Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind Discusses Personal Vinyl History [Vinyl Creep]
As soon as the platter starts spinning and the needle hits the record, Toxic Holocaust's 'Chemistry of Consciousness' already sounds like a classic thrash album you've had in your collection for years. The riffs are thick, the vocals are heavy and the songs are unbelievably catchy. Everything about 'Chemistry of Consciousness' screams old-school thrash, but with a significant modern twist. It could be the 2013 companion to Metallica's 'Kill 'Em All.'
"I never really wanted to do a record that was a complete rip-off of bands from the 80s, but I'm definitely influenced by that stuff," Toxic Holocaust founder and frontman Joel Grind tells Noisecreep in an exclusive interview. "I wanted to incorporate all of my influences as well as incorporate my own stuff and do my own lyrics. I was just trying to step it up, you know?"
Toxic Holocaust have progressed significantly since their first album in 2003. A decade ago, the band was a solo project with Grind handling every duty. Today, it's a full-fledged outfit producing some of the heaviest thrash around. "We've progressed while sort of still maintaining our core sound," Grind says. "It's just built upon that first record. I'm really content with this new record. I finally tweaked our sound to the way I've been hearing it in my head this whole time."
Even though the makeup of Toxic Holocaust has changed throughout the years, one thing has stayed constant in addition to Grind's involvement: his commitment to pressing his music on vinyl for his fans. "It's important to me that when we do a record, there is always a vinyl release," the frontman tells us. "I think it's extremely important. All of my favorite records came out on vinyl."
Vinyl is more than just a business decision for Grind, though. "I'm a huge collector. I've been collecting records since I was a teenager," he explains with enthusiasm. "I'm in my 30s now and it's just a big part of my listening experience. For me, it's the entire package. It's the artwork, it's the whole flipping of the record, things like that. You know, with flipping the record, that is all planned. The track listing is planned with flipping the record in mind. It's all part of the experience. You miss that when you download stuff because everything is just kind of one big easily disposable format. With a record, you sit down and put it on the turntable and you get to look at the artwork and read the lyrics while you listen to it."
There's no questioning Grind's passion for the historic medium, so it only makes sense that when he's making business decisions about vinyl, he puts his whole heart into it. That is completely obvious with the release of 'Chemistry of Consciousness.' The album is available in several different versions, including a clear pressing limited to 100 copies, a yellow and black splatter edition that looks sick spinning on a turntable and one of the most unique releases of the year: a glow-in-the-dark pressing. "That record is really cool, I've never seen anything like it before," Grind explains about the mail-order exclusive disc. "It's green, and when you put it under a light it turns blue."
Even with the exciting and very limited editions of 'Chemistry of Consciousness,' Grind doesn't want fans to get caught up in the collector mentality. "I'm not out here to cheat fans. It's always the same music on all of the records," he says with pure honesty. "I just want people to listen to it and I think vinyl is the best format to listen to it. Maybe we shouldn't be going as crazy about the limited stuff, but should be more worried about getting it to sound as good as it can, you know? Don't get me wrong, though, I think some of this stuff is really cool, you just have to remember it's the same songs on each f--king color!"
One thing is the same across all releases of 'Chemistry of Consciousness,' and that's the crazy cover art, designed by San Francisco-based illustrator Andrei Bouzikov. "It's very psychedelic looking, kind of a mindf--k in a way. That's the point of it," Grind says, with an obvious smile on his face. "A lot of the record deals with conspiracy-type things and a lot of real life things that have happened ... and other things that you kind of wonder if they're happening. That's where the art comes from, it's the paranoia aspect. It's a trippy cover, it's different from what we've ever done before. I don't know how to fully explain it, but the lyrics really tell a lot of the story about why the cover looks the way it does. You have to see it and read the lyrics at the same time while listening to the record."
Luckily for fans, the record is not only housed in a high-quality jacket with the killer artwork on the front, but it comes with a lyrics insert, making it easy to enjoy the whole experience of the release as Grind explains. "When I was growing up, I'd listen to a record and I would know all the lyrics and everything about it, all the artwork stuff, all the liner notes. Everything. You're invested in it," Grind fondly remembers. "You actually get an experience with vinyl."
Whether you are hunting for the limited releases of 'Chemistry of Consciousness' or you grab the first version you can get your hands on, there's no arguing that Grind's passion for vinyl bleeds through this album. From holding it in your hands to listening to it over and over, 'Chemistry of Consciousness' is a memorable experience through and through. Grind closes our chat out with a simple statement, but one that is so important to hear from a professional musician in today's digital environment: "I don’t know how important vinyl is to other people, but for me, it’s my preferred choice of listening. For me, it's a necessity."
Joel Grind's Vinyl Breakdown
Current Favorite Vinyl: Teenage Bottlerocket 8-LP Box Set
All-Time Favorite Vinyl: Bathory - 'Bathory' and Razor - 'Armed and Dangerous'
Toxic Holocaust's 'Chemistry of Consciousness'