Axis Of Metal: So to start things off, for some of our readers who are younger or aren’t familiar with your band Toxik, could you give the Axis Of Metal readers a bit of run down on how your band started, and a bit of history on Toxik?
Josh Christian: I started Toxik back in the late 70′s early 80′s with my friend Lee Erwin (The initial name for our band was “The Photogenics” ..I’ve never told anyone) He played bass and together we probably wrote 75-125 tunes over a 5 year period. We began as a post 70′s Punk band and gradually morphed into ..prog… noise… metal…. we were really all over the place. In the beginning we would go from something that sounded a lot like “Armed and Ready” by MSG right into straight up smash your guitar Punk ala “The Cramps” and “Misfits“. Our shows were drunken, drugged out fire hazards as we always seemed to be playing in a basement somewhere… the late 70′s and early 80′s were a weird time and I was like 14 years old just sucking it all up. Metal was just catching on and there was a lot of it.. Tigers of Pantang, Accept, Motorhead, Priest, Scorps, obviously Sabbath and AC/DC... But there was the Cramps and Kraftwerk, Black Flag and Peter Murphy… all that shit was on top of years of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, UK, Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant, Kansas etc…I was really into progressive rock music. Toxik grew from a “Lets Play whatever sounds good” point of view.
AOM: Getting right into the heart of this thing, given that Toxik was a part of the “tech-thrash” movement in the late 80’s, why do you think your band achieved the success that Toxik did?
Josh: We didn’t achieve that much success relative to other contemporaries like Metallica and Slayer, but then I don’t think we really got much of a push from the record company. So the success that we did have really was based on a true interest in our music. We never got to have 5 video’s in rotation on MTV, we didn’t have a big tour bus… we were just a hard working band that connected with our audience. The music always came first and I think our fan base (friend base) is composed largely of musicians and people who are into the energy… It was one of those rare moments where something unique in art surfaced and I am super happy and very proud to have been part of it. Honestly there had been nothing like it prior so we were in an “ORIGINAL” scene…
AOM: Being that you were one of the founding members, and crafting your own brand of thrash metal as you did, what were your major influence(s)? Did you draw from any bands that were playing similar music? Also could you take us through the songwriting process? Did you just show up with a riff, and then build from it? Or was it more of a communal process?
Josh: Well I sort of touched on this in the first answer… Lee and I wrote a lot of stuff together, but right before TOXIK went into the studio for the World Circus recording session Lee left the band. It was a mutual decision as he was a manic depressive and it was just getting to be too much of a burden for both parties, that was a tough moment in my life, but after Lee left I sort of got into my own Zone. I would write a riff or 2 and bring them in, sort of tell the guys what I was hearing and then we’d work it from there… I brought in a lot of finished material especially for World Circus.. I wrote like 25 songs total for that record.Think this was more of a “work” than World Circus had been. I had gotten to a point where I was thoroughly disillusioned with the label, and the band was starting to suffer from a lack of money. We were basically living in our parents basements and shit, it was ridiculous the way Roadrunner starved us. I began writing purely from a selfish standpoint. After all, I had always been into the prog and my guitar playing was exploding right then, so I thought, why not do an album that showcased that combination of elements. The label wasn’t giving us any money and no support anyway, so why should we give them what they want? They wanted another Thrash album…. so In defiance, I wrote a straight up Prog album and they hated it!!!! “Think This” was a like a wet fart in King Diamond‘s Black Church,…(Fuck you Road Runner you conformist Bitches) they were ready to drop us on the demo version, but we’d had a parting of the ways with Mike Sanders and got Charlie in the band which made the record company take a second lilisten, as they really liked Charlie’s vocals on his demo.. suddenly we were back in the game with Roadrunner and they gave us the money to finish the album with Charlie.. but that was it, no more support of any kind from that point forward. They totally did not know how to market us, we were a unique combination of styles and elements… and they were a dumb metal label at that point that had lucked out with Merciful Fate and King …
AOM: Being that Toxik is an older band, and haven’t had a full length release since 1989, what do you attribute the band’s loyal fan base too? And furthermore, what do you think keeps Toxik sounding “fresh” and relevant after all these years?
Josh: I think because of our originality we’ve stood the test of time, especially for our real friends… Toxik is a Unique band, honestly a lot of people didn’t get us back then, but its that uniqueness that has kept us relevant for our growing base. I think I get more email and messages on FB and such now than I ever did..
AOM: Personally, I think that Toxik was an immensely influential band, and one band who I think draws heavily from your band, is Vektor. How do you feel about that?
Josh: I like Vektor a lot, and I do hear some of the same influences …I’d love to think that there are people out there making music right now that we’ve inspired.. fuck what’s a greater compliment for any kind of artist than to see other artists after you, referencing your style? That is truly the highest honor imaginable…
AOM: Changing gears a bit here, but there is various information on the internet about what happened to the demise of Toxik; but could you give the readers your take on the events that took place that led to Toxik’s demise.
Josh: Like I said the label was starving us.. also the early 90′s were tough for metal bands, and we’d already struggled nonstop for 5 years.. I think we were just burned out. I went back to school and so did, Mike, John and Tad… Toxik was great when it was good but horrible when it wasn’t…
AOM: But onto more positive things, Toxik had played a very big gig at the Dynamo Open Air festival in 1988, how did Toxik get on that festival, and how was it playing to such a large audience? Also, what led to that show being released on DVD in 2007?
Josh: Dynamo was a great gig, World Circus was a very popular release that year and being that we were signed to a Dutch label it seemed pretty obvious that we would get an invite to the largest Dutch metal festival. It was a classic day on every level, I feel that we played well and that we were well received. The sound was fucked up but it seemed that wherever we played there was a problem with the sound.. it just followed us…lol. As for releasing the vid, I guess it was such a great day and it had been so long since we had put anything out it just made sense. I know it sold a fair amount of copies… also the video “Think Again”, which we released personally showed the Dynamo Club date and an original line up Tokyo/ Toxik show from 85 I believe, if you haven’t seen it check it out its pretty good…
AOM: Speaking of the late 2000’s, there was a flurry of re-released Toxik content, along with a DVD in 2010, [Think Again] what led to those releases? Plus could you elaborate on why the band decided to get back together with a line-up very similar to the original Toxik lineup?
Josh: I think it was just economics and fans of the band that wanted to licence the stuff and release it. They did contact us, both labels that did the re-releases and were pretty cool, letting us write the liners and such., but Road Runner still never gave us a fucking penny. They licensed out my songs, and let these other labels release our shit, when they wouldn’t let us do it ourselves? I had approached them a year or 2 earlier and they were like “NO WAY” …”You Owe Us Money Josh” fucking assholes… like after 20 years of sales we hadn’t recouped them, seriously? They were so busy counting the money from Nickleback that they could of given us the rights back to our music and it wouldn’t have made any difference at all.. but they are such total cum guzzling scumbags that even 20 something years later they are still intent on fucking me… Perhaps one day I will meet some of the management face to face… When we decided to get the band back together it seemed at the time like it was the right thing to do ..in hind site we should have reached out to Charlie as he was a big part of the Toxik sound on Think this. Any Toxik in the future will most likely feature both vocalists and maybe me as well on vocals..
AOM: Keeping on in this vein, there was a European tour announced in 2007, could you explain how that came about? Plus could you elaborate on what went wrong, and why the tour ended up being cancelled? And why did bassist Brain Bonini decide to leave Toxik after the re-formation?
Josh: Well when Brian left for personal reasons it really set us back.. without Tad and Brian it wasn’t Toxik.. it was cool but it wasn’t Toxik, and that was really the end of the energy. I had also been denied a passport.. I’m sure I’m on a terrorist watch list as I constantly bad mouth my Fascist country every chance I get, but that was why we cancelled. Very Very disappointing!!!!
AOM: The one question that has bothered me personally all this time of being a big Toxik fan, has been; will there ever be another re-union? More new material? Re-released content? Could you shed some light on this for us?
Josh: Honestly I don’t know if there will be or not… there’s a ton of material written for another Toxik disc and I have more on tap whenever, but as to whether or not we will reform I don’t know.. I’m sorry but its really unclear if we will or not.. I may still do a solo disc though and include a lot of that written Toxik Material.
AOM: Finally, is there anything you want to say to Toxik fans?
Well for the old Friends (Fans is a gross word) its a simple and gracious Thank You, for keeping us alive in your heads and in your hearts.. we haven’t released a new song in 20 years, and yet we’re still here doing interviews and getting messages daily.. so for the older fans again… Thank You!!!!!!!!! For Newer fans… thank you again and welcome to the circus… Hopefully we will come out with something new for you guys eventually…
AOM: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview for Axis Of Metal!
Josh: MY FUCKING PLEASURE MAN… Thank you!!!!