Just after the release of IX I was able to sit down with Mike Dean, bassist and vocalist for CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. I found him to be extremely laid-back and a really affable guy. This was another one of my 13-minute workplace interviews, and although we didn’t have a ton of time, we got to speak about a lot of different things, including the possibility of Pepper Keenan returning (which is now a reality!). So sit back, relax and check it out:
Amps: How was the approach to writing IX different?
Mike: It wasn’t much different. I think the last few records have just been everybody coming together with different ideas and arranging the stuff, laying down versions of it and spitting out some vocal gibberish until we come up with a melody and lyrics to it. I think we were really into some heavy 70’s rock this time.
Amps: Did everyone already have demos or did we bash everything out at rehearsals?
Mike: People come in with their ideas that they’ve played for a while. Sometimes it’s one or two riffs on the guitar, sometimes it’s a pretty fully-fleshed sketch of a song. I think maybe “The Nectar” I had that all dialed in, and Reed (Mullin, drums/vocals) he had “Tarquinius Superbus” pretty much all dialed in when he brought it to us. But most of the stuff is through collaboration, making a demo and stuff.
Amps: How often are you writing?
Mike: We’re always coming up with stuff. I got the iPhone with little voice memos so I can record playing guitar pressed up against a formica table (laughs). There’s always stuff in my head, but I should write more lyrics is what I should do. The music stuff, there’s never a shortage of that. It’s always close, always kickin’ ass. The shelf life of the music is pretty good. The lyrical stuff is also pretty fresh out of your head.
Amps: Nine albums into your career, what keeps the band inspired and driven, and just able to continually crank out killer music?
Mike: Hey, I’m glad you like it. For me I just enjoy the process. I like making records especially. Then you go do it live, and I just enjoy the process. It’s like building something and once you learn that you’re never really gonna be done and the more you try the more chance you have to over-gloss it and suck the life out of it. It’s kind of like a watercolor more than a finely-detailed oil painting or something. You gotta really know when to walk away, but once you’ve got that down I enjoy making it happen. We’re still willing to do it and it’s still rewarding. As long as people still find what we’re playing interesting I think we’ll keep going. We’re on a good little roll right now.
Mike: I think traveling and getting to go all over the world. We’re about to go to New Zealand and Australia and having the opportunity to go to places like that is the main perk, I would say.
Amps: I know there’s some footage on the internet of you guys playing with Pepper (Keenan), so I have to ask…how do you feel about him collaborating with the band on something in future?
Mike: There’s always offers to go do a nostalgia gig or whatever and I’m sure a couple of those would be cool, but ultimately if we were to do something and get back together with Pepper it would have to be a record full of all new material. If we could find a way to make that happen I think that would be a good thing. Obviously people would be into it. We’re exploring that, actually.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: At press time it has been confirmed that Pepper Keenan will be rejoining CORROSION OF CONFORMITY for a new album in 2015.)
Amps: What’s the tour itinerary?
Mike: We’re spending all of July south of the equator, then onto Australia and New Zealand. Then we’re coming back doing a bunch of west coast dates with my friend Brant Bjork from VISTA CHINO and KYUSS and also this band BL’AST! that have reformed after like, 25 years. And their rhythm section is now Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo who played in QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. So there’s a really excellent band there. We’re trying to really flesh out this traveling circus of a rok and roll bill. We don’t wanna just do a C.o.C. plus whatever local band or whatever, you know? We really wanna have a first class traveling package. We know that in the short term the bean counters don’t want us to do it, but long-term we know it’s better that way. We really need to get our asses to Texas, too. That’s in the works.
Amps: What does the future hold for CORROSION OF CONFORMITY?
Mike: It’s really about supporting this album with a tour of the best dates and putting the best bill together without having it be an overkill of an evening with ten bands. To get people off the couch these days you gotta put a couple of quality bands together. Anything more than that is overkill.
Amps: I agree!! Anytime you have five or more bands the first few get a 20-25 minute set and it’s like musical blue balls. They’re just getting warmed up and all of a sudden it’s “Goodnight!”
Mike: Yeah, and I don’t wanna hate because you gotta get bands out in front of people they’ve never heard of, but come on…but after the tour we’ll look to the recording process again. Whether that’s as a three-piece or not we’ll see. Record, release, tour, repeat. That’s pretty much our game plan at this point, to be prolific. The last three years have been good. Three releases in that time. Prior to that we did In the Arms of God and nothing happened for five years after that. Pepper got busy doing DOWN and we weren’t really that eager to separate but it’s like, “Are you gonna go be a musician or are you gonna fold?”
Amps: What would you like to say to all the CORROSION OF CONFORMITY fans out there?
Mike: Thanks for staying with us and giving the new thing a listen. We like how it turned out, but a couple weeks after it’s been released I can finally get some perspective on it. We’re really proud of it and we hope you like it too. Thanks for listening ’cause otherwise there’s not much point, right?
Pretty much. You can pick up IX everywhere now, and be on the lookout for some massive things from CORROSION OF CONFORMITY both on the road this year and in 2015!!