Written by Michiana Entertainer
New Album, New Frontman, New Shows: Drowning Pool Ready For Big Year
By Ralph Heibutzki
Every band weathers some frustration to create memorable art, although Drowning Pool's members might be excused for thinking they've taken more than their quota of lumps. Lately, though, things, seem to be looking up for bassist Steve Benton, drummer Mike Luce, and guitarist C.J Pierce.
After several months of auditions, the Texas-based band has landed its fourth singer, and finished its long-awaited fifth album for an October release through Eleven Seven Music. This month, Drowning Pool also returns to the concert trail, where there'll be no mistake about its current intentions, Pierce vows.
"What are they gonna hear? They're gonna hear a loud-ass rock show, man!" said Pierce, laughing as if any other option is unthinkable. "Every city you go to, you kind of catch up with old friends – I love being at the shows, hanging out, and playing. I love loud rock. I really do."
Such words should reassure fans who didn't warm to the slicker, post-grunge pastures that Drowning Pool explored on albums like Desensitized (2004), or Full Circle (2007). However, in Pierce's eyes, the journey to a darker, heavier sound coincided with similar desires that fans voiced during Drowning Pool's last couple of tours.
"Our material, more than ever, is heavy," said Pierce. "I think we're on the same page with our fans, as well. One thing I heard from them is – they love the heavier sound of Drowning Pool. They want more metal, and it just so happens – at the time of writing this record – that we were venting our frustrations."
Topping those frustrations was the need to recruit yet another vocalist, after parting with Ryan McCombs in November 2011. Having held the role since 2006, McCombs proved a durable replacement for James Jones (2003-2005) and Dave Williams (1996-2002), who died following an undiagnosed heart ailment. However, as Pierce explains, the band wanted to dig deeper in getting back on track.
"Mike, Steve and myself have been writing together 15 years – we've been Drowning Pool since we started. We definitely took the time to find the right guy, to get exactly what we wanted. There's no room for error," he said.
For now, the new singer's name remains under wraps, but once those details are released, Pierce has no doubt the wait will be worthwhile. "A great compliment I've heard of the new singer – from friends and family who have heard this stuff – is that it sounds like the best fit for our melodies. I've heard it from different people, at different times – so, yeah, we wanted somebody that fits with our sound," he said.
Asked what the finalist did to clinch the position, Pierce responds: "We had a lot to choose from. There's a lot of great singers out there. He learned every song on every record, which I didn't think anybody would do. Right out of the gate, that's what we wanted – somebody who could sing all the old material pretty well, but, most importantly, somebody that has their own voice."
And, while the fifth album promises a return to the thunder of yore, the band also found room to stretch out, according to Pierce – who grew up on a diet of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. "It's all heavy rock – but, with each record, I'm always trying to get influenced by different people, or take different angles. I don't want to be the band to find that one sound, and has everything [sound] the same."
Pierce expects that kind of attitude to pay off where it matters most, on the upcoming tour. "With rock music, a lot of bands put out records every two to three years, and people stick with that. In the pop scene, a song goes out within a month," said Pierce. "It's forgettable, and they kind of follow this formula. It's the same rehashed stuff. I love my fair share of pop music, but with rock music, it's always been [about] an attitude. It seems like it's more 'the people's, people's, people's music.'"
6 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, Club Fever, 222 S. Michigan St., South Bend, IN (with special guest James Durbin; local support: Driven, AkaJed, 15 Stories, Deadlite Redemption, Ground Effect). 21 and over show. Tickets available at Club Fever, or Backstage Grill: $23 in advance, $25 at the door. To buy online, visit www.ticketrumba.com and www.ticketmaster.com. (574) 234-5200, or http://www.clubfever.biz/.