‘Tell Metallica that when they reschedule for Australia, to take us with them!’ bellows Pepper Keenan in his trademark Southern drawl. Keenan, singer and vocalist in Corrosion Of Conformity, is talking with us ahead of his own bands Australian tour next month. Their first in six years and first in over fifteen years with Pepper since he ‘rejoined’ the band.
I never really left! The honest story was In The Arms Of God was out, we’re touring, having a blast. Then we got offered a full European tour with Motörhead – two and half months- so we were all stoked and three days before we were to go out, Hurricane Katrina hit! I live in New Orleans and that was the end of that. I couldn’t leave, I had to locate my relatives and stuff. Everything completely turned upside down. I had to cancel that tour and I’d never cancelled anything in my life. The record label that album was on dismantled and that was it. We didn’t have a record label, the house and my belongings were destroyed. You pick up the pieces of that and it takes it a long time putting life back together. Then I started doing Down stuff again and you just kinda roll with it.
Pepper came back to the fold in 2015 and last year the band released their latest album No Cross No Crown.
We got the record deal, toured a bit more then we got in the studio. We got John Koster, our producer who’s been with for everything since Blind to work with, and it was kinda like riding a bicycle. You know we tracked the album live, it was like a fancy demo. We didn’t re-track anything which was a different way of doing an album. Sometimes bands do demos and re-record them, we were just tracking the demos and putting them on the album.
Like the original days of doing the punk DIY album?
Just on a more epic level!
Being away for so long, has the positive feedback surprised you?
It got slamming reviews, but we knew what we were up against. The last thing I had done was In The Arms Of God which was one of my fave things I’ve ever done. That was where we were launching from, our catalyst, from not playing together for fifteen years. But we knew what we were getting into and didn’t want to bullshit anybody.
Would you agree that you’ve always been a band where the magic happens in a live performance?
Yeah, sometimes it seems like you make these records so you can tour the world and play and meet people you know? It’s an excuse to get out there. We like to go sideways, that’s the things about C.O.C. now, we like to jam and go off on a tangent for 10 mins. We do a lot of things like that and get to throw a lot of the studio things out of the window, which is a lot of fun.
Is the Australian set list going to be heavily lent towards the new album?
Hard to say we’ve got so many damn songs! We try to change it around a bit, like some of the places we have played more frequently than Australia, we go more out on a limb . But we’ve not been there for so long, we’re debating do we start with the classics, do we go out left field but be prepared for anything that comes! We’re going to come in hot n’ heavy!
You’re big friends with Metallica’s James Hetfield, have you heard how his recovery is going?
Never got the skinny on it. I reached out to him and never got a reply. I wish him well, I’m always thinking about him. Back in the day he talked me off the bar too.
Finally, the talk turns to the devastating bushfires across Australia
Personally me being from New Orleans I wish you all the best down there. I know it’s intense I’ve been there in a different way and it’s hard to see through it sometimes but you get through it. Like, you know, you sometimes have to rely on the kindness of strangers to get through something like this. I hope you get a shit tonne of rain! I don’t like sitting around doing nothing, so I’ll be looking at volunteering and helping out while I’m there.
Interview By Iain McCallum
Tickets to Corrosion Of Conformity’s Australian tour from Silverback Touring…