2016 Drowning Pool interview with CJ Pierce
This year marks the beginning of Drowning Pool’s third decade. The band formed in 1996, when guitarist C.J. Pierce and drummer Mike Luce moved from New Orleans to Dallas and connected with bassist Stevie Benton, and a few years later, vocalist Dave Williams. The group’s 2001 debut album, Sinner exploded on the strength of the alternative metal anthem, “Bodies”. This month, Drowning Pool is set to release its sixth studio record, Hellelujah, and C.J. Pierce touched base with Metalholic to chat about the album.
Drowning Pool has faced its share of hurdles over the last 20 years, most notably with vocalists. Before the band had a real chance to build on the success of its debut release, frontman Williams passed away in 2002 due to heart disease. Over the next decade and studio three albums the band suffered through two more vocalists who were not truly a good fit for the band, and who struggled to fill Williams’ shoes. All of that changed in 2012 when the band tapped local vocalist and longtime friend, Jasen Moreno. With Moreno on board, the quartet churned out Resilience, and spent the next several years on tour supporting that record and then doing a 13th anniversary celebration of the Sinner album: All of which gave the band time to gel together with Moreno in the band.
“I think going into [Resilience], when we finally got Jasen,” Pierce offered, “we jumped in and wrote it in the first three months he was in the band. We went and recorded it before we even started playing shows together–Before we really got to know each other. I think Resilience is a great record. I think it’s kind of a record of discovering who we are. But now, we definitely know who we are and what we want to sound like and it just brought us back to that core sound that we have. Jasen’s a singer/sonwriter as well and he’s got his own cool set of pipes that he brings to our music, so things have never been better. We’re all on the same page and I couldn’t be happier.”
Drowning Pool signed with eOne Music to make Hellelujah, which is easily the band’s most aggressive record to date. The band tapped extreme metal producer Jason Suecoff (The Black Dahlia Murder, Trivium, Whitechapel) to helm the record which may have played into the more aggressive sound of Hellelujah.
“We’re probably the lightest record he’s ever produced,” Pierce laughed with regard to Suecof. “That’s why we went with Jason. We wanted to go heavier. And probably we’re going to go even heavier than this. Definitely we’re going to go heavier than this. But that’s what he’s known for. We wanted a producer that was going to help us get that sound that we wanted, and help us go in that direction. And he did exactly that. We brought it to the table and he put his finishing touches on it, and he’s just a great guy to work with. He’s like my new best friend. I love that guy.”
Unlike previous records, the band took time on the weekends while recording Hellelujah to go out and play shows and to test-drive some of the material. Having spent most of 2014 playing the entire Sinner album on tour, Pierce admits that the feel of their debut record also bled into the writing for Hellelujah:
“The writing process is an ongoing thing. It never stops. I don’t sit down and go ‘it’s time to write.’ Some bands do that, but if I’m feeling inspired I pick up the guitar and start writing music. So, some songs were obviously coming together throughout the year leading up to Hellelujah, but the final touches and the last group of songs were definitely inspired by that. You know, I don’t think a lot of bands go back to their first record and really sit down and re-learn it, let alone play it every single night. So I was definitely inspired by that time period—I wrote that record 15 years ago and a lot of that came through. I think songs like ‘By the Blood’ and ‘Hell to Pay’ for example definitely have that core Drowning Pool sound. So if you were a fan back then you’re definitely going to love this new record.”
During the full interview which can be heard below, Pierce talks more in-depth about Hellelujah, his recent endorsements with Marshall and Ovation, as well as his thoughts on the current state of radio. Check it out and catch Drowning Pool on tour this spring.