Business As Usual – Todd Jones of Nails

Nails. Photo credit by Jimmy Hubbard

Nails. Photo credit by Jimmy Hubbard

After years of toiling in the underground, Todd Jones of Nails finds himself in an interesting space. With the highly anticipated release of their new album You Will Never Be One Of Us (Nuclear Blast) the band is riding the crest of critical acclaim, playing big festivals, and major press. None of that likely phases front man Todd Jones, who mainly cares about respect from fans and peers, and staying as pure to his vision as possible for his music. Interviewed by Hansel Lopez for Ghost Cult on the eve of this new release; Todd discussed the new album, seeing the world, signing with Nuclear Blast, their relationship to the current music scene, expectations, and much more.


Right off the bat, we inquired about the title You Will Never Be One Of Us, and how ominous it sounded to us:

Todd: Thank you. You Will Never Be One Of Us isn’t something that I thought of. It’s like how … It evolved into something like hardcore metal punk, so you feel like something connected special, and underground that not every person in the world really knows about. That’s what the title means, You Will Never Be One Of Us, and it’s definitely an inclusive thing, not an exclusive thing. It’s about the culture that just surrounds all of us that are involved in hardcore metal, and the cover is like that too where there is this demon dude, and people surrounding him trying to take something, trying to push something into him. It sums up the title and the concept of the album as well.

I take it that you feel like in modern, metal, and punk, there’s some unnecessary elements or bands going on?

I don’t know. I think that being involved in metal, it’s like there’s that your peers at work or your peers at school, they don’t really know … It’s like you get the into punk rock, or you get into hardcore, or you get into metal, you feel like you know about something cool that like not everybody knows about. Do you know what I mean?

You look at the world a little bit differently, and like the way you shape your thoughts are a little bit different. It’s just about that, like we have something special, and they don’t.


That probably explains your love for punk and metal, and probably explains how you know people up here in the Merrimack Valley (Editor’s note: New England), being from California.

Yeah, exactly. That’s how I know people. I’ve met a lot of people across the world and stuff, just touring and being a band, just being part of a culture.


It seems like you’ve been in a healthy place.

Yeah. I like my life and I like my position with my band, so I suppose so, yeah. Sometimes, it’s not so healthy. Sometimes it’s a very unhealthy thing, but music is just like anything. It’s what you make of it, so if you make it into something good for yourself, then it’ll be good for you. If you make something bad for yourself, then you’re going to have a problem with it.


You mentioned making something bad for yourself, how does, for example; should a band go down that route, where you see it becomes unhealthy for them?

I think it’s easy to get, it’s easy to be in a band and have a lot of ambition to do things when you shouldn’t necessarily be doing them. That can go a whole lot of different ways. You could get yourself in a financial crisis with the street press or the rental properties, the touring agencies, or you could just be taking in way too much more and you already have a mountain load of responsibility in your shoulders. That’s one way that it could be bad for someone. You’ve just got to … It’s just like in life. You’ve got to go through life, and you’ve got to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you, and maximize in the positive things and minimize on the negative things. In time, you’ll learn what works for you as a person.


We next asked if there was there any pressure to write the followup to Abandon All Life, considering that it was a killer record and well acclaimed:

Yeah. There was a lot of pressure. We had the band, we had the fans who were going to expect us to deliver an album that’s like those records that would show the equality, but also there was a way to show expression. We still have a lot of pressure on our shoulders that will give us a decent amount of money to put together a record. We have that type of pressure as well. Through the process, we just realized that if we do the same thing we’ve always done with a band and it’s like we just make the music that we like, we can’t try and be something that we’re not. We can’t try to be a band that we’re not. Let’s just do the same thing we didn’t make those records, and just do music that we like, and make sure we like it. If you write a song that you don’t like, how are you going to expect other people to like it, you know what I mean? We just did our thing and made the record. I do think that it is of the quality of a band in our lives, and the fabric. I think our fans are going to like it a lot.
Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us ghostcultmag
This is your first record with Nuclear Blast, and how did that relationship come about? Did those they come and court you guys?

Yeah, what happened was we were at a contract, but we weren’t really looking for labels because we didn’t have any material to go and court, so there was no point to go and sign into a record label because we don’t have anything to offer. That was in 2014, but great, it followed our escape plan, and we went to play with Kill Or Be Killed which are on Nuclear Blast. They went to Monty Connor and said “Hey, I like Nails. You should look into them. They’re a really great band and they’re not in the contract right now.” Monty hit us up and we talked. We went back and forth, and we told him what we’re about. He told us what he’s about, and what the expectations of the label were. We told him what the pace of the band was, and we were able to reach a great contract. So far, they’ve done a great job.

If you’re also familiar with our past material, it’s obvious that we haven’t really changed at all. You Will Never Be One Of Us is a record that we would have put it out regardless of what label we were signed on. We were signed, it didn’t really matter what label we were signed on. That’s the record we were going to put out at this time anyway.

Nails, by Emma Parsons Photography

Nails, by Emma Parsons Photography


If anything, it seems like you guys are getting angrier by the record. What seems to be bothering you, Todd?

Just being a human being. Having to deal with just being a human being and the s*** that come along with being that.



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Anti-Mortem – New Southern



It has been 20 years since Corrosion of Conformity’s Deliverance and Pride and Glory’s self-titled established the first real successful integration of the sounds and styles of mainstream Southern American music and metal. New Southern (Nuclear Blast), the first offering from Oklahoman Young Guns Anti-Mortem, takes its roots in the guitar heavy Southern leanings of both, while also calling to mind Alter Bridge, SOiL, Shinedown at their heavier moments, NOLA era Down and Black Stone Cherry (before they started blaming everything on the Boom Boom).


If the lyrics are at times juvenile (‘I Get Along With The Devil’ and its multiple motherfuckers) Anti-Mortem (average age of 21) can be forgiven youthful exuberance. If at times they sway into stock Southern Metal territory, they can also be forgiven for allowing themselves to be over-polished by a big album producer, Bob Marlette (Shinedown, Seether) and playing it safe on their first album. To their credit, the metal edge shines through, and Anti-Mortem avoid any temptations for hokey acoustic campfire radio-friendly unit shifters, keeping the guitars to the fore all through the 12 tracks that make up their debut.

‘Words of Wisdom’ is an opening statement of intent, big guitars leading the way before impressive vocalist Lorado Romo takes over. In an era when great rock singers are a conspicuous by their absence, this kid has the pipes and personality to propel the band to great heights, and a couple of songs later with ‘100% Pure American Rage’ and ‘Hate Automatic’ Anti-Mortem really hit their groove, all sizzling riffs and powerful choruses. Other highlights include the rocking ‘Ride Of Your Life’ with a down-tuned stomp kick start that picks up pace, lead-off single ‘Stagnant Water’, a heavier, dirtier Black Stone Cherry, and personal favourite the Down meets Lynyrd Skynyrd ‘Jonesboro’, that tells the story of guitarist Zain Smith’s old man blustering his way out of trouble while hitch-hiking back to Oklahoma from Arkansas.


New Southern doesn’t redefine metal, but it could go a long way to setting Anti-Mortem, safely under the wing of kingmaker Monte Connor, on the path to great things. Promising.


7 / 10

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