Twenty Years of the Spider | Cold’s Scooter Ward on the anniversary of their breakthrough album

Photo of Cold by Noel McGrath

w/ Divide the Fall, Awake for Days, Sygnal to Noise, and Facing Infamy | 04.19.23, 6:30pm | Pop’s, 401 Monsanto Ave, Sauget, IL | All ages| $25–$49.50

May 13th will mark the twentieth anniversary of Cold’s most commercially successful studio album, The Year of the Spider. Ahead of the anniversary they have embarked on a nationwide tour bringing them to Pop’s in Sauget on April 19th. The record sold over 101,000 copies in the first week and featured the hit single “Stupid Girl,” which reached 87th on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also introduced popular songs “What Happens Now,” “Gone Away (A Song for Starr),” and “Suffocate.” Before the record’s release, Cold was already riding a wave of momentum from their second studio album 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage, which boasted hit songs “No One,” “End of the World,” “Just Got Wicked,” “Send in the Clowns,” and “Bleed.”

Vocalist Scooter Ward’s passion for music began at a young age, learning to play piano and guitar while his mother watched soap operas. He met the original, long-time drummer for the band Sam Candless walking past his house where he would practice drums in the garage. The two went on to form the band Grundig in their hometown of Jacksonville, FL., getting their first break in the mid ‘90s when they were noticed by another Jacksonville native, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. Ward recorded an acoustic, two-song demo that Durst brought to his then-producer Ross Robinson, and the rest is history. The band decided to change their name to Cold after disagreements with a German cereal company under the same name. The band has overcome several line-up and record label changes, and a nearly two-year break-up from November 2006 to July 2008. Cold has released six studio albums since their inception with their latest released in September 13th, 2019, The Things We Can’t Stop.

As a self-proclaimed Cold Army member for over two decades, I was ecstatic for the opportunity to catch up with Ward and discuss music, the industry, his family, inspirations, and current members of the band.

The Arts STL: First and foremost, I’m Cold Army myself, I’ve been a big fan for over twenty years. You’re out now touring and celebrating the 20th anniversary of Year of the Spider. How is it going so far?

Scooter Ward: It’s beyond our expectations, honestly. We did a couple of tours previous to this and I’m not sure the record is so important to the Cold Army but the shows have been fully packed, sold out. It’s really good. We’re getting really good reception for the whole thing.

Man, that’s awesome. I know you’re about a third of the way through now, and you just played down around your hometown in Jacksonville, FL. Any old Grundig fans come out repping their old merch?

Oh yeah, man, everyone from Jacksonville, all the old boys, the Grundig fans. That’s how we ended up getting signed, Fred [Durst] and Wes [Borland, both of Limp Bizkit] were fans of Grundig. It was nice, I got to see my kids and family for a day.

Divide the Fall, Awake for Days, and Sygnal the Noise are all out on tour with you. How’s it going with them, how’s their energy?

They’ve been great the whole time. I know the Awake for Days guys right at this moment are broke down, so they might miss a couple of shows. They’re looking into another bus, we’re waiting to hear from them. I haven’t been able to sit down with them much but I can tell they’re great people. I feel like, in my experience, it’s important to be kind. Be cordial and nice to people. It’s that positive attitude that has got me to this level to where I get to keep doing this.

Absolutely. As a long-time rock fan and doing photography, I’ve gotten a few opportunities to talk to members of these bigger bands and it’s always the guys that spend that little extra moment interacting with people that create the life-long fans. Are there any other newer bands out there you’re really into right now?

Actually right now, we’re all stuck on Brutus. It’s a band from Austria. They’re a three piece with a female drummer that sings as well. That band is amazing, I believe they may have opened up for Deftones. They’re about to start their North American tour, you should check them out, the way she sings is just brutal. They have these beautiful moments, then she just screams out this guttural scream. It’s amazing.

Speaking on music and the industry, you have a song on Year of the Spider and it’s been on your setlist this tour—”Kill the Music Industry.” When you wrote that song, maybe you had some issues with labels and other aspects of the industry? How’re your feelings about it now twenty years later?

It’s funny you’re asking that question. When people talk about Year of the Spider, they [usually] don’t bring that up, but I just finished an interview that asked a similar question. The crazy thing about that, I think at [that] time in our career, we were good with the label. Jordan Schur had become the president of Interscope and we were in a good space then. I felt that I just needed that angsty song on that album. I think that I saw the things that were about to go down with Napster and all of that happening at that time. The Napster tour wanted us, Cypress Hill, and Bizkit to do a big festival mini-tour and we had done that. We got a lot of hell from that from other musicians. I did feel some impending doom coming, I think that is where that song came from.

I feel like full records are becoming a thing of the past. It seems to me that a lot of newer bands are just releasing singles every three or four months and not focusing on full album releases. Do you think that’s the direction the industry is going?

I know that younger bands are doing that, and maybe some older ones are thinking about that. For me, it’s a strange way to write a record. With me, personally, there’s a mood that encompasses an entire record. Musicians are different now, they may do a lot at a home studio now. I get that part of it. I still adhere to the “get people at least ten songs, or more” and create a moment for them, instead of just a little blip every now and then.

Now on the band, I know you’ve had a lot of line up changes over the years. Right now you got Tony Kruzska on the drums—

Yeah, Tony came to us through our old guitarist, Nick Coyle. He used to play for Lifer. I’ve known Tony for years, because they used to open for us. He’s the man. He stepped in when we really needed him and kept it alive. We also have Ed Cuozzo and Angelo Maruzzelli from University Drive that stepped in on this tour, a couple of weeks before the tour. Our other guitarist has gone on to do Death Valley Dreams, which is fine, however we were kind of put in a situation to replace some people just before the tour. They’re some of my favorite songwriters so we were all happy to have them along with us for the tour. It’s a really lovely vibe on the bus and it’s nice.

Good deal. I tried to do my due diligence and watch some old interviews and noticed how important getting your lyrics just right is to you. I feel like there’s a lot of really good songs with catchy melodies with lyrics that come up flat. You don’t have to name any particular bands but do you feel like that’s vibe going on now, maybe they’re keeping it too vague?

I don’t know that people get into as much as I do. I really have to go to a dark place, or just a place that is emotional, for me to create. I think it’s very important, not only just the lyric but the delivery of the lyric and even the way you say the word sometimes. My words are simple but they resonate with people because of the delivery of them. But yeah, I definitely hear a lot of bands nowadays that just don’t have that thing. Brutus I was just telling you about [earlier], there’s a band that does it. She delivers the emotion.

On a personal note, you’re a father of three daughters. I am as well. Any advice? How’s it been living your lifestyle and balancing the family?

My oldest Raven is now 31, Cameron is 18, almost 19 years old. She’s come out tour with us, she’s doing merch for us. It’s a really cool thing she’s able to finally get out with her dad. She’s a really great musician as well, she plays drums, guitar, and piano and writes songs as well. I was lucky. I was really lucky, I can say that. All my daughters are just beautiful humans. You know all teenagers go through their depression stage, but it’s just a moment. I try to explain that to them, it doesn’t last forever. If it does, I’m your dad. I’m here to help you.

You’re self-taught on piano and guitar. In older interviews, you’ve mentioned you learned to play along with soap operas your mother would watch. Can you still trill out the theme for Days of our Lives?

Yeah, I still don’t know any chords or [how] to read music, I always just play what I feel. It’s second nature to me where all the things are. I just go over it. My mom only watched that when I was a young kid. but they were very instrumental and probably played a small role in creating some of Cold’s themes. They were all so tragically beautiful.

One last thing, you’re playing Pop’s in St. Louis April 19th. I’m sure over the years you’ve been there, they’ve been around for a while. Do you like the smaller venues?

Yeah, I’ve played Pop’s before. Pop’s is dope, I like Pop’s. We like the punk rock places. We’re not a big venue or outside festival band, those setups are just not very personable. We like everybody close together; everybody sings all the songs. I like the intimacy of it all. | Colin Williams

Wednesday’s show is sure to bring a heavy dose of nostalgia with a side of head banging. Tickets can be purchased here.

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