TODD JONES OF NAILS #NARDCORE #MOSHING
If bands like Carnage, Entombed, Gehenna, and Integrity give you a nerd-boner, Orange County’s own NAILS will make you blow your load faster than Michael Jackson at a Build-A-Bear store. I think many MetalSucks readers will agree that their raw, filthy, vintage thrash/death metal sound is a refreshing departure from the zillions of faceless tech-death and metalcore bands who are way too perfect for their own good, so don’t miss out on their latest record, “Unsilent Death.”
This interview is with guitarist/singer Todd Jones, who you may also know from some of the last decade’s best hardcore bands like Carry On, Terror, and Betrayed. I don’t know him, but I am a big fan of his work, and he seems like someone I would get along with — my friend is in a band with Todd and described him as “genuinely disturbed,” which is about the strongest endorsement you can get in my book!
For starters, can you just talk about how Nails came together for anyone who doesn’t know? How would you describe the sound?
Eh, it doesn’t really matter how we started. Simple answer would be that I wanted to play heavy music. As far as sound, I just wanted it to sound depressing and heavy. Unfortunately, I think we fail at certain aspects of that description, but hopefully we can improve on our foundation.
I’m not saying your previous bands sounded the same (they don’t), but Nails is quite a departure from your work in the past in that it’s much more overtly metal-influenced and in general much more grimy and harsh. You could easily have done another traditional hardcore band, and I’m sure everybody would have loved it, but you didn’t. Can you talk about the inspiration for Nails’ sound, and what made you go in this direction?
I’d like the band to reflect how I feel and some of the stuff I’ve been going through for the past couple of years. Just going through life trying to express myself as best as I can. Would like to do it as long as I’m alive.
Specifically, I really appreciate the restraint in your songwriting — a lot of people overthink hardcore, but you aren’t afraid to play simple, great riffs (for example, the semi-breakdown in the title track on Unsilent Death). What are your thoughts on that? Why do so many people feel like they’re cheating or lazy when they play something simple?
I love hardcore as music. I love the primal feeling behind it. I identify with it. I am very self-aware and incredibly critical. I criticize myself, my music, basically everything I do. My friend Andy told me that sometimes it’s a fault, and I agree with him — however, I do my best to not accept any bullshit and anything that is not on par. I analyze everything. How do the songs work with each other? Does each song serve it’s own purpose? There’s too much thought that goes into a proper recording and I could probably write a book about it (if I was a good enough writer). What it comes down to is how everything is put together. Does it feel good? Does it inspire me? If it doesn’t, it’s not usable.
The part you’re referring to on “Unsilent Death” made sense to us when we made it. That part could’ve sounded like shit in any other song but it made sense with the flow of the song, and the flow of the album as a whole. Of course this is just my opinion. A lot of people grow out of hardcore, grow out of playing simple riffs. The riffs aren’t simple on purpose. The riffs are just the riffs that came and they feel right and they sound inspiring (to me). People will leave hardcore and start their Fisher Price stoner-rock or indie band. Which is chill that’s cool I want people to do what they want to do. I’m doing what I want to do no matter how simple or immature it is.
Some nerd fapping over “Unsilent Death.” He probably reads this site.
I am glad you mentioned people leaving hardcore to start indie or stoner rock bands. It’s dumb to get angry about them, because people should do whatever they want. But I have always been a little confused about why some subgenres of metal (specifically stoner rock and black metal) become popular with those types, and other don’t (such as death metal). What do you think?
Not sure. Everybody gets burnt out at some time or another. As for going to indie or stoner rock direction, I’m not sure although I think both of those genres are probably not as technically challenging as death metal, at first. Most people who play hardcore music are not proficient enough at their instruments to even play hardcore. It’s rare when anyone can cross genre’s like that and still remain relevant.
Your guitar tone is sick, recalling a brighter, clearer version of the Sunlight Studios sound. For all the nerds and gearheads out there, can you go into some detail about how you got that sound?
Thanks holmes. I liked the harshness and thickness of the Sunlight Studios guitar sound. There is only one way to get that tone, and it’s from a Boss pedal. I’ll leave it up to anyone who reads this and is interested to do a little research and find out for themselves.
From the Soul Search demo — hard as fuck!
I grew up on the West Coast around the same time you did, and I feel like the 90s scene in the West was pretty great, whether it was Seattle (where I grew up), all of the Slap-A-Ham/Gilman bands, or the burgeoning CHAINREACTIONCORE scene down in your neck of the woods. As cool as it was, though, I feel like it was pretty overlooked and didn’t get much credit aside from maybe Unbroken. What are your thoughts on that era?
I grew up in Oxnard, and really loved the sound of late 80’s hardcore and the bands on the East Coast on that time that had that late 80’s sound, so I was shit out of luck as far as seeing bands I really really wanted to see. I never liked Unbroken, and besides, I was, like, two years too late getting into hardcore to have seen them when they were a band anyhow. My generation was not the Unbroken/Outspoken era but the Throwdown/Adamantium/Life’s Halt/Collision/Built To Last era. PCH Club, Showcase Theatre, Lazerstar in Oxnard, etc. Powerhouse’s No Regrets was an album I really liked then, Hoods’Alone was played a lot, I liked Spazz’s La Revancha… Missing 23rd was a band from Ventura/Oxnard that I grew up seeing and I loved them because their earlier stuff had a Minor Threat-esque sound and the were raging. Throwdown was a great live band and I dug on them a bit. I like the first Adamantium 7″.
That era was cool dude, no doubt, but I think being 15/16/17 years old and getting into hardcore now as opposed to the late 90’s might more exciting as every band tours, music is so accessible, there’s SO many bands out there as opposed to then. It would certainly be different, that’s for sure. The first time I went to Chain Reaction was in 1998 and it wasn’t called Chain Reaction, it was called Public Storage. Life’s Halt and Eyelid played the show. Those bands were sick, too. I liked most of the stuff that came out of California but I think that was mainly out of convenience. It’s all we really had. I don’t want to name bands, and I think the fact that there are bands that I’m not naming will give anyone who knew what was going on then enough of an idea to figure out what I’m saying, but I think the younger bands these days from the West Coast smoke most of the bands that were coming out in the late 90’s out of the West Coast. There’s this band called Soul Search from California that I really like a lot, one of my favorite bands from Southern California.
You said that a lot of current West Coast bands smoke the older ones, which is probably true. But that’s interesting to me because a lot of people tend to live in the past, and idealize the stuff they grew up with while putting down anything new, which is dumb for obvious reasons. Some old stuff is good, but a lot of it was really shitty, and if new bands are doing something good, they deserve credit for it. Do you have any idea why you’ve avoided falling into that trap of being the older guy hating on everything new?
Well, like I said earlier, I love hardcore music. I feel the energy, I feel the primal rage. There’s a lot of bad bands now, but there has always been bad bands, and I don’t wanna dwell on the bands that I think are weak, I don’t wanna come down on anyone like that. There are always at least a handful or so or even more of bands out there that I feel most, if not everyone, would really dig. The fight is finding them and looking for them. I pay attention to everything. I look out for new bands and check shit out, I like finding new bands to listen to. I don’t identify with the trends that hardcore goes through, I don’t identify with the social aspect of hardcore, I don’t identify with most of my peers to be honest with you, but I’m not the type of person to come down on everything. If someone wants my opinion, I’ll give it but I try to focus on the shit I like and not focus on the stuff I don’t like.
I don’t know much about your background or what bands you like, but from listening to Nails, it sounds like you know a thing or two about older grind/death metal/power violence bands. I always thought it was a shame that people who listened to “hardcore” like Mouthpiece or Earth Crisis as a rule didn’t listen to Crossed Out, Infest or whatever (and vice versa). Does it bum you out that people can be so close-minded? Do people who liked your old bands hate on Nails?
Nah man, it doesn’t bum me out. I want people to listen to what they want to listen to. I can’t stomach Destroy The Machines and never could, but I dig on Breed The Killers. I think a lot of people would think that’s a strange opinion, but that’s just how it is, and I’m in no position to criticize what people want to listen to. I loved Mouthpiece’s Face Tomorrow, and the LP was pretty cool, never liked the 7″ much. My first impression of Infest was buying the Slave Deep Six reissue at Zed Records and going to my friend Roger’s place in Irvine and listening to it. I loved it, but to me, it was just fast hardcore.
I don’t think people who liked my old bands hate on Nails, I think it’s the opposite. I think people who listen to Nails might like us and then find out that I was in Carry On/Terror/Betrayed/whatever and then hate us, or just not check us out at all. It doesn’t bother me; that’s an ignorant way to think, and I’d rather that people who thought like that didn’t listen to any of the bands I’ve been in. I think anyone that likes Nails could find something in the past bands I’ve played in and find something they like. People say the bands sound so different, which might be true, but I believe there’s a lot of similarities in the style. At least in the bands where I was a major contributor to the music.
From what I have read online about Nails, I get the sense that people feel like everything you touch is gold. There’s no question that you have a strong hardcore resume, but it must also be kind of weird to have fanboys like that?
Not everything I touch is gold, that’s bullshit. I’ve played on bad recordings, I’ve played and written music that sounds like bullshit. As far as “fans” or “fanboys” or whatever term we want to use, it’s really rare that somebody approaches me, so I wouldn’t really know. Nails played in Vegas in May, and there was this person… I believe his band’s name was Nothing Gold… I forgot his name, but he was a really nice guy, and he asked me sorta the same question, and I just don’t understand. Hardcore kids don’t approach me or say what’s up really.
I keep to myself a lot and I’ve been told I’m not that welcoming and unapproachable which, unfortunately (mainly for me), is misunderstood. I love talking about the stuff I’ve done, I have very fond memories of any bands I’ve done. If anyone wants to talk to me or say what’s up or has any questions just hit me up. As long as people are nice and respectful, I’m nice and respectful, too. But, yeah, nobody puts out a weird vibe to me. Really, I appreciate anybody who appreciates my guitar playing and follows what I do.
I just wanna say thanks for the support and say what’s up if you want. I’m just a dude trying to get through life like anyone else. I’m not on a different level than anyone.
My favorite song by Seattle’s unsung moshcore heroes LEFT WITH NOTHING (members of Champion, Trial and 3 Inches Of Blood) — drummer Nicky Platter was the first guy I ever knew who wore girl jeans and had scene hair!
Finally, have you heard Jame Shart’s new hard rock band BURN HALO? What do you think?? IMO they are pretty sweet, but I am a little bummed that he still wears bootcut jeans.
Aw, man, come on. I like JAMES HART a lot. Not into Burn Halo. I wish it was a little more dark and depressing. Unfortunately, I feel like they don’t hit the grunge vibe, but maybe that’s not even what they are going for? I haven’t talked to or seen James in approximately seven years, but I wish him success and hope he’s doing well.
Thanks for your time — anything you’d like to add?
How sick is that Left With Nothing Wishing In Reverse 7″?