NAILS – Raging Extremity Delivered With Honesty
June 14, 2016, 2 years ago
Todd Jones, vocalist/guitarist of California hardcore/grind/metal band Nails, knew that after the band's second album, 2013's Abandon All Life, he wanted to do something a bit different with the band. So for their new one, You Will Never Be One Of Us, he made a change to both his vocal delivery and his songwriting style.
“I feel it's an improvement,” Jones says about the new album. “The main thing is my vocals. After we recorded Abandon All Life, I made my vocals lower and, honestly, I just think it fits the music better anyhow. To me, that's a vast improvement. Musically, song-wise, I think it's an improvement. Abandon All Life, to me, was really aggressive and in your face and really harsh. That's how it was made to be, and we did it, and after we did the record we realized, hey, we really like this record, it's really good, but there's not a lot to really remember from it. We wanted to focus more on writing memorable riffs or vocal hooks for this new record. After you listen to Abandon All Life, you don't remember a lot of it. We wanted to try to fix that on this new record.”
The main talking point with the record should be that it's one of the best examples of noisy, hardcore-driven metal in ages, an album that will sit nicely alongside classics from Converge or His Hero Is gone in the record collection. But, given the band's penchant for very short albums (debut was 14 minutes, second was 17 minutes, this one is 22 minutes), it's easy to see why people always cling to that as something to discuss when it comes to Nails, even if Jones wishes that weren't the case.
“I'll be honest with you, it actually really bothers me that people always talk about the length of our albums,” he admits. “I don't look at the length of a record when I listen to a full-length. I listen to a full-length and think, 'Did it sound like a full-length? Did it make me feel like I was listening to a full-length by the time it was over?' I look at music like an emotion, and not a fucking time constraint. It saddens me that people do look at music like a time constraint; I think it's actually very pathetic. But who the fuck needs 25 minutes of Nails? I don't think anybody does.”
Agreed on this end: music this extreme is much more impactful in small doses. But I do wonder if it bugs record labels when Nails hands in a finished album and it's the length of most bands' EPs.
“It bugs everybody,” says Jones. “But I set the expectation right off the bat: these are the records we make, they're between 15 minutes and 22 minutes long, that's it. That's all you're going to get. If you want to work with Nails, this is what you're working with. The record labels adjust to that; they still wish we made longer records, but we set the expectation and they get what they get.”
And even though his band is now on Nuclear Blast and have been embraced by the metal community, Jones feels a kinship with legendary underground bands like His Hero Is Gone or Assück, who wrote music from a place not dictated by record label bosses and who weren't worrying about crunching numbers, instead crafting songs not held back by, well, anything.
“Those bands, I don't think they really had any rules,” says Jones. “They just got into a room and made music to their standards. Assück's Misery Index is like 14, 15 minutes, and, I'm good, man; that record tore me to shreds, [Slayer's] Reign In Blood tore me to shreds. Both those records get serious repeated listening. People look at music differently than me, and that's fine, but I wish people really just based that stuff off how they felt and not like a time constraint that a distributor set for what a full-length is or isn't.”
And as the band grows and finds a bigger, and more long-haired, audience, Jones says he's just happy that people are liking Nails, even if no one really knows how to categorize them.
“The metal scene is embracing us, that's just a fact. We're on Nuclear Blast. When we play shows I see lots of metal dudes and girls there. We're playing metal events, we're playing Ozzfest, we're playing metal festivals in Europe. But as far as where we sit, I don't know.
Everybody comes to our shows. Punks, hardcore, metal, everybody comes to our shows. But what is a band really defined by? That's really the question. I can't really say anything really defines us. The only thing that really defines us is our spirit. Particularly, my spirit is punk, hardcore, and metal, an amalgamation of those three things. That's what I wanted Nails to reflect when we started the band, and it appears that we've done that because nobody really knows how to classify us, everybody hears us with their own filter. Sometimes they hear more metal, most of the time they hear more hardcore. I don't have a problem with any of those things; I'm just happy people like our band. If people consider us a hardcore band, that's fine. If people consider us a metal band, that's fine. I'm just happy people dig us.”