INTERVIEW: Jason Goss – Toothgrinder

Photo Credit: Jonathan Thorpe

WORDS: Laura McCarthy

Progressive metallers TOOTHGRINDER have just released their debut record Nocturnal Masquerade. Through their fresh and innovative sound, the band are winning the hearts and minds of the metal community. Prior to the release of the record, we caught up with guitarist Jason Goss to talk about the record, the stereotypes of progressive metal and where the band would like to be in five years.

Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Firstly, you guys have been working hard getting this new release together, how are you feeling in the build up to the launch?

Jason: We are feeling great about it! There’s a lot of buzz on social media and on tour about the release. It feels good to have people so excited about it.

You’ve been on the scene for a while before this album, has that time helped you create a more defined image and sound?

Jason: Absolutely, it has allowed us to mature most of all. I think our song writing and composition has grown over time. We have had the opportunity to tour across the country and play countless shows and feel the energy of all sorts of crowds. I really think that experience has helped shape us into the musicians we are today.

Would you say there’s been any changes in your attitude towards recording since Turning of the Tides and Vibration/Colour/Frequency?

Jason: Oh yeah 100%! The things we have learned not only about song writing, but just the actual act of recording, are night and day. Luckily we have gotten to learn from some of the best producers out there in that time. The way we track, the things that come out better on recording, the significance of doing certain things, all of that has changed. Now when we record we question whether to down pick or alternate pick certain parts. We focus on the register that we are playing a part in conjunction with what the bass and drums are doing. We question whether a drum part is clashing with a guitar part or vice-versa. I could go on forever haha! But ultimately our approach allows us to focus on the songs more from a bar to bar stand point rather than part to part one, which helps keep an audience’s attention.

What can fans expect of this album?

Jason: They can expect to hear a wide variety of moods from song to song, but also feel like every song is important to the flow of the record. They can expect no weak tracks and feel like they want to listen to the record front to back every time they put it on.

You’ve won a few awards in your home of New Jersey for your music over the years. Do you think that home support has helped you become the band you are today?

Jason: It definitely has. One of our local venues (Champs) has been a huge place for us growing up through the years. We have gotten to play with a lot of great national acts there, before we became one, and I think the fans there really inspired us to want to keep making music. We also met a ton of great friends there!

Have there been any influences you can name on this record, not just musical but inspirational perhaps?

Jason: Musically, there are many inspirations. I’ll rattle off a few, although the list is probably different for everyone in the band: TOOL, MESHUGGAH, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, PINK FLOYD, MASTODON, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, EVERY TIME I DIE. Some inspirational influences would be anyone who has just dominated their craft. Whether it was a sports figure like Tiger Woods or Peyton Manning or an innovator like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, they represent someone who has taken their craft and pushed it to the ultimate level. They have done everything in their power to devote their life to making their product the best it could possibly be.

What exactly drives you to create your music? Why this genre in particular?

Jason: Plain and simple, it’s just fun. There’s nothing more exciting than making some awesome tracks; it’s what made us all come together in the first place. This genre just happened to be what we all were interested in at the inception point of TOOTHGRINDER. Plus we all still dig it today!

Speaking of progressive metal, are there any stereotypes about the sort of music you make you’d like to break? For example, people thinking that prog is too technical & experimental to be entertaining.

Jason: I’d love to break the stereotype of sub-genres in general. I thinks it counterproductive for a scene that is somewhat regressing anyway. When people ask us what type of music we play we just say ‘Metal’. What’s the point in constricting what people can or want to perceive you as? Especially if you plan to write records for years and years to come.

Lyrically, have there been any challenges in your comprising of this album?

Jason: Biggest challenge was writing good melodies. Musically, we started to develop chorus’s in our songs with more defined song structures. Lyrically, Justin has always been very gifted with word selection and never being generic. Finding the right melodies to match the chorus’s was something new for us on this record really.

So now the album is recorded, what are you up to in your downtime? Or is there too much prep to do?

Jason: Mostly touring. We took some time to rehearse the songs after recording, as we changed a lot in the studio, but that time is over now. If we aren’t touring we plan to keep writing, and maybe relax here and there to keep the brains fresh and creative!

This might be jumping the gun, what with the present being so full on at the moment, but where would you like to see yourselves in another five years’ time?

Jason: I’d love to be a consistent headlining act. Not because of greed to be big or anything like that, but because I love the idea of having long set times to play more music for our fans. Plus if we are headlining that means our band has developed longevity so we can keep playing and writing forever.

Are you listening to anyone interesting at the moment?

Jason: KARNIVOOL! Listen to them, everyone should be!

Are you hoping to tour this album, and what do you enjoy most about preforming live?

Jason: Absolutely, hopefully we can tour the world with it. I love the energy from our fans, nothing is more satisfying.

Thank you so much for your time, best of luck with Nocturnal Masquerade

Nocturnal Masquerade is out now via Spinefarm Records.