3TEETH. Photo: Michael Mendoza
A few weeks ago marked the the sophomore release by Los Angeles Industrial quartet 3TEETH. Already a successful touring band in their own right, their name shot up in the industry when they joined Tool and Primus for their 2016 tour, which included a stop at Toyota Center. If that’s not enough for the group, they will soon embark on another tour that will allow the band to introduce themselves to thousands of people a night as when they open for Rammstein later on this year. Prior to tonight’s show at White Oak Music Hall, vocalist Alexis Mincolla spoke to Free Press Houston about the band’s history, touring around the world, and the importance of holidays.
Free Press Houston: So, congrats on your recent release, <shutdown.exe>. The comments I’ve read, especially on YouTube, have been very positive. For this particular release, did you get the reception that you imagined?
Alexis Mincolla: I mean, I don’t have a crystal ball to look into and see how people would receive our record. I guess it’s important if I like it, you know? You just have to hope that other people like it, too. We personally, as a band, are proud of it; we put a lot of work into it. It was something that, when all was said and done, we were excited to release to the universe. So people respond to it. I mean, overall the reviews have been good. Obviously, though, you can’t please everyone. There are some good reviews, and there are some bad reviews. But all-in-all, the ship will keep moving.
FPH: To be completely honest, I am not the most familiar with the industrial genre, but it seems like you guys are changing the classic, textbook definition. Do you consider the band as explorers, or pioneers, evolving the music you play?
Mincolla: You know, it’s weird. I think industrial music, in general, has so many definitions, that it’s so subjective to so many people. I think one of the things that I do like about the genre is that it is very experimental. Like there are not as many definitive rules as there is in other kinds of metal. Certain subgenres of metal have very definitive rules; if people break them, others will say, “No! That’s not metal!” Industrial sort of give you a free ride, in a way, to explore what anything could be in that context. For us, we really have fun trying different things and incorporating different elements into our music, for example heavy synth, or weird tones. I mean, it’s music! Enjoy it! It started with us wanting to creative a heavy, danceable record. I don’t know if we’re shifting the landscape of industrial. To some we are, others we’re not.
FPH: Cliche question to say the least, but what is the name of the group in reference to?
Mincolla: Yeah, the name 3TEETH was derived from the concept of the trident, which actually means “three teeth.” It was, like, the divine weapon of the Gods, used for the creation of destruction, whether that be Poseidon or what have you. It was a mythic archetype of a divine weapon, which is, essentially, what 3TEETH was based on.
FPH: Ah, okay. I was watching some other interviews with the band, and I must admit that I like how diverse the band is, especially when it comes to culinary tastes. I understand that some of the band’s favorite food consists of chickpeas and mangos?
Mincolla: Ha! Yeah. I mean, we’re a diverse bunch of dudes! We definitely have a wide array of tastes, you know.
FPH: How and why did 3TEETH get arena ready?
Mincolla: Because we had to! That’s the short answer. I feel like when Adam Jones asked me, “Hey, do you guys want to come on tour with us? We’re hitting the road in two months.” It was an “oh shit” moment, it was like sink or swim. Obviously, you don’t feel ready to go open for Tool, but you don’t say no to that. You can’t say, “Oh, hit us up in eight months when we’ll be ready.” When that opportunity comes you go for it, and you rise to the occasion and see what you’re made of. For us, it was just rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. At that point, with not fucking up the first couple of shows, you realize it’s nothing, that you can do it. We didn’t get booed! Oh my God! At that point, after 40 fucking shows with them, you start to feel really confident in it. Confidence is a real factor in creating a live performance. But that applies to any form of creativity. You have to be confident. People don’t want to go to a show and see someone who’s being humble on stage, they want to see some insane person who has lost themselves to an ecstatic state. I feel like that is something we’ve managed to do. We can amuse ourselves on stage, too. We’re having fun.
FPH: I hear you’re also going on the road with Ramstein in the near future. Are you expecting those shows to get even more crazy?
Mincolla: I think it’s going to be a different experience for us. I mean, that bad has an anarcho, dance punk cult following. I look forward to those shows a lot. A Tool fan moves from the waist up at a show, but our fans typically move from the waist down in a dancey, metal way. I think, in that aspect, we might be a little more in common with Ramstein. So yeah, those shows are going to be good for us.
FPH: Correct me if I’m wrong, but those will be in Europe, yeah?
Mincolla: No. No, those are going to be in the U.S.. I think Ramstein is going to play four shows in the States: an East Coast, West Coast, a Vegas one, and maybe a festival. We’re doing two of those with them. We’re doing New York and Chicago. Hopefully some Europe shows with them in the future — that’d be good!
FPH: I imagine those shows would be perceived even more intense over there.
Mincolla: Oh, yeah. It’s funny, we’ve played some shows in Europe before we even fully toured the States. Actually, I guess it’s weird. We started to get a lot of requests from the U.K., Germany — I always thought that are sounds fits in well over there. But after going with Tool and doing the big stuff over here, it definitely started to open up the market.
FPH: I know bands like to talk about the difference between playing two places, but is that absolutely, positively true? I mean, some countries must feel the same, right?
Mincolla: Oh, it varies from city to city, dude. Most definitely from continent to continent. An LA show has nothing to do with a, say, Kansas show. I think you look at secondary market shows, a tier 2 metropolitan area compared to New York or Chicago, I think the former sometimes appreciate music more, because not as much is going on. I think, when you play a show in LA — it’s a lot of industry people who go to shows all the time and sit on their phones. I don’t know. It totally varies. I’ve noticed that when we play in Europe there’s so much less Instagram traffic after the shows — you know, pictures of the set — because people are really in the moment, which is a weird, interesting analysis.
FPH: You’ve been on some big tours, and you’re going on some more coming up; you’ve made it as a musician, haven’t you? I mean, you are in a comic book!
Mincolla: Ha! The whole Grant Morrison putting me in an issue of Heavy Metal was sort of a dream come true. But to answer your question, no, I don’t think I’ve made it. I mean, I have like negative $300 in my bank account right now, you know? It’s funny, they make these crazy assumptions like, “Oh, those guys are killing it, they probably bought on to this tour! They probably have so much money!” We’ve scraped by so hard. We just hoping we can make a little money to fix our credit scores and pay off the debts caused by buying gear. At the end of the day, I think it takes a lot of investment — time and money — to make a musical contribution, let alone a live show. So I certainly don’t think I’ve made it, except the fact that yeah, I’m in a comic book! But that was really cool. Ha!
FPH: So we just got through Memorial Day. But with holidays in general, are Americans doing it right? Are there too many, perhaps too few?
Mincolla: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. If you give people a reason to get drunk, they’re gonna. That’s really what holidays have turned into. You don’t have to work, so you can get drunk. In terms of the reference behind it, I don’t know. Sure. If you go to Europe, it’s crazy. In America we get to the end of the tunnel for the hard workers with a long weekend. I guess that’s enough.
FPH: Well I ask because World Goth Day was last Monday, how does one become an Edgar Allen Bro for next year?
Mincolla: Ha! Yeah, that was a little bit of a snark on my part. You know, go out and get yourself some black nail polish, some grim music, and maybe an incense. Just stare out the window on a rainy day or something.
FPH: So you play in Houston on May 30th. For someone, let’s say a fan of contemporary jazz or something, who is on the verge of seeing an industrial show, should they? If so, how involved should they get?
Mincolla: Yeah! I mean, I grew up on metal. I’m a huge metalhead. But I wanted to make something that wasn’t just a bunch of dudes pushing one another and girls feeling uncomfortable. We like to keep our stuff kind of sexy and dancey. It’s more about a fun experience as opposed to an aggressive, brutal experience. So we like to create a party. The visuals are cool. I like to think we put on a decent show, so come out, get weird, and party with some people wearing black!
3TEETH will perform at White Oak Music Hall on Tuesday, May 30. Tickets are $15 with doors at 7 pm.