Here’s a few little known facts about Corrosion of Conformity. Mike Dean is a vegetarian. Woody Weatherman is a Dwight Yokum fan.
Did you know that the drummer from Galactic, Stanton Moore, did a tour drumming for Corrosion of Conformity? Or that Pepper Keenan took a break from singing with the band but will be back on this tour? Corrosion of Conformity, better known as simply COC, is one of those bands that praises all kinds of music.
When I told Pepper my friend was a bass player, he sat him down on the tour bus and had him watch Mike Gordon’s video. Of course, Mike Gordon is the bass player from Phish. When I told Woody that I wasn’t a big country fan, he made me listen to a series of old school country songs, explaining that anyone that is into music should be able to appreciate all kinds of music, not just a specific genre.
I first caught COC when they toured in 1996 with Ozzy and Filter. Eight years later, I, too, would have the opportunity to tour with Ozzy on Ozzfest 2002. I went to cover the Detroit stop of Ozzfest for my magazine, which had two shows playing; during the second day, I was pulled on stage by Rob Zombie and shortly after was offered a job on the tour.
However, it was the night before, the evening of the first Detroit tour stop, that I first met Pepper. I had been showing a group of people some of the pictures I had taken that day, and somebody asked if I had any pictures of Down. Flipping through, I found the pictures and began showing them off.
“I see you have a lot of Phil, but what about that Pepper cat? I heard he’s pretty good. You have any of him?”
I had not looked up to see who had asked the question, but I knew I had pictures of Pepper, so I flipped through until I found one. Once I did, I looked up to show the person who had asked me about the picture. Sure enough, I was face to face with Pepper Keenan himself.
Flabergasted, I thought I was hallucinating at first. There he was, a huge grin on his face, standing amidst a crowd who hadn’t realized that he had snuck over to see what the gathering was about. From that point on, I had always thought of him as approachable and almost like a Cheshire Cat, as he appears from seemingly out of nowhere, with this huge grin, then he disappears just as quickly.
Calling him a Cheshire Cat in one of my first screenplays, as I got to know him better after living in New Orleans, I remember going to give him a copy of the book – which wasn’t even professionally bound or published at the time. COC was playing with Motorhead and Brand New Sin. Now, Brand New Sin I had interviewed before, and they had challenged me to see how many curse words I would include in my article, as well as shared with me a funny cross dressing story about Lemmy.
That was my first time seeing Motorhead though. When I was standing in the crowd, a guy walked up and handed me a pass, and I had assumed it was from Pepper. However, at the end of the night, Pepper walked up, a girl under each arm, but he fluffed them aside when he saw me.
Asking him if he got my book, we chitchatted for a while, and he looked down, saw the pass in my hand and asked where I had gotten that from. Shocked, I thought that it had come from the COC camp, but he looked at it and pointed out it said Motorhead. He pointed me backstage to meet the band.
Long story short, I went back, and the drummer came out with a towel wrapped on his head. The crowd rushed him, but when he took the towel off, they looked to rush Lemmy, who had positioned himself in back of the crowd, sneaking in undetected for a few moments. Since I was standing off to the side, the drummer came to chat with me, and as we were an impromptu interview, a woman approached us.
Peabody’s had invited the bands over from the Agora Ballroom to come hang out. Next thing I know, I’m chilling with the guys from Motorhead, of course Pepper, the guys from White Lion and E’Nuff Z’Nuff. “All of us bands have been around for quite a while, so, of course, we all know each other.”
Random stuff like that seems to happen around Pepper. If it doesn’t, he stirs the pot, like he did here in Detroit. Down had been recording an acoustic version of “Stone the Crow” for a radio promo, and they invited me up to watch the process happen with their portable recording studio in the hotel.
Afterwords, I offered to take the guys around, since I had a car and they only had the big bulky bus. Norris, Rex, Pepper and I went out to a couple clubs, and as they walked in, people could tell they were famous, but couldn’t exactly pinpoint who they were. Each person who had enough guts to ask, Pepper would proudly profess that he was from an 80’s band, telling a different band to each person.
They would be satisfied enough, hearing a familiar band name with members they had not seen in a while, and nobody really compared notes to know that Pepper was telling a different hair band each time. What made it hilarious was that Pepper would point to Rex and shout. “Yeah, that’s my Roadie, Rex.”
Poor Rex could barely be heard grumbling something into his whiskey. Norris and I just sat back laughing. That’s the type of stuff that comes to mind when I go through my Rolodex of memories.
Living in New Orleans, I got to know Pepper better than anyone else in the band. Although, I must say, all of the guys from COC have always been extremely warm, welcoming, and down to earth. In the music industry, that can be a rarity, so I have always appreciated them.
Sure, the band has been around for decades. They have more than made their mark in the music industry, and if you have never caught their show, I encourage you to check them out. For those who have not seen them, and for those longtime fans who know just how good they are live, they are coming on tour with a Detroit stop schedule for December 2nd at the Machine Shop in Flint, and also in Cleveland on November 28th at The Odeon.
For more on the band, visit www.coc.com or www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/thorisaz and www.thorisazviews.com. Yes, there is a whole chapter dedicated to Pepper in my new book, “Interview Rock Stars,” that will be published in January, so keep an eye out for that, too.