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INTERVIEW: Today Is The Day
Nick Hutchings , February 13th, 2015 15:48

Following their announcement for this year's Temples festival, we catch up with the Nashville noise rock luminaries to discuss last year's Amphetamine Reptile Records doc The Color Of Noise and recent album, Animal Mother

In 1993, cult Minneapolis noise rock label Amphetamine Reptile Records put out a label sampler. Many of the bands on it were like coiled rattlesnakes waiting to strike with both venomous noise and a wicked sense of humour. Helmet appeared with 'Born Annoying', but it also included Helios Creed, Cows, X, Boss Hog and Surgery. Nestled among the more established names was a band called Today Is The Day and their song 'Bent Scared'. It wasn't subtle but it was seismic.

They went on to make three studio albums on Amphetamine Reptile, including the particularly great Supernova, later in '93, and Willpower the following year, as well as being involved in the Clusterfuck EP with Chokebore and on the Dope-Guns-'N-Fucking In The Streets 7" series with Brainiac. While their alumni from that 1993 sampler went onto enjoy varying degrees of success, what of Today Is The Day?

The Color Of Noise, the documentary which tells the story of Tom Hazelmeyer (aka Haze XXL) and how he assembled a team of disparate reprobates to form Amphetamine Reptile, features Today Is The Day and belligerent band leader Steve Austin heavily. And he's a heavy fellow. The band had literally had their heads down and been making albums for labels like Relapse and Blackmarket Activities. Band members came and went, tours with like-minded souls as Motörhead, Morbid Angel, Neurosis, Napalm Death and Unsane had racked up the air miles. Their progress had been quiet, but their uncompromising sound had remained loud.

Tenth album Animal Mother on Southern Lord records is heavy as hell, Austin's dystopian world view has not been tempered by time; if anything his aggressive guttural howl has engorged, his mistrust of the world further entrenched. When he's not out on the road surrounded by baying fans he lives an almost hermetic existence out in the countryside, like noise rock's great survivalist. He wasn't adverse to an email catch-up but, like a gnat in the forest dusk, he swatted me away quickly.

How do you remember the Amphetamine Reptile Records days?

Steve Austin: The Amphetamine Reptile days was a huge part of my life. We were just dirty little punks when we met Haze from AmRep and I learned a lot. Those days were insane and so many great memories. We couldn't have had a better start at being a band on a label than with AmRep. 

You were on it with Boss Hog, Helios Creed and Helmet - how do you compare Today Is The Day's trajectory with that of other classic AmRep bands?

SA: Well, we play really fucked-up music and the band's path has been to keep making original records and not doing what we have done before. Today Is The Day is an underground band and I am really happy with the way that we have reached so many people throughout the years. 

You feature in the Color of Noise film about Amphetamine Reptile, what's that like? How do you feel about your portrayal?

SA: I haven't seen the whole movie, but my friends tell me that I am in the film throughout. The bits I did see with myself in, I am happy with...

I'm not into metal per se, but I love you guys. What has marked you out from a more traditional metal band?

SA: We don't play 'metal' in the traditional sense. The band has its own style that incorporates metal types of things. The sound, the drumming, the vocals. But the songwriting is very different from the usual metal way of writing. We simply don't give a fuck about fitting in and therefore we don't make records to fit in any genre of music. 

How would you describe the message of Animal Mother?

SA: Animal Mother is about life and death. It's about betrayal and trust. The delicate balance of life and the relationships between each other and family. 

The line-up has changed frequently. Are you very exacting?

SA: I am a fucking bastard to deal with!!! No, just kidding. It's called 21 years of being a band. People have real lives outside of music. Underground music doesn't always pay the bills. The bills are big motivators about one's life. Some people can hang with underground music for a lifetime, some people can't. I have enjoyed playing with all of the folks who have contributed to TITD's music. 

I feel like I need a lie down in a dark room after listening to it. How normal a response is this?

SA: It's normal because I made you look inside yourself. Evaluate. Sometimes repressed emotions are hard to deal with. Sometimes newfound passion or glory is hard to comprehend. 

In the song 'Sick Of Your Mouth' from Animal Mother you bemoan the media, internet, TV and mainstream - what riles you so much about it?

SA: Because the media is full of shit and driven by money. The internet is an essential, awesome tool. The people with their hidden faces out there have become invincible and some of the outcome of being anonymous has perpetuated shitty people. 

How has being from the South shaped you and the noise you've made?

SA: It shaped it a lot. People from down South are real. They live real lives. There is a struggle going on down there that has been going on for a long time. 

How out of step do you feel with the mainstream?

SA: One hundred per cent. I fucking hate general society and I live in the woods far away in northern Maine. 

If you ever found yourself becoming part of it would you give up music?

SA: I will never be part of the mainstream. 

Animal Mother is out now on Southern Lord. Head to The Color Of Noise's website for full details on the film. Today Is The Day play Temples in Bristol on May 29; for full details and tickets, head to the festival's website