Righteous Fool with Righteous Fool
Art: Brian Mercer
Born in 2009 on the impulse of the late Reed Mullin (Corrosion Of Conformity) and guitarist Jason Browning, Raleigh-based rockers Righteous Fool came fully into being when the gang of two invited Mullin’s long-time bandmate Mike Dean (also Corrosion Of Conformity) to play bass. North Carolina legends CoC were on hiatus, and bassist Mike Dean had fallen out of touch with co-founding drummer Mullin until, after nine years, Mullin pulled into Dean’s driveway and asked if he wanted to start a new band. Righteous Fool demoed and released the two-track 7-inch in 2010 via Southern Lord and quickly hopped on support tours for Clutch, Weedeater and, later on, Corrosion Of Conformity. The eponymous “Righteous Fool” full-length was recorded at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 in California during the same sessions that produced CoC’s self-titled 2012 reunion LP but was never released. In the wake of Reed Mullin’s passing in 2020, the remaining members decided to bring the album to light.
How would I describe my music? It’s just about being creative. There is no political agenda, just collaborating with other capable people to make cool and interesting sounds that hopefully connect with people.
The making of the new record was very collaborative. Someone would bring a riff or 2 to the practice space; we’d work on it, come up with our parts, make changes, etc. Working with Mike and Reed was great because they had this built-in comfort and automatic groove. They had a phenomenal pocket feel.
I can’t speak for Mike or Reed, but necessity was my main inspiration for lyrics. I always wanted to write riffs. I heard vocal melodies that would go with them, but the actual words had to come from how the riffs made me feel. But I’m sure Mike and Reed had their process. As for writing the music, I always have a vat of riffs and melodies. It’s just a matter of drawing them out. Usually, the last song we finished would make me want to write something very different from it. I don’t like to repeat myself, song-wise. I always want to strike a balance between originality, letting your influences be heard, exploring complexity, being unpredictable, and just sounding good.
I want people to treat each other well, which they often do not. Once again, music, to me, is an inclusive creative vehicle. It should bring people together and help them find common ground.
Mike and Reed had a much better mental education than me. My first real metal record was Iron Maiden – Killers. What a classic. I was probably 12 when I heard it, around ’85. But I was more transformed by hardcore punk in the 80s, like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Rich Kids on LSD. That’s what made me want to play guitar—the Germs. The simplicity and accessibility of punk rock made it seem like something I could do if I tried. One odd thing is most of the metal I like is influenced by Black Sabbath doomy, sludgy, heavy bluesy stuff. But I never really listened to them or owned a single Sabbath record. I have a pretty heavy Sabbath influence, but I got it second-hand through other artists.
Music can tap into our spirit, and that does have the potential to unite us. It can also be base entertainment, which has its value. If it improves life for those who create it and those who consume it, then it’s worthwhile.