For Alexis Mincolla, frontman with Los Angeles industrial metal crew 3TEETH, the four years since the release of their Metawar album have been something of a rollercoaster. In his own words, a “half-baked idea” saw the frontman and his bandmates relocate from the chaos of Los Angeles to the remote, isolated Joshua Tree. Having no concrete plans in place, the first couple of months saw the band finding their feet in their new home before finally settling into writing an unplanned new record.
In September 2023 the band released that record, EndEx. A cathartic slice of industrial metal, the album ends with a cover of Tears For Fears iconic hit “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”
For our latest Cover Story, V13 sat down with Lexi and spoke to him about the album, relocating to the Joshua Tree, how a random text saw the band working with gaming icon Mick Gordon, and what the frontman would do if indeed he did “rule the world…”
It’s been a while coming but the new record is finally out…
“I’m excited to get it out. Finally. It feels like we’ve worked on it forever then we sat on it forever so it’s always good to finally get it out. I feel like it’ll be a nice cathartic release for everyone.”
What do you hope people get out of the record?
“I don’t know. That’s a good question…”
What did you get out of the record? The reason I ask is that I read somewhere that there were no concrete plans for a record originally…
“I think that you know, based on Metawar, the last record, coming out in 2019 and then the pandemic happening, we really didn’t have intentions of going back in the studio and writing a record. We wanted to go out there and be on a touring cycle. For us, that was cut short, we had finished a European tour in February 2020, we had no idea what was in store for the American leg of the tour because, by the time we came back, it was like skiing down a hill and not knowing there was an avalanche behind you. By the time we got back, you’d turn around and wonder what the fuck happened all over the world. We had no idea.
At that point, we didn’t really understand the gravity of it. It didn’t seem that serious, we were joking around about it because, when you’re on tour, you’re not really tuned in anything. Then, when they cancelled the NBA season, I said that I didn’t think we were going to be able to do the tour because, you know, the NBA is considerably more important than us. At that point we were hunkered down in our places in LA just sitting around wondering what we were going to do. At that point I asked the guys if they wanted to work on a new record. I had this half-baked plan to get a house out in Joshua Tree and convinced the label to get us this house and start working on a new record.
For us, we just didn’t know what we were going to write about. We didn’t know what we were going to do. It was just we knew that we had done three records in Los Angeles, and to maybe get away to the most naturally socially distanced part of the world, it felt like the right time. So, we packed up our places and moved out here with all this gear. The first couple of months were just really trying to figure out what to write about and gain new perspectives, and just go on hikes. Really use that time for some introspection and figure out what comes after the metawar…”
“It was like skiing down a hill and not knowing there was an avalanche behind you. By the time we got back, you’d turn around and wonder what the fuck happened all over the world. We had no idea.”
You move from LA which is just chaos, to the Joshua Tree, peaceful and quiet and remote. On a personal level, what was that like for you? Was that challenging to do?
“It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I thought I was gonna hate it. I thought I would miss civilization and lights, and having the sort of comforts of, you know, UberEATS or not being able to have an Amazon package delivered and bad cell phone service but it became something that we all needed.”
Sometimes, where I live, I feel like my Amazon packages have ended up in the desert…
“It was great, finding the anxiety that we didn’t even realise was running. Like, when you have an app running in the background of your phone that you forgot you haven’t closed, and it’s just been draining your battery. It just felt like, when we finally got out here, we realised there was just a bunch of apps running in the background, these stress points that, all of a sudden, melted away. It really changed for us out here, in this really interesting way. You could just sit outside and just like stare off as far as the eye can see. At night time, you can see every star in the sky, the Milky Way with the naked eye and planets and it just shifts your whole perspectives about what this whole thing is. You start thinking like why are we even here? I think that that time period really affected our psychology as just people.”
Do you think you changed as a person from that experience?
“I think we all did. I think there was a lot of introspection that people dealt with during the pandemic just because we were afforded the time. Some people just sat there and stared at walls, we had a lot of time by ourselves. It was a time that I think a lot of people got thinking. That could be a dark, dark time for some people, for us, I think we were very fortunate to have each other and, all living together in a house, becoming a family again, as a band, working through a lot of stuff.
For me, to separate myself a little bit from, this leather clad avatar with a trident that had been created over the past 10 years. Take a little bit of a step back from that and reconnect with nature. Nature has a lot of answers that I feel, in some ways, that it’s a great sort of therapy for everyone. I think that was awesome for us and we were very fortunate. We didn’t write music for almost two months.
Also, we didn’t want to force it, just putting together this concept guide stuff. I put together this really crazy document that, if you’d like I’d show it to you actually. That became a sort of a North Star. This was August of 2020 when I put this together. So, we moved out to the desert in June 2020 then didn’t really do any writing until we started putting together mostly just these ideas. The label kept asking what we were working on. We were out there just shooting guns and grilling and having a good time. I said that we’ve got to show them something so I put together this concept document that was supposed to be able to be read from the bottom up as the format was supposed to be sort of an ascension.
It started down here. Some of the song names have changed and stuff like that, but the concept still remains. So, it was supposed to work way up through under the ground, sort of inside the earth then on to the Earth Alliance and up through this idea of getting further and further away as a sort of off world perspective as we felt like we had an off world perspective from living out in the desert. We felt like we’re on Mars or something. All this stuff really served as a North Star for us to start writing the album.”
“This type of thing is really advantageous too when you start collaborating with other people. Like Mick Gordon is a video game composer and is used to working with tremendous amount of visual information to inspire a sort of Sonic context. I also think that he’s a guy that really loves like lore, he loves investing himself into the mythologies of things and figuring out how to push the sound around those mythologies. So I think this was one of the things that got him excited to dive in on concepts with us and stuff like that.
By August we finally started writing a record and then having so much time, which had never really been afforded that much time on working on anything before, that allowed us to really refine. It allowed us to really layer stuff. Some aspects of the record almost needed to be finished when the pandemic had wrapped up to just to have a greater breadth of perspective on it, you know, the greatest sense of clarity. I think that it needed to come to some sort of conclusion and us be on the other side of it, to be able to look back at it and have that sort of hindsight, for who we were at that time.”
Touching on what you said about almost feeling like you were living on Mars, living so remotely and watching what was what was that like?
“You really could see the patterns a little bit more clearly, you know? Sometimes taking audit of something where it’s like if you fast for two days, everything you put in your body, you’re gonna really have an awareness of what it’s doing to your body. Being in the desert is, in many ways, like a civilization, fasting, ritual events… We don’t have TVs so it’s like every time you do take something, you really are aware of how it’s affecting you. When you see what’s going on, when you finally do get a little taste of civilization, whether it’s going to Walmart today, I think that in many ways, it made us more keenly aware of everything on that level. For us it was definitely cool. It was really special. I’m still here. I haven’t left.”
Lyrically you didn’t write anything for a couple of months. When you started to write, how easy did it flow?
“We don’t really have a particular writing process. We don’t like to paint ourselves in a corner because it could really start anywhere. A guitar riff to a synth line, sometimes we have a really awful way of writing where we’ll write the song, and then we’ll just take one part of it, and then keep that and get rid of everything else. Then we’ll write a new song around that part. When we have songs for every song, people that we work with tell us that we’re never gonna finish anything like this. This is how we write. We’ve made a few people go crazy like that. I think that’s just the nature of industrial music but then there is stuff where you could hear the campfire vibe. Sometimes we’ll have the vocal melody and the idea then we’ll just figure out how to take that into the studio, and then rip it apart.”
“Some aspects of the record almost needed to be finished when the pandemic had wrapped up to just to have a greater breadth of perspective on it, you know, the greatest sense of clarity. I think that it needed to come to some sort of conclusion and us be on the other side of it.”
Please tell me you wrote songs sat around a campfire…
“I think we did a couple of times but whether or not we just came up with lyrics, and they where extracted into other things? Me and Jay did that quite a bit, you know, an acoustic and, and just like writing down ideas and lyrics and letting it flow because, it’s like wine in Rome, you know, it’s absolutely terrible.”
We talked about it changing you as a person, what about as a musician and an artist? Did it give you a chance to explore what the band was about?
“It changed me greatly. For me, this album, in many ways, is almost entirely about death and transformation, which can be a little bleak but I think there’s a lot of positivity in there. A song like “Drift,” which sort of has this sense of surrendering to that sense of change and resignation, and this idea that nothing’s going to last. Also my perspectives on things from 2013 writing our first album versus now, the world become intensely political. So, this idea of me beating my political drum on almost like an activist level, it’s changed a lot because the world is all becoming intensely political to the point where it’s schizophrenic. There’s enough at this point where do I even want to talk about politically, because I feel like you’re just gonna get pinned to one side or the other. I think that I decided to take two steps and really not try and write about that type of thing anymore, which is hard for me.”
Did it help from going from a normal society, social media and normal media and TV?
“I think it certainly inspired me. I can’t say if it made it easier, but it just felt like the right time to try and give that a go. I didn’t want to make a MetaWar Two. I didn’t want to make anything that we’d already done. I did want it to have characteristics of our sound and an evolution. So there’s elements of our first album, the second and third album.”
We talked about Mick Gordon already. How did that come about and what did you want from each other?
“It’s funny, the little pandemic, little COVID serendipity. When we were on tour in Europe, we had a show in Milan that was cancelled, because obviously that was sort of like ground zero where things happened with COVID. So, we couldn’t play our Milan show. We took a day off in Frankfurt and in Frankfurt, there’s the Bethesda, the gaming European office. I have a friend who works over in France at the Bethesda Studios office, as a Community Manager over there. She invited us over and we were all playing the new Doom video game on her day off, we’re just hanging out.
We had been aware of Mick and his work. The soundtrack it sounded so awesome. As we were playing the game someone said wouldn’t it be so cool if we did something with Mick. Our friend said I’ll give you his email if you don’t tell anyone, which now the cats out of the bag. Fast forward and I forgot I even had it. Fast forward to one night in the Joshua Tree and we’re having some steaks and whiskey and just hanging out and we’re referencing something that he did. I remembered that I have his email so we started talking about emailing him…”
Like one of those drunk text moments?
“I literally just like wrote him an email and 20 minutes later, he responded saying it was so cool to see you in his inbox as he was a huge fan and would love to do something with you guys. Shit, it’s on. Let’s do this. It just goes to show you got to shoot your shot sometimes. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. So, we ended up figuring out how to work together. He was in Australia, and we were in Joshua Tree, but the whole world is sort of operating remotely anyway so it could have been 10 minutes away to be honest and, aside from the actual time difference, we were keeping pretty weird hours at that time anyway.”
You talked about Doom. Are you big video gamers?
“I’ve played video games on and off my whole life. I got a PlayStation Five. I drop in Warzone at the boys every now and then. I’ve always thought video games are a really underappreciated form of high art. People just go on about how it’s just video games. It’s like some sophomore bullshit. But, actually, I think that they have some of the best storytelling, some of the best concept work and I think that video games are a very underappreciated form of very high art now.”
Is it something where you could see the band and that industry combining. Could you see that work in like a video game?
“I would love to do something with a video game. For us, I don’t know why we don’t? I’m still resentful of the fact that we don’t have a song on “Cyberpunk.” It seems like, out of any band, we should be in “Cyberpunk.” But you know, that game was done anyway. So, maybe I’m not too bummed out about it. But yes, I would love to do anything with video games. I remember when it came out, and I was pretty annoyed harassing some people at my record labels.”
From looking at it from the outside sitting in the desert. Do you think we’ve learned anything from the last few years?
“I don’t know? I don’t think there was any real closure on it. I think it just moved on to like the next thing, which was like Ukraine. A rebound situation.
I don’t know what we learned. If there’s one thing that I think everyone sort of noticed was that how quickly things can go sideways, and also how the further you are from the power structures, the more likely you are just to die? I think that people are still processing it and I don’t think that there’s anything truly learned from it aside from the fact that there’s no telling what’s coming next.”
Technology, media, social media, it all played a massive part in that whole period. I mean, TikTok and all of that just changed the way people’s lived their lives. Do you think there’s time to save the planet from a technical, technological reliance or do you think we’re past that stage?
“Well, I think that ship has sailed. The genie is out of the bottle, it’s not going back in. At this point, short of being hit with a solar flare and knocking out all our electronics, I don’t know, what would ever make it go back. At this point, it’s just about learning how to adapt to it. We’re all headed towards some aspect of automation affecting our lives. Whether it’s self-driving Uber cars, or smart homes, or who knows, whatever reliance is coming up next. I hope that maybe our growing pains with our relationship with technology, maybe at some point, we get past. I think that the internet has the capacity to be something very special. It’s a prosthetic digital nervous system that connects all of humanity but all we really do is use it to sell shit to each other, which sucks.”
“At this point, short of being hit with a solar flare and knocking out all our electronics, I don’t know, what would ever make it go back. At this point, it’s just about learning how to adapt to it. We’re all headed towards some aspect of automation affecting our lives.”
As somebody in the creative industry with an extremely creative mind, what are your thoughts about AI? Do you think that’ll be the death of making art?
“I think it’s hard to say. I think that, in terms of totally replacing this idea of an artist or a professional creative, I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon. I use AI quite a bit. I’m constantly experimenting with it. I think it can still be very cool and what it does in terms of like, you still have to very much curate it. You still have to play like an instrument. There’s no hooking up to your neural implant anytime soon where it just reads your thoughts and here’s the idea. Doing creative work, this idea that the client would need to know what they even wanted, which they do, there will still be space for the artist to do what they do in there while interfacing with the AI.
I think that we’re quite a way away from it, completely being able to emulate what a human does. I think that it can make a Drake song. Sure. That’s cool. But, in terms of doing anything ground-breaking, I think we’re a bit away from that. I also think that, in the long run, it probably is not going to be good. If I was to say where does this end up? Probably not great.”
That leads me on to my next question. One of the things you’d said was that, during the pandemic, you talked about the future, the music industry the bands, your doubts… What is your vision especially having been in the industry for over ten years?
“The music industry was on the ground bleeding before the pandemic came along and kicked it while it was down and threw sand in its face. It was already not in a great place and I think that, as a person who’s becoming increasingly more practical and pragmatic with my age, I think that the idea of huffing on this pipe dream forever is also not something that I want. I don’t want to fool myself. I don’t want to become delusional in that respect and I think that being in a mid-tier band is a big challenge. It’s very, very difficult to make a living off that, which is unfortunate. I would never want to discourage anyone else who’s chasing that dream but I will say that it’s hard. The path to that type of success now is very different.
I didn’t want to make a band to do three TikToks a week. That wasn’t my goal. I liked writing songs and playing shows and stuff like that, but that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. You know, the times that I’m told on a weekly basis from, you know, management, label, that we’ve got to do new TikToks. I’m not into it. When I’m making a TikTok now, I’m like blowing something up in the desert. Then they tell me not to post any more TikToks. That was my way out of it. 16 TikTok violations later for Firearms and Explosives. I feel like I’ve managed to sort of get everyone to stop. Go check it out.
I’m definitely shadow banned on there because my initial TikToks were getting 500,000 views for this stuff. Now they’ve just put me in a quiet little quiet corner, which is funny, because Sony were going to get me blue-checked on TikTok, blah, blah, blah, then TikTok came back saying they can’t approve this guy as he’s got 16 violations on there.
Ultimately, I think that I’m not sure what the future of the band holds. For now, the album comes out, we’ve got a big show coming up at the end of the year in LA. In terms of what next year looks like, there’s a couple things on the books, but in terms of getting out there and touring like we used to, I don’t know what that looks like anymore. It’s just, it’s really tough. Listen, I love being in a van and driving around with the boys and you know, doing 12,000 miles a year and doing that stuff. You get older and you just realise it’s a lot, you know, it’s a lot for a little. People have to lookout for some other more practical things in their life.
We’re going to take it day by day and see how the response to this album is and see where that takes us and get ready for, you know, a big end of the year show and do a big thing in LA. But other than that, one foot in front of the other.”
“I didn’t want to make a band to do three TikToks a week. That wasn’t my goal. I liked writing songs and playing shows and stuff like that, but that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. You know, the times that I’m told on a weekly basis from, you know, management, label, that we’ve got to do new TikToks.”
The album wraps up with “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” Why was that a fitting way to end the record?
“It provides a little bit of levity at the end of the record, which I think was important, because it does get a bit heavy on the soul so I think that it gives a little bit of a playful energy at the end. Also 3TEETH likes to take a song that, in a bright and sunny world, has some dark lyrics, then process it to change a bunch of major things into some minor things and making it sound spooky, we like to do that.
It just seemed like this is a great song. We all love that song. For me, it was actually harder to do a cover song that I really like, because it’s the song that it felt like you know, we can’t fuck this one up so we had fun with that. We wrote a bunch of different versions of it and just settled on that one. It just seems like everybody wants to rule the world as a song title and a theme and an idea.
We’re all at some point on our own weird little quest for world domination, based on dreams and delusions. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to save the world. That’s still like a version of you trying to rule the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to destroy the world. For better or worse, it just sort of played into what I think is hypocritical about, about the human psyche, so it just seemed like the right song.”
Perfect, just to wrap up then, if you ruled the world, what one change would you make?
“I think I would take at least one month of every year, whether it’s December or whatever and just shut off the internet. So we all just take one month and make it just like no internet month, just to see what would happen to us as a society and as a culture. I think that would be good. You gotta spend the holidays with your family. It’s not about posting pictures, fucking put your phones away. Just turn the news off and everything that you’re constantly tethered to and have one month of just detox with a full internet blackout. Just go and be in the moment…”
3TEETH released EndEX on September 23rd, 2023 and you can pick up your copy here.