Intervju med CJ Pierce i Drowning Pool.
Drowning Pool är tillbaka med ännu en ny sångare. Enligt CJ så är Jasen Moreno den sångaren som skulle tagit över efter Dave Williams bortgång 2002.
Nu är femte albumet ute och titeln syftar på hur bandet, trots flertalet motgångar, fortfarande finns kvar och känner sig starkare än någonsin.
För en tid sedan ringde jag upp gitarristen CJ för att snacka lite om nya albumet och hur det fungerar med nye sångaren.
There were no Scandinavian dates this time around?
CJ: I know and I´m kinda upset about that. It was pretty much just the UK, France, Germany and Austria, so we have to come back. It´s been a long time, man! Way too long.
The title “Resilience”, is that something that reflects the band and the fact that you´re still out there touring and putting out albums?
CJ: It´s exactly what it´s about, man. We were working on the title and we had a lot of ideas on the table as always, but just between us and the management, we were talking about what this band has been through. Obviously the death of our first singer and then singer switches and on a personal side of things we´ve all had a lot of things going on personally that would´ve destroyed most bands. At the end of the day, Mike, Stevie and myself love writing music, love recording, love performing and now with Jasen too being equally passionate, at the end of the day that´s all I ever wanted to do. That´s what we´re doing and we´re still here doing it and for some good graces we´re still on it.
When Jasen joined you, were songs already written or did you start fresh with him?
CJ: With each record, ever since the inception of this band in ´96, it was just me, Mike and Stevie in a room writing songs and it´s been the same thing with all of our singers. We kinda start the first half of the writing process with a lot of raw ideas musically and lyrically and then we bring the singer in and have his interpretation as well. At the end of the day, it´s all four of us in a room putting in our two cents and that´s just what makes a Drowning Pool song a Drowning Pool song. Everything we sent to Jasen, he just made it that much better. It´s a collection of all of us and we kinda help each other and finishes each other´s sentences. You just wanna write a good solid song and get to the point where you express it the best way you can musically.
What was it that made you feel Jasen was the guy?
CJ: We´ve known him forever. He came up on the Dallas music scene the same time we did. Back in the day he was in a band called Plastic Tongue and we did a lot of shows together. After we got signed, that band morphed into another band called Suicide Hook and we had them out on the road with us. Jasen was no stranger to us and we´ve known him for a long time and we know what kind of style of singing he has. After we parted ways with Ryan McCombs, there was definitely another thought of frustration we went through and I planned on taking the good of 2012 off to find that right guy. We had a lot of great auditions from a lot of great rock singers, some well known and some not so known, but Jasen wanted it. He came into the room and out of respect to the Drowning pool fans and the previous singers, he took the time to learn every song on every record. With the other singers, except for Dave, they just kinda learned the singles and then we played the new stuff. They didn´t really learn the whole catalog. We feel more like a band now and we can do anything, we can do any one of our songs at any show. On top of that, Jasen has his own unique sound and powerful voice that totally fits with our music. He has a wide vocal range, which to me kinda reflects Dave Williams on our first record. We felt we could play any kind of music, because Dave really had a wide range as well. We feel like we´re back on track, man! Jasen´s got a great personality and he´s a dedicated guy and passionate about rock music like Mike, Stevie and myself are.
Do you feel that Jasen should´ve been the guy after Dave?
CJ: I feel like that now that we have this record done. It´s just the right place in the right time for everything. I think he would even say it. He had to do his own career and see some stuff. I look back now and I used to be pretty jaded and frustrated about all the shit we´ve been going through and not just what people know, there´s a lot of stuff that goes on on the inside too and that we had to overcome, but we had to go through that to get to this point. I couldn´t be happier or more proud of any work we´ve done. I really like this record and I hope all our fans get into it and so far, everybody´s really accepted Jasen. I feel like we´ve kinda taken up were we left off with Dave Williams.
During all these years after Dave´s passing, was Jasen ever considered?
CJ: He wasn´t because the band he was playing in, my little brother plays in it and I didn´t wanna go steal somebody else´s singer. That was part of the reason why we didn´t jump on Jasen. They had a great band in Suicide Hook, so it was more of who was available. I´m really proud of the records we did with Jason Jones and Ryan McCombs. They had powerful voices and we had a lot of really good shows and wrote a lot of good songs. It was just that personality wise… I mean, the sound of the voice is like one tenth of the equation. With Jasen, again, it was the right place in the right time. We had no idea he was gonna audition for us. We had a lot of them come through and his just kinda slid across the desk and it was like “Wait, that´s Jasen!”. Like I said, he nailed it and worked very hard and he´s a totally dedicated guy and has nothing but respect for our fans. Definitely the right choice. This last year, I haven´t had this much fun in the last ten years.
Being in a band, even if it is your job, when I get a new co-worker I don´t spend time on a bus day after day and then up on stage, like you do. There has to be so much more with getting a new guy than him just being a great musician?
CJ: Yeah, you gotta be friends with the family first and you gotta have a mutual respect. Again, talking about the last two singers, they had a great voice but we just never had that connection personally and things really go south fast when that happens. We tried to make things work, but if it doesn´t work you can´t force it. We already had that connection with Jasen since we´ve known him for years, which to me probably is the most important stuff. We all have mutual respect for each other and we all love our music and we all try to better ourselves. We come together ads a collective and it just shows with Jasen. We´ve written more songs this last year, than I think we´ve ever written in our entire career, just because we clicked with Jasen. We just keep writing songs together because it´s just working.
Going back a bit. I understand you started out in New Orleans?
CJ: Yeah, Mike and myself we started rocking out together after high school in New Orleans. Mike was friends with Stevie because he moved to Dallas with his mother and that´s where he met Stevie and then he moved back to New Orleans. That´s how we had the Dallas – New Orleans connection. Stevie was trying to get a band going as well. He was playing with a band and their drummer flaked out so he called up Mike to fill in. Mike flew up to Dallas and rocked out with him. Then he came back to me and by that time in the early 90´s, Pantera was blowing up and the Dallas music scene was really happening. Mike said “If we really wanna make it, we gotta go to Dallas!”. Him and I packed up in ´96 and moved to Dallas, got together with Stevie and we eventually got Dave Williams. We toured for four years before we eventually got signed and that´s how we got started. It all blew up in 2001, but we started in ´96 as Drowning Pool. It´s been a while, man. (laughs)
Is Dallas still a good town for music?
CJ: It´s cool now. It´s coming back around. The whole scene there, they call it Deep Ellum, which is the strip with all the clubs. Back in the 90´s every club was packed and then a different scene kinda moved in, like a dance club thing. Then there was shooting and fighting and nobody really wanted to be down there and then in the last five years or so, they started building new apartments and people started moving down there again. All these new restaurants opened up and the clubs started opening again, so there´s a whole new scene down there. A lot of our friends actually own some of these clubs that we used to play in bands together. One of them being Trees, which a friend of ours, Clint, owns now and it´s awesome to see that it´s all coming back to life. I live right up the street from there and I go down there more now than I have in the last 10 years. It´s a good town!
Since you started out in ´96, there´s been so many changes in the music industry, compared to bands playing in the 70´s and 80´s. Is it just constantly about adapting to new stuff and new situations?
CJ: It´s definitely constantly about adapting to new stuff. Just in the last 10 years there´s been stuff that´ll just make your head explode. Hence all the shots! (laughs) You drink your way through it. Cold beer and some shots. (laughs) Nah, we just roll with it, man. You learn adapting and something that you love and you´re passionate about, you gotta stick with it. I mean that for anybody and anything you do in life. If you really love it, you gotta learn to adapt. But yeah, we´ve been hit with some crazy stuff on all sides of the fence. Way more stuff than I ever thought would happen. I couldn´t make up any of this. At the end of the day, we´re tighter than we´ve ever been. I look back now and the last year with Jasen has been so great and I´m not so upset anymore about the things we had to go through to get here. Now it´s more like “If I hadn´t gone through that, I wouldn´t be here.”.
You learn from everything.
CJ: Yeah, you can take a negative vibe and just throw your hands up and be hateful and jaded, but I just accept the changes and roll with it and we just have a positive outlook on it. Every time we get on stage and hit that first note and everybody screams, it´s freakin´ awesome! I wanna do it forever. Look at The Rolling Stones, they´re still doing it! They´re inspiring, man.
You´ve played for the American troops on different occasions, right?
CJ: Not just the American troops. We´ve played coalition bases as well. We´ve played for pretty much everybody´s country´s troops. We´ve done a lot of stuff with the USO and we continue to do that. They never tell us where we´re going until the last second, but we´ve been to Iraq, Kuwait, South Korea and Japan. We´ve played all kind of bases and I´m glad we have a relationship with that. It´s something you don´t necessarily get paid to do, it´s something you do on your own. Some of these guys are stuck on a base for a year or two years and it´s awesome as an entertainer to just go there, throw on a show and give them like a mental break from being in a war zone. Those shows have been some of the best shows we´ve ever played.
Meeting these soldiers and playing in these countries must give you a different perspective on things?
CJ: Yeah, I mean, from country to country and city to city, there are good things and bad things happening everywhere. We could get into politics and there´s things I agree with and that things I don´t. I don´t know what it is about music but it brings people together and puts everybody in a good mood. I´m glad I´m on this side of the fence of things, but I´m grateful for the experience and all of it has been a positive experience.
A lot of people know you from that first hit of yours, “Bodies”. Could you do a show without playing it?
CJ: I wouldn´t say that. There was a show where we ran over time and they cut us off right before we played it. It was still a great show. I thought the crowd was gonna go nuts and tear the place apart. I said to the dude “Just give us three more minutes!”, but no. The crowd got pretty intense but then it calmed down. I love that song and I love playing it every night. I´d play it five times a day if you let me. It´s a great song and there´s a lot of stuff on the new record that reflect that style of music. There´s one song called “One finger and a fist” and it´s been the same reaction when we´ve played it and it´s fun to see people having the same reaction to the new material as they have to the old stuff. For whatever reason we still have our core sound and we´ve never lost that and that might be due to the fact that me, Mike and Stevie have written songs for 15 years.
How do you choose songs to play from the new album?
CJ: Now with Jasen, we change it around from night to night. That´s the cool thing with having him in the band, that he knows the whole back catalog. We wanna play all the new stuff. You always have revolving songs in the set, so pretty much all the songs get played throughout the tour. There are no limits.