One Finger and A Fist. An interview with Stevie Benton from Drowning Pool.
Drowning Pool burst onto the national scene in 2001 with their debut release “Sinners“. The band was an immediate hit after appearing on the Ozzfest tour. The band’s debut became a platinum seller in a mere six weeks. After multiple tours, including the Music Is A Weapon Tour with Disturbed, vocalist Dave Williams passed away from heart disease. Devastated, but determined, the band continued on with Jason Jones at the helm. Yet after only one album, the band found themselves without a vocalist once again. They then recruited (at the time) former Soil vocalist Ryan McCombs. The rock veterans released two albums with Ryan before he left the band and returned to Soil. Enter Jasen Moreno. He’s the new vocalist with the band, and they are about to release their new album Resilience on April 2nd.
Listen to the entire Stevie Benton interview below:
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I had a chance recently to sit down with Stevie Benton, bassist from the band Drowning Pool, at the band’s recent stop at The Paramount in Huntington, NY.
I’m here with Stevie Benton from Drowning Pool
You have a new album coming out called Resilience that drops in April. Want to tell me a little about it?
Well, the obvious thing about it is we have a new singer named Jasen Moreno. A lot of his singing traits, like his tone and his approach to songwriting, are very similar to how Davey [former singer Dave Williams, who died in 2002 of heart disease] used to do it back in the day. So, I know that we’ve had to change a lot of the ways we attacked writing songs through the years, because you know, different singers have different styles, so you try to highlight their strengths and hide their weaknesses so it was always kind of adjusting to them. But with this record, it really felt like we were able to just go back to what was natural for us in the beginning, because the singers were so similar. After doing that and the whole writing process, it came out so well and just so easy. It really makes me look back at the past 10 years or so and just think, “Why didn’t we do that in the beginning? Why didn’t we just find a guy similar to Dave instead of being afraid of stepping on his toes?” We wanted to try and get voices that are different so it didn’t seem like we were kind of intruding on his space. But now after doing it with Jasen, it just feels like such a more natural Drowning Pool record. It kind of makes me question whether we were just over thinking it back in the day, or maybe just plain grief and sadness kept us from doing that. I don’t really know.
So Jasen had a big part in the song writing for the new album?
Oh absolutely. The guy, not only was he able to contribute to songs that other guys wrote, but the guy is so talented, he practically could be a one man band. He could kick us all out and just be Drowning Pool all by himself. So yeah, he definitely had a lot of input.
Are there any stand out songs on the album, other than the ones that have been released as singles so far?
Yeah, you know, there’s a lot. When you’re so close to it, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I like a song called “Understand” a lot because it’s like a lot of different dynamics that were hit upon within the span of 3 1/2-4 minutes of a song. I like a song called “Digging These Holes” just because it’s got a really great, heavy groove. I like a song called “Skip to the End,” because some of the main key lyrics of the song are taken from bits of advice that my father had always given me throughout the years, and he passed away about a year and a half ago. So that song is always going to be a special one for me, personally.
Was it a huge adventure and problem trying to find a new vocalist, or was Jasen kind of always on your minds?
You know, we’ve known the guy for a long time. We’ve always thought he was super talented, and he’s always been in our minds. But you know, like I said for the previous couple of singers we had, we didn’t go with Jason because, like I said, we were concerned his whole style and approach was so similar to Dave’s that we didn’t want to seem like we were stepping on those toes. I guess once you get ten years removed from it, it’s like, “You know, let’s get back to how it felt natural back in the day.”
So the label wanted us to take a bunch of auditions, and we did and there was a lot of great stuff, but it was just coming back to Jasen. We’ve known him for a long time. There’s not going to be this situation where we get a guy in a band who is on his best behavior acting one way and a year later you find out the guy’s someone completely different. So that was a big part of it. The fact that he’s a Dallas guy and we could all get together every day and and work on songs…there wasn’t this big undertaking for all of us to get together and rehearse. You just drive down the street and there we all are. So that was a big part. We started working on writing songs, and once we got two or three songs into it, we pretty much knew that he was the guy. We didn’t tell him until we had pretty much written the entire record because we didn’t want him to get too comfortable. We still had to tell him he got the gig. We shouldn’t, we should keep him on permanent probation.
The latest single is “One Finger and A Fist“. How has the fan reaction been to it so far?
It’s been great. We kind of thought that it would be, honestly. It’s just a different way of saying sometimes you’re just pissed off and you want to say, “Fuck You.” It was just finding a simple straight ahead message to say that and we really felt like we nailed it with that, just that one line. I had the line for a couple of months probably, just that one line, and that’s all I had for the song until we sat down into a studio and pieced it together. The entire thing built from just those five words. It sprang an entire song over the span of a couple of days. It’s simple, and people can really understand it and really get in to it quickly. There’s not much of an underlying message to it. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like it’s supposed to be. Very much the way “Bodies” was back in the day, just very much that chorus just drilled into your head right away. It would take about three listens for someone to get the song and really, really appreciate it and like the song.
I saw on Facebook and Twitter that a lot of fans are posting and tagging, “#OneFingerandaFist” and really getting along with it.
Yeah, it’s great to see when something kind of organically gets street cred, and it kind of just springs up like that. There’s no way to simulate that. You can put out a single and promote it, and just spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying to promote it but it will never get the same reaction as something from street level, just people latching on to it. It’s amazing to see that.
The video for that…who’s idea was it to have a bunch of chicks in a prison just beating the crap out of each other?
Here’s the thing, we just write songs and play rock shows. We don’t write treatments for videos. The label had hired a couple of guys, Vulpine Films, to do it, and they sent us this treatment. You know, I kind of had ideas in my head about how the video should go, and it was absolutely nothing like that. But once you start reading it and see they’re going to scout around Dallas and find all these hot chicks and then they’re going to have them hardly wearing anything at all and slapping each other around, no one in the band wanted to be the guy to say no to that. So we went, “Hell Yeah!” It was a really fun, great day, watching all that go down. Loved it.
The tour you’re on right now is with Flyleaf, who also happens to have a new vocalist. How did that come about?
You know, it goes way back because they’re from very close to where we’re from. We’re probably separated by about two hours in Texas, so we had always wanted to do a tour. Then I guess maybe their manager talked to our manager and they were like, “You know, we happen to be in a very similar circumstance right now. Why don’t we put it all together and do a tour?” So, of course once we were presented with the opportunity, we jumped right on it. We couldn’t wait. It’s been great. We’re about 10 days in to it and it’s been blast. I love it. I love watching them. Their new singer is amazing. She can nail anything, vocally. She’s great, she’s a great singer.
“Bodies” is one of those songs that have really manged to stand the test of time. What’s it like knowing that you wrote something that was so heavy, but is so valued and appreciated so early in your career?
You know, I think I appreciate it more and more as time goes on. Like you said, it has just stuck around forever and that doesn’t happen very often. A lot of songs are huge on the radio for a few months and then they’re gone and you never hear them again unless you happen to have them in your own collection on shuffle or something. So it’s amazing that the song still gets the airplay that it does, the attention that it does, and people still lose their minds every night when we play it. You would think it was a brand new hit at radio that they heard every day. I can’t explain why. It’s a song that Dave put the lyrics to and it’s just about him standing on stage in these crappy little bars in Dallas we used to play while all these kids would come to our shows and run around like maniacs and stage dive into each other. It was just amazing that he was able to be the eye of the storm and have such a perspective and somehow, completely nailed the lyrics to it. The stars aligned. I can’t really explain it. I wish Dave was still here to give you a better description of what was going on in his mind. I wish I understood it, I really do. It’s one of those things, and we are certainly, certainly forever grateful.
For having four different vocalists, it’s quite a testament to your song writing and playing ability to still be a band that’s relevant after all this time.
Yeah, it’s been a struggle at times. After Dave passed, it was such a traumatic thing. We had worked so hard to get there. Not just the time we spent playing and writing songs, but all the time before it that we just spent sitting around talking about being in a band. Talking about living the dream and all that. Once Dave passed, the other three of us just didn’t want to give up on that dream that we had, so we just decided to stick it out no matter what. There’s been a lot of good times. We’ve had a couple of singers that there were good times with them. I just think over time, since they weren’t part of that original dream, they just kind of start to lose focus and lose sight. We don’t have a shared vision anymore. So they just kind of go off to do their own thing. Which is perfectly fine by us. We’re thrilled to have Jasen in the band now, and we hope that he stays focused on writing good songs and putting on good live shows, and is in the band forever from here on out.
This last question is mainly just for you. I saw your side project, “Even the Dead Love A Parade“, and I saw the video for the song “Heart Poacher“, and I really liked it.
Alright, thank you!
Do you want to touch on that a little bit?
Yeah, except for the singer in that band, every guy in the band is either a current or former Drowning Pool crew guy. Two of them are actually out with us right now, both of the guitar players. They’re all really talented players. The drummer, Clint [Litton] and the singer Braxton [Henry], they’re like best buds. They hang out constantly. They just started jamming and they called me up and said, “Hey man, come do bass tracks!” The stuff was just awesome and heavy and brutal, which is kind of where my musical taste originated from to begin with. I couldn’t wait to get in there do it. We just started writing songs. We had the chance to make the video and it’s just kind of taken on a life of its own. There in Dallas, we have so many mutual friends, and they’re just such huge supporters. They just hear it and just go crazy over it. I knew we were doing good stuff, but when your buddy from high school calls you up freaking out over this cheap little B-video we had made, it’s like, “Wow, maybe we really have something there.” So it’s certainly a lot of fun to do, and I love all those guys. So we’re gonna see just how far we can take all of this just on our own without any label or outside management. Just let it be one of those underground, kind of cool bands. We’re not really striving for radio play or record sales. We just want to write some cool songs.
That’s all I’ve got. Thanks so much for you time Stevie.
Keep up with Drowning Pool below:
Check out the video for the new single “One Finger and A Fist” below: