Human Toilet – Band Interview
Tags: Auto > band > Draft > drummer chris > Gary Suarez > Gods Of Fire > Hardcore > human toilet > juvenile humor > music > Punk > record > Seth Diamond > time > titled debut album
Judging by their name alone, Human Toilet seems like some teenagers passing off juvenile humor as a faux group. In the hands of anyone else, that would be true, but vocalist Gary Suarez, guitarist Seth Diamond, and drummer Chris Coluzzi are not taking this band lightly. This NYC hardcore punk outfit are fixing to release their self-titled debut album within the next few months, and judging from an advanced promo I received of their new album, this is one of the break-out bands of 2012. They can pull off quick blasts of fury, as well as slow down for something denser in sound. I had the chance to engage in an entertaining dialogue with Suarez and Diamond at the end of December about how their first album came together and their attempt to appeal to an older fan base.
I want to first discuss how you guys got together. What brought along this collaboration?
Gary Suarez: About two years ago, I wanted to do this project where I parodied the then-forthcoming Limp Bizkit album Gold Cobra. So I wanted to basically come out with an album called Gold Cobra before they did, so I asked some people I knew to help me out with that. It didn?t work out, but what ended up happening was that it was the first time that Seth and I and our drummer Chris (Coluzzi) had gotten in a room together. After Seth and I were doing other musical projects, it all worked out that Chris came back into the room. We found the magic that we didn?t have trying to be Limp Bizkit.
Seth Diamond: One could also say that Gary got a divorce and needed something to do and then ended up writing some pretty great lyrics. Chris and I started hating our band, and decided to form a new one with Gary, because he was bored, we were bored, and we?re in our 30?s. What else are you going to do? You could start a bowling team or start a band named Human Toilet.
How did you guys get all this material together for the first album? Did you jam out ideas or did everybody bring their own ideas into the mix?
Seth Diamond: The way we?ve been writing songs, which is probably the way it?s going to continue in the future, is Gary sends me lyrics and I study them at work. I found a way to get paid to write Human Toilet music. I stare at the lyrics until a hook comes to me, usually in the chorus, and then I write it in my head and then go home and figure it out on the guitar. I make these embarrassing acoustic demos that I send out to the band, where I?m singing and playing everything kind of horribly. One day, I?m terrified that I?m going to die prematurely, and that these guys are going to release the demos of the Human Toilet songs that I?ve been sending out, not giving a second thought to them going into a blackmail file or a ?To Be Released Upon Seth?s Untimely Death? file.
Gary Suarez: No, we intend to release those in your lifetime.
Seth Diamond: That?s why I try to stay on their good side, Dan.
So I guess that means you guys won?t be doing any acoustic songs then?
Seth Diamond: We almost had an acoustic song. The very last song on the record, ?The Long Con,? could had easily become an acoustic song and that was what we were originally thinking, until our drummer mentioned ?Something In The Way? by Nirvana, and we decided to do something down-tempo, but still kind of noisy.
Did you see this project as one that the band would go into the studio and record, or were you guys just messing around?
Gary Suarez: I think we were all on a certain level of seriousness about approaching it. As guys in our 30?s, we?re probably not going to be the two-month tour of the world or anything of that sort, but we had the intention to write and record. When we got together, we had really productive sessions, and then the method that Seth has described for how we write songs is very fluid and very easy. The record is done and mastered, and we pretty much have to send it off for production. We?re already writing other songs. It was always our intention.
Seth Diamond: The fact that we?re doing the interview with you right now means we want to take this somewhere. It almost 2012. You can?t make money off of music. We all have jobs and girlfriends, we all have very steady places in life. We?re not trying to get into a van and pretend like we?re 24 again. We want to see how far we can take this. We think there?s a market for people like us that don?t have a hell of a lot of bands they can relate to that aren?t nostalgia. If you love the Afghan Whigs, if you love Touch and Go Records, if you love Black Flag; I think there?s right now a little bit of a vacuum of current bands that you can get behind. There?s Pissed Jeans, a lot of people found Fucked Up, a lot of people like The Hold Steady, but you can name on a couple of fingers current bands that aren?t nostalgic trips that are making music people slighter older can relate to. I?m thinking about myself when I?m writing, in terms of who we think the projected audience is going to be.
Did you guys have more songs prepared for this or decide that eight was enough to go into the studio with?
Gary Suarez: We had discussions about that, whether or not it was long enough. There are themes on that record lyrically, and I felt like I said everything I wanted to say on those subjects with those songs. In the discussions that we had, we ultimately agreed it?s perfectly fine to have a record that?s 20 minutes. Maybe that?s my influence coming from my exposure to hardcore on a daily basis. I can name my favorite albums that are 20 or 25 minutes long; they are called albums and they are called records.
Seth Diamond: It?s not a matter of us being out of ideas. We already are working on two new songs and we haven?t even played a show yet. It?s a matter of, as Gary pointed us, that seven out of the eight songs on the record have a very specific theme. There was a common theme on the record, so we decided at a certain point to cap it at these songs, because we have other stories to tell. At the rate we?re going, we?ll probably end up putting out another 30 more songs by the end of 2012.
What kind of themes run through the record?
Gary Suarez: It?s a pretty personal record. It?s a reflection of a lot of things that have happened in my life. A lot of it I can put into a specific time period that?s pretty insane for me. It was a lot of drinking and acting out. It?s not in that, ?young and 21, having fun,? it?s like, ?being 31 and not knowing what the hell is going to come next and having a bit of a panic about the whole thing.? It?s very much about that period. It was an unusual time, but it yielded some interesting results. It gave me some lyrical inspiration that I had not had for some time.
Seth Diamond: That?s when it comes down to saying we?re writing music for guys in their 30?s. That?s a pretty specific example of the average 22-year-old isn?t really necessarily going to relate to music about being in your early 30?s and being divorced and freaking out because you?re still punk rock, but you got this crazy corporate job and trying to find the balance between the two.
Gary, did these lyrics come easy to you because they are so personal?
Gary Suarez: Yeah. I?ve been in bands before and made music before and it?s a lot of fun, but I often try to hide some of the personal stuff behind characters and stories. I just decided with this stuff that I was going to just put it out there. I think that if someone at least sits down with the record and listens to the lyrics, they?ll pick up on themes and they?ll pick up on ideas. I?m certainly not going to walk anybody through them song by song, but they?ll figure out what?s going on. I think, for a certain subset of men my age or in my age range, they?re going to connect with that. Seth was saying something before about music not being able to identify. I wanted this to be a personal record because I didn?t want to write something that people would just go, ?Oh, whatever. It?s just men yelling about stuff.? It was a risk, I?ll say that. I put a lot out there, maybe more than I should have, and what has really come out of it is that I don?t plan on stopping.
Seth, what did you want to get out of your guitar work when it came to this album?
Seth Diamond: I?ve spent the last ten years of my life in a power metal band called Gods of Fire. It?s a two-guitar band and playing a lot of mid-tempo, Iron Maiden/Dio-esque kind of music with lots of guitar harmonies and signature time changes. The thing that really struck me is that I?ve always been a huge fan of Black Flag. Aside from the idea that I needed to be in a band that was a lot faster and a lot louder and a lot more aggressive, there?s so many bands where you can hear a direct lineage or direct progression, but nobody?s really carrying that torch of insanity and free jazz and all the other things you can do in the scope of playing punk rock. I don?t think I necessarily hit it on all levels, but as a guitar player, it?s taking some of my influences…and adding that unpredictable chaos…and trying to fuse them together, so it?s like, ?What if you got a guitar shredder or a free jazz guy playing in a garage band? What would that sound like?? That?s what I was trying for on this record.
Do you see that expanding more on future releases?
Seth Diamond: Absolutely. The more we?ve been writing, the better I?m getting as the guitar player for Human Toilet. I?ve been playing guitar my whole life, but this is such a specific thing, and I do want to get more, rather than less, adventurous. I feel like I?m just hitting where I can take this as I was recording the record, so I?m looking forward to seeing what I can do in the future.
The material you guys are working on now, is it more adventurous than the stuff on the album, or is it an expansion from this album?
Seth Diamond: What?s interesting about the very next release is that we?re going to do a split 7?? with some of our friends. We?ll like, ?Hell, we only get eight minutes on a side of a 7??.? So we?re going to play it live. We?re actively writing a 7?? right now, so that we can have four songs that we can play straight through in the studio. The next release is probably going to showcase our shorter, heavier, quicker, nastier side, but what I aspire to is that when we put out more stuff, as a whole, you?ll see there?s different sides to us and I hope that we end up showing all of them in their proper place.
When this album was done and you were listening back to it, did you guys get the most out of this material?
Seth Diamond: That?s an interesting question. I mixed and produced the record. Sonically, I went in there with a very specific game-plan. I think we hit some of it. I think that there?s an internal struggle within the band that Gary can shed some light on that I tend to go towards over-production. We recorded the record live and we wanted to showcase that as much as possible. I?m very proud of the way it ended up turning out and the way it ended up sounding. Are there things that I wanted to have happened and upset that I got beat on with the trumpets? Absolutely, but we were trying to make something that sounded very clear. We wanted the vocals up front, we wanted Gary very present, and we also wanted the thing to sound nasty and dirty. I think we got a good balance there.
Gary Suarez: In that struggle, I got more out of it than Seth did in the end. Chris was very much on my side in a lot of the discussion about adding additional instrumentation and making it a studio record. I didn?t want to make it sound studio-y. I wanted it to sound live and we got that. I think that?s reflected by what the end result is. The truth is, I don?t think I could have done those songs better than I did. We could have done multiple takes and spent several weeks in there, but we banged it out over a long, awesome weekend. I?m very happy with the result…and I?m very happy that there?s no fucking trumpets on it.
What?s the status of the record right now? You guys going to release it in early 2012 or are you waiting on it?
Seth Diamond: We?re going to put it out soon. Right now, we got eight songs and we put out three of them through Twitter. We are finishing the cover art. We moved so quickly that the actual logistics are behind us, so we have a lot of paperwork to do, we have to get the lackers cut for the vinyl, we have to get the album cover done; something as simple as our official logo isn?t finished yet. We?re working on all of that right now. My goal is by late January/early February this thing is going to be going up digitally and then the vinyl should be out in February.
How important to the band is social media like Twitter?
Gary Suarez: As you may be aware, I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter. I think it?s hugely important to me because I think it?s a way that you can communicate with people. A lot of people give social media shit because, ?it?s not real interaction,? but it?s a place where you can communicate with other human beings. When you?re promoting a band, it doesn?t have to be press releases and corporate speak. I?m a music writer, and I get press releases and publicist e-mails all the time. There are some really good writers and some publicists who do really good, but I get a lot of junk. I don?t want that and this isn?t meant to be like that.
I definitely see that social media is going to be a critical part of spreading this message. We?re not hiring some fucking publicist with 15 other bands on their plate. This is us. I think that in an age where a bunch of guys don?t have to have a fucking label in order to put out a record and make people aware of its existence, which is what we?re doing, there really is no need for us to circumvent social media. In fact, I?ll go as far to say that there?s not a band right now that wouldn?t benefit from better social media.
On your Twitter (@humantoiletband), you guys talked about doing a live show. Can you tell me a bit about when it?s going to happen? Are you intending to do more shows around the NYC area?
Gary Suarez: We definitely want to play live. It?s something that we definitely want to do more of in 2012. We?re not going to be doing any kind of big, long tours. That?s a fact of our lifestyle; that does not work for us. We will definitely be playing shows in the NYC area, that?s definitely going to happen.
Seth Diamond: We?re also definitely going to play out of town. What it comes down to at this point is the one thing about our band is that we don?t have a bass player right now. We don?t know if we?re going to have a bass player. I played bass on the record and the three of us as a unit have chemistry that we haven?t decided yet, on a fundamental level, whether or not we?re just going to have people play at shows for us or if we?re actively seeking a fourth member.
We are now seeing that we?re going to play our first show at the end of January. We?re going to figure out how to play that show. We?re talking to some people that might want to join the band. We?re a little skittish about it, but we?re absolutely going to be a live band. We?re not going to do long, protracted tours, but I?m hoping it catches on, and people will make us offers to play in other cities. I could see us doing a whole bunch of extended weekends to get us ourselves out there to the people.
If you could tour with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?
Gary Suarez: I would gladly have toured with any incarnation of The Stooges, past or present. Doesn?t matter, whether they are 60-somethings, with or without Asheton. I would, in a heartbeat, want to be the opening act for the fucking Stooges.
Seth Diamond: I would go on a tour with The Jesus Lizard, not only because they are one of my favorite bands of all time, but if you?re on tour, there?s about an hour on stage and 23 hours of fucking mind-numbing boredom. I think somewhere between Sims, who I think would probably be a great conversation, Denison, who I can learn something in terms of guitar playing, and Yow, who is probably just an entertaining mother fucking maniac those 23 hours he?s not on stage, that would be my ideal band to spend a month or two on the road with.
By Dan Marsicano