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Interview: C.J. Pierce from Drowning Pool

Drowning Pool press shot

It’s taken 14 years but Texas heavy rock legends Drowning Pool are finally back in Australia and they’re not going anywhere until they’ve hit up every big city with their defiant, daredevil brand of alternative metal. Prior to their arrival we caught up with guitarist C.J. Pierce to discuss the tour, latest album ‘Hellelujah’, and the goss on their new 82 year-old BFF.

It’s been 14 years since you’re last visit! What are you looking forward to most about this tour?

14 years is way too long so I’m looking forward to having a great tour so we can come back on a regular basis. I can’t believe it’s been 14 years, that’s just insane! Way too long and unacceptable. I’m looking forward to hang out with our rock fans. I’m hoping that everybody makes it out and has a good time with it.

What was one of the best memories from last time you were here? 

The time we did the Big Day Out tour there were a lot of great bands and I’m just blown away with how beautiful the country is in every single city. We did all the major cities like we are again. They were all sideshows but we actually had a chance to go out to the beach a few times, which is a rarity. I just had a really great time. There were really great rock fans and really cool people. It’s been 14 years so lets catch up! 

What can fans expect from your shows? 

Well, we do this thing now that we have Jason Moreno as our singer. Out of respect for our Drowning Pool fans Jason took his time to learn every one of our songs from every record so we can change our setlist nightly. I don’t even know what we’re playing until the last second anyway. We just constantly change it but we’re definitely going to be playing a mix of everything from the records. We’re definitely going to play a lot of stuff off our ‘Sinner’ record and a handful of songs off the new record. We just love rocking out so you’re going to get a mix of everything. It will be different from night to night.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at a Drowning Pool show? 

The craziest thing? Hmm. So many crazy things have happened, where do we start? There have been a lot of times where we say stuff and the crowd makes it on stage without breaking anything. There have definitely been times we’ve fallen off the stage. I had someone take off their prosthetic leg one time and throw it at me while I was playing. They asked me to sign it and I was in the middle of the show. That was pretty interesting. This guy was hopping up and down, tearing off his leg. I signed it and threw it back out to him.

After a show do you like to chill out or party hard?

I jump right off the stage and hang out with everybody. I just like to hang out and that’s the thing I don’t understand. After some shows people hang out but for most shows a lot of fans leave. We’re the kind of band that likes to hang out and thank everybody, so don’t run right away. You’ll definitely get to hang out with us if you stay. It’s like getting off work – now you can hang out and have a drink and talk to everybody.

I’m loving ‘Hellelujah!’ What was you’re overall vision for the album?  

We wanted to go in every direction, which we did with this record. There’ve been labels over the years telling you not to say so many f-words or maybe that stuff is too heavy. We’ve had past management issues but that’s how it’s like for all bands. That’s why we switched labels and management. We wanted to do what the hell we wanted to do and we wanted to say what the hell we wanted to say and it’s exactly what we did with ‘Hellelujuah.’ We wanted to get back to the heavier sound we had and I think we accomplished all that. 

What was the writing and recording process like this time around? 

With the first few records we would expand in the room, I mean we would literally come up with riffs on the fly. I do miss that but everybody now has their own little Pro Tools setup at their house. The way it worked out on the last record was each guy came up with some raw ideas. We still get in a room and put it together as a band but all of us are collecting ideas and we just email each other like, “Here’s a verse, here’s a chorus, what do you think about this?” If everybody likes it we will go in there and attack it.

On the next one I think it will be really fast and easy. Once we get in there and attack songs as a band it doesn’t take long at all, especially given that Mike, Stevie and myself have been together for 20 years. My knees hurt when I said that…Ooh! Um, but yeah. I think it’s going to be the same way, and also we have new management. eOne Music is a great label and things move a lot faster these days so I can definitely see us getting on a sooner cycle. Every one of our records are like three years apart just because with each record we either had to find a new singer or had management and label switches. But now Jason’s our man and we’ve got a great label and great management so we’re good to go!

What is your favourite song on ‘Hellelujah’ right now? 

I love Hell To Pay because it’s very reminiscent of the first original record. I love the solo and that song. I spent a lot of time on all of our music but I’m especially happy with the guitar solos on this record.

Another song we’ve been playing live is called We Are The Devil. It’s definitely coming across really great with the fans and by the end of the song they’re singing along so it’s another one that’s kind of crept up and is working. We’ll see what happens with that song as well.

Have you got a song in mind for your next music video?

I would love to do a video for every song we have! We’ve always talked about doing that. Now that we have our new manager I will definitely want to do a video for Hell To Pay. If anything, at least we have the lyric video but we’ll see what happens. We were going to go with Hell To Pay but now it’s We Are The Devil. We’re just trying to figure out which song we want to push next. We’re getting that planned together as we speak but they both resonate really well with the fans. It just comes down to flipping a coin, I guess (laughs). 

What did you think of 82 year-old John Hetlinger’s America’s Got Talent audition singing your smash hit Bodies?

John Hetlinger! What can I say about John? John is a frickin’ awesome dude! He is like, our new best friend. He’s the fifth member of Drowning Pool officially now. He was so awesome. We had him at the Open Air Festival in Chicago and he just jumped on stage and killed it. The show is probably going to be online here shortly if it’s not already. We got it from fan videos and we also filmed it ourselves. I want to put it out so it’s actually more pro and you can actually hear him.

The next night we invited him to play at a convention called Ink in the Clink in Ohio. It’s where they filmed The Shawshank Redemption. It’s a really cool set up. It was an awesome show and he came out. That’s the thing about John – he’s 82 and retired from the Navy and the dude still drinks like he’s in the Navy. He would pound shots and cold beers with us like nobody’s business! I could not believe how hard that dude was partying for 82 years old. He was awesome and he had a great time and we had a great time.

Sounds like a blast! Was this the first time you met him? 

It was the first time and now we’re friends for life. We’re BFFs!

All he had to do was audition on America’s Got Talent! 

You know he sang our song and he did a kick-ass job of it. He’s obviously talented and it was very entertaining. The dude is funny. Every word out of his mouth is hilarious and he’s got stories for days. He’s very quick-witted and he’s just enjoying life. He’s fun to be around. He has this amazing, positive aura about him so I’m definitely glad we met him and made friends with him and I’m glad he came up on stage and sang with us. He killed it, man, he killed it! We were playing in front of so many people at this huge festival. He just got up on that stage and commanded it like a rockstar!

In terms of goals, where do you hope to take Drowning Pool to in the next few years? 

I’m definitely looking forward to our third record with Jason Moreno. I know we talked about it for years and years and years. We talked about maybe starting to do it myself at my home studio. We definitely want to do a full-on real deal acoustic record beside all the heavy stuff.

I’m looking forward to many years with Jason Moreno and looking forward to putting out more music at a faster pace. Everything is going super fast now as far as that’s concerned. You put out a record and it’s like, where’s the next one, you know? But we have tons of ideas and tons of material we haven’t even touched yet. We just have to get on it and get it done!

Drowning Pool 2016 Australian Tour

Max Watts, Brisbane
Manning Bar, Sydney
Max Watts, Melbourne
Capitol, Perth

Get Tickets HERE

Catch John Hetlinger’s incredible America’s Got Talent audition HERE

Check out our ‘Hellelujah’ album review HERE