CORROSION OF CONFORMITY's Pepper Keenan: "We Felt A Very Big Need to Not Bullshit."
Ladies and gentleman of metaldom, the wait is over. Sludgy southern rock sovereigns Corrosion of Conformity are back with their first album in four years, and their first with frontman Pepper Keenan in 13 years. Not since the Deliverance and Wiseblood days have C.O.C. sounded this good.
No Cross No Crown is an unapologetically kick ass throwback to when music meant something, a record that bravely honours the past while confidently burning future trails.
With the resurrected lineup of Keenan and C.O.C. staples Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean, Reed Mullin, and long-time producer John Custer, the band spent 40 days over the course of the year constructing No Cross No Crown in North Carolina.
"We had a challenging, fun time making it," Keenan tells Metal Injection. "We felt a very big need to not bullshit."
A no bullshit guarantee from Pepper Keenan is one you can take to the fucking bank. Leadoff singles "Cast the First Stone" and "Wolf Named Crow" reinforce the level of bad-assery the guys bring to the table on the their long-awaited return.
There's admitted pressure there for Keenan, who had not stepped into the studio with C.O.C. since In The Arms of God in 2005. Sure, Keenan hadn't exactly been sitting on his hands in boredom, lending his considerable skill to Phil Anselmo fronted super-group Down in that time, but a decade is a decade. One wouldn't fault the good ol'boys for having some ring-rust in the studio, so to speak.
"It’s kind of like riding a bicycle, once you get in that mindframe," he explains. "We literally started with a blank slate. To come up with something like this album, it doesn’t come lightly. It takes a lot of work. We just kept hacking at it and once we had a basic layout of the album it really began to take a shape of its own. I think you can get a lot further along if you don’t try to control it so much, and let it do its thing and be open-minded. You end up making an album instead of just a couple of songs in a row.
"We knew what we were stepping into when Nuclear Blast offered us a record deal. We knew what they were wanting. They wanted Deliverance and Wiseblood. We kind of keep our heads nodded towards that a little bit, remember all that stuff. The way we even got to doing this was going out and playing shows from songs of that era. The guys are in the right frame of mind, but you have to evolve a little bit. We just kept all ideas open, basically."
With Keenan rejoining C.O.C. in 2014, it was more a matter of when than if in terms of when the foursome would put pen to paper and hammer out a new album. There was never a doubt of quality, or lack of artistic fire deep down in the gut. It was more deciding when the time was right to grab the ink and write that next chapter.
"I was a little nervous about doing it because I knew it would work," Keenan says. "That was the crazier part of it. The idea of making a record – s**t – if we do this it’s going to be a real thing, a consuming thing. The fear of success on that level is just as powerful. The idea was not when we could do it, but uh oh, we’re going to do it.
"The fans had a lot to do with it. Seeing those people out there saying “you guys have got to do a record.” There’s a degree of that too. We didn’t need to. This isn’t a money grab or anything. I guess the book wasn’t quite closed yet."
It wouldn't be a proper Pepper Keenan interview without at least dipping a toe into the stoner-rock-stylings that is Down. Keenan shared that while there is no definitive timetable on when we can expect new material or a proper tour, they are certainly open to possibilities.
"Me and Phil talk," Keenan says. "Everybody is just so damn busy, as usual. We just decided to take a little breather. I decided to focus on C.O.C. a bit and we’ve got a record out for that. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about – if you’re going to do the C.O.C. thing I knew it was going to work, I just didn’t know how much it was going to work. Once you comitt to something you have to stick to it."
But back to brass tacks, C.O.C.'s No Cross No Crown is a shook up stick of dynamite from a band that doesn't know the meaning of the term sellout. What you see is what you get. That no bulls**t guarantee again.
"C.O.C. is a real band," Keenan says. "We don’t bullshit people. We try to make things evolve and be creative. I think that’s an important aspect in this music world nowadays. We’re not just chasing some bullshit scene or trend. We like to create real music for real people."
No Cross No Crown is available January 12th through Nuclear Blast Records. The band is on tour now with Black Label Society, Eyehategod and Red Fang across North America. Visit www.coc.com for dates and more.