“We are expecting these to be full tours, hit both coasts and as many in between dates as we can fill in. We’re looking at hitting Europe again and South America. We’re on full blast mode now.”
Whenever you hear a success story, more often than not the word perseverance is used. It seems that if you stick with something long enough, two things can happen: you get good at what you are attempting and you eventually get the chance to prove it. Rarely do we hear about this kind of success happening twice but sometimes a tenacious determination simply cannot be ignored.
Toxik, established back in 1985, is a group with a second chance. A once highly regarded thrash act, the band released two respectable records: World Circus (1987) & Think This (1989) then abruptly folded. I honestly thought that was the last we’d ever hear from Toxik. They seemed destined to become a collector’s prize, part of the cliff notes in the history of thrash. Incredibly, the final chapter of this band has yet to be written.
Last month Toxik released a new EP, entitled Breaking Class. The three song effort is impressive as hell. Speedy riffs and flashy solos, memorable vocals with solid choruses that actually work. This is one release that is actually worthy of the buzz! I decided to contact Toxik and see if I could get to the bottom of this unlikely resurrection. Please enjoy some excerpts of my 8/24/17 interview with guitarist Josh Christian were we talk about this current comeback, the Breaking Class EP and record reissues…
David Halbe: What prompted this most recent comeback?
Josh Christian: Well, there’s really only been one (comeback) the other thing that happened really wasn’t a comeback, it was a 2007 documentary, a Discovery Channel kind of thing, Marabella Productions who works with some of the bigger networks like that got this idea to shot a mini documentary about the band Toxik. If memory serves me correctly that was right around the time the Anvil movie came out.
Josh: It’s was kind of a mini trend, those kind of documentaries like Get Thrashed, like that whole little scene when speed metal bands and punk rockers crossed over so they put us in that kind of a documentary and it answered the question what had become of Toxik? We got excited about the idea of being a group again. You know how it is when you play together a bit?
Dave: I do.
Josh: But the reality is it never went anywhere, we rehearsed maybe three or four times, it was done for the program so I really don’t consider that a comeback.
Dave: I agree.
Josh: So this time around, this is a comeback. It started back in 2014, I had a guitar line that I was starting to build and I had mentioned something in a promotion. My intention had been to just bring more visibility to the guitar brand but Mike our old singer (Mike Sanders), he’s one of my best friends, he saw the comment on Facebook or something like that and he just ran with it, saying things like ‘Toxik is back!’ and ‘I’m so stoked’ but the truth was we weren’t planning on being back at all.
Dave: Holy shit!
Josh: It was really just some miscommunication that got blown out of proportion.
Dave: No kidding?
Josh: Yea, but the reality was within a week we got about a thousand messages between the two of us and we realized at that point that there was still an audience for what Toxik did. There were still people out there who could appreciate our technical style of music and political themes.
Dave: Hell yea!
Josh: We understood there was still room for Toxik to exist, put out music and so forth. That’s what I’d say really pushed us, we didn’t want to come back and re-hash the old stuff, although we love our history, we really wanted to put out some new music, you know, keep going forward, it was the right time, we had the energy and as you’re probably already aware we’ve since gone through a couple formations.
Dave: Right. So how did the actual EP come about?
Josh: Well, we had some lineup changes, like Jason Bittner on drums leaving to work with Flotsam and Jetsam things were just moving too slowly. We did a short tour through South America, around 2015 and that’s when Bill (Bill Bodily – Bass) decided that was it. People have a change of heart sometimes and you just gotta respect it.
Dave: I agree.
Josh: I appreciate all they’ve done because when people are working for you like that you know you’re getting the best they got because you know it’s not about the money, it’s about love of the music.
Dave: That’s so true.
Josh: So those losses kind of opened up some slots and we were able to get James DeMaria in on drums and you know he’s just crushing on the new EP! (Breaking Class)
Dave: Hell yea he is!
Josh: He really is and he’s one of the greatest human beings I have ever met on this Earth. I swear the dude is like my right arm at this point. He’s really one of the main people responsible for bringing Toxik back. He’s a really hard working guy. When I lost those key members, I was thinking about folding it there and saying ‘the shit is just not meant to be’, I mean, I didn’t wanna go out there and do it myself.
Dave: That’s rough.
Josh: After the South American run, James and I kind of forged a partnership, not to mention a pretty strong friendship and he basically said to me ‘Dude, we can’t let Toxik end like this, we are rocking right now, let’s just get somebody else to play bass and keep on going’.
Dave: How about the vocals?
Josh: Well, we knew we couldn’t get Mike (Mike Sanders) to come back so we asked Charlie (Charlie Sabin) and he agreed. One of the first things I did when I got back from South America was sit down with Charlie and write four or five songs, two of which ended up on the EP, “Stand Up” and “Psyhop”.
Dave: How many other (new) songs do you have ready?
Josh: Well, we would have had an album out but unfortunately nobody wants to get behind a full project like that so late in the year. It doesn’t make sense publicity wise to release something so late in the cycle, it’s too hard to lineup the press and marketing on such short notice. All labels have game plans for when they want to work so we are conforming to that. We plan on putting out a new album soon, we’re thinking in early 2018.
Dave: Congratulations! I wasn’t aware of a record deal; what label is going to release it?
Josh: Well, we have 10 to 13 songs ready. As far as the label goes, we are too soon into the process for me to give you that information. We need to announce that information to the industry first.
Dave: That’s cool.
Josh: We’ve got a bunch of stuff going on. It’s a great time for Toxik maybe the best ever.
Dave: I’m so glad to hear that. Do you have a title for the new record yet?
Josh: Not yet. We have three different song titles that we like, one of them will be used for the title but we haven’t decided yet amongst the three. Originally, we really wanted to call it “End Of All” that particular song, I would probably say it was in the top five of the most brutal Toxik songs ever!
Dave: Fuck yea!
Josh: It’s superfast and wicked heavy! It’s got that Toxik style theme of the end.
Dave: Sounds bad ass!
Josh: You’re gonna love it man but because we’re a band now we are definitely trying to make a lot of these decisions together so we’ve got this other song, a moody song, it’s kind of like Toxik’s first attempt at something epic. It goes through all kinds of craziness Charlie actually sings in four octaves throughout this piece, it’s more or less a Toxik opus and it’s called “Dissolution”.
Josh: Well, the third idea we are kicking around is the all-out thrash theme and would be linked to this song called “Power” which is a real step back to our old school thrash roots, it’s a straight up thrash song and probably my favorite of the new songs, I really like it a lot. I love the vocals on it, we’re going to use one of these songs as the title of the album but I can’t tell you which one yet because we don’t know (laughs).
Dave: I hear you, they all sound great.
Josh: Thanks, it’s a very inspiring time for the band right now, we are really feeling it.
Dave: I can hear it in your voice. Are you excited about the upcoming dates overseas? How was Dynamo Open Air?
Josh: Dynamo was awesome! We just did it about three weeks ago, it was an amazing lineup we played with Gojira, Testament, Exodus, the Devin Townsend Project just to name a few, it was awesome man. We had a great time. In just under two weeks we’re going to Milan (Italy), we’re playing a festival in Paris (France) we’ve also got dates in Tilburg (Netherlands), two in Austria and one in Munich (Germany), we’ve got a bunch of European dates to do check out our Facebook page if you want to know more.
Dave: Are you playing all the songs off the EP live? Give me a peek into the touring set list.
Josh: 2017 is actually the 30th anniversary of World Circus.
Dave: No shit?
Josh: Yes, it’s the 30th anniversary for that album so we are playing a lot of World Circus but we are playing all three songs off the EP and we plan on adding one more new one and we will most likely add a song or two from Think This.
Dave: Kick ass! Have you considered a live video? Maybe a cut of one of the new songs?
Josh: That’s a great idea and that’s something we’ve definitely talked about with management. I’m hoping we can do something with the song “Psyop”.
Dave: That would be great, wicked track. Have any US tour dates been considered?
Josh: Most defiantly, our new management is looking to have us lined up for at least a hundred dates in 2018. We are expecting these to be full tours, hit both coasts and as many in between dates as we can fill in. We’re looking at hitting Europe again and South America. We’re on full blast mode now.
Dave: That’s sounds awesome. Make sure there’s a stop off date in Chicago.
Dave: So let me ask you one final question, has there been any discussion about re-issuing the first two albums? You know they are going for big money online.
Josh: Good question, another very good question. So a couple of years ago Roadrunner Records let a Polish record label called Metal Mind reissue both albums.
Dave: I know.
Josh: They were able to secure a licensing agreement but for whatever reason Roadrunner refuses to grant the band any such right.
Dave: That’s bogus.
Josh: I agree. So what’s happening right now is our management is working on freeing up those two records.
Dave: Ok, that’s good news.
Josh: If for some reason they fail at that, meaning we’re unable to regain the rights to our songs what we may do is just go all out gorilla and re-record it all. Do like a live album, a double live disc or something. Maybe do something on vinyl, a blue album and a green album, we’ll just put those records out again live.
Dave: Fuck dude, you wrote those songs, that’s your blood, sweat and tears that went into those albums.
Josh: Hell yea. That’s exactly right, it really was, that was our youth.
Dave: I like that idea. Well, thanks a lot for your time today Josh. I really appreciate it.
Josh: No problem Dave. Thank you, take care.
- Shane Boulos – Bass
- Josh Christian – Guitars
- Jim DeMaria – Drums
- Charles Sabin – Vocals