Corrosion of Conformity’s Pepper Keenan Discusses Reunion With Band, New Music + More
Corrosion of Conformity vocalist Pepper Keenan was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. Keenan spoke about his return to the band after some time away, the jumping off point for their next studio album and more. Check out the chat below.
How ya doing?
So much going on. You're back with COC. Woody, Mike and Reed were already playing together for years before you rejoined. What made it easy for you to fit right back in when you got involved again?
We had been talking about it for a long time, and it felt like it was time cause there was so much talk about it and everybody was kind of getting on our asses to get it in gear, and we even had a couple of record companies poking around going, “What are you guys doing?” We decided, let’s just go to Europe and play some shows and see what happens and see how it gels. I rehearsed on my own and I went up there to North Carolina for a couple days. It literally just took off.
I think we’re playing better now than we were back then to be honest with you. So it really was a pretty exciting thing. Like I said, we went to Europe and then opened up a whole can of worms over there. We got invited back two more times, like weeks later, out at the festivals and stuff, and it just kinda went from there. I guess the main thing was that we were playing well together. I think everybody’s in tip-top shape, and that made it a lot easier.
You're involved in all kinds of music, not just COC. What's different about the satisfaction that you get from playing COC songs compared to other music you play?
The strangest thing about it to me is some of the songs are 20 years old, and I haven’t touched some of these songs in 20 years. I never thought I’d be that guy, you know, going backwards, but the songs stand the test of time, and they work really well. It’s been a head trip really, going backwards like that and having so many people come out and trip out on us. Even new fans—people who’ve never seen us before. We just did a tour with Clutch and some shows with Mastodon and there were oodles of people that would come up and say, “Man, I’ve never heard you guys before,” and they were just blown away, which is great, you know cause we’re playing songs we haven’t even done in a record yet. So, on that edge of things, that was the craziest part about it.
It's been a long time since all four of you made an album together. What was the starting point for the album you'll release next year?
I think the catalyst that we agreed to leap off of was the last record which is called In the Arms of God, which to me—I’ve told people before, that’s about as good as I can do it. Everything was firing when we did that record. And Reed wasn’t on that record, but the guy that played drums was somewhat emulating Reed Mullen in a jazzy kind of way -- a friend of mine from New Orleans -- but that record to me was, that’s the pinnacle of, I think, the COC song right. So, we’re gonna kind of launch off from there and use that as a measuring stick to go from. It’s a pretty tall order to come back and do a record like that, and we don’t take it lightly, and we know the amount of heat that’s on us. But first things first — you just gotta jam and get the riffs organized and really focus on making a serious cohesive album.
Your new song, a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover of "On the Hunt," was actually recorded over ten years ago. Why did you decide to finally put it out now?
We’d been sitting on it for so long and I was listening to it and man this thing is freakin’ killer. And I went back in the band, you know, it would be a good little thing to get people talking, and they were just sitting there. Not to mention it sounded great. I really thought it was a really…I’m a Skynyrd freak, you know, like some of the other guys in the band, so we thought it was a valuable thing to put out and let people know that we’re kinda snooping around and getting our head back out there.
Individually and together as a band, what's most different now about COC as musicians and as people?
It’s time, you know. I think we’re a little bit more civilized; not much. Playing-wise, we’re playing great. I think when we get in the studio it’ll be very focused. I think we’re more open to each other’s ideas, and I think the end product is going to show that. Everybody in the band can play; there’s no weak links on here. Everybody’s, like I said, is in good shape and really getting it on. So that’s the big factor for me. If I didn’t think I could do it -- I had over ten years -- if I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t do it. But as of now, everything’s fine. I think the biggest difference is just that we’re older. COC is a bunch of punk rock kids from a different era that still put their nose to the grind and don’t bitch about anything.
I know that there's some COC touring for the next couple of weeks. Tell us about the timeline for 2016.
We finished up this US headlining tour, which starts in Atlanta and ends in Raleigh. So we're going around the whole block, including some places in Canada. I'm guessing - we're playing a Florida Death Metal Festival. Obituary has a festival down in Florida and they want us to headline. They're big fans so we're headlining down there in early January and then it's time to start getting together and organizing some riffs and start demoing stuff.
Looking forward to hearing more from you guys, everyone is excited for this tour. Really appreciate you taking the time.
I'd like to say we had a ton of support, man. So many people have our backs and are rooting for us. We couldn't do it without that. Industry people, fans, everyone included. They really came out of the woodwork to lend us a hand and offer assistance or help, advice, anything we needed which goes a long way. It feels good to have people rooting for you like that. We do appreciate it, from the fans and industry people alike.