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Lex Mincolla (3Teeth)

Interview with Lex Mincolla from 3Teeth
by Kyle Scott at 30 April 2018, 11:54 AM

3TEETH is an industrial rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Formed in 2013, they are known for their unique brand of industrial metal, thought provoking imagery and incredible stage show. Comprised of Alexis Mincolla (vocals), Xavier Swafford (keys), Andrew Means (modular synth), Chase Brawner (guitars) and Justin Hanson (drums), 3TEETH was hand selected by TOOL’s Adam Jones in 2015 to open for TOOL’s first North American tour in over two years. 3TEETH has also toured with RAMMSTIEN, DANZIG, HIM, and MINISTRY to name a few. Now signed to Century Media Records, the band is readying the release their third studio album in late 2018. Metal Temple writer Kyle Scott caught up with singer Lex Mincolla following a live show in Brooklyn, New York.

Let’s get started. So! You embedded yourself in your local music scene in LA with the creation of Lil’ Death and all. What made you decide you needed to form a band? Like, what message were you dying to get out there to the public?

I dunno if it was a message that… we probably needed to get out, as much as it was just a natural progression of what we were creating. It was just sort of like… Lil’ Death was the primordial black ooze that created 3TEETH in the way that it brought together… It created a forum for like-minded people to get together and create something. When we first started writing together, it was nothing more than for our own entertainment. It was what we wanted to hear. It was for our own creative association. It had nothing to do with anyone else, nothing to do with putting music out there or anything. So, I guess it was born I guess a little bit out of, um… A little selfish interest. So it wasn’t necessarily about “Oh, I need to get a message out!” it was more like, “Hey let’s write a fucking industrial record that we wanna hear!”.

Nice! So, I was gonna ask when you began it as sort of an indulgent art project, did you expect to get this far with it?

Absolutely not! The whole thing is sort of one of those scenarios where… I mean shit, we’ve opened up for TOOL and RAMMSTEIN and some of the biggest bands in the world and like, if it disappeared tomorrow, I’d still be happy with it. I don’t really hold anything so sacred about what I’m doing… To me I’m just trying to have fun and stuff.

A lot of your lyrics, they dabble in occultism, philosophy, symbolism, etc. Which of these themes do you feel defines you the most in terms of your beliefs? Or, do you believe in something completely different?

I mean, my beliefs waver from like week to week, month to month, day to day. It’s one of those things that… y’know, I like to say in my lyrics… “I can’t be the one who sets you free/there’s no place for you to follow me” so, certainly don’t take anything that I say as an absolute, I’m just experimenting with the human experience, and the idea that it’s like a giant buffet of social-political occult ideology and elements of the human experience that for me essentially comprised of what I feel on a day to day basis. So, I can’t say like one is more important than the other, cause to me, it’s just riding a fucking weird wave.

I know you said your debut album centered around Man vs. Man, and Shutdown .exe is about Man vs. Himself, for your third album will you be looking at Man vs. Nature or will that be like, too obvious?

Y’know, it’s funny, ‘cause it’s one of those things that-that’s the question that I have been asking myself, so that’s a very good question, kudos to you! It’s not as trite as like, “Cool, we have the fucking one to one to one to two and one to three”… there’s certainly elements of: Where do we go? What do we explore? What type of ideas are we looking to bring into our – get the fuck outta here… \[not at me, at someone else in the hall with us]

Sorry… What-what type of terrain is there to, A: transgress, ‘cause there’s nothing left to transgress, and B: What’s left to be said that hasn’t already been said in like the complete fucking vomitosis of \[the] information age that’s like-like what do we not have access to?

I have a question about that in a second, but first, tell me how your collaboration with H09909 started out?

Y’know, it’s funny, it was pretty organic. The whole thing was just one of those things like… we talked about doing it. And it was a basic follow through and that we just did it. It was like, we started writing a bunch of the tracks where it was like, “Hey, yo yo yo, here’s an idea where you can jump in on this”, and it just sort of fell into place. Like we got in the studio?

Uh huh?

It was easy! It just felt natural, it was one of those things that just happened and… I dunno, that’s when he said “Let’s go on fuckin’ tour”…

Yeah, how have they been as tour mates so far?

The best! I mean, they’re like family, we all fuckin hang out every night and fuckin’… smoke a bunch of weed and play some video games, talk a bunch of shit, it’s like um…

It’s sounds epic!

It’s just easy. It’s an intuitive level of co-habitation in which we all questioned how it was gonna go down.

Do you miss anything more than most when you’re on tour?

Um… Here, hold this for me \[his phone]. Like are you asking what I miss the most when I’m on tour?

Yeah, yeah.

I mean, I miss my bed. I miss certain people, I miss certain luxuries of life, I miss like um… I mean, touring is a weird thing. The best thing I can compare it to is sort of like going out to sea. It’s adventure, it’s discomfort, but it’s \[these] things that are really gonna remind you who the fuck you are and what you’re made of, ‘cause it’s not easy! Especially not the level of constant touring that we’ve been doing. It’s brutal!

What do you think makes your job the most difficult?

What makes my job the most difficult…? That’s an interesting question… The double-edged sword of drugs and alcohol. ‘Cause like, you need ‘em sometimes as like a “Break glass in case of emergency” shit, but then  \[it’s]also the kind of thing that’s gonna fuck you over in the long run.

Yeah… Alright, this is a bit of a long one. So, what’s going on in the world right now is obviously being appropriated by other industrial bands, yet your lyrics don’t come right out and start parroting what’s being said on the news, they’re a lot more subversive. However, I’ve noticed that your music videos, graphic designs and memes, they do directly reflect, like the current political/social climate. Y’know, from criticizing Trump, to poking fun at school shooters, to humanity’s general laziness or indifference to technology takeover. So why that contrast?

I think that question might be semi-loaded but let me try and answer it… I think there was like a slight compliment on the front of that question. It was like “Oh, maybe your lyrics aren’t as trite as everyone else” was that part of it? Or was that not part of it, did I make that up?

Sometimes I say things that may come off as condescending or insulting by accident…

Oh no! I wasn’t insulted by that. What I will say is this…Alright, rephrase that question for me.

Alright… I’ve just noticed that your lyrics don’t come right out and parrot what’s being said on the news, but I’ve noticed that your visual elements, your graphic designs that you post on Facebook’s Operation Mindfuck and the memes that you create, they do reflect the current political climate. I just wanted to know why there’s that kind of…

So here’s my thoughts on that! I think lyrics are slightly more sacred in terms of like how cryptically codified and poetically they should reflect elements of what’s important to the human psyche in the present zeitgeist. But in terms of the visuals, and they all come from the same place because I am creating the visuals, I’m also creating the lyrics, but visually… maybe… they are slightly more lowbrow? And I don’t mean low brow like they’re shittier, but lowbrow in maybe they should have more fire for effect? Because the consistency in which that stream has to be fed with elements like Instagram and facebook, a song is a song. A song is important, a song has lyrics, a song is something that’s like, really well-thought out and takes a lot of time. But a post is a post of feeding a stream of monsters that needs to be fed once in a while, so maybe I feed a lower degradation of quality visually than I do semantically.

Ah… So, I understand industrial is well known for shocking imagery. The best example off the top of my head would be the music video for Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”. Y’know, some of the most disturbing and fucked up visuals around! However, they still have… an air of fiction about them that no matter how insane or unsettling the images got, they were still just, for lack of a better term, pretend. You don’t seem to be in the business of pretending when it comes to the visuals that you use would you say that’s accurate?

I think there’s a huge blurry line between who I am and what I’m portraying, and I think the longer I do this the lines in the sand continue to disappear. And not with any justified intent. But I don’t think I portray things as like gnarly as say what they \[Nine Inch Nails] were doing with that type of behavior, like I don’t think I… I’m not making snuff films, y’know what I mean? But I do think that the way that I feel and the things that I am creating with this music I think are pretty genuine to me.

Yeah, I just wanted to know is it difficult mentally to sift through a bunch of clips to use for your videos?

It is! It is, I mean I think it’s sort of-it makes me feel like… after a while I go to bed that night and I feel like I was like in Guantanamo Bay, experiencing the Ludovico Technique where I’m like, “Oh my god! I feel like…”

The what?

The Ludovico technique is the the… Clockwork Orange! With the eyes like ripped open…?

Oh! Oh God, that!

Yeah like, the media overdose? That’s called the Ludovico technique. Which was an obscure…

So… how do you find yourself coping with stuff like that?

I don’t know if my job is to figure out \[how to] cope with it as much as it is to reflect it. I find myself in a position where I’m not looking to make my life more comfortable at this phase, I’m just looking to sort of create something that might potentially create a larger delivery system for the energy that is sort of conduit though me. And I don’t know where it ends up. I just don’t. But at the end of the day I’m just sort of like… We do have like, a weird unbroken boulevard of green lights that just seem to say “Hey, just keep fucking going, and doing what you’re doing!” So that’s sorta what’s guiding me. The inertia is what’s guiding me more than anything.

Alright… When fan post stuff in Operation Mindfuck of their kids enjoying your music and wearing your merch, so you secretly hope that no one has shown them your videos, yet?

No, I don’t. I don’t think anything we’ve done is that fucked up, so I’m not like… I love the idea of kids watching our shit and I like the idea of our show being like, family friendly enough to bring your fucking kids to it! And I do think it’s important to bring kids to shows and expose kids to cool music. Half the reason I’d do what I would do is because I was fortunate enough to have parents that exposed \[me] to some like, cool… culture to me. So yeah, I don’t secretly wish that they like-I don’t feel that I’m corrupting the youth in any way that is actually bad. I feel that I’m corrupting the youth that is like, exposing the 9 to 5 calm, if anything…

Yeah, I mean… I watched “Closer” on MTV when I was four years old and I turned out okay!

\[laughs] Exactly.

What is something you’ve been learning as you go with 3TEETH?

I think I learn everything as I go. I think there’s like the one key factor, doing what you do at this stage, you know nothing. Learn everything along the way, get better at what you do, stay humble, stay focused, be fucking cool to everyone that you meet, and just be grateful that you’re even here. So, for me the one thing I learned is just never take anything for granted, ‘cause it could all disappear tomorrow.

That’s a good lesson to take away. So, what are some new things you’re experimenting with in the studio?

Vocally, I’m really pushing myself harder and harder ‘cause you can’t write the same record multiple times, and for me, as a vocalist who came into this thing just sort of doing what felt natural to me. I’m really trying to push myself vocally to learn things that are outside of what my comfort zone was. Pushing myself potentially outside of my comfort zone to try and find new space, new territory, new ideas, new range and having a really fucking great time doing it. Y’know, it’s just… we’re working with a new producer and yeah, it’s just fun. Y’know, I can’t say enough about how other artists out there, the one thing I can say is Have fun onstage. If you have fun onstage, everyone else in the fucking room has fun. Otherwise, don’t do it.

Have you run into any limits while recording or writing?

I think the biggest limit that I run into in this project is the speed at which we’re operating. So, it’s like I’m constantly-we’re moving so fast and I feel like I have consolations based upon, “Well, here’s what I wanna do, but I only have three weeks now, ‘cause that’s happening, and now I have to do it this way.” I feel like, I’m constantly limited by the only speed at which I’m attempting to pull shit off. Which is tough, but I guess that’s the point I made.

For the industrial scene in general, is there anything you wish would change? Like What things would you change, what things would you have stay the same?

I think the one thing the industrial scene needs to remember, and I think most scenes, in terms of the ideology of a scene is that… it takes a large amount of gall and balls and fucking guts to get on stage and to perform a thing that you created. And I feel that people love to be critics and love to cut it down and say this is shit, blah blah blah, this is that, this is that, but at the end of the day, anyone who performs in a live scenario, I have the utmost appreciation for. And at the end of the day, this is probably someone who’s taking time out of their life, whether it’d be with their kids, whether it’d be from their workspace, whether it’d be from their wife or loved ones… Anyone! They are taking their time away from that to create a musical contribution for you! To put in your fucking ears whether you like it or not. I guaran-fucking-tee you its important to say, “Hey, I appreciate the time you took out of your day to do that!” And that’s all it is. ‘Cause even at the stage that we’re at, we can barely pay our fucking bills. And if you want fucking music, just fucking support it. ‘Cause it’s dying out there, it’s literally like a fucking wilted leaf. There’s no place to make money off this shit anymore, guys. I promise you. Even at a level it seems, on a perception wise, like, “Woah, they’re killing it!” No one’s killing it anymore. So, that’s all I got to say about that. Scenewise, just be fucking thankful for the fact that you even have any music. And if you have a shitty fucking opinion about it, hold your tongue unless you’re making something better. That’s all I have to say.

That was bloody fantastic!


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