The album “Whole” (AFM Records, 2013) redefined what Soil was all about. Ryan McCombs, having returned to the band in 2011, bringing back his trademark punch-in-the-face vocals and lyrics, matching the killer riffs and rhythms of Tim King (Bass) and Adam Zadel (guitar).
Last year (2013) following a more than successful tour with Skindred, the band returned to the USA only for Ryan to then suffer a Stroke while at home. Not unsurprisingly, Ryan’s stoicism and dry sense of humour held fast throughout this episode. His recovery has, thankfully, continued to progress well, such that the band have been able to use the unforeseen time out, to focus on their own health, family and friends.
Soil have now made a welcome return to the UK in support of Coal Chamber’s ‘Rivals’ tour. We sat down with Tim and Ryan before they took to the stage at The Waterfront, Norwich. As usual with Soil, there’s a lot of humour and laughter in the room.
TCRS: Welcome back to Norwich. The last time we saw you in the city was with Skindred back in January 2014.
Ryan: That was a great tour.
TCRS: ‘Whole’, your last album, had certainly gained a lot of traction with the fans by then.
Tim: Yes, it’s actually done really well for us. The fans received it really well and it sold well. We couldn’t have asked for anything more in this day and age.
TCRS: You continue to move your setlist around, keeping it fresh.
Tim: Yeah, we’ve been throwing in something a little special each time we come, so it’s not the same show.
Ryan: There’s a handful of songs we have to play, otherwise we’ll get lynched afterwards! [laughs] If we didn’t play ‘Halo’, somebody would’ve definitely poked my eyes out after the show. So there’s a handful of songs you have to play, but we always try to throw in a little something different here and there depending on the length of set.
Tim: Like in this one (tour) we threw in a song off the Redefine album called ‘Pride’ and we haven’t played that in awhile [Editor’s Note: 10 years?] and we brought ‘Black Betty’, the Ram Jam cover, back in on this one too. A little something special.
TCRS: How’s your health, Ryan?
Ryan: Shit! It sucks!
TCRS: But you went through a bit a spell last year where things weren’t…
Ryan: Last time I was here, I went home and decided to have a stroke.
TCRS: How are you now?
Ryan: I’m fine, until we get tired, my speech starts to slur a bit. I get tired and I got this stupid right leg that it doesn’t let me run really, so if a bear jumps in the room real quick, all it has got to is outrun me because I brisk walk it will outrun me at this point [laughs]. But I was so lucky, the type of stroke that I had, the recovery time that I had from it, doctors were just amazed by it and didn’t understand it and so I was really blessed by the after effects were so minimal in my case… so yeah I went home, I went to bed that night, straight from getting off the plane from being over here and woke up with a stroke! But it’s been cool, because I’ve had a good surroundings, you know whether it’s at home or whether it’s the band members and stuff. We took the needed time off to make sure that I could do it without my brain blowing up. It’s just a matter of being smart about what I do and taking life in moderation, dealing with the old chest thumper and the head jelly and making sure everything is going to be fine.
TCRS: Tim, seeing Ryan the way he was, what was your immediate reaction?
Tim: It scared the crap out of me! My long term girlfriend, she also had a stroke, so I…
Ryan: My ‘Stroke buddy’.
Tim: Yeah, I mean it hit double as hard, because I had to deal with her stroke and then Ryan. But it actually kind of helped me, because I knew what she went through, so I was able to know what Ryan was going through and really try to be there as much as I could for him and figure out stuff for the band.
Ryan: Yeah he sent me a book ‘Dealing with a Stroke for Dummies’ [laughter]. I think what we really need to pay attention to though is the one common factor here, there’s two people that had strokes and Tim knows them both! [more laughter]
Tim: We didn’t really know what was going to happen to the future and we kind of looked at it as, you know, “What if it is over? We have had an amazing time, but if it’s not, we’re just going to change some things and do whatever we need to make it to where we can keep on doing it” and that’s kind of the approach we take with it.
Ryan: Luckily my time away from the band there was a couple other singers though, so if I do happen to stroke out, there are always replacements [laughs].
Tim: No we’re not coming back. When one of us has gone off the list, I think it’s time to say “Sayonara”.
Ryan: Not the way I see it, I’m getting cardboard cutouts of you guys! Can we do that next tour? I’m getting old [laughs]. Seriously tho’, one of the great things about these guys is that they go into every run with the knowledge that I need to take life differently than I use to. So when it usually comes down to sleeping I make sure that I get my sleep. They’re being mom and dad, making sure I take my medicine and stuff. Everybody is very conscious of the situation, just really helping to make sure my butt is in the quietest place in the bus and I’m getting some rest.
TCRS: Ryan, I know you’re huge Football (American Football) fan. How was the draft for the Browns (Cleveland Browns)?
Tim: They’re an awesome basketball team.
Ryan: That’s his knowledge of sports right there!
Tim: That’s my cue to exit! [laughs]
Tim: I loved it. The two players that they took in the first round, Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving, were two of the three guys that I had said like a week before that I would take, so I couldn’t have been happier. First, I got to go for the first me and my brother talked about going to the draft for 25+ years and actually be there and I won my pass and I won. I’ve never won anything in my life, so I got to take my brother. So after 25- 30 years of talking about it, we were finally there, at the draft and it was a really cool experience! But I think even in the later round picks, I liked the kid from Washington State (Xavier Cooper), the defensive tackle. I couldn’t complain, even their 7th round pick to take the Cornerback out of the Cardinals…should’ve been the first round pick because he was still healthy last year. So I think they really filled a lot of holes.
TCRS: And “Deflategate“?
Tim: Man, I’m so… so tired of it. If something was right, I’d say it was right. If something was wrong, I say it’s wrong. In their (New England Patriots) case, if you broke the rules, you pay the price, it’s that simple. When you refuse to give items up, to be looked into, such as in his case, they wanted to take a look at his emails and take a look at his cell phones, text messages and stuff, and he refused to do that, to me when you refuse to show that you’re innocent, that means you’re hiding something. It’s like all these guys in sports, regardless of the team, regardless if they get in trouble for something and they pay the situation off. If you’re innocent of something bad, you want to be known that you’re innocent. At least I would want to know. If I’m getting blamed for jay-walking and I wasn’t jay-walking, I want to be known that I’m innocent of it. I’m not going to go pay somebody off to show that I’m not innocent or not give you the stuff that would prove that I’m innocent. To me, when people do that, you’re guilty, it’s done.
TCRS: Tim do you think that question has got it out of this system for this tour?
Ryan: He heard “Football” and his mind was like *Ping* [holds up a bottle of water] “Man this is the best water I’ve had in ages, this is really good water…I wonder what’s in this water, where’s this water from?”
Tim: I mean you guys may have just been talking Spanish for all I know, I just kind of shut the switch off and turned it back on. [laughter]
Tim: We do the UK and then we have four European shows with Coal Chamber and then we’re going back to the States for two weeks, then we start up with Powerman 5000 on a tour of the States. So it’s just kind of like this is a proper third leg of the whole cycle [with ‘Whole’], so we actually did like three proper UK, Europe and States tours in this, so it was kind of cool to have it like that instead of non-stop tour. We’ve been out for a long time on this record.
Ryan: We had to sit still too long while I was wrestling around with the brain. These doctors are sucking my wallet out clean. We’ve got to get out of that place and get some air!
TCRS: And put down another record?
Tim: Funnily enough, right before this run, we were talking about doing new songs and stuff and throwing some rough ideas and discussing it. So we’re a little strapped for time right now because we do this and then go into Powerman, but you know definitely after that we’ll work on some new stuff. It’s kind of like the age old, it’s so weird nowadays in the business, whether you put out a few songs, put out a full length record, so we’re just going to see where it takes, see how many songs we get and more likely there’ll at least be some EP of some sort.
TCRS: Well listen fellows it’s been an absolute joy to catch up with you guys again and get to see you perform back in the UK. You’ve got a strong following here.
Tim: It’s been a blessing. The UK crowd in particular, has just embraced us from day one. It’s always fun. We were laughing earlier, we’ll come here as long as they let us and even after they stop letting us, we’re coming back to annoy the shit out of everybody.
Soil are currently touring the UK with Coal Chamber, along with the Defiled and Dope.
UK Tour w/ Soil, the Defiled & Dope
20.05.15 UK – Leeds / Stylus
21.05.15 UK – Norwich / The Waterfront
22.05.15 UK – Warwick / Copper Rooms
23.05.15 UK – Nottingham / Rock City
24.05.15 UK – Glasgow / O2 ABC
26.05.15 UK – Bristol / Motion
27.05.15 UK – Exeter / Lemon Grove
28.05.15 UK – Brighton / Concorde 2
29.05.15 UK – Wolverhampton / Wulfrun
30.05.15 UK – Manchester / The Ritz
31.05.15 UK – London / Koko [Sold Out]
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