Drowning Pool will always hold a special place in my rock and roll heart. Not only was I at one of the last shows Dave Williams played with the band, but the guys treated my son very cool while he waited in line at Ozzfest to get his shirt signed. Fast forward a few years, and a chance interview with the band was my first for a rock website and the following concert was the first I ever photographed. Now we have them coming to one of my favorite venues, The Machine Shop, and we were able to grab a little of lead singer Jasen Moreno's time before they head out...
Toddstar: Jasen, thank you so much for taking time out. I know you're busy ramping up for a big tour.
Jasen: Yep. Trying to end the year properly on the heels of our tour of India. We really want to finish the year strong here at home.
Toddstar: The tour has been dubbed the Not So Silent Night Tour, like you said, taking this out to the end of the year through the holiday season. Some of these tours, you guys come up with some of the coolest names. How did you come up with something like the Not So Silent Night tour?
Jasen: That was a group effort, man. Obviously we were trying to find the holiday feel, without being predictable or cheesy with it. That one was a group effort between us and the managers. When you got a lot of heads together, trying to think of something cool, it gets a little bit easier.
Toddstar: Cool. Let's talk about Drowning Pool a little bit. Hellelujah, the most recent release, came earlier this year. This is your second studio disc with the band. How's that album still being received out there? In this day and age when music seems to almost be disposable sometimes, what's it like for you guys? Is stuff still being received very well?
Jasen: Like you say, I guess it depends on what market you're currently attacking. I think obviously there's always room for growth and areas to improve on, it didn't exactly burn up the charts so I think there are things that we would like to see happen with it. Overall, with the core fan base, I think it's still being received rather well. We play quite a few of the new songs in our live set and they go over pretty good. As far as in terms of disposable and is it selling well, I really couldn't tell you. That's probably a bad thing; I would assume I would know a whole lot more if it was just killing it.
Toddstar: That's the thing - the music business isn't what it was. Rock is not dead, but nobody's selling millions of albums anymore. The fact that you guys are still out there cranking out music speaks to the power of Drowning Pool as a band.
Jasen: Yeah, I would like to think that we're still a strong front. In my opinion, I think it speaks more about the fan base. Drowning Pool is resilient, as far as those three guys, the core members of the band. If you want to look at that, I mean, it's undeniable. Extreme highs and extreme lows, we all know the story. Poised to take over the world, and to suffer tragedy like that... there were two singers after that, and now the fourth guy. You could argue that the guys are resilient, or gluttons for punishment. I think it's really the fans. It's the only reason a band like Drowning Pool has had their fair share of ups and downs is still able to have that opportunity to create music on that level. I think that really speaks volumes about the fans, and the loyalty of the fans. It doesn't really matter who's singing. I’m not trying to say it's unimportant, or knocking myself. It's about the music, people just want to hear the tunes and I think that's a wonderful thing. I'm grateful for it.
Toddstar: You keep mentioning the band, and it's cool, but it also shows your humble side because as you mentioned, you're the fourth singer. To be able to step in and take over a position that has been kind of volatile, over the years, and make it your own. You pay homage to what was there but you've really kind of made the vocals your own. Is that something you constantly have to remind yourself of, or are you just up there doing what Jasen does?
Jasen: I think that coming into it, I was very mindful of those who had come before, especially Dave. I knew Dave, big grunge fan. My local band toured with the band during the Ryan era of Drowning Pool. We toured with them, so I learned a lot watching Ryan and from watching Mike, from watching the guys. I've always been a big fan; I've known the guys forever, so I was definitely mindful of the legacy and the back catalog. I made an effort not to dump all over that, it was never really about, "I'm the new singer, this is what I can do and everybody listen to me. This is my band now." I tried to be mindful of that. At the last show, then recording, I think, naturally it's going to evolve when you have a new member so don't worry so much about injecting a whole lot of myself. I think it all just happened naturally, I don't think the fans really want that. I think they like their Drowning Pool to stay Drowning Pool, I don't want to be the guy who came in and ruined someone's favorite band. I'm really just trying to be respectful to the fans. I want to preserve what the guys have created and anything that's going to speak to what I can do personally; I think that will happen naturally. I don't really need to try. As far as recording goes, and live, as I said before, I was a fan and I enjoyed singing the songs the way they were write. It's the way I want to hear them, if it ain't broke don't fix it. I don't really need to do all that improv, or, "I'll change this." I'm not about that. Like I said, I'm just grateful to stand on the stage and sing songs. I'm not worried about doing a whole lot of me, I just want to have fun and smile a lot.
Toddstar: The beauty is, if you listen to the new material, you are doing you. That's the best part, and that's what I think really speaks the most volume about your respect for, not just the band, but the genre in total is you really do stay true to yourself. Listening to songs like, "By the Blood", or, "We Are The Devil", you really interjected yourself into the music, not an image.
Jasen: I appreciate that, I think it was natural. It wasn't a decision that I made or that we all made. Not so in depth, at least. I know that on the newest record, we definitely decided that we wanted to continue to go in a heavier, explore a heavier route. It's just who we are with me in the band. It wasn't something like, "All right, you're in the band, we're going to be as heavy as we want to be. Nothing was formulated in that sense; it was just guys being in a room writing music, having fun. A back to basics kind of thing. Everyone was really into it, I was really green. I had a whole lot of outside input of listening to a whole lot of people. I think I learned a lot, we've learned a lot as a band. Hopefully this can continue to get better, people can get with it. It'd be cool to be able to stay around a little longer, but I don't know. I think that question depends on who you ask. The band's been around a long time, and I've heard them say things that make me wonder, you know, "What are you guys doing?" Stevie and them, they'll say, "Well, you know, we look at the strengths and weaknesses." One thing that they've learned is that you try to cater to the strengths and not to include the weaknesses. Maybe they are helping me in ways that I just can't see, because of all their experience. I'm still relatively new to all this, music on a professional level.
Toddstar: You've mentioned it a few times, so I'm going take it in this direction. You talk about the fans, and Drowning Pool is one of those bands that seem to be all about the fans. I've seen a couple incarnations of the band including seeing you live and you guys always bring it. As much as I love throwing in a CD, there's something about watching you guys live. What is it you like most about standing on stage?
Jasen: Oh wow, you know, that is the whole reason that I was really drawn to this style of music, is you can just get up there and raise hell, and no one really gives you anything about it, no grief about it. I'm not trying to hurt people, but what was that old therapy, scream therapy? Everyone has their issues, you know? Some people turn to contact sports. Everyone needs an outlet, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. Everyone has aggressive tendencies, people get pissed, and you have bad days. Maybe your past is a weight for you, and you've had tough times. I think the culture of heavy metal, while sometimes it gets a bad rap, it's just a stereotype. I think it's a tight knit community, I don't think people are out to hurt each other. I just think people want to express themselves, and that's what I like most about standing on the stage is I can be up there, make music, and I can be as pissed as I want to be. There's a room full of people who feel the same way, they understand. It's healing. I know it sounds kind of silly, but that really is how I feel about it. A lot of craft goes into making these shows happen, and even this lifestyle. There's lots of traveling, you're away from your loved ones. It can add to all the stresses that you're already dealing with, so it's really wait all day to get up on that stage for forty five minutes to two hours to purge all the negativity and reset. That's what it means to me, that's why I do it. It helps me stay sane.
Toddstar: To tie it in with the tour, I get to see you soon at one of my favorite venue, and based on promo shots one of your favoritevenues. I can't wait until December 6th to watch you guys once again at the world famous Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan [TICKETS]. I love the place, and I have my own reasons, but what is it about The Machine Shop that you dig? Almost every photo shoot, you've got aMachine Shirt on.
Jasen: That's just the imagery, it's iconic. A lot of our venues, they come and go. It's difficult, especially with the genre downswing, if you want to call it that. Radio seems to be pulling away and CD's are not selling like they used to, and everything's connected. It gets harder and harder to move tickets, and The Machine Shop is defiant in the face of all that. They've been around for years, so the history really is admirable. There's just the atmosphere of the place. It's a cool looking room, man. It sounds good; it's got a great stage. The owners are really cool; everything feels like this is the way it should be. You go in a rock club and you want to immerse yourself in the culture. The Machine Shop is a great place to do it. They've got their merch on lock, the shirts look really cool. It's contagious. You want to be a part of it and say that you played The Machine Shop. Wear cool looking shirts and hang out. It's cool; they're just doing it right. It feels awesome, sounds good. I've had some of my most meaningful shows, as I've said before, my local band when I was working for Drowning Pool selling merch, touring with the guys. I wasn't in Drowning Pool yet, I can remember very clearly playing The Machine Shop, and it was awesome. You got to borrow Drowning Pool's crowd for a night, if you will. It all comes full circle now years later and now I'm in Drowning Pool. It's just different perspectives, it's crazy. It'll always be special.
Toddstar: When you're going out on tour, what are the songs, Jason, that you think from Hellelujah which then came out earlier this year, what songs do you think fit the best in the set alongside some of those Drowning Pool classics?
Jasen: You know, we play "We are the Devil" and that goes over well. It's got the groove, it's reminiscent of a lot of the material from Sinner. "We are the Devil" goes over really well. We play “By The Blood", which was the first single. That is also very reminiscent of the classic Drowning Pool sound, if you will. That seems to go over well. We play "Drop", which is just a burner of a tune. It's an assault. That goes over well. We've experimented with other songs, tried “Snake Charmer” for a little while and that didn't go so well, so it's definitely trial and error. "Drop", "We are the Devil", "By the Blood", I think we're going to try to bust down "Goddamn Vultures", definitely going to play "All Saints Day" to see how they feel. Maybe when we see you in December, we can talk about it further as to which songs are hitting and which ones aren't.
Toddstar: Listen, I know you're busy so I've got one more for you before we cut you loose. With everything going on with the band, again, you're “the new guy” but you've been there a long time already. You said you had a relationship before you stepped behind the mic, so looking back over your time with Drowning Pool, what is, to you, the highest point of being a member of Drowning Pool?
Jasen: The highest point? Hopefully I haven't reached that yet. It's a journey, and I think we're still hungry. I don't think we've hit the highest point yet, I think we're still scratching and clawing, and fighting. I don't know, I don't feel like we've reached our full potential yet. I don't think we've hit the highest. I know that I have a lot of great memories, not too many negatives. I think it's all been on the good side, I think the best memories are probably shows where the crowd has been really into it. It sounds so cliché, to say it's been nothing but high points, but really, I went from being a local guy chasing and staying on the grind, "When am I going to make it?" To, "All right, pack a bag, you're going." I went from my little self-contained, self-propelled world to legitimately worldwide. I've been all over the world now, man. I've been to places I never imagined I would be, playing music, singing songs. It's all thanks to Drowning Pool, Drowning Pool and the fans. I think it's really hard to put my finger on just one strict highest point. I've had many mind blowing experiences, and they continue to come. My head is still spinning, I don't really know if I'm every going to come down. Obviously, when it's over, it's over, but we're still going for it.
Toddstar: Awesome. Well again, Jasen, thank you so much for taking time out. I can't wait to watch you create head spinning for other people when you guys take the stage December 6th at the Machine Shop, because you guys bring it a 110% ever time and I know the fans dig it. Can't want to see you then, and hopefully we'll tip something back and talk about it.
Jasen: Awesome man, swing by. I always throw that invite out there; people think I'm kidding but for real, man. Get up there. Hang out with us, man.
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