Premature to touring Europe recently, Alexis Mincolla, the lead singer from the transgressive Los Angeles-based band 3TEETH called me to share the illustrative and inspiring details about their incredible visual art skills, background in design, starting the group two years ago, allowing their creative process to be organic and whether or not they’re looking to collaborate with other artists. In addition, Mincolla’s unique look has garnered attention from the likes of New York Magazine and Gawker, where he is pictured standing next to the one and only Tavi Gevinson, owner of Style Rookie, so I asked the 3TEETH lead to elaborate on his signature look.
You guys pay a lot of attention to the visuals. When it comes to imagery, it’s well shown through your videos, the logos and the Instagram page. Where does it come from?
3TEETH: I have a background in Visual Arts, chase paints and Andrew is great at Visual Arts as well; so all of this works especially well when it comes to building the concept of our songs. “Master of Decay” for examples was born out of an image that I created that Xavier just started doing sound design for. When you’re creating something between four people all you really have is metaphor so it helps a lot to have visual parameters to guide those metaphors and so we can point and say… “make it sound more like this or more like that.” We also really wanted to make a project mature as fast as possible and with today’s industry, you have to have a strong visual identity. Unfortunately, music rarely stands alone these days. I know some amazingly talented singer-songwriters who’ve sort of been condemned to obscurity because they lack some sort of pervasive visual identity to marry to their sound. This probably has something to do with the order of operation on the how the internet works as I don’t even think that the internet is very audio first.
3TEETH: Artists have to build up an image to get someone to even click on and play… You have to build up that imagery for people to say,” hey, I can relate to that, maybe ill listen to it” type of thing.
3TEETH: For us, we treat it all as one big project.
Recently, we read that the project is more transgressive.
3TEETH: Well with our music, there is sort of a great debate with what the hell is even Industrial and everyone seems to have a different opinion. For is there is a certain transgressive quality that defines it in, at least in our music. There is certainly a lot of anti-systemic aspects of our music that serves as a reflection to a collapsing industrial society. So yes we like to think of industrial music as being a way to suck the poison out of a mass production society and spit it back in its own face. That being said I’m unsure if transgressive is the proper word because what is really left to transgress against. So in the end we have fun with that and it feels like we’ve found a nice little spot in the music landscape. When I was a kid growing up, I listened to music that somewhat felt dangerous. There was a lot of sincere “fuck this shitty system” energy that transferred between the crowd and the artist and you had that feeling that a riot might break out because these bands were actually popular and had big crowds. Then it seemed like a lot of that somehow disappeared.
3TEETH: I’m not entirely sure why it fell off so hard but nowadays people really seem to like these vapid party time distraction songs, which is also cool sometimes.
Yes they are. Do you guys have a band that you’re in common with or influenced you as a group or individually?
3TEETH: We have a lot of diverse taste in the band but with me personally, I was really into Ministry and heavily influenced by them when I was younger.
You guys got together a year ago? Right?
3TEETH: We got together almost two years ago actually. We spent a lot of time pencilling it out I guess. Developing a writing process between 4 people is sort of like creating your own language and the first album is really just us learning how to make shit together. So yeah we probably took about 6 months of just designing visuals and throwing shit against the walls and seeing what stuck before we even had our first song. Half of the stuff we wrote didn’t even make it on the album and we wrote a 15 track album. A song had to make it through 4 very picky people’s approval which is tough but I guess that’s how we ensured that we would at least like our own album which was our only real goal with our debut release. The fact that anyone else liked our album was a total bonus as it hit #8 on iTunes top alums and now somehow we’re leaving for a European tour all of April. Go figure.
Wow! That sounds exciting. That’s amazing.
3TEETH: Yeah, we feel very fortunate about the whole thing. If all of this were to disappear tomorrow, we would still be totally cool about it how far this went.
Nice. How long have you’ve been making music?
3TEETH: This is my first music project.
3TEETH: Yeah, it is.
Wow! It doesn’t sound apparent. It doesn’t sound like it is.
3TEETH: That’s a testament to Xavier, Andrew and Chase really as they’re such amazing and talented musicians, singers/songwriters. For me, I really just focus on writing the lyrics, concepts and a lot of the over all vision. I’m just now really starting to find my voice which is exciting as our sophomore release will be a 10 fold progression.
We really like the organic aspect of the band. It feels like everything is supposed to happen when it suppose to.
3TEETH: Yeah, most definitely it’s like that at times.
If you had to pick one 3TEETH song. What’s your favorite 3TEETH song and why?
3TEETH: Good question. I’m going with “Dissolve” because I like playing it live and it’s just something about the crowd response to it and how they get crazy when we perform it.
Are you guys looking to collaborate with other musicians? Perhaps from other genres or Industrial?
3TEETH: Yeah. We’d love to do something with a hip hop artist as there has been an interesting relationship developing between the two music genomes. Look at that Yeezus album for example. It was produced by Gessafelstien and the New York Times called it as much of an industrial rock album as it was a hip hop album. So there is clearly a lot of crossover there which you can also see in the street goth aesthetic that popped up over the past couple years. SO yeah we’re definitely down to work with other genres and artist, just as long the initial message and purpose is still there. I can think back to when Anthrax and Public Enemy did something together back in the 90’s which was pretty ground breaking. So question is who is today’s Public Enemy because thats who i’d like to work with.
Personally we liked Mindless Self Indulgence. The lead guy is Jimmy Urine.
3TEETH: Oh, yeah. I’ve heard of them. I definitely have to check them out some more.
Let’s talk about your look because you have a very distinct look. If we were to see you anywhere else in the world, we would recognize it as you. Has your look always been that way or has it transformed over time?
3TEETH: I’ve always had a distinct look, I think… I’ve had a moustache for the better part of nine years because I’m Sicilian and can’t help it. So maybe the level of visual intensity just amplified over time. That’s just how it happened. I don’t know.
Is the band based in Los Angelesl?
3TEETH: Yeah. We’re all here, we’re just scattered all over Los Angeles through downtown…we’re primarily downtown whenever we are rehearsing or recording. Sometimes in the Valley too.
Will you have any shows coming up in New York?
3TEETH: No we don’t, but we would love too. It probably won’t be until the Summer. There’s a couple of excited things on the book for this summer but I shouldn’t even mention this because I don’t want us to get jinxed. So yeah, nothing’s set in stone for New York, but we would love to.
If you have any shows coming up in New York, you should definitely let us know. When you first heard the name GRUNGECAKE, what came to mind?
3TEETH: A moldy sponge cake. I don’t know why. I thought about the color green and how you all use that color for the logo. It’s a very distinctive color of green and you don’t see that too often, close to like a Key-Lime Pie green. It’s actually a very nice color compared to “snot” green. But Slime green is not that bad either.
What would you like for listeners to take away from the project, if anything?
3TEETH: To be honest, I want our sound to be polysemic. I really don’t want to tell you what you should expect… I’m not trying to take you anywhere, you should take yourself somewhere. So it comes down to, if you want to listen and extract things from it for your own personal take. That’s awesome. If not; if you just want to bang your head to it. That’s cool too.
What speck of advice would you give to anyone that is trying make into the music industry?
3TEETH: If you’re going to do something, do it passionately or just don’t do it at all… There’s a lot of people that goes out there and try to be a player of the game. People that write music that has no passion in it, compared to the ones that do have that passion kind of dilutes the concept of music in general. Oh and I don’t want to bash EDM, but maybe there is already enough EDM being made so be daring and try something new you young and up coming brilliant music minds you. Don’t chase the industry, carve your own path and find that piece of you that makes you different.
Is there anything else that you want to say? Do you have anything that you want to make clear perhaps any misconceptions about anything?
3TEETH: Not really. Like I said before, I want people to take away from what they will. I don’t want to impose our will onto anybody. There’s no right way to listen to music. Just feel free to feel free.