Q&A: Jason Netherton (Misery Index) Nails It Again

Misery Index

Baltimore-based death-grind outfit Misery Index have returned to fill the prosperity gap with new compilation, Coffin Up the Nails. A joint release between Greek indie Repulsive Echo and Misery Index’s imprint Anarchos Records, the 12-song release covers not just B-sides, alt-mixes, and rarities, but also a stunning, if brutal cover of Bolt Thrower’s “When Glory Beckons,” from the …For Victory (1994) album. This release is a time capsule of sorts and a companion (or continuation of) to the Pulling Out the Nails (2009) release. In many respects, Coffin Up the Nails is a door shutting on the last decade, as Misery Index craft the follow-up to Rituals of Power (2019) and move on to new label Century Media Records.

Spread across Coffin Up the Nails (out now!) are six cover songs–from the likes of Bolt Thrower, Snapcase, Nailbomb, Ministry, Sepultura, and M.O.D.–updated mixes of previously released songs, demo versions (check out “Ghosts of Catalonia” and “Traitors”), and a band-approved alt-mix of “Conquistadores” (originally on the Discordia album). Truly, this is better than a “best of” or a simple marketing-driven compilation to fill a release schedule. Coffin Up the Nails is by the band for the fans, the diehards and newcomers alike.

Sit down, shut up, and cough up whatever nails (actual or proverbial) you’ve imbibed over the last decade. Misery Index’s Jason Netherton is talking…

You’ve re-released Overthrow on cassette. What’s that like unearthing old gems for modern-day consumption?
Jason Netherton: It was something that was more or less long from our thoughts until Repulsive Echo contacted us about a tape reissue. Cassettes are back as more than a novelty item; many love the analog warmth and natural tones of a tape in a solid deck or boom box, and they have a diehard following (myself among them). So the “unearthing” was fine with us; it gives the old tunes a second life for our newer supporters.

This coincides or works in concert with the compilation, Coffin Up the Nails. Do you see the pair as more of a fan offering than a stopgap releases between Rituals of Power and your upcoming full-length?
Jason Netherton: It’s kind of like both. Since our next full-length is due in May of 2022, it just seemed like a good time to get something out, especially after the ‘lost year’ of 2020.

The teaser track for Coffin Up the Nails was a cover of Bolt Thrower’s “When Glory Beckons.” Tell us why you chose to lead with Bolt Thrower instead of, say, Ministry or Sepultura? I will say …for Victory doesn’t get the kudos it deserves.
Jason Netherton: That was a track we had in the vault from recent years, which was unreleased, so it was cool to add to the compilation to give it something fresh in addition to the previously released stuff. So, that was the first track because the compilation kind of works backwards in chronological order from newer to older songs. It is always dangerous territory to try and cover songs from beloved bands like Bolt Thrower, but we gave it a shot and we think it honors the original while also making it our own Misery Index-version in a way, at least when it comes to my vocals. Plus, …For Victory is my personal favorite from them; it was a total pleasure to do.

Tell us more about how Coffin Up the Nails got its start? Misery Index are no strangers to cover songs obviously. You’ve covered Disrupt, Terrorizer, Brutal Truth, Napalm Death among many others.
Jason Netherton: So, we looked back, and it was exactly 10 years ago we released our first retrospective compilation (Pulling Out the Nails; 2010), which similarly gathered all the songs from various splits, B-sides, bonus tracks etc (some of which are cover songs as you noted) and collected them on one release. Coffin Up the Nails is that as well, but for the last 10 years (2011-2021). So, it’s a good time to pause and mark the milestone, before fully turning attention to the future and the next album (which we are recording now).

I see Cannibal Corpse’s Rob Barrett is on the M.O.D. cover. How’d he become involved?
Jason Netherton: When we were on tour with Cannibal Corpse years ago, we would often jam the classic ’80s metal on the bus after the show, including those old S.O.D./M.O.D. records. Rob always had a great thrash voice (as we all know from his work in Solstice), so when it came time to do a bonus track for the Rituals of Power LP in 2019, we recalled him singing those old Milano songs, and just hit him up about doing the guest vocals. He agreed, and we pinned him down when Cannibal were on tour in Finland one night, where he did the vocals on a mobile recording unit backstage before the show.

Were you going to source other players for the other cover songs? Not sure if there other players since I don’t have much info to go on song-wise.
Jason Netherton: No, the rest of the tracks are all us, but would be cool to do more collaborations in the future.

The release also includes remixes of “Siberian,” demos of “Ghosts of Catalonia” and “Thrown into the Sun,” and an alt-mix of “Conquistadores”. Were these more in the vault-type things to sweeten the pot or did you prefer the demos/alt mixes to the versions that were previously released?
Jason Netherton: In the case of the demo versions, those are kind of cool windows into the origins of the tracks at their creation. They are of course ‘added bonus stuff’ that only diehard fans might care about, but I always like to hear those pre-formed versions of my favorite songs and they make nice archival material for a special compilation like this. The alt-mix of “Conquistadores” is, however, a better mix than the actual album version (on Discordia), which was done long after the album’s release and represents more what we wish the actual album ended up sounding like (as we’ve soured on the final mix). So here, it kind of gets its due in way, at least on one track.

Coffin Up The Nails

Where did the title, Coffin Up the Nails, come from?
Jason Netherton: Since the last compilation release was called Pulling out the Nails (after a track on our first demo), we chose to keep the ‘nail’ theme going. We were thinking of the various things one could do with nails, and I came up with Coughing Up the Nails, to which Adam [Jarvis] suggested the play on words title Coffin Up the Nails, which has a cool imagery to it, so we rolled with it…

I understand Coffin Up the Nails is a cross-release between Repulsive Echo and your label Anarchos Records. Will there be different formats released between the two labels?
Jason Netherton: Yes, in North America, we (the band) through our own imprint are releasing it as a jewel case CD, but the Repulsive Echo EU version is a digipak. Repulsive Echo is also doing a cassette version, while we are doing the vinyl version. Also, Anarchos Records… it’s not an operational label in any sense. It’s just an imprint we use for Misery Index self-releases, one that goes all the way back to the beginning of the band (when we did the first demo, we wanted to give it some kind of legitimacy by putting it out on our own imprint, so the demo became the Overthrow EP, and the label we assigned it was Anarchos). Since then, we have used the imprint as a means of identifying our self-released compilations and singles.

The cover art is literally a person coughing up nails. Cool, graphic cover. Who’s the artist?
Jason Netherton: That would be the inimitable Gary Ronaldson, the Irish magician of the dark illustrative arts and the fellow who did our album cover for The Killing Gods (2014), as well as nearly all of our t-shirt designs in recent years. A great dude and comes highly recommended from us!

What’s next for Misery Index?
Jason Netherton: Now we are fully focused on 2022 and the next album (which will be our debut for Century Media). If it all goes well, it will be out in May. We just finished the majority of the tracking this month and things are looking good. It’s got nine songs with a lot of diversity among them. The artwork is not completed yet, but we are looking at doing something different this time around. I think people are gonna be pretty stoked on this one, a lot went into it–one year of downtime spawned lot of riffs!

** Misery Index’s Coffin Up the Nails is out now on Repulsive Echo Records (in Europe) and Anarchos Records (in North America). Get the CD or cassette version via Repulsive Echo (HERE) and the LP version from Season of Mist US (HERE).