Some bands are like resilient boxers. No matter how many times they find themselves getting knocked down or thrown against the ropes, they come back swinging and fighting as hard as ever. Bassist Stevie Benton took time out to discuss this exact principle with us, as well as other things.
Stevie: How’s it going, how are you man?
ToddStar: Good, how are you man?
Stevie: I’m really good.
ToddStar: Good, good. I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for us.
Stevie: Of course, yeah, no problem.
ToddStar: Let’s talk about Resilience man, this album is just killer.
Stevie: Thank you.
ToddStar: After listening to it a couple times and being a fan going way back, what can you tell the fans who are new to Drowning Pool, or the ones who are circling back, what kind of tidbits about the album can you tell us that you might not get, or grab, first or second listen through?
Stevie: You know, for us like putting the record together and just the approach to everything from the initial song writing to just working the songs out, to the actual recording process, it was so smooth and easy with Jason that, kind of like our work process for making these songs became… the way that things started in the beginning… Jason is like… his vocal tone and just his approach to writing songs and things like that are very similar to the way Dave would attack songs, so instead of the past couple of records, us kind of molding songs to fit a different style of singer, well we didn't have to jump through those hoops this time. There was really no thought process, you know, you didn't have to sit there and plan things out, you know? You could just kind of… it was so natural that you could just not worry about it and go with your gut instinct. We didn't second guess ourselves on things and stuff like that. So for us it… we had such a great time making the record. For us it really felt like old school, going back to the way we started and kind of going back to what worked for us in the beginning. So you know when you’re able to do it naturally like that, it makes the record a lot more fun and it feels more like jamming with your buddies than actual work. So I think that’s a big part of the reason we’re so proud of the record is that… for us it felt like the most natural record we've had in ten years.
ToddStar: And as a fan and someone who has listened to everything I would agree with that, that you did really circle back. When you guys got Jason in the band, he’s your fourth lead singer, and fifth if you count your one off with Zombie, which was one of the better tracks as well…
Stevie: Thank you.
ToddStar: But dealing with Jason on this, you made reference to Dave a couple of times. Is this something you guys went out and you said listen, let’s just find somebody who fits us instead of finding the flavor of the month or….
Stevie: It was very, yeah it was very much like that, bro. You know, after Dave passed, you know, the two singers we had in between Dave and now Jason, one of the main reasons we went with each of those guys is because we didn't want anyone to come in and steal Dave’s shoes. We didn't want someone who sounded too much like Dave, because we didn't want to be like stepping on his toes. So we went for guys who were from a completely different mind-set, a completely different vocal range and looking back I’m not sure if that was maybe the wisest thing to do, it just felt like the thing to do at the time, but then you know, now that we've got Jason in the band and it’s kind of more back towards what we were working on with Dave during the Sinner record, stuff like that, you know, it went so great, so smoothly and we love the songs so much that it kind of makes you think to yourself, or bring yourself through what has gone on with the band for the past ten years. It really makes you second guess yourself and think, you know, we should have just stuck with what had worked for us and not tried to deviate, you know, make such a huge departure from that sound. So you know, it will drive you crazy if you look back on it too much, so we’re just kind of happy that we’re at where we are now and you know go from here.
ToddStar: Awesome, it’s the best attitude to have.
Stevie: Thank you.
ToddStar: As far as the new album, Resilience, you know, there have been four singles released, and this thing seems to keep blowing up. Was it all expected from you guys when you finished this thing, you turned it over to the record company, that thing would just take off like it has?
Stevie: You know you’re always hopeful. You know, all those songs are kind of like your children and you want the best for each of them. So it’s always… I think it’s really hard to gauge how well songs are going to do because you wrote them, it came from you, you dig them. But it’s all open to other people’s interpretation and how well they receive it. So we’re very thankful that a lot of people really dig it, you know? And we keep picking songs out, and playing the live shows, we’ll be doing this, you know, for the next year. We’ll be on the road and working the same radio or whatever, it’s just… it’s nice to complete that recording process, have the record out and then get to go play the songs live every night and get that, you know, instant fan reaction feedback. That’s what makes all of this worth it. Being on tour, being on the road sucks. It’s like a never ending grind, but the thing that makes it all worth it is that one hour on stage with the crowd, that’s the pay off. We’ll never stop doing that.
ToddStar: I’m glad. I've had the pleasure of seeing you guys several times.
Stevie: Oh right.
ToddStar: Back when you guys were doing the Ozzfest thing with Dave, and I even caught you guys a couple of years ago up here in Lansing, but I’m glad you brought up shows, because next week you guys are going to once again take over The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan.
Stevie: Oh yeah, that’s like home away from home for a lot of bands. It’s a great place.
ToddStar: I can’t wait to see you there. You guys have played there a dozen or so times over the last seven or eight years. What is it that keeps you guys coming back to The Machine Shop?
Stevie: It’s just a great rock crowd in that area, great rock vibe, plus all the people that run the place are really cool. They treat us great, at the end of the night we all hang out and have a blast. It’s just… it’s a lot of fun. It’s one of those places that when you see this long tour schedule you know, it’s one of the ones you put a little star by and you know you can’t wait to get there, so it’s going to be awesome.
ToddStar: And they can’t wait to see you guys pull back into the parking lot knowing you guys are going to tear the stage up.
Stevie: Oh yeah, good times, man.
ToddStar: I also want to talk about Wounded Warrior, man. You guys, as a veteran thank you so much for what you do, but…
Stevie: Oh right, yeah.
ToddStar: You guys, it means a lot to people that you guys do this. Not only how did you get involved in it, but what made it that important to you guys to just keep doing this?
Stevie: Well you know a lot of us are from like military family backgrounds and stuff, so maybe that’s what led us in that direction initially, and once you get in it, and they go places, the troops in Iraq, Kuwait and all these places, they're the most rewarding shows you’ll ever do. It gives you a sense of purpose. I mean I love playing rock music, and it’s all parties and beer, but it’s nice every once in a while to give something back and go bring a little piece of home for these guys and girls who are stationed in these hostile environments for eighteen months at a time. That’s got to be awful for anyone. So you know, to be able to help these guys out, just for one night, when all is said and done, years from now when I’m retired and sitting in the old folk’s home or whatever, those will be the shows that really stick out in your mind. And then… you know what you get into, and you meet all these awesome people putting their lives on the line for their country, you start asking yourself you know, look what they do, what can I do to help them out even more? So that kind of got us involved with raising money for like the USO and the Wounded Warrior project and stuff like that. Any little contribution we can make we’re happy to do it because these people put their lives on the line and take sacrifice willingly, you know, such a huge chunk of their lives so I think it’s the very least any of us could do to say thank you.
ToddStar: Again, it was one of those things that took you guys from ‘Wow, these guys are a great band, I love them, I run out and buy all their discs’, but it just put you guys up a step to elitism in my mind just because you didn't take yourself so seriously that you didn't look outside and say there’s something else that really matters.
Stevie: Sure, sure. It’s odd, a lot of people take it the way that you do, and realize the effort that we’re making, but you always have that kind of fall out, that flat back of people that have the impression that we’re some kind of band that goes out and promotes killing and war and all this stuff, but you know that’s one thing we try to make clear is that we’re doing this for the individual, for the people who are putting their lives on the line defending the country. We’re not promoting war and dying and killing and all that shit, it’s about taking care of your own when they come home at the end. A lot of them come back with things like post-traumatic stress disorder, and some of them come back missing limbs and things like that. It’s about helping them out because of the sacrifices they have made, that’s the whole point. I want people to always try to realize that.
ToddStar: That’s an important point. Getting back to touring, if you could pick another band or two to go out on the road with to tour the new album with that you think would complement Drowning Pool, and at the same time Drowning Pool will complement them, who would you like to go out on tour with?
Stevie: Man that’s tough. I guess one of my favorite bands of all time, I've got to say Sevendust. We've been out on the road with them many times and it’s always such a blast. That’s always a big one. Who else, man? We just got the road with Flyleaf, and you wouldn't think that would be a good mix, but it really turned out to be awesome. They’re a great band and the shows went well, although maybe our crowd and their crowd aren't one in the same, for the most part the people there to see them were really receptive to us and we had a good time. There were… it’s funny because a lot of friends would copy me on things that people were tweeting and whatever during the show, and there’d always be a couple that were like they are there to see Flyleaf and then they see us and they’d be like, you know, I can’t stand these devil worshiping drunk idiots, shit like that, and it’s like oh my god, it kind of… for some people the heavy, more… I don’t know, more somber music maybe goes over their head a little bit and they just hear a guy scream and they're like oh my god, it’s Satan. So that was pretty funny, but the tour was great. We had a blast. A couple of months from now we have a bunch of shows lined up with Pop Evil, who we’ve also been on the road with, so I’m really looking forward to that. You know who else I’d like to tour with that we never have is Clutch. I love that band. That would be awesome, so if they're reading this, man lets hook it up. Then beyond that I’m really into like a lot of really heavy bands like The Contortionists and stuff like that, so for me personally that’s like who I would love to be out with. Maybe someday.
ToddStar: Who made you want to pick up a bass and stand in front of a crowd?
Stevie: When I was really young and first getting into music, before I even knew the difference between bass and guitar and all that stuff was, it turned out that always my favorite guy in the band was always the bass player. That was like… Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, Chris Burton with Metallica and you know, I don’t know what it was, maybe just because I felt like that their personality was in the band matched my own so I was destined to play bass, or if… I was just naturally drawn to it. That’s how it happened. Plus when I was really young my cousin played bass in a big Dallas local band, so I was kind of familiar with the instrument because I knew that’s what he did. I guess the stars aligned and that’s what I wound up picking up, was the bass. I never really got into guitar that much, I always felt more natural and better suited to play bass, for whatever reason it just seemed to grab me a lot more than anything else. Things have a way of working themselves out I guess. I got lucky because now I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Bass player is the coolest guy in every band, and usually the best looking guy too. I think I made the right call.
ToddStar: Ha ha, well listen I know you’re busy, so I have one more for you before I let you go. Stevie Benton, what’s the meaning of life?
Stevie: Man, the meaning of life? Dude, I can’t even… I think all you can do is try to go through life and not sweat the small stuff; not get caught up in all the fucking bullshit. Just let it slide right off of you, otherwise you just make yourself fucking miserable. Those are the words I live by; don’t sweat the small shit.
ToddStar: Cool, I couldn't have said it better myself. I really appreciate your time today and I cannot wait to see you once again light it up at The Machine Shop next Thursday where I’m sure you guys are going to feature a lot of the tracks from Resilience and your catalog…
Stevie: Hell yeah, buddy. Yes, sir.
ToddStar: ... going to put on another great Drowning Pool show.
Stevie: You better believe it my friend, thank you so much for talking with me.
ToddStar: Alright, we’ll see you Thursday, Stevie. Bye.
Stevie: Alright brother.
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