|Corrosion of Conformity are back and louder than ever.
With the recent release of there long awaited album “In the
Arms of God” I took the opportunity to call C.O.C. front man
Pepper Keenan in New Orleans a couple of weeks back to talk about
some of the different factors that surrounded writing material for
the new album. We also spoke about touring Australia a few years back
with Pantera, Dimebag Darrell’s death, The Metallica audition,
The U.S. Summer tour which will kick off soon, and much more. I hope
you all enjoy it!
Cameron Edney - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INSIDE_OUT666
1. Hi Pepper, first of all thanks so much for taking the time out
to speak with me this morning. I would like to congratulate you on
the release of the latest album “In the arms of God”.
There are some outstanding tracks on the new album.
Pepper Keenan: Thank you very much.
2. How long did it take you guys to record the new album?
Pepper Keenan: Not as long as other albums. We just
went with the flow and let things roll. Once we had our friend Stanton
on board playing drums we deconstructed a lot of things. Once we had
the basic idea of the songs we just went with it. It took a mind of
its own. We had the basic principles down, we were all at the top
of our game in terms of playing, but it was pretty challenging for
all of us. We were pushing each other pretty hard.
3. It’s been five years between albums, why did it take so long
to get the new album out?
Pepper Keenan: I had gone and done some stuff along
side Phil [Anselmo] & the whole “Down” thing came
together. We toured on that for a while. We have actually played in
4. When you prepare to do a new album such as “In the arms of
God”, what comes first the lyrics or the music and what different
factors surrounded writing the material for the new album?
Pepper Keenan: It’s a little bit of both. We
wanted to make a pretty big bombastic (for lack of a better word)
epic sounding record. Woody & I had been sitting around listening
to a lot of old Pink Floyd & Venom records at the same time. We
got into this crazy mind frame & we just wanted to make this massive
heavy record. Where a lot of bands are making these very clean, perfect
sounding albums, I really wanted to get away from that & get back
to why we started doing this in the first place.
The recording techniques of our past combined, with some pretty large
song writing skills, entwine all of that & create something that
hasn’t been done in a while. (In terms of the heavy metal thing).
It gets a bit challenging at times but some of the lyrics came first.
It just evolved as we went.
5. After all these years of writing & recording, how do you constantly
come up with new fresh sounding material without falling into the
trap that a lot of artists do by repeating themselves?
Pepper Keenan: Just a basic love of music. I listen
to everything from Bluegrass to Punk music. I live in New Orleans
so I’m surrounded by it. There are a lot of undisclosed ideas
& options out there if you allow yourself to be exposed to it.
6. The new album consists of twelve tracks. In a few words give us
your thoughts on the following tracks:
Pepper Keenan: Basically, it’s a really cool
swing type, real groove orientated riff that we had & Stanton
[Moore] really added a lot to the drums, in terms of swing. It’s
just a cool melodic song & nobody had done anything like that
in a long time. It sounds like C.O.C. and lyrically, I was kind of
pointing the finger at capital hill & the government, but twisting
it around. The people of Capital Hill being the Stonebreaker’s,
I was being very metaphoric
7. I’ve got to say that the intro to Stonebreaker is my favourite
of all the new songs!
Pepper Keenan: That track originally had another
guitar track on it, but we yanked it off. We had this old Hammond
organ in our practice room. We cranked it up through a Wesley &
replaced it with that. What you hear at the beginning of the track
is a single and then a chord on the organ. The swirling sound is a
tape machine rewinding. Things just fell into place like that. We
were experimenting and having a lot of fun doing it and not being
SO MUCH LEFT BEHIND
Pepper Keenan: Basically it’s a song about
me getting my life back on track. I live on a farm in North Carolina
and I was in a relationship. I dedicated so much time to music that
I left a lot of things behind. I needed to focus on more important
things than I had been. Because of that I needed to turn things around
and try & get my life back on track. It’s just my take on
Pepper Keenan: It’s just this crazy song that
evolved. In the southern United States a backslider is some one who
knows the ways of God and still chooses to turn his/her back on it.
There’s a lot of hypocritical in that type of religion, especially
down south. I was just taking little observations of that. How they
treat each other, how they treat other people, without giving a history
lesson. It’s a good topic to tackle. It had a lot of imagery
in it. It’s a cool song.
8. You mentioned before that Stanton Moore helped you guys out on
the new album. Is he an official member now or is he just helping
out until you guys find a permanent replacement?
Pepper Keenan: No, he’s in a band called “Galactic”
and he does well on his own. He did it for the challenge, but I think
we opened up a whole new can of worms [laughs]. Everybody’s
like “What the fucks going on?” It’s a different
record compared to what’s out there. He’s gonna come out
on the road with us for some of these shows in summer and he’s
going to try and do Europe with us. I definitely want to get back
9. We would love to see you guys back here. The last time you guys
hit our shores you came down with Pantera! That’s going back
a few years now!
Pepper Keenan: It was a place I always wanted to
go to. I can look out my window now here in New Orleans, as hot as
it is, and transpose myself down there. I love it. Everything from
Off-shore fishing to AC/DC. The outdoor living vibe is right up my
fuckin ally. We desperately want to come back to Australia.
10. Hopefully after the U.S. summer tour you guys could organise it.
Speaking of the summer tour, you’re going to be hitting the
road with “Crowbar”?
Pepper Keenan: Yeah, it’s going to be two and
a half months out with Crowbar, Alabama Thunderpussy and a band called
Weedeater from the east coast, which are some friends of mine. Down
south we will be with a band called Suplecs, which is a band that
I produce. They’re a really cool New Orleans band. On the west
coast there’s gonna be Fu Manchu.
11. What can the fans expect to see & hear on this tour?
Pepper Keenan: We’re headlining so I guess
we call the shots. We’re changing a lot of shit around, doing
some unexpected songs that haven’t been done in a long long
time. I’m really looking forward to it.
12. Are you guys planning on doing a DVD to showcase the up
and coming tour?
Pepper Keenan: I’m not really sure. We film
a lot of our shows but it’s probably up to our lazy asses to
put it all together [laughs]. We do have a new video for Stonebreaker
that’s really cool.
13. Yes, tell us about the new video?
Pepper Keenan: It’s not your average video.
I’ve never seen anything like it. A friend of mine Rio Hackford
did the video, he owns a club in New Orleans and he’s very talented
film wise. The whole clip was shot on blue screens & all the backgrounds
were added. It’s very psychedelic, but in an angry way. There’s
a lot of volcanos & flames. It’s very heavy looking.
14. You guys recently finished up touring with Motorhead.
I had read in a few different interviews that you always wanted to
tour with the guys, was it all you hoped it would be?
Pepper Keenan: Oh yeah! It was really cool, we played
in a lot of venues that C.O.C. had played ourselves, but it was still
cool to be with them. Motorhead’s a band I really respect a
lot. They’ve really stuck to their guns. Lemmy’s the real
deal. Talking to Lemmy about certain things, you can really learn
a lot. He’s really something. Lemmy changed the course of rock
15. You were saying earlier that you did the “Down”
project along side Phil Anselmo. There are a lot of fans who want
to know if there are any plans in the future to do another “Down”
Pepper Keenan: Not that I see in the near future
man! Everybody’s so busy and we’ve both been through a
lot of crap lately. I think Phil’s got a lot of things to figure
16. How’s Phil doin now that he’s had some time to come
to terms with Dime’s death?
Pepper Keenan: I haven’t spoken to him in quite
some time. I don’t really know.
17. Dime’s death was a tremendous shock to music lovers all
around the world. And he will be truly missed by all his fans, family
& friends. Knowing you guys were close, I was wandering if you
would mind sharing your thoughts on what happened?
Pepper Keenan: It was terrible. I was actually in
the studio laying down the vocals to “In the arms of God”
when the phone rang. It’s a very ironic twist of fate; I immediately
stopped and got myself a plane ticket to Dallas. I stayed with Rex
for a couple of days and went through the whole thing. Definitely
18. Do you have any other side projects in the works?
Pepper Keenan: I have a couple of small things in
New Orleans right now but nothing too extreme. I’m mainly just
focussing on the C.O.C. shit.
19. Pepper there has been so many highlights in your career. What
would you consider to be your greatest achievements to date?
Pepper Keenan: I’d say one of my greatest achievements
was going onstage with Motorhead on this last tour and playing Overkill
and getting to sing the chorus with Lemmy. I told Lemmy I felt like
a kid in the ‘Make a wish Foundation’ [laughs]. There
has been other thing’s as well, but that was definitely the
20. What do you think about the direction that heavy metal music has
taken over the last few years?
Pepper Keenan: It’s really hard to say. There’s
a lot of good bands that I like a lot out there like Mastodon &
High on Fire, bands that really create there own thing & there’s
a lot of shit out there too. Especially in the United States where
bands copy each other. They can go to the local music store and get
so & so’s signature amp, there doesn’t seem to be
a lot of creativity put into it anymore. I mean I grew up in the Black
Flag, Bad Brains world and I carry that kind of attitude with me.
There’s so many bands that are making this music evolve and
that’s the one’s I look for.
21 Out of all the newer bands who are you listening to?
Pepper Keenan: Well like I said Mastodon, High on
Fire, I’m a real big fan of Eye of God and Outlaw Order.
22. What advice do you have for up and coming bands?
Pepper Keenan: Just stay true; keep your fuckin ears
open because it’s a huge world out there. So many people get
caught up in this one dimensional thing and they don’t realize
that it’s a combination of lots of different things that create
bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and Metallica in there early days.
I mean the way these bands evolve is because they took a chance. Don’t
go the safe route, you’ll only end up chasing somebody else
and the trends gonna be somewhere else by the time your shit even
23. Speaking of Metallica, you auditioned with the band back
when Jason left. Can you tell us about the experience & how did
the other guys in C.O.C. feel about you doing it?
Pepper Keenan: Well that was something that Metallica
had mentioned to me. They called me up and said “we know you’re
not a bass player but we like your attitude” etc. They wanted
me to go out there. I wouldn’t say no to something like that.
The guys in C.O.C. were like “Damn”. They couldn’t
believe it, but they knew that I had to do it. It was really close
too. It was between me and Trujillo in the end. In fact I went back
out there twice. In the end I’m glad it turned out the way it
did, I would have ended up a richer person probably, but I wouldn’t
have been Pepper Keenan anymore. I would have been the bass player
in Metallica & I don’t know if my little ego could have
handled that [laughs].
24. What song/album would define Pepper Keenan to a complete
Pepper Keenan: It’s hard to say. It would have
to be an album. I’d say this one “In the arms of God”
25. What do you think you would be doing if you stopped playing music?
Pepper Keenan: Oh, I don’t really know. There
are a lot of things that I do. I restore old cars, I restore houses.
I own a bar in New Orleans, so I’d probably become an alcoholic
26. Have you still got your Chevy?
Pepper Keenan: Oh yeah, I’ve got two of them
now. I just got back from the paint place today. I’ve got a
64’ Impala that I just restored & replaced all the floor
panels. I just had the first coat of paint put on it today.
27. What’ the most ridiculous thing you have ever asked for
on a tour rider?
Pepper Keenan: Ooh shit man! Oh we use to ask for
socks on our rider.
28. [Laughs]. Why socks?
Pepper Keenan: Socks and underwear cause we’d
never take a shower. We just said fuck it; one day we’ll get
socks, the next underwear, that way we never had to change clothes.
Fucking rotten ass blue jeans, black T-shirts, sitting in some stinky
van, new socks & new underwear and you’re good to go for
a couple of months [laughs].
29. Out of all the albums you have appeared on what would be your
favourite to listen to and why?
Pepper Keenan: The pinnacle of Corrosion of Conformity’s
thing is the last album we did. I think it defined what C.O.C is all
about in a nutshell. It’s a powerful record with lots of different
emotions and sounds.
30. What was the first album you ever bought?
Pepper Keenan: Oh it was a cassette of Elton John
“Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” then I bought
Led Zepplins “Houses of the Holy” after that I won a contest
at a summer camp, where I got a coupon to get a free record, and just
because the cover looked cool I got The Ramones “Road to Ruin”
& then that was the end of that [laughs]. I went in that direction
and didn’t stop.
31. If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed
on or present, who would you pick & what would you call the band?
Pepper Keenan: Oh god, it would depend on what kind
of band I’d want it to be. If I was gonna have a country band
I’d grab Johnny Cash and fuckin Stevie Ray Vaughan. Oh that
would be endless dude.
32. Well Pepper that’s all I have for you at this time.
Once again I really want to thank you for your time today, and just
quickly, do you have any last words for our readers?
Pepper Keenan: Yeah! We’re dying to come back
to Australia and if anyone can hook it up then hook it up. We will
have to go Fuckin fishing too when we get down there.
33. No problems mate, we will fish over a few beers. [Laughs]
Pepper Keenan: You’ve got it.
34. Thanks again dude, hopefully we will see you again soon.
Pepper Keenan: O.K. man, See ya!
Well I hope you all enjoyed the interview, “In the arms of God”
is out now. You can grab it wherever great rockin CD’s are sold.
To keep up to date with all the latest on what’s happening with
C.O.C. go and check out the following websites.
- Official Corrosion website
- Metal news & Interviews
- Dedicated to 40 years of pure hard rock & metal music
- Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Artists and Fans unite to battle VH1/MTV Networks
for Metal Mania Channel
Corrosion of Conformity will be on tour this summer at the following
Please note all dates are subject to change. Tickets available from
all the usual outlets.
06/02/05 - Indianapolis IN - The Vouge
06/03/05 - Detroit MI - Harpo's
06/04/05 - Columbus OH - Newport Music Hall
06/05/05 - Covington KY - Madison Theater
06/06/05 - Grand Rapids MI - Ten Bells Nightclub
06/08/05 - Buffalo NY - The Buffalo Icon*
06/09/05 - Towson MD - Recher Theater
06/10/05 - New York NY - Irving Plaza
06/11/05 - Philadelphia PA - Trocadero
06/12/05 - Norfolk VA - Norva Theatre
06/14/05 - Wilmington NC - Marzz
06/15/05 - Asheville NC - Stella Blue**
06/17/05 - Winston-Salem NC - Ziggy's
06/18/05 - Myrtle Beach SC - House Of Blues
06/19/05 - Jacksonville Beach FL - Freebird Live
06/20/05 - Orlando FL - The Social
06/22/05 - Ft Lauderdale FL - Culture Room
06/23/05 - Tampa FL - Masquerade
06/24/05 - Atlanta GA - Masquerade
06/25/05 - New Orleans LA - TwiRoPa
06/27/05 - Nashville TN - Exit/In
06/28/05 - Memphis TN - New Daisy Theater
06/30/05 - Tulsa OK - Cain's Ballroom
07/01/05 - Dallas TX - Trees
07/02/05 - Houston TX - Engine Room
07/03/05 - Austin TX - Emo's
07/05/05 - Albuquerque NM - Launchpad
07/06/05 - Tucson AZ - Coconuts
07/07/05 - Santa Ana CA - Galaxy Concert Theater
07/08/05 - West Hollywood CA - Key Club
07/16/05 - Englewood CO - Gothic Theatre
07/17/05 - Lawrence KS - Grandada Theatre
07/18/05 - Sauget IL - Pop's
07/21/05 - Chicago IL - House Of Blues
*originally the 7th now 8th
**originally the 16th now 15th
Used with permission by Cameron Edney © May 2005