Southern Lord's metal brigade makes another most excellent leap forward
Soon after hearing the record, the label headman was due to return to Seattle for the holidays, where the incendiary quintet had a show scheduled. Speaking by phone from his home in Seattle, Black Breath guitarist Eric Wallace describes the madness that ensued. "The details are kinda hazy," he begins, "but we've been telling people that our guitarist Funds [real name: Zack Muljat] and Greg [Anderson] were having an argument about a song that was playing on the jukebox ... Funds was arguing that it was S.O.D., and Greg was arguing that it wasn't, and they were putting bets down and stuff. We ended up singing with Southern Lord after that. It may or may not have been part of the bet."
Though Anderson's fingerprints are all over the forthcoming Southern Lord Mini Tour, his band Goatsnake will not headline. That honor goes Corrosion of Conformity, a legendary underground metal band founded in Raleigh, N.C., in 1982. Though they charted in the early '90s with two albums' worth of thick, Southern-fried Sabbath worship, C.O.C (as they're often called) started as a lightning-fast hardcore trio, churning out political anthems over adrenaline-soaked pogo beats. This summer's tour boasts the reunited three-piece lineup of guitarist Woody Weatherman, drummer Reed Mullin, and bassist/singer Mike Dean, who will perform the group's seminal 1985 release Animosity (Metal Blade Records) live in its entirety.
Anderson and the Piedmont power trio go way back. "They stayed at my house in 1986, when C.O.C played in Seattle, actually, on the Animosity tour." While band's output in recent years has been limited to 2005's under-appreciated In the Arms of God (Sanctuary Records), Anderson's curatorial instincts were ever-vigilant. Reached by phone as he decompressed from a tour rehearsal, Dean explained how it went down: "He reached out to us. He was looking to reissue some of our old stuff. We mentioned that we were gonna record a new release. We just started talking to him about doing that, and he said, 'Hey, you wanna play some shows out here?' and we were like, 'Oh yeah!' It kinda lit a fire under our ass to get some new songs down and go out and play 'em."
The existence of new songs was of crucial importance to both parties. For better or worse, reunited metal bands has been emerging from their dingy practice spaces lately like underfed jackals, and results are mixed. To avoid getting lumped in with the rest of the Lazarus-rock scene, Dean wrote songs: "The only thing I can do to allay my feelings of not wanting to be part of that is to attempt to offer something new. At this point, we have four or five new songs that we can perform. We're doing this as part of readying ourselves to do something new."
Despite all the hand-wringing about illegal downloading, Anderson attributes this explosion of reinvigorated headbangers to "the fact that information is so easily available, cataloged, and documented meticulously on the Internet. It's like a trail, a path you can get on, on which you find one thing, and it leads to another thing, and it's just a snowball effect. It makes it possible for these bands to come out and play to three to four times as many people as they did in their heyday. It's a real testament to the fact that this music is valid and incredible. It needs to be heard, and it needs to be given the respect that it's due." With people like Greg Anderson keeping watch for the young talent and shepherding the old, it definitely will be.
THE SOUTHERN LORD WEST COAST MINI TOUR
Corrosion of Conformity, Goatsnake, Black Breath, Eagle Twin, Righteous Fool
Tue/10, 7 p.m., $25
375 11th St., SF