Nails interview

"We're not looking to gain fans by our live show, but to play for the fans we already have"

10/05/2013 @ 13:25
The Californian risen quartet of Nails return with another new beast, "Abandon All Life", three years since the critically acclaimed "Unsilent Death" and wipe everything in their path with seamless sonic drive and brutal extremity by setting new terms on what hardcore really is. Such records do not come out every day, so we could not miss the opportunity to speak with the band's mastermind and frontman Todd Jones. Laconic, comprehensive with absolute hardcore logic and without mincing words, we talked about the phenomenon that Nails is and also for hardcore in general.

NailsHi Todd and congratulations on your new record. "Abandon All Life" just released on Southern Lord but is on the internet for a while now. How is the response so far?
Overwhelming. People seem to be into it. We worked extremely hard on this album and when we finished it, we were proud of what we did, but we didn’t expect it to be as well received as it has been so far. Thank you to everybody who has checked it out.

What was it, that gave the impetus to start Nails and how do you judge your progress so far?
Our own demons. To express ourselves through music. We are extremely successful so far as we continue to make music on our own terms.

Nails - Abandon All LifeAs in "Unsilent Death", you recorded at Kurt Balou’s studio, who also is the producer of the album. How did that come up and in what ways did Kurt help you?
I’ve known Kurt was years. I first recorded with him in 2001 and have recorded with him a handful of times since then. I just e-mailed him and he was down.

Both of your records remove any trace of hope. Maybe "Unsilent Death" in a more infernal manner while "Abandon All Life" in a more outspoken. Especially in "Abandon All Life", from the depiction of hell in the cover and the title itself to the extremity of the music and the absolutely nihilistic lyrics, seems to leave no room for redemption. Do you think that people can easily get attached to a project which has never provided atonement and never gives him any hope?
Yes, I know from experience that it’s easy to cling to misery. It’s not really good for someone in the long run but you have to deal with it the best way you can and for me, it’s creating music.

NailsWith "Abandon All Life", you set new limits on what extreme really is. Is there room for even more extremity in your music? Does it ever become an end in itself or does it come out completely naturally?
There are no limits and if you search hard enough you’ll find individuals creating art more extreme than us. We have a method to our madness. We need riffs and we need hooks. Without that, it’s not something I would enjoy. Making noise etc.

You present a balanced blend of powerviolence, grind and hardcore pun. Do you place yourselves to a specific music genre?
No. We’re hardcore by nature but metal by sound. People can call us whatever they want.

Is, the fact that you’re creating records which are less than 20 minutes, resulting from the fear of saturation that may occur or do you believe that such extremity must be constrained within tight time frames?
We don’t make music with fear. We make music until we feel it’s complete. We don’t create albums with any time limit in mind. We strive to create albums that are listenable from start to end. We’re not interested in making 20 song albums that get boring into the 8th song. We are lean by design.

NailsWhile your new record does not contain any weak, indifferent or even average moments, I can easily pick out my two favorite songs which are the longest ones, "Wide Open Wound" and "Suum Cuique". I particularly like these two songs because they both are down-tempo beasts with clear structures (in contrast to the rest of the songs that are like manic dynamites) which they kind of embrace sludge metal. Would you like to explore this kind of style more? Is it something that you’d like to practice and develop even more in the future?
Yes, we’re going to continue to slow things down. Suum Cuique is my favorite song to play live at this moment.

"Unsilent Death" had a great impact and was massively acclaimed. Did this great success of it, added pressure on you or did it give you the impetus and inspiration to move forward? Did you expect this kind of feedback?
No, I would’ve felt the pressure even if people didn’t like Unsilent Death. The standards I set upon myself are higher than anyone elses.

How is the writing process? Are you the first to present your ideas with the others to follow your steps or do you follow a more collective process?
Everybody is open to create things but I’m generally presenting the most raw ideas to the band. Saba wrote all of the music to Suum Cuique. Taylor has a riff in one of our new songs we’re writing. But yeah, it’s not just me.

NailsYour sound seems to follow a clean, raw and modern direction close to the sound of modern bands such as Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Trap Them and Magrudegrind. Are you more influenced from the sound of the previous decade or from the more traditional one of the 90s?
First thing, fuck Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Clown band and clown members for being in a band with a clown singer. Trap Them isn’t an influence. Neither is Magrudergrind. I assume Nails shares a lot of the same influences of those bands. But each of the bands you listed presents their craft differently. And none of them are an influence to Nails.

Why did you choose to reissue three songs from you debut, "Obscene Humanity"? Was it on the occasion of your new drummer, as a way to present him to the world?
When we did Unsilent Death, we recorded those songs for the hell of it. We thought it’d be cool to release those recordings since the original version of Obscene Humanity was out of press. And the re-recordings had more to do with us at the time than the original recording.

NailsSurfing on the internet, I found out that while you are already well-known in the USA, Europe does not seem very eager to accept you yet. Do you see that too and if yes where do you attribute this fact? Does that bum you out at all?
Nah I don’t care. UK has accepted us more than anywhere in the world. We need to go there. I love Europe and it’s many cultures but if they don’t care for NAILS, that’s not something I can be upset about. Unfortunately our time to tour is limited so we like to use our time to play to audiences who want to see us. We’re not looking to gain fans by our live show, but to play for the fans we already have.

What other plans do you have now and on? Are you going to get engaged to some other project or do you channel all of your energy and inspiration to Nails? Are there also any plans for a European tour?
I don’t have room in my life for anything other than Nails musically. No EU tour plans as of now.

NailsHave you heard any really good record that released in 2013? Besides "Abandon All Life" I can’t stop listening to the Cloud Rat’s latest release, "Moksha". Do you have anything good to suggest?
The new Twitching Tongues which will be out in August is really good. The new Portal album. The new Institution 7" is great. Youth Code is a new good band from LA. Soul Search is always good.

Closing, I’d like you to tell me, which process do you prefer more: When you are at the studio and you experience a multitude of riffs taking shape, or performing this material live?
I hate recording so by default I’ll choose whatever the other option is. Performing live is way more fun than recording!

Thank you very much for your time Todd. Wish you the best. Cheers!