This time around, Today Is The Day’s pain might not be the kind you’re used to. For years, the noise rock project, led by the volatile Steve Austin, has spoken to the shattered and unfettered madmen of the world, leaving scorched emotions and broken scruples in its path. But after getting into a terrible van accident shortly after the release of 2014’s Animal Mother, Austin went through a series of medical misdiagnoses and a bout of Lyme disease that almost broke him. Now, nearly six years later, the band are releasing a new studio album title No Good To Anyone, on which Austin lashes out at his own weakness rather than just those of the world around him.
The band’s new video for the track Burn In Hell is a tangible exploration of Austin’s discomfort and agitation. Made up of performance footage directed by David Hall and Uneasy Sleeper, Burn In Hell is a stark, no-nonsense display of the puny humans making this grinding, swaying noise-rock track. At the center of it all is Austin, his face impossible to look away from as he wails about excess with all the sweaty truth of someone who knows about trying to outrun his pain.
We spoke to Steve about the ache — both emotional and physical — that led him to make his most sincere album yet.
The amount of time between Today Is The Day records varies throughout your career. Why’d it take over five years for No Good To Anyone to come out?
You know, it really broke my heart that I wasn’t able to do the follow-up album to Animal Mother within, say, a year. After we had the van crash and the lady hit us, and after the dust had settled after a year — I had it in my head that I wanted to do it right then. But life circumstances started to pile on, with the health concerns that I had. I didn’t know it, but that van accident had shattered my right hip socket and my left one was dislocated. And I’m a tough old bastard so I just kept going on tour while doctors just kept misdiagnosing me. I started making a new album around that time, and I thought I’d have it done within less than a year from then. But all that stuff debilitated me quite a bit, and I went from being a really strong guy to disabled, more or less. I couldn’t walk — I had a cane and eventually a walker. Then the doctors laid it on me that it would take another year to recover.
It was just this trying, frustrating, crazy thing where you want to record, to lay down your ideas, but then for the first time in my life out of 11 albums, I had this bullshit going on with Lyme disease, where all of a sudden my right hand would get so swollen to the point where I couldn’t use my fingers, or my left foot would feel like it was broken. I ended up having to come at the album on days when I’d be able to physically work on it.
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How did this affect the finished product?
It was almost as if some omnipotent being was putting me through some really hard test. It was like, ‘Do you really love doing this?’ It would be easy to stay away from the pain. I don’t make any money from doing this. I could’ve easily said, ‘Fuck this, I’m taking care of myself, I just want to get myself feeling right because I feel like I might die.’ But at the same time, playing in Today Is The Day, with the type of band it is, it’s got a lot of spiritual leanings for people. And I thought, ‘I’m not going to make myself a martyr, but I’m not going to let this shit beat me.’
Do you feel like this is the same album you would’ve made right after Animal Mother, or different?
I think it’s a little bit different. I feel like people make albums like medications, to heal themselves, and so when I made the new one, the idea of clanky, heavy, smashing, distorted, abrasive — all those adjectives were not the type of sounds that a person who is chronically ill with 24-hour pain wants to hear in their head all the time. I wanted to create and album that would comfort, that would provide a sense of warmth and understanding to myself. That’s what I needed in that minute. I didn’t need someone screaming death metal shit in my ear.
My album that I just got through making is the kind of album that screams, ‘I don’t want to fit in, and I don’t five a fuck if you like it.’ My job is to make music that’s brand new, and I wanted to not be worried, and not be afraid. I hope this album empowers a younger kid who’s maybe fifteen or sixteen, and maybe he’s a real kid. He loves listening to Morbid Angel’s Covenant, but another minute he loves listening ot Jane’s Addiction or PJ Harvey or Miles Davis…I feel like that record, that’s just honest, is missing from today, and people need to feel a little more bold, and not be afraid to be different.
It’s true that the title seems incredibly negative and hopeless, but the music is often really uplifting.
The title of the album was just the full, realized manifestation that I had just become absolutely no good to anyone at all. I couldn’t load wood into my house. I couldn’t work on cars. I couldn’t fuckin’ do anything, and it made me so sick. My family would want to take a walk? I’d have to skip it. My band would want to go to a museum while we’re on tour? I’d have to skip it. One by one, each one of those little things was taking a part out of me, where whatever used to be was left standing there as a hollow shell.
You have an interlude on the album named Orland, that’s just the intro to Clair de Lune played over and over. It’s oddly powerful. Where’d that come from?
I was in my house, near death on my couch. It was summertime, and quiet as a mouse, because I live out in the woods. And all of a sudden, in the middle of just fucking hating everything — I’d been on the couch for probably two weeks, just in fucking chronic pain, and when you feel like that you just wanna fucking kill yourself, it just doesn’t let up — all of a sudden I hear that piano stuff going on. And it’s so clear and true. And then I kept listening to it. And it was my son Willy, sitting there with his electric piano and learning how to play that. And when I started hearing it, there was an innocence about his playing that. It gave me such a comforting feeling, that love was all around me.
Watch our exclusive premiere of Today Is The Day’s video for Burn In Hell below:
Today Is The Day’s No Good To Anyone comes out February 28 on BMG, and is available for preorder.
Catch Today Is The Day live at one of the following dates:
26 Geno’s – Portland, ME
27 Alchemy – Providence, RI
28 Market Hotel – Brooklyn, NY
29 Meatlocker – Montclair, NJ
01 Café 611 – Frederick, MD
02 Howard’s Club H – Bowling Green, OH
03 Northside Yacht Club – Cincinnati, OH
04 Growler’s – Memphis, TN
05 Ziggy’s – Chattanooga, TN
06 Reggies 42nd Street Tavern – Wilmington, NC
07 Little Harpeth Brewing – Nashville, TN
08 The Earl – Atlanta, GA
09 Poor Boys – New Orleans, LA
10 Freetown – Lafayette, LA
11 Bears – Shreveport, LA
12 Reptilez – San Antonio, TX
13 The Lost Well – Austin, TX
14 Ridglea Room – Fort Worth, TX
15 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM
16 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
17 5 Star Bar – Los Angeles, CA
18 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
19 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
20 Holy Diver – Sacramento, CA
21 Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA
22 Oakland Metro Operahouse – Oakland, CA
23 Star Theater– Portland, OR
24 Funhouse – Seattle, WA
27 Ernie November – Cheyenne, WY
28 Zodiac – Colorado Springs, CO
29 Streets – Denver, CO
30 Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines, IA
31 Fubar – St. Louis, MO
01 Live Wire – Chicago, IL
02 Black Circle Brewing – Indianapolis, IN
03 Sanctuary – Detroit, MI
04 Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY
05 Jewel – Manchester, NH
w/ The Obsessed 2/27-3/08
w/ Child Bite 3/09-4/05
w/ -16- 3/17-3/23
Posted on February 13th 2020, 4:00pm