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Interview: Todd Jones from ‘Nails’

Nails Press Shot

Californian grindcore rockers Nails have a reputation of being one of the nastiest, heaviest, most vicious bands in the metal scene right now! With vocals attacking like serrated knives and instrumentation roaring like a temperamental storm it’s no wonder the trio have blasted their way into the homes of fans all over the world. We caught up with frontman Todd Jones to get more dirt on their latest beast/album ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’!

Congratulations on the new album! Love the idea behind the title ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us.’ What first inspired this statement? 

It came to me one night when I was lying in bed. I’m not sure how or why or what I was thinking but it’s a title and a feeling I thought of. I wrote it on the notepad on my phone and it just kind of stuck out to me. I thought it would be a really good name for our new album especially because the titles for our last two records were kind of cryptic and probably something you had to think about whereas this new one was really blunt and in your face. It’s an emotion I feel very strongly about and I thought if I felt strongly about it then it’s a good chance other people feel strong about it.

I’m guessing you’ve had your fair share of encounters with fakers in the metal industry? 

Yeah, of course. More than a handful of times! You see people who come around and you may not associate with them or you might be put into situations where you have to talk to them – it’s something I’ve experienced first hand. I don’t like it. But really ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ can apply to anybody with any sort of passion whether it be some sort of sport like basketball, baseball or skateboarding, or building a house, or whatever the f*ck you’re passionate about.

You put a lot of work into it, especially with music. You know I’m making hardly any money playing music and I assume you’re not making that much money writing about music. You put a lot of hours, a lot of yourself and a lot of your own life into this without much of a reward. You’re doing it for all the right reasons because you love it and you want it to be a forest and watch it grow but you see these people who come around and try to do the same things you do for unpure reasons.

It’s insulting and disrespectful and it’s the feeling you have when you talk to these people and you see what these people are doing. It’s something that you love and they will never be one of us. That’s what it’s about. It’s just like the lyric from the record, “Our pain is not your pain/our pride is not your pride”. What we feel for this isn’t what you feel and that’s what it all comes down to.

This is the first album you’ve made with record label Nuclear Blast. Has this impacted the album in any shape or form? 

I think Nuclear Blast has been able to put it in front of more faces, or maybe different faces than we would have if we were on any other label so it’s definitely helped in regards to that but as far as the creative process – as far as songs we wrote, I don’t think that’s necessarily changed whatsoever. They’re pretty hands off, they let us do what we want to do. We’re just happy to be working with them and they’re happy to be working with us. It’s a good harmonious relationship!

What was it like working with (producer) Kurt Ballou? 

It was great. I’ve known Kurt for about 15 years now so we’re friends and Nails has recorded at his studio 3 times already so we’re comfortable not only being in his studio and working with him but also being around him and talking with him. We’re comfortable with his personality and everything. He’s a really good conversationalist – assertive, so it’s really easy to spend time just chatting with him and talking about various things. Sometimes you get lost in that moment and you don’t realise you’re supposed to be working and making a record.

Musically, how does this album compare to the previous ‘Abandon All Life?’ 

Musically, ‘Abandon All Life’ was more about being punched in the face and being beat up and not really remembering anything about it but just knowing that it was a whirlwind of aggression, whereas this new record was more about the same thing – basically getting punched in the face but then remembering everything about it. We really tried to make aspects of the record more memorable as far as choruses or guitar riffs went. It’s a little bit more focused on that as well as being chunkier and more bass driven. 

Do you have a favourite song on this album? 

Yeah, it’s the third song Made To Make You Fail and the reason why that’s my favourite song is because I feel like it showcases the vision in my head of Nails as far as being a mixture of punk rock and metal. The first half of the song is really metal especially with the first riff being a – I don’t want to say a waltz speed but it has really intricate guitar playing, whereas the second half of the song is really punk rock. 

With so many rave reviews for the previous album, did you feel pressure to live up to the same standard for ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us?’ 

Yeah absolutely I felt pressure because there’s an expectation set. When people listen to our past records they’re going to want our next record as good as the last one so we gotta make sure we fulfil that expectation. We pretty much do the same thing we’ve always done which is basically make a record we like, but the personal standards we set for ourselves are very high and we fail every time, though we know we’ve given it our best and that’s pretty much all we can do. I just want to make a record that fans like and don’t feel let down by because I’m a fan of music so when I get a new record from a band I really love and it’s just not that good it bums me out. So we do our best to make sure that when we make an album it’s at least up to standard with the last one before it.

How would you describe a live Nails show? 

A live Nails show is very heavy, very chaotic. People are thrashing around, maybe stage diving. We like to play hard and we like to play loud so we just try to go for it and try to encompass the vibe of the music it is we’re playing. We tend to just get up there and do our thing.

What’s been the strangest thing ever thrown on stage at one of your shows? 

A bra! A bra was thrown on stage at our last show at Philadelphia and that kind of threw me for a loop because I don’t really know what that means.

When do you hope to come to Australia? 

Yeah, we’re coming. Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to come in 2016 but we’ll be coming at the end of 2017. We’ll come and enjoy the nice Australian summer while it’s winter in our homeland. But we’re going to get down there. Ever since 2010 we’ve had people ask us to come to Australia but unfortunately we just haven’t been able to make it but we’re going to definitely come on this album’s cycle.

What does the next few years hold for Nails? 

For the next two or three years we’re just going to be playing shows. Maybe in the next year we’ll start writing our next record and think about recording that, but for the next couple of years we’re just going to be touring around the U.S, Europe and like I said we’re going to come to Australia. That’s pretty much it. It’s what we’ve got in store.

Nails’ new album ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ is set for release on Friday 17th of June.