Artist Spotlight: A Conversation with 3TEETH
LA-based Industrial band, 3TEETH, will release their new album, METAWAR, on July 5th 2019.
After establishing themselves and building a following with their first two albums, 2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s <shutdown.exe>, and being handpicked to tour with bands like Tool, 3TEETH is ready to take the stage again with a headlining tour in support of the album.
I had the opportunity to speak with Alexis Mincolla, the band’s lead singer, and pick his brain on the new album, their experiences as a band so far, and how they feel their politically geared material will be received by audiences.
Let’s get the first, general question out of the way. Can you tell me how you guys came together as a band?
Alexis: Yea, that probably takes us back to around 2013. I was throwing this underground party in downtown LA that was called Lil Death, which brought a lot of like-minded people together in this interesting little scene that was happening. I had met Xavier through that and we started to work on some music together and then we met Andrew, so it was kind of your typical, organic band formation. We figured let’s get together, let’s write some music and create a record in our free time, which took us a lot longer to finish. We had no expectations, we were just making music that we wanted to hear and it was stuff other people liked so it was a big bonus.
Did you start off knowing you wanted to write Industrial music?
Alexis: Yea, I mean, for us it’s stuff that we shared as a mutual interest. It was sort of this underground party stuff that was playing, which was kind of tech-noir. That was the aesthetic of the environment we were in. We’d play old industrial, and some new concrete techno stuff, and we combined the new with the old to create our own version.
You released your self-titled debut album in 2014 and then you followed that up with <Shutdown.exe> in 2017, and your 3rd album METAWAR is coming out July 5th of this year. What’s your songwriting process like? How has it changed over time?
Alexis: I think one of the main differences is that when we first started we weren’t really a band that played together. We would work in the studio together and pass around files on the computer. Then you start working as a band together, and as a band we’ve been on the road a lot. If anyone gets to their third album, it’s going to be that scenario where you write in the room together, playing like a band. We had full-time dedication to that, so I think this record sounds more like that - a band in a room, playing together as opposed to passing files around. I think that was just the natural progression of the project.
We’ve been really fortunate to play in some really big spaces like arenas, going on the road with Tool and you sort of get a handle on what works in big spaces. I think once you taste that arena blood you kind of forever want to try and get back to that. So you try to write music to fill those types of spaces.
METAWAR is the first album you haven’t self-produced, you worked with Sean Bevan. How was that process different?
Alexis: The whole process of the record was just that we took more time with it. We wrote about 16 demos by ourselves in our own studio space, we didn’t really write with a producer because we wanted it to still sound like us, not another person. We kind of wanted to bring in a chef after we had done the meal prep, you know what I mean? To help organize or change an arrangement, and to bring in some more seasoned songwriting after we’d already written the songs.
So we took some time in the studio with Sean after we had our demos and we tinkered the writing on those. Even after that we went into the studio with Sean and redid the songs. It was a lengthy process, it took us about a full year, it was a lot of work, but we had a lot of fun doing it.
And this is the first time you guys have actually put full-time work in too.
Alexis: Yea, we really had the luxury and the opportunity to do that.
METAWAR delves into the world of politics and social constructs in our country today. Ultimately, you really take a 3rd party perspective in questioning its entire existence, which I think is refreshing in a lot of ways. Has recording the album been therapeutic for you? Were you worried about how it would be perceived? Since things are so destructive right now between our two parties.
Alexis: That’s a good question. I think there was definitely some fancy footwork in terms of the navigation of what we did want to say about things, which probably played into the lengthy process for this album. We didn’t want to be pinned to one side or the other. I have two degrees in political science, which has afforded me a little bit of an understanding in how to do that without getting swept up in the generic anti-systemic buzz that I feel is happening with a lot of artists these days.
There’s a lot of charting, mind-mapping and a lot of graphs and things that were born out of this record. A journalist from Revolver Magazine came to my house and I showed him all this stuff, and he even thought it was crazy.
I think it almost drives me insane a little bit, to answer your other question about if it was therapeutic. I don’t know if it’s therapeutic, it might be the reverse of that. I think I may have driven myself a little crazy trying to do all this stuff. I think it’ll be a little therapeutic once I have the record out there doing its thing, but in terms of the amount of work I tend to put into things - design the artwork and all the creative concepts, it’s not exactly effortless. I think I ride really close to the edge of burn out with a lot of things, so it’s probably not the most therapeutic thing for me. It’ll be cathartic when we finally release the record.
Did you feel like you had to get that message out? Taking a 3rd party look at things?
Alexis: Yes, there were things that I wanted to say but you can’t say it in a rant. It’s a way to say “hey, here are my thoughts” and put it out there in a way for people to hear and take it however they want to take it. Whether they take it how I meant it or not, at this point, I don’t really care because it’s out there. People will take what they want from it, you know? People may help you realize certain things about it creatively, so I think the album is kind of some of my consciousness. Songs are little diaries in some ways, so when I’m in my 50’s I’m going to look back on this record and think “oh yea, that’s what I was thinking about. That’s where my head was at.”
Personally, I think it’s refreshing because a lot of the time (especially in the entertainment world), people will push one side or the other. I think to have somebody take a 3rd party approach is different. For example, with a song like “Exxxit,” one of the lyrics is “we hear the things they say, it’s all insanity.”
Alexis: I wanted to kind of write from the perspective of a National Geographic, they don’t interfere, they just observe. There’s a really phenomenal book called Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti, which is a work of genius and it’s almost written in the perspective of an alien who has come down and looked at our country. It was a book I continually referenced within this project. I continue to find myself going back to that so it’s nice that you recognize that it is sort of a 3rd person perspective as opposed to “here’s what I feel”.
Your latest music video was for the song “President X”. People were going crazy on social media thinking it was about a specific president and you guys came out with a statement that it’s really about the presidency itself. Can you tell me more about that?
Alexis: I mean honestly if people were willing to do any type of investigation, if you look at the first verse of the song, it specifically alludes to three different presidents from three different administrations. I refer to Obama, Bush, and Trump within the first verse of the song. “I’m the old flesh in progressive disguise with my pretty eyes, I’ll hide their lies. I’m the legacy at chapel ranch, I’m the outsider they said had no chance.” I think people wanted to have a knee-jerk reaction that it was about Trump because they can’t look past their own nose.
I wanted to make fun of it in a way. In the video, the reality is he’s a lizard it just shows the absurdity of today’s situation. You can’t reason with absurdity, which is the exact situation we’re in. Watching American politics is like watching the WWF, you know what I mean?
Is there a song on METAWAR you’re most proud of?
Alexis: No, it’s really the record as a whole I’m most proud of.
Earlier you were mentioning this and I wanted to go back to it. You’ve toured with some great bands like Tool, Rammstein and Danzig. You guys are going to be embarking on a tour in July and August. How have your touring experiences been overall? How have audiences received you?
Alexis: I think it’s been great. We always win people over when we play live. People might not get it online but when they come to a show they get it. That’s where the battle is won, you know? You win people over and you play to new audiences and for me that’s everything. That’s all I want to do. I don’t care if it’s 200 people or 20,000 people.
Some people actually prefer playing the slightly smaller venues to the larger arenas. Do you have a preference on that?
Alexis: I think playing the larger venues is tremendously fun, but I also think that the project lends itself to bigger spaces and bigger ideas and the kind of theatrics that we haven’t been able to use on that scale yet. I like feeling larger than life, but I’m happy to do it in a smaller venue. When you play a smaller venue you’re seeing everyone in the eyes, you have to play to each person. It’s more nerve-wracking to play smaller spaces.
You have a visual show too, so it probably lends itself to larger spaces.
Alexis: Yea and we’re big guys, over 6ft, 200lbs. When you’ve got 5 of us on a club stage it’s a lot to fit everyone on there.
What are your upcoming touring plans?
Alexis: We leave next week to go to Europe to open for Ministry and then we come back to do a state side headliner.
Do you feel there’s a difference playing in Europe vs. the States?
Alexis: Absolutely. They’re very different. Audiences are slightly more present in Europe. I always notice when you play in Europe and you check the hashtags after the show to find footage of it. In Europe, there always seems to be less because people were actually watching the show. As opposed to the States, where you’re constantly getting a ton of social media activity after the show, which means people were watching through their phones.
You’ve never played with Ministry before and I’m sure they’re an influence for you guys so I’m sure you’re pretty excited to play with them.
Alexis: Yea they’re huge friends of ours but we’ve never actually played together, so it’ll be fun.
How has being an LA band effected you guys? Do you think it’s made it easier?
Alexis: It’s opened a lot of opportunities for us. Adam Jones watched us at the Viper room and asked to go on tour with Tool. I think LA is a tough place because there are so many bands out there, but if you can manage to do it you’re in a good spot because there’s a lot of bigger pieces on the chessboard out here.
Thank you, Lex for taking the time to speak with me about 3TEETH and METAWAR.
Check out 3TEETH’s Facebook page.
Check out songs from METAWAR: