Live At The Worcester Palladium
All photos by Hillarie Jason
Live At The Worcester Palladium
All photos by Hillarie Jason
In Ghost Cult’s continuing series of how bands deal with touring all summer long, we chatted with Todd Jones of Nails about touring behind their new album You Will Never Be One Of Us (Nuclear Blast), getting props from his heroes, opening for legends like Black Sabbath later this year and more.
On who Nails likes to tour with most:
I’d like to share a stage with pretty much all of the bands were currently touring with. If I had a wishlist of bigger bands to play with, I suppose it would be Hatebreed, Soulfly, Carcass, it would be pretty cool to tour with them guys. Those bands are all on our label so maybe it can happen.
On getting humbled by respect from the metal community:
I woke up one day to go to work and I looked at my phone that somebody had texted me and told me about this article that they saw where (Max Cavalera) said he was proud of me. I lost my f***ing mind because when I was 13 years old, I saw the (Sepultura) ‘Territory’ video on MTV, and I’ve been a fan of everything that he’s done since that. It’s someone that I’ve looked up to, that I’ve admired for a long time. To get him acknowledging me is big, and it’s basically what I’m doing in my writing.
(‘Territory’) That came out, I think I saw it on Headbanger or MTV. Maybe they were playing it during the day which is f***ing crazy. I don’t know, man. I still listen to ‘Territory’. I think they might be one of my top 5 metal bands. For sure one of my top 3 metal bands for me anyway.
On opening for Black Sabbath at Ozzfest/Knotfest:
That’s one thing I’ve learned above everything else is, that nothing is impossible. Like you start by yourself at a small rehearsal stage like seven years ago, eight years ago, and we’re going to have to play with Black Sabbath. If it’s not pessimist to say anything isn’t possible, then I don’t know what is.
Other cities Nails will hit on tour this year:
London, U.K. Mexico City. We’re going to go there in October, and of course, our hometown of Los Angeles. Let’s not forget we’re sold out here. Those are probably the cities where we get the most wowed at the reactions.
WORDS BY HANSEL LOPEZ
CONCERT PHOTOS BY EMMA PARSONS PHOTOGRAPHY
In Part II of our exclusive chat between Hansel Lopez of Ghost Cult and Todd Jones of Nails, Todd discusses touring with the band, while keeping things stable as possible on the home front. He also goes in-depth about playing on bigger festival stages with more mainstream bands such as Ozzfest, This Is Hardcore, New England Metal And Hardcore Festival, and the possibility of another new Nails album in the works soon.
I noticed that you guys are going to be making an appearance at the Ozzfest this year.
Yeah, we’re going to be playing Ozzfest. We got asked to play. I don’t know what was the deal. We got the phone call saying “Hey, do you want to play with Black Sabbath?” I said “Yeah, for sure.” They put us on. I’m pretty psyched to play that shit.
I’ve noticed, it’s a diverse bill since it has bands like Kataklysm, and brutal bands like that. But at the same time, Disturbed and other mainstream acts. How do you think the audience are going to react to you guys? Do you think it will be a good show?
It’s a process man. It’s fucking mainstream metal. What do you expect? How are people going to react to it? I don’t know. I don’t even know if there is people there. It’s 1:50 in the afternoon, that’s our set time. I imagine people will come to the stage when we play, and we’re going to get up there and do our thing, and use it to the best of our ability. I don’t know how people are going to react to us. Like I said, I mentioned Oz Fest is fucking cool cause ongoing to get to see Black Sabbath for free.
That’s pretty much it. We’re going to go play and do our thing, and hopefully, people dig on us. If they don’t, they don’t. We’re only going to be playing for 30 minutes, so we’re not going to waste our stage time. I don’t know what to expect, and I don’t have any expectations other than I’m going to drive an hour away from my house to go play a show and then go watch Black Sabbath, and that’s pretty much it.
I’ve always understood that you guys work day jobs, but sporadically will tour across … I know you guys have a date coming up I think in Boston next month.
We tour for about 1 month to 6 weeks per year. We take time off of work here or there, just go off and play some shows from June 17th to June 26th. We’ll be going from Chicago to Raleigh, North Carolina, and just playing about 11 shows from the Midwest to the East coast of the United States. That is correct. We will be playing Boston at the Middle East, and that’s pretty much it, man. We do tours sporadically, and we do tour one week at a time. With Nuclear Blast, they didn’t require that we play more shows. When we contacted them, we told them what we were willing to do and what we weren’t willing to do, and they told us what they needed from us and what’s they didn’t need from us, and that was pretty much it. They didn’t want to change the format. It’s pretty much just business as usual for Nails, man.
Outside of the little summer tour you guys are doing, and the Ozzfest appearance, what’s next for you guys?
We’re going to go to Europe in November, and then I’m sure we’ll find our way to … We’re going to be playing This Is Hardcore Festival in Philadelphia in August. We’ll find our way around the country a couple more times before we start making another record. We’ll probably be playing Boston, I think we’ll play Boston four times, so we’ll probably get out there and play some more shows, some more festivals. They’re still doing New England Hardcore Fest (Editor’s note: New England Metal And Hardcore Festival) and if they want us to come back, we’ll definitely come back. It’s just playing shows, man. That’s pretty much it. We’ll probably start working on another record in the next year or so.
Really, that quick?
Yeah. Typically, bands put out records every 2 years. We put out records every 3 years, but who knows what will happen, man. Maybe it’ll take another 3 years to make a record, but … If our record comes out in June, and Nuclear Blast wants to try to get another record out within 2 years, that means we’ll probably have to start writing about a year from now and record. You have to follow the idea of a year. Who knows? Who knows what’s going to happen? We’re just stoked. We’re ready for our new album to come out, and we’re just ready to have fun, play shows. We’re just grateful that there’s people who want to see us play, and that’s pretty much it.
Just speaking of the writing really quick, ‘They Come Crawling Back’, which in my understanding is the longest song you’ve ever written at 8 minutes?
Yeah, that’s fair. Yeah, that’s our longest song.
That’s my favorite track off this new album. I thought it was killer.
Thanks, man. We’re going to have to play that song live because I’ve been getting so much feedback like that. We’re starting to play our songs live too much, but we’re going to have to rehearse it and get it together. I really like that song too. It’s just, it’s fucking long.
But it’s rewarding. It’s almost like for me it’s like when you listen to Godflesh and Neurosis, it’s like that crushing heavy sound.
Yeah, man. It’s like my favorite bands, and my language was referencing those 2 bands.
Great minds think alike, right?
That’s what’s up man.
INTERVIEW BY HANS LOPEZ
CONCERT PHOTOS BY EMMA PARSONS PHOTOGRAPHY
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For the 13th year, the inner harbor area of Baltimore is turned into what is known as Maryland Deathfest. This year being my first time, I went all out and made sure I was present for all 5 days/nights. After the hours upon hours of partying and headbanging, I had found an annual tradition that I almost feel obligated to return to year by year. Of course maybe not for everyday of the festival, but the experience alone is worth it.
Upon arriving in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon with a few friends, it did not take long to find all of the metal heads. Black t-shirts, denim vests, leather boots, jean shorts, and long-hair filled the streets and hotels. After unpacking in our rooms and wandering the streets, the Ottobar became filled with excited fans, ready to hear some great death metal from bands like Funerus, Drawn and Quartered, Massacre, and Incantation. The Ottobar had a bar tender just selling beers out of basins outside of the regular full bar. This served to be quiet convenient in between sets to go outside for fresh air then on the way back in, refill for the next band. Incantation certainly stole the night for me as I was able to see them for the first time a month earlier at New England Metal And Hardcore Festival, but on a very short set. Headlining at the Ottobar, this offered me another look at these death metal pioneers and I certainly enjoyed them more the second time around.Devourment, by Hillarie Jason Photography Origin, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Avoiding the first night parties, my pals and I woke up early and found a local diner for breakfast to consume as many carbs and cups of coffee as we could in preparation for the day ahead. The plan today was to watch some death metal over at The Baltimore Soundstage and then make our way over to Rams Head Live for late night doom. The Soundstage is a small, dim lit venue which I found to be perfect as this venue typically held the hardcore/grindcore bands for the festival. Merch tables and bars lined the outer walls which I am sure made a killing throughout the weekend. The lineup consisted of Mortal Decay, Origin, Internal Bleeding, Skinless, Devourment, and of course, Mobb Deep. One of my favorite moments from the Soundstage on this day was Jason Keyser of Origin/ex-Skinless jumped on stage with Skinless to perform one of the Keyser-era songs off of Trample the Weak, Hurtle the Dead. After a quick bite to eat in between Soundstage and Rams Head Live, I made my way into the back entrance of the venue. This venue was hidden away inside the building and actually had three floors with fans hanging over railings to get a view of the small stage up front. Just as I found a spot in the back on the railing of the second floor, the mighty Conan took to the stage and brought forth one of the heaviest guitar tones I have ever heard live. After getting through a trance inducing set from Ufomammut and a thunderous jam from YOB, it was time to head back to the hotel for some re-cooperation. The next day, we would get to venture to the Edison Lot.
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN
Brian Fair (Shadows Fall, Overcast, Death Ray Vision, Downpour, Transient) appeared on The Jasta Show featuring Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed, Jasta, Kingdom of Sorrow). He speaks about his history with the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, the state of Shadows Fall, where he stands today and being a dad.
Day 3 of The New England Metal And Hardcore Fest drew to a close with a lot of diehards in attendance, but a little less of the fanfare of the previous two days. When you go to a music festival or any show really, typically you are familiar with the bands that you go to see. But just like tape trading was back in the 80s, and downloading a decade ago, a music festival is a great place for music discovery, checking out new bands, and getting outside your comfort zone for fun. A lot of this happened today.
By day three of anything, a comic-convention or a destination music festival, people are spun out a little from the last few days of action. Industry folks, (most of) the photographers and the vendors were a lot more relaxed on day 3 with the lighter crowd. I chatted with Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall/Act of Defiance) about his new venture, Manshark Entertainment. It was cool catching up with him and other people from the scene I usually see at these things. At the same time you have to give it to the staff of a venue that has seen an endless stream of people come in and go out in a weekend, metal fans from all walks, and still have them keep their shit together, and do a great job. I gotta give it up to the staff of the Palladium for the work they put in keeping everything moving and everyone safe.
Sunday is traditionally the “hardcore” day at NEMHCF and the the early bands brought that vibe. There were some killer early performances on Sunday from the likes of the more hardcore bands such as Oath, Living Laser, and Ghost X Ship, the nu-metal stylee-o of Gift Giver, and the phenomenal performance of Lorna Shore. They had their own crew of fans repping New Jersey in the house and I even saw some WSOU shirts on a few people that got me open! Also of note was a killer showing from New York’s Brick By Brick, now fronted by Ray Mazzola (Full Blown Chaos), for a sick set of ignorant (in the best way possible) hardcore and metal. Their set truly was a moshfest!
Later in the day following excellent performances from Sworn In, Vanna, The Color Morale and Cruel Hand on the small stage, Motionless in White took the stage as the final band of the weekend. Putting on a show that an amazing visual spectacle, stellar goth rock showmanship, the band owned the night. Their fans, many I met whom waited all day and checked out all of the bands before them, fell rewarded by a captivating show. The fans sang every word, jumped up and down when Chris Motionless said to jump, and generally yelled fuck you at all the appropriate moments, two middle fingers to the sky. It was a fitting close to a fun weekend. See ya next year Metalfest!
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
Day two at Metalfest is usually more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s about going hard or going home, but also taking care of yourself too. You gotta stay hydrated when you’re hot and sweaty, take a breather from time to time, and not eat like crap the entire weekend. I made sure to fill up on some terrific energy boosting organic juice at the Paris of the 80’s Cafe next to The Palladium. Because juicing is metal!
Saturday is also where I spent a little more time with the upstairs bands. While the main-stage has more of the metal bands that I favor, the upstairs is for real warriors. Hardcore is still loveless to the mainstream. Nobody plays this style of music for riches and fame. So there will be violence in the pit, there will be glorious pile-ons, sweaty hands grabbing the mic, and there will be shout-a-long choruses. Catching acts such as No Zodiac, Disgrace, Gods Hate, and the mighty Wisdom In Chains, you can see the past meet the future of music, and the fans who care deeply about these bands.
The first main-stage band I caught on Saturday was Texas-bred Shattered Sun. While they are opening the Dark Roots of Thrash II tour for tonight’s final acts, at Metalfest they hit the stage at about 2:30 PM. They whipped the early crowd into a frenzy with their modern take on neo-thrash. As I was jamming out, I look over to my left and there was GaryHolt (Exodus/Slayer) giving his seal of approval, banging his head.
The main-stage was so good this year, it was hard to peel away for some grub. Worcester (or Woostah if you are local wildlife) certainly has some decent food options, including the stellar Kenmore Diner within walking distance to the venue. I’d love to see some food trucks participate in future years, considering how many awesome ones we have locally.
After catching parts of good sets from Thy Will Be Done and The Agonist, it was time for some more death metal. We haven’t had much classic death bands of late here, so it was cool to see Incantation and Vital Remains on the bill. While the later band is immensely popular here, Incantation ruled supreme. Lots of people were seeing this great band for the first time today and they slayed.
The most talked about band before metalfest the last two years has been Nails. Their set last year may never be topped for intensity. Moving down to the main-stage, the entire floor did not devolve into a violent pit of epic proportions as I predicted. However, there was one large circle pit in the middle and some rough stuff up front, but for the most part people were able to enjoy the band and not die, which was good. Nails crushed it hard. That new album cannot come fast enough for me.
Nuclear Assault may be going into retirement, but not before hitting the road and ripping us a new one. They sounded fresh as ever, especially John Connolly’s chirping high screams. I’m looking forward to their new EP in June.
Exodus is another band that has gone through some changes. With a recent album, Blood In Blood Out (Nuclear Blast) and a returning Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, the band sounded tight. I was happy with the set list, which included some of their more recent stuff, and of course classics like ‘Toxic Waltz’ and ‘Strike of the Beast’. Props to security for handling all the crowdsurfers and moshers without the usual nonsense I see at other venues.
Testament closed things out in style with a stage set right out of Iron Maiden’s playbook. And why not? Testament is one of those legacy (pun intended) thrash acts. They had a huge production with creative lights, billows of smoke, and the crazy bursting strobe lights that were a little overpowering frankly. Although they had a slightly over-loud sound mix, the band was incredible as they played only their first two albums, plus ‘Practice What You Preach’. With all of their talents, Testament is like The Avengers, and they are thrash metal’s mightiest heroes.
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
It was a celebratory mood as I waltzed into The Palladium for another go-around of “Metalfest”. My 10th time attending and 17th overall in the history of the fest proved to be one of the most fun I can remember. Sure festivals can be grueling, all weekend affairs, logistical nightmares and just exhausting. But it’s also like a family reunion in which you hate almost nobody. Lastly, I was lucky to work with Meg Loyal of Meg Loyal Photography all weekend, providing the awesome shots of the bands all weekend for Ghost Cult.
The venue was swelling with people when I arrived, and I was glad to see support for early first day acts such as Begat The Nephilim, Lody Kong, Downpour (featuring Shadows Fall, Unearth and Seemless guys), The Atlas Moth, and Fit For An Autopsy. I usually do a loop of the venue right when I get in. Checking out the vendors, meeting old friends and making some new ones, it’s always a blast.
Finally getting down to the main stage floor, Jamey Jasta’s solo JASTA set was just ending. Being a Connecticut guy and a Palladium regular, the place was packed and seemed to end the set on a high note. Checking out the merch tables in between bands, it was cool to see sponsors such as Tama and Ibanez offering cool contests anyone could win. I caught some of Within The Ruins’ set and they were killer, as a bunch of bro dudes punched each other silly in the pit. Settling in at the main stage to watch the rest of day one was a tough choice. I love Overcast and Code Orange, but they played opposite COC Blind, which I could not miss. Playing hits off of Blind, this entity of Corrosion of Conformity includes singer Karl Agell (King Hitter), drummer Reed Mullen, and guitarist Scott Little (King Hitter, Leadfoot) among others was in great form and the audience seemed to enjoy the cuts much deeper than ‘Vote With A Bullet’.
Next up were thrashers Death Angel. It seemed like they might be more at home on the Saturday bill with their Bay Area brethren, but they killed anyway. Playing a short set of mostly recent tracks, they nearly stole the show on day one. Following them was Cavalera Conspiracy. A long changeover seemed to stall the momentum, but there was a lot of excitement to see Max and Igor play together once again. I spent a lot of time focusing on Igor, since watching him play is a treat for me. The set leaned heavy on the “hits” of CC, as well as choice Sepulutra jams and a Nailbomb song featuring Richie Cavalera on vocals.
The Red Chord was next and I was pumped up to see them, since I missed the band in their last few comeback shows. They played a set heavy on their masterwork album Clients (Metal Blade) and one new song. Again, the deathcore brings out the crazy pit ninjas en masse. Guy Kozowyk was in great form, as the was the entire band who has been missed much.
Closing out the night was Between the Buried And Me. While I really appreciate the North Carolinian prog metallers, (who gave a neat shout out to COC), I have never been a rabid fan. On this night they played the best set I have ever heard from them. They had a sweet production of video screens, smoke and lighting. Not only was their choice of songs slick, but their pacing and patience as a band has really risen up to the level of the veterans that they are. For an added bonus just for the Metalfest crowd, the band closed with a cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Except for Paul Waggoner playing the iconic piano parts on guitar (of course), the band became Queen, with Tommy Rogers transforming into Freddy Mercury; immaculate right down to his stage moves, voice, and half a mic-stand. The entire venue was singing and some people were crying too. It was an unforgettable end to Day 1.
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
Detroit extreme metallers Gift Giver is streaming their music video for “Trendkill,” off their soon to be released Century Media Records debut SHITLIFE. Watch it below.
Gift Giver on tour
w/Sworn In, The Plot In You
Apr 17: Bogies – Albany, NY (w/ Sworn In, the Plot In You)
Apr 18: Heirloom Arts Theatre – Danbury, CT (w/ Sworn In, the Plot In You)
Apr 19: New England Metal and Hardcore Festival – Worcester, MA
Apr 22: Game Changer World – Howell, NJ (w/ the Plot In You)
Apr 23: Planet Trog – Whitehall, PA (w/ Sworn In, the Plot In You)
Apr 24: Double Happiness – Columbus, OH (w/ Sworn In, the Plot In You)
Apr 25: House Cafe – Dekalb, IL (w/ Sworn In, The Plot In You & I Declare War)
Apr 26: Mac’s Bar – Lansing, MI HEADLINING CD RELEASE SHOW
Today marks the start of New England Metal And Hardcore Festival XVII (that’s #17 for you Roman Numeral deniers among you), which is the unofficial start of spring in the northeast USA. That and the fact there is still some snow on the ground. Ready to thaw out and rock with some amazing bands, this years NEMHF promises to be one of the most diverse bills in its history, according to co-founder and talent booker Scott Lee. Held over three days this weekend on two stages, the fest is a must attend event I nth region which offers something for every heavy music fan’s taste.
Friday is headlined by Between the Buried and Me, which is sure to pack the venue as they usually do. Re-activated Boston mashers The Red Chord are in the spot right before BTBAM, highlighting the depth of this night. Other top billings for Friday go out to Cavalera Conspiracy, veteran thrashers Death Angel, COC BLIND, Code Orange, Overcast, Jamey Jasta solo, The Atlas Moth, Fit For An Autopsy and Within The Ruins.
Day 2 has the all out attack of the “Dark Roots of Thrash Tour” with headliners Testament playing an old-school set, and Exodus in tow making for circle pit heaven. Also from that tour is opener Shattered Sun playing much earlier than usual. Following Exodus is the final New England appearance of Nuclear Assault who are soon to retire. Another excellent band you should not miss is Nails, graduating to the main stage after last years’ bloody pit up at the small stage slot upstairs. Other Saturday bands of note include the recently added Turnstile, death metal overlords Incantation and Vital Remains, Rivers of Nihil, The Agonist and popular locals (from nearby Rhode Island) Thy Will Be Done.
Sunday is always the hardcore centric day, but this year has the added bonus of being led by Motionless In White. The band has worked their way up from nothing with relentless touring and recording, and looks poised for bigger things. A cavalcade of hardcore bands follows MIW such as The Color Morale, Vanna, Death Before Dishonor, Cruel Hand, Lionheart, Sworn In, Brick By Brick as well as Lorna Shore and Last Ten Seconds of Life.
Ghost Cult will be bringing you the review from the weekend full of action, so check back here next week.