Baptists, Espresso, & Swimming With Joey Shithead: A Conversation With Corrosion of Conformity’s Reed Mullin

So a while ago I interviewed Reed Mullin from Corrosion of Conformity..  or, should I say..  he kind of interviewed me.  More than anything else we had a good chat.  Reed is a real OG, and I adore conversations with people like him that feel like we are just old friends catching up.  This interview was at points poignant and hilarious.  Thank you Reed for taking the time.  So sad we weren’t able to catch the COC show in Vancouver.  Goddamn Canadian winter.

 

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Reed Mullin:  Sorry about that!  My last interview went long!

DIAG:  Oh he was chattin your ear off?

RM:  Say what?

DIAG:  Talking your ear off.

RM:  Oh yeah, yeah he was.  He was from France.  Where are you?

DIAG:  I’m up in Canada, do you know where Vancouver is?

RM:  Yeah of course!

DIAG:  I’m about three hours away from Vancouver.

RM:  Whoa, like North or something?  I know BC is a big province.

DIAG:  Yeah, we are in a small town called Kamloops, which is kind of like a travel hub.

RM:  Did you say Kamloops?  I’ve heard of Kamloops.  My dad, when I was a little kid, I was fortunate because my Dad had a company, and when COC was on tour (we started in 1982) and we were out on tour and he let us work at his place.  His company sold wood working machinery, to cut up trees and lumber.  These big fancy computerized saws and stuff, so I know about all these different towns in Canadia.  My Dad did a lot of business up there.  He bought our first van up there for us.

DIAG:  Oh that’s rad!

RM:  Yeah it was a white Ford Econoline 150, it was a damn death pit.  I can’t believe we made it out of there.  We called it Vanna White.  She made it through for a long time.  We are lucky to be alive.  But that was back in the day when we were just cruising around, kind of like a Henry Rollings, “GET IN THE VAN” type of thing.  We toured all over.  The first show we ever played in Canada was in Vancouver with DOA – 1983/1984.

DIAG:  Yeah, yeah yeah.  Joey Keithley he ran for city council a while ago in Vancouver.

RM:  Yeah, I heard about that.  I guess he lost huh?

DIAG:  He didn’t get elected, I dunno if they’re that forward thinking in Vancouver yet.  They’re pretty forward thinking but I dunno if they’re THAT forward thinking.  Not on his level yet.

RM:  I used to be the punk rock promoter here in Rawley, and not only did my folks buy COC a van but they let us use their Xerox copy machine, I had a deal with a little club around here and we did mostly Sunday matinees, because most of us were straight edge of underage and I remember getting DOA.  Most of us knew them, and we played together and we had seen them on so many tours, and once they had a day off, and I remember taking them to this little lake, a quarry that was filled with water.  I remember seeing these big guys just floating around, and the whole quarry was filled with fish, not like big fish but these little fish and they started nibbling on us, nibbling on Shithead and stuff, and they started freaking out and they ran right out.  I got them to dive off the cliff before they ran off.

DIAG:  That sound like a perfect day, what a fun memory!

RM:  Fuck yeah, man.  Being in the quarry was cool in a lot of different ways.  We were in between DC and Atlanta and we got all these sick punk rocks back in the day.  It was a good time.  So what’s going on, did you listen to the record?

DIAG:  Yeah, it’s super good.  I’m excited about it.

RM:  Yeah, I like it too.

DIAG:  Well you better like it, you made it!

RM:  Haha, yeah we did some rehearsing yesterday, we’re heading out on tour with Zakk Wylde / Black Label Society and EYEHATEGOD.

DIAG:  Yeah we are hoping to come see you guys at the Commodore.

RM:  Where are we playing?  The Commodore?

DIAG:  Yep.  Can’t wait for the show.

RM:  Well the way we laid out the record, we had this rehearsal place, and our bass player has this nice little place set up to record and we set up to do our demo there.  He always gives us the bro deal.  He’s got a great studio, and after we were gonna re-record once we did the demo.  It ended up being that the songs that we were doing, that our producer got such good energy out of us that he was like “Fuck how are you gonna redo all this energy?”  We blew off the idea about re-recording and we actually got the idea to have a friend mix them for us and that friend was Mike Fraser out of Vancouver.

DIAG:  Oh okay.

RM:  He’s one of the best.  He did our Wiseblood record.  Finally, we did this and he mixed the shit out of it and I think it sounds phenomenal.

DIAG:  I also love that it’s being released on cassette.  Is that a little shout out to those of us who still listen to COC on cassette?  I still have all my old COC cassettes.

RM:  Oh do you really?  I think I do too.

DIAG:  I just love cassette tapes and I love that they’re back.

RM:  Oh I do too.  It seemed a little kitschy at first but now it’s cool.  So Fraser he said to us and he made this all happen, he captured our energy, our great takes.  Our producer is good at getting this raw energy out of us.  Our producer, if we didn’t have that energy he would say like, do it again, and some of the songs it was only like the third or fourth time we had played them.  A lot of people want to quantify the drums and sterilize it all, get rid of all the mistakes and I don’t like that.  It has to have that raw power.

DIAG:  Yeah it has to be that punk rock, DIY, not perfect kind of ethos.  That stuff has the best soul.  So what can we expect from this tour with Black Label and EYEHATEGOD?

RM:  What a fucking killer tour that’s gonna be.  I don’t know Zakk but everyone I know who does says he’s a killer fucking guy so we are really looking forward to it.  It’s gonna be a long tour for us, longest we have done in a while.  Two months.  It will be a litmus test or barometer to see if these old guys can hold up.

DIAG:  Totally.

RM:  We have been doing this shit since 1982.  I can guarantee we are gonna throw down.  What a cool fucking job.  Write music with your bros, tour with your bros and get paid.

DIAG:  I think that’s called living the dream.

RM:  We are very fortunate, we are so blessed.  We have toured with Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Ramones, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Rollins Band, Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden..  We are one of the few bands that can say that we have played with good punk, grunge and metal bands and we are friends with most of them too.

DIAG:  Who have been some of your favorites to play with?

RM:  Oh man, a bunch of them.  Ramones.  They were super cool.  Metallica.  It’s interesting.  One of the best tours was the Wiseblood tour in 1997 I think it was.  It was so plush, we had everything we wanted.  Playing to thousands of people a night.  It’s not like the DRI tour we did in 1985 when we had toured in Vanna White and we were wondering about gas money, how to make it to the next show.  Shit like that.  I remember some of the Metallica tour, but I remember every one of the DRI shows, all 58.  Wondering on how to make it to the next gig. Danzig has been fun.  Soundgarden was fun.  Europe and England.  I would always bug them to play “Hunted Down” and they would say, “No, not tonight”.  Finally in Birmingham England and I asked and Chris finally said “Yeah we are gonna play it, and you’re playing drums”.

DIAG:  That’s fucking sick.

RM:  I know right.  I got to play drums with Soundgarden.  How fucking cool is that.  Not sure if you know this but in 1987/1988 I actually asked Chris Cornell to sing for us.

DIAG:  Really?  

RM:  Truth.  I asked Buzz from the Melvins.  I asked a bunch of people.  I saw Chris, about a week before he died.  It was the weirdest thing, and we were at this festival in North Carolina called the Carolina Rebellion and Soundgarden played, and he was talking about all the stuff he was gonna do later in the year, how stoked he was, how he had all these projects, and his kids were kicking ass.  And yeah 7 days later someone calls me up at 4 in the morning to say, “dude, did you hear what happened?” and I said, “No.. why are you waking me up?”  And he told me Chris Cornell was dead.

DIAG:  It’s so strange how that happens.  How people just commit suicide.  

RM:  I would have never believed he could have done that.  I went his memorial service in Hollywood.  Everyone was there, everyone was crying.  Brad Pitt.  He looked like he had been crying for two days.  Chester Bennington sang that song, “Hallejuah” and he looks like he’s been crying for days and then he goes and fucking kills himself on Chris’s birthday.  It’s like what the fuck, what is going on?

DIAG:  I read that Chester had tried to committ suicide earlier in the year as well too.  He had tried to drown himself in his pool.

RM:  Oh Christ, really?

DIAG:  Yeah.

RM:  I didn’t hear that.

DIAG:  It was in a medical document that was released.  He tried to drown himself in his pool and he decided at the last minute that he didn’t want to do it, but he dragged himself out and then later was successful in his attempt on Chris’s birthday.

RM:  Fuck man, I can’t believe he did that.  I know I got back from the memorial service and I felt like I didn’t know what to do.  One of our sound guys died on the same day and I had to pull myself in.  When I got home from the memorial service, I just fell apart.  I wasn’t suicidal, I was devastated though.

DIAG:  Of course, I think that’s totally natural.  Are you doing better now?

RM:  Yeah.  I mean I’m still sad.  But I’m feeling better.

DIAG:  Stuff like that can take a long time to process.  You know?  My best friend died last December of a drug overdose.  Fentanyl in cocaine and she died, and it’s so hard to process.

RM:  Fentanyl.  Fuck man that shit is everywhere.  Was it purposeful?  Or was it an accident?

DIAG:  It was an accident, she was taking cocaine and died.

RM:  That fentanyl stuff will lock you up man, it’s strong shit.  When you make heroin, it’s such a laborious process.  Nowadays, they just make a bit of heroin and add fentanyl and boom.  All the fentanyl comes from China and people just throw it in there, the drug dealers and stuff.  It’s fucked up.  You can see how people die on it because it’s so strong.

DIAG:  Yep, it just shuts off your breathing and you’re gone.

RM:  Fuck man.

DIAG:  Yeah this got heavy.

RM:  So what songs you do you like on the new record?  Do you like the new record?  You said you did.

DIAG:  I do like it, yeah!  I love Wolf Named Crow and Cast The First Stone.  Cast The First Stone was the one that did it for me, it just reminded me of old COC.

RM:  Oh killer.  Yeah yeah yeah, I agree with you for sure.

DIAG:  And I just love that Pepper is back.

RM:  I do too man.  When we had the three piece happening, man, people have been bugging us for years about that.  Pepper and I were on the phone on the time, at least once a month and he was like MULE you gotta get this shit back together.  He calls my Mule.  And I was like shit man, you’re still doing DOWN stuff, let’s just wait until you have a break.  After a year or two, DOWN were taking a break, EYEHATEGOD was doing whatever, and we were taking a break from a three piece, and it gave us some time to spread our wings, and have fun, and see if we still connected with the fans.  We wanted to see too if we got along.  We had a bunch of fan support too.  When our buddy got wind that Pepper was back around, the president of Nuclear Blast said he wanted to get us back signed up, and he called us every month to see what was going on.  It’s fucking great.  It’s something to be said about a record company that’s super stoked and behind their band 110% than a bigger company, with more money.  You can’t buy enthusiasm.

DIAG:  Oh okay, yeah.

RM:  I promise this will be one of the best COC records of all time.

DIAG:  It is a fucking rad record!  I’m so hyped for you guys.  So speaking of records, what are some records you’re listening to?

RM:  I was just about to ask you – what are some records you think I should be listening to?  I’m kind of in the stone age listening to old punk records.  Gimme a list of like bands I should check out.

DIAG:  Oh god, PORTAL has a new record coming out in 2018 and I just love them, they’re very extreme.

RM:  Say again, what was that?  Portal?

DIAG:  PORTAL, they’re from Australia.  They played at Housecore and they were just..  I’ve never felt anything quite like that, just this wall of intensity, of noise.  This hard wall of sound.

RM:  Like Neurosis or something?

DIAG:  Well, Neurosis is a little kinder than PORTAL.  PORTAL is music from the depths of Hell.

RM:  KINDER?  Did you just say kinder?  Okay gimme another one.

DIAG:  I love King Parrot.

RM:  Oh okay yeah, those guys are killer.

DIAG:  Those guys are the funnest guys.  Their new record was good.  I also have really been in love with the new Bell Witch album, “Mirror Reaper”.

RM:  Where are they from?

DIAG:  Seattle.  They’re like a funeral doom kind of outfit.  The new Wolves In The Throne Room album is really good too.

RM:  Wolves in the Throne Room, where are they from?

DIAG:  Seattle too.

RM:  Are BAPTISTS still around?  The punk band from Vancouver.

DIAG:  Yeah I think so.

RM:  Well shit you need to check out BAPTISTS if you haven’t already.

DIAG:  So I have a fun game that I like to play during interviews, are you ready?

RM:  Dang baby, what are you getting at here?

DIAG:  Oh it’s called the lightning round and I give you two options and you have to pick one of the two.

RM:  Okay.

 

DIAG:  Daffodils or daisies?

RM:  Like Flowers?  Daffodils.

DIAG:  Puppies or kitties?

RM:  Puppies.

DIAG:  So you’re a dog person?

RM:  Yeah I love dogs.  I grew up with German Shepherds and my ex wife and I had pugs.  Pugs rule, they think they’re big dogs.

DIAG:  Oh okay, so coffee or tea?

RM:  Coffee.

DIAG:  Okay, what do you take in your coffee?

RM:  Well if it’s espresso then just milk.  Regular coffee is milk and sweetener.

DIAG:  Like Splenda?

RM:  Yeah, the evil stuff.

DIAG:  Whiskey or beer?

RM:  Beer.  I don’t like brown liquor.

DIAG:  I feel you on that one, I like gin.

RM:  Oh you like gin?

DIAG:  Yeah, I’m an old lady.

RM:  Shit, gin is good.

DIAG:  Tits or ass?

RM:  What did you just say?  Tits or Ass?

DIAG:  Yep, yep.

RM:  Oh man in the old day’s I’d say tits but I’m an ass man now.

DIAG:  Digital or analog?

RM: Analog.

DIAG:  Liquor or whores?

RM:  I’m gonna say neither, but I guess liquor.  I’m gonna say neither though, trying to be straight edge again.

DIAG:  Black Sabbath or Motorhead?

RM:  Fuck come on, are you serious?  That’s like trying to pick out a favourite child, or favourite parent.  That’s so hard.  Sabbath.

DIAG:  Death metal or black metal?

RM:  Death metal.

DIAG:  Thrash metal or power metal?

RM:  Power metal.

DIAG:  Haunted house movie or slasher movie?

RM:  I dunno, I don’t really care for either.  Haunted house.  Not a big slasher fan.

DIAG:  Eating weed or smoking weed?

RM:  Neither.  I can’t do weed.  It makes me paranoid.  I was just in San Francisco with my friend Mikey and he got me to smoke a little and it was just like I remember.  I got all AM I TALKING TOO LOUD?  DID I SAY SOMETHING DUMB?

DIAG:  That’s called the Fear.

RM:  Oh I had the fear in me.

DIAG:  Oh don’t feel bad, I did this too a while ago and couldn’t figure out where the buzzing sound was coming from in my house and it ended up being my record player.  I was listening to music.  I’m dumb.  So, because we are called Drunk in a Graveyard, our website focuses on metal, horror movies…

RM:  Wait, did you say porn?

DIAG:  Well maybe porn, I dunno what the future holds.  So what would be your favourite horror movie and the intoxicant of choice to go with it?  This may not be valid if you’re going to be straight edge.

RM:  It may not be valid.  I’m trying to be straight edge.

DIAG:  Well, you could always pair a film with some coffee?

RM:  Hmm, well there was this one twisted psychological movie called The Other which I really liked.

DIAG:  That with what?

RM:  Maybe with just a regular coffee.

DIAG:  Where do you like to get your coffee from?

RM:  I like to make it at home.  I don’t go to Starbucks, it tastes burnt.

DIAG:  Well that’s it, that’s all I have for you!  Thank you so much for talking to me!

RM:  Bye sweetheart!

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