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2nd August 2009
METAL DISCOVERY: How are you feeling today?
TIM KING: A little hungover.
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(Adam Zadel on SOiL's self-sufficiency)
"We clean our toilets ourselves. I have to do it sometimes in the bus because everyone is filthy. We are a working men’s band!"
Adam Zadel, AJ Cavalier, and Tim King at Sonisphere, Knebworth, UK, 2nd August 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Kristell Gathoye - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Kristell Gathoye
AJ CAVALIER: I’m cool, how are you?
American metal band SOiL was originally formed back in 1997 and became one of the fore-runners of Nu-Metal. Since then, the only major change has been their singer Ryan McCombs, now replaced by AJ cavalier. Back in 2001, they shot to fame with dance floor filler ‘Halo’. Eight years on and the band are back on top form after being invited as special guests on the Sonisphere 2009 bill, a couple of months before releasing their brand new album, ‘Picture Perfect’. Sat on the grass at Sonisphere Festival, Limp Bizkit screams shielded by the Gibson Guitars bus, AJ Cavalier, Adam Zadel and Tim King talk about their new record, the joys of touring and their new marketing ideas for the future.
ADAM ZADEL: I’m great actually!
MD: I’m good thanks but exhausted!
AZ: Well, we are now sitting in the grass relaxing so it’s all cool.
MD: How was the show yesterday?
AJ: It was great.
AZ: Absolutely phenomenal. We always expect a great gig when we come here but then we wonder: “Can it be this good every time?” But it keeps on getting better.
AJ: In the words of your people, it would be considered as brilliant or wicked!
MD: Why did you choose the UK for this one-off show?
TK: It’s our favourite place to play and we got offered to be a special surprise guest on the bill so we decided to make this our first show for our new album ‘Picture Perfect’.
AZ: It has been great timing. We were just sitting around finishing up all the details for the album coming out here October 26th and we were talking about how we would come back to the UK and kick things off again when this phone call came asking us to do this amazing show. So we just said: “Ab-so-lutely!” It was perfect timing, perfect gig.
AJ: If only every show would be like this one.
MD: Are they not all like this?
AJ: Not really…
AZ: No, definitely not.
AJ: This gig is quite a treat for us.
MD: How did the recording go for ‘Picture Perfect’?
TK: We spent a lot of time on the recording process. We went back to our old producer, Johnny K, and got a great team involved on this record.
AZ: Yes, like Tim was saying earlier, our aim was to rejuvenate the band. We definitely took our time, getting back to our roots, be ourselves, try not to be influenced by the outside world. We did it all very casually. There was no pressure, no time deadline and when it came to the recording, we had spent so much time on the writing that we wanted to make sure it reflected that. We were quite scrupulous on this record, probably more than on any other record we’ve done so far.
MD: How do you guys go on about writing songs?
AZ: We get together a lot. Instead of doing a one week big rehearsal or jamming session, we meet about 4 times a week in the evening and it kinda consisted in being a relaxed room, open some beers, chat about the band and other things. Sometimes we would chat for about 2 or 3 hours about random subjects and then just get up and say: “hey, should we jam a bit?”. We were so relaxed and in a good mood, or sometimes even in a bad mood from earlier conversations that it came very quickly and naturally. We actually wrote most of the songs on the spot this way. If it wasn’t wrapped up there and then, we would wrap it up the next day. After that, instead of playing over and over again, we would just record it, put it in a catalogue and move on so we would not dwell on a certain style.
TK: It was almost like a hang out session.
AZ: Yeah, the SOiL’s boys club for men is what we call it! Haha!
TK: Once we finish this, we send it off to AJ so he can write the lyrics.
AJ: I think we do something that’s quite unusual as it’s rare to have a singer that’s not living in the same state so we have to use technology to communicate and work together. A lot of bands feel the need to write together in the same room but personally, I prefer this way so I can really focus on the lyrics. They have the freedom to do all the music and I have the freedom to write all the vocals and it just turns out amazing to a point that it’s probably better to do it that way, even in the long run. I would not want to break the formula. We probably wrote 4 records worth of songs for this one.
AZ: Then when we had to choose which ones to record and because we hadn’t dwelled on them or over played them at the time, they still felt new and fresh so it was very exciting. Normally, when you go to the studio you beat the songs to death by playing them over and over again. So working this way made the recording better too.
MD: What did you listen to while working on the album?
TK: Honestly, nothing. We kinda almost locked ourselves out of society. We rarely went to concerts. We still listened to our old favourites that we always pop in like your Metallica and stuff like that but in terms of new bands, we really weren’t in any vibe when writing it. We forcibly ignored what was around us.
AZ: We only used our previous influences and there is now a great spectrum on the record now. We were able to pick and choose between a lot of things we created. This process was definitely the right one. It might have taken a little bit long to everyone’s liking but honestly we don’t understand why in this time and age, bands keep churning out music as fast as possible. It’s just wrong, fundamentally wrong in an artistic sense. When you start churning out music like a factory, you are only producing a product. We don’t like to look at it that way, we want to produce music. Of course, it’s a business. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do but we did this record the proper way, in a more traditional fashion.
TK: All the bands we grew up with wouldn’t put out records for 3-5 years like Slayer and Metallica.
AZ: Sure, and when the record came out, it might have been only 7-8 songs but you’d love every single one of them. We are still believers in old traditional metal albums as in we don’t like putting one single out and then going back in studio for the next album. When I’m a fan of a band, I don’t listen to one song and then throw the CD away.
MD: Going away from the record now, if you would have your own SOiL summer festival, who would headline?
TK: I know who I’d choose! Mötley Crüe!
AZ: Honestly, the ones you see especially here, they really go more balls out than in the States. Over there, you have more events of the sort so they don’t put all of them on the festival. In Europe, people save up the money during the year to go to that one amazing show that has all the bands you could possibly dream of. When you look at this line-up, it’s insane! Look at how many legends there are on here. I’m not a booking agent so I don’t know how I would put together such a bill and that’s why we were also so happy to be part of it. I really don’t know how they do it!
MD: Who would wait on you and clean the toilets at that festival?
AJ: All the people asking to do an interview!
TK: All our ex-band members!
AZ: Nah, we don’t need anyone to do that. We clean our toilets ourselves. I have to do it sometimes in the bus because everyone is filthy. We are a working men’s band!