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Mishaps, difficulties, and setbacks: the tour start of the US outfit 3TEETH could have run much smoother. A near-arrest, a drummer with a broken leg, a cancelled gig, technical problems – things could not have been worse. But also hardly more exciting. Being on the road as support for Ministry automatically means that the journey – taking place in parallel to the release of the third studio album Metawar – will by far outshine any adventure holiday. The shooting stars of the Industrial Metal scene will never forget their tour through Europe, that’s for sure. We sat down with frontman Alexis Mincolla right after their show in Oberhausen on July 9th

What was it like for you tonight? You had to deal with technical issues at the beginning of the show …

Our drummer broke his foot last night and it looks so bad. We have to go to hospital tonight. We have two more shows on this European tour and then two months of touring back in America – with only one day off in between. So, this is a problem.

But Justin managed fine tonight …
Yes, he did, but that just makes it worse. Because you get painkillers, you play the show – but the next day, it’s worse. Two months of that – you can’t get away with that, so we have to figure out a solution. 

3teeth live 2019 by daniela vorndran1

Obviously, you’re facing a bunch of problems right now. You also had trouble when immigration into the UK as the tour kicked off. What was the reason for that?
It was so stupid and complicated. We flew into Gatwick, coming from Berlin, because we started the tour there, and we’ve had a few drinks on the way. When we came off the airport, having a good time, we saw no lines at the immigration [counter, ed.], which is run by machines where you’re just scanning your passport, and we all got through. Andrew couldn’t find his passport, just when the immigration staff came over and asked “what are you guys doing here and where did you get your stamps?” 
We explained that we’re a band and that the machines stamped our passports. He said that we were not supposed to go through the machine line but to go all the way to the other side where there is a human that stamps the passports. Well, we didn’t see that. 
We asked if we could go over now, but he said no and that we already immigrated into the country illegally – and that we cannot come back in, because we had left the airport. We explained that we’re at the airport still, but he declined and informed us that we cannot play in this country. We asked what would happen if we did and he said that they’ll [the police, ed.] come there and arrest us. And we’d not be allowed to play in the UK ever again. 

3teeth live 2019 by daniela vorndran2

What did you do? 
In this case, you have to leave the country and come back in. With a proper stamp. So you know what we had to do the next day? We had to drive to France. Drive all the way to Dover, get on the train through the Eurotunnel – and had to wait seven hours for the next train to come. So we waited there and then they told us that we have to wait two hours in France to legally come back in. So two more hours in France. This is how this tour started. So fucked-up. 

That was a shitty start. And the technical issues tonight …
Oh, that was nothing! That was just me giving my drummer more time in between the songs because his foot hurt. 

"It is really awesome to be out here with Ministry!" – Alexis Mincolla

Are you aware of the fact that quite many people are here to see 3TEETH tonight – not only to see Ministry with a random support act?

I try to not think about that too much, because I just want to play the show and have a good time. And it is really awesome to be out here with Ministry! But I don’t want to get caught up in considerations of how many people are here for us and how many people are here for them. If I walk out there and if it is a good crowd and they’re into it, I have a good time.

Tonight, the stage was comparatively small and crammed with instruments. Are you still fine with that? I mean, you played huge stadiums with Tool and Rammstein …
I don’t care if it’s 20 or 20.000 people. If it is a 25-foot-stage or a 200-foot-stage. I just don’t care. I just want to play and have fun. 

It’s no secret that Ministry is an important influence for you. Is Al, after you toured together and got to know him personally, still an icon for you?

Even more so! Before this tour we went out together, he invited me to sushi. This was the first time we really hung out. And maybe we had two bites of sushi, but we drank like seven bottles of sake. After that, we had to go over to his house and do an interview together. We had the most hilarious time! And it was almost like he was testing me, to see what I was made of. Can you get fucked up? Is it still cool? 
And I said to him: “Al, without you I wouldn’t do what I do”. He is probably the single greatest influence for me. I was listening to Psalm 69 when I was 14 years old. It was very formative upon my human psychology at that time. And for me, to be able to hang out with him now, consider him like my peer, that’s an honour. 

What is Al Jourgensen like? 
He is a very magical creature. When you meet him, it’s special. He is on a different wavelength of human being. Like a Keith Richards or someone like that. I mean – how is Keith Richards still smoking and drinking?! And he is still the best! Al is cut from that same cloth as Keith Richards.

"I'm not here to cure cancer, I'm out to make Rock shows.“ – Alexis Mincolla

This is your most extensive tour so far. Have you had a cabin collar yet or is it still cool for you? 

Yeah, it is! You know, I'm not out here to cure cancer, I'm out here to make Rock shows! If it is not fun, what the fuck is the point of doing this?! If people have nine-to-five jobs and they’re going out on a concert, lose their mind and go crazy – if that is not fun for me, then it’s not fun for them. So, of course it is fun. It has to be fun!

You’re on the road a lot. What was your weirdest experience so far? 
There are so many things, I don’t know what’s the weirdest. I really cannot say. The weirdness never stops. Perpetual cascading infinite weirdness.

Then maybe pick one weird thing.
I’ll give you a very diet story, which can be told on record. Getting into Canada sometimes is a hassle for Americans. Because if you have a DUI, which is Driving Under The Influence, they won’t let you in into Canada. Chase has that issue. And they don’t like Metal Bands. So we thought one time that it would be a good idea to dress up like a country band; so we all were wearing cowboy hats and these blazers and the boots. And we showed up there with our instruments and our band’s name, 3TEETH, which kind of sounds like redneck anyways, like 3 Ts, and somehow someway they like “oh yeah, come on in, country music, heck yeah!”. So we got in there and there is a picture that exists of that somewhere. That was one of that moments that a completely shitty idea worked amazing!

In the course of your career, you slightly changed your musical direction. From the more electronic Numb-style of your debut over the more stadium-rock-orientated second longplayer to the new album Metawar, which is your most melodic and song-oriented album so far. Was that a natural process or planned from the start? 

I just don’t want to write the same album twice. I have very little interest in that. And as a band who tours a lot and plays with other bands, you draw inspiration from people like the Rammsteins, the Tools, you learn what works in really big spaces. As a band, when you play in front of 20000 people, it’s like drinking the blood of a dragon. You wake up the next day and want that blood again. You get addicted to that. So you’re trying to write music that might be able to fill that level of space. 
For us, the third album sounds like a band that has been on the road a lot and played a lot together. As opposed to the first album. Where we sat in our houses and send files via internet. This now is a band in a room, writing as a band who toured a lot. So Metawar sounds more like a band than the albums before. And it sounds like a band who has been fortunate enough to tour with really big bands – having the crazy-bastard-idea of maybe becoming a big band themselves. With obviously no guarantees about that.

What is the future perspective for 3TEETH? 
The future for us it to be able to play shows with the level of production that we want. Every time you open for a band, it is really cool, but if there is one thing you learn as an opener, it’s to be as not under foot of the headliner. If you don’t want them to be stepping somewhere and they step on your shit, you have to be very ok with knowing that it is not about you. Because it is not. It is about those guys. It’s like respect for your elders. So you don’t go and say “hey, can I put a bunch of fucking lights on your stage?”. You go light. You don’t want to upstage. 
The next stage is obviously for us to headline the tour here in Europe in February 2020. So for that we’ll be able to bring a production with us. That’ll be cool.

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Interview: Catrin Nordwig
Live photos: Daniela Vorndran

3teeth metawar album cover artwork

Agent Side Grinder
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For not a few bands, the loss of the singer inevitably means the end of the career. When Kristoffer Grip announced his departure from Agent Side Grinder in early 2018 – as he lacked the time needed for a band, as it was officially stated – the shock was correspondingly great: for Johan Lange and Peter Fristedt, who had to digest the departure of Thobias Eidevald (bass) and Henrik Sunbring (synths) at the same time, just as for a part of the fans, who lacked the necessary imagination for an adequate replacement. Too strong was the personality of the great charismatic Grip, too expressive his voice, which seemed to simply perfect the music of Agent Side Grinder and was rightly put on par with Ian Curtis’.

But the Swedes did it! Emanuel Åström is not a workaround, not a copy of his predecessor. His singing is more variable and creates quite different moods. Although Agent Side Grinder’s new longplayer “A/X” is closer to the penultimate album and less organic than the last, with Emanuel as singer they have been able to expand their sound cosmos once again. “A/X” holds their extremely high level and at the same time presents Agent Side Grinder with completely new facets. We talked with founder member Johan and the new guy in town.

First, let’s take a trip into the past. Johan, since there have not been that many interviews after Kristoffer left the band, please tell us how this came about. Did it hit you completely out of the blue?
Johan: It came as a total surprise. But in retrospect, there were some warning signs. In 2016 Kristoffer didn’t want to tour as much as before for example. After we got the message, Peter and I were in shock for a couple of days and went into a mutual depression.

Many fans didn’t think ASG would be able to continue without Kristoffer. Guess you must have been aware of that, haven’t you? Did this fact made you insecure or affected you in what you wanted to do?
J: Of course we were aware of that. Losing a singer is probably the worst that can happen to any band. And to lose another two members on top of that! But on the other hand, Peter and I have always been the core of ASG and also been confident in our music, we knew our strength. So in just a few weeks we started re-arranging our back catalogue and writing new material for an upcoming album. And we quite immediately had a clear picture how we wanted the new ASG to sound. And to prove everybody wrong became a big driving force for us.

“To prove everybody wrong became a big driving force for us.”

The lyrics of The Great Collapse seem to deal with Kristoffer’s withdrawal from ASG, the time of renewal that followed and, finally, the new beginning with Emanuel. Was that your intention?
J: Sort of. It’s been a turbulent time for the band, me personally and for the world in general I guess – collapses are everywhere, to speak in metaphors. So you could interpret the lyrics in many ways.

Where do you, Johan/Peter and Emanuel, know each other from? And how did it happen that Emanuel joined ASG as new singer? And in this context: Emanuel, what was it like for you being asked to join ASG?
J: We got to know Emanuel when he promoted an ASG concert in his hometown of Uppsala back in early 2016. A few years later, when we desperately were seeking a new singer, we bumped into him at a Lebanon Hanover show in Stockholm. We didn't know he could sing, but a few days later we met in our studio and the rest is history.
Emanuel: It happened so fast I almost didn’t have time to react. But I’m honoured, of course.

Emanuel, rumour has it that you were a huge fan of the band before joining them, is that true? And what did you do before you became a member of ASG?
E: I saw ASG for the first time in 2012 and thought “that’s a great band, I want to steal their sound” and I’ve been following their work ever since. Before joining I’ve been in a variety of bands, mostly guitar-driven music, but I started experimenting with synths and electronic stuff with two of my best friends and long-time musical collaborators in 2014, a project still waiting to be finished.

agent side grinder a x ax album cover artwork

Was it easy for you guys to adjust to each other?
E: For me it was a process of getting to know their way of working as well introducing mine. But on a personal level we’re a good match, so the workflow came naturally.
J: I agree. Right from the start the collaboration felt very natural and creative.

The new album is entitled A/X – like from Alpha to Omega, from A to Z? Or what’s the idea behind that?
E: It was inspired by the new logo that industrial designer Peter Lundbergh made for us. A symbol for a new start. A as in Agent, X as a variable, the unknown, a chromosome open to mutation. From A to the unknown perhaps.

“I think the modern Post Punk feels a little worn-out at the moment.”

A/X goes back to the more complex electronic sound of your earlier works, as on Hardware for example, and features less of the Post-Punk elements of Alkimia. Why so? Does it have to do with bass player Thobias Eidevald leaving the band?
J: Yes, partly true. But Agent Side Grinder was probably going in a more electronic direction anyway. We decided pretty early to skip the bass, at least on stage, and replace it with fat synth bass lines instead. And personally I think the modern Post Punk feels a little worn-out at the moment, we rather experiment more and push ourselves in new directions.

In Decompression there are slight hints to Lassigue Bendthaus to be heard – an homage to this band or pure coincidence?
J: That’s coincidence I guess. I thought it had more of a The Klinik vibe or perhaps Front 242. My idea was to make a claustrophobic, percussion-based track with a lot of drum fills and programmed double bass drums, almost Black Metal style.

Soundwise, The Great Collapse and MM/CM do remind of Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine era. Did you use the same equipment as Martin Gore did?
J: Yeah, maybe. I mean, he has a few synths to choose from and so do we. Analogue equipment has always been the main tool for ASG. But we rarely try to copy other bands. But sometimes you slide into DM territory, it’s no secret I’m a big DM fan, but not necessarily the Delta Machine era.

In Doppelgänger and Inner Noise, the theme of a split personality is striking. What fascinates you about it?
J: Well the whole concept about the split personality aligned very well with the phase the band was going through. It was a suiting theme for both the music and lyrics. I was also watching Twin Peaks: The Return around that time, which also had a doppelganger theme which inspired me.

In Stripdown a saxophone is to be heard dominantly – an almost forgotten relict from 80s pop music which seems to experience a renaissance these days. How did you come to use a saxophone in it?
E: The original plan was to have Gustav play one of his more experimental effect-heavy, free jazz solos. But in the studio we asked him to try something in an 80’s style and we really loved the way it came out.

Also, there are quite many acid sounds used on A/X. Why so?
J: We thought it would be cool to expand our sounds on this record. And those late 80s/early 90s sounds provided that feverish and clubby vibe we were looking for. We have used the TB-303 previously, but took more advantage of it now.

Does it become something of a ritual featuring slow songs with female guest singers as last song on your albums? On Alkimia it was Last Rites featuring Nicole Sabouné, this time it is Wounded Star featuring Sally Dige …
J: Hmm ... it may seem so. But sometimes the songs require a female voice. Initially we sang Wounded Star ourselves, but didn’t really reach the vulnerability and sensitivity we were looking for. We knew Sally from before and were very grateful she wanted to do it. It turned out perfect and was the obvious album-closer.

What are your plans for the coming months?
J: A/X is released in North America in June by Metropolis Records. Then we’ll be doing summer festivals, including Amphi Festival in July. In October and November we’ll go on a longer European tour.

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Interview: Catrin Nordwig & Jörn Karstedt
Foto: Ludvig Lindqvist

Agent Side Grinder live in Deutschland 2019:
05.06. FR-Tours, Aucard de Tours Festival
20.07. GER-Cologne, Amphi Festival
16.08. HUN-Mátrafüred, Mátra-Sástó
17.10. SWE-Gothenburg, Oceanen
18.10. DK-Copenhagen, Vega
19.10. DK-Kolding, Nightmare Culture
20.10. GER-Berlin, Urban Spree
21.10. GER-Jena, Café Wagner
22.10. POL-Wroclaw, D.K. Luksus
24.10. GER-Nuremberg, Der Cult
25.10. GER-Esslingen, Komma Kultur
29.10. FR-Paris, La Boule Noire
30.10. GB-London, The victoria
02.11. GER-Hamburg, Hafenklang
07.12. RU-Woscow, Synthetic Snow Festival

Rhys Fulber und Blush Response
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Some collaborations come as a surprise, although they are quite obvious. For example, because the participants are harmonizing extremely well musically or publishing on the same label. In the case of Rhys Fulber and Blush Response both comes together – a fortunate circumstance that results in the EP Corruption Of Form which is going to be released on April 4 on Sonic Groove, the label of star DJ Adam X.

Apoptygma Berzerk
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Where’s the journey going for Apoptygma Berzerk? Not an easy question to answer. The big and small course corrections in the band’s history supersede speculations about the prospective orientation of the Norwegians around Stephan Groth. Anyway: the last regular studio album turns ten. Much has happened since Rocket Science – in Groth’s life, in the scene as well as in the music world as a whole.

Pankow Band
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Some bands are playing live only because they want or have to promote an album, others do it without a specific reason and without significant lead times. The organizers of Herzschlag, mostly Italians who live in Berlin, are basically only inviting acts and DJs to their events which they themselves are passionate about.

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Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht. Destroy what destroys you. With that song Ton Steine Scherben, one of the most influential German rock bands of the Seventies, once expressed the feelings of an angry, loud and politicized youth. About 30 years later, at the turn of the Millennium, when Ladytron began their career, not only the world had changed, but also the music. Ladytron's comparatively smooth-sounding electronic pop is certainly not a call to revolt, though the name of one of their best-known songs, Destroy Everything You Touch, could definitely be interpreted that way.
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