EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Steve Austin from Today is the Day

Today Is The Day’s groundbreaking sound is full of intensity and trademarked odd time signatures, a fiercely militant rhythm section, rage-driven vocals and thought-provokingly lyrical content derived from harsh realism, the chaotic struggle for sanity, the enduring torment of painful memories and the determination of triumphant willpower. The trio of musical geniuses whose current lineup consists of long standing front man and noted music producer Steve Austin on lead vocals and guitar, Sean Conkling on bass and Jeff Lohrber on drums, have completed their tenth album, entitled Animal Mother, which is to be violently unleashed upon the world October 14th.

Steve, who was faced with the difficult task of coping with the death of his mother during recording sessions, reflected on making the album as both strenuous as well as liberating and promises an intimately honest and dynamic record out of his tireless efforts in the studio. “The time period of when this album was made, following the death of my mother, there were a lot of really weird introspective things going on in my head. I had to more or less pull the plug on my mom and it took about two days for her to die and during that time, being as massively distraught as I was, it almost felt like it couldn’t get any worse than it was. It was like living in a fucking Clive Barker horror movie…but then it was even worse after she passed away…So for months afterwards when we completed the music for the album I was in a terrible state. I felt truly awful, like really fucked up and pissed off. And this perpetual cycle of disorder and psychosis kept repeating itself because I was chasing something. And what I was chasing was trying to put together the album of my life as far as the most honest clarity of a true statement that I could possibly put together. And with me living through all that stuff that happened with my mom dying, it brought together a lot of things that had to with mortality that, ironic enough, goes back to the whole premise of what the band is all about in the name, which is Today Is The Day.”

Austin continues: “So every edit, every vocal line was under scrutiny by me to a great degree because I felt like people are going to listen to this band, and they believe in it and they care about it, well they deserve not only my best but they deserve beyond my best. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t feel well or I’m unhealthy doing it or anything else, I personally don’t matter right now. What matters is the album! Due to the nature of how I am, I’m never satisfied with what I do. I always feel like it’s pure shit and I always think that it can be better and I want to try harder to make it better. So it turned out being more than just 18-hour days – it was 20-hour days, and you know at the end of it, the really satisfying thing was that I didn’t want to let it escape from my fingertips. Turning it in, I realized that I don’t think there’s anything else I could’ve done anything to improve it.”

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He adds, “All of the songs have their own personality, their own statement and their own theme. I feel like if you’re only into extreme grindcore, extreme death metal or only one facet of all of those kinds of music then it might take you a minute to accept what you’re listening to. Because at any given moment there’s shit that is violent, ugly, super heavy and extreme to the max, but then there’s also other moments where things have a ghostly, haunting kind of a vibe and even a tender kind of nature. The point is this: it’s heavy, and for all intents and purposes it’s heavy metal but to me what heavy metal means is focusing on things that are relative to human nature and it can be emotionally moving and constructive, or emotionally painful and destructive.”

 

The hauntingly poetic observation concerning the true horror of reality is identified as one of many primary themes behind the lyrics, which can also serve as a tool of triumph and strength, as philosophically stated by Austin. “A lot of disturbing, crazy and heavy things happened to me as a small kid. So growing up I always had [an affinity] towards things that were more on the dark side…When we started making songs, they were basically in the form of an attack towards the audience and towards the people that were listening to what we were doing. The idea was to hurt them and to make them wake up to what’s going on, or to leave the show we were playing.”

Austin goes on to say, “The characteristics of Today Is the Day records embodies the unpleasant truth that there is an impending doom and there are malicious things going on all around, but one has to look inside to find strength and overcome these things that are terrible, horrible and difficult to deal with. There’s always that balance of light and dark that’s incorporated in our records. At any given moment you could hear something that makes you say, ‘What the fuck is this shit right now? It sounds so fucking creepy.’ And then a few minutes later you could hear something that subliminally makes you want to jump out of your seat and go do something important in your life. It’s that aspect of the band that I feel is the most important.”

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Also pointing out the significant metaphorical reflections that can be found in horror culture that directly foreshadow real life, he comments, “The Exorcist could be a pretty rational comparison to Animal Mother. Oddly enough, crossed with Animal Mother when the priest is feeling guilty because he put his mother in a nursing home and she died and he starts having these fucked up dreams where she’s saying ‘Why did you do this? Why did you put me in here?’ And if you were listening to shit like that and being around that nonstop for a really long time it has a weird effect on you. And after it was all over with, I didn’t even know how to act. I just felt like I’m supposed to go back in the control room and do an edit, but it’s like your shit is done, it has been turned in. And its fucking weird man, I’ve made 10 albums and I don’t know what it was about this one, but I feel like that whole mortality thing, like ‘You may never make another album again,’ just became the most important thing in the world to me. I felt like I owed it to not only myself but I felt like I owed it to Today Is The Day fans.”

In regards to Today Is The Day keeping their frantically re-inventive approach to their sound alive and kicking, Austin remarks, “I have no interest in reliving or replaying any of the kind of shit we’ve done before, and I also don’t want to sound like any other band because that would be a dishonest form of artistic expression…The different factors that affect you in life, the things that happen to you, they all motivate you. Be it positive or negative. And they push you to do different things, so in Today Is The Day, we never wanted to draw from just one idea and have that become a template for the band.”

He concludes: “For me, everything is about doing something original and new, because if you’re doing the same thing all the time, you’re not really trying to express yourself as a band. Human beings DON’T feel the same way all the time. Situations change, people change. So, kind of as a standard when we’re writing songs, if any part that we come up with reminds us of previous TITD music or another band we just avoid playing it. I think in the end it’s been an asset because it’s kept the band fresh…It gives the band the opportunity to be able to reinvent itself every time we make an album.”

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