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CJ Pierce Drowning Pool - Interview
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Drowning Pool

Drowning Pool return in 2016 with a brand new record called "Hellelujah" which captures the vibe and sound of this collection of songs. With Jason Moreno settling in as their singer since 2012, the band are set to kick things up a notch so we talked to guitarist C.J. Pierce about how the album came together, working with Jason and talks of getting back to Australia for a tour.



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Andrew: How's your year been so far?

C.J.: This has been the busiest year of my life beyond belief, but at the same time, busy is good and I'm very appreciative. And yeah man, the new record's out!

Andrew: Yeah good to see the new album out, what kind of feedback have you been getting from the critics and some of the fans so far?

C.J.: Shockingly and surprisingly, it's all been 100 percent awesome! We've put out a handful of records in our career, we've had some singer switches and label switches and manager switches and all that stuff and it never fails. It seems like, especially with the internet these days, with every record we put out there's always been some positive feedback and negative feedback but this time around it's kind of weirding me out a little bit. Everybody has been 100 percent positive.

Andrew: Why do you think it's been all positive this time around?

C.J.: Straight up, with us writing and recording this record, we did whatever the hell we wanted to do, we said whatever the hell we wanted to say. It's never been a more true and honest record from this band. With all the music business, labels and management set aside man, we pushed everybody off and just did whatever the hell we wanted to do and I think when you make music like that or an honest record like that, I think it comes through the music and I think the fans pick up on that. I'm hoping that's what it is because that's exactly what we did, I can't really figure it out!

Andrew: Absolutely I agree that honesty is the best way to go about it. The new album's title "Hellelujah", where did it come from?

C.J.: Hellelujah! A celebration of metal! It's a celebration of another day in this life we called hell and we still made it through it. I gotta give our drummer Mike Luce some credit there man, our drummer gets up in the morning and drinks a ton of coffee and gets his motivation on and we were almost done recording the record and he just got up and one day he was like, 'Hellelujah to you! Good morning, records almost done!' He was all excited and that's kinda where it stemmed from.

Andrew: So it captures the feeling that you guys have about the songs then I suppose.

C.J.: It totally represents the record man! Another day of life in hell and we made it through it and we got another record on it's way, hellelujah! Another metal record out there, we keep the metal going!

Andrew: One of my favorite songs from the album so far is the song "Drop". Very catchy, very hooky, reminds me of some of the earlier stuff that you had done in the past. Do you have any favorites at the moment?

C.J.: Man it's tough, I love all the songs for different reasons. We spent the last 3 years on and off working on these songs. I have to say "By The Blood", the one that we put out I feel partial to just because I think it sounds like Drowning Pool, it's the closest thing we have to "Let The Bodies Hit The Floor" since that song. And it didn't come up intentionally, it's just that we were rocking out and it came out naturally, it's a fun song to play. "Hell To Pay" is another one of my favorites off the record as well. I think something else that kinda affected the writing process when we finished up "Hellelujah", we put out the 13th anniversary of the "Sinner" record, we got the tour in the States and played the record in it's entirety and I think because of that and getting back in that mindframe I was in 13 years ago when we wrote the "Sinner" record, I think a lot of that comes through on this record as well. So that's something that we heard a lot from fans that sound like, Drowning Pool sounds like the best thing since "Sinner" and I appreciate that because I feel the same way, so we're all on the same page!

Andrew: Yeah I was going to ask you about the fact that you played "Sinner in it's entirety and how it affected this album. From a live perspective, do you envision how these songs will play out live?

C.J.: We've already played a couple of shows! One thing that we did this time around recording the "Hellelujah" record that was different than every other record, most bands lock themselves in the studio for like 3 months then record, so it just happened to fall out this way but we played shows every single weekend. We recorded Monday to Thursday and played shows every Friday and Saturday so during the writing and recording process of the "Hellelujah" record, we would go out and play songs live. We had a show in El Paso with Slayer and played a bunch of new songs, Slayer fans started slamming around so we knew we were on the right path. We got the Slayer fans on fire about our new songs so they've been field tested before we recorded it and we never had the opportunity to do that. I think most bands don't get the chance to play the songs live while they're working on them and recording them to see how the fans react to them. I think that definitely helped out a lot during the process, just to see what they react to.

Andrew: I guess the other thing with that as well is that it broke up the monotony of being in the studio for long periods of time.

C.J.: Yeah if you lock anybody, if you think about solitary confinement even if you're doing what you love and you're playing music and recording music, you're in solitary confinement for 3 months man and you start losing your mind. I think sometimes if you start getting too close to the project and you can't step outside to take a break from it and come back with a fresh ear and I think that was another advantage for us on this record, stepping away every weekend and coming back and be like 'Oh yeah that's a new approach to this'. I think that was an advantage for us and again I hope that comes through in the music and I hope the fans are into it.

Andrew: Now with Jason Moreno, this is his second album with you guys so I guess you've probably gotten past all the things that you needed to with a new singer so how was he on this one?

C.J.: Oh man Jason is amazing, I gotta give him props. We've known Jason for a long time, he came up in the music scene and I've known Jason for 15 years and working with him has been nothing but awesome! He's got nothing but respect to heavy metal and rock n' roll and he's got respect to the Drowning Pool fans and to the past records and singers that we had. So he learned every song from every single record we made, we can play any song with him before he even joined the band which I think is pretty awesome. He's a singer/songwriter as well and he's got his own thing, his own cool set of pipes. I've never worked with anybody more dedicated and serious about music than Jason Moreno so he's absolutely the right guy for this band and looking forward to many more records with him!

Andrew: I guess it's always difficult to move on from previous singers, especially with someone like Dave Williams who was such a star to a lot of fans out there. Was there any pressure that he felt when he first started working with you guys?

C.J.: Yeah I know now, not as much as when he first joined the band. He had a lot of pressure on him, I think he was under more pressure than I realized at the time. When he first joined the band, in the first 3 months we wrote this record (Resilience), recorded it and went out and played shows and we never really had any stage time with him yet. He joined the band, wrote a bunch of songs, recorded them 6 months before we started touring again and that's when you really get to know each other. Out on the road, every day is a adventure man, and every town has a crazy person and a crazy story so once we got all that under our belt when we finally really connected as a band, I think a lot of that again comes through on "Hellelujah". I'm very proud of the "Resilience" record, I think it was us finding ourselves again with Jason but more so definitely on the "Hellelujah" record.

Andrew: Absolutely. So what have you got planned as far as touring for the rest of the year?

C.J.: We're going all over the States, we're going overseas for a little bit. I would love to get back to Australia man, 2002 was the last time we were over there which is way too long.

Andrew: Wow it's been a while!

C.J.: Something goes on, every time we try to book shows there, these promoters keep flaking on us man. It's been real tough to get down there, I've given up a lot like, 'Hey I don't care how much it costs, I just want to play in Australia'. And it still falls through so we're trying to make it happen this year. Trying to make some new friends so call us up, if somebody knows somebody, get us over there! We'll be on the first flight out of here man!

Andrew: [laughs] Well I know it's been a long time but what do you remember from the last time you were over here?

C.J.: We did the Big Day Out tour in 2002 with us, System Of A Down, Amen was on that tour. There was a lot of great bands on that tour, it was awesome and such a great mix of bands. You guys have a beautiful country, the best beaches in the world, awesome! I'm on the beach dressed all in black with my boots on [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] I guess it's one of those things we take for granted but it's always appreciated when you guys come over and tell us that kind of thing.

C.J.: It's a beautiful country, everybody is so cool and chilled. Definitely some of the best rock shows I've ever had in my life. I don't know how PG your show is but man, people smoke the hell out of some weed there too so there was good times!

Andrew: [laughs] Absolutely! Well hopefully we can see you guys on tour and would love to see you play some of the new songs. Congratulations on the new album and thanks for your time today!

C.J.: Man thanks so much for having me, hope we get to hang out and if we do get to make it there, let's go out and have a drink and a shot!

UPDATE: 2016 tour announcement

Sunday 24th July - Auckland Kings Arms
Tuesday 26th July - Adelaide The Gov
Thursday 28th July - Brisbane Max Watt's
Friday 29th July - Sydney Manning Bar
Saturday 30th July - Melbourne Max Watt's
Sunday 31st July - Perth Capitol

Tickets and tour details can be found at Metropolis Touring.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on February 8th 2016