April 15, 2020 Interview – Alexis Mincolla of 3Teeth
“Immense and pissed,” 3Teeth crashed onto the music scene in 2013 and has been spreading their incendiary Industrial Metal education ever since. Touring alongside the likes of Tool, Primus, Danzig, Rammstein, and HIM, these Angelenos have only bolstered their cause with 2014’s eponymous debut and 2017’s <shutdown.exe>.
In July 2019, they added Metawar to their musical arsenal. A phenomenal third disc, produced by the talented Sean Beaven, the 13-song Metawar is nothing short of sultry and sophisticated Metal with bite. Vocalist Alexis Mincolla recently sat down to chat about the album, where he finds inspiration, finding the right song to cover, and perhaps most importantly, showing that there is still a non-conformist space that defies both red and blue.
Cryptic Rock – You have been making exceptional music with 3Teeth for nearly seven years now. What has all this time taught you about yourself?
Alexis Mincolla – Time has taught me that it’s totally okay to have no idea what I’m doing because no one else does either. So don’t be afraid to try whatever it is you’re afraid to fail at.
Cryptic Rock – Excellent advice. Now, there’s a dirty, gritty allure to 3Teeth’s music and yet your lyrics are intelligent and aware, all while challenging your listeners to think for themselves. What is it about that dichotomy that appeals to you as a songwriter?
Alexis Mincolla – I don’t really think of this as a dichotomy between gritty and intelligent, as those concepts for me are not mutually exclusive by any means. The things I write about are things I’m passionate about regarding the human experience of the world that surrounds me. While studying political science and economics at university, I gained a lot of perspectives and it would be impossible for those things not to influence my creative process and the intent in which I write songs.
So, whether or not people want to interpret that as gritty or intelligent is really up to them. I just create from a place of what I need to get out of my head. Oftentimes these subjects are convoluted, riddled hypocrisies from either side and really bleak. As for challenging the listeners to think for themselves, that would be ideal as I’m certainly not trying to provide any absolutist opinions, and ultimately just want to weaponize curiosity.
Cryptic Rock – Actually, that is very true that grit and intelligence are not mutually exclusive, but perhaps rarely found together in today’s music. That said, are there any strange or unconventional things that have been an inspiration to you throughout the years?
Alexis Mincolla – I’m constantly being inspired by the world around me and really try to exist in a constant state of inspiration. Of course, there are more conventional types of inspiration like books, movies, and even video games, but I try to get inspired by things like a random encounter at a convenience store while on tour or hanging out with my 8-year-old nephew. There’s really no end to what could potentially become an inspiration.
Cryptic Rock – That openness to eclectic inspirations shows in the music. Speaking of that music, obviously back in July 2019, you released Metawar. What was the initial response to the record and do you think that has evolved any over the past nine months?
Alexis Mincolla – I think the overall response to the record was pretty positive when it was released. I really try not to worry too much about that stuff as what’s really important to me is that I personally like the record and that I’m proud of it, which I certainly was. The label can worry about the sales, which I know they were happy with and we hit all those metrics of “success,” whatever the fuck that means. I was just happy to see that more and more people continue to come out to the shows and that our audience is growing.
Cryptic Rock – Perfectly understandable, as “success” is such a highly subjective term. Either way, it’s a phenomenal record and we’d love to discuss some of the songs. Firstly, “Affluenza” is a brilliant portmanteau. Obviously you’re playing with teasing the listeners that will selectively hear certain words, while crafting a song about the disgusting greed and consumerism that runs our entire nation. For your listeners, how do you hope they will take the listening experience and learn from it to break that cycle?
Alexis Mincolla – I’m just using the song to hold a mirror up to a situation that exists and what people see in that reflection is up to them. I don’t have any particular desired effects or responses, as I think everyone internalizes this stuff differently. I think the polysemic nature of art is inevitable, and trying to constrain the messaging and its effects in a unilateral manner would be more akin to marketing than art.
Cryptic Rock – One of the striking lines in Metawar is in “President X”: “Just another symptom of a greater disease.” That is such a painful truth that everything that happens in any nation, politically speaking, is a cruelly honest reflection of the people. So, in a sense, are we really the ones who are to blame for everything that’s going on at the moment in Washington, D.C.?
Alexis Mincolla – From a macro perspective I think we get the leaders that we deserve, but from a micro perspective I think we deserve a lot better. So this is a tough question to answer. I’m less concerned with trying to point fingers but rather tell the story of simply what is.
Cryptic Rock – Hopefully enough people can agree that we deserve better. Back to the album, towards the end of “Blackout” there’s a moment that really feels heavily influenced by Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round.” Is it insane to think that?
Alexis Mincolla – If you hear it, that’s on you because we were definitely not inspired by it. Ironically, months later, we would be asked to cover that song for a Daniel Radcliffe movie called Guns Akimbo. So I don’t know about crazy, but arguably you’re pretty prophetic.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) On this LP, you chose to cover Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” Initially that was a shock for some people, but it fits the mood of the collection wonderfully and you really give the song the haunting and eerie mood that its lyrics rightfully deserve. Why this particular track, and did you consider any other songs?
Alexis Mincolla – Initially, I really hated the idea of doing a cover, as I’m not really into karaoke and I certainly didn’t want to cover a song that I really liked because I’d probably just ruin it. So, I developed a set of criteria for the song choice which was a huge hit from the last decade that had lyrics that, once processed through our Industrial sentiments, would become menacing and fucked up. I also wanted it to be something really unexpected and not some other Industrial song from the ‘80s.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly fits that bill—it is menacing and fucked up, for sure. Now, clearly you’re very opinionated on socio-political matters in the country, but on Metawar you never blatantly walk a party line; it’s a careful dance to do in these divisive times. Do you feel that providing some food for thought is more powerful than naming names?
Alexis Mincolla – Yes, and I believe there is a non-conformist space between the right and left that exists and hasn’t yet been identified by corporations to entirely exploit. I wanted to show that this space exists and people from the entire political spectrum can relate to what we’re talking about here. Things aren’t as blue and red as they may seem, and you don’t have to allow yourself to be pinned to one side or the other by virtue of getting caught up in the groupthink.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. At the end of the day, there’s a ton of intelligent thought offered up throughout the album, but it is still a Rock album and those should be enjoyable, too. What do you hope your fans are taking away from their time with the material?
Alexis Mincolla – If it makes people think, even for just a minute, I’ll be happy. If they want to just bang their heads and not think at all, I’ll also be happy.
Cryptic Rock – Speaking of headbanging, do you have a favorite song off the album to perform live?
Alexis Mincolla – I really enjoy doing “American Landfill” because it’s just so immense and pissed.
Cryptic Rock – Immense and pissed is the band in a nutshell. To ask the question that no doubt someone is begging to have answered: When might we expect the follow-up to Metawar? Have you started writing any new material yet?
Alexis Mincolla – We are getting back into the studio right now, as we’re going to make the most of this quarantine now that the future of touring is so up in the air.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, sadly, your European tour with Carnifex, The Browning, and Skold was cancelled due to COVID-19. That said, is there a light of hope that there might be a future 3Teeth/Skold collaboration?
Alexis Mincolla – Nothing really in the books but Tim and I have been talking a lot lately, but mostly about firearms as we’re both big supporters of 2A and I’ve been building some new AR-15s while quarantined. We’re supposed to go shooting together soon, so maybe we’ll talk about it more then.
Cryptic Rock – That would be an incendiary collaboration. Last question. If you are fan of either, what are some of your favorite Horror and/or Sci-Fi films?
Alexis Mincolla – Yeah! I really enjoy both genres especially when they overlap. I really love movies like Event Horizon (1997), Annihilation (2018), The Platform (2019), and the list could really go on, but those are the first three that popped in my head.