Toxic business, Black Metal sightseeing and ancient Greek gods: Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust speaks

When American Thrashers Toxic Holocaust played the Underground in Cologne on November 19th, 2011 (as part of the tour with Kvelertak, read more about the gig here), I took the chance to have a chat with guitar player and driving force Joel Grind.

 So check it out:

Do you think the music biz is toxic?

Joel: In a way… I mean, if you make good decisions, it doesn’t have to be, but a lot of people in the music business can be shady and not trustworthy. But for the most part, we have made really good choices, the people we worked with have been really honest and we’re very happy with Relapse. So it’s kind of a Yes and No to that question, because I’ve seen it both ways, like bands getting screwed by labels and stuff like that.

You just released your 2nd  album on Relapse, which is kind of a huge label in terms of Heavy Metal music. So, what’s your next achievement?

J.: Basically, it’s fine. I mean, I’m always happy with how far we already came, it was never the intention to be like the biggest band in the world. I think we have come very far and I like to continue moving forward, just keep on going!

Which song from the new album sums up the “essence” of the band?

J.: Let me see, a typical song… I’ll say one that I think people are liking the most on this record: that song is called “Bitch”. It’s about the Salem Witch Trials, burning up the witches and stuff like that. Lyrically and musically it’s the most typical, this one. But I also did a lot of things on this record that are very untypical, because I didn’t want to make the same record as An Overdose Of Death! The song “I Am Disease” is a bit slower than the other ones. That’s a fun one to play live. It’s kind of more evil and slow, than it comes in and then we come back with the faster stuff and go on with the set.

Yeah, I really like that, as I’m into Doom and Sludge, but I think that R’n’R- riff in “Burn The Liars” is extremely cool, too! What’s up with the title of the record and the cover concept?

J.: The cover is based on the song “Agony Of The Damned”. It’s a Greek goddess, Hecate, who’s associated with necromancy. I read a book about old medieval times, when people were trying to raise the dead and would call upon Hecate in order to aid them. I thought that was interesting and kind of a unique subject. And I thought it would look cool for an album cover, of course… The album’s title song is about conjuring the spirits and commanding them to do your bidding.. Evil themes, you know (grinning)

Do you have a kind of “ritual” or habit you do before you enter the stage?

J.: Well… I usually just try to focus on tuning out all the bullshit like other people talking and stuff like that. I just try to get ready to play. It’s so much different than what I do for the rest of the day: sitting in the bus, staying by the merch-table… Playing live is like a whole different, energetic movement! I warm up on the guitar a little bit, don’t really talk much and get ready mentally.

Went the tour well so far? Did you have the chance to do some sightseeing as well?

J.: Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a lot until now, but when we were in Trondheim, Norway, we went to see the church depicted on Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. It was close to the club we played, you just walk over a bridge and you would see it. That was really cool!
The problem with touring is that you don’t see a lot of things, the schedules are pretty hectic and there are lots of things you have to do. There’s times when we get to see some stuff, but for the most part, we only see the clubs, which kind of sucks!

How do you arrange your private life around a tour schedule? Do you have any hobbies?

J.: I don’t have much of a private life! (laughs) I tour so much… when I get back to my house, I hardly leave it. I just relax and enjoy being home. That’s pretty much my private life. No girlfriend back home…
I love reading about war and conspiracy stuff. Furthermore I like building electronic stuff: amplifiers and distortion pedals…

That sounds cool! Do you use your own stuff on stage?

J.: Yes, sometimes. On this tour I’m using one thing I build myself. In the US I have a whole pedalboard.

What would you regard as your best and your worst character trait?

J.: My worst is probably that I can be pretty moody. I try not to be, but sometimes I am… My best is probably that I usually give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m usually friendly to people even if I shouldn’t. I try not to judge people right away.

Which album/song or event made you pick up your instrument and start a band?

J.: Well, a lot of stuff… regarding records, I would say the first two  Bathory albums and Venom’s Welcome to Hell inspired me a lot! It’s not hard to play, but sounds pretty raw; that’s what stuck out for me!

Joel live in Cologne

What are the necessary ingredients to write a cool Thrash Metal song?

J.: Mainly it should have a bit of originality! That’s the problem with a lot of the newer Thrash bands right now: they just try to sound the old ones and don’t really bring in something new. That’s really important. Make it sound like yourself! Another thing is some part you can remember, some memorable riff of chorus.

Which was the last album you bought?

J.: The last album I bought was from a band called Midnight, from the US. It’s called Satanic Royalty and it’s awesome! Totally like Motörhead meets Venom. Really good, really catchy…

Alright, I’ll check that one out for sure! So the last two questions: Your comment regarding Lulu?

J.: (silence, than laughing) I don’t think I have a comment! It’s funny, because I didn’t mind Death Magnetic, it was really decent and I thought they at least were going back in the right direction and than they throw another curve like this and present basically something worse than St. Anger! Really weird, but they’re Metallica, they can do whatever the fuck they want… They can put their name on anything and sell much more than anybody else!

Black Sabbath reunion – is it really going to happen or will somebody pull out and blast the whole thing up?

J.: I hope it happens! It would be really cool. I heard Rick Rubin is going to produce the album. It’s interesting to hear. Toni is the fuckin’ Riff Master! Anything he does is at least decent, he’s a never ending supplier of good riffs…

Alright! Thanks for taking the time!

J.: Thank you! Thanks for the support and enjoy the show!

Me, Joel and Phil pretty wasted after the show!

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