California metal band Nails have been steadily rising in success and gaining a reputation as a no comprise band who relentlessly put out some great music. Their third album “You Will Never Be One Of US” will be out on June 17th so we talked to frontman Todd Jones about the new songs, influences and working with Max Cavalera.
Steve: So how’s things your side? What’s been happening?
Todd: Not much man, just preparing for this record to come out and working and having fun and just trying to stay mellow.
Steve: Awesome man, it’s a killer album. I’ve had a listen and yeah, the fans are certainly in for a treat.
Todd: Thanks man, yeah we worked real hard on it and we’re real happy with the outcome. We can’t wait for it to be released, we’re real stoked on it.
Steve: For sure, I know you’re a busy guy, I won’t keep you. So, I guess first up was there an overall theme to the new album or did we just go hell for leather?
Todd: Yeah I mean I guess there’s not really a theme other than just being Nails and being aggressive and heavy you know. But as far as any lyrical theme, there’s definitely no lyrical theme.
Steve: Yeah just because some bands can sometimes go for themes and others just go for it.
Todd: Yeah some bands are really good at creating story based albums, and also like a certain theme, but you know we’re really based on anything as far as that goes. I’m certainly not a poet and certainly not a person who reads a lot of books, but yeah I guess our theme overall is just expressing ourselves and that’s pretty much it.
Steve: Awesome. So you think Nails sound have evolved over the years compared to something like “Unsilent Death?” Could you give us a little insight?
Todd: Sure. Right off the top of my head, I want to say that it hasn’t evolved, but that’s probably not true because since “Unsilent Death” we’ve made two more full lengths and we have to find ways to kind of be Nails but also on each record make them a little bit different so they stand out on their own and so each one of them is different and have different aspects on each other. So the sound has evolved, it’s got more chaotic. Since “Unsilent Death” I’d say it’s gotten more heavier, it’s maybe gotten more technical and sometimes I think it’s gotten edgier since “Unsilent Death” but by no mean I would use the word catchier to describe our records. But I think “You’ll Never Be One Of Us” is catchier than “Unsilent Death.”
Steve: So, how was the writing process on the new album? Was it collaborative or did you guys just go off and do your own thing and come back together?
Todd: I little bit of both. I think sometimes I’ll bring in a song that is already completed like the title track “You’ll be One of Us” which was musically, like guitar wise it was completed, already had ideas for what I wanted to do but sometimes I’ll come in with a riff,listen, and we’ll jam it out. And you know everybody puts their own spin on it, how they play and sometimes we work out songs together in a room. It just really depends on the song but I’d say it’s a mixture of both.
Steve: Cool. What was it like working with Kurt Ballou and how did that come about?
Todd: Yeah working with Kurt’s awesome. It came about…I’ve known Kurt for about 15 years now when one of my old bands did an album with him and I’ve come to establish a relationship with him and had a friendship with him so when Nails started, and did “Unsilent Death” I called him up and ask if he could do our record and he agreed to do it and since then we’ve just been doing our records with him. He’s been a very key component in shaping our sound and I couldn’t imagine recording with anybody else and will probably record all of our stuff with him as long as he’s up to recording us. But as far as how the process was, this was Nails third time members going to record with him so we knew you know we felt comfortable with the studio and we knew him. He’s a great conversationalist and we have a great rapport with him so it’s easy to be in a room with him and make records with him. It’s really relaxing to be honest, to do it. It’s good man, I probably feel really uncomfortable going somewhere else.
Steve: Yeah for sure it must be really refreshing to like to say, to be able to walk in and do what you need to do and come out with a product that you’re really happy with.
Todd: Yeah and that’s what we do and we go in there and let him do his thing, you know, work his magic, asks us for input but for the most part we don’t really interfere with what he does. He has a great vision and he also knows we want him to do what he does uninterrupted, we play our songs and he makes us sound good you know.
Steve: He makes it sound killer. So, what is your favorite track on the album and why?
Todd: The third track on the album “Made to Make You Fail”. The reason why it’s my favorite track on the album is it basically mixes all the things that I want Nails to be which is punk and metal. The song has a great influence of punk and a great influence of metal, especially the first half of it where it’s like a very punky but metal riff that starts the song off and has a little bit of a Slayer influence on it and the last part of the track kind of slows down and it’s kind of like a punk rock slam dancing part. Yeah that’s my favorite song on the record.
Steve: So o as a vocalist, what inspires you to push the envelope in terms of your vocal style?
Todd: Yeah you know I have no idea what I’m doing as a vocalist, I just get in front of the mic and yell and scream whatever it is that I do. But as far as my favorite vocalists goes are Barney from Napalm Death, Martin from Asphyx, Tom from At The Gates and James from Ringworm, those are my favorite vocalists in metal. My vocals will never sound as good as those guys, but yeah a boy can dream.
Steve: That’s it. If we don’t have that we haven’t got much hey. So any hints, tips, tricks for any vocalists out there that you use to keep your voice going?
Todd: Nah man I just make sure that I don’t drink anything cold before we play. If I drink something cold, it’s going to restrict my vocal cords and won’t be able to go as hard as I normal would want to go. So don’t do that also I mean, as far as vocals go I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a complete amatuer at this. I don’t really know what I’m doing but also to counter that, I think my voice to good for Nails songs.
Steve: Sure. So I know that Max Cavalera is a huge fan of you guys and you did a track with him last year from the killer album “Archangel”. How did that come about and what was it like to work with such a legend?
Todd: They originally were planning on having Al Jourgensen on the track but I think for whatever reason he wasn’t able to make it so they asked me to do it. I went to Matt Hyde’s studio, he has a vocal booth set up at his house for people to do vocals at so I connected with Matt and Max and Gloria sent me all the lyrics and parts they wanted me to sing. You know I didn’t actually meet Max until a week or so later so I just went in there and sang the song to the best of my ability. I gotta be honest with you, it’s very difficult because Max’s voice is so fucking good. His voice is still so fucking awesome [so] you know for me to go in on a Soulfly tune and try to like sing on a Soulfly song is like very hard especially mentally because I don’t know if I’m going to make that song any better but I tried my hardest, gave it my all and it was fine man. I can’t believe that the guy that was involved in having a hand in creating “Chaos A.D” was asking me to sing on one of his records so I’m fucking stoked.
Steve: You were talking about boyhood dreams, I bet that ticked one of the biggest boxes out there.
Todd: Yeah I mean i never even thought that it would be a possibility now so that was a huge thing for me to be able to do that, to be able to participate in that.
Steve: Yeah for sure I think most musicians would kill for that phone call.
Todd: Yeah I certainly was on cloud nine when I heard about that.
Steve: For sure! So is there anyone you’d like to work with in the industry like a producer or another vocalist and look anyone really, there’s no limits here?
Todd: You know we asked Phil Anselmo to do guest vocals on our record but I emailed their manager but he never got back to us so I don’t man, It really depends on the song that we’re writing. Like who would compliment the song but I don’t know man, there’s so many musicians that I’d love to collaborate with or do a song with but it’s kind of hard to pin point just one. I really wish i could have met Jeff Hanneman before he died, I really wish I could have just met him and shook his hand or something but actually I tried to about a year before he died but of course I had no idea he was going to die but I reached out to their publicist to see if I could interview him and they shut me down. But I was like fuck I just wanted to see Hanneman and get to meet him before he passed away.
Steve: Yeah for sure, I don’t think you’re alone there. So I’d love ask this question to any artist that I speak with, what was the last album that you bought or downloaded or are really stoked to hear this year?
Todd: Well I’ll tell you something I’ve heard. I heard the rough mixes of this band called Gatecreeper they’re based out here in the United States from Arizona and I heard their new album. Like that fucking thing smokes, holy shit! That record is going to be fucking awesome! Other than that actually I heard this band called Prisoner of War from fucking New Zealand, their record called Rot it comes from a record label called Iron Bonehead and I’ve been listening to that twice a day for the past two weeks. That thing fucking smokes! Gatecreeper has a bandcamp, they’re like Swedish metal but they’re new album fucking hits hard. When that thing comes out, people are going to take very kindly to it cause it’s awesome.
Steve: Yeah I think I’m going to have to check it out. Is there any chance of seeing you guys in Australia this year or maybe next year? Are there any plans in the works or is it still a little bit up in the air?
Todd: Yeah we’re going to have to come to Australia in 2017. I think we’re going to have to come in the second half of the year to enjoy another summer, to fly out there either in November or December. It’s a little ways off but we’ll make it there sometime.
Steve: Ok I guess finally, do you have a message for the Australian fans out there that you’d like to give?
Todd: Just thanks for sticking with us, we’ve had people ask us to come to Australia since 2010. I’m sorry we haven’t come yet but we promise we’ll make it out there on this album cycle. Thanks to everyone in Australia for the support because that’s the number one place people ask us to come and we just haven’t been able to swing it yet so thanks for just sticking with us.
Steve: Not a problem at all. Thanks so much for your time today Todd and take care and send our best to the rest of the band and look forward to catching you guys sometime in the future.
Todd: Awesome, thank you very much man. I appreciate it.