The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Todd Jolicouer interviews

DROWNING POOL lead singer Ryan McCombs

 

 

Courtesy of www.drowningpool.com

 

Accounting… taxes… suit and tie… not exactly living the rock star life… or am I?


My editor lights up my work email and asks if I would be interested in interviewing a member of Drowning Pool. Inside I am busting out a huge “HELL YEAH” while keeping my cool and asking which member it is I get to interview (like it matters). I have followed this band from the time ‘Sinner’ was released. I got to see them blossom on two consecutive Ozzfest tours in 2001 and 2002. My son, Fred, still gives me hell because he missed part of their performance in 2002 so I could meet Rob Zombie, but that is a story for a different time. I finally get a response from Shane. I get to chat with the newest kid on the block, lead singer Ryan McCombs. This just got interesting.


Like I said, I have followed the band from their debut to their self-titled release that dropped her in the U.S. on April 27, 2010. I got to see Dave Williams tear it up at Ozzfest two years in a row. The Detroit, MI Ozzfest stop on August 7, 2002 would be Dave’s last in Michigan, as he would pass away a week later. I liked the next album, but something about the vocals and music wasn’t right. I mean, the track on the Daredevil soundtrack wasn’t Dave either, but it was Rob Zombie. Then a third album drops, but the voice is familiar. It is the former voice of Soil, Ryan McCombs. The new album has a tinge of the debut but taken a step further. Then the band released a live album, which featured Ryan on songs recorded by Dave Williams and Jason Jones.


I get the call and it is explained to me that Ryan has had a death in the family and will not be able to field the call and that I will instead speak with guitarist C.J. Pierce. No problem, looking forward to talking to ANY member of the band. The phone rings again and I am told that Ryan will take the call. SWEET!


I ready myself… I know its going to be one helluva ride!!!

 

Hey Ryan, first off, let me say sorry for your loss and especially thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for the Rockpit.


Thanks. It is my pleasure


Ryan, when you joined the band, who approached who?


Well, my wife pushed me to insanity, well, my ex-wife. I was out of the business for a little while, but it goes back a little. When Davey (Williams) passed the guys regrouped. There was a lot of what we now call hypothetical conversations. You know, if we were to get together and maybe write a little or maybe if we played a couple shows to check out the feel. Things like that. I mean we were all close to best friends. We met in 2001 on tour in Holland. When he passed, there was certainly an unspoken desire to get together, but I was under contract. Not to mention both bands were friends and you don't poach a bands lead singer. We all had to do the right thing and sit on our hands. They had to do the tune for the Daredevil soundtrack and we talked about it and recording in the UK, but Rob Zombie stepped in and it came off great. With Jason, you could tell things weren't going well a week in. I got messages from the guys saying "Dude, you should be here." Jason had some impossible shoes to fill. I didn't envy him at all. He really needed to fit a mold and get along. In that time I took 9 months off for a much needed break. Once I was getting the itch to go back out, everything lined up and the discussion was whether or not I could learn 18 songs.


As a veteran of Desert Storm, I want to thank you for your involvement with the USO, the Armed Forces, and the Wounded Warrior Project.


No, thank you for what you did.

 

Courtesy of www.drowningpool.com, photo by Amanda Ayres

 


The work you have done, on top of the single ("Soldiers" from 'Full Circle'), is appreciated not only by the soldiers today, but those from the past. How exactly did you guys get involved?


It has been a crazy ride. We got the opportunity during my first tour with the band when another band backed out. When the USO asked, we were like, "Dude, we are there." We went over and totally shocked the USO. They slotted time for us to meet and sign stuff for the soldiers. They told us we would get 2-1/2 hours and we told them no way. We wanted to make sure everyone who wanted a hand shake, picture, or signature got it. We had some sessions that went 6-1/2 hours. It was such a humbling experience. The pride and respect we have for these soldiers is tremendous. That is where the song came from. We wanted to help be their voice. Being over there REALLY touched us. That led to our work with the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org). This helps soldiers and families who have had their whole life changed because of a soldier's choice to defend their country and rights.

 

Courtesy of www.drowningpool.com, photo by Amanda Ayres

 


How is the new album, ('Drowning Pool') being received live?


The first single, "Feel Like I Do" is awesome. This band feels like it has to keep fighting and our music shows that. After Davey, they had to start over and a lot of people wrote the band off. It has been an uphill battle since the 2nd album and a new singer. Then we released "37 Stitches" off of 'Full circle" and it hit #3 in the media. We were still playing a ton of older stuff, but slowly we started swinging into new songs and they came to life. Some of the tunes were never supposed to be in the tour cycle, but the demand was there. It really gave us a boost. It was great to get this success and have that boost of confidence out of the gate.


In between all of your scheduled tour dates, you guys are scheduled to be on Ozzfest again this year. How do you feel about that, seeing as Drowning Pool and Ozzfest have such a history?


We were also on it when they did only one date in Texas (in addition to both the aforementioned 2001 and 2002 tours). It is definitely cooler the first year you do the festival because everything is so brand new and all new experiences, but now it is so much more fun. The whole organization really treats us great. There is a lot of history and connections with the band and me personally to Ozzfest. We have nothing but love and respect for Ozzy and Sharon. They have been so good to us.


I remember seeing Soil on Ozzfest and if memory serves, didn't Zakk Wylde play with you guys for the recorded live album?


That was crazy. It was a nightmare. As a super geek fan of Zakk's, it was super cool. We were bonding over drinks one night and he said he wanted to come out and play with us the next day. We knew they were recording and that was my birthday, so it was really special. He asked what time we were going on and I told him 9:30 a.m. I figured that would be the end of that discussion. The next morning a golf cart shows up at 9:00 a.m. and off hops Zakk with a pillowcase of beer. His guitar had the wrong tuning. He didn't bother to sound check it, he just got ready and when the time came, jumped out on stage with us. I didn't know what was going on because he was so loud and out of tune. No one could tell what was going on or what song we were playing. It was a killer song and an unforgettable experience.


Well Ryan, now for the last two serious questions. What is one song you wish you had a hand in writing or recording?


Wow. Um, that's a tough one. You know I can't think of one song.


Well, how about an album? One that might have influenced you or affected you in some way.


It would have to be 'Facelift' by Alice In Chains. It was the first band that was mine, ya know. I am a huge fan of the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, and so on. Those bands were my brothers though. He kinda listened to them first, so I got them hand me down style, where Alice In Chains was mine. I brought that to him. I fell in love with that album and still love and listen to it today. I don't skip a single track. If I had to pick one track off that album, it would be the b-side "Sunshine." I love that song. Kills.


On to the next one. Ryan, what is the meaning of life?


Family. No doubt, it is family. It's being happy at home. Being on the road is cool, but being home is great. Ya know, it is awesome when you actually know the time of day and it isn't all mixed up because of touring. Having a home and family is priceless. And a great woman.


I really hope I get a chance to see you guys on July 12th in Lansing, Michigan.


That would be great. Let the record company guys know to put you on the list and we will see you out there. We are truly blessed that fans like you want to come out and see us. We are four jackasses who do what they love. We couldn't do it without you and the other Drowning Pool fans.


Before I let you go, where can your fans get up to the minute information on you and the band?


They can go to our website, http://www.drowningpool.com/ or Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/drowningpool) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/drowningpool).


Ryan thanks again from The Rockpit for your time and we will see you in Lansing on July 12.


Absolutely, thank you for the time and take care.

 

Courtesy of www.drowningpool.com

 

This was one cool phone call with a vocalist who seems to really love and care about what he does.
Back to the rock star lifestyle… I may not be on a tour bus, but I have the meaning of life according to Ryan AND I get to talk to and hang with rockers. Oh yeah, and I am on the list for the Lansing show on July 12th. So look for a live review and some great photos.


Maybe I am living the rock star life. Perhaps I am just supplementing it with a day job.

 

Todd Jolicouer

July 2010

 

Thanks to Paul at SONY for setting up our talk with Ryan