Drowning Pool is not a political band in the same way that Richard Nixon was not a crook.
They’re victims of circumstance, really. Some might say that political issues seek them out. “We’re not the kind of guys who watch CNN,” said DP bassist Stevie Benton. “We’re much more into music and people, and the way music affects people.” Since parting ways with their second vocalist, Jason Jones, and their original record label, Wind-Up Records, the guys in DP — including Benton, C.J. Pierce (guitar), and Mike Luce (drums) — seem to be not the same old band. DP’s newest singer, Ryan McCombs, deserves credit for the newfound swagger, with vocals that can be spooky and compelling. DP’s new album, Full Circle, highlights the band’s ability to play metal with tunefulness and a bumping groove.
In many ways, though, Drowning Pool’s reputation begins — and sometimes ends — with the 2001 hit single “Bodies.” Released just before the band grabbed attention for its energetic Ozzfest performances, the song shot debut album Sinner (2001) to platinum status after just six weeks on the shelves. Unfortunately, the raging chorus of “Bodies” that made the song popular (“Let the bodies hit the floor! / Let the bodies hit the floor!”) led to its notoriety. After the 9/11 attacks, radio stations nationwide pulled the song, citing concern over inappropriate lyrics. More recently, an article in the December 2006 issue of SPIN magazine discussed “interrogation” methods used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that involved exposing prisoners chained to the floor to deafeningly loud music for hours on end. “Bodies,” the article reported, was a favorite choice for such sessions.
Add to these controversies the tragic death of the band’s first lead singer, Dave Williams, due to a rare heart disease in August 2002, and you might wonder why Drowning Pool hasn’t yet run out of steam. “A lot of people said we should have changed our name after [Williams] died,” Benton said, which “was so traumatic for us that the last thing I wanted to have to do was start totally over. You can’t just do a 180 and change what you are.” So instead of reaching for the eraser, the band decided to write a new chapter. During a 2005 radio appearance in Dallas, a DJ mentioned to the band a string of performances he was planning with the USO. Drowning Pool immediately started making plans for a USO tour of its own. The band has since performed numerous shows at military facilities, including one in Iraq that coincided with the five-year anniversary of 9/11.
It was during these tours that the band began writing its single. “Soldiers” exemplifies Drowning Pool’s new feel precisely because it doesn’t ignore the past. And whether the object is keeping Williams’ name alive or supporting the troops, Benton said he’s just happy to feel inspired again. “It’s great to feel like you’re playing a show for a reason,” he said. “For a cause.” -Colin Stroud
Fri w/The Exies, Deepfield, and The Suicide Hook at the Palladium Ballroom, 1135 Lamar St, Dallas. Ticketmaster.com.
This story originally appeared in the Colorado Springs Independent.