Striking a balance between heaviness and originality has never been that easy, but every now and then a band emerges that at least make it look like a piece of piss. New Jersey’s Toothgrinder are such a band: their versatile and adventurous debut album, Nocturnal Masquerade, showcases a young band with a firm grasp on metal fans’ need for intensity and noise, but also a strong desire to create something that we haven’t heard countless times before.
“I want to write songs that get me, and that I wanna play every night and that make me proud,” says drummer Wills Weller. “No one says ‘no’ in our band. No one says ‘That riff doesn’t sound like metal!’ Who cares, you know? It’s music. I feel like that attitude’s been lost. It’s five dudes getting up onstage and just jamming. It’s not like a chorus starts and everyone thinks, ‘Yup, I called that! I knew that was gonna happen!’ We don’t want to be generic. We like being interesting!”
No one ever says ‘no’ in our band!
Beyond thinking outside the metal box, Toothgrinder’s distinctive barrage of riffs, melodies and skewed rhythms marks them out as potential successors to the likes of Gojira and Mastodon: bands that have made a virtue of their disinterest in pandering to any one group of listeners. That singular, stubborn approach is also evident in the way their album’s overarching concept aims to connect with anyone and everyone, regardless of their tastes or circumstances.
“Nocturnal Masquerade is like a dream-state,” says Wills. “You could be a single mom, working hard, or a businessman who’s just killing it and has a sick Ferrari, or a homeless guy or a professional baseball player… it’s a masquerade of diverse human emotions and experiences, and each song is its own little universe.”
Already building a reputation as a live band of considerable power and intensity, Toothgrinder are aware of their potential and are understandably excited about what 2016 will bring. That said, this band are far from soulless glory- hunters and, as Wills explains, enjoying the journey will always outweigh any potential rewards.
“Obviously it’d be the coolest thing to play a stadium and be like Metallica… maybe one day…” he smiles. “But I just like being out there meeting people and hopefully inspiring a few people too. Anyone can do this. It just takes effort and you’ve got to believe in yourself. Don’t be a fake. It’s been super fun so far… if it keeps being fun, we’ll never run out of inspiration.”
Nocturnal Masquerade will be out on January 29 via Spinefarm