Cold Frontman Scooter Ward Talks Breaking Benjamin Collab, COVID-19 + More

2020-04-16

Cold – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

Scooter Ward of Cold joins Anne Erickson to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting the music world, his guest appearance on the Break Benjamin song “Far Away” and more in this exclusive interview

Scooter Ward simply moves people with his music. As the longtime frontman for Cold, Ward has consistently churned our passionate hard rock that connects with fans, from early 2000s hits like “Just Got Wicked” and “Suffocate,” to brand new songs off 2019’s “The Things We Can’t Stop.”

Cold was slated to embark on an intimate, acoustic tour this spring, but that trek has been postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. New dates will be announced, so fans are encouraged to hang onto their tickets.

Ward checked in with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink to talk about “The Things We Can’t Stop,” his collaboration with Breaking Benjamin on the No. 1 rock song “So Far,” what called him back into music and how the coronavirus is impacting not just the music industry but every business and art form. Read the full interview below, and listen to the chat via the Audio Ink podcast.

Anne Erickson: Congrats on your new album, “The Things We Can’t Stop.” It’s such a great album, and it was refreshing to get new Cold music after several years away. What made now the right time to release a new Cold album and go out on tour?

Scooter Ward: I had taken off an ample amount of time since my last album, because my sister got melanoma again. She’s had it twice, and the first time it happened, I was on tour traveling a lot and wasn’t able to be there for her. She’s my little sister, and we’re just two siblings in the family, so we’ve always had a bond. It was really painful for me to be on the road and know she was hurting, and I was so far away from her. So, when it happened again, I was like, what’s more important– my family, or music? So, it’s always family. So, I honestly quit the music business. I was done. I just wanted to be here with her, and hopefully everything works out. That was a five or six year stint with the her and all the stuff that happened, so I stayed until she was clear again. Then, when I moved to California to be closer to my daughter, Napalm Records hit us up and wanted to offer us to do a new record. They were doing that with a few bands from America that were kind of from our genre, and music has always been the most important thing in my life besides my family. I had a lot of things in my head, and I needed to get it out, so I was like, there’s our outlet to do that again.

There was a long break there, and I wasn’t sure I was ever going to come back to music. But, I just felt compelled to, and our fans– the way our music effects them, it’s helped them out through their life. I felt an obligation, for them and for us.

What was your favorite thing about being back after years away from touring and releasing new music?

My favorite thing was playing the first show again. We did a tour that started last September, and the first show, seeing all the fans… we’ve had a decent amount of success in our life, but not anything to where we were always detached from our fans with a big barricade or big arenas. It’s always been theaters and clubs, so after 20 years of playing shows like that, it’s very intimate, and you become attached to the people who are always there for you. So, it felt like a family reunion every night, and it was really cool. Sam, our original drummer, came back right before the tour started, and we’ve played thousands of shows throughout our career, and we played that fist show, and it seemed everyone in the room was singing the songs and feeling it and crying and emotional, and it was the most surreal, awesome performance than we’ve ever experienced in our career.

You’re featured on the Breaking Benjamin track “So Far,” which is all over the radio right now. How did that collaboration come together?

That’s a funny story! We were rehearsing for our tour in Pennsylvania, and at the beginning of our careers, we toured with Breaking Benjamin and did many tours together and are friends… So, when we were rehearsing for the new album, I hadn’t talked to Ben in 15 years, and he found out we were rehearsing right on top of the mountain down from where they were playing a big Breaking Benjamin headlining show. Cold has always been an important thing to Ben from when he was starting out. He used to tell me stories that he would drive around listening to Bush and Deftones and Cold, and he would sing the songs, and that kind of inspired him throughout his earlier career and still to this day. So, he said, “We’re playing down the mountain from you guys. Would you guys like to come down and play a show with us?”

That’s such a cool gesture!

Yeah, and I thought he was going to have us do a Breaking Benjamin song. But he said, “No. I want to break in the middle of the set and bring you guys out, and I want you guys to do, ‘Just Got Wicked.'” I’ve never heard of a band bringing another band onstage in the middle of their set to do a song! We had just started rehearsal, so we weren’t really acclimated to playing shows again, especially when there are 20,000 people, so I remember telling our guitarist Nick, “I don’t know if I can do this tonight.” But, I bit the bullet.

Later, Ben said, “I have this song called ‘Far Away’ that I have never played for anybody before, and I think your vocal is going to be perfect for it, but I know how you are, and I know it has to be an emotional thing for you to do it. So, I’m going to send it to you, and you let me know if it hits you.” And he sent me the track, and I listened to the verse into the chorus, and as soon as the chorus was over, I hit stop and called him up. It was a beautiful song, so I was all in.

Do you think you’ll do more with Breaking Benjamin at any point?

Ben and I were talking about him producing a song and writing stuff with us for upcoming things, so we’ve talked about that before.

“Year of the Spider” will be 20 years old in a few years, and that album is a fan favorite. Did you know that album would be such a success?

I had no idea. The funny thing about it– I was in a hotel one night, and we had just played a festival and our release date was the next day. Something happened where I didn’t make the bus call, but it wasn’t far away to get to the next county, so I said, I’m just going to sleep and get a car to take me to the venue the next day. I remember the next day the record label blowing up my phone, and I go, “What’s going on?” I pick it up, and our AR person goes, “Dude! You’re No. 3 in the country! There’s 50 Cent, Marilyn Manson and Cold.” We had no idea that was going to happen, so it blew my mind. It was a magical thing. It was one of those times like when you first hear your song on the radio. It was that times 1,000, and the doors that record opened up for us were awesome.

This coronavirus thing is so terrible and wide-reaching. How are you seeing the coronavirus pandemic impact those in the music business who rely on touring income and tours to make a living?

It’s really hurtful to all artists and everyone, not just musicians, but artists in general and people who put on shows or movies– it’s not just specific to musicians. The crazy thing is our tour was supposed to start April 2, and it always takes a couple of months to set up tours… So I’m sitting here, and we’re doing it, and everything was set up and perfect, and then coronavirus came around. I think we put out an announcement a little before other bands did, because we got an insider tip that everything was going to shut down. I was skeptical about everything, because I was like, I’m not going to put my fans in harm’s way to play a show. If this thing is brutal, I don’t want it to hurt my fans. So, we did a post and canceled the tour and said keep your tickets and we’ll reschedule everything. But, it’s the great unknown. We don’t know when we’re going to be able to get out there and do another tour. Who knows how long this is going to last? It could last one month or six months or a year. That’s the scary thing. We make money from touring. That’s how I take care of my family, and that’s how my band members take care of their families. So, with that factor gone, we’re all in whirlwind right now wondering what’s going to happen to us. It’s hard to digest.

Cold, you guys have such loyal fans. They have your band logo tattooed and your music means so much to them. What is it about Cold that has struck such a chord with people?

I think the music inspires that relationship with us writing about real life things. Everything I’ve gone through or my band members have gone through– that translates to the songs. So, I think writing things like that connects with people. Beyond that, being in the smaller venues and connecting with people and being kind to everyone. I think they appreciate that. And spending time with them. Not just playing the shows and getting on the bus and disappearing. I think forming that bond throughout our earlier career helped our success with where it is now, and their loyalty to us, and our loyalty to them.

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