Man, talk about a band that's done it all, Corrosion Of Conformity started out as one of the pre-eminent bands in the eighties hardcore scene with "Eye For An Eye", crossed over with "Animosity", moved on to technical thrash metal with their groundbreaking effort "Blind" , delved into power rock with "Deliverance' and "Wiseblood" and moved into an even more soulful, tuneful, laid-back sound on the fantastic "America's Volume Dealer." Throughout their career, they've never compromised for anyone, making their own rules and setting new standards for excellence in hard-edged sounds. I had the distinct pleasure of conversing with co-founder Woody Weatherman in the midst of the band's latest tour in support of their mind-blowing new release "In The Arms Of God." With a mellow, easy going personality, Weatherman is one of the most personable, humble performers you'd ever want to speak with.
The Gauntlet: The band has just released a new record, "In The Arms Of God." Are you out on tour supporting the record?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, we're out with Motorhead. Yeah its killer, everybody goes crazy every night.
The Gauntlet: Is it cool to be able to check out Lemmy and the boys every night?
Woody Weatherman: I mean, it's a fringe benefit. Everybody watches them every night, it's crazy.
The Gauntlet: How has the response been as far as the new material goes?
Woody Weatherman: Well, we're doing four or five of them on this tour, so far it's been great. It's a solid record so we try to play as many of those tunes live as we can.
The Gauntlet: Which cuts can fans expect to hear on this tour?
Woody Weatherman: We've been doing "Paranoid Opioid".
The Gauntlet: That's a really great track. Where did you get the idea to use such a crazy sound during the chorus?
Woody Weatherman: Keenan busted it out in the studio.
The Gauntlet: I have always respected the fact the band does different things with its sound. The new record sounds like it's a culmination of all of your previous work combined, with everything from the thrashier style of the "Blind" record to the smoother sounds of "America's Volume Dealer". There's even a bit of the really old school vibe happening on "Infinite War."
Woody Weatherman: Really, every record man, we try to do something really different, throw a little surprise in here and there. I think people expect that out of us in some respects. To rehash the same album over and over again gets pretty boring, you know?
The Gauntlet: Exactly how long did it take for the band to track the new album?
Woody Weatherman: Man, it was pretty quick. We went down to New Orleans and busted out all of the roughs in about eight days. Then we headed back up to Raleigh, heck, I don't know an exact timeframe. We were there for three or four weeks messing around on stuff. It was a pretty easy record to make compared to some of our past albums.
The Gauntlet: What for you was the high point of making the record?
Woody Weatherman: After you start enjoying the fruits of the labor, listening to mixes and stuff, that's the most exciting time, you know? It all gels and you can actually listen to the work and that's what you really get the pleasure out of.
The Gauntlet: Can you tell us a little bit about the track "Stonebreaker" and how it came about?
Woody Weatherman: Well, it's a Mike Dean riff, what do you want to know? It's just a badass song. We made a video for it. We just finished that video. It's kind of like one of those Mike Dean things; it's just a stompin' riff.
The Gauntlet: What is it that you are most looking forward to on this tour? You have been out for a little while already, haven't you?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah we've been out for about a month on the Motorhead thing in Bakersfield, California right now, we're actually pulling up to the gig here right now. I don't know, man, the whole thing has been pretty good, man. I can't complain about anything. We're headed up to Canada next week, doing the whole deal up there, running across back to the East Coast. Then, in July, we're going to be doing some headlining dates.
The Gauntlet: As a guitarist, you have a knack for being able to take a note and just beat the shit out of it. You are so expressive when you play.
Woody Weatherman: Just making up for not having a whammy bar, I guess.
The Gauntlet: How do you describe your style of guitar playing?
Woody Weatherman: Sloppy, ha-ha. I'm not the most precise player, but I just go for it. Sometimes I get lucky and things fall together, every once in a while.
The Gauntlet: You guys have been at this for so long.
Woody Weatherman: Since '82, I guess.
The Gauntlet: So at this point do you feel like you're in the prime of your career?
Woody Weatherman: I would say so, especially with this record, man. I think that we all agree that this is one of our strongest albums. I think it's kind of a culmination type of deal, you know.
The Gauntlet: So do you guys ever go back and pull out any hardcore records from your first records?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, we've been known to. If we get a hankering to. We've done it.
The Gauntlet: What other tracks are you throwing into the set from previous records?
Woody Weatherman: This whole tour, we're pulling stuff from the last four albums or so. Volume Dealer and a couple off Deliverance. You know how it is, man.
The Gauntlet: Does the group ever play any of the tracks from the "Blind" record?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, we do "Vote With A Bullet" most of the time. We switch stuff up every once in a while.
The Gauntlet: What's the most special thing about being able to be on the road, seeing the country?
Woody Weatherman: That's pretty much it, Really the traveling and playing the shows. The best part is when you are actually playing the shows, but a lot of the rest of it is just riding around. At least you get to see stuff.
The Gauntlet: Can it be tough to be out there with so much hurry up and wait ?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, you get used to it. I think for the average person, they might throw their hands up in the air after about a month or two. You learn to deal with it, it's not that big of a deal.
The Gauntlet: Throughout your career, you've obviously played a lot of huge shows. Which performance really sticks out in your mind as the best ever?
Woody Weatherman: I don't know, man, I couldn't tell you. It wouldn't necessarily be one of the bigger shows per say. I think that a lot of the time we pull off our best shows in small, rinky-dink joints where people are sweating on each other and all kinds of stuff, you know? I think that our stuff comes across better in small joints, really.
The Gauntlet: Do you enjoy a more intimate setting then?
Woody Weatherman: I do, I think that most people would probably say that.
The Gauntlet: So will the band be out for a very long time in support of this record?
Woody Weatherman: We plan on it. It's a great album, so we're going to support it, you know?
The Gauntlet: Why did the band choose to record the live album and film at Harpo's Concert Theatre in Detroit?
Woody Weatherman: It was a cool venue for the kind of thing that we wanted to do, Detroit's a great crowd. So, it was kind of a no-brainer.
The Gauntlet: When you are playing, what kinds of things go through your head on stage? Are you really uptight about the music or do you just let the vibe take over?
Woody Weatherman: I've learned that if I sit there and concentrate too much on what's actually going on musically, I lose it, so I kind of concentrate on the feel of the crowd, whatever's going on. Every once in a while, you've got to pay attention to what you're doing or you get lost. But actually, my mind tends to wander a little bit, (laughs). It depends on what kind of evening it is.
The Gauntlet: Do the band's songs evolve at all over time or do you try to stick to the sound of the record when you're out there on stage?
Woody Weatherman: They've changed. Sometimes we go back to the original version, but there are several songs we have where there is a little part of a jam session in the middle, but there are some that we just maintain the way that they were recorded. Different songs go different ways.
The Gauntlet: Do you enjoy improvising your solos in concert?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, I do it quite often.
The Gauntlet: Do you just go for the feel of the moment?
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, they get changed around. You get bored doing the same exact solo all of the time, but there's a couple that I stay pretty close to the record on, you know?
The Gauntlet: Do you ever take the opportunity to break out a cover here and there?
Woody Weatherman: Nah, we haven't in a while, but we've done a couple songs over the years. A couple of Deep Purple songs, a couple of Sabbath songs, things like that. It's been quite a while.
The Gauntlet: You were pretty well known for playing the Judas Priest song back in the day.
Woody Weatherman: Yeah, a very long time ago, that is true. We haven't played it in years.
The Gauntlet: Let's talk for a moment about the title track. It is really heavy as compared to what you have been doing as of late. It has that thrashy quality of your middle period work. Did you make a conscious decision to put something heavy like that on the record?
Woody Weatherman: Right, that particular song-there's several songs on the record that kind of tie in. Lyrically, you might want to talk to Keenan about that. It points in so many different directions.
The Gauntlet: Over the course of the band's history, the lyrics have often had political and religious leanings, but the overall vibe of the words can often be ambiguous. Does Pepper want to put a certain message through with the lyrics that he writes?
Woody Weatherman: We try not to be too pointed with that. We've said a few times that we like to leave things open to interpretation, so how people take it is how they take it. But I think Keenan is pretty good with that kind of stuff.
The Gauntlet: The cover of "Wiseblood" was a pretty intense statement.
Woody Weatherman: What? With the pig and all that stuff? You know man; we come up with crazy stuff like that.
The Gauntlet: Who are some of the guitarists that you have most admired over the years?
Woody Weatherman: I don't know, I think Billy Gibbons, most of the standard dudes. Iommi, back in the day was just freaked out.
The Gauntlet: Do you feel like a guitar hero to those kids that admire your band?
Woody Weatherman: No not really man, no (laughs).
The Gauntlet: What are you most looking forward in bringing this new record to the fans?
Woody Weatherman: Man, just doing a good show every night, keeping the energy up, stayin' alive.
The Gauntlet: Have you been doing some pretty heavy partying out there so far?
Woody Weatherman: I would say at least a little bit, sure. With Las Vegas last night, might be the wrong time to ask that. It was Vegas; things can get a little out of hand. Maybe it wasn't much different than a regular old night, but it was fun. Actually, our record came out yesterday, so we were all tripping on that.
The Gauntlet: Anything that you want to throw out there for the people?
Woody Weatherman: The only thing I can say is that we really appreciate all of the fans sticking with us and not giving up on us. It's been a couple of years and what have you since the last record, but we're still here.