What made a true Pantera fan back in the day was the agreement that when even one song came on the radio it fueled the sensation of watching someone get their ass beat that really deserved it. This is the epitome of what I felt listening to this new Nails album. It is so defined, you can hear every instrumental remark with such authentic clarity that it’s overwhelming. I have not been this strung out on fan based bliss since I heard Skinless’ Swollen Heaps for the first time. I demanded an interview where I asked frontman Todd Jones everything that had already been asked, but I wanted to know it myself.
Let’s just begin with the gift wrapping. Who is the artist behind this cover, and what role does it play as a preface to this album? Is it a concept album? Is there a story or an underlying theme?
Jeff Whitehead did the album cover. He is a tattoo artist and also does the band Leviathan and Lurker Of Chalice. He was also a pro skater at one time. He’s someone who I wanted to get to work with since we did our first album (Unsilent Death). A mutual friend of ours put us in touch and he was into making artwork for our record. I think our album cover looks like it was made by someone who is troubled. It gives that air about it. It looks truly unique. I’m very happy with it and I think it’s our best cover. To me, I interpret the cover as a demon…an individual with a bunch of people around it trying to force it do things it doesn’t want to do… and I think that compliments the vibe of that album a lot. It’s not a concept album and there’s no underlying theme.
Has anyone compared Nails to Pantera? Because, in my mind you guys are my generation’s Pantera. You are that heavy sound that gets circulation going like a tesla engine. Your music is a head high.
I haven’t seen anybody compare us to Pantera but that’s awesome. We all love Pantera.
In the behind the scenes video I noticed your drummer is wearing a Candlemass shirt, what are some of your favorite, or I guess your biggest doom metal influences? And are they still as influential today, or has it changed?
My favorite doom metal bands are Trouble, Electric Wizard, and that’s about it. I’m not a big doom guy. I also think Doom is a word that means a lot of different things to different people. Sort of like hardcore. Taylor is really into the Doom genre. I like the spirit and essence of what I believe Doom is but I’m not so sure we draw too much influence from the genre. One of my favorite current bands is Evoken. People refer to them as funeral doom.
You guys mention Oxnard and the origin of your sound, and the influence of classic Oxnard Metal. What can you say resonates in that particular scene now? Are there any artists that are an honorable mention?
Oxnard has a huge punk culture with all the Nardcore bands from the early 1980’s. I’ve listened to and loved all those bands since I was an early teenager but I would say that Dr. Know’s Plug In Jesus LP and Burn EP are definitely direct influences to our band. Also Fred Hammer was a huge person when I was discovered hardcorepunk. He would let me borrow records and tape them of bands he thought I would’ve liked.
I want to talk about your label for a second. Nuclear Blast will always have some of the most intimidating diamonds in the metal industry. It’s an absolute truth. What are some bands on the label you respect? Who are the most funto tour with? Who were the biggest influences on you?
Slayer, Soulfly, Sepultura, Municipal Waste are bands we respect. Slayer is my favorite band of all time and they are a huge influence on us.
You guys resonate on a large scale with Hardcore. I feel like I’ve been corrected numerous times, that you guys were of the same caliber as other bands that play Red Rover between death metal and Hardcore, like CroMags and Crowbar. You appeal and are very influential to that particular genre. How has that impacted you guys as a group and exclusively on this album? Because it feels like you’re really trying to reinstate the values of technical death metal.
We all come from mainly the hardcore scene but have always loved metal. It’s no secret that this album has a lot more metal influence in it than hardcore.I would say just being involved so long in hardcore has shaped a lot of what our bands is.
What did you tell yourselves before going into the studio that fueled this production? Were you pissed off about anything? We’re you visualizing the decimation of humanity as you were recording certain things? Did you meditate to an underlord? What did you do to prepare for this recording? Or did you just know like a greek god that this was going to be the most epic album of the year?
HAHA, I wish I could tell you an animated story about us having some sort of satanic ritual while recording, but I can’t. We just practiced our songs as much as we could and prepared ourselves as much as possible before going into the studio, hoping that our performances during recording would be conveyed with all of our emotional tension that we put into the songs.
Where do you see yourselves receiving the best reaction to this, on tour? Which country/state goes the hardest for your work? Do you think this album will rejuvenate a classic response? And by response, I mean people coming out of mosh retirement.
The most maniacal crowds we experience are in the UK. This could certainly change. People in LA and Philadelphia get really rowdy. I’m hoping people receive the album well and it gets them moving at our shows.
Why do you think this album is so refreshing for the metal world?
Honestly, I have no idea. We’re very flattered in regards to the high praise it’s gotten so far and we certainly didn’t have any expectations of how people would receive the album. We just try to make music that we relate with and connect to and hope that other people do well. We’re really stoked people seem to be digging it so far.
I do this with every band I interview, but I’m a gear nerd. I have this belief that a person’s soul calibrates to their equipment and when they die a huge part of their soul lives on inside of the most recognized. For example, Dan Spitz and his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles guitar (ed note: Dan Spitz is very much alive). You guys play with some pretty classic looking elements.. What are they to you and why did you choose them?
We like Marshall JMP amplifiers just because they sound awesome. They have that classic British bite that a lot of metal bands from the 1980’s have. As far as guitars, I have a 1981 BC Rich American Handmade Warlock and also a 1983 Gibson Les Paul Custom that I currently play. Both those guitars play so awesome and my favorite musicians have played BC Rich and Gibson. I like playing classic gear. And yeah, I feel the same way. I have a lot of sentimental attachment to my gear.
When it comes to recording, not just this album but in general, were there any classic methods of production? I ask because the industry is changing dramatically in the realm of audio, and where you once couldn’t talk about it, there is now this need to promote a new custom prese or signature compressor in ProTools. Did you guys try anything new with this album and how did it make you feel?
No, I’m afraid not. We did everything in ProTools. Kurt Ballou is a genius and engineered/mixed our record and even though it’s digital, it still has a very classic “live” feel to it. He really knows what he is doing. We spent about eight hours getting guitar tones. My fingers hurt very badly after that!
What next? Have you begun to discuss further circulation, or how are you going to take this creativity to the next album?
We’re going to tour here and there for the next two years and during that time we’ll be gathering ideas for another LP I am sure. I already have a few ideas for future songs and what not. We look at Nails as a very long term thing. We don’t expect to quit or break up anytime soon. We all like doing the band and being in each other’s presence.
You Will Never Be One of Us is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.