For those of you who live under a rock, SOiL is back. And back with one of the heaviest, most kickass records of 2013. I was so excited when I got it that I knew I had to interview singer Ryan McCombs ASAP. After a series of mishaps (including a brush with a Brown Recluse spider!), we finally got it together on our third attempt. Read on to see what’s happening in the world of SOiL:
Amps: Reaction is overwhelmingly positive to this record. How’s everybody feeling?
Ryan: I don’t think we’ve had an album come out of the gate with this much anticipation and just the talk, the reviews that we’ve been getting, have been amazing. I don’t think we’ve put out an album with so much momentum right out of the gate.
Amps: “Shine On” was a really cool choice as the leadoff single for record.
Ryan: We did this all on our own for a reason, so we could call our own shots. Then at the eleventh hour we put the team together that was working this record for us, and the team was really leaning toward “Shine On” as the first single, and the three of us were leaning toward something different. But, we listened, and everybody was coming after that song so we went with it. Me, I was sitting scratching my head thinking, “Did we do the right thing?” at first, but I can’t argue with the success it’s had. Especially in today’s music climate.
Amps: So, the anniversary shows in 2011. What happened after that? Did you guys just know it was the right move, to get back together and do a record?
Ryan: Absolutely not… absolutely not. I was still fully in Drowning Pool, and promoters and agents over in the UK got ahold of me. Scars did OK over here, but it’s just another animal over there! 10 years later “Halo” is still a staple of radio there. Fans have said you can’t go into a rock club without hearing SOiL at some point in the night. So, they asked them to come over for the tenth anniversary of Scars and do a tour. And they also said, “Hey, any chance you can get Ryan to do it?” So Adam (Zadel, guitar) gave me a call, and then I talked to Tim (King, bass) about it, and the timing was perfect. Drowning Pool’s touring cycle was coming to an end, and it made perfect sense to go out and see the fans and sing songs I hadn’t done in about seven years. It really seemed like something fun to do at the time, and that’s all it was supposed to be.
Then, to be honest, I was kind of in a place where the business side of things was taking a toll on me and I was wanting to step away from the industry a little bit. I’m a simple guy from Indiana, and there’s so much ugly in the music business, but I came back home and realized we had way too much fun on the SOiL tour. The guys talked about maybe doing another record again, and we were all on the same page. And we really wanted to do a record, but have total control over it. Don’t have anyone telling us what the first single should be, or looking over our shoulder trying to steer the recording a particular way. We were all just like, “Let’s do it. Let’s do it our way one time. If it flops it flops, and if it succeeds it succeeds.”
Amps: Everybody looking forward to the road? First you play with Skindred in the UK, then here?
Ryan: I am a big-time Skindred fan! The first real big tour we ever did in the UK was with Skindred, and to be sitting here 12 years later and getting ready to go over and play with them again I am wildly excited! They’re good friends who came out to a couple of shows last winter, and we love those guys. Between the two bands there’ll be some monstrously good shows.
Amps: You’re a pretty rough vocalist. What do you do to keep the voice in shape?
Ryan: We do anywhere from four to six shows in a row, then a day off. Back in 2004 I finally found a good regimen that works for me personally. About an hour before showtime I start hammering back a bunch of Captain Morgan and smoking and the show seems to go just fine.
Ryan: My before show and after show exercise involves a lot of spiced rum and Jagermeister, and cigarettes.
Amps: You’re kidding me, right??
Ryan: No, not at all (laughs). Other singers we tour with look at me like I’m crazy, too.
Amps: Who’s handling drum duties live? Who’s playing Will Hunt’s parts?
Ryan: I’m so glad Will came in on this record. We’ve known him since his Skrape days when we were both coming up. When we got back together we decided we didn’t want a full-time drummer, just keep the decision-making between the three of us. When we talked to Will about doing the record he was all fired up about it. Then, for the tour, we knew this guy Mitch Gable who was in a band called Echoes the Fall that kind of fell apart. He was looking for some work and I called him, flew him into Chicago, and did a weekend’s worth of shows, and personality-wise he fits us like a freakin’ glove! The four of us go out on the road for about three weeks, and I probably laugh more in those three weeks than I did in the previous 15 years of my professional career put together.
But back to Will, he came in and knocked out that record in two days- Done. I’ve never seen anything like it. And Mitch is such a solid killer drummer, too, and if the cards are right and we wind up doing another SOiL record, I imagine Mitch will be on that one. Both those guys are just so awesome that we were really lucky.
Amps: You realize you fucked up my Top 10 list this year, right? YOU and Annihilator with your records these last two weeks, right?? My Top 10 Albums of 2013 is shot to hell!!
Ryan: (Laughing) I’m not apologizing, I’m happy to hear that!
Amps: What does Ryan McCombs, ferocious singer, do to unwind?
Ryan: I spend as much time with my kids and loved ones as much as possible. My entire career I’ve been a Dad, that’s the norm. And I try to have family time as often as I can. My oldest boy is 15, and my youngest son is about to turn 11.
Amps: Anything to say to the SOiL fans out there who’ve been waiting for this to happen?
Ryan: I can’t believe that 16 years after getting in this band that we’re still doin’ it. And yes, SOiL took a hiatus, but I can’t believe that 16 years after doing this professionally that I’m still allowed to do this. And there’s only one reason: People give us the time of day. The people that buy the music, the people that come to shows, buy the shirts, people like yourself that connect us with our fans. I owe the fact that I’m still doing this to everyone, so big thanks and much appreciation to everybody out there.
Amps: Ryan, thanks so much for putting out a great record and taking time to talk with us about it.
Ryan: No problem, have a great night. Hope to see you at a show.
SOiL came to Dallas a few weeks later. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it due to a prior commitment, but I am waiting on pins and needles for the announcement that they’re coming back through the U.S. If you haven’t already, pick up the new album Whole. It is without a doubt one of the best records of the year, and I couldn’t be happier for Ryan, Tim, and Adam. They’re a great group of guys who deserve every single accolade being heaped upon them right now.