“You gotta play it with your heart, you got to feel the song.”
Our interview with Cold mastermind Scooter Ward was conducted on Layne Staley’s birthday and clocked in at exactly 13:13. If that doesn’t scream “SERENDIPITY” then I don’t know what does.
But I digress.
Cold is back. And Ward was kind enough to speak about that among many other things including new album The Things We Can’t Stop (Out now!), a newer band, and a new tour (The “Broken Human” tour which is happening now!) when we recently chatted via phone. It’s been eight years since Cold’s last full-length so the conversation inevitably began with the reason for that long gap:
“Well, when I first started with Cold my sister had gotten sick and I wasn’t able to be with her for the whole thing which was kind of tragic. When she had gotten sick again I had decided to take some time and be there for her from the beginning to the end or whatever that meant. And it was a long time. It was about five years. But she’s okay now. It was nice to be there with my family. And my kids. And my wife. I just needed some family time. I had been touring for seventeen years straight.”
Within that period the band began to change with drummer Sam McCandless, the sole original member besides Ward, leaving the group (He has since returned and is part of the current touring line up). Also within that time, Cold began a relationship with what would become their current label:
“During that time, band members definitely started side projects and gotten in other bands and toured and stuff. Then I had the okay from my sister and family to go back out and play music. Napalm hit us up and had contacted us through the years there and Sebastian (Muench, A&R for Napalm Records) was telling me they were becoming more diverse with their label and acts with [Limp] Bizkit, [Smashing] Pumpkins and bands like that and they were wanting some new things. We decided to move with them because we had wanted to tour Europe a lot and we had neglected that place for awhile because of some of the major labels we were on so it’s nice to be on a label that’s focused in Europe and we still have our base here so it was a good move for Cold.”
Regardless of his current status in the band, The Things We Can’t Stop is the first record that doesn’t feature McCandless behind the kit which Ward goes on to explain definitely impacted the recording process :
“Well, it was hard. It was I hard. You know, I’d played with those guys since I was twelve years old and normally it’s just us sitting in a room: Me coming up with parts and just everybody working it out together so with this one it was important that the members that were chosen to play on the record were people that could adapt to that vibe and it definitely took time for them to be with me, live with me, and play [with me]. You know when you do Cold songs it’s not like you just go and play to a click track and try to make a verse/chorus/verse/chorus. Not only do you gotta do it, you gotta play it with your heart. You gotta feel the song. I need that to happen with the members. So they got acclimated with the way I did things and granted, it took a little slower because they were all new people but after awhile, man, it kicked in and it was like ‘Yes! This is it! This is how it’s done!’ So I waited until that happened before we actually went in the studio and started doing the record. And it’s pure Cold still. It came out well.”
Speaking more in depth on the current line up and the set for the current tour, he expands:
“Luckily all of the people playing in the band were actual fans of the band for years. Nick Coyle (guitars), who is one of my good friends, has been in a bunch of bands that had opened up for Cold throughout our career and Lindsay (Manfredi, bass) has a giant Year Of The Spider [tattoo] on her arm. They’re pretty big Cold fans so them playing the songs means a lot to me. And they love all the songs as much as I do. The thing with this setlist is to give Cold Army everything. I want to play bits and pieces off of each record, they need the full experience. It’s a rather long setlist but I think it’s gonna be a good show and then at the end….well, I can’t tell you what we’re going to do at the end because that’s a surprise.”
The sixth Cold album is almost a return to form in terms of content for the band and Ward points out that was definitely the intent:
“Previous records before Superfiction, they were all internal records. Or things that have personally happened to me. Things that I went through and, y’know, when I write songs that’s how it helps me deal with things in my life. With Superfiction I kind of went back to when I was a kid, when I was a teenager, when I sat around and I’d write these elaborate stories and I kinda wanted to go back to that. Y’know, it’s hard doing record after record of tragic things that have happened throughout your life and going back to those moments. We’ve done enough records like that so I’d like to do one and, you know, there are parts implemented in there that are painful to me that I snuck in there in certain areas…but most of it was just “Superfiction’. It’s what it was. And it was cool and it was nice to do that record.”
“However, with the things that’ve transpired through my life after that and everything up until the creation of this new record…tragic things had happened again and I felt compelled in that I owed it to the Cold Army to make a record like that again. And that’s what I’m good at and that’s what I’ve always done so that’s what I think I’m good at, at least (laughs). I just wanted to go deep again and that’s what I tried to do with this record. It’s internal. It’s heartfelt. It’s emotional. It’s got highs and lows through the whole thing and hopefully people find help in it. I feel like with Cold Army, we have a loyal fanbase and that’s what they expect from a Cold record.”
There have been several false starts leading up to the actual release of the new record (Hell, it was on our “Most Anticipated of 2018” list) and besides line up changes, Ward reveals that there was even more to the delay:
“It was fucked up because at one point I thought the record was going to be completed. Like, I was happy with it. But I wasn’t in love with it and I got online one night after we were in the studio and was, like: ‘So, I should be done in a month’ And at that time I really thought I was gonna be done. It sounded good, it was cool, it was great and then I kept getting in my head about it and thought ‘This is going to bother me for the rest of my life’ I need to change every song. I needs to be darker, deeper…more emotional. So I scratched everything that I had and started again and when I did that I got writer’s block. For the first time in my life. And it was an emotional thing for me. That put me in a downward spiral. I was almost suicidal. Just depressed as hell because the one thing in my life that had always been there, took care of me and my family, and me in general and saved me from things was taken from me. That’s how I felt. I felt it was an attack and that just sent me in a dark place.“
“I remember sitting there and, I’ve been a fan of Nick Cave for a long time now and he had this movie he created, One More Time With Feeling, which was about him creating a record next to the bridge where his son fell from years ago and just the cadence of his voice when the movie opens up and he says ‘What am I doing here? My voice doesn’t sound right. I’m not ready for this. I can’t do this right now. Why did I decide to make this record?’ It hit me. It connected with me and I started watching that thing every night as I was going to bed and little things kept grabbing me through that whole thing. Every day I kinda got better with my writing and it just came back after twenty goddamn days of watching a movie. But it kinda saved me because I don’t know what I would’ve done without that [film]. After that it all clicked and I was able to pour out all my emotion on certain tracks and it made sense, man. The Things We Can’t Stop, that’s exactly what these songs are. Every song title and everything in there, these are the little things that are in our lives and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You just gotta live through it.”
While some bands out of the limelight and off the road for an extended period of time often hop into support act roles when they return, Cold’s confidence in the Cold Army encouraged Ward and co. to take a leap of faith and headline again:
“We actually decided to come out and do small venues because we wanted it to be a very intimate experience and definitely, like I was saying earlier: Cold Army is very loyal. They’ve been with us forever. And we’ve never really had a problem with that [crowds]. Everybody’s excited, the tickets are selling well, the VIP’s are selling like crazy. It’s gonna be a good show, man, it’s gonna be great. We’ve never had uber success throughout our career but we’ve had decent success to where we’ve never had to be detached from our fans at shows. After years and years of seeing these people over and over again they kind of feel like friends and family so it’s a big reunion which is basically what this feels like.”
As for the future, Ward teases on some big things on the horizon and implying that Cold is not going away again any time soon:
“We have some pretty big tours coming up next year with some friends, giant bands. There’s some big things scheduled and it’s gonna be nice. We’re going to go to Europe again so we’re doing that and we have a couple of big tours here in the States. It’s gonna be a good year next year.”
The Things We Can’t Stop is out now through Napalm Records. You can read our review of the album here as well as a live review from their stop at Stafford Palace Theater here. You can get yours instantly by clicking here or check out some of the killer physical merch by clicking here. For more on the band, including where you can catch them on the remaining dates of the “Broken Human” tour, head on over here or here.