C.O.C. – Clean My Wounds
Powerhouse Returns With New Studio Album
Interviewed By Keith McDonald
A powerhouse four piece hailing from North Carolina, C.O.C. bridges the sounds of hardcore punk and heavy metal producing a unique sound that has built them a large and loyal following of fans throughout the world.
Consisting of vocalists Pepper Keenan, guitarist Woody Weatherman, drummer Reed Mullin and bassist Mike Dean, the band has consistently toured the world over from their debut album Eye For An Eye to their newest release America’s Volume Dealer. They have also changed labels, leaving Columbia Records to join Sanctuary Records. I had the chance to speak with Woody about the new album.
Touching on the new album, Woody explains that “this was the quickest album we ever recorded. We had several months of preproduction, working on songs and so forth. We had over 40 songs written for this thing. The hardest part was picking and choosing which songs we wanted to put on the record to make it sound like a C.O.C. album, not all one type of song, a lot of variety”. He adds that “for the first time ever, we had done the whole thing in our home town of Raleigh which was a trip” and helped “keep the vibe”. The album was produced by “John Custer. This is our fourth album with John. He’s a pretty smart individual, one of the kinda guys that’s not scared to be adventurous and take chances in the studio. He’s not afraid to deviate from the norm”. As for the songwriting for the album Woody explains that “we pretty much all do. Every song is a little different like a lot of bands are. Sometimes Pepper will show up with a whole song in the bag or somebody will come up with a riff at practice and it’ll evolve into a song. They all change” as he notes that “nothing is set in stone until we actually get in the studio and start messing with things” adding that “everybody pitches in”. Woody also explains the parting with their former label Columbia Records as “a classic scenario. The last album we did was Wise Blood. The day that thing came out they fired our A&R guy that originally signed us. That whole album” Woody starts, “(Columbia) really didn’t know what to do with us. Basically, their rock department was nonexistent at that time. Alice In Chains sort of disappeared. We were on tour for nine months with Metallica and we never saw any Columbia people. They never came to any of our shows” and that “by the time that tour was over we requested to be released from our contract. Right off the bat they denied that, they wanted us to do another album for (them). We started working on different things and stuff. Finally, we came to an amicable agreement” where they were given their release. Woody continues that “they could have been real assholes. They wound up being really cool about it, gave us our master tapes back and what we were working on”. They were able to end on a good note. “We left shaking hands, it wasn’t a bloodbath” as changing labels has “happened to a lot of bands”. It was at this time that “the Sanctuary guys rolled up. Their heads were in the same place ours were at. They know what kind of band that C.O.C. is and give us the freedom to do what we want to do. I didn’t realize how big an operation it was. Things have moved really quickly with those guys, which is excellent. That was our goal, to get the music out quicker” and not to “take this long periods of time between albums”. Changing from a major to an independent label “absolutely fits a band like C.O.C.” according to Woody. “It was great, the experience of being on a monster major label. It was a good feeling to get off that and down to some basic roots. If you get the major distribution and the label is a little smaller, (they’re) able to do things a lot quicker”. At Columbia “you had to go through 30 or 40 people and different departments to get things approved”. In the end, at Sanctuary, Woody feels “this is a much better scenario for a band like us, more hands on”. C.O.C. has been on a few labels during their years. Woody explains that “everytime we move around it’s a learning experience. We’ve moved around to a few indie labels, to a major and now we’re with a big indie. It’s cool and has given us insight. You learn what not to do”.
Touring in support of the new release will be “the usual. C.O.C. has made our name by touring, that’s what we do. I think this time around we’re going to concentrate a lot more on our own headline because after nine months with a great band like Metallica you can’t get any bigger. We want to take our favorite bands out and do some headlining”. The Metallica tour was a great experience for Woody and the band. “That was smoking. We were actually in the studio when we got the call from James (Hetfield). An unbelievable experience playing in front of all those people every night”.
Most bands last no more than five years, yet C.O.C. has been around since 1982. Woody notes that they are “constantly challenging ourselves and not making the same record and over and over. We’ve been brave enough to move ahead and not be concerned with what was a hit on the last record and trying to reinvent it. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re still here. It’s a great feeling”. Even though C.O.C. has been around for almost twenty years, they are still looking ahead as they move towards radio. Woody says that “the first single, Congratulations, was #1 most added to Active Rock” adding that “it came out pretty strong”. There also may be a live record on their horizon as “that’s the one thing we’ve been thinking of seriously because we’ve never done (one). We actually have a lot of master tapes from different tours at small clubs and stadiums”. They are interested in doing “a live album that isn’t just one show but a few shows. We’ll see what happens”. As for everything else, “we just wanna keep on doing what we do. I think the main goal is put another real studio record out a lot sooner than we have in the past. We have a lot of material we already demoed” and he feels “this label will allow us to do that”. Let’s hope so.