In a widely expected move, DROWNING POOL revealed during a "Headbanger's Ball" (MTV2) appearance Saturday night (Jan. 24) that they have recruited ex-BUILT XL frontman Jason "Gong" Jones to fill the singer slot left vacant by the death of Dave Williams (as exclusively reported here back in June 2003).
While Jones' ferocious singing-mixed-with-screaming style is said to have some similarities to Williams, the band are quick to point out that he's no clone.
"You didn't want to be looking right at a mirror reflection of Dave every day," drummer Mike Luce said of the vocalist search. "I mean, there were definitely those people that came up and wanted to do him justice and sounded dead-on, but I mean, it gave you chills and it was just kind of weird to deal with. You already think about it every day anyway, so you don't want that in your face all the time."
"The first thing that we were looking for, quite honestly, was just somebody else that's kind of on the same page," guitarist C.J. Pierce added. "It's almost like going out and finding a new best friend. ... Just looking for another jackass like the rest of us that fits in, that was the first thing."
DROWNING POOL are currently recording their sophomore album, entitled "Desensitized", with producer Johnny K (DISTURBED, SOIL, FINGER ELEVEN) for an April 20 release through Wind-Up Records. A brand new DROWNING POOL track, entitled "Step Up", will be featured on the upcoming "Punisher: The Album" soundtrack, due on March 23 through Wind-Up. A streaming audio preview of the cut can now be heard on the band's official web site: Real Media, Windows Media.
A relative unknown, Gong had previously auditioned for the then-vacant singer slot in SEPULTURA during the Brazilian band's vocalist search in 1997 and was briefly a member of CHOP SHOP, the short-lived Los Angeles group led by ex-MANHOLE guitarist Scott Ueda. More recently, Jones was linked with the new project formed by ex-FEAR FACTORY guitarist Dino Cazares (with whom he recorded a three-song demo) and was believed to be involved with FIVE-O-CLOCK, the now-defunct group featuring former AMEN guitarist Sonny Mayo, ex-WHITE ZOMBIE drummer Ivan De Prume, and bassist Stevo Bruno.
The 30-year-old Williams was found dead on the DROWNING POOL tour bus on August 14, 2002 while the band were touring as part of the U.S. Ozzfest. An inquest into the singer's death in September 2002 concluded that the vocalist died from cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease for which he was never diagnosed. No traces of drugs were found in Williams' system, finally dispelling widespread speculation about the cause of his death.
"When Dave died, we lost our best friend in the world," bassist Stevie Benton explained. "The last thing that I'd like to think is that my other best friends, I'd have to leave them, too, because we couldn't carry on together. That would just suck.
"There's never a good time for someone to pass away, but at that time, that second Ozzfest tour we did was probably the most fun we'd had ever as a band. We were playing our best shows ever, and just the unity of the band, that was a highlight for us. And then just to have that happen was ... it was the worst possible time."