The following is an interview with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY conducted on March 8 by Mike Stark at KNAC Long Beach. We thank Mike for making this interview available for THE ROC. "COC" is used for band members who speak, but we're unsure of who they were. All others were identified.
KNAC: You guys are unique in this field of music, you seem to be a little bit more politically aware of what's going on than a lot of bands in the metal or hard rock scene, you have voter registration set up in the lobbies of your shows, correct?
COC: Well, we'd be wrong to say that every show, but tonight for sure, the LA show with Excel that hopefully some of you came to and enjoyed or whatever or some of you missed or whatever. Uh, yeah tonight."
KNAC: And do you make a habit...?
REED: It sets a good example. We want to have voter registration at all our shows, but its representative of the fact that it's hard to get registered in this country, they make it hard to get registered in this country because the politicians don't want to have to campaign to a lot more people because it's gonna cost them more money and time to get to a whole bunch more people. So it's hard to get people registered, and it's hard to get registrars to shows. So at big shows we've been able to get it happening like tonight, the majority of the time.
KNAC: That was my next question, voter registration varies state-to-state because of the rules.
REED: And it can vary from city-to-city. Like in the first primaries in New Hampshire, it varied from city-to-city which is just ridiculous.
COC: It's ridiculous that somebody that represents the nation is y'know, they have this kind of division you know, this kind of divide and conquer kind of mentality.
REED: Well they don't want people our age to register and vote because people like us...you know.
COC: Can you imagine what it would be like if every one of us could just walk up and hit that lever. I think it would be a different country and different system.
REED: God, it would be a different government if people our age all voted. Man it would be a much cooler place.
KNAC: Which brings us to "Vote With A Bullet."
COC: That's um, off the new album "BLIND." It's our second single/video. As a matter of fact, we just did it with a really great director, and his last video was "By The Time I Get To Arizona," which is a pretty damn timely song.
REED: Yeah, it's the Public Enemy tune where they kill everybody. (laughs)
COC: Essentially it's "Vote With A Bullet." But yeah, he was into what we're doing and we liked him a whole lot and it worked out great man. It's about to come out so look for it.
KNAC: So "Vote With A Bullet" and voter registration are the same?
COC: We're saying flatly, 'register.' What it is, is that there's a whole lot of frustration on our side and the American tradition of democracy has kind of a violent underbelly since the onset. Since the first pioneers set foot and pretty much raped this nation, what wasn't a nation until they made it so, and uh what we're saying is when you lock people out of the process, when you make it hard to register, hard for the people to be part of the democratic system, don't be surprised if there's some kind of backlash, y'know that's just how it goes unfortunately. That's part of the American tradition. Look at J.F.K., look at Bobby, look at Martin Luther King, look at Malcolm X, look at all that y'know.
KNAC: So in traveling around the country you're working with ROCK THE VOTE specifically?
REED: Yea, ROCK THE VOTE. We're going to do a PSA commercial with them tomorrow. Like I said, ROCK THE VOTE would have been the ones to schedule and arrange the voter registration stuff at the shows, but its really hard to do it on a smaller level like this. It worked really well with the Lollapalooza tour because there were tons of people there.
KNAC: You guys are based in North Carolina?
COC: Raleigh, the state capital.
REED: A state in the union, one of fifty (laughs).
KNAC: Home of one of the bigger rock fans in the world, Senator Jesse Helms, any comments?
REED: Perfect target.
COC: Senator Helms is like a symptom of the problem. Y'know the problem in this country? When you talk about history all throughout our history you've got this group of people. How I see it, you can break down the world until there are a lot of people that are pretty cool that just want to get on with their lives and do their own thing. Then you have like these group of jerks who want to control everything. And they always will, no matter what form of government you have. It's kinda like throwing diarrhea in the water, it will float to the top. The thing about the American system is that theoretically with all the checks and balances, the people electing a government is supposed to be the one with the least amount of that stuff going on. Jesse Helms is in office because a lot of people in this country want him there. He could be from anywhere else.
KNAC: It's kind of an illustration of your point, if rockers and people of like minds got together, Jesse Helms would not be there, right?
COC: Yeah definitely. It doesn't take a whole lot. I mean one phone call can change a whole lot and the more of us doing that and getting together, man it could move mountains. One thing the people left leaning have to do is stop being so uptight about their little 'isms' and whatnot and band together and get on with it.
PHIL: The nazi element in this country is extremely mobilized. They've got tons of cash behind their causes and tons of media resources to spew their drivel to the public.
REED: But don't get confused with what Phil's saying, the Nazi movement. We call conservatives Nazi's...so. (laughs)
PHIL: You know what I'm saying.
PHIL: The right wing in general.
KNAC: Which brings us to music censorship.
REED: Jesse Helms, there you go, he's one of the main contributors.
PHIL: This guy wants to remove the NEA, him and Pat Buchanan and a whole slew of other.....
REED: Nazi's (laughs)
PHIL: Yeah, quote unquote "NAZI's." But that's what they want to do. They don't believe that culture is something that the U.S. government endorses, which is kinda sad. Instead we choose to endorse war, so called 'drug-wars' and so-called whatever.
COC: To me its almost obscene when you think sex, two people getting down is rated X (in movies) and its illegal to show to a minor, but you can see someone hacked apart with a machete.
REED: On prime time, on CNN.
PHIL: That's entertainment in this country, this culture worships violence and killing and its like afraid of sex and its so uptight and so twisted. Its no wonder things are the way they are.
KNAC: And many states are trying to pass legislation that would outlaw music basically. (laughs in disgust)
COC: When we were in D.C. a few months ago, I went to this thing at the Smithsonian Institute. It was really, really, really pointed. It was this huge exhibit of all artists like composers, sculptors, painters, and writers who were banned in Nazi Germany in the mid and late '30s. You could go in there and listen to the music of these schmaltzy little German pop songs from the '20s and '30s. They were harmless but they were considered subversive and what not, so they were banned and these people were put in prison, put in concentration camps for art and things like that. That's because deep down inside the Nazi's or Stalinist communists and Jesse Helms people like that, deep down inside they know that they're full of shit and that the only way that they're going to get people to go along with them is to force them at gunpoint to do what they want. It's like communist countries forcing people to stay there, or at least they used to, or whatnot, and the law forcing you to register for the draft, forcing you to do this, they know it goes against basic human nature.
REED: I think with censorship when you bring that up that it's definitely threatening, especially with what we do. Nowadays, I mean five years ago the PMRC obviously got huge and they had all those stupid-ass hearings and they made a big point of being able to sticker albums. To me that was offensive, for some fat fuck white Anglo-Saxon male, 65 plus, trying to put his motherfucking moral thoughts on what is obscene and what is not. He's going to judge me and my art! Now its gone past the stickering and now its got to the point where they're printed on the albums, you know what I mean? It's a definite foot in the door.
KNAC: And the stickering is being used in certain states as a guideline as to what can and can't be sold to minors.
PHIL: It comes down to the ultimate form of censorship, which is economic. The ultimate form of power which is the almighty dollar. And if you have the sticker, you're not going to be able to be sold in the bigger chains.
KNAC: Do you guys have a sticker on yours?
COC: No we don't, as a matter of fact we refused to sticker. We made a big stink about that (laughs). We had a long talk with our record company and everybody was real reasonable on our end. We decided we would cross out those words ourselves.
REED: On the lyric page, but not censor them on the record itself.
PHIL: Yeah it's kinda like suicide. You have the ultimate control. What I think is that really there's a sinister undertone to all this censorship thing. This isn't about just censoring sexual and violent images, its about censorship of free thought, so basically our idea was to call their bluff by writing out 'fuck' or whatever, crossing it out on the lyric page. We wanted to see what reason they had then for putting a sticker on the album, like 'oh this record endorses anarchistic, dope-smoking, free thinking, orgyistic whatever.
REED: Orgyistic! (laughs)
KNAC: Sounds like fun to me guys!!
REED: It's infiltration in the way we look at it, we're not stickered and now we can get into any store.
KNAC: Do you expect any backlash from that?
PHIL: Yes, we expect it, and we welcome it. Actually we're waiting for it to happen. I hope it happens soon!
KNAC: Great! Still on the censorship issue, do you have any personal censorship stories from the road or anything along those lines? Anything happen at your shows?
COC: That should've been censored (laughs).
KNAC: No, as far as the authorities cracking down on the stage show?
COC: The only thing I can remember is that we played in Fayetteville, NC, I don't know if this is a big deal or not, but it just shows what people know and what they don't know. We're from North Carolina and North Carolina is home to many military bases, and we're not necessarily down on anybody who has joined the military, because people do it for various different reasons, economic and whatever.
PHIL: Self discipline too.
COC: And the thing is these guys, we played in Fayetteville and a whole bunch of these Army guys came down. It's like the home of Fort Bragg. This guy goes, 'man, my buddy can't come down and he really wants to see ya.' And I was like, 'why can't he come?' And he was like, 'he works for Army Intelligence and they're not allowed to a C.O.C. show because you guys are on the seditious list.'
KNAC: So you guys are on a list somewhere?!
COC: Together, Oh yeah.
KNAC: And proud of it right? (laughs)
COC: We must be doing something right.
PHIL: The FBI keeps tabs on everyone. If you've ever signed a petition of any left-wing causes, you're on it. So, people don't forget that the Nazi's are going for it and you best be aware of it.
KNAC: Should politics and music mix? We don't see much of that as we talked about earlier?
PHIL: Why should there be rules on anything like that? If you want to do it, do it, and if you don't, don't. We're not down on anybody who doesn't combine or fuse those elements, but for us its like we can't go to sleep at night or at the end of our lives we're not going to be comfortable having....I think I'm speaking for everyone, we come out of that whole punk rock background, speaking our mind and if at the end of the day we haven't said something......That's bad in my book.
REED: Well dude, I thought Rock 'n' Roll was supposed to be about rebellion from the first place anyway, and we're talking about rebelling against something bigger than your parents. Anyway, you know what I mean, we're talking about a serious evil in this fucked up country, in this world.
KNAC: One final question, we sort of touched on it. Why is it important for rockers to get involved in the system and register to vote?
COC: Regardless, everyone of age should register and vote. I used to think that voting never changed anything, and I, that I grew up poor, I never felt I had any kind of voice in politics or whatnot, then you realize you have to choose between the less of two evils and whats going on now is definitely mega-evil. Everybody needs to do their part, everybody needs to fight, everybody needs to register and vote for whoever is not George Bush (laughs).
REED: Exactly, you figure the people who are making all the laws, the people that are fucking with your civil liberties in this country you have control. You have a given right from the Constitution of how to get the motherfuckers out of there, and its to vote......It's easy.
KNAC: Okay, thanks guys and again the invitation is open whenever you're in town and can make it to the show live, we will take on the audience at that point.