You’ll often hear people say that an album can serve as a soundtrack for a particular period in their lives. America’s Volume Dealer by Corrosion of Conformity is one of those for me. The story of how I discovered this legendary album is just as meaningful as the album itself.
Around the year 2005 or so, I was employed as the Customer Service Manager of Sam Ash Music Stores in Brooklyn, NY and my then-boyfriend Tom was the Manager of the Drum Department. Tom was the drummer for a band called Gravesend, and when we weren’t attending classes (me at Kingsborough Community College and Tom at Brooklyn College) or slaving away at Sam Ash, Tom was giving drum lessons in our one-bedroom apartment in Marine Park, Brooklyn on his beautiful Pearl maple kit. Tom taught me how to set up a kit and as a quick learner, I served as his roadie for a lot of his shows. I took particular pride on the days when I got the hi-hats just right. Tom taught me that the drummer makes the band, a concept which I hadn’t yet fully realized in my teenage years prior while attending numerous live sets of NYHC/metal bands at venues like Lamours and Third Rail.
One of Tom’s favorite drummers was New Orleans jazz drummer Stanton Moore. All Kooked Out was the playlist of my life at the time, and I recall many days of riding my bike to and from work/school along the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, jamming out to Stanton Moore on my iPod. The track of him playing the glass bottles is forever etched in my mind. To this day, I rarely miss a chance to see Stanton Moore live. While googling Stanton Moore one day, Tom and I discovered that he was the studio drummer for Corrosion of Conformity’s America’s Volume Dealer. Tom purchased the CD, and my COC ritual began there.
I listened to America’s Volume Dealer so many times that I can still hear every guitar riff in order. There are days when I listened to nothing all day except All Kooked Out immediately followed by America’s Volume Dealer on repeat. At first glance, these two albums are nothing alike. But to me, they are forever married. Corrosion of Conformity represented the perfect marriage of my punk and hardcore roots, and connected me to the special love that Tom and I shared for Stanton Moore and jazz drumming in general.
America’s Volume Dealer is legendary, and I’ve searched for it forever on vinyl. I’ve seen other COC albums on vinyl, but it felt right that this needed to be the first COC album that I purchased. When I met my future husband Andrew in 2015 and helped him start up his lost record collection again, it was one of my only personal requests. I tasked him with finding it for me. I’ll never forget the day when Tim from Record Reserve, a true indie shop in Northport, Long Island, called Andrew to tell him that he finally had an original press of America’s Volume Dealer in stock for us. It felt like getting my holy grail. Perhaps it was!
America’s Volume Dealer represents true nostalgia for me. It brings back so many memories of an era that I’m truly proud of. I was 18 years old, working full-time, taking 18-24 credits a semester and making it on my own. I didn’t have much, but I had it all. I’ll always remember the day that Tom and I went to see Corrosion of Conformity in Manhattan around 2005. I’ve luckily been to so many live shows over the years that I can’t recall the exact venue, but I suspect it was at the Highland Ballroom or perhaps the Gramercy Theatre. I’m not sure who the drummer was that day, as Reed Mullin unfortunately stepped away in 2001 due to a back injury, but their set was killer anyway! I wish I could’ve seen Reed play live that night.
Tom and I stuck out like sore thumbs at that show, as we were by-far the youngest people in the crowd of what looked like mostly forty-to-fifty-year-old bikers. I was probably one of three women in the venue, and positively the only one in a pink shirt. Nevertheless, I belonged there and this show stands out as one of my favorite shows ever. It was one of the first live shows I went to where a mosh pit wasn’t stealing the best standing area in the house. It was different. It was amazing.
In late January 2020, I bought a copy of No Cross, No Town on vinyl at Record Stop in Patchogue as a personal commemoration to Reed Mullin upon learning of his passing. It’s been on my want-list for awhile, and I was already over budget having spoiled Andrew this weekend on the new Geddy Lee album we snagged at Needle and Groove in Lynbrook and two Sound Garden albums at Looney Tunes in West Babylon. The second I did my usual ritual of checking the genre sections for bands I love while standing there at Record Stop, and my fingers touched that album, there was no way I was passing that by again regardless of the hefty price. The store was about to close in 5 minutes, and as I walked to the register with No Cross, No Town on the top of my stack, remembering those early days of first discovering this band, it just felt right.
Rest in Peace to a legendary rock drummer, Reed Mullin, who suffered a premature death just shy of his 54th birthday.
February 12, 1966 – January 27, 2020
You can read more about his life and death here.
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