Published Aug 28, 2008Revered as keepers of the scuzzy underbelly of thrash metal, Toxic Holocaust has been a one-man band for almost a decade. Maintaining a DIY ethic while releasing throngs of EPs, seven-inch vinyl and two full-length efforts, Joel Grind has overseen every aspect of the band from licking stamps to writing music and performing all instruments on record. However, with the third and most powerful effort, An Overdose Of Death..., Grind has relented, welcoming others into the Toxic Holocaust army. Major metal indie Relapse Records will oversee the lifecycle of An Overdose Of Death... and Grind has added a permanent bassist and drummer to the fold. He shares his enthusiasm with finally seeing some help in getting the bands grinding, apocalyptic music to the masses.
It seems that after ten years of doing Toxic Holocaust, things have picked up for the better in the span of just a few months: youve got a new album, a new label and youre touring with At The Gates, Municipal Waste and Gwar.
Its rad. Theres lots of stuff going on. We just finished working on a video last night too. Things have certainly picked up lately, especially since working with Relapse. Its always been pretty consistent because Ive taken care of stuff myself but with Relapse, Ive got interviews and tight schedules now.
Toxic Holocaust is primarily known as a DIY band. How do you feel having other people take care of your business/have a say in what youre up to?
At first, it took a while to get used to. Ive been doing it so long I have my way of handling things. But now Im getting used to having other people help out. It takes a load off me. Before Id do my own mail orders, shows, everything. Its easier for that now and I can focus on the music.
It must be difficult to be a sole musician taking care of world tours, merchandise, recording and writing music on top of all that.
Speaking of, when Toxic Holocaust started, you were a band, not just one person. What made you decide to continue as a solo venture?
I really tried to start it as a real band in 99. I wanted a full band and found some people into metal. Not so much thrash but metal in general. I was into thrash and tried to get that going but it didnt work out. Those guys wanted to go in a different direction. Growing up in Maryland, there was no one who would be able or willing to do that stuff. If I didnt do it myself, I wouldnt do it at all.
After the other musicians left, what were your first steps?
I did demos in my room, having fun, not being serious and learning all of the instruments myself. When I did the Critical Mass demo in 2002, I got a good response from it. Thats when I realized I could do it without being a real band. When I did [2003 full-length] Evil Never Dies, I did it in my bedroom but people liked it so I just continued on. This record wouldve been solo if the songs didnt have double-kick. I cant pull that off, so I got Donny [Paycheck] from Zeke. It wasnt intended to have other people involved but out of necessity others had to come in.
It seems strange that despite finding an enthusiastic audience for your music, you still couldnt find people to play it.
Thats the thing. In 99, there werent many people into this kind of music. Thrash was pretty much dead. I was 17 at the time and the kids I knew had no idea what it was. I knew older kids who made me mixed tapes with Nuclear Assault and stuff. I never sought out a band until I got better though. I didnt intend to have a band. It was so efficient being just me Id hire people for live stuff. But now I have a line-up.
Yes, youve co-opted the rhythm section from [Toronto metal outfit] Rammer. What was it about two Canadians living thousands of miles away that made you want them in Toxic Holocaust?
Doing a tour in 2006. Rammer helped me set it up and we toured together. Al [Biddle, drummer] and I clicked together. His drumming fit perfectly and we get along together so well. I thought, "If this guy wasnt Canadian, Id want him in the band. We did a couple more tours together and eventually I told him I wanted to do [Toxic Holocaust] for real and wanted him on drums. He said hed only do it if Phil [bassist] came along. We got them work permits and here we are. We jam all the time now. It kicks ass.
It must change the dynamic, having other members who are able to contribute to the writing process. Hows that after having autonomy for a decade?
Its liberating. It takes some stress off me to write songs and well be a lot tighter live cause we can rehearse. Its very helpful.
How do you think it will affect your future output? Will albums come faster and stronger now?
I dont really know because we tour so much that it may take longer. But we may be tighter and write faster so the record will come out sooner. I could just become inspired and write a whole record out of nowhere though. I guess well see.