Shelly Harris of KNAC.COM recently conducted an interview with DROWNING POOL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow.
KNAC.COM: Which leads me to ask: Do you consider yourselves to be a “political” band?
Ryan McCombs (vocals): Nope!
Stevie Benton (bass): Hell, no! (laughs)
KNAC.COM: Well, it's interesting, because it was noted in the media at the time that that [performing for the troops in Iraq] was a patriotic thing to do — which it is — but are you saying that you don't really want to get into the political aspect of it? Because sometimes people think when you support the troops, you also support the war over there, but of course it doesn't necessarily mean that at all. And, either way you fall on it, it can be considered a form of patriotism, really. And there's also the fact that you met up with Obama …
Ryan McCombs: Uh-humm. Yeah, we met Obama, and we tried to meet Hillary too, but she wouldn't meet with us. She'd meet with the people that had suits and ties on that were with us, but, as soon as she saw the tattooed people comin' at her, she took off. All of a sudden she had a meeting to go to.
Stevie Benton: Seriously, we're not a political band at all. We had our one cause to help out the troops, and to work on that for a long time, but that was our only issue. I'll publicly say that we're all for Obama in the election, of course. But, other than that, we don't get onstage and preach politics or get all wrapped up in it. I just think that, once you start down that path, it weighs the fans down. I want to go to a rock show to have fun, and to forget about all that bullshit! I don't want to be preached to onstage, you know? Just a good time kind of thing is more our aspect.
KNAC.COM: Well, yes, I think DROWNING POOL is particularly known to be an intense party, good-time live act, where the audience can just let loose, but, at the same time, the lyrics are very meaningful on many of the songs.
Ryan McCombs: Well, I guess the point is — even though the lyrics are serious — we're drunk, usually! [chorus of laughs] So, we're having a good time, and we want everybody out there to have a good time, so that we can keep doing this. … But, no, the songs are serious. Just on a personal note, when it comes to writing lyrics — and I think we're all like this in a way — you write what you're going through personally. But you try to do it in a big enough way that everybody can kind of relate it to their own situations in their own lives. We all kind of go through some of our things. But a lot of times you'll be sitting there with a piece of music and your mess of lyrics, and you'll be writing about your own personal experiences – and, usually, some of the strongest emotions you go through are some of the negative things. Those tend to be the kinds of things that come to the forefront. I've never been in a partying situation and thought, "Oh, I gotta write a song about this," because you're partying and you're drunk, and you're not gonna remember it the next day. [laughs] So, when you're just sitting there writing, a lot of times it's just the things that kick you in the nether regions.
KNAC.COM: Well, let's talk about your current album, "Full Circle", which came out last year. [The title of the current tour, "Know Your Enemy" comes from the song "Enemy" from the record, the first with Ryan McCombs as lead singer, and another "featured" song from the album is "Soldiers" — based on the band's aforementioned treks to Iraq.] I've read that you initially recorded the album all on your own, without the involvement of any label — is that accurate?
Ryan McCombs: It is, yeah. We basically had finally broken ties with Wind-Up, and we were actively shopping. But, we wanted to get it done, so we went in with no backing whatsoever, and took care of it and got it done … And picked up our new deal and new management, pretty much at the 14th hour of the process. (laughs) The album was done, basically, when we picked up our team.
Stevie Benton: I think, when we signed the deal, finally, with Eleven Seven [Records] and 10th Street [Management], the only songs we hadn't finished yet was "37 Stitches" and then we flew into L.A. and did "Reason I'm Alive" with Nikki Sixx. And every other song on the record — we had already done.
KNAC.COM: Were you going to release it on your own, if you had to?
Ryan McCombs: That was an option we toyed with for a little bit.
KNAC.COM: Did you feel more artistic freedom with this record on account of that?
C.J. Pierce (guitar): We kind of had artistic freedom on all of them, actually. Fortunately for us, there was never anybody breathing down our throats too much, but you still kind of had that presence there. But with this one, yeah, there was none of that.
Stevie Benton: Yeah, it wasn't until we were getting ready to start working on our third record on Wind-Up that they hired an A&R person. So, all of a sudden, we got this guy calling us on the phone, trying to put his input on the songs, trying to talk about how Wind-Up wanted us to sound more like what's hip on the radio. And we were like: "No fucking way!"
Ryan McCombs: "We want you to be DROWNING POOL, but we don't want you to sound like DROWNING POOL." I mean, that's why we fought to get off — one of many reasons. But for me, it was definitely a neat experience, as far as the freedom involved in the process. Because, the last album I did with the band I was with before [SOIL's "Redefine"], that was a pulling-tooth experience because, when we got in the studio, the label had fallen in love with one of the songs we demoed ["Pride"] and we ended up recording that song twelve different times, because they were so in love with that demo version, that we could never capture the fire. There was just something that that track had that we could never recapture again, and we ended up spending an extra three weeks in the studio that we didn't need to. We could have just released the "Best of Pride" CD at that point!
Read the entire interview at KNAC.COM.