“We wrote the songs drunk, a lot of the time we recorded the songs drunk, and so we have to get into the right state to remember the songs…”
SOiL are currently touring latest album ‘Whole’ in the UK and Europe with Skindred and Viza – Ian Savage grabbed frontman Ryan McCombs for a quick chat in their dressing room prior to the Wolverhampton gig.
Ian: The last interview we did with SOiL was six months ago almost to the day, just prior to ‘Whole’ coming out – bring us up to speed, what have you been doing?
Ryan: Shows! We’ve just been out there getting face-to-face with the people that give us a job to do, you know? It’s been great out there, the acceptance; the response to the album’s been really positive so it’s been good, it’s been fun…
I: You’ve been out on this tour since Wednesday, it sounds like it’s going well?
R: Yeah, the Skindred guys – you couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be out with. We toured with them back in 2002 I think it was, it was Adema headlining and then us and then Skindred; it was our first real tour over here in the UK, and we were laughing about that our first night together on the bus [on this tour], we’re sharing…we were laughing about how you fast-forward like, twelve years later and it’s the same package that it was then, only the exact opposite of that!
I: That did come up in the last interview, one of the few bands you mentioned really wanting to tour with again was Skindred…
R: I’ve always been a big fan of those guys – they’re different, you know, they’re not like any other band. They’ve got a little taste of reggae in there, and I’ve always enjoyed what they throw out there – they’ve been one of those bands where if there’s going to be some music on before showtime they’re one that’s a staple for me. It’s cool to be on the road with them, we’ve been friends for years; over here we’ll go out and support them, when they come over to the States they come and support us.
I: So you’re on this tour for another week or two, what’s next?
R: Right now there’s some dates being put on for the US – immediately after this tour we’re home for like two or three days, then we head over to Australia for a week or two, and then we’re back over to the States, we’re gonna do a short little run with a band called Tantric, then we got festivals coming up in the States, and some offers coming in for festivals over here as well.
I: A lot of time on the road, which can be notoriously dull – what do you guys do to keep yourselves busy?
R: Drink a lot! *laughs* Well, that’s really it, I mean, life on the road isn’t what the posters look like, it’s a monotonous freakin’ day. You wake up, you wait around all day, you soundcheck, then you wait around some more, until it’s finally showtime…
I: You can sort of see why a lot of musicians get into drugs…
R: Right, to pass the time! Luckily we enjoy each others’ company as much as a bunch of dudes could enjoy each others’ company *laughs* so it’s not like it’s a hideous time out here, we always get that big payoff – it’s a monotonous day-in-day-out thing, but we get that big payoff every night. Whether you’re headlining and you get an hour, half and a half, or if you’re supporting and you get, like, 45 minutes, that’s what you’re sitting around all day for!
I: So what can SOiL be found doing five or ten minutes before stage time?
R: Drinking! *laughs*
I: I suspect a lot of answers in this interview are going to be ‘drinking’…
R: Well, yeah, that’s right! *laughs* I mean, an hour to and hour and a half before showtime the drinks start flowing, and then as it gets closer and closer more and more Jagermeister is introduced to the system and then we get out there and…y’know, we call it drunken recollection! We wrote the songs drunk, a lot of the time we recorded the songs drunk, and so we have to get into the right state to remember the songs…
I: You’ve been back in the fold now for two and a half years, and by all accounts the band is better than it’s ever been – does it feel like SOiL are back on the up?
R: Yeah, it kinda does – the album’s been getting great reviews, a lot of people are saying that it’s the album that should have followed that kind of ‘Scars’/’Re:Define’ era, and I think that’s natural, you know, we have the main ingredients of the band that made those records. Adam’s always been the main songwriter of SOiL, Tim’s always been good at throwing his spices on the meal, and then I’ve always been the lyricist, on those first two albums. So I think it’s natural that the feel goes back to the original SOiL, because you have the same cooks in the kitchen!
I: ‘Whole’ has been out now for about five months, plenty of time for fans to absorb the new material – have you noticed the response to it change over that time?
R: Well, not really – I mean, a lot of people knew it was coming, they went out and grabbed it, and the last tour we did over in the States was with a band called All That Remains; that really opened the door to a whole different fanbase for us. You know, we were sitting there signing stuff the other night, and all these kids were like, “hey, are you a new band?”! Yeah, we’re seventeen years new *laughs* but that’s cool, because you get to see the response of people who weren’t around in 2001, 2002. And to see that the music is still crossing over to whole new listeners, and they’re grabbing hold of it like it IS something new to them; you know, it kind of makes you feel young again.
I: So is there new material in the pipeline?
R: Not really, we’ve never been one of those bands…I mean, we wrote a couple of songs while we were on the road – and I may be coming off-base here with my memory being the Swiss cheese that it is, we may have written the whole freakin’ album, I don’t know – but I recall sitting in my bunk writing lyrics for a couple, but I don’t ever remember writing a ton of material while we were on the road.
I think at this point in our career, we’re so concentrated on this album, we’re so concentrated on what we’re doing right now in support of this record because we’re doing everything ourselves that it takes up all of our time and effort. I don’t know what tomorrow’s gonna bring; I think there was a point where everyone in this room would have said that the three of us being together again would never happen – so I don’t look at tomorrow too seriously, we’ll just see what it has in store!
I: On this bill you’re between two bands who are quite overtly political – is there anything like that in SOiL’s lyrics which may have been overlooked?
R: We’ve had stuff like that, back in the day – I mean, you go way back, before ‘Scars’, there was ‘Concrete Slave’, and ‘1600’, which is the address of the White House, we’ve had some songs that have touched on politics. But you’ve got guys like Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield who can take a topic and just write a song about it, and I really admire that ability; I’ve never been that type of lyricist. Adam, Tim, whoever will just throw a riff at me and whatever I’m feeling at that moment comes spilling out – I’ve never been one to be able to write about a Doctor Seuss book or anything like that, I’m more about whoever pissed me off earlier in the day before I wrote that song!
I: Cool! Last question – you’re on the interview treadmill at the moment, you must get asked the same questions night-in-night-out; is there anything that you never get asked that you’d want to talk about?
R: Jeez…um…I don’t know! I mean, nobody wants to hear about my passion for sports or anything…over here who wants to hear about NFL? Apart from that it’s just religion or politics, which you kind of try to steer away from anyway…I don’t know! I’ll try to come up with something for next time…