Thanks to the super-awesome Liz at Earsplit PR I was able to have a chat with Joel Grind, founder and driving force behind Toxic Holocaust. How the hell this band escaped my radar for so long is beyond me, but man their unique blend of thrash and punk is just insane! Newest album Chemistry of Consciousness was one day away from U.S. release, too. Joel was gearing up for a Halloween show in his hometown of Portland, Oregon as we spoke, and we touched on that, his uncompromising way of doing things, the sheer lunacy of the “Acid Fuzz” video, and more. Check it out:
Joel: No, I’m not offended at all! That’s cool that you got into it.
Amps: I see that the tour starts with a hometown show in Portland, OR. You excited for that?
Joel: It’s a Halloween show. Kind of a weird story, but we’re playing a bar that the guy who owns Relapse records also owns. It’s called the White Owl Social Club. It’s hard to say how nutty it will get. Portland on Halloween is a lot of fun, but there’s so much shit going on I can’t gauge what kind of a crowd we’ll have. I mean, WE’RE gonna have a good time (laughs)!
Amps: And you’re on the road here in the States through December, ending in NY. Will you be doing a Southwestern run, say, after the holidays?
Joel: We will be. The way we’re doing this kind of tour is different. See, in the past we would kind of do a full-on tour and just be out on the road a super-long time, and we’d start to get burned out a little bit. So the way we’re doing it now is the East coast first, then in January the West coast maybe, and hopefully the Southwest, I’m just not 100% sure when. But we will definitely be hitting Texas because we always do so well there and we have a lot of fun!
Amps: (Slow and deliberate) as long as I know you’re coming sometime in 2014…I’m fine. This is my calm voice, not the voice of someone who’s becoming a crazed lunatic, because he knows you’ll be here at some point!
(Joel starts laughing at my craziness)
Amps: So, the reviews are in, mine included, and everyone really seems to love this record. You guys excited for the release?
Joel: I’m really excited to get this one out there. I don’t really look at reviews, to be honest, because in the past, some of the negative ones used to bum me out, so I just stopped looking. I feel like when I do a record, I’m on the right path with the way I wanted it to turn out and I did the best I could. If other people aren’t feeling it, I realize that not everybody’s gonna like what you do. It’s that weird fine line of being a musician and trying to do something creative and personal. But what I have heard from people so far has been positive. I worked hard on it and it was a lot of fun to make. It was the kind of record that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time, so I enjoyed it.
Amps: Me, too! I’ve been jamming it for three days straight!
Joel: Awesome! It’s really cool to have support from people like you, because it keeps me going and doing this. It’s always been fun, but having that extra support makes me really happy, so I really appreciate that.
Amps: You’ve been writing/recording/touring for quite some time now, and you have always done it your way, no bullshit, no compromises. What advice would you have for some of your younger fans who want to pursue music?
Joel: I think I would tell them to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. I know a lot of people ask me how I made it and things like that. That never even crossed my mind when I started the band or any of that. It was more for my love of doing it and things started snowballing from that. It was never a conscious thing to get signed. To be honest with you I just wanted to create music and do some touring. It was never in the grand scheme of things, and I think you should do it because you actually love it and do the best you can, and put as much effort into it as you can.
Amps: How long have you been at Audiosiege Engineering? How does it feel when you record a band and everything falls right into place, and you had a hand in that?
Joel: Yeah, since April. It’s amazing, it’s kind of like the tables are turned. Instead of being the one recording I’m the one capturing the sound, which is cool because it’s a whole different way of thinking. For me, I just try to make it really comfortable for the people recording there because it’s a little bit intimidating. I know when I first did An Overdose of Death… it was the first time I was in a studio. The previous stuff I did at my house. So that was a really intimidating and overwhelming thing. I try to go above and beyond to get the sound that they want and close to their vision.
Amps: And this is your second record with Phil (Zeller, bass) and Nick (Bellmore, drums). This lineup is really good. Do you go out as a 3-piece, or with a second guitar player?
Joel: Just a three-piece. I play guitar and sing. It’s nice because having a three-piece line-up is nice. It’s really stripped down and lends itself to our sound. You know, like a Motörhead kind of formula. You don’t need much more than that!
Amps: Have you heard that Motörhead record yet (Aftershock)? It’s awesome!
Joel: No, I haven’t heard the whole thing yet. I need to get it, though.
Amps: I noticed a cool Motörhead kind of groove on “International Conspiracy”, too.
Joel: Yeah, it’s in my blood that influence. It pops up here and there.
Amps: Do you have a favorite track on this one?
Joel: I really like the one we just did the video for, “Acid Fuzz”. That one’s just a rockin’ tune. It kind of sums up the whole record, really. It’s to the point, and kind of punky.
(You can see the video for “Acid Fuzz” HERE)
Amps: I’m glad you brought that up, because I just saw the video today. What the hell is going on there (laughing)?!?
Joel: (Also laughing) the entire video is an animated sequence of a bad acid trip. What’s happening is there is a guy in a lab being dosed with LSD and then he goes through this bad trip sequence, and at the end he breaks free, jumps out the window and kills himself.
Amps: Yeah, I got it today from Earsplit PR, and when I watched it I was like, “Hooooly Shit! I need to ask Joel what’s going on here when I talk to him later!”
Joel: (Laughing) A LOT is going on in that video!!
Amps: What was the first record you bought that made you go like, “Fuck yeah, this is what I wanna do!!”?
Joel: I think it was Venom’s Welcome to Hell. I remember getting that record and thinking, “This is it!” It kind of just sums up everything I like in music. It’s very simple, to the point, and the songs are evil, but catchy. It had like the punk and the metal elements in there. That was the spark that made me wanna start a band.
Amps: My 11-year old was shaking the hell out of the car yesterday when I had Chemistry of Consciousness on, so safe to say he’s a fan, too!
Joel: Awesome!!! That rules, man!! Just don’t show him the video!!
Amps: Don’t worry, I won’t! What would you like to say to the Toxic Holocaust fans, old and new?
Joel: You’re the reason why I’m still going. Without the fans’ support I wouldn’t have gotten this far doing this for so long. It really means a lot to me. It’s gone further, and I’ve had more fun than I could ever imagine. It’s a really awesome experience getting to meet our fans on tour, and all of them have been really cool. So thank you!
Joel Grind is one of the coolest, most real rockers out there, and he’s always done it his way. Knowing that just makes listening to Toxic Holocaust all the more kickass. I really enjoyed my conversation with him, and can’t wait till they hit Dallas in 2014. And if for SOME REASON you haven’t picked up Chemistry of Consciousness…run, don’t walk to your nearest record store and do so!!