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Exclusive! Kerby's Interview With Soil Bassist Tim King

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Thursday, February 12, 2004 @ 0:42 AM

“Taking Pride in Their Scars”

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Touring in the winter is always rife with potential calamities ranging from the adverse weather that tends to batter the musician externally to the intense viral invaders, which wreak their havoc internally. As Soil set about on the road with Static-X this past December, the temperatures were predictably frigid and the majority of the band soon became relegated to the tour bus where they tried to remedy their various ailments with rest and seclusion. Although contracting an illness while on tour is at best inconvenient, this group isn’t likely to get intimidated by single digit temperatures or a little precipitation—they’re from Chicago, which by definition means they know what it’s like to cold. Tim King, the band’s unofficial spokesman and bass player, appeared to be the only one unaffected by this year’s strain of congestion, coughing and overall sense of fatigue and defeat.

Never lacking in resiliency, Soil seems to have the strength to not only deal with touring in the winter, but rather they appear to also have the wherewithal to overcome a wide range of complications that tend to come with being a new band attempting to create a niche for itself in a genre that has recently seen many of the younger rock groups deemed overexposed and out of date by the fans. Generally, this backlash or disinterest has affected those most closely aligned with the nu-metal genre. Soil was never a part of that, but since they were new during that time and they were also metal, aspects of their music sometimes tended to get lost in the translation. Fans should understand though that Soil rocks mostly in a traditional way that pays homage to their forbearers while still managing to update their sound without succumbing to the latest trends.

The band’s first full-length album, Scars, was followed by extensive touring that saw Soil share the bill with such respected members of the rock pantheon as Ozzy and Rob Zombie. Although the record sold well, the group wisely chose to build on the momentum they had garnered by following their extensive touring with a quick trip back to the studio to begin recording the successor to their major label debut. Of course, this new record will be followed up by yet another mammoth tour supporting its latest offering. In order to appease its fans and satisfy their own intense desire to get some of Soil’s new material heard by the public, the group has been selling the Pride E.P. over the Internet and at live. The five-dollar disc showcases a couple of the new songs and a remix of their most prominent hit, “Halo.” Nearly everyone would have to agree that trying to figure out which rock bands will eventually achieve their potential can be an inexact science at best, one would have to be pretty auditorily challenged to not hear Soil’s pummeling anthems as a harkening of what real rock should be.

KNAC.COM: Why did you guys decide to come out with an E.P. right now instead of waiting for the release of your next album?
KING: Basically, this E.P. isn’t really an E.P. per se; it’s more like a sampler that’s for sale. Our record label and a lot of record labels out there have the notion that they aren’t going to be giving away any music for free anymore, but we didn’t want to wait for everybody to be introduced to the new songs. The record’s coming out in March, and our management actually came up with the idea to make a little E.P. that’s basically a sampler with two songs from the record that we would just sell at the shows and on the Internet. We just wanted all the real Soil fans to have something to listen to that would hold them over until the record comes out. It’s worked out great so far.

KNAC.COM: What do you expect the listeners to think of this recording versus the style of the previous effort?
KING: Basically, we were on the road for Scars for 13 months straight, and we just experienced so much personally and musically. What we did on this one was, we just took all those experiences and maturity and put it on the new record. In some ways, the new record is more melodic and a bit more aggressive while it still has some great harmonies and new musical pieces. We experimented a lot with new sounds, and like, acoustic instruments. For example, I used a twelve-string bass on a couple of parts on the new record and just overall, it’s more of a mature growth record--but it still has all of the anger and momentum of Scars.

KNAC.COM: Did you ever feel like Billy Sheehan when you were playing with all those strings?
KING: Uh, I dunno, I’ll never be as good as Billy, but it’s kinda cool just to try because the twelve-string bass is actually a four string bass, but it has two octave strings for each string, so you get a really vibrant melody. It really works well on like clean passages. It was really cool experimenting with new sounds, and we also experimented with distortions on the bass and things. We’re planning on incorporating all that into our live show, which is really exciting for me especially.

KNAC.COM: Right. How much of a break did you get as far as the amount of time you got to go home between the last tour and the recording of the new album?
KING: None.

KNAC.COM: You didn’t get the chance to go home at all?
KING: No, we finished Ozzfest 2002 and went and started writing the new record. Then, we went and did a headlining tour of Europe. We ended up coming back right through Christmas and the New Year, wrote the new record and went right into the studio. We haven’t had one break so far.

KNAC.COM: You had told me one time that you never really cared to have one either.
KING: No, when we’re at home we’re usually just sitting around waiting for what comes next. We took about a week off after Ozzfest, and we found that after about the third day, we were calling each other up and asking what we were doing. We’re like, this is what we do. This is what we love. This is in our blood. Why take a break from it? If we ever feel like we’re getting burned out, we’ll take a break, but right now, we’re just so excited and love it so much. We just have a fire burning, and if we don’t unleash it, we’ll just drive ourselves nuts.

KNAC.COM: Whenever you go back home and see your buddies with screaming kids and driving minivans, do you ever thank God that you didn’t take that route?
KING: Now that we’re getting older, all my friends are getting engaged and married, having kids and all that. When I get back, I go over to their houses and they have everything including the picket fence. One thing is, I do want that, but I wouldn’t trade what I do now for anything—you can always have that later. For us to do what we’re doing now is just a magical thing. It is kinda weird though to come home and not have anything in common with anyone. In the end, we usually just find ourselves hanging out with each other when we’re back home.

KNAC.COM: Do your friends ever act envious? Or do they feel like they have to say, “Oh no, I don’t want to do that rock star thing.”?
KING: No, they’re all, “I wish I did what you guys do!”

KNAC.COM: Really? They admit it?
KING: Yeah, they’re all, “I hate my job. My kids suck. Yeah, I wish I was in your shoes.” I mean, it’s like we’re eighteen every day.

KNAC.COM: Do you feel like every night Saturday night for you guys?
KING: Yep, exactly.

KNAC.COM: Is the ultimate goal to get in position for a spot on one of the more prestigious summer tours?
KING: Yeah, there’s talk about it. It’s just pretty early now to tell, but in February is probably when they will be solidifying it.

KNAC.COM: So you’re looking at probably a year or more of touring once the album drops?
KING: Oh yeah, a year and a half maybe. We’ll tour for as long as we can with this and see where it takes us.

KNAC.COM: What is the main difference between touring in America and touring in Europe as far as how you perceive your popularity?
KING: In the UK, we exploded. The rest of Europe has been a nice steady progression. The last time we went over there, we went to Germany and realized that the touring kind of paid off by the sizes of the crowds we were playing too at the events. It’s been respect to the fans because there’s been more fans there—like we went from playing in front of 200-300 people to about 2,000 to 3,000 people. It’s gonna be exciting next time we go over and see the European market build up because we’ve had some really great shows over there.

KNAC.COM: As far as the specific fans go, what do you think the biggest difference is?
KING: It seems the Europeans really grab onto bands and never let go. Whereas, the American fan can be a fan of one band one minute and then drop them like a hot potato when something new comes along. You know, you still see bands like Manowar over there and things like that.

KNAC.COM: That’s pretty old school.
KING: But they’re huge in Europe!

KNAC.COM: Still though. It’s pretty surprising.
KING: Yeah, they even went platinum in Germany. We even went into a Wal-Mart in Germany, and they had cut outs of those types of bands right there in the music section. It’s like when they embrace a band, they never let it go. We’ve always seen that and know that. We always hit the European market as if we’re here to stay. We love them, and they’ve always embraced us for the most part. We do that with Americans too, but you know, a lot of bands have come out of the U.S. and then disappeared, you know? It’s hard to love a band that’s on a label for one minute and gets dropped because they aren’t successful or big enough. So, we’ve always maintained that we’re going for the long haul. That’s why we’re here—this is what we do. We’re just lucky that there are fans in both places who are into what we do.

KNAC.COM: Are a lot of them getting inked?
KING: Well, there is one in particular who got the Soil tattoo on her leg—along with all of our portraits. I mean, what is her boyfriend or husband going to say?

KNAC.COM: Maybe she’ll at least add his face, too.
KING: Who knows? It’s like, what’s he going to think when he’s plowing her and he sees my face? [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Do you start to kind of feel like you made it at that point?
KING: It’s pretty cool to see that people are getting tattoos with your name on them. One guy got the design from one of our t-shirts on his back. That’s there for life. It’s weird to think that you could impact them so much that they got a piece of art on them that they are going to have for all of their life. It’s just a crazy thing to think about. It’s probably the same way that a band like Metallica impacted me—although I never got one of their tattoos.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever try to maintain contact with people that you meet on the road?
KING: Oh yeah, all the time.

KNAC.COM: Really?
KING: I try. E-mail’s the best because we’re always doing interviews with the press or talking to management or label or this and that. Phone conversations are always just cut down to the minimum. You know, I try to check e-mail as much as possible. It’s like, yeah, I’ll meet people on the road who are cool and stuff like that, and we’ll exchange email addresses and keep in touch. It’s hard sometimes though because more and more builds up.

KNAC.COM: You haven’t gotten any really freakish stuff where you give a chick your email address and the next time you check, there’s like 45 of them from her?
KING: Well see, if it’s something like that, we have a fan club email. It’s actually on the website where our fans can e-mail, and we can go through and check it and answer as much as we can. I don’t know if it’s my baby face or what, but I’ve been asked to prom about nine times.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever tell them to send you a picture and that you’ll consider it?
KING: We were thinking about doing a “Win a Date With Tim” contest on the next record.

KNAC.COM: Are you gonna make sure that the winner turns 18 BEFORE the prom?
KING: Oh, I don’t know if we can do that, but. it’d be a little weird to be going to a senior prom.

KNAC.COM: How much contact do you even really have with people though? It seems like the touring schedules and set ups are pretty tight.
KING: Well, we actually have quite a lot of contact. Every night we try to come out to the merchandise booth and sign for people who bought the CD. We just feel like that’s the reason we’re here. Why go and hide inside the tour bus? We might as well sit at home and play video games. I’m just out here to play music and talk to people who like the same music that I do. It’s like we go out and sign every night, and if people are waiting out by the bus, we’ll go and talk to them and hang with them. It’s all about the fans. When I was a kid, all the bands I used to worship never did anything like that. If Nikki Sixx would have walked out of a bus or something and shook my hand, I probably would have passed out or something.

(Live photos from ElusiveEye.com/(c)Jaclyn D'agostino)

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