A full circle for Drowning Pool
Quitting has never been a part of Drowning Pool’s repertoire. The tragic death of vocalist Dave Williams from a rare heart condition while on the Ozzfest tour back in 2002 saw Drowning Pool walk one of the most devastating roads they would ever face in their lives. Yet, the decision to keep the band going has since been a vital part of the band’s whole being. As a result, the remaining members of the Texan quartet have kept Williams’ legacy at the forefront of the minds of fans and the band itself. Drowning Pool’s third album, Full Circle, has surfaced under the band’s new label Eleven Seven Music which seems to signify closure to some extent or even new beginnings for the band, as well as for new and third vocalist Ryan McCombs.
“Yeah, you know, we’ve been on quite the rollercoaster ride,” guitarist C.J Pierce admits. “Coming together with Ryan was actually great. He was kinda our first choice in what we were looking for in a singer for the next record. [ Jason Jones – Drowning Pool’s second vocalist ] just wasn’t right for us. Ryan came into Dallas and we wrote a few songs and we did a couple of shows. So it was really like startin’ over. We were on the tour bus and we had these songs to pick out. I’m very happy with this record – the whole writing process.”
While Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce have dealt through the process of finding the right fit in a vocalist, McCombs walked from his previous band Soil to later begin the daunting task of filling Drowning Pool’s vox duties. McCombs has been the centre of scathing attacks from his ex-Soil band members since his departure so it’s no surprise that McCombs’ efforts on Full Circle confirm a sudden awakening, not only from a vocalist’s perspective but of a creative standpoint. McCombs has retained his abrasive Southern edge yet there is a depth and passion which resonates through this album. It’s an integral element to Drowning Pool’s latest evolution in sound. “That’s one thing about being a musician. With every year of your life you grow as a human being and, as a musician, you definitely – hopefully – grow. I think you become a better songwriter. We always want to bring something new and I think we have the knowledge now. We’ve been travelling for ten years now and I must say we have a core sound for Drowning Pool. I wanted to get away from the sound of the previous band.
”[Ryan] definitely has his style and personality. He has a forceful voice but he does have a great singing voice. I think this is the first time he’s opened up compared to previous work which is heavy and now we’re lookin’ forward to the next record. He definitely has a hardcore rock voice – it’s very unique.”
Critics have suggested that Full Circle is the epitome of a band who has literally come full circle. Others may suggest that Full Circle is rather a rebirth in sound and objective. Pierce confirms otherwise: “I think it’s a circle of happiness. You know, we had a lot of fun with Dave and then there’s obviously that period you go through and then going through [the period of Jason Jones]. Now with Ryan, we’re actually a band again; we’re all good friends and we all get along and I think that Full Circle is a joy and playing in a band again.”
Another aspect to the band’s evolution is the chance to campaign for American war veterans. Campaigning for the Lane Evan Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act in the U.S has added another dimension to Drowning Pool’s objectives where the band has been campaigning for improved health care for U.S war veterans. The band also embarked on their This is for the Soldiers Tour late last year to bring awareness to veteran health issues. Drowning Pool’s song ‘Bodies’ came to the consciousness of Australian documentary maker George Gittoes for his movie Soundtrack to War; an anthem for soldiers who use music as a way of coping with combat. “It’s the least we can do. I mean, they’re out there fighting for peace and that’s what we all want and it’s the least we can do for these guys who are dedicating their lives to it. We’re trying to get better care they need, mental healthcare when they get back.
“We’ve got a lot of support and you know what? It’s 50-50 out there, like even with our fans. We’re not a political band and I’m not for one side or the other but I want to have a peaceful planet at the end of the day. Fans have been supportive of it, people in government have been supportive but some have shied away. I guess it’s hard for some to associate our band with politics. Some think about debauchery, drinkin’ and drugs but we’re not about that.”
While touring commitments and campaigning have eluded the band from Australia in more recent years, there is a strong chance that Drowning Pool are closer to returning our shores. It’d thus be the band’s only second appearance since their addition to the Big Day Out festival of 2002. “Big Day Out? I loved that tour! I was almost ready to move to Australia. I was that close to saying – “I don’t wanna go back’. Australia is an amazing, amazing country and the people there are the nicest people. We’ve been pushin’ for it since day one because we had such a great time and we made a lot of friends while we were there. So I’m definitely lookin’ forward to goin’ back.
“We’re solid, we’re having fun working with Ryan and we’re lookin’ forward to many more records. We have so many songs with Ryan than we’ve ever had before so we’re gonna have a lot more music out there in the future.”
Full Circle is out now through Eleven Seven Music / Riot!