Toxic Holocaust interview (09/2011)
|Conducted by:||Doc Godin (in person)|
So I could sit here spouting off useless drivel to use as an introduction, new album this, new tour that, blah blah blah. Instead, let's just leave it like this: Conjure & Command is the thrash album all the hip kids on the playground are talking about, here's a few words from Toxic Holocaust main-man Joel Grind. Enjoy
Doc: So hows the tour coming along thus far?
Joel: Going really good so far, man. About 4 weeks into it so far. It's our first headlining run. We've done so much opening stuff, it's about time for us to do our own tour. Got the new record out - perfect time to do it.
Doc: I've noticed this record is receiving a lot heavier promotion than your previous stuff, are the tours getting easier now?
Joel: It seems to be, yeah. I think promoters kind of like to see when a label kind of backs you up. It definitely helps that Relapse is in our corner - they're always pushing our stuff, which is really cool because I know a lot of bands that are great but they don't get the push. It's cool to get that, it feels good.
Doc: This tour you've brought along Holy Grail, does the power metal thing put you off at all?
Joel: Nah, when we were putting this tour together they actually submitted for it and I thought it would be cool to do a band that doesn't sound like us.
Doc: Is there a correlation between quantity of pimply redheaded kids in attendance and the number of power metal bands on the bill?
Joel: Haha. I don't know, I haven't noticed that.
Doc: With the new album, the one thing that's been pointed out the most is the fact you've moved on from one-man-band to a full line-up, how has this changed things?
Joel: I think with the full band aspect it kind of let me be a little more creative and not be as restricted with what I could do personally. These guys are a lot better at their instruments than I was at their instruments, I was free to come up with a little more varied stuff.
Doc: Do you ever miss doing the whole D.I.Y. thing?
Joel: It's weird, we're still just as D.I.Y., basically. The only reason we started with the label was because I was doing so much mail order for the records, I didn't have much time to write songs anymore, it was just necessity. We're still a touring band in a trailer, we get a hotel room maybe once a month, you know what I mean? We try to do it as cheaply as possible, and as underground as possible. It's never really going to change, it's just where all our heads are at.
Doc: Like your older albums, Conjure & Command is self-produced, whereas the previous record An Overdose Of Death... was produced by Jack Endino. Was it hard to get back into the feeling of self-production after working with a guy like Jack?
Joel: No. Working with Jack was awesome because he was really cool to hear my ideas and stuff, that's one of the main reasons I chose to work with him in the first place. I like the sounds he got, like High On Fire - I like the sounds he got for their record. He's worked with Zeke, The Dwarves, all kinds of stuff. He's a great guy to work with because he doesn't have "his sound" that he tries to push on the band, he listens to what you have to say, and he can do it. I think I learned a lot from him, and that really helped with this record. When we decided to do this one ourselves, it was because our drummer owns a studio on the east coast, it just made sense. We had a little more time to work on it this time around as well.
Doc: Would you ever go back to bringing in another producer?
Joel: I wouldn't rule it out. I always like doing different stuff, it never is the same.
Doc: What other guys could you picture producing a Toxic Holocaust record?
Joel: I like Kurt Ballou from Converge, his stuff is really in-your-face and raw, so distorted. Before we recorded this one ourselves, I was actually thinking about going to him. I don't really like the guys that rely a lot on triggers. I like guys who know how to record a real drum set, and knows how to get a good guitar sound. It would definitely be somebody like that.
Doc: Listening to this album, compared to let's say....well, basically anything you've done to date, it sounds a lot less punkish, and more akin to old school Slayer, was this something you intended initially?
Joel: It wasn't necessarily intentional. Touring so much on Overdose..., I knew which songs I liked playing better live. I took note of that and kept that in mind while writing this one - any of these songs I would want to play live. So I guess it's more metal because the tempo changes are a little bit different here and there, some of it's more aggressive.
Doc: It also sounds a lot thicker...
Joel: Yeah, I spent a lot of time getting my guitar to sound the way I wanted it to. Well, I play guitar so I know what I want the guitar to sound like and sometimes I didn't have the opportunity to get it to sound the way I wanted.
Doc: Now that the album is out, the reviews are in and so on, was there anything that was brought to your attention after the fact that you'd want to go back and change?
Joel: Not yet. Maybe ask me that in a year or two, and maybe I could answer. Right now I'm pretty happy with it. I think it turned out pretty good.
Doc: So it's time for the obligatory question that goes along with any new album is; what is the one song people should check out?
Joel: If you were going to ask me, I would say "Revelations", that ones my favourite to play live, it's so aggressive. But judging from the feedback I've been getting, people are really liking the song "Bitch". The song title is just so over-the-top.
Doc: "Liars..." has a pretty good anthem sort of feel to it.
Joel: Yeah, I kind of wrote that one as "Lord Of The Wasteland Part Two".
Doc: So on top of Toxic Holocaust, you've got two other projects; Tiger Junkies and War Ripper. What's going on with those?
Joel: Tiger Junkies recorded some stuff a while ago, but it hasn't come out yet. War Ripper is something I'm always working on, but I've been so busy with Toxic I haven't really had the opportunity to finally record it and release it. I have tons of songs written, just nothing is out yet.
Doc: For those who have never heard Tiger Junkies or War Ripper, how do they differ from Toxic Holocaust?
Joel: Tiger Junkies is more...Punky rock n roll kind of stuff, of course it's metal too, but it's more leaning towards punk-rock n roll. The lyrics are really ridiculous, songs about like...Beer, sex and all kinds of fun shit. War Ripper a little bit more crusty I guess, or at least that's what people tell me. That one's really heavily influenced by Hellhammer and Discharge.
Tiger Junkies L-R: Yasuyuki Suzuki, Joel Grind
Doc: Since Overdose... really was your breakthrough, and this one is pushing even further, are you still happy being a cult following band or do you hope to push things into a wider audience?
Joel: No, well, the people who have gotten us this far have stood by us, and I think that's really cool. I'm not trying to alienate them, I want to bring them with me. If we get bigger, that would be awesome, but if we stay this size that's cool too. I like doing it, and that's all that really matters.
Doc: You wear the whole Metal-Punk Deathsquad thing on your sleeve quite a bit, are there any awesome bands you would recommend? Anybody you'd like to name-drop here?
Joel: There's all kinds, the band Midnight from Cleveland is awesome, we just played with them on this tour. Inepsy from Montreal. Band called Gates from Japan - they're pretty good, sort of like Motorhead-y NWOBHM type stuff, but a punk band doing it. Hot Graves from Florida is good. I don't know, you kind of caught me off guard with that...
Doc: So what's been playing on your CD player or Ipod recently?
Joel: Right now I've been listening to a lot of Sepultura Schizophrenia because we don't have an Ipod right now - our cable broke, and the only CD we have in the van is Sepultura's Schizophrenia, but that record is awesome, so at least we have something to listen to.
Doc: You guys seem to be on the crest of this 80's style thrash metal revival movement going on, bands are popping up everywhere, why do you think Toxic Holocaust has struck a chord with people while there's so many bands out there going nowhere?
Joel: I don't really want to say, but if I had to speculate, I would say it's because we're doing things not so carbon-copy. We kind of do our own thing, we're not trying to be Exodus, we're not trying to be Nuclear Assault or anything like that. We like those bands but we're not trying to be them. Drawing influences is one thing, but when you're actually stealing riffs or ideas from them it's different. I think we've always had a good connection with our fans too, I've done it for a long time, and I've built it up. A lot of these bands got signed, and they didn't really get anywhere because they just released a demo and got signed to whoever.
Doc: Sort of an unnatural growth?
Joel: Exactly. If we got dropped from Relapse tomorrow, we'd still be doing this. Ask the same to some of those bands and you never know.
Doc: It's a major topic amongst a lot of metal bands, but most especially in this new wave of thrash metal going on, I gotta know, what's with this fascination with nuclear warfare?
Joel: I've always just been fascinated with it because it's just the ultimate human power. I've always liked post-apocalyptic movies and stuff like that. It's just a cool theme, I like a lot of the evil stuff, the tongue-in-cheek type stuff like Venom. I don't know, but for me, it just seems like the ultimate evil.
Doc: Now that you've got two big albums out, how soon until you hit rehab and find God?
Joel: I'm not Dave Mustaine, so it might take me a little bit longer. Hopefully never. Hopefully I'll be dead before then.
Doc: Righteo. That wraps things up. Any last words?
Joel: See you on the road!
||Posted on 09.09.2011 by Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.|
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