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.
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.
Nails, by Emma Parsons Photography
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.
Nails, by Emma Parsons Photography
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.
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. 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
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.