Drowning Pool's C. J. Pierce

By Jay Oakley

How's the tour going so far?

It's been great. We toured last year and did a fall run and it's awesome that we get to do it again with the bands and lineup that we have, Full Devil Jacket and Adrenaline Mob, two really great bands so the whole bill flows really nice. It's cool because I get to play the whole first record (Sinner). We always play "Bodies" and "Tear Away" and different songs here and there but we've never player the whole thing in thirteen years so it's a lot of fun.

How has it been playing with a band like Adrenaline Mob?

It's been great. Two bands filled with multi-talented musicians and it's awesome.

Is it just the three bands tonight?

It's us three and we usually have a local. I'm not sure how many tonight are listed but we have at least one. We always leave that spot open on our tour for local bands. I know that sometimes packages come to town like five band packages that have no room for local bands but I like having local bands open up. It was cool for me in Drowning Pool when we started out to open up for nationals and we want to leave that spot open for the local bands and I've met a lot of cool people since then.

It's the thirteenth year for the Sinner record. It was your debut and it broke you guys and opened a lot of doors for you. How do you feel about that record now as apposed to then?

I love it, man. It's so much fun to play. I love all our songs and I love that we have transformed and evolved over the years as bands do. There's something about that natural raw sound and I think it's the head space you're in at the time as well when we wrote the songs too. We were just lucky to get some free shots from bars to play and not have any pressure behind it and get to jam. It's also just getting in a room with a case of beers and your buddies and write songs as it should be and you've got to get back to that and we are back to that now with Jasen (Moreno) which is awesome.

But I love the record. It's so cool getting to see people jam out to it and it's cool to see younger fans. This record came out thirteen years ago and you're like fifteen so you were basically two and you know the whole record, every word to every song. It trips me out and I never thought at this time you'd still be making new fans every time.

When it comes to Drowning Pool's history you have had a revolving door of singers with the passing of Dave Williams. No band wants that but with having Jasen now, who has been with you for about three years now, how do you feel about what he brings to Drowning Pool? For anyone who may not be familiar we are talking about Jasen Moreno and not your second singer Jason "Gong" Jones.

Yeah, the last singer change was really frustrating for sure. There's so much involved with the revolving door stuff that where do we begin with it? You have to go through the bad things in life to get to the good things. We had definitely been on that search since we lost Dave until we came up with Jasen. Jasen actually grew up in the scene in Dallas. Jasen used to play in another band that used to open up for us back in the day and Jasen knew Dave because we were all friends. So this time around I think that was something we needed. We were looking for that element and fourth personality, that family and friend vibe.

Much respect to the record we made with Jason "Gong" Jones, Desensitized, I love those songs and same thing with the songs and records we made with Ryan McCombs but you have to have all those parts besides a great voice and great lyricist but you have to be a best friend and a buddy because you're shacked up in that bus 24/7.

That's what we have with Jasen Moreno. He's awesome and a super great guy and out of respect to Dave Williams and the Drowning Pool fans he learned every song on every record from everyone of our singers and nobody else have ever done that. So now we can play whatever we want every night and that's what we do, we mix up songs all the time.

That's really fun for me and you get that Grateful Dead thing where you never know what songs you're going to get and obviously on this tour we're going to play the whole Sinner record but there's spots for other songs that we change on a regular basis. But, he's been by far my favorite now, I love the guy. He's been very dedicated and very passionate about music.

You had mentioned having frustrations when Ryan left but is there anything you'd like to elaborate on?

I was really pulling for Ryan. He came into the band in one way and it changed. There's no hard feeling in any way, shape or form and I definitely wish him the best and I know he's been sick recently and he's getting better. We stay in touch. All good things and we did a lot of great things together and had a lot of great fun and then there was a lot of unacceptable things that happened as well. We had our time and we went as far as we could go together and I'm glad when we did split it off that it was all on good terms. We had to wait for a day when it was a good day to split it off because we had a lot of bad days towards the end.

I'm glad he's up and running again. He's always had a great voice with Soil and I think it's perfect and that's where he belongs and they just put out a great new record. We're friends with all those guys as well. It's a rock and roll family and community.

Where do you want Drowning Pool to go? What do you look for? Talk a little about you and what you want.

I definitely want to roll with the times and get more music out to people faster because a lot of record companies are stuck in the old school way of looking at things. Things don't work that way anymore so we have been making changes business-wise to work with that. We're all active online, Facebook and all that good stuff, everybody's on it which is something that has evolved in the last few years and we've been a part of that as well.

I think the main thing is getting new songs out there, we have so many new songs with Jasen. We have more songs now then our entire back catalog so we've been deciding what songs we have and which ones we're going to make then next record with. The next goal is getting in the studio and record because we all want to get stuff out sooner than later. We may very well put a handful out at a time over the next course of a few months and then put a whole record together.

So you'd like to do a smaller EP kind of thing?

Yeah because we can get it out there a lot faster like that so people aren't waiting. We can constantly tour in between it instead of taking a year off and a year of setup and a year of touring we can make it all happen at once and keep it flowing.

I'd love for you to talk a little about Dave Williams and what he meant as a band mate.

Mike and I started out and Mike moved to Dallas for like two years and that's where he met Stevie. Mike came back to New Orleans and we were looking for a bass player and a singer and Stevie was looking to put a band together as well and it just made sense to move to Dallas in 1996. The music scene was kicking ass with Pantera tearing it up.

So we went through one or two band member changes and then we got Dave and when we got Dave that's when it took off. Us three had been writing stuff for a while before we got Dave but the second we got him it just clicked. We were totally on the same page and I remember him walking into the room and we were all talking about the different bands we liked and what kind of stuff we wanted to do and everybody was on the same exact page. It was fun, such a great time and he was such a great personality.

He was very much a Dimebag Darrell personality. Just real loud and boisterous and he loved being the singer in a rock band and loved hanging out. He was always on eleven and forever an entertainer and I definitely miss that personality of him. We had some great times with him and we're still here and plan for many years.

Were you guys aware that he was sick?

It's one of those things with cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) but he was one of those guys who never went to the doctor for anything. He was complaining about chest pains two weeks before but he thought he pulled a muscle. He jumped off the stacks at Ozzfest and he ran into me and was about to push me off the stage. I didn't realize he had jumped off the stacks and he thought he had pulled something and that wasn't it at all. 

Cardiomyopathy of the left ventricle is the proper term for it but on this tour we have Dave Williams shirts and we are accepting donations to the American Heart Association and 100% of the proceeds for these shirts go to it. You buy Dave's shirt and the money goes straight to them and we also have a campaign online called Indiegogo which you can go to and make a donation and a thirty dollar donation gets a free Dave shirt. All for a good cause.

There was some controversy a while back about the song Bodies so set the record straight.

There's all kinds of stuff that has come along with that song but I guess it's only natural with a song like that. We are eternally grateful it's done as well as it has and people still use it for commercials and movies and stuff. It still gets played on the radio and we're so lucky that thirteen years later that they play are song but I think with that comes the bad side. Like anybody, Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osbourne, some tragedy happens and they try to blame your song for it.

It's just ridiculous because crazy is crazy. If you're a crazy person you're going to do something insane and you're going to do it regardless of what band you listen to and regardless of a three minute and fifteens second song. We don't have that kind of power. I wish I did. I would hypnotize everybody to buy all of our records and sell billions of records but we don't have that kind of power so it's ignorant to think that. So it's been associated with a few different things and we like to shy away from that because it has nothing to do with that. It's all about being at the rock show and jumping in the pit and stage diving and all that good stuff, which we still do. That's all it's ever been about.

When you're on your downtime, if it exists at all, what do you like to do or is it just go, go, go?

When we're on tour it's all about the tour, it's all about the fans and it's all about being out here. But besides Drowning Pool I do have a side project with my brother called As Above/So Below. I'm working on a full-length record with them at my home studio and I'm also recording local bands in Dallas.

There's a band Klodine from Houston that I'm finishing up. I was editing on the bus the other night when I had a few extra hours between three and six in the morning because I couldn't sleep so I had to edit and had some work to do. So I record bands at my home studio and recently fell into giving lessons as well. There's a school called the Sound Foundation that a buddy of ours Norman Matthew owns, he asked me to fill in a couple of times and I fell in love with it so now I have a bunch of students as well.

I've put more on my plate then every before but I love music and I'm surrounded by music so I'm definitely blessed. 

What's your ideal tour?

My ideal tour, like anybody, would be with like Metallica or Black Sabbath who we did tour with already so I guess I can check that one off back in 2001 but I'd still do it again.

Was that Ozzfest?

Yeah, Ozzfest 2001 when they had the reunion so I got to watch that every night, it was so killer. We got to tour with Mötley Crüe just never got to tour with Metallica. We've done shows with them. We've done some one-offs so I can't say I've never played with them but haven't been able to do a full run arena rock tour. But I always say, twenty people or twenty thousand people we're here to have a good time and just here to have fun and that's exactly what we're going to do.

What are you looking for Drowning Pool's legacy to be?

We just want to keep on going and be influenced by whatever's happening in life. That's what music's really about anyway and we just went through a lot of frustrating stuff on the label side and management side of things but it comes out in the music and a lot of great songs came out of that. A lot of angry songs, a lot of heavier stuff and a lot of flashback to the original core sound we had which seems still work and people are having fun with it so we're just gonna keep rocking and rolling.

Have you thought about putting out any concert films?

Yes, we filmed a concert in Russia. We did a Russia tour and we had this bad ass place that we played and finally got all the video from it and finally remixed all the audio and I want to release it. That's something we can do now and something we couldn't do with our last label so I want to to get it out there. So it's on a list of things I want to do because I'd love to do an acoustic record at some point but the next thing to do is get out more heavy songs and another record with Jasen, that's number one. The DVD would be great to get out because I did capture a lot of backstage footage at all the shows in Russia and that's what I think would make it fun and I've already gone through it and collected my clips and gotten them edited so I just need to do it but I just haven't had time to make it. But it's pretty much lined out so we'll get a DVD out shortly with Jasen Moreno on it.

Is there a time frame for your EP release?

As soon as possible. I would like to get at least four songs done and out there. Even though there's tons to choose from there are four songs that we totally agree on and all love and they're ready to go so lets just record it. I think it's know just convincing them to record at my home studio because I've been recording so many other bands that we can just do this here. But we have been so traditional about getting the A-list producer and I still want to have a producer, an outside guy because I'm going to be close to my own songs. So I need somebody else to test me and push me which I'm fine with but we can still physically record it because I have all the same exact microphones you would have at any A-list studio because I bought all that stuff so we'll see what happens with that one.

C.J. thanks so much for sitting down and talking, it was so fun.

Anytime and just keep listening to rock and roll.