Q&A: Toxic Holocaust

When Joel Grind started Toxic Holocaust in Baltimore in 1999, he hadn’t counted on becoming an anomaly: a one-man speed-metal band. Yet his style has taken hold, and after releasing a series of EPs, touring the world, and relocating to Seattle, he unleashed Toxic Holocaust’s third album, An Overdose of Death (Relapse), on September 2.

Recorded with Jack Endino and featuring Zeke’s Donny Paycheck on drums, the album is one of the most fun thrash records we’ve heard in a long time with its infectious riffs and tongue-in-cheek post-apocalyptic worldview. An Overdose of Death also shares its title with a 1940 Agatha Christie novel (coincidence? We think not).

ALARM caught up with Grind during a recent tour to discuss playing it solo and the makings of the new record.

What made you decide to only hire out musicians as needed, rather than have full-time band members? What are some pros and cons?

Basically, I did it out of necessity. Where I was living at the time in Maryland, there were virtually no musicians with the same dedication and into the same music as I was. So in order to really do what I wanted, I had to do it myself.

The pros are definitely having complete control over music, art, etc. The cons would be trying to find session musicians for live shows, and recording everything by myself isn’t that easy either. It’s hard to work a tape machine while you are trying to get a good take at the same time.

Tell us about the new record. How do you feel that it differs from Hell on Earth and Reaper’s Grave? Does anything in particular inspire your evil/humorous lyrics?

I think that I have really stepped it up on this record, song-writing wise. I mean, it’s still the same to-the-point speed metal as always, but I think that the songs are better thought-out this time around. Lots of things inspire my lyrics: movies, war documentaries, books. I like over-the-top imagery and topics.

How did you end up working with Zeke drummer Donny Paycheck on An Overdose of Death? Is he a drummer that you had wanted to work with for a while?

I moved to Seattle, and my manager also manages Zeke. He recommended Donny to me because Zeke wasn’t really all that active, and Donny had been wanting to do something musically again. Donny fit in perfect with what I wanted to do. It really shows on this record.

As a well-traveled touring musician, do you see many differences between how American audiences view metal versus in other parts of the world?

Sure. In other parts of the world, metal is life for the fans. It’s amazing! They eat, sleep, and breathe it. In America, there are pockets of diehards, but it’s everywhere in places like Europe and South America.

How might someone prepare for life in a post-apocalyptic war zone? What precautions might they need to take? Sunscreen?

Ha…I guess you better stock up on food and fuel and get a blue heeler dog while you’re at it.

— Jamie Ludwig

Toxic Holocaust: www.toxicthrashmetal.com
Relapse Records
: www.relapse.com