VWAB interview with Woody 2-19-05

When I last spoke to Woody Weatherman, COC was finishing up America’s Volume Dealer, their first album for Sanctuary records (almost four years to the day after Wiseblood came out). Woody mentioned to me that they had enough material for another album, adding, “We’re not going to do this three years between records bullshit.”

Well, almost four and a half years later… I should give them a break. They split with founding member and drummer Reed Mullin, and singer Pepper Keenan recorded and toured with the legendary Down. Aside from a few shows and some not-as-publicized projects, we didn’t hear much from COC. Some of you out there thought that it was all over for them. Shame on you! The band released “It Is That Way,” a slow and pounding number on the High Times’ High Volume compilation. It kicks unholy ass and should be a good sign that the band hasn’t toned down their act at all. Instead, if this song is indicative of what the new album, In The Arms Of God, will sound like, it represents a new, angrier album that not even the crazier albums of their earlier years could have ever delivered.

The album comes out April 5th but before you buy it, you can sample some of the songs when the band passes through your town as they tour with Motorhead and Zeke (and for a lucky few of you, Brand New Sin). Then, you buy the album. Then we’re all happy.

I got to speak to Woody recently as he and the rest of the band (Pepper Keenan, Mike Dean, and touring drummer Jason Paterson, filling in for Galactic’s Stanton Moore who played drums on the album) rehearsed for the upcoming tour. I caught Woody as he was about to sit down for the beginning of the auto racing season.

Paul: I guess the first question that I got for ya, it’s been four years!

Woody: It’s been too damn long.

It’s been too damn long!

Fuckin’ right man, it’s crazy!

The last time I talked to you, back in 2000, 2001….

Woody: Wow, has it been that long?

Yeah, that’s the thing. You said you had 40 songs and that when you guys were done with the first leg of the tour you were going to go back and finish up the rest of them and hopefully release another album. You said ‘no more three years between albums,’ and now it’s been four and a half years.

(laughing) Call me a liar, man!

You know, well, there’s circumstances, man.

There’s always circumstances, you know, we always had the best intentions. But shit crops up and there was a two year Down record goin’ on there and touring and stuff. Hell, we just kinda dragged our asses, I guess. But I wasn’t lying, there was a bunch of songs, most of them we scrapped, but a couple of them we hung on to. The couple of the best ones, I guess.

I’ve heard World On Fire (an extra track on AVD imports), that’s going to be on the album.

World On Fire is on the album, and another one of the ones that’s kinda from back then, Stone Breaker, is on the record, and there’s like one or two more. They’re not exactly the way they were, the rough ideas were good enough to hang on to.

Did you scrap them because of the split with Reed?

No, nah it wasn’t really that, it was just quality of song and we had new stuff that was better, you know?

So, it got dated after a while?

No, better stuff came along. You know how that is, man.

You kinda had a rock album, the last album, and then I heard-

It’s pretty good. It’s not our best album. Volume Dealer I’m talking about. (laughs) I mean it’s okay, there’s some good stuff on it. I think the production was a little too…too nice. I think some of the material deserved more of a raw production, and it was a little too slick. It had good songs.

Will the next record sound a little more like “It Is That Way?”

“It Is That Way,” a different version actually appears on the record. Yeah, a completely new version. It came out on that High Times thing (High Volume), I don’t think anybody bought that thing anyway.

I actually just ordered my copy.

Oh did you? They probably sold like ten copies. You’re number eight! (laughs) It’s a good song, it’s a Mike Dean song. He always writes the crazy riffs.

What do you guys do in that downtime? While Pepper’s touring or whatever, between albums, it’s a long time to sit around, waiting for something to happen.

It’s never planned. It’s like…you know, we’re in a scenario, we seem to take a long periods in between records, and I don’t really know why, but it’s not really intentional. But there was quite a bit of writing and stuff, Mike and I worked on a bunch of stuff.

The Let’Lones.

Yeah, the Let’Lones, and we kind of recorded a bunch of stuff. I don’t know if anything will ever happen with it. I actually haven’t listened to it in a few months, it was kind of cool at the time but I don’t know if still…

You’re not going to bring some CDR’s out on the road, “hey, here’s our side project.”

Nah. (laughs)


Yeah, talk to Mike about that. He’s kind of a perfectionist, he never gets done with anything. He always wants to make it better, which is good, but at some point you kinda have to go, “Okay, this is it.”

“The album’s done with.”


You recorded the last one pretty fast, how long did this new one take to record?

It was actually an easy record to make. Everything just kind of flowed out. We started writing it a while back. Everybody was kinda writing on their own. Mike had written stuff, I had written stuff, Keenan shows up with stuff. We wound up demo-ing pretty much the whole thing and just rolled down to damn New Orleans and knocked it out with Stanton in about eight days, as far as the drum tracks. Busted back up here and spent another few weeks layin’ down guitar tracks and bass tracks, and Pepper was barkin’ and I kinda sing about three quarters of a song and Mike sings a little bit.

Oh, you got Mike singing this time?

Yeah, yeah he sings a little bit on there. I don’t know what kind of time frame because it was all stretched out, but it was actually pretty quick. It wasn’t like we just sat down and did the whole thing in eight weeks and we were done…

\You had some parts here, some parts there…

Yeah, a little bit in New Orleans, a little bit in Raleigh, kinda stretch it out a little bit. It was an easy record to make. It kinda came together really good.

What was the production like on this one? You said the last one was too slick, I liked it.

It was too slick man, it sounds good but it has that crystal clear, almost too clear thing going on. (The new album) kind of haunts back to some of our earlier records in some ways, I think.

Do you guys record digitally or in analog? (note: what kind of stupid question is this?)

For the most part, digitally.

Do you ever notice a difference between the two? Do you guys have your ears to the tape, “oh my god, this sounds compressed,” or “oh okay, this is that warm feeling they say you get with analog?”

There’s differences, and a lot of that stuff you can cheat on. If you’ve got good compressors, the old tube kind of stuff then you can get away with it, it sounds good. You can warm it up a bit. And of course all our amps are like antiques. They’re definitely old tube things. We’re not using the fake guitar amps that are on the computer shit. It’s real amps, real drums. None of that shit is fake.

Pro-Tools can only do so much.

They can only do so much, and some of those…I don’t even know what they call them all nowadays, virtual amps, when the front of the amp pops up on the screen. It has its place, but it doesn’t quite cut it with the shit we’re doing.

Where did you record in Raleigh?

(John) Custer’s studio and down at the Wig Shop.

Is the Wig Shop the same place where you guys recorded “Lord Of This World”?

Yeah, it’s the same joint. Slightly different gear. Mike Dean keeps piling more shit up to the ceiling, you know? It’s packed, you can barely walk around in there nowadays.

You guys must have a bunch of stuff down there.

Yeah, there’s a bunch of crap laying around, and half of it needs to be thrown out.

What is this Wig Shop place? It’s actually underneath a wig shop?

It was actually underneath a wig shop. The Wig Shop is long gone actually, now there’s a bunch of artists upstairs. We still call it the Wig Shop. We’re down in the basement, it’s the basement of a building.

That’s been your practice pad for how long?

Man, a long time. I don’t know. Like at least 12 years, probably longer than that.

I was just thinking about it was 10 years ago that Deliverance came out.

Yeah…Hell, it came out in ’94, eleven years ago.

Yeah, September of ’94. I was flunking out of college then.

You were flun-(laughs) At least you went to college!

Yes! Hey, I got a degree, it only took me seven years. So what’s the tone of the new album like? The last one, for me, was kind of a straight, begin to end rock album.

It kinda was. This one is not like that.

Is it a little heavier?

It’s heavier…’Heavy’ is such a strange word. What’s heavy these days? Is Vol. 4 heavy or is Lamb Of God heavy? For us, it’s a heavier-feeling record. It doesn’t have… Volume Dealer had a much different vibe. This is a much angrier album. It’s much more brutal, in my opinion. This album, I can see us playing pretty much any of the 12 songs live, more or less. We’re off to a good start. Last night, we were doing some rehearsing, Mike and myself and Jason (Paterson), he’s going to be touring with us – who by the way is phenomenal. He’s great. He’s just a cool guy, Carolina guy. He’s from the area, he’s an old buddy of ours. He can jam, man, it’s crazy. So last night we were doing some crazy riffs, we got this one song called Paranoid Opioid, half of these songs are like six minutes or longer. There’s one song that’s like eight, eight plus minutes long…It’s pretty pummeling stuff for the most part.

After Motorhead, do you plan on doing your own headlining tour?

Well yeah, of course. Nothing planned right now, but we got so much material, and of course Mike Dean is chomping at the bit, he wants to do the entire set, the new record. We’re probably going to play like 45 minutes on this Motorhead thing, we’ve got to at least put a couple of old ones in there. I’m like ‘come on, what’s wrong with a little Senor Limpio or My Grain or something like that?’ He’s pushing, “Come on,” he wants to do four or five brand new ones. Maybe we’ll bust four, I want to do three or so.

The album’s got to come out first too, you know?

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Hell, half the tour with this Motorhead thing is going to be over with before the album even comes out.

Was it planned that you guys would go on tour before the album came out?

Nah, this thing kind of crept up on us, because we were still finishing up on (the album). And they hollered at us. Our guy called and said, “Motorhead wants you guys to do this tour.”  We were like, man, I don’t know if we can, you know? We’re still working on this album and we don’t really have time to think about this right now, let alone work up a tour and set the whole thing up together. Initially we told them we couldn’t do it because we didn’t think we’d have time and all our other shit, and a week or two later they called us back, “Come on guys, we know you said ‘no’ but let’s get rolling. Get your ass in gear!” So we said yeah, we’ll do it. It was kind of last minute, really, and a lot of times you don’t want to head out on the road before your record comes out, but for Motorhead we make an exception.

I take it you’re a big Motorhead fan?

I’m a huge Motorhead fan, always have been, since way back. Way, way WAY back! (laughs) The race is starting! Are you a big race fan at all?

Not really. My dad is a huge racing fan. (we had already talked about racing when I called him, I mentioned that my dad was a pit crew type for some small circuit racing in the 70’s) Since I stopped playing in bands, I’ve been doing baseball non-stop.

Oh I hear you. At least you’re not a hockey fan.

Oh, that was one of my questions, how is Mike Dean holding up now that the season’s been cancelled?

He hasn’t mentioned it this year, so I don’t know. He’s a hockey fan, but I’m a Nascar fan, we’re kinda like opposite ends of the spectrum. He hasn’t really said much about it. I don’t think he’s that concerned, with all the recording and stuff. He’s actually been doing a lot of production work. He did that Earth Ride shit, …the boy that used to jam with Wino. They actually came down to the Wig Shop and Dean did their shit for them.

What do you do in your down time, I know you did the Let’Lones. Since you’ve toured it’s been over three years. The last thing you did was go on tour with Pantera in Australia.

Yeah, and then we did a little short thing after that, I can’t remember what it was. That was like basically four years ago.

You’re not just sitting around the house, kind of waiting for the next album to come out, I know you’re doing something.

(laughs) Nah, sometimes I do! I’ve got a couple of… Actually, this old house I live in now, I like to do some renovation work and shit like that. I had bought this old property and really spent a couple years working on the damn thing.

Kind of like how Pepper does with houses?

Pepper does some of that shit too. It’s like a fun hobby-slash-necessity. Making a cool place to live, making it your own.

Paul: You guys ever think of making your own, uh, “COC: The Real Estate Company?”

(laughs) I don’t know about the real estate company. Nah, nah. Keenan, maybe. He enjoys it as much as I do. I think he’s more into the renovating the old houses. I kinda dive into it, as far as carpentry work, and just learning how to do all this shit. It’s kind of fun.

(I ask about fixing cars as a hobby, in hopes that I can convince the band to stop by and fix the 1969 Corvette rusting in the garage. I mention some of the other giant unmoving objects in my garage.)
Are you aware of this show “Monster Garage?”


Agnostic Front is playing on there.

I heard that, I saw that on like Blabbermouth or something.

What do we gotta do to get you on that show? Start a letter writing campaign?

(laughs) Fu Manchu was on there, I remember when they did some shit on there. It’s Jesse James.

Yeah, that’s the name of the guy.

Well, you know, we know him from way, way back, because way before he was doing all of that stuff, we were on tour with Danzig, this was like ’90, ’91, I think it was ’90. He was Danzig’s bodyguard.

No shit!

Yeah, Jesse James. And I can remember him talking about how he was going to start a chopper thing, he was really into motorcycles and that was what he was talking about, he was like, “Man, I’m going to do this thing. And I’m going to have this shit going on.” And I was like, yeah, that’s fuckin’ cool, man! And lo and behold, years later, I forgot about him and here he appears, he’s got his thing going on TV and I’m like, “hell yeah!” But he was Glenn Danzig’s bodyguard! He’s a bad ass, black belt motherfucker!

 …Do you plan on hitting Europe? One kid asked me to ask you if you were going to hit Norway.

Norway? Yeah, we’ve been there before. I mean I would love to. It’s been a long time since we’ve done a full thing in Europe and it’s kinda stupid that we haven’t been there since…

Is Stanton going to join the fold again once this Motorhead tour is over?

Stanton? Man, he wanted to do this tour so bad, and it cropped up out of nowhere. And he couldn’ve done a week and a half of it, but he had a Galactic thing already rolling. He wanted to do it so bad. He had bought this drum set and everything, special for doing some stuff with us. He didn’t have it for the recording, but after we recorded and stuff he found out what was going on and he got a whole thing set up. It just didn’t work out for this deal. He wanted… He’s one of those guys that will bend over backwards to play and do these things, that’s all he’s about. Stanton is an amazing musician and just- he lives for it. He never stops. He’s always doing something. During that time, during those eight or nine days Mike and I were in New Orleans doing the record, after we’d get done doing our sessions (Stanton) would go and show up at clubs and sit in with people. It was just crazy, man! He didn’t stop! I was like, how do you know all these songs in the first place? How can you do it?

Do you ever get this restless when you’re not on tour, when you’re not doing something?

I enjoy playing and stuff, but I don’t really have it like that. Somebody like that, they can just show up with people and jam, that’s a freaky kind of thing. That’s like a phenomenon, to me. I’m just from a different world from somebody like that. I would love to be able to do it. It’s just super talent. Somebody that can do that, they’re super-talented.

Do you ever feel like these side projects that you guys have going, they get out of hand and take away from the band?

Not really man, because the majority of stuff that is going on, you’re probably referring to something like Down or something like that, really those guys would do things whenever there’s downtime with everybody else. And it was never a big deal to anybody, and it was always known what was going on, it wasn’t like any kind of backslidin’ kind of thing. “We’re going to do this Down thing.” Okay, cool. As far as Pepper and us go, he was straightforward with us. That stuff me and Mike would do, that was out of sheer boredom. We had a practice pad, we’re sitting around, “Well, what are we going to do?” “Well, let’s chill out and make some music. We wound up doing a few shows with the Let’Lone guys. We never really finished up that album completely and before we jumped back into the COC stuff we were on the verge of being able to get done with it, and we kept re-cutting stuff, and we never got done with it. I don’t know if it’ll ever see the light of day.

Well I gotta hear that someday, man.

It’s pretty crazy shit. It’s like 90% of it was Mike Dean’s stuff. It was challenging for me because it wasn’t the full on hard stuff that I usually would be tempted to write or play, it was pretty challenging. Crazy chords that Mike would have to show me. I was like, “I don’t know these fuckin’ chords!” (laughs) I’m like, “what the hell is that, I have no idea what that is!” So it was pretty challenging for me, it was fun.

Do you think you guys are ever going to get a permanent drummer?

You mean like inviting someone to be a band member or something like that?


I don’t know, man. It’s hard to say. If we ever… I don’t know. We haven’t really talked much about it. We just sort of dove into the thing with Stanton and then he was unable to do this live thing, so we hit up our buddy Jason to come and do the live shit. So he’s going to do that as much as he can, we’re going just going to go with it as we can. It’s kind of fun, jamming with different people, to be honest with you.

You don’t feel that it might change the tone, when you play live it might kind of alter someone’s…what they’re used to hearing on the record, with somebody else playing the drums?

Especially when Bower came in and was playing the older things…it’s different but I think it’s good. For us it was good, as far as everybody else I don’t know. A lot of times people want to hear exactly what’s on a record, but we never have played what’s exactly on records anyway.

Sometimes songs evolve though.

Very, very true.

Once you get out there, you start playing it, you might find something that wasn’t there before, you might add it on later on, like “oh, that actually makes it better.”

Very, very true. For instance, last night, we were working on possibly doing Senor Limpio in the live set, and so Mike had brought down a copy of Deliverance and thrown it on, and we’re listening to it, and Senor Limpio is so fast, the recorded version is fast as shit. And usually the version that I remember playing live is half that fast or something. Like, “shit man, that sounds so weird!” It’s so damn fast. And things change, and you can add more stuff, you can make it a little more feely, get a little more vibe in there if you slowed things down. And other things sound better sped up, it just depends. There’s several songs you like to throw jams in, do little breakdowns in the middle.

Who’s your favorite race car driver right now?

Man, I’ve been following this dude, as far as the Nextel Cup, I kinda like this boy Elliot Sadler, he’s crazy. He’s #38. On the truck series now I like Bobby Hamilton, the Bush series man there’s so many different people that come in and out. Like a lot of the cup drivers come in and… As far as the Nextel Cub, I think Elliot Sadler’s funny as shit. You gotta stick with some of the Carolina guys, even though Junior’s the rock star of racing. Hell, he is from Carolina, so I gotta at least stand behind him a little bit. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

(we talk about basketball for a minute; I don’t know much about auto racing, Woody doesn’t follow other sports, I mention my #1 Illini over the #2 North Carolina and we talk about the conference NC is in…) …following baseball, it gives you something to do for 160 days. When you’re not in a band anymore, or anything like that, it’s just kind of, “Well, nothing else is going on, so I’ll watch these strangers chase a little ball around the field.”

Yeah, yeah. Hey, from February to November, I got racing. (laughs) It’s just getting started for me, man, that’s why I’m all hyped. This is the first race right here. Tonight is the first race of the season, really. The truck race is going on right now and tomorrow is the Bush race, and then Sunday is the big race.

Do politics, your previous views on politics, have they changed at all, and if so have they creeped into the new album?

This is actually, probably, …this may be… It can be construed as a very political album. I think a lot of our views are like, “what’s the world coming to” kinda thing. “How much longer are we going to be chillin’?” (laughs)

Forty years.

Do you think we got forty years left?

Well, uh, have you ever heard of a thing called “peak oil”?

Uh, yes I have, have you ever heard of ‘life after the-

-Oil Crash dot net?

When the oil runs out? Why is it a post-carbon society?

It kept me up all night after reading that.

It’s comin’ man, it’s comin’.

It’s fucking frightening, you know?

Yeah, it is. And people that aren’t prepared for it are going to be in for quite a shock.

Can you imagine what happens when that stuff runs out?

It’s not just that, it’s like we’ve been borrowing from this bank for a long time and things are going to get a lot more expensive and the energy that it takes to get that banana into your mouth…you’re not going to have that. What was the one quote? ‘Enjoy your 3000 mile Caesar Salad!’

Yeah, most food on average takes about 1800 miles to get to you.

Yeah. Enjoy that 3000 mile lettuce while you’ve got it because you’re going to be growing your own before too much longer. Or you’re going to die. (laughs) That’s kind of where our heads are at with type of thing, you’ll see some of that creeping in. Not literally, we’re not going to be barkin’ out, “LOOK OUT!” But it’s there. Our heads are still there. We know what’s going on. We’re not oblivious. (laughs)That’s why I hear you talkin’ about that. It’s something to think about. People should be made aware of it. Not to be a gloom and doom kinda guy, but reality’s reality. People need to wake up and understand things or they’re going to be in for a real shock. Nobody’s going to be prepared for this. It’s going to be hard for everybody. People can be prepared as they want, but whenever 98% of the populace is unprepared, those that are prepared are going to be inundated and run over and the entire thing is going to collapse. No matter how prepared you, you can’t be prepared enough to avert these catastrophes that looms.

Outside of your favorite Black Sabbath album, I really don’t have any more questions.

(laughs) Volume 4, man.

I found Master Of Reality for a dollar at this door, on vinyl, and I picked it up, it’s been one of my favorite records since.

Yeah. (starts mimicking the opening riff to Sweet Leaf) You know what else needs a favorable mention though? The Dio Sabbath, completely underrated man. It deserves a nod?

I get a lot of gear questions. What are you going to be using on this tour?

Just like I was saying before, I got my antique rig and it’s still alive, so I’m going to be bringing it. (laughs) I got the old Boogie rectifiers, and Keenan, believe it or not, Keenan’s even more antique than me. He’s still got those old fifty calipers. I don’t know how they’re still alive, but they keep chuggin’. You just got to bang on them every once in a while, break out the soldering gun, but they all still work and they sound good, so we keep using them.

Keep it simple, right?

Keep it real simple.

Special thanks to Woody for taking the time to let me ask a bunch of non sequitor, almost random questions. The album comes out April 5th!

Some website links:

www.coc.com – COC’s official site
www.hubbertpeak.com – find out more about Peak Oil
www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net – Find out more doomsday predictions thanks to Peak Oil
www.sadlerfanclub.com – Follow Elliot Sadler
www.nascar.com – because it all the discussion of the little oil remaining, let’s link this.