Sometimes when you send off questions for a band to answer for an email interview, you never know what’s gonna come about with it. I mean, phone & Skype interviews are usually more engaging because you’re directly talking to the person, and in-person chats are the easily best method by far. But sometimes email Q&A’s leave a little to be desired. However, I think that Toxicon vocalist Wayne Clarris delivered a little more humour and life with his written answers. Which, by the way, ranged from their influences to the mix techniques on their new album, ‘Purge’, to even hoping for a zombie apocalypse to help wash the slate of humanity clean. Fuck, that last one was dark, aye? Anyway, check out the interview below!
So how has the band’s current live dates been going? Well, I hope?
We really have been surprised by the support and excitement around our shows! It’s a great feeling to be out promoting the album, it has given our shows a purpose and made us really lift the bar performance wise.
Glad to hear it. Tell me, where did the band’s name come from and where there any other moniker ideas you had in the beginning?
The name came to us in a dream but was forgotten in another dream, so we settled on Toxicon. Let’s be honest, it’s the ‘X’ that makes it cool as shit right?
That it does! Now, the band’s sound is a traditional heavy metal sound, mixed in with more contemporary sub-genres, I find at least. Was that a conscious effort when writing the ‘Purge’?
It was as organic as possible, when we first started punching out tunes it had quite a traditional metal feel to it, in songs like Death Proof and Nowhere To Go, as we have progressed as songwriters and our live shows have increased in calibre so has the music and the way we write. I really feel we are still narrowing in on “our sound” but it’s shaping up to be a hell of a journey.
Well said, am keen to see where you guys go next with your music. Now, do you guys ever get caught up in discussing and arguing over metal sub-genres when writing/recording or when you’re just casually shooting the shit?
No, we made a choice at the beginning that we wouldn’t box ourselves in. The number one rule is if it sounds good, it stays. We have too many songwriters in the band to get precious over sticking to a genre and besides, metal is metal. Who gives a shit about sub-genres? If you dig good, heavy music then let’s party! We want to tear down the sub-genre walls.
Good luck with that! With the artwork for the ‘Purge’, it carries a very political/societal message and for me, that seems to be about ridding the world of varying societal evils; corporations, “The Man”, war, corruption and disease. Am I right in that? And in either way, can you elaborate on the record’s core themes and ideas?
You are spot on. Under all the concept story all these songs are really just a reflection of how we see the world at the moment. It’s hard not to get sucked into the doom and gloom really. It’s funny really, no matter how far you delve into the filthy fiction, it always seems close to the reality we live in. We are all so inundated with good and bad information that you just can’t trust anything anymore. I am personally praying for a zombie apocalypse. None of these crazy bullshit problems would be an issue anymore if our only motivation was daily survival. I would embrace it.
Jesus, that’s pretty dark, dude, but I get what you mean! On ‘Death Proof’, the way that the mix “falls away” into that filtered section halfway through comes out of nowhere. It was very cool! Was that a decision on the band’s part or did that come from the mixers/engineer?
It was a bit of both, the section needed something and Chris Themelco had free reign to experiment and try things with the whole album. This was one of those nuggets! I personally like it too. It’s unexpected with the style and feel of the album but isn’t alien to the music. I really want to do a lot more experimental stuff on the next album.
I agree, it wasn’t “too” out there. Likewise, with production and recording/editing, is there anything you wished you could have done differently here if given the chance?
Not a thing! Every album, every release is just a snapshot of exactly where you are as a band at that moment. An album is never really done, you just run out of time. That’s why I think it’s so important to have a real deadline when self-recording, otherwise, you could float around in the pursuit of perfection forever and never move forward. We write so many songs that we had to ban ourselves for writing while recording. Now that the album is finished the lid is off again, but we won’t be concentrating fully on writing again until we finish promoting this album.
Very well said, man! Now, Toxicon is a very riff heavy band and for metal music that definitely needs to be the case. What guitarists and/or bands influence the rhythm and melody aspects of the band when writing the guitar parts?
Well, I’m just the singer, and let’s be honest, guitarists are a special bunch. They’re like “Ooh hear that tone, that was huge”. I pretty much hear the same thing. We have a vast pool of influence we draw from as a band, from Machine Head, Trivium, Kiss, Alterbridge, Coheed and Cambria, QOTSA, Mastodon. I personally love stoner rock and sludgy filth. There are also a couple of massive hip hop heads in Toxicon!
I’m a drummer myself so I’m with you on all that, man. Similarly, how does one of your songs start out; it is just with a riff or a certain melody? Or maybe even with the lyrics or a drum groove?
Usually riff, but we have been experimenting with different methods and finding the songs forms quite differently and sometimes unusual, so it’s always fun to change it up.
There are quite a few audio samples used throughout the record, namely the Charlie Chaplin speech from The Great Dictator on ‘Nowhere To Go’. Are you worried that you may have overdone it or that they were all a real necessity to further the album’s themes?
No, once again it was a snapshot of where we were at the time. Under the budget we had and time constraints we needed to make a point and to be honest in this day and age with social media and YouTube snippets like this are the way we communicate with each other so it almost is a commentary on that.
Right on. Finally, with having your current tour and a new album out right now, what’s in the cards for Toxicon for the rest of 2016? As this seems like a very exciting time for the band!
We have a lot on the plate. There is more out of state shows later in the year. Another music video is on the cards and we are all itching to get back into the studio over the Christmas break. There is some big things coming show wise as well so keep your eyes peeled.
Toxicon’s new album, ‘Purge’ is out now and you can find their remaining tour dates below.
Aug 12th, The Loft,Warrnambool, VIC
Aug 20th, Music Man Mega Store, Bendigo, VIC
Fri Sep 2nd, The Basement 2 Cohen St, Belconnen, ACT
Sat Sep 3rd, The Bald Faced Stag 345 Parramatta Rd, Sydney, NSW
Fri Sep 9th, Reverence Hotel 28 Napier St, Fitzroy, VIC
Sat Sep 10th, Barwon Club Hotel 509 Moorabool St, Geelong, VIC
Photo credit: Electrum Photography.