Interview: SOiL Frontman Discusses Drowning Pool, Nu Metal, & Future Releases

SOiL is an alternative metal band that formed back in 1997. Since then, the group has released six studio albums, the most recent being Whole in 2013. Frontman Ryan McCombs left in 2004 to join Drowning Pool, yet has returned as they continue to release music and tour. We recently spoke to Ryan as he discussed nu metal, Drowning Pool, and the band’s future. You can view the interview below.

unnamed Promotional poster for US tour with Powerman 5000 & 3 Years Hollow

You’ll begin your tour with Powerman 5000 & 3 Years Hollow tomorrow. Can you discuss your relationship with these bands and some of the other groups you’ve shared the stage with in promotion of the last album?

Ryan McCombs (vocalist): We just got back from the states from doing a run in the UK and Europe with Coal Chamber. I’ve known Dez from way back then in the DevilDriver days. The rest of the Coal Chamber people were new to me, but I had a great time on the road with all of them. That was our first solid run since I had my stroke, so there were a bit more nerves involved. I’ve done past shows with different incarnations of the Powerman 5000 lineup, so I’m looking forward to it.

Who’s left on your bucket list of bands to tour with?

Ryan: I’ve been lucky enough to have either toured or played at a festival with almost anyone you can mention. There’s two bands that I don’t necessarily need to play with, but I would love to meet Joe Perry and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and Brian Johnson and Angus Young from AC/DC. I grew up listening to those bands and I never had the chance to shake their hands.

SO_W-C_1500x1500 Cover artwork for most recent album, ‘Whole,’ from 2013

Soil’s last album, Whole, was released in 2013. Reflecting back on that, were there any notable aspects of the writing or recording process?

Ryan: Just doing the record was significant to me. I was feeling a bit burned out on the music industry right before we did a 10th anniversary tour of the Scars album. And the more we spoke about making a new album, the more we realized we were on the same page. I think the big thing about Whole was that we were writing for ourselves instead of some record label businessman. Once we were in the studio, everything was much more relaxed with the help of producer Ulrich Wild. Luckily, the feedback has been good and people have said the album fits right after Scars and Redefine.

It’s been almost two years since the last record. Are there any thoughts towards a follow-up yet?

Ryan: We’ve actually just started throwing some musical ideas at each other. I’ve been playing around with some lyrics. But, I really don’t know what the state of the music industry is going to allow anymore. I don’t know if the market will support the financial side of getting a record on the shelves. Back in the day, bands would just release 45s every few months with two singles on it. Maybe that’s the next step for us. We’re toying with new music, but I don’t know how to come about it.

Official music video for “Shine On” from ‘Whole’ album

Let’s talk about Drowning Pool a bit, you were in the group for a good amount of time with two albums released. Would you say overall being involved was a positive experience?

Ryan: Well since I left, our paths have crossed a few times, whether it be playing in Dallas or together at a festival. Looking back, it was absolutely a positive experience. They put up with me a lot more than I put up with them. They’re a great bunch of rednecks. (laughs) It was a blessing and we had so much fun.

If the position eventually becomes open for whatever reason, do you see yourself possibly filling the spot as Drowning Pool’s vocalist once again?

Ryan: Oh, I don’t know. If you asked me five years ago if I would’ve rejoined SOiL, I would’ve said no. It’s hard to say. C.J. [Pierce; current Drowning Pool vocalist] was one of the first people to reach out to me after my stroke and helped me through the healing process. One thing I learned while being in SOiL is never say never.

Official music video for “Turn So Cold” from Drowning Pool’s self-titled album

Both bands you have been involved with have had the label of “nu metal” attached to them since the beginning. What does the genre mean to you?

Ryan: I have no idea. I didn’t understand back it then. I kind of understand it for Drowning Pool’s situation because of their image and style. They had the picture perfect nu metal look. Regarding SOiL, we were kind of lumped into that genre because we were in that era. Musically, we didn’t have the turntables or anything like that.

It seems as of lately, most artists from the nu metal era like Coal Chamber and Korn are still going strong. Are they any specific bands from the nu metal era that you’d like to see come back now?

Ryan: There were so many bands then and some that I still wouldn’t consider nu metal. Lars Ulrich had a record label for a hot minute and one of the bands he signed was called Systematic. But there were so many great bands coming out at once, we were lucky enough to have our single “Halo” and Drowning Pool had “Bodies” to push us through the years. A lot of bands didn’t make it and sometimes it just came down to dumb luck. Coal Chamber was one of those bands that always seemed to be one of the more talented bands out there but stayed at the same level. When it comes to their live show, I’ve never seen them bring anything but they’re A game. There’s tons of bands from that era that deserve respect because they are some great, talented musicians.

Besides upcoming tour dates, are there any other upcoming plans for SOiL or your musical career?

Ryan: I know there’s talk of more dates overseas with Coal Chamber doing a UK/Europe run and hitting Australia. We have the run with Powerman 5000 as well as festivals lined up this summer.

  • Thelonious Funk

    Don’t like this band or nu-metal in general, but props to a guy who can bounce back from a stroke and still perform nightly. That takes a lot of guts.