This being the first date of their run of European dates, the band are eager to hit the stage tonight in Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre before another two shows in Ireland and then over to the UK to hook up with the mighty Orange Goblin.
OD – From the ‘Deliverance Revival’ tour back in 2015 to ‘No Cross, No Crown’. Having worked with Justin Custer once again, there is no question that this new album is hitting all the right notes with long-term C.O.C. fans and bringing in a whole new legion of younger fans. Did you know that you were sitting on a modern classic when you were putting it together?
WOODY – Well, No Cross No Crown is a strong record. We’re not gonna intentionally toss any bullshit out into the public (laughing). We really worked hard on this album we approached it a lot differently than we did with any of the other albums we had done in the past. We just went in there and laid it down. We just threw caution to the wind and said: “fuck it, let’s just do it!“.
OD – That’s quite a ballsy approach to recording would you agree?
WOODY – Yeah, I guess so! To be honest, it was really exciting going in there every day and laying down some new ideas and seeing them grow into actual songs. Sometime’s we would get a new song in just one day and sometimes it would take a couple of days to get the idea down, just the way we wanted it.
It was kind of cool in that respect, you know, just getting to sit down at the end of the day and listen back to the moment when it all came together.
OD – I believe that you had a kind of timeline on certain ideas, and if it was not happening by say, half a day of working on it, you would just can the idea?
WOODY – Yes, that’s true and we did trash a few songs that were just not vibing if you know what I mean. If the idea was just not gelling, we’d spend a couple of hours on it and it would become kind of apparent that it was just not meant to be, so we’d just throw it away. We really needed to do this as we were writing everything in the studio, so there was a kind of urgency to what we were trying to achieve.
OD – Looking back now, do you think that you’ll do this again going forward as the end result seemed to produce a pretty strong album?
WOODY – I would like to do it that way again. A part of the chemistry was that we are all coming from different places, so we couldn’t really get together and write for a number of weeks like we have done with previous records.
Pepper (Keenan) is down in New Orleans, I’m up in the mountains and we would have to converge for five or six days and concentrate on writing before we all went back home.
I would totally do the next album this way again because I’ve found that the previous process involves doing a lot of demos and stuff like that, which can just water down the creative process and the essence of the music. I kind of like the idea of just sticking our asses out there and whatever is there is there (laughing).
OD – I understand that the label ‘Nuclear Blast’ gave you as much time as you needed to make the album, that had to be a huge amount of pressure off your shoulders when in that creative process?
WOODY – Well, our guy in New York, Monte (Connor, Nuclear Blast A&R), he was the one that snagged us and was saying: “I’m gonna sign you guys 0nce you get up and running again” and so he came through with his word and we signed to Nuclear Blast, which is such a great label.
Around this time, we just kept touring! We did a few of our own runs, and in other situations, some friends of ours would ring up and ask us to join them on a few dates here and there, so we were mentally nowhere near the idea of going into the studio.
This kind of went on for a year or so since we had signed with Nuclear Blast and after a while, Monte was like: “Okay guys, what’s happening?” and we were like: “Alright Monte, I guess we need to just buckle down and get this album happening!” (laughing)
So we just got stuck into the album and it took like 3/4 months and then Pepper and Mike (Dean, Bass) drove up to Vancouver where Mike Fraser mixed the LP and that took a couple of weeks. Making a record takes some commitment you know? I don’t think many people know the labour of love that goes into the whole process, especially the younger generation.
OD -We are looking at a history of 35 years for C.O.C., and during that time, there has been a knack of writing material that ages well and doesn’t sound like it’s trapped in a time zone, like many albums especially from the 90’s and the 00’s. Is this a conscious decision when writing and have you canned tracks that had a lot of potential but were a little overloaded with a particular sound from any particular era?
WOODY – That was like our mantra, especially around the time of making ‘Deliverance‘ back in 1994. Even our earlier stuff doesn’t sound that dated. We’ve never been that band, that’s like: “We really need to get that snare sound that’s really hot right now!” (laughing)
We just like doing our own thing and consciously make a decision to create music that doesn’t really attach itself to any particular trends during a particular era. We just stick to what we do and try and do the best that we can.
Not to sound fucking cocky or anything, but we want to try our best in making a ‘timeless’ record that still sounds good thirty years later. Outside of Pop music, there are a lot of bands that have recorded albums that have survived the test of time, if you know what I mean.
OD – When you see things like the new album being the highest charting album in the bands’ career, do you find that a little surreal considering how long you’ve been doing this and did it surprise you when you first discovered this?
WOODY – Yeah it was, but it’s not that hard to achieve these days. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a nice feeling there when you see the album listed in the high-end of the charts but it’s a different time for music sales if you know what I mean.
OD – The same could be said for CLUTCH who gained some of the biggest sales of their career when they released “Earth Rocker” back in 2013. They have been around for just as long as you guys and only finally are reaping the rewards (somewhat) some thirty years later.
WOODY – Yeah, the CLUTCH guys are doing great right now. I’m really happy to see those guys getting the recognition they deserve. When Monte called us up and told us how good the album was doing, we were happy for sure, but as I’ve said, record sales are just not what they used to be.
OD – From the outside, it looks like Nuclear Blast has been great for C.O.C.’s return. Would that be a good assumption?
WOODY – Totally man! Nuclear Blast are exceptional in what they do. They have really embraced the return of vinyl sales which is awesome to see as well as the PR aspect of the label which they have totally nailed. It makes such a difference when the label has your back.
OD – There are many trends within metal/heavier music that come around once in a while, be it everyone releasing their own beer or the new thing is the cruise ship phase. You guys are doing the ‘MegaCruise‘, will this be your first experience playing a show in this environment and with regards to the offer, did Dave (Mustaine, Megadeth) ask you personally to take part?
WOODY – Well, we had the pleasure of touring with Megadeth a few times and when you get down to it, Dave’s a really cool guy. To be honest, he’s cooler than he ever was and he knows what he’s talking about. He’s got his fingers in a lot of pies.
We were asked by his people to take part in the MegaCruise and we’re more than happy to take part. It’s gonna be an awesome high-seas adventure. (laughing)
Click here for more information on MegaCruise.
OD – You played the Motörhead’s Motörboat before, is that right?
WOODY – Yeah, we did that back in 2015 I think. That was one of the last few times that Lemmy did something like that, so it was a great memory to have.
OD – How do you find the experience of playing on a boat, especially if you can’t get away from the place or some people in particular as you’re kind of all stuck together for a few days?
WOODY – (Laughing) I see what you mean man, and it’s crossed my mind a few times, but honestly, it’s all good. From a fans perspective, they get to hang out with some of their favourite bands for a few days and catch some awesome shows. It’s really cool and we like doing these type of shows.
The way they normally work is that we’re out at sea for like four/five days and they have like a full-blown venue, and an outdoor stage also which is so cool. It’s kind of a festival style situation out on the deck. Everybody’s having a good time and sinking some beers with some kick-ass music.
OD – There seems to be a lot of dumbing down in today’s music. Looking back on the decades the social/political issues in music seemed to slowly die in the late 90’s and early 00’s. What are your views on this and do you think that music still has the power to create change both politically and socially?
WOODY – Yeah, you don’t see that in mainstream music these days. You make a very good point man. When I look back, even the pop music was better back in those days (laughing). Now, I can’t really identify with stuff that happing today.
Pop music has always been pretty cheeseball but you make a good point when you consider some of those bands from back in the day, like UB40, Tear For Fears, Eurythmics or something like that. They all, in some kind of way, had a social message or there was a point to the lyrical content in the music outside of the typical love or whatever other bullshit they tend to do to death in Pop music.
I really think heavy music has stayed the course very well and when you look at our genre, there are some great bands that have put out some killer albums over the last few decades.
OD – When looking at the difference in doing shows back in America as opposed to shows in Europe, do you notice a difference anymore, or are you seeing the same reaction albeit through different cultures?
WOODY – I notice more in years that have passed, there are a lot of bands that don’t do as well in North America as well as they do in Europe. But I have to say, that really doesn’t affect us as C.O.C are lucky enough to have fans that have stuck with us for the long haul! It’s more of a commitment than anything else and we’re totally grateful for that.
OD – Being the age that you are, you’ve seen the rise of many sub-genres under the metal umbrella but of all of them, what was the one that you were left perplexed by?
WOODY – (laughing) Well, yeah, there are some bands that have me scratching my head. I think it’s like a welcome addition to metal, with bands like Baby Metal. It’s like: “Hey kids! It’s not all doom and gloom! Check out Baby Metal!” (laughing) I enjoy it and I think it breaks it up a little bit.
I get a little lost when it comes to all of these sub-genres. Personally, I don’t wanna be stuck in one particular genre like the way the media tries to do that with everything. We’ve been called sludge, stoner and desert to name just a few, but at the end of the day, we play heavy rock. We just like to do what we do and whatever people think it is, then so be it.
OD – Bearing the in mind, what would you consider to be the golden era of heavy music for you personally?
WOODY – It has to be the 70’s man! That was just the most epic era for music thanks to the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, T-Rex and Bowie to name just a few! All of that stuff was fucking amazing and still is to this day.
I still like stuff that’s being released today but the 70’s is my jam! When you look at stuff from Skynard and ZZ Top (picured below) and you see how well it stands the test of time, that’s enough to make anyone understand why the 70’s just fucking ruled!
OD – Being able to tour the planet and play music while doing it, is very much a coveted position to be in and is becoming increasingly more difficult to do. What would you change right now going forward for both, bands of your vintage and also the younger bands that are starting out?
WOODY – Well it varies from place to place, but from a business perspective, I would imagine that it’s very difficult to be starting out in this industry considering the current landscape of the music industry.
Let’s face it, bands would primarily start a record deal and giving them the opportunity to get their music distributed around the globe, but nowadays, it’s way harder from that perspective, because of most people today just go online and just drift in and drift out of albums, which they are not paying for, so there’s no real relationship between the kids and the music, which is a real shame.
Don’t get me wong, I still think there are opportunities out there today but really the key now is as it was back then and that’s touring and playing live. Bands just need to get out there and travel and gig as much as they can.
Look at these guys here today (Ten Ton Slug) I see that they are getting out there and working hard, doing shows, putting the time in and that’s just what you gotta do. Nothing comes easy in this business, but you can have a lot of fun trying.
No Cross No Crown is out now via Nuclear Blast, visit this link for a selection of vinyl, digital and CD formats.
Corrosion of Conformity will be hitting the UK from today [Friday, October 26th] with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, and Black Moth. See all dates below;
Live photos – Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2018