“Back then you couldn’t hear the stuff beforehand. You had to judge it by the cover. Does this look cool, what are the song titles?”
Whenever I reflect on the current state of heavy metal, I think of the age old saying: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Although the global network known as the internet has increased accessibility to our music, word of mouth still has value. This is where media comes in, we wade through this cesspool of mindless music and bring out the real acts for you to follow. Heavy metal’s reign is coming full circle and while it may never again reach the plateau that once made it king, the new leaders of extremity will undoubtedly make a cut deep enough for the whole world to see.
Toxic Holocaust is a band that knows how to be extreme. Active since 1999, they are speed metal reborn. I recently had the opportunity to speak with bassist, vocalist and founder Joel Grind, an artist who reaffirmed my belief that metalheads are metalheads no matter where and when they are born. Please enjoy some excepts of our 9/17/19 interview where we discuss Primal Future, music videos and the importance of a cool album cover.
David Halbe: Is there a meaning behind the new record’s title Primal Future?
Joel Grind: Yes, it’s kind of funny people have been wondering if it’s a concept album, it’s not but the songs kind of hang under the same umbrella of space and a dystopian future.
Dave: That’s so kick ass.
Joel: Yea, basically, it was my rendition of those ‘80s movies where they predict what the future is going to be like.
Joel: Usually, it’s like what’s it going to be like in 2000 or whatever.
Dave: Hell yea, I know just what you mean. Movies sc-fi horror flicks like Fortress or Future Kill?
Joel: Exactly, that’s kind of what it’s based on, an ‘80s outlook of the future. It’s like nuking yourself back to the stone age, a primal future.
Dave: Damn that’s sick. I noticed there’s a lyric video out for the song “Chemical Warlords”. Have any other videos been planned?
Let me just say too, that I saw your guys shooting footage during your set, maybe you could use that? A live video or something?
Joel: Most definitely. Yes. We had plans for a video and we were trying to get it out before the record, but it just didn’t happen.
Dave: Do you know what song?
Joel: It’s going to be “New World Beyond”.
Dave: No shit? That’s one of my favorites.
Joel: Awesome. Yes, we’re going to start playing that one and “Chemical Warlords” live as soon as the record comes out.
Dave: Yea, I noticed you didn’t play anything off the new record tonight.
Joel: Yea, because we didn’t know if we were going to be able to sell the record yet, if we had known we would have been allowed to we would have pre-planned.
Dave: I get it.
Joel: We didn’t want to play a bunch of songs that people didn’t know. So we decided to wait but now that we can sell the record, we’re going to add a couple new tracks to our set. We jam them at soundcheck right now, trying to get ready.
Dave: That’s cool. I noticed you visited Columbia for the first-time last month, how was that?
Joel: It was wild. We played to a hundred thousand people.
Dave: Holy shit! Are you serious?
Joel: Yep. It was insane. So the biggest show we had ever played previously, which was our biggest by a long shot, was Hellfest (France) which was fifty thousand or so, this was double that. It was so hard to comprehend how many people that was.
Dave: Did they know the tracks and stuff?
Joel: Oh yea.
Dave: Holy fucking shit dude.
Joel: So, what happened was the Columbian government flew us down. It was the festival that they do every year Rock Al Parque which is a bunch of rock concerts in an actual park, it’s a free concert.
Dave: No shit?
Joel: Yea, the Colombian Government puts it on, it’s pretty much all metal. I mean, we played with Sodom and Deicide.
Dave: Metal legends hell yea.
Joel: I mean, yea that was like a dream come true for a lot of reasons but it was so big and amazing. The bands, the festival, it’s just incredible down there.
Dave: So, have any other trips abroad been planned?
Joel: Yes. We’re leaving for Europe on November 28th and we’re going to be there for a few weeks.
Dave: Damn! What a year your having man, you’re everywhere!
Joel: That’s the thing with music, as soon as you put a record out, all this stuff starts happening.
Dave: I hear ya.
Joel: We’ve got a bunch of stuff planned for next year too. I can’t really talk about it right now but trust me when I say it’s going to be good stuff, a lot of it in the US too.
Dave: Cool. Why is the band’s logo on Conjure On Command black and white? What made you move away from the traditional yellow logo on Primal Future?
Joel: So basically, with that one (Conjure On Command) because the cover looked at certain way, medieval or whatever, it didn’t really fit with the regular Toxic logo. I actually saw it mocked up with that logo and it just didn’t fit. So, we went with a full black and white cover on that.
Dave: What about the logo colors for the new album?
Joel: We like to mix it up. I mean, everyone knows the Toxic Holocaust logo now, we just go with whatever looks good.
Dave: Yea, I noticed all the color schemes on every album are really sharp.
Joel: It makes it stand out, you know? I always liked those kinds of albums as a kid. Before I even knew those bands, I said to myself I’m buying this because it looks cool.
Dave: That’s exactly what I used to do before the internet.
Joel: Yea right. Back then you couldn’t hear the stuff beforehand. You had to judge it by the cover. Does this look cool, what are the song titles?
Dave: Oh Hell yea, we’d always say, does this look like a thrashing album?
Joel: Exactly, or if the dudes on the back are wearing another band’s t-shirt that you know or that band is in a thanks list of another album that you like.
Dave: Liner notes, we did the same thing!
Joel: Yea, we’d see what other bands they thanked, and we’d say, ‘I’m going to check out this band and this band’.
Dave: Totally! That’s so great to hear you say that, it’s like metalheads everywhere all grew up the same way.
Joel: For sure.
Dave: A lot of people don’t know you are a recording engineer and you just finished working on Municipal Waste’s The Last Rager EP. I know you’ve done split releases with Municipal in the past and you guys have been friend’s a long time, how did that opportunity come about?
Joel: So basically, I’ve known Municipal Waste for something like fifteen years. I think they’ve been around as long as Toxic Holocaust or maybe even a bit longer. We’re longtime friends and we’ve toured a bunch together, we’re really tight with those guys. They knew that I was getting more into the engineering world of music so when they decided to do a new record, they asked me to work on it with them.
Dave: That’s bad ass. So, do you have anything else you’re working on?
Joel: Well, right now I’m working on a new record for Poison Idea, they’re an old punk band from Portland.
Dave: That’s cool. I’m familiar with Portland’s music scene, I travel there a lot on business. I really like the band Bewitcher.
Joel: I recorded and mixed one of their albums.
Dave: Really? I was going to say I think Toxic Holocaust has been a real influence on them. Wow, the things you learn from interviews.
Joe: Yea, it’s weird sometimes how all these things really tie in together. It’s a small world, you know?
Dave: Fuck yea, you don’t realize how close nit the metal scene really is. Final question, I’ve got to know what’s it like touring with Gwar?
Joel: It’s insane. This is actually the second time we’ve toured with them, last time we toured with them it was like three and a half months straight.
Dave: Wow. That’s fuckin crazy.
Joel: Yea man, it was like eighty nine shows. It was crazy.
Dave: Do you have problems finding room on stage with all their props and equipment?
Joel: No. Not really, because of the way they have it, they know how to situate their equipment and stuff no matter the size of the venue. They just really know how to stack their gear.
Dave: I can’t image all those props and they come off stage covered in blood and shit.
Joel: Yea, it’s got to be one of the hardest jobs in metal because not only are they preforming musically but they got the whole theatrical aspect of it.
Joel: Being covered in blood and all that shit. Just think about how long they’ve been out there at it, it’s incredible.
Dave: I wasn’t sure they’d continue when they lost Dave. (Dave Brockie – Gwar, Vocals – RIP 2014).
Joel: Yea, our first tour was with Dave and Corey (Corey Smoot – Gwar, Guitar – RIP 2011) the guitar player.
Dave: Those guys were legends. Well, thanks a lot for your time tonight Joel.
Joel: No problem. Thank you!
Toxic Holocaust are:
• Joel Grind – Vocals, Bass (Guitar, Drums – Studio)
• Tyler Becker – Drums (Live)
• Eric Eisenhauer – Guitar (Live)