As their debut album, Sinner, screams up the Billboard albums chart and its first single, “Bodies,” continues on a path toward becoming hard rock’s summer anthem, Drowning Pool seem to have a lock on the title of Ozzfest’s breakout band.
Such high expectations, however, haven’t made the Dallas quartet forget what landed it a slot on the tour in the first place.
“It’s crazy. It’s hard from my perspective to explain [the position we’re in] because I’m in it,” singer Dave Williams said. “We’re just four jackasses from Texas who love to play music. We love doing what we do for the audience…. Breakout band? You know, whatever. I’m not going to read too much into it. It’s great that people think that, but you can’t focus on that too much or you’ll lose sight of what you have to do, and that’s go out there and do a good show and be who you are.
“You have to take everything with a grain of salt,” he continued. “Celebrate and be proud, but don’t lose track of the big picture. Go do your show, get to places you’ve never been and entertain your audience. That’s our whole driving force, the audience, the fans.”
Lofty projections aside, the facts are that Drowning Pool – Williams, bassist Stevie Benton, drummer Mike Luce and guitarist C.J. Pierce – opened Ozzfest with a 10 a.m. slot on the tour’s third stage. After the first week, the crowd’s reaction propelled the group to a permanent place on the second stage, bolstered once a week by the opportunity to share the main stage with Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Papa Roach.
The week the tour kicked off, Sinner debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at #81. A month later, the album sits pretty at #33 with nearly 150,000 copies sold, according to SoundScan. But whatever size stage they hit or however many albums they’ve sold, Drowning Pool still tackle the task at hand with the same intensity.
“Going into it, having a 10 o’clock slot, we thought that it was going to be a challenge. But luckily, at those [first] couple of shows, there were a lot of kids there early. They wanted to get their money’s worth. We were surely not going to let them down, whether it was 10 in the morning or 10 at night.”
Just as the Ozzfest throngs have dived headfirst into Drowning Pool, other bands on the tour are finding the water to their liking.
“We’ve made friends with everybody on this tour,” Williams said. “Nobody has been rude. Slipknot, Systematic, Union Underground, Disturbed – God, those guys watch us every day, they’re very cool.”
So cool, in fact, that Disturbed have tapped Drowning Pool to tour with them after Ozzfest ends in mid-August.
“We’re going to walk away from this thing with a lot of really great friends.”
Unfortunately not every day of Ozzfest was, as Williams described it, “like heavy metal summer camp.” On June 29, just three weeks into the tour, he received a disturbing call from home that forced Drowning Pool to forfeit their slot the following day in San Bernardino, California. Williams’ father had a construction accident that punctured his lung and broke his back, ribs and collarbone. Williams flew home immediately.
“When your parents leave a message that says, ‘Call no matter what time it is,’ it’s important,” he said. “When [my mother] told me what happened, my knees buckled. I fell. I flew home and spent a couple of days with him to make sure he was OK. The last day I was with him, he was alert and cool. He said, ‘Go back to work, go back to what you do. I appreciate [your coming], but go back to work.'”
Only one show was missed because of the emergency, and with Williams’ father on the mend, the Drowning Pool frontman can again feel relaxed in the place he feels most comfortable: onstage. Williams’ affinity for the spotlight even earned him the nickname “Stage” from fellow Texas rocker Dimebag Darrell of Pantera.
“I’ve known Dime for a long time. Even before Drowning Pool we would hang out,” Williams said. “He would always tell me that no matter where we are or what we’re doing, I’m always onstage. That’s just me, that’s my personality. I love attention. It’s always been what I wanted to do. If it means I’m on a stage 24/7, then so be it.”