Corrosion of Conformity is American rock band originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. I got a chance to speak with founding guitarist Woody Weatherman about the recording of their tenth album No Cross, No Crown which is available now on Nuclear Blast Records. He talked about what it was like going through 16-hour recording sessions for the album as well as working with longtime producer John Custer. We spoke in varying depths about songs from the new album like A Wolf Named Crow, The Luddite, and more. They are touring with Crowbar, WeedEater The Obsessed, and Mothership.
Can you please give me an introduction on yourself when it comes to your musical history?
The band has been around for a year or two. This is probably our 78 time playing New York City. We are looking forward to it. We love coming back every single time. We have been to the Grammercy a few times before. It’s a nice place. We’re digging it.
During the writing of this album what bands were you listening to the most?
A lot of times when we are in the middle of something we aren’t listening to much else. We have the influences that we always have had. You got the Sabbaths, Deep Purples, and ZZ Tops. We saw Black Flag and it blew our heads off. There was Bad Brains and all that kind of stuff. I think from Day 1 that is the type of stuff we always reach back to that influenced us and really made us do what we do. Whenever we are riding around in the truck or the bus, we are listening to the classics like Stevie Ray Vaughan, or T. Rex.
I have heard you did this album in four to five day sessions with you guys clocking in 16 hours on those days. Tell me what a typical day was like for you during the recording of “No Cross No Crown”?
We would all show up in town because Mike is in the only dude that lives in Raleigh anymore. Pepper would fly in from New Orleans. I would come down out of the hills of Virginia and make my appearance in Raleigh. At the beginning of the day, we would literally show up at the studio, and there not be that much floating around our heads. There would be a few riffs and ideas and we would start jamming on it. Hopefully by the end of the day we would have something on tape that was a viable good song. Then the next day show up and finish it. We would hope to have three or four more songs done at the end of every one of those four to five day sessions. It worked out pretty good.
We have never done an album like that before. I think we didn’t waste a bunch of time demoing a bunch of stuff and watering it down. To be honest I would like to make another record the same way. Maybe we will, I don’t know.
Was there any material you had, or Pepper had, that was stashed away for a while to be used when he came back or does this have completely brand-new compositions?
About 90 percent of the album the music pretty much came out of thin air. There were a couple of ideas of older songs that had been laying around for a little bit, that we revamped and reworked. Most of it was on the spot just jamming it out. Everybody has riffs in their heads. They were brand new in song form.
You had long time producer John Custer with you on this album. How was it recording on this go around?
John is fantastic and an amazing musician. He makes me look like a child on the guitar. He is a wizard. He has been making records with us since the Blind album. He doesn’t dictate how the songs are written. Once we have our groove going, he starts putting in ideas of timing issues; or when it’s time to start busting out vocals, and guitar overdubs and what not. He’ll go, “When do you want to start the solo, if you started it a half a beat later…,” I would say on this record he had been trying to get us do a Queen cover for a number of years. Every time we showed up and made a record he would be like, “You know that Queen song, “Son and Daughter”? That’s the one you guys should do.” We just never did it.
This time he buckled down and was like you guys are doing this. We showed up one morning, started working on it, and learned it, and slapped it on tape. I think John’s contribution to that was immense. He is a massive Queen fan, which we all are.
I do like “The Luddite” a lot; what inspired you to write about that movement and tell me about how that song came together?
It’s kind of a joke. Pepper and I especially in the area of technical gadgets, we have been referred to as luddites which is a bit of a misnomer. It led us to learn what kind of movement the Luddites were about. It intrigued us. Most people misuse the term like someone who can’t operate an iPhone. We had a good time with the imagery. We went back to how that movement got started. People can go on Google and figure out what it is. It’s fun to get a theme when you are working on a song, and you just go off of it. Next thing you know the idea comes to fruition.
For the song “Wolf Named Crow,” I think the original inspiration was an encounter Pepper had walking his dog named crow and that grew into a song, tell me how that grew into a song?
That was exactly what it was. The song doesn’t necessarily refer to that. Keenan had a dog that has long since passed away. It was a black lab or something. Its name was crow and he was out walking it. This little kid comes up and the dog half way scared him and goes, “Man that guy’s got a wolf named crow.”[Laughs] It kind of scared the little kid half to death. It’s another one of those things where you take an idea like that and run with it. We have been doing that song live since the record came out. It’s one of my favorite ones to do, it’s a bit of a booty shaker, you get the girls out there. You gotta involve everyone.
How old is that story by the way?
Man, like 15 years. That dog has been gone for a long time. You hold onto little ideas like that and that inspires songs later on.
I listened to A Quest to believe a few times and it sounds like someone is fighting against a phantom or some other imaginary figure.
That song was a Mike Dean creation with the insanely heavy doom riffs. Lyrically that is where he was coming from with it. I don’t jump that much into the lyrical aspects. One thing I did like was how Pepper and Mike Dean leave things a little open. There are no super pointed kind of stuff. Things can mean different things to different people. There were a few pointed political things throughout the years. In general, I think it’s good to leave it a little ambiguous.
With this tour’s setlist when it comes to the new album what songs have you found you guys want to play the most for your crowd?
Off the new one we are flip flopping between three or four songs. That’s another issue in and of itself. You get nine, 10, 11 records, it can get to be a chore deciding what goes in the setlist. We’ve been switching things up on this trip and have been bringing in some of the classics we haven’t played in a while. I love playing “Wolf Named Crow” live. “The Luddite” is great too. It’s just a matter if we remember it. We wrote and recorded it as we went along. There are still a few songs we haven’t even played since we recorded them. Every time we decide on a new one to play it takes us a solid couple of soundchecks of rehearsing it to be able to do it live.
What would you say are the coolest Southern rock albums you have in your collection?
[Laughs] Probably the first five ZZ Top records. I am a giant Allman Brothers fan. Of course, Skynyrd. I consider some of the Texas guitar players as half way there too. There is Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, I’m a giant fan of all of that stuff. The real stuff, not the silly stuff that came later. You know the real heart felt stuff from down South.
Do you ever contribute any time to charities?
We try to. Two or three weeks ago we went down to Dallas to perform at a charity event. It was the Ride for Dime event. Proceeds go to Toys for Tots and Music Cares. Whenever we get invited and can show up for stuff like that. Of course. You gotta give back when you can.
Would you like to go back to any questions?
Even though we have been out on the road for a year, we have this whole year booked up. We are staying at it and supporting the new record. We don’t get to make new records that often. Whenever we make a strong one, we try to stay out there as long as we can and support it.
We owe so much to the people that still support us 37 years later and we are still able to do this. It’s a dream. You can’t do it without people coming to see you and supporting you. It’s amazing. We bow down to them. For me it’s a thrill to still do it. There are a lot of new people as well as the people that have been coming around for decades to see us. They’ll be like, “I saw you in 1989 and so and so.”
See Corrosion of Conformity on Feb. 13 at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre, Feb. 15 at the Wolf’s Den at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, and Feb. 17 at Underground Arts in Philly.