‘I really love Mumford and Sons’ An Interview with Soil

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Chicago-based metal band Soil were formed in 1997 and since then they’ve endured some epic highs and lows that would have destroyed a lesser band. They’ve sold over a million records worldwide, they’ve changed drummers and guitarists, as well as losing their first lead singer Ryan McCombs in 2004. However, McCombs returned to the band in 2011 and since then they have embarked on several tours and recorded a new album (called Whole) with him. The Edge caught up with Ryan McCombs before Soil’s recent show at the 1865 in Southampton, which kicked off their UK tour. You can read The Edge review of the show here.

Where have you been so far on your tour?

We’ve been all over Europe, we’ve done France, Italy, just loads of places really. Right here in the UK is definitely our favourite place to play though and I’m not just saying that because I’m here! [laughs]It’s been that way ever since our first trip over here. The UK has always been great to play, and in a lot of ways, it’s more like home to us than America is.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

I would say metal, but when you say that people tend to think of the really extreme kinds of metal, and that’s not really how we sound. We definitely used to be metal, but metal’s got so extreme now I’m not sure we really fit in with that category, I think we’re more of a combination of rock and metal. Basically, there’s loud music, loud guitars and I’m up there yelling! I just hope to be in key once in a while [laughs]

How come you decided to leave Soil to sing in Drowning Pool?

There was no big event that happened really, no big falling out, we were just all quite young, and there were a lot of big personalities in the band. Also, I was trying to experience being a husband and father and it’s hard to balance that with being gone for 11 months of the year, so I wanted to try and put my full attention and energy into that. At the same time, we weren’t getting along too well out on the road, and I just felt that it was time for a break from it all.

I didn’t leave Soil for Drowning Pool or anything like that though, after I left Soil I was out of music for about nine months, and I didn’t really think I’d do anything musically again. But when the bug bites you, it really bites you, and when I got the call from the Drowning Pool guys it seemed like a good opportunity to get back in, since we were all good friends anyway.

Does it feel good to be back with Soil?

Absolutely! I did quite a lot with Drowning Pool, so there would be quite a few songs that I’d perform with them which were my songs with my words, but there were lots of the songs that were Davey’s [Dave Williams, former Drowning Pool singer] words, and as much as I loved him it was weird singing his songs. So, it’s really great to be back in Soil, singing songs I wrote, sometimes 14 years ago. Particularly for this tour, we’re pulling out some B-sides and deep cuts, and it’s so cool to remember where I was when those lyrics poured out my head jelly, but also it’s neat to see the fans remember them and sing back to me lyrics from over a decade ago. That’s a great gift to be given each night, I think.

Have you ever had any creepy or otherwise overly intense fan experiences?

Oh god yes! I was once handed a big wooden spoon which had a face drawn on it and some fake long blonde hair attached to it, and I was then told that it was me! That was a little odd… It survived on our tour bus for a while, but eventually the hair fell off and it could have been anyone at that point! [laughs]

What do you do in your downtime when you’re on tour?

Not much really. At the moment I’m the process of writing three different books, and I’ve really got to get the first one finished, as the publishing company is looking at releasing that at the beginning of next year. I haven’t been doing too well lately, but I should be writing in my downtime! This first book is just about lessons learned on the path to rockstar mediocrity, I guess. It’s a look at my life from childhood the where I am now and the lessons I learnt on the way.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the band?

Shit, I have no idea! [laughs]Oh god that’s horrifying, I really don’t know. I used to be a carpenter, but about a week before my first show with Soil, I lost half my finger, so that’s out. Maybe I could sell shows or something?

What is your favourite band to listen to?

At the moment it’s the bands we’re touring with, I hear them a lot! [laughs]I like a lot of different things to be honest, I like Volbeat, they’re very different to anything I’ve heard in a while. Also, as un rock and roll as this may be, I really love Mumford and Sons! When you’re on the road and everything’s stressful, there’s nothing better than crawling into your bunk, sticking on some Mumford and Sons and just mellowing out!

What’s coming up for you guys next after this tour?

Nothing is set in stone at the moment, but there’s quite a lot of exciting things in the pipeline, including a massive tour which I’m really pumped for and I truly hope gets confirmed! But, nothing set in stone yet!

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