The hard-thrashing Buena Park trio Nails' second LP—a 14-minute drop-tuned flog titled Unsilent Death—scored unanimous horns-up across metal/hardcore blogs this year. Coming off a three-week summer tour, the band have their live act firing on all cylinders as well. Guitarist/front man T.J. prefers to go by his initials here, as hardcore doesn't go over well with his co-workers at a “high-profile corporation in Orange County.” Such are the ingredients for onstage catharsis.
OC Weekly: What does everyone in the band bring to the table?
T.J.: Taylor Young plays the drums and maintains his boyish good looks. John Gianelli plays bass and strives to be the weirdest person at a hardcore show, and I play guitar and sing and also am the bum-out father figure telling everyone to be quiet.
I definitely hear a '90s grindcore vibe here. What albums did you grow up listening to?
Plug In Jesus by Dr. Know, 87 Demo by Breakdown, The One Thing That Still Holds True by Chain of Strength, Ride the Lightning by Metallica, Reign In Blood by Slayer—all staples of my life, then at 14 years old, and now at 30 years old.
A review of Unsilent Death drew some comparisons to Napalm Death. Do you take that as a compliment?
Well, I'm not sure if being compared to a certain band is a good or bad thing, depending on the context, but Napalm Death are certainly good company to be in. We definitely have drawn influence from Napalm Death's From Enslavement to Obliteration.
You guys sound pretty pissed-off on the album—what's bugging you?
The injustices I face every day, no matter how minor or major. I had to recently pay $3,000 for two root canals. That pissed me off enough for Nails to make at least half an album.
You talk about wanting to avoid an album cycle and write only when inspired to do so. What's inspiring you at the moment?
I got pretty excited last night listening to Gauze, and I picked up the guitar and wrote some pretty cool stuff, although—unfortunately—it sounds nothing like Gauze. I mainly draw influences from other music I listen to and seeing bands play.
What other local bands have impressed you as of late?
Xibalba, Soul Search, Gravehill and the Funeral Pyre—all great bands that play really heavy and soothe the inner demon.
You're building a reputation for intense live shows. Do you have any preshow rituals that help you get in the right head space for playing?
You know, I can't say I do anything in particular. I just feel the vibe of the audience and the room, and I try to become the music we're playing.
What was your favorite moment from your late-summer tour?
Riding in the van with our band and friends, and people taking turns explaining what they love and what they hate.
I understand your third album is well under way. What's the status?
Nothing is set in concrete, but we'll probably record it sometime in spring 2012. Half of it's written, and we're just waiting for the rest to come to us. It's going to make Unsilent Death look like the Metallica/Lou Reed album. Actually, no, it's not. Nothing can be that tame and weak.
This column appeared in print as “As Tough As . . .”