Sunday, December 13, 2009

Corrosion Of Conformity: “Hey..do you guys want to practice here right now?” By: Brian Walsby


Mike Dean with COC, Photo: Joe Henderson

I have been asked to write something about Corrosion Of Conformity in their glory days of a long time ago, which is more or less when they were a trio. The lineup of bassist and vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin operated from the end of 1984 until the late spring of 1986. This is not a whole lot of time but they not only put the South (in general) on the hardcore map a wee bit more than some of their other southern contemps, they more or less ushered in a devastating maelstrom of sound and pioneered (for better or worse) that so called “crossover” sound, the melding of punk and metal.


Trouble is, labeling them that is already selling the band short in the long run. True, the band members all unabashedly loved heavy metal. Good heavy metal. Not all heavy metal. They also loved other things that maybe you don’t know about. They were all well versed on post punk shit. Woody used to sing certain Stranglers songs. Reed was very knowledgeable about things like Gang Of Four and PIL, years before either of those two bands were considered cool. And Mike Dean brought sort of a groovy vibe to the band, his knowledge of dub, funk and black music in general easily seeped into the pores of the COC sound. Plus, they all agreed on certain things: Bad Brains, Black Flag, Venom and the Ramones.

You threw all of that together and you have some idea of the pioneering sound the three of them came up with. And they were from Raleigh North Carolina of all places. What they did and who they are got me to re-locate to their neck of the woods years ago.


Corrosion Of Conformity at the Club House in Baltimore, MD 1985, Photo: Joe Henderson


When the band asked former singer Eric Eycke to leave the band, they seemed to respond to the situation by moving full steam ahead. Although Eric was a riveting frontman for the band, they continued forward with Mike Dean out front taking over the vocals, with back up from Reed. I ended up meeting the band formally when they went out west to record the first side of their second album ANIMOSITY. The second (and looking back, despite its crazy/shitty production the better side of the record) side was recorded back in Raleigh at the same studio that the first one was done out. Turns out that the folks running the studio felt so bad at how “Eye For An Eye” came out that they gave the band free time in the studio for future projects.

Anyways, the band played one of what could be called the first “crossover” show that I had ever heard of in Los Angeles, at the Sun Valley Sportsmans Lodge. Also on the bill were bands like Possessed and Dark Angel. I didn’t like any of that stuff then, and I am amazed now how people that weren’t there to see that stuff seem to think it was awesome...it wasn’t. COC got up there and started to play, and right away they were easily way louder and more powerful than anything else that happened that evening. Most of the audience sort of didn’t know what to think of them, not like they disliked them, just more like they were confused. I decided that was a pretty good reaction to get from a crowd. I also seem to think that the band thought it was a bad show. Hell, I didn’t think so! I was hearing all of this newer material and I was really digging it.

Afterwards, the band accepted my invitation to drive really far away and spend the night at my parent’s house. Woody drove the van and knocked over the cement mailbox out front. We propped it up with some rocks. No one noticed anything. My parents were by now used to all of these strange people coming and going from my room all in the name of punk rock mail correspondence, so no one blinked an eye when they all woke up.


Woody, Mike and Reed with COC at the Club House in Baltimore, MD 1985, Photo: Joe Henderson

Even crazier was what happened next, and I don’t know how it really happened. COC went over to where the band Scared Straight practiced, which was singer Scott Radinsky’s place. His parents had set up a nice little practice space in the middle of the house, and for whatever reason the band either WANTED to practice or they were asked by us to practice at the Scared Straight space. And they did. They unloaded ALL of their gear into the teeny tiny room which was soon jam packed with all of their shit: huge stacks of amps...all of that Sunn gear years before “Stoner Rock” happened, Reed’s humongous red Tama drumset...it was just silly looking back and remembering how much stuff they had.

And then...they treated us to a punishing and painfully loud practice. Other than the fact that musically they made the likes of our band (and really, most bands at that time) look like the sorry asses we were, we were more excited and inspired by them. They were really ahead of their time. I still can’t believe they unloaded all of their stuff just to play for three or four people in Simi Valley California one afternoon.

It was weird. And cool!

Next year my next MANCHILD book is coming out, and yet again it will be released on Charles Cardello’s BIFOCAL MEDIA label. Instead of another comic book anthology, this one will be all about the Raleigh hardcore and punk scene form the eighties. There was a lot of really good stuff that was going on back then, and a lot of really cool people were involved, but COC were easily the dominant force back then. The book features them very prominently. They were the centerpiece of the area. There will be a book release party for it, and it won’t be until springtime at least. I wonder what I will have to do to get these three guys to get back together and if nothing else act like they are practicing in Simi Valley again?
- Brian Walsby


The mad man Mike Dean killing it with COC, Photo: Joe Henderson

17 comments:

Matt from Denver said...

This is sweet! I've been listening to Animosity a lot over the past year, after maybe 15 or more years of letting it gather dust... People are finally posting videos of COC shows from around this time too. Now this post. Awesome!

Marko said...

Yes! I live in Simi Valley! This rules!

Russ said...

fucking.awesome.

Songco said...

Co-sign to what Russ just said.

Matt from Denver said...

Let me add... IMO that last photo of Mike (the one they used on the back of "animosity") is, hands down, the greatest live photo ever taken. NEVER have I seen anyone look that intense while playing, except maybe in some earlier Black Flag shots.

Hudley Flipside said...

Great write up Brian thanks for the memory and the details I have long ago forgotten... very intense band! `HF

DoubleGJames said...

Awesome story. COC practicing right in front of you...wow.

Love DoubleCross, read it every day, it is a standard part of my morning at this point and I honestly am bummed on Friday/Saturday/Sunday when something new doesn't await me. Seeing this COC content as well as even more coverage of early 80s HC has made DoubleCross far and away the most comprehensive, entertaining and diverse site on the web for classic hardcore.

Thank you Brian Walsby and thank you DoubleCross. Please keep it up in 2010.

James G

Isaac Golub said...

Great Story... COC deserves some sort of innovation award. I am a big fan and thought I was one of the only one's left who enjoyed their older stuff as well as the newer stuff.

At one point in 90 or 91 they put an ad for needing a new vocalist in BAM Magazine while I was still in A Chorus of Disapproval. I called and left a message. I said "Hey you don't know me bla bla bla, I sing in this band bla bla bla, yes I would relocate to North Carolina bla bla bla." I never expected to hear back but sure enough Woody calls me back, I wasn't home but he left a message. He tells me he heard of my band through a friend and was interested in talking more about it, and wanted to make sure I knew I had to move to NC. I never followed up, I knew I wasn't worthy.

Good story, thanks

Joe Henderson said...

Matt from Denver -- Thank you so very much for the kind words. Please e-mail me your mailing address, because I would like to send you a little Christmas present via Shutterfly. Joe Henderson (JosephBHenderson@Yahoo.com)

Bill Tuck said...

I have a similar story about them playing their first L.A. show ever to 10 people at Roxanne's in Arcadia. It was fucking amazing....

Anonymous said...

SICK SICK SICK

hottdogg9000 said...

Amazing sounds, amazing band, nothing but respect.

sacha said...

PLEASE HEED MY CALL TO PUBLISH THIS ALL AS A BOOK!!!!!
SACHA REMLING
THE HOOD TOOK US UNDER RECORDS
HELSINKI, FINLAND

Brian said...

It is always fun to go back and think about these life changing times. Bands like COC sort of ruined music for me..in a good way I mean!

And as sort of a follow up: I wouldn't hold your breath about the idea of these guys playing together again..e-mailed Woodroe to see what he thought a few weeks ago and I haven't heard anything at all from him! He is the pivotal dude in all of this, as Mike and Reed do play together in a recent project these days when they have the time..

anyways, if you know anything about the three of these guys and thier history together, none of this is a surprise. You never know though...

lenny zimkus said...

they were one of the first bands i got into in 9th grade. I was so psyched when i heard they were playing at Middlesex college which was my first show. I remember buying a shirt (which i wish i still had) and having to hide it under my shirt when my parents picked me up.

Viagra Online said...

I think Corrosion Of Conformity is one of the most powerful bands on stage. They fill the place with energy as soon as they start playing the first chords. Great band.

Anonymous said...

saw them as a three-piece last night, awesome show, new songs sound really good. plus eric eycke sung poison planet.