On the group’s new album, “No Cross No Crown”:
Pepper: “Making a record, for us in general, was a tall order, but I like big-album things. I like challenging ourselves in terms of the music and the lyrics. I just like those kind of records, and we had the opportunity to do it with a label like Nuclear Blast, and we took our time and kind of went for it, over the top. I think one of the big factors was I kind of felt like the C.O.C. chapter of my life wasn’t over. We kind of went backwards a little bit, and that was using John Custer, our longtime producer, and just to long for the pattern of the some of the records that we did and enjoying those things. We’ve gone on tour just to see if this would all work, and listening back to some of those records and then playing those songs live and kind of piecing it all together in our heads mentally, it just kind of started taking a life of its own. Then once we started tracking the new album, it really started to fill itself in. I think part of the thing with C.O.C. is we don’t try to control the songs so much. If a song’s going a certain direction, we have John Custer there. We can really push it in that direction without trying to control it. I think that ends up for a very diversified, but yet cohesive kind of record.”
On recording the album in chunks:
Pepper: “It was mainly just a logistical thing, because we were all in different parts of the United States — we don’t all live in the same place anymore. But the idea of, when I was a kid, sometimes you’d do a record or whatever, and your demo — you’d always hear people talking about the demos for this certain band, how it blew the record away. When we were making this record consciously, we kind of thought of it like that, even though we were demoing these songs for the first time, we were recording them properly in a studio, kind of like you were supposed to do it anyway back in the old days. It was kind of an interesting way to approach it. Stepping away from hitting it hard in the studio for five days and stepping away for three weeks and giving us time to breathe and reflect on the songs and listen and work on lyrics and melodies and all that kind of made a lot more sense, instead of just trying to muscle all the way through it.”
On his expectations upon returning to the band:
Pepper: “We went to Europe and didn’t have anything — just a couple of promoters agreed to put us in there, and the shows did really well. They added more shows, and all of a sudden, some festivals called. Then we got some tours with other bands. A year and a half, almost two years went by, which was an interesting thing to do for not having a record out in twelve years and no record label. It was just completely fan-based, which I thought was a really positive thing. Once some labels saw us and were snooping around, it kind of went from there. Nobody was trying to control anything. At this point in the game, you’ve got to let things happen. I’m a firm believer — I knew it would just happen without trying to push it too hard and create something that wasn’t there. We’re all older and wiser, a little bit. I think the idea of playing the songs [was] really the glue. Once we started playing all the songs, it just kind of came back, like riding a bicycle. It just really fell into place — it wasn’t really that difficult.”
On whether it was difficult to return to singing after playing guitar in DOWN for so long:
Pepper: “It was an interesting challenge. I’ve been signing — I’ve been writing other songs, and doing different stuff that people haven’t heard — but yeah, I had to get my pipes back in shape, for sure. It was interesting. I do vocal exercises anyway when on the road, but going out and playing live, got it going again. Getting in the studio was a fun thing, because I hadn’t really been behind a microphone singing in a long time, and once we started laying these songs out, Custer was pretty impressed that the old boy still had it. [Laughs] We had fun with it.”
“No Cross No Crown” was released on January 12 via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The album is the group’s first studio effort with Keenan in more than a decade.
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is currently touring North America with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. The tour kicked off December 27 in Denver, Colorado and will wind its way through nearly four dozen cities before coming to a close on February 27. Additional support is being provided by EYEHATEGOD and RED FANG on select shows.
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Full Metal Jackie also hosts “Whiplash”, which airs every Sunday night from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the Los Angeles radio station 95.5 KLOS. The show can be heard on the KLOS web site at 955klos.com or you can listen in on the KLOS channel on iHeartRadio.