SINNERS AND METALHEADS: 
An Interview with bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce
of DROWNING POOL

By Alicia Downs


Drowning Pool, Dallas' newest metal boys, sat down to talk after their recent show at Philadelphia's Theatre of the Living Arts on South Street. After an ambitiously tempting live show, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce shared some personal thoughts and more on the miniscule tidbits we all love.

Presently racking up the touring miles on a label tour with Finger Eleven and Boy Hits Car, Drowning Pool is also preparing to hold their own amongst this years edition of Ozzfest.  With their infectiously talented debut album "Sinner" to be released on June 5, and a prime spot with the hottest new metal acts their name is one that will not soon be forgotten (and the name - that came from bassist Steve's realization that he lost his virginity to a movie with the same title - go figure).

Rough Edge: One of the prevalent themes throughout the album and in the title itself ("Sinner") is disdain for religion. What inspired such agitation towards the idea of the church?

Stevie: The song on the album called "Sermon" is probably about two years old - probably the oldest song that we have that we still play. It was during the writing of that song that a lot of us kind of came to an understanding - I mean, I know that I have my own issues with religion but you don't really know that the guy next to you does until this song starts coming out. We find out that we're not exactly believers except for perhaps CJ.

Rough Edge: Any particular religious affiliations? 

Mike: I don't particularly care about any of it. I don't really have a problem with religion or the church - I think they're great. I just have a problem with you telling other people that they're wrong because they [don't agree with you]. That's just ignorant. You can be spiritual without that, I think I'm spiritual.  

Rough Edge: Do you have any thoughts on God?

Mike: I have more questions than thoughts. I wasn't brought up in a religious environment so I'm going to shy away from it. I don't want to be ignorant because I don't know so therefore when other people tell me because you don't know you're going to go to hell or you're damned, fuck them.

Rough Edge: So have you found the album to be therapeutic?

Stevie: Most definitely. Music in and of it itself is therapeutic whether you're making an album or not. I can't say that the recording process was exactly therapeutic because we've always been such a live-oriented band and then taking three months off to make a record was a little crazy.

Rough Edge: Speaking of recording, Jay Bumgardner (Orgy and Papa Roach) produced the album. What elements do you think he brought to it that was not there before?

Mike: He took us from a garage band to a professional band.

Stevie: We had a bad habit of overplaying at times - like stepping on each other's toes and doing our little licks and Jay taught us all how to play together.

Mike: He kind of took us and you know how a kid sits in a high chair and like throws food all over the place. That's how we feel when we're on stage, we just want to be all over the place and be rambunctious, and he put us back to the center and said one thing at a time. 

Rough Edge: Now, half of you guys are from New Orleans and New Orleans is heavy into jazz and blues. So how much do you that upbringing infiltrates into your music, if any?

Mike: I would say playing-wise in this band, none. It definitely has an effect on our overall outlook - I mean I was brought up on [jazz and blues] - CJ and I both. CJ was in a jazz ensemble all through college so when we fuck around we always agitate Stevie by CJ and I playing some swing shit. 

Rough Edge: What would you say are some of the most powerful influences reflected on the album?

Stevie: I think mostly people we come in contact with in our everyday lives. Especially Dave with the lyrics, I think that just about every song that he has written has been about someone that he knew on a personal level that probably pissed him off. They are all very personal.

Mike: It's very therapeutic like you asked a minute ago. I mean we're just lucky enough to get to put it on vinyl or CD.

Stevie: I'd say attitude-wise we're more of a Motley Crue than we are any other band that's out today.

Rough Edge: Now the band hails from Dallas, which has a huge metal scene. Do you think that being from Dallas helped fuel your rise into the metal community faster than if you had been from somewhere else?

Stevie: I think we were definitely at the right place at the right time. There are a lot of great heavy bands in Dallas right now - the local scene just has a lot of great bands. We were like the 'Kramers' of the music industry - we fall ass backwards into fortunate situations. 

Mike: Dallas was a major part of the whole equation.

Rough Edge: Is it correct that you were touring with the likes of Sevendust and hed(p.e.) without even a record deal? 

Mike: Yeah, with Sevendust - wait, were we signed yet? We had a Kittie tour - with Kittie we weren't signed.

Stevie: Yeah we were signed with Kittie. 

Mike: No, but we had the tour before we were signed. I think it was like right as we were going out with hed(p.e). We went out with them in December and we got signed in November.

Stevie: So, to answer your question, we have absolutely no idea. It all happened very quickly. I think we had the hed(p.e.) tour before we got signed - I know we were very close. Sevendust was our first tour ever - we were nobody, we weren't even a Dallas local band then.

Rough Edge: All you had was a demo?

Stevie: We didn't even have a demo then.

Mike: We didn't get [the demo] until the first day we played with them in Knoxville at a club.

Stevie: Dave is a very good friend with a girl who was dating a guy in Sevendust and he happened to come out to a show and liked us and, charity, I guess.

Rough Edge: What do you hope to get out of the Ozzfest experience (for those living under a rock or just too cool to care - Drowning Pool was added to the Ozzfest bill in April)?

Stevie: A tan.

Mike: A second record. (Always safe to set sights low to avoid future disappointments)

Rough Edge: Any bands that are going to be playing there you are looking forward to seeing?

Mike: Nonpoint - love those guys. Black Sabbath. I've never seen Manson yet.

Stevie: Mudvayne.

Rough Edge: You all just filmed your first music video for the track "Bodies." How was that whole experience?

Mike: That was awesome I mean you dream about doing that shit when you're a kid.

Stevie: It was crazy. The, like, actual playing, physical parts were great but when we had to do like, what do you call that, like acting, it was very uncomfortable for me.

Rough Edge: It seems like musically bands compromise so much of themselves to fit into the MTV demographic. How do you plan to differentiate yourself from that especially after just wrapping up a video shoot? 

Stevie: We make a joke all the time saying like could you imagine some kid like down there on Times Square going "My name's Heather and I'm requesting Drowning Pool's 'Bodies' 'cause they rock."

(Interviewer's note: Stevie and Mike proceeded to add a frighteningly unison "WOOWOO" like that heard from the teenage girls saturating the MTV airwaves during TRL. I will never look at these two the same.)

Stevie: Not going to happen.

Rough Edge: You know stranger things have happened.

Stevie: If that happens I'll have a heart attack. I'll shit and fall back in it. (Interviewer's note: In three years living in Texas I have never in my life heard that expression although it does make for an amusing albeit disturbing visual).

Rough Edge: Do you think your music or the band projects an image? 

Mike: We don't consciously go out there and ... 

Stevie: Whatever our image is I don't think it's pretty.

Mike: Yeah. 

Rough Edge: If you weren't here, in this band doing all this what do you think you might be doing?

Mike: I'd be in Dallas rehearsing Tuesday night.

Rough Edge: Oh, no. What else would you be doing?

Mike: You can't ask me that question because I'd never not be playing my fucking drums.

Rough Edge: Full time job?

Stevie: Mike was an electrician.

Mike: CJ and I were electricians but I still played the drums 

Stevie: I was an accountant.

Rough Edge: No!!! You just don't strike me as an accountant.

Mike: It was funny seeing Stevie walking out of the office with his khakis and his oxford shirt and all these dreads in a big ponytail. 

Rough Edge: Six months from now where you going to be?

Mike: Touring with Sevendust.

Rough Edge: Five years?

Mike: Hopefully making a third record and still touring.

Stevie: Hopefully we'll still be touring. I mean the life of a band is so short ...

Rough Edge: Especially after you get that video out on MTV ...

Mike: Five years from now we'll be doing the Finger Eleven, Boys Hits Car, Drowning Pool reunion five years later.

Rough Edge: Sounds like the safest of answers to me.


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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:12 -0400
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