-- just a bunch of good ol' boyz
By Naughty Mickie
Photos by www.corrosivecabaal.com
Corrosion of Conformity is currently on tour in support of their latest release, "America's Volume Dealer." The group has made a name for themselves opening for acts like Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax and received a Grammy nomination in 1996 for "Wiseblood."
Corrosion of Conformity lead guitarist and original member Woodroe (Woody) Weatherman is enjoying a long morning. He's sipping down his second pot of coffee while sitting on his front porch in Raleigh, North Carolina. Weatherman chats with me about his plans for an afternoon ride on his Harley Davidson motorcycle down the fall colored back roads of which I am familiar. We discuss the importance of family, the wonders of the Internet and the life of a musician.
"Has your lifestyle changed since you made it?" I ask.
"Have we made it?" Weatherman laughs innocently. "I'm still a kid doing the same things- listening to loud music, working on classic cars and old motorcycles."
Weatherman speaks enthusiastically about his projects, a '67 Chevy stepside truck and an '83 Harley FLH. He takes a deep breath and sighs as he expresses regret over the sale of his last vehicle, a '71 Cutlass Supreme convertible. Bandmate vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan shares his interest and builds drag cars. Keenan's most recent project is even featured on the J-card for their latest release, "America's Volume Dealer."
I draw Weatherman back to the topic asking him if success has changed them.
"No man," he replies.
To weigh his response, I decide to start at the beginning and ask if Weatherman was from a musical background.
"Yes I was," says Weatherman. "My old man's a musician. I went to fiddle and blue grass conventions. I grew up with jam sessions in the kitchen."
Weatherman got his first guitar at age 14 or 15. At that time, he was into groups like Black Flag and Black Sabbath- far from his father's music, or was it? We briefly talk about the influence of jazz and blues on rock and agree that blues set a base for almost all later music.
In high school, Weatherman got together with drummer Reed Mullen and the two made plans to form a band. Like most teens, the two even had the group's name figured out before creating any music.
"Reed came up with it," recalls Weatherman. "He came in one day, sat down in class and said, 'Corrosion of Conformity' and that was it."
A while later, bassist Mike Dean moved to Raleigh from Charlotte, North Carolina, and joined the duo. It took just three short weeks and the group was playing local parties.
"We played mostly punk 'two-chord wonders'," Weatherman laughs.
Weatherman also did a stint playing bass for No Labels, but left that project to concentrate on COC. The band kept honing their craft and paid their dues in the dives before making it on the national level and it didn't take long. Between recording and touring, Weatherman never even had the chance to think about college, his future had been laid out in front of him.
"I'm a lucky bastard," he states with spunk.
We discuss the evolution of COC's sound. We feel we are "one of the few groups who could listen to both styles (hard rock and punk) of music and appreciate it," says Weatherman. "The way our music has changed has never been a conscious kind of deal. We try to do something different to challenge ourselves."
Weatherman cites the tunes "Stare Too Long" and "Sleeping Martyr" as examples of their efforts to reach further for tougher musical goals. But he also feels it's important to stay true to yourself.
"To me, that's one of the big things," says Weatherman. "Growing up and doing your own thing."
I venture into the ever-grinding rumor mill that COC has some special message or political stance that is hidden in their lyrics. Weatherman says that although the band has always voiced their opinions, enjoying the music is foremost.
"How can you narrow something down?" Weatherman says. "It's tough to use a rock band for political opinion."
Weatherman talks about how the record company may try to push the idea that the band has a certain stance, but COC wants their audience to have fun. They're there to enjoy themselves, not to hear statements and messages.
"What do you think about the Internet?" I ask.
"The Internet is good because it's how people find out what's going on in the world," answers Weatherman.
"But what about it's effect on the record companies?"
"The major labels are scared off their asses," Weatherman says. He feels that kids are doing especially well, with younger bands taking more control.
I gripe at him about COC's Web site because, despite all the cool stuff it has, there isn't any bio information. Weatherman tells me to check out the Sanctuary Records site for background- the band didn't write any bios because they just didn't feel right about bragging about themselves. As for the COC site, he reminds me to watch it for tour information, "Once we start our tour for real, we will have updates."
So far the road has been good for the guys, making stops with Clutch, 60 Watt Shaman and Karma to Burn. But it hasn't been easy, COC uses their own van, not a plush tour bus, when traveling, and sleeping in a car can be hard. They're up late playing shows and then get up early to drive to the next venue.
Closer to home, Weatherman finds the local scene not very heavy and not as active as in the past. There are only a few clubs and a lot of pop. Locals have to venture to Chapel Hill to get a taste of current indie rock. And, as I learned in my time down south, sometimes you can't get the music you want at the record stores- even in the mall. Weatherman says it's still the same, but now you can avoid hunting around by ordering off of the Internet.
Weatherman spends his downtime with his parents and grandparents. His father still plays and is currently trying his talents at jazz and salsa music.
"I go check him out every once in a while," says Weatherman, although he admits that he doesn't care for salsa.
Weatherman is single and devoted to his music. He says that it isn't fair to have a wife and kids when you spend so much of your life out on the road; kids need a dad.
To aspiring musicians, Weatherman offers the following, "Concentrate on your originality. Stay away from the trend; do your own thing."
What does the future hold for COC?
"Touring like mad," replies Weatherman. In 9-10 months they are planning to do another album.
"So is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to talk about?" I query.
"No. I think we covered just about everything." Weatherman pauses and laughs, "Except beer. You didn't ask me about beer."
Touché. "Okay, what's your favorite beer?"
"Miller High Life," Weatherman answers and we launch into a deep discussion about the various beers around the country; which ones rule and which ones suck and what kind of beer we drank with our fathers.
Finally I decide to rap it up and let Weatherman go to enjoy his sunny day.
"We're really excited about seeing you out in Southern California, you know?" I say.
Weatherman smiles, "Who us? We're just a bunch of redneck musicians."
For more information on Corrosion of Conformity, visit www.coc.com or www.corrosivecabaal.com