3TEETH On Politics, Sex, and Liberation Through Self-Destruction
This summer sees Los Angeles-based industrial metallers 3TEETH releasing their third album, titled METAWAR — a nod to the idea that a consumer partaking in the buying of goods generally doesn’t have any idea what’s going on below the surface. And while frontman Alexis Mincolla jokes that he might look like “your typical idiot with tattoos on the side of his head,” he holds two degrees in political science with a minor in economics which he got while studying at an international university in Rome, so he has plenty of insight into how the richer half live.
“I just had this intense desire to learn about the world so I wouldn’t be the dumb American kid at the international university,” he says over the phone from Los Angeles. “I just sort of ended up getting this real passion for international politics and economics so I could sit there and have conversations with peole and they’d be like, ‘Oh, I guess all Americans aren’t dumb.’”
In their new video for EXXXIT, 3TEETH take the ideas written about in the political treatise Exit, Voice, and Loyalty and express it in a club setting — complete with a woman participating in suspension. It’s this kind of dark experimentation that has garnered the band tours with both Tool and Rammstein and a cult following of fans who love their catchy, hyper-sexual take on the industrial genre with a deeper, intellectual meaning to it. That is, if one cares to look below the surface.
“Remember, kids, self-destruction is just another form of liberation,” the band wrote on social media prior to the video premiere.
Watch the whole thing below, and then read our whole chat with Alexis.
Tell me a little about how this video happened.
Alexis Mincolla: I wanted to create a really sleazy strip club song that was about a political treatise called Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, which is written by an economic philosopher in the ‘70s, saying in the face of decline of organizations, institutions, products, goods, and services, the consumer is faced with three options: Exit, voice, or loyalty. Exit, as in, you can completely walk away from the system and detach from it. Voice — they can speak up and fight it with their words. Or they can remain loyal to it. So it’s this concept of the trichotomy – we always like to play with threes, because of 3TEETH. So I wanted to create this almost boring song about a political treatise, but then wrap it up in this ultra sexualized version of encouraging people to essentially exit through themselves.
And I wanted to kind of show this play off self-destruction as a form of liberation. Because I think that’s constantly what people are doing. People work Monday through Friday, 9-5, and then Friday 5 o’clock hits and we just want to get fucking obliterated. We want to get shitfaced drunk, we want to eat some mollies, we want to do some blow, we want to lip cigarettes – that’s the culture we live in right now. And we almost don’t know why. But the reality is that we feel so trapped in these systems that these little forms of self-destruction we like to create, I think, are our ways of trying to liberate – even if temporarily. And you take that even further and that’s when you have people who essentially willing to feel free and floating when they’re ripping hooks through their skin and doing things like suspension.
How did you come up with this particular concept? Did you already know the woman in the video?
I know a few people in some circles who do that in some of the circles we roll with, and Janelle was one of those people who I met a long time ago. It was just kind of floating in the ether as an idea, and me and my friend Dan Dowding who’s a director was just like, ‘Dude, we should do this.’ And we just decided, hey, let’s get a girl up there and create a little narrative around self-destruction as a form of liberation.
Have you ever done suspension?
No, never. I’m actually not into bodily mutilation or anything like that. I’ve got tattoos and a piercing in my ear, but I’m not really into that.
What was it like witnessing that, as a person who doesn’t partake in that?
I remember at one point in the video, I asked her, ‘You doing okay?’ And she’s like, ‘Are you fucking kidding? This is better than heroin. I love this.’ The high that she was getting from being suspended with 24 hooks in her body — for almost an hour and a half – was better than heroin. That shit’s beyond me. But I psychologically try and understand it and I get it. She’s a fucking bad ass.
What do you think the relationship is between darkness and sex?
You could take it ‘What’s the relationship between death and sex?’ because that’s something that’s really well documented across cultures. A French author named Georges Bataille wrote a book called Death and Eroticism that I read, and you really start to understand the concept of ‘le petit mort’ which is ‘the little death.’ Which is French slang for an orgasm. The orgasm is a little form of transcendent death. So there’s so much connection into death and sexuality. Even if you look at the archetype of the tarot, with the death card being, essentially, a form of rebirth. Which is a result of sexuality. You can connect those dots really well. I don’t want to over-intellectualize the goth scene because I’m certainly not an aficionado of goth culture by any means, but there’s a lot there if you wanted to approach it with an anthropological understanding, you could dive deep into it.
In the past, you’ve been very open about your sexuality. In your Reddit AMA, you talked about BDSM and various things, etc. How do you feel like being the frontman of a band has given you a platform to express your sexuality?
I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with that, even before being the frontman of a band – if anything, being a frontman of a band just allows you to fuck with the illusions of certain things more. People make assumptions that I’m gay, and I don’t confirm or deny anything to anyone. As the frontman of a band, it allows people to ascribe their own imagination to your stuff. So for me, I like to fuck with people a little more. And just sort of let people go, ‘Wow, that guy’s into some fucked up shit.’
And just let them project their own ideas onto you.
Absolutely. Exactly. It’s so much more fun than attempting to define myself and my sexuality. That’s just so fucking boring to me.
See 3Teeth on tour:
30 Berlin, Germany Huxleys*
02 Bristol, UK SWX*
03 Glasgow, UK SWG3 Studio Warehouse*
04 Birmingham, UK O2 Institute*
06 London, UK O2 Shephard’s Bush Empire*
07 Paris, France La Machine du Moulin Rouge*
09 Oberhausen, Germany Kulttempel*
10 Prague, Czech Republic Roxy*
11 Budapest, Hungary A38*
15 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall
16 Denver, CO Marquis Theater
18 Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre
19 Kansas City, MO Riot Room
20 St. Louis, MO Fubar
22 Minneapolis, MN Studio B @ Skyway Theatre
23 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon
24 Chicago, IL Reggies Rock Club
25 Detroit, MI El Club
26 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar
28 Montreal, QC Heavy Montreal
29 Toronto, ON Velvet Underground
31 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall
01 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
02 Philadelphia, PA Voltage Lounge
03 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Sound Stage
04 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
05 Nashville, TN Exit/In
07 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade (Hell)
08 New Orleans, LA The Parish at House of Blues
09 Houston, TX Scout Bar
10 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
11 Austin, TX Empire Control Room
14 Tucson, AZ 191 Toole
15 Phoenix, AZ The Rebel Lounge
16 San Diego, CA Brick by Brick
17 Los Angeles, CA Teragram Ballroom
18 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
* with Ministry
3TEETH return to Europe in 2020 for a headline tour
We hate to admit it, but this Deftones/Britney combination has its cool moments.