Interview with Todd Jones from NAILS

Interview by Anya Svirskaya

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Todd Jones, vocalist and guitarist from California-based trio NAILSNAILS are set to release their third album, You Will Never Be One of Us, via Nuclear Blast Records on June 17, 2016.


So the new album, You Will Never Be One of Us, is scheduled to come out on June 17 via Nuclear Blast. The upcoming record was produced by Kurt Ballou; you have worked together in the past on your previous records. How did that collaboration come about?

I’ve known Kurt for about 15 years. I’m a fan of the music and I’m a huge fan of the things he’s done.  When we started the band, I would listen to records I like, by bands I like. I thought that his production values would probably match our band pretty well. I called up Kurt and I told him, “Hey, I’m doing this band. Will you please record it?” He said “sure.” We made our first record with him, and we just haven’t stopped going to record with him. I can’t really imagine us recording with anyone else at this point, so we’ll probably be making most of our records with him from now on.

If you have someone that you trust and produce great materials with, then why bother changing the formula?

That’s exactly how I feel. If something works, why fuck it up?

Back to the new album. The new material has a strong hint of death metal influence; is that something that was purposefully done and do you feel like you have to strike a balance between the death metal and hard core sound or does it just happen naturally?

Those are all the things we like, and we try to incorporate that in our music. We just try to make music we like, and incorporate all those things into it. We use them to our advantage. We try to make albums that are listenable from start to finish. And we also try to vary it; mix it up a little bit and vary the songs on our records.

I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard that after the recording process was finished, that you had all this material that was ready to go. Somehow it ended up getting trashed, and you had to start all over again. What happened to those songs, were they redone?

No. Every time we make an album we end up writing about one and a half albums worth of material and about half of a record gets scrapped, or it doesn’t get used, just because it simply didn’t fit in with the end fame of the album. That’s not to say that the songs were even really good, some of the songs were just not very good songs. I can’t say they get scrapped because sometimes we use some of the riffs from some of those songs in others later down the line for our next album. They didn’t get used for a reason, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing those songs ever.

Not even as B-sides?

No, we don’t really like releasing B-sides. I only really like releasing music that we really feel strongly about. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s just not really what I want to do at this time.


Photo: Jimmy Hubbard

So you are going to be going on tour this month.  What can fans expect?

Ha. I get this question a lot. I don’t really know how to answer it because all we really want to do is get on stage and play our music. We try to play live, we like to jump around and shit. We try to play our music as hard as we can and try to match the intensity of the vibes of the songs. It’s our fans who help make the live show by just being enthusiastic, like headbanging, or slamming around, stage diving, and stuff like that.  We are just lucky we have a good supportive fan base that will feel the music and do their thing at our shows.

Are you going to be performing in any places or venues that you haven’t yet?

Yeah, we’re going to be playing Richmond. We’ve never played Richmond Virginia. A couple of places we’ve played but it’s been a long time. We played in Pittsburgh and Raleigh, but that was in 2010, so we’re really psyched and kind of eager to get back to those places and play there again.

How was the writing process this time around compared to your last records?

There was no difference. Our writing process is we get together in a room and play music and kind of jam on stuff. Sometimes I’ll have fully flushed out songs that I’ve kind of written by myself in my bedroom and we just get together and kind of flush those out with drums and base, and Taylor and John, they kind of put their own stamp on it with the way they play. That’s kind of what happens, we wanted to make the record a little bit chunkier and a little bit catchier in the vocal department than our last record, so we kind of made a focus on that than we did the other stuff.

What has this musical journey been like for you and how have you seen yourself evolve as an artist?

NAILS has been sick. We started the band purposely to have fun and just kind of have a good time, and not to get head over heels into responsibility. The personal journey has been really good. As far as how we’re going to evolve, we’re just going to try to make records that we like, that we think our fans would like, and just try to make kick ass music. There’s no real big agenda behind NAILS other than just make music that we like and to play shows.

Earlier we spoke of how there’s a touch of Death Metal influence on this album, is that something that maybe NAILS will pursue more in the future?

You know what there’s a lot of on this record? I think there’s a lot of Slayer influence, and there is some Cannibal Corpse influence, not a lot but a little bit. I see us definitely going more in that direction. My favorite Death Metal band of all time is probably Deicide, and I don’t think that’s a very popular opinion. Once upon a cross is like the first Death Metal record I heard and I still listen to it probably about once a month. I don’t know, we could definitely incorporate some of that more in to our music, who knows, maybe we’ll go down that route a little more one day.

Outside of music you are still able to have your career in IT. Does it get hard to do both?

Yeah, it’s very nice, but it’s something that we created for ourselves. I think it’s easier to have a job and do your band on the side than it is to make your band full time. It’s just about what world you want to create for yourself, and that’s kind of the world that we created for ourselves. We have jobs, but we also get to play in our band when we have the time it’s great.

That’s very admirable to be able to do both and to keep wanting to do so. Not many people have passions such as music outside out of their careers.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for your time. Are there any messages that you have for your fans?

Just thanks for paying attention to our band, please check out our record You Will Never Be One of Us. And come see us on tour!

All the best to you with this coming record and good luck on tour.

Thanks a lot I appreciate it.

About Author

I was born and raised in Donetsk, Ukraine and immigrated to NYC when I was eight years old. My passion for photography stems from my love of heavy metal and hard rock as well as my concert experiences. I was exposed to this music at an early age and it has been a big part of my life into adulthood. It is very rewarding and exciting to capture the small moments that musicians have on stage and get caught up in all the action in the mosh pit and take photos from that vantage point. When I am not behind my camera, I can be found teaching preschool. My love of music and photography allows me to create and plan meaningful activities for my students. I was very young when I discovered my passion and my goal is to help do the same for my students.