An Interview With The Members Of Drowning Pool
Band Photo: Drowning Pool (?)
Dallas based group Drowning Pool are either considered famous or infamous for their hit song "Bodies," which has been the center of controversy over it's use in interrogations of suspected terrorists and reports that soldiers listen to it before going into battle. The band is currently on an extended tour alongside southern rockers Saliva, and at one of the tour stops the band shared their thoughts on their latest album and expressed that even though they occasionally write songs with strong messages, they really just want to play rock music and have a good time.
CJ: So who are you and why do you like playing in Drowning Pool?
Stevie: It’s a job dude.
CJ: I do it for all the pussy.
Ryan: Pussy and the money, yeah!
Mike: I’ve been missing out on all of that.
Ryan: Mike just does it for the love of music.
Mike: Nah, I do it because I love you guys.
xFiruath: That’s funny because I interviewed Gary Holt from Exodus not too long ago and the first thing he said was that he played music to get laid.
CJ: He was probably serious though, huh?
Stevie: I’d love to see the chicks going after an Exodus show.
CJ: Those guys were looking rough when they got started, God knows what they look like now. How did he look?
xFiruath: Actually it was a phone interview so I couldn’t rightfully say.
Stevie: I’m sure he’s a very attractive man.
xFiruath: So with that in mind what got you guys into music and made you want to be musicians?
Stevie: We all grew up in very musical households. Everyone can attest to their folks rocking out to different stuff, even though it was different bands. Like in my house they had a big reel to reel player and I can remember them just rocking to the “White” album from the Beatles and that’s really where I got my start. (Stevie notices that Mike is still signing CD covers) But the rest of these guys really aren’t paying any fucking attention to any of your questions (Everyone laughs) but hey I’m the cool guy in the band.
Mike: I was waiting for you to finish your statement!
CJ: My dad listened to Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin. That’s what got me started.
Ryan: Old ACDC, Aerosmith, good stuff, Pink Floyd.
CJ: And Mikey just listened to Motley Crue.
Mike: I was a KISS child. Like Stevie was saying our whole family listened to all kinds of different stuff. I was just rooted in KISS. Around 15 or so when I got my first kit that’s when other stuff started coming in. It was all hair metal and Metallica and stuff.
xFiruath: So how was the tour with Saliva gone so far?
CJ: Tour has been great. Lot of shows have sold out. Most nights have been pretty packed. We get along great with those guys. We’ve known them since 2001 and done stuff off and on.
Ryan: Jet Black Stare is new to us. Really good guys, really nice guys, and a really good band. They bought me a bottle of Captain Morgan also.
xFiruath: That’s really the true test of character right there.
Mike: What did the rest of us get? (Ryan pulls out an elaborately wrapped bottle in fancy striped cloth with a cute little bowtie on top)
Stevie: Wow, look at how they wrapped that. Hey now that means you’ve got to ride with them tonight in the van.
CJ: Being in the van this time of year is fucking cold. God bless their hearts.
xFiruath: Are you guys playing the full new album or are you doing some of the older stuff too?
CJ: We do a mix of old stuff and new stuff.
Ryan: It’s about 50/50.
CJ: Yeah a nice little blend there.
Stevie: We bust out all the hits.
CJ: Yeah we just play the hits.
xFiruath: Well this one’s mostly for you Ryan. Since you guys have had two vocalists before this album do you try to emulate the older vocalists when you play live or do you stick to your own sound?
Ryan: No, Davie (Dave Williams, deceased original vocalist for Drowning Pool) was a good friend, but Davie did his thing and I do my thing. Jason did his thing. I’ve been doing this too long to change what I do. I’ve got a lot of respect for the things that they did. Jason had an amazing instrument and Davie had an amazing instrument and was an amazing person. You just pay homage to the people who came before you and do your own thing.
xFiruath: So tell me what’s different about “Full Circle” from your first two albums.
Ryan: A different singer!
CJ: We try to do a different group of drugs for each record. We’re going to be hammered drunk on the next one and then probably do acid.
Ryan: This one was all Flintstone vitamins, we pissed green for a week.
CJ: I think just like with any band you want to progress. The longer you do it hopefully the better you get at it, at least that’s the theory.
Stevie: We don’t write “Bodies” and “Step Up” over and over again. On this one we reached out to some different things, took some different avenues. With the newest single “37 Stitches” it’s a complete departure from anything we’ve done before and we’re having a lot of success with it. A lot of people hear it and love it but there are still those few people who hear it and go “Man, that’s not Drowning Pool, I hate it.”
CJ: I haven’t heard that one yet.
Stevie: Yeah I’ve heard it from a couple of people now. They don’t understand that we don’t want to do the exact same thing for every fricking song. It’s our band and (emulating Cartman from the “Freak Strike” episode of South Park) I’ll do what I want!
Ryan: It’s not even really an intentional thing either. You live and you grow and different things hit you different and you react to different emotions and live events and you express yourself differently. I don’t want to say it’s a maturing process, but it kind of is.
Stevie: Well you know it’s like when you’re fucking right, you’re banging this chick and if you just (taps hand against the chair repeatedly) the whole time it gets boring you know? It’s like the old bull and the young bull.
Ryan: I like old bulls and young bulls!
CJ: You know what they had the other night, they had some of those bull balls at the bar. I was thinking about trying it, what are they?
xFiruath: Rocky Mountain Oysters.
CJ: Yeah Rocky Mountain Oysters. They probably have those around here as well, have you tried them?
xFiruath: They do but I myself have not tried. Always been tempted but never went for it.
CJ: Ever since that Andrew Zimmerman show came on it kind of makes you want to try balls.
Stevie: You get a nice rib eye steak you know but I’ve never been tempted to try the balls.
xFiruath: You usually want to go ahead and stay north of that whole area.
Ryan: Yeah it’s a little far south.
xFiruath: So what made you guys want to do the Billy Idol “Rebel Yell” cover on the newest album?
Mike: It kind of came just from, man it’s hard they are going to laugh at me…
CJ: Are you talking about hard men again?
Mike: I can’t really give small and concise answers.
Stevie: It’s hard for him to explain why he can’t give small and concise answers in a small and concise answer.
Mike: The short story, even longer, Stevie and I were hanging out and we were between records. Ryan was in the band but he wasn’t with us at the time he had gone home to spend the weekend with the family. We were in to one of our favorite watering holes and we were listening to the in house music and Billy Idol came on and everybody around the bar just starts jamming and tapping their glasses and having a good time. It’s kind of a crazy song. We all grew up in the 80’s, were all the children of the 80’s and that was like nostalgic for us. “Rebel Yell” is a kick ass tune. The next time we were out we were at this happy hour with these business types who had just got off work and they were all still in their suit and tie and khakis and whatever. “Rebel Yell” came on, and it was a cover band playing it this time, and still, with a totally different crowd and different people and everyone was acting the same way. Hands up, drinking, having a good time. Just for shits and giggles when we were in the studio, we were between record companies and didn’t have anybody eyeballing us the whole time, and we just put it together in the studio. Ryan’s tone sits real nicely right there with Billy Idol. They complement each other because they both have that lower register sexy little tone.
CJ: It’s the sexy part.
Mike: We just gave it a try and put it together in the studio. We hadn’t even played it before.
Ryan: And I’m sorry, that’s all the time we have today.
CJ: And anyway we’re bringing sexy back.
Mike: Well we got to put 13 songs on the record this time around instead of 11, and we didn’t have anybody looking down over our shoulders. It’s not such a dark tune on the record. Now that we’ve played it awhile I think if we went back and recorded I think we’d actually record it a little bit better and different. We just did it to see if we could and pieced it together.
Ryan: I don’t agree, I think it was great.
xFiruath: So you guys had Nikki Sixx working with you on this album, how was that?
Ryan: Just for one song. We recorded two songs with him and only one of them made it on the record. It was cool. We’re all Crue fans from back in the day and we were sitting around and wanting to hear about old stories, but he kept us totally focused on the task at hand. It was fun though, we all bounced ideas off of each other and he was just another one of the guys at the end of the day. Hats off to DJ Ashba as well, both of those guys were really fun to work with.
xFiruath: So how was the experience playing at Ozzfest this year?
CJ: It was awesome, it was hot as hell, but we had a great reaction. There were so many heavier bands on that stage and we had a really good vibe.
Mike: An interesting little tidbit of trivia for the readers out there would be to see if they know who we were introduced as.
CJ: We were introduced as something else than Drowning Pool, go ahead and insert in the blank. They did not get the name right, but what are you going to do?
Stevie: Was he hammered or just stupid?
Ryan: He was drunk on stupidity that’s what it was.
CJ: He did apologize to me later about it though.
Ryan: That makes it all better man.
xFiruath: Explain to me the concept behind the song “Soldiers” and how is it connected to “Bodies?”
Ryan: “Soldiers” is a just a song. Next! Nah, it was a song we were writing after the first time we went over to Iraq and Kuwait, and we write about what we experience and what we know, and that was at the forefront of our minds when we came back. We came back with a lot of pride and respect for the job that the men and women are doing over there. The song is kind of a tip of the hat to them, saying thank you for doing what you do. It was meant to be originally a free download but from there it grew and radio stations picked it up and it kind of took on a life of its own.
xFiruath: Since you guys have been to Iraq and Kuwait and you seem to have pretty strong feelings about our military would you care to comment about our recent elections and how that will affect things?
Ryan: I couldn’t be happier.
Stevie: Obama was a sponsor of the bill we were working on, the Lane Evans bill which is to update the mental healthcare system for the troops, so we got to meet him.
Ryan: You know what was funny, when I did that blog on the Drowning Pool MySpace page, a couple of people gave some negative responses to it and asked if we support the military like we do how could we support somebody like Barack Obama, you have to support the real war hero here. But little do they know that the guy who was there in Congress fighting for their healthcare was Barack Obama.
Stevie: That’s just being ignorant on the topic, that’s all that is. We got to meet him and talk to him. He didn’t know we were coming but the minute we started discussing the bill we were working on he knew every little fact about every little part of it, this thousand page document and he was on top of the whole thing, so we were all really impressed. He was such a great guy and we were all pulling for him in the election.
Mike: It’s crazy how one sided everybody can be. Just because we were pro-Obama doesn’t mean you are anti-McCain. The dude’s bad ass but ultimately we met Obama and that’s where our feelings kind of stood. He knew everything about the Lane Evans bill and who Drowning Pool was and that we had gone over there to Iraq. For the same reason we are pro-soldier and pro-healthcare for soldiers and yet anti-war. There are people who can’t decipher between that, you know. They fall under that same category, God bless their ignorant hearts. But what are you going to do?
Ryan: That really just hit me how odd that is, that they think we can’t be pro-soldier and pro-Obama. They have no idea that he’s fighting for them on Capitol Hill to get them healthcare.
Mike: We had this same conversation when we first came back when we were writing “Soldiers,” it was kind of like “Bodies” was there adopted anthem and they breathed new life into after 9/11 and everything, and we wrote “Soldiers” so that it specifically be theirs. They took “Bodies” and made it theirs but “Soldiers” was our way of saying thanks, this is all about you. We were trying to figure out how do we walk that fine line before people call us a war mongering band, or us just being pro-soldier and taking care of our boys who are taking care of us. You’re here sipping your coffee and watching the news while they are over there doing three tours for fifteen months or God knows how long. So we were trying to walk that line and not be pro-war but still be pro-soldier and a lot of people still could not wrap their head around it. They are like “Well, if you are for the soldiers you are for the war.”
Ryan: There were a couple of major radio stations in the U.S. who had supported us before but haven’t touch us since we came out with “Soldiers.” I think they have the wrong idea what “Soldiers” is all about. We had reporters coming up to us and asking us about how we felt about the song “Bodies” being used in the form of killing and it was like “Get the fuck out of here.” You know if that soldier turns that song on and it gets him in the right frame of mind to go out and do his job, I mean the song is about mosh pits and the crowd, but if that song gets him in the right frame of mind so he can do his job then crank that fucker up to 11, come home safe, and we’ll do a shot next time we’re in town. That’s all that fucking matters.
Stevie: We also get a lot of questions about how the song “Bodies” was used in interrogation with detainees. I never really saw anything there, I mean there are kids who pay to see us all the time and they want to hear that song, I don’t think it’s so bad.
Mike: Here’s another fun little fact, the Barney theme song was also used in interrogation. Whichever one you want to use, Barney or “Bodies” I guess.
CJ: We don’t want to be part of the soundtrack for the 11 O’clock news you know.
Stevie: We never got into this to be political or any of that shit. We just wanted to help out the troops and all this other stuff came along with it. I just wanted to be in a rock band you know. We’re not U2 or Rage Against The Machine.
CJ: We’re not saving wild animals in Africa we’re just getting drunk and playing music.
Ryan: We don’t give a fuck about the polar bears or baby seals.
xFiruath: You guys have found a good deal of success so far, but are there any bands you’d still like to tour with or any milestones you haven’t reach yet that you want to?
CJ: Guns and Roses and Metallica.
Ryan: I’d like to tour with Guns and Roses.
Stevie: I just had this great idea, let’s open up a club in Dallas and call it “Baby Seal.”
Mike: The baby seal club, nice.
Ryan: With festivals and stuff we’ve shared the stage with pretty much everybody out there but we’d still like to do a full on Metallica tour or something.
Stevie: I wish Faith No More would get back together I’d want to tour with them.
Mike: We should just go up to Canada or somewhere with all that nice greenery and just plow all that shit out and erect a nice fricking building and for no reason just put a big smoke stack that doesn’t actually do anything.
xFiruath: (the tour manager signals that the band needs to leave to start their meet and greet session with the VIP package fans) We’re almost out of time here so just another question or two. What about the metal scene today do you guys like the least?
Stevie: I hate Hot Topic, that place gets under my skin. I fucking hate that place. It’s like trendy little emo kinds.
Mike: The one thing that’s not bad, it’s just a sign of the times, is that the live scene isn’t what it used to be. Twenty years ago a band could sell forty or fifty thousand records and tour for a year and play clubs and do well. But now things have changed, the generation gap is different. Everything is multimedia, you don’t have to leave your house, you can just type it in and there it is. If you want to see a band perform you don’t have to leave your living room. You just pull them up on Youtube. For the same reason that the outreach is now awesome from your front door, it’s also bad for trying to tour and make it out there. You see the numbers getting smaller and smaller. It’s not bad, it’s just the scene is changing.
Ryan: I’m not going to say that I dislike this, but what’s odd is that for me is that, growing up in the era I grew up in, if you saw somebody walking down the street with a concert shirt on that meant they went to the freaking concert. But now you walk into like Cole’s or Target or Wal-Mart and they’ve got all these shirts for metal bands from back in the day. It’s weird to just walk into a random store and see a shirt for Zeppelin or AC/DC.
Stevie: I can’t get over the fact that most people do their CD shopping in the same store they buy their washer and dryer.
Ryan: Those kids who buy those shirts in the stores probably don’t have a fucking clue who AC/DC is. Do you know what “Back in Black” is and they’d be like “Huh?” I don’t dislike it, it’s just weird, it’s that whole generational thing.
Mike: The concert goer or club show goer is getting smaller now.
xFiruath: All right we are out of time so do you guys have any parting words?
Mike: Can you make us sound cool?
xFiruath: I will try my best.
CJ: Come to the show!
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