Since their 2009 formation in Oxnard, Nails has specialized in short, frenetic bursts of sonic mayhem. Band leader Todd Jones is a former member of L.A. hardcore act Terror, but the brute force of Nails is a much angrier beast. Their newest album You Will Never Be One of Us clocks in at 10 songs in just 21 minutes, and they have become one of the most abrasive live bands in all of heavy music.
The raw aggression of the band’s sound took root in the personal turmoil that Jones was feeling around the time of their formation.
“I had a big falling out with a lot of people – musically and in private life,” Jones says. “A lot of it was my responsibility. There was a turning point in my life where a lot of people in my life didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. I felt very alienated from my peers and didn’t feel very welcomed by the people around me. I wanted to make music that put that emotion out there.”
From the release of their 2009 debut Obscene Humanity up through the release of their latest record a few weeks ago, the sense of alienation that drives the band’s music has infected the ears of those in all corners of aggressive music. While rooted in hardcore and punk, the darkness and grime of the Nails sound has also earned them credibility with the metal crowd.
“When we started the band, I wanted it to be a mixture of all three of those genres,” Jones says. “I’m stoked when we play shows and I look out into the crowds and I see metal kids, I see hardcore kids, and I see punk kids. All of that is music I love. I’m glad people from all of those scenes dig us.”
The group’s newest record is poised to be their most commercially successful yet, and the venues that Nails performs in are slowly getting larger. Even with their profile growing, Jones expresses a desire to never turn Nails into a full-time year-round band. Working a day job in IT, Jones takes Nails on the road for intermittent stretches that go no longer than two weeks, and since their 2010 record Unsilent Death, has released albums every three years.
“I look at Nails as a very long-term thing,” Jones says. “I don’t want to stop doing Nails. But I’d rather do the band when we feel inspired, instead of doing the band because we have to pay our bills. I don’t ever want to do the band like that. I only want to put something out when we feel like we have enough material to put out a record that’s worthy of being released. I would hate to put out a record that isn’t very good and have our fans spend 10-15 dollars on it and not feel like they got their money’s worth.”
So far, the majority of reviews and fan reaction to You’ll Never Be One of Us has been that fans are getting their money’s worth. The constant barrage of angry barks and angrier riffs is the aural equivalent of a single-round UFC fight where punches are thrown right from the opening bell, and though it ends in an early knockout, the audience — and fighters — are exhausted. Some reviewers have even gone as far as compare the ferocity of their newest record to Slayer’s 1986 breakthrough, Reign In Blood. Jones appreciates the comparisons, but in the end he tries to be pragmatic about such hype.
“That’s a compliment of the highest order,” Jones says. “But Reign in Blood is a time-proven record. It’s been out thirty years. Our record has been out for three weeks. Comparing us to Reign in Blood is a little short-sighted. I appreciate the comparisons and take them as seriously high praise. But I have to check myself and be self-aware.”
Nails perform with Terroizer, Freedom, Nomads, Lies at Chain Reaction, 1652 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, (714) 635-6067, www.allages.com. Thursday, July 21st. $15-$17. All ages.