Today Is The Day frontman Steve Austin is the subject of the new documentary The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself, which you can watch on Amazon. Catch a TITD show or check out the doc (link in comments), and you will see why he is such an inspiration to others. He’s also just a really nice guy and a super cool dude.
Here’s the interview I did with him for Antichrist Magazine.
Led by visionary frontman Steve Austin, Today Is The Day reigns as one of the most unique and influential bands of the past two decades. The band’s violent and anthemic style, which blends metal, noise, psychedelia, and rock, has won worldwide acclaim ever since the debut album, Supernova, first hit in the early 90s. Nine studio albums have been released on such labels as Amphetamine Reptile and Relapse — including modern-day classics like Willpower, Temple of the Morning Star, and In the Eyes of God — and the band’s changing lineup has included such musicians as Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher, who would later go on to form Mastodon. Today Is The Day has toured the world with Motorhead, Helmet, The Melvins, Morbid Angel, Converge, Napalm Death, Neurosis, Eyehategod, Unsane, Coalesce, and many more. Steve Austin has also made a name as a producer, helping create seminal albums for Lamb Of God, Converge, Deadguy, and more. He is also the subject of the documentary The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself, a unique examination of the life-long existential journey taken by a self-made musician, and his unforgiving determination to express himself. It explores how he balances life, love, and money with his artistic passions and the undeniable effect his fans express to him about the life-altering meaning it has had on them.
Today Is The Day speaks to people on a very deep, spiritual level. When did you first realize that your music had a very profound effect on people?
I think it was around the time of Willpower, our second album. People started talking to me about the music and the effect it had on their life. I realized how much keeping everything real, no matter how painful the subject matter might be, is important. I think that it’s the realness of the music and words, that speaks to our fans. Unfiltered and pure, good or bad.
One of the events that is covered in the documentary was a pretty bad car accident. Did that affect your perspective on things? And if so, how?
Yes, it did. It had a profound impact on me. I should have died in that car accident, as bad as the accident was. But I survived, and it was a second chance on life. [After the] accident happened, I was extremely depressed. As some of the pain went away, I realized that I should just be thankful to be alive. I never took life for granted before. After the accident, that was reinforced.
Today Is The Day has had a lot of lineup changes. How do you think that has helped—or hurt—the band?
I like having different players on different records. Every time we make an album, my goal is to do something that I’ve never done before, hopefully something that musically is brand new and has never been done before. By having different players on the records, we’ve been able to introduce new sounds and not get stuck making record after record that is pretty much the same record.
You just did a short tour, I believe. How did that go?
We went out to play Psycho Las Vegas and it was awesome. We played with Godflesh, Voivod, Eyehategod, and Danzig. Some of my most favorite bands, and friends to boot! The stuff punk metal kids dream of. I was honored to be a part of it. It made me happy.
When did you start getting into engineering? Also, did it have any effect on you as a musician, on how you played or listened to things?
Around 12 years old, I got a Fostex X-15 Cassette 4-track Recorder from my dad. I was a fat kid with no friends, alone all the time. No friends, so no band members. I had a little Roland drum machine, a guitar, and the Fostex 4-track. I would sit in my basement trying to make songs up. It was a challenge. I didn’t know what I was doing and had no one to show me how. I had to make it all up on my own and create my own style of playing. I think learning how to record early on made a big difference in learning, creativity.
What are your earliest influences?
The Cure, Jane’s Addiction, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus, Ministry, The Melvins, The Dead Kennedys, Negative Approach, Slint, Pink Floyd, PJ Harvey, Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails, King Crimson and Johnny Cash. Miles Davis is the fucking man.
What have you been listening to recently?
Ever since I got home from tour, I can’t stop listening to NAILBOMB “Point Blank”. I put on Pandora Channel and listen to mostly Miles Davis Radio at home: Leonard Cohen, Chet Baker, all kinds of really killer old school jazz. In modern music, I like Die Antwoord. I don’t care if people don’t get them or understand them. They are the most punk rock thing in music right now, because they simply don’t give a fuck. Die Antwoord is ‘fuck you’ music. In 2018, they’re daring to be different than everyone else, just by being yourself.
You have a new album coming out soon, I believe. Tell us about that.
I worked on the new album over the last 2 years. Love destroys hate. Violence, anger, and rage will destroy you from within. We reach a higher plane—a higher self—when we are able to turn rage and hatred into love. Love lives on. Love is harmony. Hatred always comes to an end, and usually not a good one. Jef Whitehead from Leviathan did the front cover artwork and Gianni Serusi did the layout. It took a while, heading off tour in between tracking and mixing. I probably mixed it down 4-5 times in full. It’s hard to let it go, but at some point you just have to. I’m really happy with the end result.
How did The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself come about?
Two longtime friends of mine, who are brothers, approached me about doing it. I was very suspect of doing something like that, because I’m a different kind of person and I didn’t want my life’s and work turned into a freak show. Because I know these guys, I was willing to give it a shot. So we got together and I let them in. We covered a lot of painful things, and a lot of beautiful things too. Like an album, it’s a snapshot in time and I think Anthony and Alex did a really great job.
Is there anything you want to add or say to your fans?
Yes, thank you to all Today Is The Day fans and friends. We’re connected through scars, tears, broken bones, and broken hearts. I owe them dearly for being a part of this with me.