Latest release: Whole (Pavement)

Another act making their Soundwave debut, American hard rock outfit SOiL have just released their new album Whole locally. As he prepared to head to Australia, Loud spoke to founding bassist Tim King about the chemistry apparent within their current line-up, being dubbed nu-metal and retaining a gang mentality.

Q: Tim, how are you doing?

A: I’m actually sitting in Chicago, that’s where we’re from. We just flew in from a European tour; we just finished a five-week tour with the band Skindred. And then we’re packing up and heading to Australia tomorrow (laughs). So there’s no rest for the wicked over here, I guess you could say.

Q: (Laughs) It certainly sounds like it.

A: Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t complain, but it is a lot (laughs).

Q: Skindred are also a part of the Soundwave bill too, so I’m sure it will be a welcome prospect to have at least a few familiar faces around the shows.

A: Yeah, great. We said goodbye to them yesterday, and we’re going to be saying hello to them tomorrow. So it’s cool that we’re both on this together after spending so much time on tour.

Q: This is your second visit Down Under – what are your expectations for Soundwave then?

A: To be honest, we’re just gonna kinda roll with it and try to have a good time, because we’re never done Soundwave before, and we’ve just heard so many great things about it. There’s so many great bands on it, we’re just gonna try to do our best to play the best we can and see what happens. I hear at these things that everybody hangs out and watches each other’s bands, and you get to experience all this stuff. There are no real high expectations other than the fact that we just want to play well, see some of our friends and we get to see our fans.

Q: This is your second time in Australia I believe?

A: Yeah, this is our second time. The first time was in 2009, and it was the band Dope and us. We played hotels and smaller venues, so this will be our first time out at the festivals. It will be great. The last time we went out with a different singer, which was our second singer actually. And now we have our original singer Ryan (McCombs) back in the band, so it should be really exciting to be playing some of the material that some of the Australian fans have always wanted to see with him on vocals. So I think it will be a great opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to everybody out there.

Q: Do you feel the chemistry within the band is just ideal now that Ryan is back in the fold?

A: To be honest with you, he is definitely the voice of SOiL. To have him back, and back all these years later with me and Adam (Zadel, guitars), the other original members, we’re just getting along better, we’re playing amazingly together, we’re having so much fun doing it. It kinda reminds us of why we started the band in the first place. So the time apart that we did spend, although unfortunate, it really helped to let us grow musically and personally, and we’re basically the best the band’s ever been. We’re definitely on fire now.

Q: Which certainly isn’t something many bands can state with conviction this far into their careers.

A: Yeah. I can definitely say it without trying to sound pompous or arrogant; I can say that we’re definitely the strongest the band ever has been. We all feel really good about it. It’s pretty much everything. I mean, the live show’s better, we’re all stronger and more experienced musicians. We’re all getting along great personally so we’re having a lot of fun as friends. And I think all those things; when you get along as people, and rekindle friendships and you become better musicians, I think all of that contributes to making good records, to playing good shows.

There’s so many bands out there that are big bands and well-known bands, but none of them like each other. They just get on-stage and try and pretend they’re friends and that they’re having a good time and stuff, when they’re doing it for other reasons or they don’t get along with each other. This is actually a band of four guys that get along with each other, that hang out together, and when we’re not doing band things we go places together, and talk on the phone. It’s definitely back to being a friendship and kind of a gang again.

Q: You can take a band like Mötley Crüe as an example of the opposite. Throughout the course of 30 years, that original gang mentality gradually eroded, to the extent where the members are on-stage together but are clearly no longer friends, and seemingly solely doing it for the financial gain.

A: Yeah, I mean people do grow apart when they’ve been in bands for that long, and things like that, people get into different things. Other bands do it for the various reasons, and it’s really good for a band of 17 years to have the line-up back, the strongest line-up we’ve ever had in the band. Everybody getting along, everybody in good health and good spirits; we’re just going to go out there and do our best, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

Q: Do you find that you’re more prolific from a songwriting perspective now, given that inner-band relationships are so strong?

A: Oh yeah. This new record was definitely the easiest record we’ve ever made; it was the most enjoyable record we’ve ever made. We sat down with one goal in mind, and that was just to write the best songs we could, and write from the heart. We were all on the same page, and we knew exactly what kind of record we wanted to make. We didn’t argue at all about pretty much anything. We were all on the same page, and when somebody would suggest something, the others were right on top of it, trying it out. It worked really well; the chemistry on this record was amazing.

Q: On the topic of the album itself, the band has watched the industry evolve from a time when heavy acts could still readily shift a tonne of units, gain gold and platinum records, to the current, uncertain outlook. What’s your take on the industry right now, and going forward?

A: I think basically it’s not really anything more than technology. It’s that technology has been so vast, and so easy nowadays, you don’t have to buy a full-length record in a music store anymore, or walk in there. You don’t have to buy the full album in order to hear one song that you really want, or wait for it to become a single. People can cherry-pick now. You can go on iTunes or Amazon and things like that, and get the songs that you actually like rather than buying the whole album. Which is in some ways I think is good in the fact that there’s no more filler; you have to really write good songs nowadays. It really makes artists step up and write quality material.

In other ways, I think that it hurts things, because when I was a kid and even to this day, I like to have the album and experience it from start to finish. I like to hold that booklet in my hand and read through the lyrics as the album’s playing, and listen to it from start to finish to hear how an entire body of work is created and utilised form start to finish. Some of my favourite records of all time, like Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil, the self-titled Whitesnake album and The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden, things like that. Those records, you listen to track one to track 10 or 13 or however far they go, it’s a story that gets told. It’s the way that those songs go together that really made that work, and made that album something special. I think people today are kinda losing that experience.

Q: On the industry front, the band were initially strongly associated with the nu-metal scene, but have survived beyond that trend when plenty of others fell by the wayside. Where you feel SOiL currently sits within the heavy music landscape?

A: I think that was one of the things that actually helped us to survive, was the fact that people wanted to put us in the nu-metal category, but they quite couldn’t. That was what was really big at the time, (but) we were more of a heavy rock band with some metal influences. And although we got lumped into it, we were never quite that type of band, so when nu-metal kind of had its day and had come and gone, we were able to still continue on and have a career, when a lot of those bands had disappeared. We never quite fit that mould; we always just kind of did our own thing, and were influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity, Aerosmith, Pantera and Metallica and stuff, rather than putting some DJ beats, rapping and lots of electronica-type stuff in it. We were more bare bones, if you will; more meat and potatoes.

Q: Interesting. Any famous last words?

A: Please pick up the new record Whole; it’s available in Australia this week. Can’t wait to see everybody over at Soundwave Festival, and can’t wait to get out of the snow and into some heat. We’ll see you soon.

You can catch SOiL at Soundwave:

22/2: RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
23/2: Olympic Park, Sydney NSW
28/2: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
1/3: Boynthon Park, Adelaide SA
3/3: Claremont Showground, Perth WA