Six months after the death of lead singer Dave Williams, the three remaining members of Dallas hard rock outfit Drowning Pool are starting their search for a new vocalist, but it's not going to be easy. "The other day we got a tape from a guy who sounded so much like Dave it was eerie," says drummer Mike Luce, 31. "It kind of freaked us out, and, it's not the guy's fault, but I don't know if we'll see him because of that. It was just too weird."
Since last week, Luce, guitarist C.J. Pierce and bassist Stevie Benton, have been getting together nearly every day to jam in their rehearsal space and listen to tapes. "We're not looking for Dave II," Luce says. "That wouldn't be cool for us, Dave, his family or our fans. At the same time, we want somebody to step in and complete the circle. The guy will show up and be completely the right guy or he won't."
Drowning Pool aren't resorting to "getting on rollerskates and putting up flyers," but they have put out word through their management and friends in the music business about their search. They recently met and hung out with a singer from Philadelphia who was promising enough that Luce said they plan to fly him out to Dallas again sometime soon. "It's not just, 'Can you sing the parts Dave sang?' but, 'Can you write new stuff and can you live on the bus with eight guys for eighteen months and not be a shithead?'"
Luce admits he doesn't know if the band will ever get to that point. In the months after Williams' death -- the singer died of heart failure at age thirty on August 14th, while the band was on Ozzfest -- the drummer was either M.I.A. or refused to leave his house. His band mates finally lured him back to their rehearsal space late last year, and the trio began the process of starting over.
Since reconvening they've written more than half a dozen instrumental songs, which Luce describes as ranging from their heaviest material ever to a track that might be their lightest (tentatively titled "Pussy Control"). "The only thing that kept us positive was going back to what started it all, the three of us in a rehearsal room jamming," Luce says.
Prior to his death, Williams had participated in the tracking of three or four new songs with the group, material Luce said he doesn't think will ever be played live or released. "We laid that stuff to rest," he says. Two songs were fully completed, and included vocals from Williams. "There was a song we were calling 'Heroes,' which is kind of eerie now," Luce says. "With all the people passing last year, Dave, [ex-Ozzy Osbourne drummer] Randy Castillo, Layne Staley and Lisa Lopes, the lyrics about 'heroes passing' and how much people miss their fallen heroes are just too much."
Another track, "Care Not," which Luce describes as an "epic" song that dates back to the band's first demo, had also been edited into a nearly completed version. Four other untitled, "old metal style" songs were in the early stages of recording.
And even if Drowning Pool do find a singer and continue under the same name, Luce thinks some of band's back catalogue will simply be put away for good -- including "Sermon," from their 2001 major-label debut, Sinner -- because they were so dear to Williams.
Luce also says there isn't much good material to piece together for a possible live album: "The live stuff I've heard isn't great," he admits. But one project that pre-dated Williams' passing, "The Man Without Fear," from the upcoming Daredevil soundtrack, will see the light of day. "We got that gig a week before Dave passed and the only thing we could think of to try and keep positive was to make it happen," Luce says. The band had become so friendly with Rob Zombie's band while they toured on last year's OzzFest, that they had begun referring to the then-untitled track as "Tempesta's Groove," in honor of Zombie drummer, Tempesta. They asked Zombie if he would be willing to sing the song, but the fright rocker said he was too busy finishing his House of 1,000 Corpses film and planning his wedding. One week before the song was due, however, Zombie finally freed up some time, and the trio flew to California and recorded the track in just two days. "It was so easy, we felt guilty," Luce remembers.
Now, as they wait for the right singer to come their way, Luce and his band mates are being realistic about their future. "Every now and then we fall down and pick each other back up," he says. "Who can say if we'll ever get where we were again? But, if Dave were here, he'd be stealing someone's thunder right now and he'd be fighting away. So, that's what we're doing, we're scrapping and kicking, trying to stay alive."