Demo:listen: Total Isolation

Total Isolation’s demo came out back in June. On June 26th, some days if not thirteen days after exposure, we reached out to Total Isolation, via their Bandcamp. Through a message titled ‘Dead,’ we said to the Canadian newcomers: “hey guys, great fucking demo! there’s a good new death metal demo every week but yours eats them. fuck! tapes coming soon?”

What we got back from Chad Jones, guitarist and vocalist of Total Isolation, was a message of sincere appreciation for our sentiment and enthusiasm, but, ultimately, ambiguity toward the possibility of tapes. Jones seemed to care most about the fact that he’d gathered a full band and was jamming. We sent him a few more messages over the coming months, but, presumably, Jones was occupied with things more important than answering our raving demands. 

Winfield demo

Mostly content with jamming the hell out of the immaterial Winfield demo, but then a few weeks ago we were beset by the dual announcement from the burgeoning Netherlands-based tastemaker Seed of Doom Records and the young and mighty US tape label Desert Wastelands Productions. Winfield demo finally would see a physical format manifestation. It was time, we knew, to formally break the ice with Total Isolation. 

“Super rad to hear from someone who I can safely assume is as obsessed with this type of thing as much as I am, that you like the demo,” says Jones, in greeting. That’s us: obsessed with death metal. Anyway, Jones goes on to say, “I am really happy this thing landed with [Seed of Doom] too, I got an immediate good feeling from them. And when it came up to have Desert Wasteland do the US version I just listened to that Path to War release they did and was like—okay, I’d trust these guys with my baby.”

But we’ve had questions hanging unanswered since June. We want to know: What is Total Isolation? Where did you all come from? Frankly, how did your demo come out so killer? 

According to Jones, Total Isolation formed back in 2014. “I’d only played bass and/or did vocals in bands up until that point. None of my bands were doing exactly what I wanted to do so I just started playing guitar in hopes that I could start writing the songs that I heard in my head.”

Jones goes on to mention that Total Isolation “has literally had 5 different lineups since [he] started it in Vancouver 5 years ago.” He continues: “For no real reasons other than I had always just wanted close friends to play in it that fit the ideals I had in mind, and sometimes people weren’t around to make it to shows or moved too far away. Then I moved too far away, but I was lucky enough to have one of my oldest friends, Danny [D. Marshall, drummer], introduce me to Trax [D. Traxel, guitar] and Damian [D. Moore, bass] in the area that I am living now.” That area, by the way, is Winfield. 

Jones tells us he and Moore met “over twenty years ago,” back when they were kids growing up in Winfield. “He was pretty much the only other little skate rat that listened to punk in our tiny little town we grew up in, been one of my best friends ever since. We had 1, maybe 2, bands together in high school but not again until this demo for some strange reason.”

Jones says, and inadvertently explains Total Isolation’s sound, that when he started teaching himself guitar: “The first order of business was to start writing fast punk songs like Dropdead and this band from Germany called Shrapnell, with something a little more crust in the vein of Disrupt and Axegrinder. I definitely tried to consciously pack a little bit of Depressor and Godflesh vibes in it, but really I had no fucking clue what I was doing. I had also always admired bands like Hatred Surge that seemed to clearly not give a rip about conventional song structure but at the same time making all the parts fit together so intentionally to create just a total aura of unease while basically just playing a punk song. The more guitar I played the more I gravitated towards thinking about riffs in the realm of death metal bands I had grown up listening to like Mortician, Deicide, even Napalm Death’s more predominantly death metal album, Harmony Corruption. That’s really the shit for me.” 

As for their not entirely death metal name, Jones says that was intentional, too. “The name just came out of needing a word for the feeling that made me gravitate towards spending the majority of my life being involved in punk and metal music,” Jones says. “Total Isolation is also not genre specific enough for me to get tired of, considering I can see myself doing this for a long time and it’s really hard for me to not change my mind creatively. To be honest I don’t imagine I would ever even think about how we can maintain a death metal vibe with that name. Total Isolation is always just going to be the tunes that are ingrained in my skull, whatever that is is what Total Isolation is.”   

“I built a jamspace in a shed in the backyard of where we’re living now and that’s the Pit of Shit,” Jones says, explaining where Winfield demo was recorded. “Danny actually recorded and mixed the thing, ‘NO MASTERS’ on the Bandcamp page was sort of a double entendre . . .”

Out in that Pit of Shit, Jones finds his catharsis is unleashing his version of death metal. According to him, Total Isolation’s song are a “reflection of the lyrics, which generally aren’t extremely positive.” Jones says: “The first thing I look for in music with a death metal vibe is: how close does this come to sounding like a horror movie? That’s definitely one of the ultimate goals that I don’t think I’ve even came close to capturing yet. If you’re asking me, death metal and horror movies are just interchangeable, I love them both equally. Both are an extremely valid form of self expression.”

Regarding their influences, Jones admits: “We certainly don’t hide the Swedish influence of course. Interment, Carnage, Dismember. The bells at the start of ‘Absolute Purgatory’ were recorded outside of a church in Stockholm on Danny’s phone during a recent trip there, we used it as sort of a nod to that. But honestly the rest of every bit of influence in this band is just life in general, that shit’s a lot darker than riffs from Sweden for sure.” 

One of the best parts about Winfield demo are its frequent guitar solos, always whipping unexpectedly overhead, flinging acid, pushing the intense death metal aggression even deeper into the maniacal red. Turns out, “That is all Trax!” Jones says: “I think it’s just the classics like ZZ Top and ac/dc that makes him do that. He’s an encyclopedia of riffs. None of us even really have to discuss where solos go or anything like that, it just seems very obvious when a Trax part needs to be happening in a song, we don’t really think too deeply on it. I would describe my own style of guitar playing as a caveman with a chunk of concrete for an arm.”

Jones says his personal favorite song on Winfield demo he thinks is “Consumed by Hatred.” “Besides it being the classic first song I tracked with vocals so I can hear my voice warming up throughout the song and Deicide releasing a song of the same title as soon as I finished writing it, it has everything I want Total Isolation songs to continue to have. I think the song was a pretty adequate description of how I was feeling during the writing of this demo, too, it sums the whole thing up alright. I’ve burned way too much energy up on that though, I am not as pissed anymore.”

Jones goes on to talk about how he “went through the most fucked up time in [his] life a couple years back,” when “everything seemed like it just imploded all at the same time.” He tells us all of this because, he says: “There’s been a few different phases of pulling myself out of that and making this demo was extremely therapeutic but it’s not the entirety of the Winfield demos. [!!!] There’s a couple more batches of tunes that I feel really need to be part of this as a whole. I finished writing the second one in the summer and the ideas are there for the 3rd. I scrapped the 3rd batch of songs already once because I was listening to waaay too much goat metal at the time and it sort of dissolved the Total Isolation vibe so I put those into another project called Sepultorturer, that’ll be on The Mask of the Sepultorturer demo next year . . .” (Mark our words, we’ll do a Demo:listen on that as well!)

Regarding the future, as ever Jones seems simply pleased with the present “This band’s already exceeded any expectations I’ve ever had for it,” he says, “but if we ever finished recording the Winfield demos I would love to take a crack at writing a full length record. There’s some friends bands that I’ve had in the back of my mind that I’d be into asking about putting out splits with, too. But really just spending time with the other guys and having a couple band practices in the Pit of Shit would make me just as happy.”

Get Winfield demo soon on black pro-tape from Desert Wastelands Productions and on white pro-tape from Seed of Doom Records.

Remember you heard Total Isolation here first on Demo:listen