Corrosion Of Conformity: Hardcore Crossovers

'I bypassed college for hardcore.'

Formed in 1982, Raleigh, North Carolina band Corrosion Of Conformity went from from humble hardcore punk band to one of the most respected crossover metal acts around. Earlier this year C.O.C released their well received self titled album and are set to re-release their 1984 debut Eye For An Eye today (November 6th), followed by a US tour. Metal As Fuck got in touch with bass/vocalist Mike Dean to discuss music, politics, and the possibilities of environmentally friendly vinyl. 

So, how are things coming along for you guys? 'So far, pretty good. We just finished recording some new material, and we're re-releasing Eye For An Eye in November, and getting ready to head out on tour.' On this tour, are you focusing on much of the Eye For An Eye material? 'Well, we're not going to perform it in it's entirety...We might not perform anything off it at all, actually [laughs].' After listening to the re-release, I was surprised by how punk sounding it was. 'Yeah, that was a really long time ago, you know? We were kids and Bad Brains would come down here to play, so we would check them out, and all the other DC hardcore bands at the time. It was really cool; We saw Dave Grohl playing with The Scream, we saw Minor Threat a couple of times, and some more obscure hardcore bands like Void and The Faith.' How did you guys evolve from the raw, hardcore sound to the more groove metal style? 'Well the hardcore thing was sort of built to implode, I mean, there's not much room for musical exploration. One of the things that was beginning to happen around that time was, you had bands like Black Flag starting to play slower, and incorporate more Black Sabbath type things, and that was something we were all into as kids, so we kind of jumped on that and threw in some unfashionable, un-punk, heavy rock stuff in there; That got people talking and started bringing in some publicity, so that fueled us a lot.' How did you become tagged as a crossover band? 'At some point, a lot of people in the metal scene, which was very parochial at the time, started to notice us. We had a less commercial, heavier sound than the metal bands at the time, and that's where the whole 'crossover' tag came from; When we went on tour, we would be listening to classic rock and incorporating those elements into our sound.' He continues, 'At one point I quit the band for a little while and wasn't really expecting much from them, but then they released Blind, which is probably one of C.O.C's best. It combined everything from Bad Brains to Deep Purple, and Thin Lizzy.'

During the hardcore days, a lot of lyrical topics were of a socio-political nature. Since we're currently in an election cycle, any thoughts? 'You know, I see a lot of people with political opinions that are well thought out, and I just kind of...yeah...I'm not sure I want to open that can of worms [laughs]. It's kind of an imperfect situation where both candidates are playing by the corporate system. But, through everything that's transpired, I'll probably vote for Obama, because Romney is, like, Reagan lite [laughs]. The fact is that Obama pretty much inherited the mess that everyone is blaming him for.' Plus, there's that whole Mormon thing with Romney, right? '[laughs] Wow! Yeah, that's a little weird. Traditional religions provide enough comedy, I mean, you can understand religions from two-thousand-years ago being wacky, but when you have one from just two-hundred-years ago with all this crazy stuff, they really went out of their way...they are polite though [laughs.]'

For those that are curious, what's the situation with Pepper Keenan (Guitars/Vocals 1989-2006)? 'Basically we are keeping open the possibility of doing something with him in the future, I think it would be fun. He's real dedicated to Down and lives in New Orleans with his family, so it's not always convenient for him, plus, Down is doing really well right now and I wouldn't want to slow that up. But, you know? if they take a break and we can get together, that would be fun. We had a great time making In The Arms Of God, but, the downside was that we didn't have Reed Mullins on drums. Stanton Moore did a great job, but, in a way it feels like unfinished business. We want to pick up where we left off there.' Is it difficult to adjust your vocal style when performing Keenan tunes? 'We don't really do any of the Keenan material, it doesn't really feel quite right unless he's there. We pretty much just do really old, or really new songs.'

You just recently signed to Candlelight Records, how's that working out? 'They're good. A buddy of mine who plays in Daylight Dies turned me on to them. They do a lot with what they have and are pretty efficient. At first I was looking at their band roster and it was a lot of bands that were very sub-genre specific, and with us, our whole thing is to not be classified, so it's kind of funny that we ended up with them.' Are you able to still make a living playing music? 'Yeah. I mean we can't just sit back anymore. You have to bring it to the people; playing live is a bigger thing for sure, and there isn't as much money up front anymore. But we can make a living, and I see potential to make an even better living, if we approach it a little smarter.' As far as a physical medium for music moving back to vinyl. 'They need to create an environmentally friendly record as an alternate to vinyl, because, as much as I love vinyl, the manufacturing of it is very dirty and wasteful.'

How about running that by the chemistry department at Duke University? 'Well, we're up here and Raleigh, so NC State, The Wolfpack [howls]! I bypassed college for hardcore...To any young people reading this, I'm not going to recommend doing that[chuckles]. I have met people that went to college...I've, uh, hung out with a lot of women that went to college [laughs].'

Eye for an Eye is reissued on Candlelight Records Today.