Over the past few years, one name has become synonymous with simply making the hardest, gnarliest and most directly punishing music possible: NAILS. In the run-up to the release of their third and seemingly most powerful album thus far You Will Never Be One of Us, we spoke to vocalist and guitarist Todd Jones to get the lowdown.
NAILS have gathered a fair bit of popularity in just a few years, now appearing on magazine covers and being signed to a big label like Nuclear Blast. Did you expect to receive this level of attention with what you were doing?
Todd: No. We keep our expectations low.
Do you feel there’s been clear leaps from album to album?
Todd: No, I do not. We purposely stick to our sound. We try to incorporate different elements on each album so they all stand out in our discography but as a whole, we do not change things up much.
How much influence does Nails draw from the past, both what’s come before you and the past history of NAILS?
Todd: A lot. All of the bands we’re influenced by come from the 1980’s.
Do you have set goals which you wish to achieve with NAILS?
Todd: Other than play shows and write music we like, I suppose our only goals at this point is to make it to Australia. Other than that, just do the usual stuff.
Do you feel your craft as musicians and songwriters has improved since Nails started?
Todd: Yes, I do. We’ve played a lot together and have gotten better playing music together as a unit.
Your vocals have changed somewhat in tone from album to album. Do you feel you’ve improved as a vocalist?
Todd: Yes, I do. I believe I have finally “found” my voice.
How does writing a longer, drawn out song like They Come Crawling Back differ from the usual approach of NAILS? Is that song going to make it into live setlists?
Todd: It doesn’t differ. The only thing that’s different in the tempo. Otherwise it’s standard issue intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge structured song as many of our songs are. Yes, it will be a staple of our live set for this album cycle.
D’you see many differences when playing in the UK or Europe compared to the US?
Todd: No. We’re lucky. Our fans in every country are very rabid and they react in a physical way.
What was the thought process behind the title of You Will Never Be One of Us?
Todd: I don’t like sycophants. That’s what it’s about.
What’s the story behind the You Will Never Be One of Us video featuring people such as Scott Kelly and John Baizley?
Todd: We had the idea of opening our album how it is, with feedback, and having people we were friends with and also respected on a musical level say the album title. Scott Kelly was the only person we didn’t have a relationship that we asked to be part of it. My friend who is buddies with him hit him up to do it and he was into it. We’re really stoked to have him be part of it.
The artwork for You Will Never Be One of Us was done by Wrest of LEVIATHAN. Did you have any ties to Wrest beforehand and what was he given to work with in terms of creating an appropriate cover?
Todd: No, I met him from working with him on this album cover. I’ve been a fan of LEVIATHAN for a while and was trying to get in touch with him to see if he’d do our album cover since we did Unsilent Death but it didn’t work out. I’m very glad it worked out for this album. Stoked.
Nails’ aesthetic and focus is unflinchingly honest. How do you view bands from other areas of the heavy music spectrum with more showy images?
Todd: Every band is on their own trip and I don’t judge other bands harshly. They do what they want and if I dig it, I’m a fan…if I don’t dig it, I just don’t pay attention.
What do you feel the relevance of NAILS within the general heavy music landscape is?
Todd: I don’t really think of things like that. I just enjoy playing and feel fortunate that people are interested in our band.
You Will Never Be One of Us is released on 17th June via Nuclear Blast Records.
For more information on NAILS like their official page on Facebook.