Jimmy Black of Music On 11 conducted an interview with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY drummer Reed Mullin prior to the band's January 12 concert at Outland Ballroom in Springfield, Missouri. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what the title of the band's new studio album, "No Cross No Crown", means:
Reed: "When we were doing this three-piece, this kind of nostalgic hardcore and punk rock, while we were doing that, Pepper [Keenan, vocals/guitar] and I were talking and he was saying, he calls me 'Mule'. He goes 'Mule. We got to do this. We got to get back together and do some shit.' I said 'Dude, that would be great, but you're touring with DOWN.' Anyway, it got to the point where DOWN was taking some time off and so we booked a European tour. It was sort of like a barometer, a litmus test to see, you know, what fans thought of it, whether anybody would show up and if we got along, if we're having fun, that was the main thing. Anyway, we had this two- or three-week European thing set up and all of those things came true, we were having a blast. One of the first shows we did was in Colchester, England. There was a super-old church, like a 600-year-old church or something and that [the album title] was on the side. We did a photo session with our t-shirt girl Linda, yeah, it was one of those things, we should definitely do an ancient, cemetery and stuff. But, anyway, 'No Cross No Crown' was on the side of the church. We were all like, 'Ah, that's either a good song title or a good album title, or both.'"
On the writing process for "No Cross No Crown":
Reed: "A lot of us had ideas, yeah. We've always been like that, everybody contributes. Like I write music, too, but we all write music. I write lyrics. I actually wrote the lyrics to the song 'Albatross'. It's fun to play and everybody sings along. But, yeah, just like Pepper and I were talking to each other while the three-piece was going, Monte Conner, the president of Nuclear Blast [Entertainment] heard the four of us were getting back together, he called me up immediately: 'Is this real? Are you guys going to do it?' I said, 'Yeah, I think so. We have to do this tour and see how it's going.' As I said, it ended up being killer. So, he and I would talk every month or something and during those every-month conversations, he said to me: 'I'm going to sign you guys.' I said, 'Okay, hold on now. Back up a second.' He said, ''Deliverance' is not one of my favorite or favorite C.O.C. records, but it's one of my favorite albums of all time.' I was, like, 'Monte! Jesus Christ.' We kept talking and he and I were negotiating. This was without the other guys knowing about it, but it worked out great. Finally, Monte and I got a basic idea of what the contract was and everybody was stoked. I promised Monte that we would give him one of the best, if not the best C.O.C. record. I think we delivered on that promise, for sure."
On the different eras of C.O.C. that combine to make "No Cross No Crown":
Reed: "We've been playing together for a long time. Woody [Weatherman, guitar] and I and Mike Dean [bass/vocals] started the band in '82 or something, so we've been together for a long time. I think the three of us really learned how to play our instruments together. Actually, I know we did. As a matter of fact, I had gotten a drumkit for Christmas from Santa Claus, but I didn't know how to play. I've known Woody since fifth grade; I've known Woody forever. We're friends, obviously, and he taught me how to play some beats. He taught me the RAMONES beat and the punk rock beat. So, two months later because I learned those beats, we started C.O.C. We've played together for a long time and a lot of the influences we had, like more metallic, '70s hard rock [were there]. We really learned to play and you could see the progression of our songwriting from the early stuff, which is more straight-up hardcore punk rock to the 'Eye For An Eye' record. One of the songs on 'Eye For An Eye' is really 'Symptom Of The Universe' by BLACK SABBATH, just sped up really fast. We do a JUDAS PRIEST version of 'Green Manalishi [With The Two Prong Crown]'. One of our songs we had [SABBATH's] 'Cornucopia' as an intro. We started playing a little bit better together and those influences started oozing in. All the while, when 'Eye For An Eye' came out, a lot of folks in New Orleans like [EYEHATEGOD frontman] Mike Williams and Pepper became real big C.O.C. fans and actually, both of those guys were my penpals in the old days. Whenever we'd go to New Orleans, we'd play with Pepper's band, GRAVEYARD RODEO. It was almost like he had been in the band because he had a lot of the same influences and all that shit. By the time he joined the band in '89, it was like he had been in the band the whole time anyway."
On the recording process for "No Cross No Crown":
Reed: "When we went into the studio, originally the idea was that we were going to do demos at our rehearsal space in Raleigh. And, write a shitload of songs. Mike Dean has a nice little recording setup there. So, we did a shitload of demos over about six months and we had John Custer, who's produced every C.O.C. record since 'Blind' in '91, so he's an integral part of the band. He's like a fifth member by this time. We were doing all of this stuff and one thing John is really good at doing is getting the best fucking energy-filled, straight-up C.O.C., live kind of feeling take. I could play a song perfectly, but if it didn't have that energy, he'd make me do it again. We were doing these supposed demos, but it finally got to the point where we were, like, 'How is this going to be any better if we have to record them again?' It had that vibe to it. It was oozing with vibe. 'How are we going to better this if it already has it?' And that thing is hard to capture. A lot of, I don't want to point any fingers or name any names, but a lot of metal bands these days quantize the drum tracks and make everything sound perfectly. For me in C.O.C., a lot of the little mistakes or speed-up or slow-downs makes the band sound like a band."
"No Cross No Crown" was released on January 12. The album is the group's first studio effort with Keenan in more than a decade.
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is currently touring North America with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. The tour kicked off December 27 in Denver, Colorado and will wind its way through nearly four dozen cities before coming to a close on February 27. Additional support is being provided by EYEHATEGOD and RED FANG on select shows.