With Ryan Combs and Adam Zadel
Interview by Wolf Shankland
Soil, often typeset as SOiL, is an American rock band that formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1997. After some independent releases, the band was the first rock group signed to J Records and achieved mainstream success with their major label debut, Scars, in 2001. The J Records sophomore album Redefine was released in 2004 and the band embarked upon a worldwide tour to follow. In late 2004 frontman Ryan McCombs left the group. He would go on to become the new vocalist of Drowning Pool the following year.
The band recruited AJ Cavalier as its new singer and released two more studio albums (True Self, Picture Perfect) through independent labels in 2006 and 2009 respectively. SOiL continued to tour worldwide and met with strong independent success. In 2007, longtime guitarist Shaun Glass parted ways with the group. In 2010, both Cavalier and drummer Tom Schofield announced their departure as well.
In fall 2011, Soil reunited with Ryan McCombs for a tour commemorating the tenth anniversary of their landmark album, Scars. The band has since rejoined with their original vocalist Ryan after his departure from Texas act Drowning Pool. The line-up is currently completed with fellow original members Tim King (Bass) and Adam Zadel (Guitar), along with drummer Jon Wysocki (formerly of Staind). The band has sold over one million records worldwide.
Tonight we had the absolute honour of speaking personally to Ryan and Adam!
Hey guys, how was the show in London recently? Did you pick the line-up yourself?
Ryan: Well it was all decided by our booking agent who came to us with a couple of different options but I think the original option for this we felt slightly “eh” as we didn’t really think it was a good fit, so then this one came about, and we had already done a show in Wolverhampton when we came over to do Download Festival, as we did a show with Fozzy there.
Was Breed 77 there?
Adam: Yeh we did a show with them at Reading.
Ryan: Yeah so we knew those guys, and we knew Fozzy from the Wolverhampton and we know Rich from Fozzy from his Mojo days. So as far as touring goes, it’s more important to have people we get along with, not that we’ve ever had problems with people but it easier when we know we can get along with them, especially seeing as we’ll be sharing a bus together on the tour.
We have around 16-18 people all on this one bus, so you gotta make sure you’re with people you know and get along with, and so the Fozzy guys were a no brainer as we’ve already spent time with on the road.
If the music is different and if everyone is bringing something different to the table it’s not bad for any of the other bands as it gives you a chance to introduce yourselves to the fans of those bands, and it brings different fans to the show.
So how was it touring with Fozzy?
Ryan: It was a different experience touring with the guys, as you’ve got Chris’ previous wrestling career so it brings a different kind of fan to the show. So you know you can go out there and introduce yourself to new fans who are seeing you for the first time and they’ll be a lot of people out there who’ll be shouting Y2J in the crowd all looking forward to Chris Jericho.
Everyone is like; let’s talk about your return to SOil October 2011! [Laughs]
We did an anniversary show in the UK and originally it was only meant to be for that run of the UK, and once we did it, I went back to the states and a few weeks went by and I parted ways with Drowning Pool and we started talking more and more about continuing on, and a lot of US fans said they’d like to see us together again, so we did a couple of shows over there and we were having way to much fun so we started writing and are producing a new record together.
What happened with Drowning Pool?
Ryan: Nothing, like I said last time I was on stage last October and I have commitment issues, somewhere in the process of my life with the divorce and quitting two bands before SOiL then quitting SOiL to join Drowning Pool and then quit Drowning Pool to come back to SOiL [Laughs] So yeah I definitely have commitment issues! Sometimes I just need to take a break and get some air.
I think it’s good for the music and the experience playing with different artists and styles of music.
Would you say the two are definitely different?
Ryan: Yeh, it was, but more because we were under the thumb of a label with Drowning Pool, it was really more vocal and it was a different direction we wanted to take. They were pretty much like “We want this album to sound this way or that way” I’m always going to sing the way I sing, I don’t have a lot of range, I’m not like Chris Cornell, my vocal range is like the size of a small shoebox. [Laughs]
It was different, but at the same time when people heard that first Drowning Pool record there was a shit ton of people who said “It sounds like SOiL” and even fans who followed me to Drowning Pool feel like I’m back home.
Adam, what happened to AJ and Tony?
Adam: Well I can’t speak for them obviously, but from my point of view it was just one of those things…we did the true self record, which did ok but over time we started having deteriorations. Shaun left the band in 2007, we parted ways with him, and when it came to doing the new record it was just more of a separation of personality and philosophy of how we wanted to carry on with things and I guess we split into two teams.
Myself and Tim wanted to keep the same style and carry on with our philosophy, but it was disagreements and constant squabbling that broke us up.
Ryan: We should’ve had team old school and team new school shirts!! [Laughs] Like that faggot ass Twilight shit.
Adam: It wasn’t movie worthy, that’s for sure!
How did that affect the band?
Adam: It was traumatic ya know, we were trying to keep the flag flying and we were always SOiL this and SOiL that, but AJ wanted to put that all behind us and start fresh which was a novel idea.
Ryan: Not the way to enter a band though.
Adam: He wanted to use it as a platform to take it to his new way of wanting to do things and that was not how we were gonna do it. We look back now and think yeah that wasn’t a good idea but we tested the waters to see what would happen and learned from the mistakes.
How’s band morale now?
Adam: It’s great to have Ryan back at the helm cause we all know what we want for SOiL and it was really good to get the ideas bouncing around for the new record and even better that we can now do whatever we want now we aren’t tied down to a label, we have more freedom.
It’s a lot harder, don’t get me wrong…putting together our own shows and recording is a lot harder on our own but it’s a lot more rewarding. We do what we want and if we don’t want to do it, we don’t do it.
It’s nice to meet people ourselves instead of having some label do it, cutting out the middle man.
Ryan: the thing about a label is there maybe a few people there who are still passionate, like when they started out in that business but there are also a lot of people there who punch the clock when they come in the morning and punch out in the evening, and I don’t want my future, or my kids’ future in the hands of some 9-5 drone.
It’s important that we take our future into our own hands.
Adam: There it is again, we all got back together with the same idea.
Ryan: And we know people who we can call to give us a hand if we need to. We can call them on the road at midnight and they’ll help, and we know those people from the years of experience, and those are the people we surround ourselves with.
So back stronger than ever then?
Adam: Yes, I would say so! We’re back on our own terms, and we’re doing it knowing where we stand and knowing where we feel comfortable, and that’s what’s going to come across in our new record.
Ryan: I love it, there’s no fucking label dude telling me to shave my beard or cut my hair and quit dressing like a vagabond, I love it! [Laughs]
The industry sucks and a lot of bands should really be doing this we can find a way of making this a successful path for more bands to follow and hopefully you’ll see more bands out there than giving up cause they can’t afford to pay their mortgage and can’t pay their lights and getting real jobs.
If we have success with this as well as having some fun then maybe it’ll help bands survive.
Adam: It’s weird when you join a label cause your all like “So do I work for the label?” and they’re like “No you’re a subcontractor, you’re your own boss!” But they said that for liability, so they could totally screw you and have no recourse from that! But now we are our own boss and reaping the rewards. [Laughs]
So, tell us about what your fans can expect from your new album…
Ryan: I’ve let a couple of friends from back in the day, even my ex-wife, listen and bounce some ideas off, my ex was there during SOiL and in the early days of Drowning Pool. Sure she’s my ex but she’s an amazing mother and a cool person, and they’re saying that this album will be where Re Defined left off!
We have all the components from the old SOiL.
Adam, who won’t admit it, writes 99% of all our songs and someone will come up with a riff; and this is the guy who’ll sit in his garage till 2 in the morning and turn that riff into a song, he’s always there to help too, if we hit a brick wall. But yeah this is the album that should have followed Re Defined.
Adam: We’re looking to record the album next month and aim to release it late summer, but that’s a very lose date yet, but gives us something to aim for.
Ryan: We’ll have more once the album’s recorded!
It’s nice though because being with a label they give you deadlines to get albums done, and if anything happens, for example: whilst recording the second album for Drowning Pool my dad died and I had to go back into work after burying my father, it’s horrible. This way we have our own deadlines that we can meet whenever we want.
So any other plans for this year?
Adam: At the moment we’re going to be concentrating on the album, there will probably be shows but we really want to concentrate time on that.
Ryan: We have a great booking agent, Dan Vito at TKO and he basically gives us that feeling of freedom and he’s going to be like that little bug in your ear just letting you know when things are coming about and invite us to do this and do that, but if he thinks it’s a good idea to step back and let us do this album…we trust his judgement.
He’s a good guy.
Adam: He’s seen us through some bullshit these past 7 years and he’s not going to fuck us over for money.
He’s really laid back; he wants the best for us, and like we said, it gives us that freedom to do our own thing!
Well thanks for your time guys and look forward to hearing the new album!