Mass Appeal Madness: A Quick Convo With Nails’ Todd Jones

There are few bands as intense as Nails. From a resource perspective–the group’s a trio–Nails make an incredible amount of noise and for all their aggressiveness they’re instantly relatable, like few bands in Nails’ proverbial sphere (and outside their sphere). To celebrate one of the most violent and pit-friendly releases in years, Decibel posited the Californians on the cover our July 2016 issue (HERE) and ranked them as our #2 album of 2016 (HERE). While on the ascent, shortly after the release of You Will Never Be One of Us in mid-June, Nails suddenly went on hiatus in the midst of their North American headlining stint. No explanation was given at the time, and no explanation is given now, except for frontman Todd Jones saying, “We never went on hiatus, we just cancelled a bunch of dates.” Certainly, that’s enough, as Nails are now back touring again in support of You Will Never Be One of Us, which is certainly, from our point of view, the most important part. Decibel fires off a few questions to Jones. Jones, in kind, fires back.

How would you classify Nails? Some call it hardcore, some call it metal.
Todd Jones: I wouldn’t classify Nails. Nails is for other people to classify. We’re happy and fortunate to attract people from different genres. Some people call it hardcore, some people call it metal, some people call it bullshit but regardless, our music is for the people to do whatever they want with.

Tell us about You Will Never Be One of Us and how it compares/relates to Abandon All Life?
Jones: Our new album is a bit more direct than Abandon All Life, a bit chunkier in tone. If Abandon All Life was a dog, it would be a German Shepherd and You Will Never Be One of Us would be a Rottweiler.

What were the songwriting sessions for the new album?
Jones: Fun but strenuous. This is our third LP and we’ve never tried to re-create the wheel, we just want to light it on fire. We tried to make an LP that complements our last LPs without sounding too much like them but still sounding like Nails. That’s not an easy thing to do but we feel like we made a pretty bad-ass record.

How were they different from Abandon All Life?
Jones: I suppose they weren’t. We just get in a room and play our ideas. Sometimes cool shit happens, sometimes it doesn’t. We’re really lucky because Taylor (Young) has a recording studio and we practice there so we have the ability to demo every single thing we do, which is really priceless for determine if something sucks or not.

I know you guys are very particular about the songs you put out. Would you say you’re perfectionists?
Jones: In our own way, maybe. Our music certainly isn’t perfect but we’re not aiming to put out a mediocre record in context of what we do or like. We try to put out the best records we can, shit we would like. We fail but we try to aim high.

Tell us about You Will Never Be One of Us, its title, and what it all means, from a central theme perspective.
Todd Jones: You Will Never Be One of Us is a title about people who try to latch onto something you’ve been doing and dedicated yourself to and making a mockery out of it. For every person who has dedicated themselves to punk or metal there’s five people who’ll attach themselves to the same thing with 1/10th of the dedication you have and they truly don’t belong and if these leeches had any self-awareness, they would know that they didn’t belong. These people aren’t interested in growing and learning but to using something for themselves in a disingenuous way and that’s something that can be spotted 1,000 miles away.

You’ve talked about “social climbing imposters” before.
Jones: It’s about people who think they can latch onto something and use it for their own personal gain. Not to nourish something and help it grow.

This new album is your first for Nuclear Blast. What changes now that the label has changed?
Jones: We still do things the same way we’ve done before so not a lot has change. Maybe we have a bit more confidence. We have more resources to use to our advantage to help get things done. I think any changes in regards to us working with Nuclear Blast are ahead of us. We’re looking forward to our future with Nuclear Blast.

What will it be like to step back into Kurt Ballou’s Godcity Studio?
Jones: Comfortable. Also we’re more confident going into this session, as players and as friends. It’s been three years and we’ve all gotten our chops up.

Nails is a live band. Do you view studio sessions as a necessary evil or do you enjoy the studio time every two-three years?
Jones: I hate recording but it’s stressful but I love the finished product. Making music and have it come to life is my favorite part of doing music so it’s a love/hate relationship with recording for sure.

If there are two bands that are central to Nails overall sound and aesthetic which two bands would those be and why?
Jones: Napalm Death for their consistency, quality, and dedication to their sound as well as not being afraid to be progressive and do new things. A true inspiration. My second pick would be Cannibal Corpse and for the same exact reasons.

** Nails new album, You Will Never Be One of Us, is out now on Nuclear Blast Records. It’s available HERE on CD and LP. Sorry, no cassette.