Tex-metalists lose that sinking feeling 

By now, you've heard of the infamous list of "suggested" songs that Clear Channel Communications deemed possibly in poor taste for radio broadcast after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. While the much-talked about memo induced more than a few chuckles from coast to coast, it also served as a reminder of the effects of the tragedy on radio and the artists who make their living from it. One of the hardest hit was Dallas-based bruisers Drowning Pool, whose infectious hard-edged single "Bodies" -- the one with the "Sesame Street"-like refrain of "1, 2, 3, 4" -- and hit album, Sinner (Wind-up), were the hottest things going before the disaster. But the group's platinum-certified march took a dive right along with the World Trade Center.

"We were completely sympathetic when they didn't play 'Bodies' for a week or two," says Drowning Pool vocalist Dave Williams via phone from Wichita, Kan., a stop on the Music as a Weapon Tour, which lands at Orlando's Tinker Field on Sunday, Oct. 28, as part of "WJRR's Fallout 2001" celebration. "I mean, we're Americans too, so we were hurt just as well. If not playing 'Bodies' ... helped some people get through it, and help them heal, then I'm all for it."

Not everybody was so appreciative. The violent nature of the tag line in "Bodies" ("let the bodies hit the floor") seemed almost tasteless to those who don't understand what the song is about.

"I can understand how it could be misinterpreted," Williams says. "But the true fans know that that song is about just getting in the mosh pit and getting rid of all your aggression. It's a release; it's leaving all those problems and all that negativity on that arena floor, or that field. It's like therapy; that's why none of us has a therapist -- we get to play every night."

After the terrorism, the fans were "looking for an escape," he continues. "We're trying to move past this; I know that everybody else is. Now we're healing; the hurt's pretty much over. Now we're just pissed. Any kind of speech that I make is always geared toward, 'Look, we're standing together and we're gonna fight this evil.'"

But worse for the band than any negative radio or retail impact was a crucial loss of industry-wide momentum, which also affected other heavy acts that serve up violence in their music.

"We did hit a wall," admits the easy-going Williams, "but we're confident that we're gonna be OK. We're about to drop a second single, and we should be right back in the middle of it."

That aforementioned follow-up is the album's title track and another blistering joint. "Sinner" harkens back to a time when imported metal giants like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden roared, offering not-so-nice sentiments on religion. Williams and his Southern-fried crew aren't afraid of such comparisons. In fact, they embrace them.

"We're watching Iron Maiden right now," Williams says, laughing. "I think you hear a lot of throwback on our record, just good old-fashioned heavy metal."

Drowning Pool also wholeheartedly embraces the South, which seemingly has risen again behind the market dominance of such acts as Ludacris, Nonpoint, Cold and Sevendust. Why is the South so strong these days?

"I just think it is our mentality," Williams says. "The South has always been stereotyped as, you know, rednecks ... dumb. We're not. Now there's a lot of people out there that are dumb, that give it a bad name. But we like our beer; we like our barbecue; we like our metal. That's just the way it is."

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