It’s always cool to see friends living out their dreams; in this case, it applies to a band from New Jersey that goes by the name of Toothgrinder. If you are an avid follower of my column, you will know that I am one of their biggest supporters, on and off the field. They just released their first full-length off a major label, Spinefarm Records, entitled Nocturnal Masquerade, to rave reviews. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jason Goss, guitarist of Toothgrinder, about all of the exciting things happening for them already in 2016. Check it out!
We are all so excited about the release of you debut LP via Spinefarm Records, Nocturnal Masquerade. You guys have been getting a lot of press on the release. How has the feedback been thus far from your fans?
Our fans have been super receptive of the material! Both from the recordings and from the live performance of the tracks. There definitely are some crowd favorites forming and we can’t wait for everyone to know the words to sing along with us.
Toothgrider has been at this for many years now, but this album cycle is almost like a rebirth for you guys. It must be a crazy feeling gaining such a steady fan base all over.
Oh absolutely, for years we did a lot, but our reach was limited. Now, I feel like we have strong fan bases all over the country. It’s cool to know you can show up in Texas or Seattle and have the same level of fan base at your shows.
In my personal opinion, this is the greatest work you guys have done yet. Can you tell us a little bit about the recording process on this album?
With Nocturnal Masquerade, we all knew we had to write a lot of material, more than we had ever written at one time in our careers. For months we would compile riffs that developed into sections of songs or even complete songs. Everyone contributed to the process, which helped develop a real unique and diverse sound. Then after several months, we went into the studio with way more material than we needed, but that’s how we prefer it to be. Once we hit the actual recording process, we narrowed down our song selection and then took those songs and really dug into them. Our producer helped us bring things out in our songs that we didn’t even know there was room for, which really made the songs feel polished when we were done. Also, the lyrics Justin [Matthews, vocals] put to the songs and the melodies him and [Periphery vocalist] Spencer [Sotelo] added to the tracks really helped set the vibe and feel of the record.
I think one of the many things that intrigue me so much about the songs you have released thus far are the abundant shifts and distinctions on the vocals here. Would you agree?
Yes, I definitely agree. Justin has always been an advocate of using a vocal range rather than the same voice repeatedly. With this record, he brought that even a step further. Then when we brought Spencer on board, it seemed to really help Matt [Arensdorf, bassist/vocalist] and Justin coexist in our tracks. Their vocals brought a melody and anthem feel to our choruses that really helped bring the album to life.
I also wanted to talk about the artwork. Do the heads, symbols, and animals all play an important part in the “masquerade” or am I digging too deep into it? It’s awesome, by the way.
No, you are not digging in too deep. They are the faces of the masquerade, the masks in a sense. Imagine it was the 1920s and you were attending a ball or masquerade, but not any old one. One with a mystic, dark and almost dream-like feel to it; maybe with supernatural spirits lingering through the night. That’s the way we felt about the album so we brought it to life with the art. And I am glad you dig it too!
I also have to praise you guys for some cool accomplishments as of late, including having your song “Blue” on SiriusXM’s Liquid Metal “Devil’s Dozen”. That’s actually a HUGE honor, considering the heavy hitters that are on that list.
We are so psyched to be part of that. With our last release we had a track, “The Hour Angle,” make it onto Sirius and I feel it did a lot for us, so I couldn’t be happier that “Blue” is on there now too. And that list! Some of my favorite bands are on there! Baroness’ “Try To Disappear” was currently my favorite song by any band, period, and “Blue” was showing up right next to it. Definitely kind of crazy to see.
I think Nocturnal Masquerade proves you aren’t afraid of trying anything new, while remaining true to your sound. Now, I want to talk about touring. You guys have hit the road with various noteworthy acts including The Faceless, After The Burial, The Contortionist, and more. What’s the next step for taking this album on the road?
Well obviously we will be hitting the U.S. again, probably several times. I think our next step though is to bring this thing overseas. Although nothing is booked yet, we do plan to do that for this album cycle, and I know all of us are itching for it. One thing I can tell you about now is that we will be playing South By Southwest this year!
I see this album sparking a plug that has been starting to ignite for quite some time now. For those who haven’t hopped on board the Toothgrinder train yet, why should they?
Because this train doesn’t stop! (Laughs) More seriously though, I think this record can appeal to everyone. There’s something for everyone in it. There’s a ton of emotion in our music, but we express it in a more creative manner rather than very blatantly on the surface. It’s deep and hopefully timeless. Toothgrinder has stood the test of time so it only makes sense that this record will, so let’s get rolling people, all aboard!
Be sure to pick up Toothgrinder’s new album, Nocturnal Masquerade, available now through Spinefarm Records. I promise, you won’t regret it. For more information on the band, go to facebook.com/toothgrinder.usa.