Interview with vocalist Alexis Mincolla | By Thomas Pizzola
Industrial rock band 3TEETH have been on quite an interesting career path since they formed in 2013. What originally started as a part-time project between vocalist Alexis Mincolla and keyboard and synth player Xavier Swafford has blossomed into a full-time band who have released two well-received independent albums, 2014’s 3TEETH and 2017’s <shutdown.exe>. They were handpicked by Tool to open an arena tour with Primus in 2016, and they’ve since opened for Danzig, HIM, and Rammstein.
The Los Angeles band, who also include guitarist Chase Brawner, bassist and modular synth player Andrew Means, and drummer Justin Hanson, have been on quite a roll. “It wasn’t expected, not in our wildest dreams,” Mincolla says. “At first, all we cared about was creating an album that we wanted to hear, but then, we were touring with Tool on our first record. We weren’t expecting any of this. It’s been quite surreal.”
That roll continues into 2019. On July 5, 3TEETH unleashed their new album, Metawar, through major metal label Century Media. The release finds the band at a creative apex, putting them right at the forefront of the industrial metal scene with a distinct ripper of an album.
Their musical evolution continues. “I think it’s different in a bunch of ways. The band is different,” Mincolla says. “When we first started out, we were more electronic-based, [but] now, we’re writing around riffs. Originally, we would have to outsource the guitars, bass, and drums. Eventually, we pieced together a band, one that tours. I believe that a band that stays on the road learns what works musically. You get your finger on the pulse.”
“Also, being on a major label allows [us] to focus just on the record, not have to piece it together around day jobs,” he adds.
3TEETH took full advantage of their situation by taking a thorough approach to the creation of Metawar. “Each song on this album is a standalone. We didn’t want to constrict the project,” Mincolla says. “We were writing in-studio. We have this process we call ‘Frankensteining’ where we’ll take a part from one song and add [it] to another to make it better. We’re layering, trying to find that weird fucking texture.”
But the song still isn’t complete. There are a few more steps to go. “Once we have a full song, we then ask ourselves, ‘It’s cool, but is it cool enough?’ We take our time. Each song on this album has five different versions. It’s not efficient, but it’s how we work,” Mincolla says. “We took a whole year making this record, just exploring, homing in on a direction. Once we have two to three finished songs, we can then triangulate what the record is going to sound like.”
This includes Mincolla using his background as a visual artist to spur the project along. “Many times, I’ll create a North Star image for a song and say, ‘Make this sound the way this looks,’” he says.
All this meticulous planning has paid off for 3TEETH, because Metawar is a major step forward for the band. Each song is a singular ripper, rife with pulsing electronics, seething riffs, and biting social commentary, which is something Mincolla thinks is part of every great industrial band. “I got into industrial because of the seething social commentary, its ability to suck all the poison out of a consumerist culture and spit it right back in its fucking face,” he says. “The industrial I listened to from the ’90s, such as Ministry, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Front 242, [and] Nailbomb, were united less by their sonic palette and more by their use of social messaging.”
This use of social commentary is in full effect on Metawar. It not only rips but also contains a scathing critique of the times we live in, without an ounce of preachiness. This is something Mincolla firmly believes in. “I think people are resistant to preachiness. I know I am,” he says. “We try to make our messages more cryptic and hidden. That’s the beauty of art. The listener can take what they want from it and make up their own mind. That’s the intention. Telling people to think one way and not another way is the same fucking shit. We’re not like that. We’re all about holding the funhouse mirror up to the shit.”
There is definitely a lot of shit in today’s society, but there has also been a wave of industrial bands who have come into their own over the past few years, such as Youth Code, Street Sects, Author & Punisher, and many more, ready to take this “shit” on through their art. It seems like we’re at the beginning of a new heavy industrial renewal, but Mincolla isn’t so sure. “I don’t think there is a full-on industrial renewal going on,” he argues. “It’s too much of a niche music for that. Right now, with a lot of these bands, you’re seeing the progression of the heavy electronic style.”
3TEETH are definitely part of this progression, and Metawar continues the roll they’ve been on since their humble beginnings six years ago.
Photo by Alan Snodgrass