By John Parks
From their earliest beginnings in Chicago, the band SOiL has had a pretty strong work ethic, more so than plenty of bands in their position. And now, both they and their fans are enjoying the buzz around their latest (and possibly best) album, Whole.
It’s obvious upon listening to the album that putting together a killer long player was clearly a priority for their first release of new music with original singer Ryan McCombs back in the band.
It all makes for a good resurgence story, as the band once again heads back out on the road, a place where they’ve earned so much of their reputation since their late-1990s inception.
SOiL will be appearing at The District, 205 W. State St., downtown Rockford, Dec. 4, along with A.D.D. and Warmouth, and I spoke with band co-founder and bassist Tim King about everything going on.
Q: SOiL have been through this new album and new touring cycle before, but even aside from Ryan (McCombs, vocalist) coming back, this is a little different for you, isn’t it?
A: Yeah, it is. It’s good, though. First of all, because the record is selling better than expected, but it is different because we are doing so much of the work on our own. The album was fully funded on our own pretty much, so it’s been absolutely crazy all the different phone calls and e-mails and all of that stuff that goes along with it. We can’t complain, though — they are definitely all “good problems” to have!
Q: The reviews have been pretty positive, and there are actually a lot of people who are just finding out about the band from this record or from the single on radio. Is that pretty cool to you?
A: I think that’s awesome. We’ve been a band and have been around for so long that it’s actually kind of cool, and you can really appreciate it when you see people discovering us for the first time. You see kids of people who were fans of us from the beginning coming out and experiencing the band live for the first time. It’s really pretty awesome.
Q: You’ve handled plenty of questions about Ryan coming back to the band, but the fact of the matter is he has been back for a while now. Do you think that the touring you’ve done and the subsequent DVD release laid the groundwork for this album and also gave you the freedom to breathe and come up with material for Whole?
A: To some extent, yes. We really took our time with this record. We definitely worked on it at our own pace, and it was really the right time to put out the record with Ryan coming back. It definitely felt like an amazing time for the band to be working on this album. Adam (Zadel, guitarist) and I are more excited about the band than we have been in a long time, and the reception thus far has been so great that it’s just been a pleasure to not only get the feedback we’re getting, but also to see the sales follow through. It’s been all good from the fans and the critics, and it’s definitely been a case of so far so good, so I’m knockin’ on a lot of wood right now.
Q: Ryan’s performance and lyrics are absolutely a high point to this album, but a lot of the riffs on the record are almost as hummable or memorable as any of the vocal melodies.
A: Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. For whatever reason or another, any song we write always starts with a riff. Then, the vocals and lyrics are put to it, and it moves from there. Usually, it starts from a riff that Adam or I have, or sometimes Adam will bring in a full song, and we’ll put it together or add things from there. Sometimes Ryan will be in the room, sometimes he won’t, but when the song feels more complete, Ryan will take it and work on lyrics and vocals. If he has any ideas or changes we could make, we will alter or work on that until we have a basic skeleton for the song. Then, we go through the demo process of recording a framework for it, and then we send it to the producer and have them pick it apart and add their suggestions before we record it for real. That was our experience this time around, and it was amazing recording with our producer, Ulrich Wild (Pantera, Dethklok), in Los Angeles at Wilderness Studios.
Q: You guys are no stranger to the road and play tons of gigs every year. Was much of the material that became Whole born on the road?
A: That’s definitely been the case in the past with us. A lot of times when we’d be out on the road touring a record and set to go in to do another record we would write at rehearsal or things like that on an off day. But this time around, we had a bit more luxury to write and demo at home for Whole, so it was a little different this time around. As much as it’s a creative process in the studio, I really love being on the road, and we are playing as many shows as possible. We’re hitting Europe and Australia hard, as well as the United States, obviously.
Q: You guys are an Illinois band, so when you play a gig here, it is always an event. Is that an added comfort, or is there sometimes a little more legwork involved with local shows?
A: It’s really not any additional comfort. Actually, hometown shows are probably the most pain in the a– shows you’ll ever find because all of your family and friends wanting to be put on the guest list and wanting to make extra time to hang out and party and all that when you’re up there really just trying to do your job. It’s awesome to have everyone out, but that kind of additional stuff’s not happening quite as much in Pittsburgh or Austin (laughs).
From the Dec. 4-10, 2013, issue