The song started its life 13 plus months ago. It had a hook about “Treading Water” initially and that was probably going to be the title.
Robb Flynn then mentioned how the song title came about. He had a friend, who returned from Afghanistan only to have his relationship fall apart. His girlfriend messed around on him while he was gone, then she got paranoid about him messing around on her and drove him crazy. The title came from the words Robb’s friend said to him, “they were just circling the drain”.
Circling the drain means to be very near death and have little time to live. It is also used to describe a project or relationship that is on the brink of failure.
Robb also lost two long term band members who decided to leave Machine Head.
I don’t know if it was a relationship gone bad or if it was just time to move on, as nothing lasts ever, even the cold November Rain.
But when relationships do go bad, either romantic or band breakups, the people’s lives change forever. Suddenly, people/friends take sides, and you are not being invited to the events you used to go to and you are exposed to it all via social media and societies quest to showcase how great their lives are on it.
So artists channel this pain and anger and aggression into their music and their words.
Treading water, were just numbing the pain
Spinning round as we circle the drain
You know how it’s going to end, but you are too scared to move on and break ties. So we go around in circles, walking on egg shells and taking care to not hurt each other’s feelings, while our real feelings left the building a long time ago.
Excuses don’t mean anything when tears run down our eyes
No one said break ups are easy. And totems of the relationship are left behind everywhere, like a song or a movie that you don’t like anymore, because it brings back memories of that person.
And if it’s not tears running down the eyes, its blood. For all of our advancements in science and technology, we still can’t control our lizard brain, that small section of the brain that controls everything once it’s activated. It’s dangerous and on occasions deadly.