Reed Mullin Discusses How Corrosion Of Conformity Began
Band Photo: Corrosion of Conformity (?)
Back to the lineup they performed with for the 1985 album "Animosity," Corrosion of Conformity has been tearing up the world and strengthening their place as one of the best loved hardcore fusion bands with the release of a new self-titled album. I got to talk to drummer Reed Mullin about coming back together with his longtime bandmates to release "Corrosion of Conformity," how the three musicians met, and what he would do (or not do) if the band takes a break again.
Buick McKane: How are you doing today?
Reed Mullin: Alright, how you doing?
Buick: Very good. It’s St. Patrick’s Day! You’re wearing a little bit of green, so I can’t pinch you.
Reed: It’s my H.R. shirt.
Buick: So this has been a really long-running band, you’ve been around before I was born.
Reed: Yeah, thirty years. Me, Woody and Mike Dean started the band when me and Woody were still in high school. I came up with the name in chemistry class. I had this shitty looking Mohawk; it looked like a squirrel taped to my head. I was bald, I was a skinhead. Not a beat-you-up skinhead; I was bald. And my hair grew back a little bit, so I tried to make a mohawk. So all the jocks in my chemistry class were throwing shit at me. We were already a band, but we were called The Accused, Misguided, Barney Fife’s Revenge; we had all these terrible names. Well, The Accused isn’t a bad name. So we had practice that night and I said, “Hey guys, what do you think about blah, blah, blah, and Corrosion of Conformity?” And they were like, “That’s not bad. Let’s see what people think of that.”
Buick: Do you get a lot of young people like me into your shows now? Or is it mostly older people?
Reed: It’s a mixture of both, you know what I mean? I think there’s a lot of older folks who were around then and are stoked that we’re playing this old stuff, and some curiosity seekers of the younger crowd. “These influenced these guys and these guys which are bands that I like.” It’s amusing for them to see middle-aged dudes playing fucking hardcore punk rock.
Buick: There’s still a lot of them going around.
Reed: Yeah, yeah. No, a lot of our buddies are still going around. We’re playing with Suicidal Tendencies in June. We’ve had three significant eras, I think. The American hardcore punk era; “Eye for an Eye,” “Animosity,” “Technocracy.” And then we had the “Blind” album that had Karl Agell singing and Pepper on second guitar. And then we had the Pepper era.
Buick: And he’s going to be playing with y’all tonight a little bit.
Reed: Yeah, it’s going to be fun.
Buick: Do you find it hard switching between the hardcore you first did and what you did with Pepper?
Reed: No, it’s all COC. That’s the beauty of the name; I feel like, musically and lyrically, we can do whatever we want and we have. Those three eras are kind of different. The album “Animosity” and the album “Deliverance” are kind of different, but it has a running thread through it. Woody, Mike, and I are a weird organism, I think, because we didn’t know how to play our instruments. The prerequisite when we first started was not very high. You didn’t have to be very good. As long as you could [play a basic beat] or the Ramones beat, you could start a band. So that’s what we did and slowly started getting influences from bands like Sabbath and shit like that.
Buick: Your self-titled album came out in February. How have your longtime fans liked it?
Reed: It seems like they dug it a lot. I think it had a lot of the elements and a lot of the flavors of the three eras we were talking about before. I think, anyway. I think almost any COC fans, even though Pepper isn’t singing on it, would say, “Oh, that song’s pretty good.” It wasn’t planned that way, it’s what oozed out of us. It was pretty natural. I’m pretty proud of it; I think it’s badass.
Buick: How long did it take to write considering it took years to get together?
Reed: Man, it was quick. And Dave Grohl hooked us up at his studio
Buick: Are you working on anything else yet, or is it too soon?
Reed: Well, we still have five songs we didn’t finish from working at Dave Grohl’s place, so we need to do that. But we still write all the time. Hopefully, we’ll start at the end of the year.
Buick: Do you feel good with this lineup or will it go on hiatus again?
Reed: I think we’re having so much fun right now, we won’t. Plus, I don’t know how to do anything else but play drums. What the fuck am I going to do?
Buick: Do you have a day job?
Buick: You’re lucky.
Reed: No I’m not. I don’t know how to do shit.
Buick: How did the logo come about?
Reed: I used to be the promoter in Raleigh for hardcore punk bands and stuff. Because we were between D.C. and Atlanta, it was an easy place for people to stop by on a Sunday afternoon or whatever. People would call me all the time and say, “Can we play down there?” But there was a band from D.C. that barely played called Void, and they were our favorite band, there were everybody’s favorite band. I called them up and said, “Will you guys play this show? I got this place. I’ll give you all the money.” My dad, in his office, he had a Xerox machine, so I didn’t have to do anything but put up flyers and shit. The flyers said “If you need a ride…” and had my home phone number on it. It was a little religion to me back then. But the way the logo came about was this buddy of mine named Errol did a flyer for the show: Void, COC, blah, blah. And he just drew that thing as just a part of the flyer. Anyway, they called me up the day before the show and said their van was busted. I was like, “Fuck you, man!” So I took the COC van and drove and picked their asses up in D.C. Drove all the way down there, made them play.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Reed: Fuck, I don’t know.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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