Drowning Pool, a quartet from Dallas, Texas, have walked the road of life as a band, built a substantial following through relentless touring, and have taken advantage of every moment as a chance to grow.
The story begins when drummer Mike Luce and guitarist C.J. Pierce moved from their hometown of New Orleans to Dallas in order to connect with friend and bassist Stevie Benton. They began to build a following while playing around Dallas but the trio sensed that one crucial ingredient was missing. They needed a true ‘frontman.” Dave Williams, who had been singing in bands in Dallas for two years before crossing paths with Drowning Pool, was the man. Nicknamed "Stage" by "Dimebag" Darrell from Pantera, his sheer emotive power delivered the sound and live electricity the band had been on the cusp of achieving for years.
Now a quartet, the band coined themselves Drowning Pool, recorded a demo, and then hit the road with tours including such bands as Kittie and HED (pe). The time on the road led the band back into the studio where they recorded a six-song demo that showcased the development that had come from two years on the road. That recording launched the band onto the radio where they shot into the top ten at the biggest station in Dallas (KEGL), and ultimately led to a deal with Wind-up Records.
Drowning Pool's Wind-up debut Sinner was unleashed and contained the debut lead single, ’Bodies which with its ultimate message of unity and togetherness has quickly become an anthem for the youth of today.
Catching up with the band recently whilst they were here in Michigan, I was ushered on to the tour bus by drummer Mike Luce. Once there, and with Mike all calm and relaxed, I first wondered where the band’s name had originated: ”Stevie came up with the name. There’s a movie called “The Drowning Pool” starring Paul Newman. He’s a New Orleans detective, but that’s just kinda trivial. But when Stevie was looking for a name he was kicking around the idea because he lost his virginity while that movie played in the background. So we just thought it was a great story, but it was also just kinda coincidental that some of the characters [in the movie] were based in New Orleans and some of us are based out of New Orleans.”
GP: Why choose ‘Sinner’ to be the album title ?
ML: ”At this time it seemed like the right kind of theme for us. I see the word “sinner” kind of like I see the words “Mardi Gras” or “party”. It’s in the same relation to us. I mean it’s not like “Sinner! Oh, my God”, we’ve gone out and killed anybody. It’s just kinda like some of the Southern folks are a little too “nose in your business.” So maybe we wanted to kind of ruffle some feathers. If not, no biggy.”
GP: Tell me more about the making of ‘Sinner.’ Were there any problems along the way ?
ML: ”No, actually there weren’t any problems. If anything you could say we were ill-prepared, but we were going in and doing our first album. You just don’t know what to expect. You’re kind of there for everybody else to kind of mold a little bit. The record labels, the producers, what have you. But, luckily we got a good label like Wind-Up who, ya know, just liked our music anyways and let us pretty much do whatever we wanted to do. And then, our producer James Baumgardner was the same way. We didn’t know if somebody was gonna just rip our music apart, totally rewrite it, or have us play the way it is in his mind, or whatever. But, it worked out good. I mean there were some fights among us in the studio. That’s totally going to happen when you look at the same person everyday for twelve hours, but we wanted it to be good. We were a little nervous, our first album comin out, but it was good. The whole thing was a good experience. Don’t drink Jager and milk though ! That was a bad thing we learned and if you do Red Bull and Jager just do a little bit of Red Bull !”
GP: It seems that in under a year you have virtually rocketed onwards and upwards. Do you worry that it’s all happening too fast ?
ML: ”Yeah, that’s a natural worry. I mean, you definitely gotta worry about that because all of a sudden, ya know, whether anybody believes it or not, we didn’t just come from nowhere. CJ, Stevie and myself have known each other and have played in different bands together and it’s just like, I’ve known CJ since like ’85, and Stevie I met in ’87. So, at different times of our lives, we’ve been together in different bands. It didn’t happen for us until, ya know, 10 years outta high school, until we found Dave. So yeah, it took awhile, but you do worry about comin’ out too fast. I mean nobody wants to sit around. We kinda wanna do it the old Motley Crue way. They didn’t hit it big until like the fourth or fifth album or something like that. We’d love to do that, but I mean sellin’ a million, yeah, that’s awesome to go platinum ‘cause it definitely brings you attention that you’re looking to get. And again, I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth at all, not unappreciative, but we just wanna make sure that we stick around for a while. But, I think with that, it kinda keeps you grounded a bit. Kinda keeps your head outta the clouds and hopefully, ya know, it keeps your eyes level. Hopefully the next one will just be a little bit better and we’ll go from there.”
GP: Describe the band’s music in three words
ML: ”Pretty, ugly, and dynamic.”
GP: What’s the cheesiest 80’s song that you can admit to loving back in the day ?
ML: ”Okay, I got the cheesiest one and this one is gonna stick in your head when you write this. It’s that damn Europe song, ‘The Final Countdown.’ It’s at this point that Mike begins to actually whistle the tune. ”That’s gonna be in your head now. Now, it’s gonna be in mine. Thanks a lot ! I appreciate that question ! That one and, what was the other one ? ‘Carrie ?’ We watched the video recently because a friend ours, Lorrie, gave us a VHS tape of old “Headbanger’s Ball” and it’s got those two videos on there. We were watching the guy’s moves, and he’s like doin’ the shoulders and flippin’ the hair and it was like “oh my God !” But, yeah, you get ‘Final Countdown’ in your head and it’s stuck for a couple of days.”
GP: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done ?
ML: ”Okay, here we go, but it’s dumb. It’s the first thing that pops to my mind. I was meeting Mike Patton of Faith No More, and I was all drunk. We were in Australia doin’ the “Big Day Out” and his new project. He’s got a new CD out called ‘Tomahawk.’ Anyway, his band was out there playin’ on some of the dates of “Big Day Out” and we’re all staying at the same hotel. We’re all wasted, he’s kinda doin’ his thing, hangin out, and we’re all like “whoa dude, Mike Patton. Check it out.” We’re all like star struck and shit, and finally it happened where he kinda mingled his way over. I’m trying to watch myself, or verbal police myself, or whatever and I say, “Mike Patton”, and he goes, “I am Mike Patton”, and I go, “Man, I know who you are. Man, I’ve loved your work from Mr. Bungle all the way ‘til right now.” Well, what I meant to say was “from Faith No More to ‘Tomahawk’ and everything in between.” And so he was like, “Oh, really? Mr. Bungle and everything in between ? Okay, kick ass, you’re the doctor !” But, he basically just kinda called me a stupid ass and kinda walked away ! So my brain for like the rest of the night was like, “Okay, I gotta leave. I don’t wanna be here at this party no more.” Everybody else was like, “No, it’s alright, Doc. It’s cool !” It’s like if you meet one of your idols. Say if you met somebody like Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, but say like you met him and he wasn’t in Iron Maiden at that time and he was doin his solo thing. You’d kinda be respectable and respective of what’s goin on and you’d say, “Man, I’ve dug you for all these years. I dig what you’re doin now and I dig what you’ve always done.” And, you don’t like say, “Ahh man, Iron Maiden. Y’all rock. That new stuff, ya know.” You kind of incorporate it all, and you’re being respectful of everything that he’s done.”
GP: So, “Doc’s” your new nickname now ?
ML: ”They called me that for about a week. It died off thankfully.”
GP: If you got Britney Spears alone in a room for ten minutes what would
you do ?
ML: ”Any damn thing she wanted to. I would just sit there stupefied anyway, if Britney was in the room with us, or me, or whoever. But yeah, I would want to cherish those ten minutes. I definitely would not do anything that would make her leave before those ten minutes were up. Let’s put it that way. So, whatever she damn well wanted, she could have it. I would be her servant, her slave !’
GP: What kind of kid were you in high school ?
ML: ”I was a nerd. I was a dork up until, well, I probably still am ! My brothers were like the jocks and they were like seven and nine years older than I. They went to high school well before me. They were like baseball and tennis jocks and got like scholarships and all that stuff. And I was like a little drummer band fag growin’ up. No disrespect to you band guys out there, but you know we get called that, so admit to it. It didn’t change until I moved away from New Orleans to a small town in Texas, where, coincidentally I met Stevie. But being that I was from New Orleans, I was like instantly popular, or whatever. So, it was okay to be the big geek that I was. I had a weird accent and everybody dug it. So, it’s kinda funny.”
GP: What’s the best and worst thing that’s been said about Drowning Pool ?
ML: ”We’ve had some good things said, but not necessarily specific things. I mean, we’ve had like several bands say good stuff and dig where we’re comin’ from and what we’re doin’. And, at the same time I’m sure there are some people who don’t dig it, which would be the bad. Everybody always wants to say, “Ah, nobody cares about the reviews”, but we got good reviews which we never expected we’d get. That was awesome. So, we dug that, but it’s probably mostly from the fans, the listeners, the people that buy the albums. There’s the good and the bad. The good is some people will say, “Man, you can’t compare it to anything. It’s Drowning Pool. You just gotta listen to it.” And the people that don’t like you are gonna say, “You’re just like any other band out there on the bandwagon.” So, that’s kinda your good and your bad.’
GP: What’s the best thing a fan has said to you ?
ML: ”The best thing to me, personally, is when I was growin up and I was listening to Tommy Lee and Motley Crue. Ya know, trying to learn drums. So, the best thing I’ve ever gotten are guys and girls comin up sayin’ they want to learn drums and they sit at home and put in the CD and they try to learn. So, that’s pretty cool.”
GP: Who would win in a bare knuckle fight – Yourselves, Puddle of Mudd or Alien Ant Farm ?
ML: ”Who would win ? We would win ! Duh ! And even if we wouldn’t, I’m not gonna pick somebody else !”
GP: You wouldn’t admit it, right ?
ML: ”No, we like the Alien Ant Farm guys. We know those guys real well. We hung out with them when we did the Australian “Big Day Out” Fest. Those guys are crazy ! They’re cool ! Their drummer is bad ass ! He’s got some quick hands but I’d take ya dude !”
GP: What is your most treasured possession ?
ML: ”Okay, this is where the geek comes out. Next to playin’ the drums in this band I got this thing for collecting Star Wars shit. So, I have a storage room back in Dallas. Like a five by ten foot storage room just filled with vintage stuff, new stuff, in-between, old, new, mint-condition, poor condition, whatever. It’s pretty sad, but I even have a tattoo of one of ‘em on my arm !”
GP: Tell me something about yourself that you don’t reveal that often
ML: ”I can’t tell ya that, because then I’d be revealin’ it ! Something I don’t reveal that often ? My sobriety !”
GP: Tell me a funny joke
ML: ”Okay, this one’s bad so don’t nobody take offense to this. I heard this the other day. There’s a rabbi and a priest and they’re standin’ on the sidewalk and they see a little choir boy walk by. The priest says to the rabbi, ‘Hey, let’s go f**k that little choir boy.’ And the rabbi says, ‘Outta what ?'” My manager told me that and he’s Jewish !”
Catch the band on the Ozzfest tour this summer and in a town near you throughout the year. Powerful, inspiring rock spoken in a tongue the youth of America and the world will both relate to and understand, Drowning Pool are here and there’s f**k all you can do about it !
Interviewed By G.M. Pasfield
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Simply click here to check out the latest Drowning Pool concert review from Clutch Cargos, MI.
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