Today Is the Day In-depth Biography
Quasi-cult-like in its construction, surgical in its execution, eclectic to a fault, Today Is the Day emerged from Nashville, TN, in 1992 as a trio of musical misfits with tremendous technical abilities lead by founder, guitarist, and vocalist Steve Austin. Not the simplest to define sonically, Today Is the Day combines the challenging time signatures and chameleon-esque musical proficiency of King Crimson with the raw-boned intensity, volume, and power of Slayer. Between those poles, Austin and the various incarnations of Today Is the Day have experimented brazenly, audaciously, and fearlessly with sound, tone, and style, utilizing everything from found samples to acoustic instruments to synthesizers to all-out death metal and grindcore beats. In doing so, the band has earned the distinction as one of extreme music's most talented, peculiar, searching, and influential acts. After releasing a self-financed EP on the band's own Supernova Records, Today Is the Day returned to Austin's former home of Detroit, MI, to record a demo tape. One of those tapes fell into the hands of Amphetamine Reptile Records head Tom Hazelmeyer, who immediately signed the band to a multiple album deal.
In the Spring of 1993, Today Is the Day issued their mind-bending debut, Supernova. That quixotic album of experimental pieces and contorted metal tracks -- one that left a wake of both puzzled and congratulatory reviews -- was immediately followed with an appearance on AmRep's Clusterfuck EP, shared with labelmate's Guzzard and Chokebore. The Cluster tour followed, with all three bands co-headlining 43 dates in the U.S. and 45 in Europe. In 1994, the band recorded its follow-up, Willpower, at White Room Studios in Detroit, MI, with engineer Al Sutton. The album was far more nuanced, song-oriented, warm, and emotional than its cold, technical predecessor. A great deal of touring ensued before bass player Mike Herrell departed. Herrell was replaced by keyboardist Scott Wexton and the addition of keyboards signaled a stylistic, as well as personnel change.
While maintaining the band's extreme nature, particularly Austin's Fripp-like guitar playing and layered vocals, Today is the Day embraced digital recording and quasi-industrial ambient textures, maintaining only guitar and drums as organic instruments. In 1996, that lineup recorded its self-titled and final album for AmRep. A year later, original drummer Brad Elrod left the band as well, prompting Austin to restructure the trio, and switch labels to Relapse Records. Temple of the Morning Star was recorded and released in 1997 with Chris Reeser on keyboards, and Mike Hyde on drums. A lengthy and ambitious work, Temple of the Morning Star continued the forward-thinking bent of Today Is the Day, while incorporating a number of the trademarks of the earlier releases.
After a year of touring, Austin relocated the band and his recording studio -- Austin Enterprises -- to Clinton, MA, and once again reconfigured the lineup, this time reverting to the bass-guitar-drums format of the first two albums. The lineup was rounded out by drummer Brann Dailor and bassist Bill Kelliher. In 1999, that lineup emerged with In the Eyes of God, Today Is the Day's most unapologetically metal album, filled with double-picking guitar riffs, double-kick drum, intensely venomous lyrics, as well as Austin's peculiar trademarks and idiosyncratic song structures. In 2000, Relapse issued Live Till You Die, a collection of demos, acoustic tracks, live audio, tape loops, and odds and ends. Austin began to work for other bands as a producer, while the emotionally draining Sadness Will Prevail (2002) was the next effort to appear from the group. ~ Patrick Kennedy, Rovi