haven't set up your time.”

I said, “I thought you were kidding.”

And he said, “Hell no, come out here and record now.” And that is why we recorded at Dave Grohl's studio 606.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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