Musicscan: What moments in the bands history for you sum up the whole experience of Throwdown so far, what fuels your fire to continue, and why did you decide to come back again?
Throwdown: I couldn’t possibly sum up 15 years with just a few moments. I would hope that no one could. I do have a few great memories that stand out, though. Playing Download Festival in 2006 was awesome. That was a tough year for me-- playing alongside Tool and Metallica, and feeling so welcomed so far from home made it a lot better. Releasing Deathless on E1 after our troubles with Trustkill aka Bullet Tooth, was a milestone and was really rewarding. As far as what makes me want to continue playing after all these years or release a record after a four-year radio silence, it’s nothing complicated. If you love making music, you don’t just decide to stop doing so altogether one day. I’m grateful that there are enough people out there that make it possible for me to make songs into albums. I’d still make these songs if there weren’t, but it’s a privilege I don’t take for granted.
Musicscan: Can you perhaps tell us something about the intention and the spirit of Throwdown when the band came to be. Has that intention / the spirit changed until today? What kind of philosophy is the basis for what you are doing with your band right now?
Throwdown: The first incarnation of the band started in 1997 as a joke. There was never any intention of going on tour, let alone making a career out of it. The band has evolved from that to Haymaker to Intolerance, but we’ve always made it a point to not take things too seriously. Music and messages can be serious without sacrificing the fun of making or playing them. Hardcore should be always be authentic but always be fun. I don’t have some sort of grandiose mission for the band, and I don’t sit and try to define what or why the music is what it is because I’m not Billy Corgan or whoever. I just have opinions, bones to pick, and riffs for people to pit to, and Throwdown allows me to put all of that into one place.
Musicscan: Throwdown is inextricably linked to the extreme metalcore scene and has had much influence on that scene. I was hoping you could share your thoughts on what makes that scene tick, and on your view regarding Throwdown s place within it even you have outgrown of it style wise.
Throwdown: Man, I don’t know that I have the first clue what the metalcore “scene” looks like in 2014, if it’s still technically “ticking,” and if we ever really influenced it for better or worse haha. There were obviously a lot of bands that contributed to shaping the genre as it evolved a little over a decade ago, and they’re all in various places with their music today. All I know is that some of the best times I’ve had in Throwdown were with guys in other “metalcore” bands (most of them on Ozzfest in 2004). I loved being a part of that and touring with so many cool people, and there’s definitely a special camaraderie and collective nostalgia for it.
Musicscan: What do you think of the fact that the only really extreme thing to come out of the underground scene nowadays is the music? Lyrics and critical statements do not seem to be important to a lot of bands anymore. Or am I wrong?
Throwdown: I don’t know if I could make a blanket statement that lyrics are less meaningful today than they were 10 or 20 years ago. But there are definitely bands nowadays, which are being passed off on people as “hardcore” bands, that are just hilarious to me-- little white kids saying “bitches” and “nigga” on stage and in songs, and other nonsense that you would have never even imagined someone doing ironically a decade ago. I feel ridiculous and uncomfortable even talking about it haha.
Musicscan: There are a lot of bands now that are heavy without really using metal aesthetics. Do you feel like a part of that? What current bands do you think of as your peers or bands that you feel a commonality with?
Throwdown: You mean like guys playing metal music, but they didn’t cut the sleeves off their t-shirts or grow their hair out? I don’t know if that’s really a ‘thing’ in itself, but Throwdown has definitely never looked stereotypically metal like the bands that got me into metal did or do. I feel like that’s more common nowadays anyway, though. As far as bands that I can identify with, it usually has more to do with getting to know the guys themselves in the band than anything else. I’m a big fan of Demon Hunter, which most people wouldn’t relate to Throwdown. We like a lot of the same music and have a lot in common as people, even though we have different messages and come from different places. Yogi played drums for us on a short tour and Ryan Clark (their singer) is a world class designer and artist. He has done the artwork for the last four records and really “gets” the band, too. I couldn’t imagine making a record without him being a part of it. They’re all great guys and awesome musicians.
Musicscan: I'm seeing you are still called everything from metalcore to thrash, and extreme metal, which is interesting if not amusing. What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel comfortable with your position in between to say so?
Throwdown: The only thing I can say with any certainty is that Throwdown is a hardcore band. And that’s only because hardcore goes beyond just being a genre of music. It’s where the band was born and it was that community around the world that made it possible for it to exist outside of a garage. Obviously the music sounds a lot more like a 90’s metal band than Minor Threat, for example, so it gets difficult to nail down one of the million sub-genres for the sound itself. I’m pretty indifferent to what people come up with, though. And yeah, it can be amusing.
Musicscan: It looks / sounds like you are experienced with tough situations, but could you imagine another (legal) way to get rid of your frustration and aggression besides playing aggressive heavy music? What have you been doing when Throwdown were on hold for the last couple of years?
Throwdown: The catharsis I get from playing and making music is really just an extension of listening to it. It was the way that riffs from Sepultura, Pantera, Slayer, and later Earth Crisis and Hatebreed, made me feel that made me want to write Throwdown songs. So if I’m not getting aggression out making an album or playing shows, I’m always listening to bands that get me stoked the same way. I’ve listened to a lot of Lamb of God, Crowbar and Meshuggah the past couple years. Recently got into Nails. Outside of what I listen to in order to get my head in a good place, I started doing Muay Thai in 2010. I actually did it for a short period of time in ‘97-‘99 but I couldn’t really afford it at that age, or find a reliable gym or coach. I’ve got a great place I’ve been at the past four years, and it’s remained a fun hobby that keeps me level-headed and healthy.
Musicscan: Does being a duo – from what I understood the line-up consists of two “real” members only – now make managing the band and the musical progression easier or harder?
Throwdown: I’ve had the reins on both for the past several years, so not much is really different in that regard. Working with Dave Nassie is a total privilege, though. He’s an incredible guitar player and a fun guy to play music with. I think more than anything, just being older and more grounded makes the band easier overall. It doesn’t hurt when your manager is brilliant and your closest friend, and the label is a team of good and helpful people.
Musicscan: With Intolerance you made a comeback album that displays brutality, honesty and true character. It seems like this really is a whole new start for you guys. Did you feel more change once you hit the studio or did everything come to you while writing for the album?
Throwdown: I had a lot of the riffs written long before arranging them and showing them to Jarrod or stepping into the studio, so the album took that direction a good while before 2013. Closer to recording time, there was definitely a conscious effort to keep the arrangements simple and sharp and the vocal sound hard. It just felt like the best approach to it all, especially in consideration of wanting to keep the overall length of the record short.
Musicscan: How do you feel the "old school fans" of Throwdown are going to react? Do you feel that you can still capture their attention or are you ready to broaden your fan base and branch out?
Throwdown: I’ve heard a lot of positive things out of long time fans of the band. It’s very cool and feels good. They definitely like this record better than Deathless haha. There’s no mission to reach a certain fan base or more fans with this record. If anything, it’s a return to form that people are more familiar with, and the one that initially clicked with so many people a little over a decade ago.
Musicscan: Lastly: What type of success you hope to have with Intolerance?
Throwdown: Like with any record, I made the songs I wanted to make and different people will identify with them for different reasons. It’s great if a lot of people do that and run out and buy the record or come see a show because of it, but that’s not the goal. I guess if there were a goal for the album, it would be for fans of the band, old and new, to appreciate it the way I appreciate the records that influenced it, and hopefully have it become an important record to them in some way or another.