There’s a Greek myth about Sisyphus, who was doomed for eternity to push a boulder up a steep hill in Hades, only to see it roll back down just as he neared the top. That’s probably how the members of Cold have felt during their quest to be the “next big thing.”

Frontman Scooter Ward, drummer Sam McCandless, bassist Jeremy Marshall and guitarists Terry Balsamo and Kelly Hayes, calling themselves Grundig, built a solid following for their own brand of hard rock in their hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. It was that success that prompted the band to move to Atlanta and take it to the next level.

The band’s goal of “taking over” that city didn’t exactly go as planned. With the locals more into R.E.M. or similar acts at the time, the members of Cold found themselves playing the same club every weekend for several years.

“We all had day jobs. We’d go into the studio all night and work, and save up all our money for studio time. We lived at Jeremy’s dad’s house. He let us crash there for, like, three years,” Ward told POLLSTAR. “When it came to actually sending [a demo] out to record labels, we were always saying, ‘We can do better. Let’s wait.’

“Years went by, and we had all these studio recordings of old Cold songs we didn’t know what to do with.”

Around 1997, Fate finally intervened with the help of Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, a Grundig fan from early on. He introduced Ward and McCandless to producer Ross Robinson after the band moved back to Jacksonville. An impromptu jam for Robinson, with Ward on acoustic guitar and McCandless playing drums on a couch, gave Cold the break they’d been looking for.

“It was weird. It was right about the time we were all talking about ‘Do we want to keep doing this?’ We’d been doing this for 17 years. We need to have regular lives at some point,” Ward said. “Right when [giving up] was being thrown around, Fred Durst called two days later.

“Seventeen years of hard work, being in the studio all night with no sleep, and we get a record deal from playing drums on the couch.”

Artist manager Paul Geary, who formerly played with Boston band Extreme, first heard about Cold when the group was putting out its second album, 13 Ways To Bleed Onstage, in 2000. The group had already played support slots for Jerry Cantrell and Soulfly, to name two.

“I got a call from Jordan Schur of Geffen Records. He was really pounding at me because I managed Godsmack, and he wanted Cold out with Godsmack,” Geary told POLLSTAR. “It was off of that tour that I saw the band and was impressed, and developed a little bit of a relationship with them.

“It was a combination of the music and people. Management is such a personal thing; it’s not just the music. It’s also the relationships with the people in the band. That’s what made the difference for me.”


It seems the feeling was mutual.

“We’re from the East Coast and there’s a little different vibe, emotionally, and just the way that we act toward each other,” Ward said. “We met Paul Geary one night and we gelled really well. He used to be in Extreme, so he understands the musicians’ part of being on the road and what they need. He’s there for us.”

Cold’s current Flip/Geffen release, Year of the Spider debuted at No. 3 on SoundScan’s Top 200 album chart. It seems to have been borne out of personal tragedies and other issues the band faced along the way, with Ward’s lyrics telling the story.

“Our guitar tech died at the beginning of that record from a speedball and at the same time, Kelly’s brother-in-law died from the same type of overdose. And right when we were coming in to make the record, my sister and my girlfriend at the time were both diagnosed with cancer,” Ward said. “We were like, ‘I don’t know what kind of dark cloud is hanging over us. Hopefully, something will happen out of this.'”

While life has gotten better for Cold, setbacks, such as Marshall breaking his arm while on tour in May, prompted the band to drop a July leg on Lollapalooza and a late-August European tour with Staind to regroup. But not for long.

Cold went back on the road August 4th with the 25-city Nintendo Fusion Tour, headlined by Evanescence, which is set to run through mid-September.

So, has pushing that proverbial boulder up the hill all those years been worth it for Cold? Ward summed it up this way:

“Two years ago, we could walk out onstage at a big festival and we’d hear ‘Cold sucks!’ or ‘Who the fuck are you?’ or that kind of shit. Now, we really don’t have that problem. Everyone’s pretty much into it.”