Take Over and Destroy Interview + Live Show Review
Punishing yet fun. Charged yet brooding. Grim yet playful. These are all accurate descriptive phrases I can throw around when explaining Take Over and Destroy’s sound, but I think in most cases we can generally agree that Take Over and Destroy are just plain good. Their overall likability is directly evidenced by their newest album Vacant Face, which has enough catchy melodies and vocal lines to appeal to the more carefree sensibilities of casual music lovers, while also retaining enough gravity and gothic energy to beckon slaves of the void. “Recently”, I was afforded the opportunity to get to see Take Over and Destroy live, along with the mighty Year of No Light and Lesbian not far from where I live (review is below interview). Out of sheer incomprehensible luck, I was able to conduct a semi-formal interview with TOAD’s guitarist, Nate Garrett.
Reader beware: I had to edit and trim some fat from this interview, mainly for the sake of not taking all day to read. While it may not be clearly evidenced below, a lot more beer was involved in this interview than what you may interpret and some of the answers I got were a little longer than what more domestic creatures have the patience for. You’ve been warned. Enjoy!
Who are some of your main influences?
Nate: I was raised by my grandparents and they listened to some whack shit, but I picked up on stuff like Creedence Clearwater Revival, which was the first band I remember actually liking. So then after that, I heard Jimi Hendrix, and I think the first time I actually heard him was on a fucking Apple commerical. I heard the riff in “Purple Haze” *does a vocal impression of the main guitar riff in the song * and they were switching colors behind the song to sell a purple computer or whatever. By then I was watching a lot of VH1, and keep in mind I was growing up in a super small town in Oklahoma, so I didn’t have a lot of access to metal or hard rock or anything. Anyhow, I was watching VH1, and I saw the video for “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. I distinctly remember seeing that when I was around the ages of 11-12, and it had impacted me so hard I told my Grandma, “let’s go to the mall!”
We went to the mall and headed straight for the FYE. I had been saving money all summer from mowing lawns and shit, so I was ready to buy whatever they had. When we got there, I went right up to the cashier and said “I need Black Sabbath!” Like, “Paranoid” had just affected me so hard that I had to have it. So he gave me a little box set that had Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. When I got home, I listened to them all in a row and was like “Goddamn, these guys are incredible.”
I remember being in the dark, in a small town in Oklahoma, listening to the rain falling on “Black Sabbath” on a shitty little stereo with my headphones, and when it got to that riff it was like “What is this? This is fucking terrifying.” I was legitimately scared when I heard that song. So I listened to that whole record, and then I listened to Paranoid all the way through, and was just floored that they seemed to be able to do whatever they wanted stylistically. Then, I fucking listened to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and was like ”woah, these guys can really do whatever the fuck they want,” you know?
So after that, gradually through time I started picking up every Black Sabbath record I could find, and mind you, this was before the internet was really popping off, so I just had to buy random albums of theirs based off of the covers and whatnot. Soon after, I was getting more into somewhat accessible hard stuff like Metallica. I started with “the black album” and thought it ruled. Then I got to Kill Em’ All and thought it ruled too but it didn’t even sound like the same band; the singer’s voice was way higher pitched and 20 times faster!
Then I progressively got into bands like Pantera and Slayer and whatnot. I kept trying to get heavier and heavier and progressively started to listen to bands like Death, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, etc. And now since all that stuff has taken place, I find myself more so backtracking and picking up on some of the older bands, like Thin Lizzy. Thin Lizzy really got me back into “the riff,” you know what I mean?
So, I know most bands don’t like this question, but what has the crowd response and overall reception been like for the tour so far?
It’s been going good man, real good. Strangely enough, Salt Lake City was badass. That’s the weird thing about tours is that you expect certain things like, “Okay, we’re playing a big city on a Friday night, there’ll be a ton of people” and then nobody’s there. And then there’s a show every now and again like this where smaller towns really pull through man; it seems to be bands don’t come through these places that often and the people are a little more passionate and less jaded than people in big cities and whatnot. So, it’s been good. The overall, short answer is good.
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but I personally do this shit to exorcise certain personal shit of mine. It’s definitely a cathartic type of thing for me; when I’m up there, I don’t think of all the fucked up shit that goes on in reality and whatnot. You can sit all fucking day and think of shit like minimum wage, or voting not doing shit, or oil companies fucking us over, or whatever. And I’m not saying we should ignore that, because we should pay attention to those issues, but I think it’s good to have a break from thinking about that shit every now and again.
So being on stage, all I’m thinking about is “I gotta play this riff. I gotta scream at this point. I’ve gotta try to move people,” and I feel that everywhere we’ve played so far, that idea has been reciprocated. Everybody’s been super nice and everybody’s been super responsive in a positive way. There was one incident in Boise where a dude got kicked out, but he was super fucked up and was a pretty crusty dude. Other than that, it’s about sharing an experience with people, so as far as that goes, it’s been really good. We’ve been able to share certain types of emotions with people, and it’s been really great and cathartic for everyone man.
From your last album to your current, it seems to me like there has been somewhat of a stylistic shift as to what you’re playing. Personally, I thought the album sounded a little darker and gloomy than Endless Night. In general, it overall sounded a little bit more metal to me. So, where do you think this change came from or do you think there’s been any change at all?
I don’t know if this is really a part of it or not, but when we put out Endless Night, people seemed fixated on whether it was an EP or a full length. We don’t approach our music in that manner; we approach our recordings as more of just a piece of work. So whether it was an EP or an LP didn’t really matter to us. I don’t want to say it bummed us out, but I think it affected our approach for this record in an either conscious or subconscious way. When we put Vacant Face out, we were determined to make sure that everyone knew this was a full length album.
We also made more of a concerted effort to make the album connected and cohesive. The longer you play with guys, the better you get at playing and crafting your music, so we really focused even more so on songwriting this time around. We talked a lot about bands like Nirvana, The Beatles, and other bands that are really timeless while we were writing this record and we all really wanted to figure out what makes these bands so amazing and recognizable. Obviously, we crank it up and party-rock way harder than those bands, but we really tried to focus on making each song memorable, yet be able to flow into the next easily and making the whole album more memorable overall. We intentionally set out to make something unique because we’re just really bored with the metal scene right now.
I know Vacant Face hasn’t been out too long, but what’s next for Take Over and Destroy?
We recently played Southwest Terror Fest with a bunch of good bands like Neurosis, Author and Punisher, and a ton of Arizona bands. Anyhow, the day after we got back from the show we headed straight to the studio and recorded a track that’s really weird and cool. There are a lot of influences that people probably won’t pick up on, but it’s mainly just kind of a rock and roll song. That’s gonna be on a split with a band I cannot name yet, but if anybody’s on Facebook, they’ll be able to figure it out if you do a little digging. It’s a band from Arizona, and they’re fucking awesome, but I can’t say who it is just yet *simultaneously points down to his shirt that is obscured by his jean jacket, for the life of me I can’t read it – looked up the design later and to the best of my knowledge, it looked to be Gatecreeper*. We’re gonna make an official announcement sometime soon, but it’s going to be a split 7-inch and there’s gonna be a release show in Arizona. Hopefully, there’ll be a tour after that for both bands that are on the split. We just heard the other band’s track and it’s really good, so I’m stoked.
On the Toilet ov Hell, we’ve been having a contest to find the best unsigned band in the U.S. going from state to state. Take Over and Destroy won the title of the best band in Arizona, but what band(s) would you nominate from Arizona personally?
(Laughs) okay… Gatecreeper, Sorxe, Cave Dweller, Godhunter, North… uh shit, yeah, those are our favorite people and favorite bands for sure. I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody, I’m gonna feel like an asshole after this is posted, so I apologize to anyone I missed in advance (laughs).
Going further into the topic of being unsigned, are you guys intentionally unsigned or are you trying to get label attention? Have you gotten any offers and you just turned them down?
That’s a complex question man. When you’re young you think getting signed is the shit and it used to be… well actually, it probably never used to be (laughs). I heard Tony Iommi once said “Before you pick up a guitar, hire a lawyer”, cause Black Sabbath was notoriously buttfucked by everybody who dealt with their money and whatnot. So I think it’s kind of a pipedream, the label thing, especially now. You can do whatever a label can do on your own now basically, outside of the big shit like distribution, which is pretty important. We have talked to some labels in the past and our vinyl is actually being put out by Pulverized Records from Singapore, which will hopefully arrive in February. They seem like really nice guys, and I guess we’ll find out when push comes to shove. They’re gonna put Vacant Face out on double LP, which will probably be a one-time deal.
But we’ve done everything ourselves up to this point, and things just keep getting better for us. We’re also doing alright with online sales and whatnot. We have no problem whatsoever continuing the DIY thing, but if there is a label that can facilitate certain things, such as helping us get to Europe and maybe places like Japan – which is probably more in the distant future – we’ll definitely consider it. To answer your question, I don’t know if the DIY thing is really intentional or not, but it’s just like life. You live your life day to day and that’s how we approach the band. If we get a tour offer, we consider “okay, is it cool? Fuck yeah, let’s do it.” If it ain’t, then no, let’s not do it. I grew up an only child and I feel like I have 5 brothers now, and we’re all in this together and pushing forward together. If we can do something that exposes us to more people and it’s really done the right way, we’ll do it.
Any last comments?
Thanks for wanting to talk about my band man, that’s cool! (laughs) Thanks a lot though man, I appreciate the interest and I appreciate you supporting us and I appreciate anybody who supports us. I’m not a hippy or anything, but peace and love man (laughs). Good vibes man, that’s all we’re trying to spread man, GOOD VIBRATIONS!
Since this interview has taken up quite an amount of space, I’m going to do my best to make this show review short, sweet, and to the point. The lineup for the bill was Take Over and Destroy, Year of No Light, and Lesbian at the Shakedown in Bellingham, WA, November 5th (I’m a pro-crastinator, what can I say).
That night I had to haul ass to get to the venue since I had left way later than comfortable when trying to get to a show on time. This being said, I ended up missing the first song in Take Over and Destroy’s set (which I found out later was “Vacant Face”). As I caught my breath, they launched into “Summer Isle,” which set the tone for the rest of their show to come: energetic and confident. Throughout the night, lead singer Andrew Leehart menacingly dashed all over the stage while simultaneously delivering impressive, dynamic vocal lines. All musicians in the band seemed unfazed by the relatively paltry, apathetic audience and instead got more bombastic as the night wore on. They shifted into “Split Screen” and tore into some songs from Endless Night, later closing with “Terminal Burrowing.” They had a fairly short set but were a treat for the time they were on stage. TOAD knows how to write a great song that can get the party started, and their live show was irrefutable proof of that; if the opportunity presented itself, I’d easily see them again. 0/5 FLUSHES (Quick sidenote, some members of TOAD were completely aware of ToH, which gave my heartstrings a lil’ tug).
Next up was Year of No Light, who I was actually expecting to headline. All I knew to expect was that they weren’t going to play any songs off of their only album in my possession, Nord, which furthermore informed me that they’d be completely instrumental. Though I was daunted by my own unfamiliarity with their material, YONL took charge of the crowd and sonically destroyed the Shakedown. In a lot of ways, YONL seemed to flourish this night; with their instrumental music being juxtaposed alongside this intimate setting, something felt so primal and second nature to their music that vocals could only tarnish its sincerity. Crowd anticipation grew with each lumbering riff, while collective hypnosis outpoured when faced with the dizzying drum patterns of Betrand Sebenne and Mathieu Megemont. To sum it all up, YONL were born to play live, especially in close quarters. They’re engaging, interesting, dynamic, fun, and probably one of the best shows you’ll ever see if afforded the pleasure. These guys do the doom/post metal/sludge thing, and they do it damn good. Bandcamp here. 0/5 FLUSHES.
Lesbian was the headlining act, which was a curious and somewhat clumsy role for them to be thrown into. They’re a popular enough local act to where I guarantee a lot more of their friends and fans would have come to see them early in the night, (which in theory would have drawn more of an audience for the previous acts) which also would have left them with more of an audience than what they had headlining. Questionable schedule lineup aside, Lesbian carried on and smoked those still standing. Once again, they played no songs I knew (which sucks, because “Poisonous Witchball” is a fucking crazy good doom jam) and at this point in the night, I was very tired. While I can appreciate Lesbian’s drawn out song formula at the right time of day, all it was doing at this moment was putting me to bed. Regardless, I put on a happy face and tried my best to wrap my head around the material they were playing, which was at times, phenomenal, and other times, lackluster. Either way, the demeanor the members put forth onstage was much worthy compensation for the intricacies I was too ignorant to comprehend in their material (props to the drummer for making crazy faces all night). Lesbian I’d have to give 2/5 flushes purely for the sake of having material that can ramble and dance around the point of the song. But that’s okay, they’re still a force to be reckoned with on stage and on more patient ears their material should be properly weighed (do some weighing on Lesbian’s bandcamp).