HFTB Revisits: Nothingface

For our new feature, we revisit some of the bands from the original nu metal era that didn’t reach the heights of Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot etc. however they remained crucial to the cause. Vastly underrated, incredibly talented, to open things up we take a look at Nothingface.

Originally forming in 1993, Washington D.C. natives Nothingface began as a grunge band before moving to a heavier sound upon the arrival of vocalist Matt Holt in 1995.

Replacing David Gabbard, Holt joined Tom Maxwell (guitar), Bill Gaal (bass) and Chris Houck (drums) to produce a combo of alternative and robust metal, leading to a self-released and self-titled debut album later in 1995.

It wouldn’t be long before the quartet signed to DCide Records and in 1996 they released ‘Pacifier’, which included six tracks from the original first album plus four new tunes. Following it up with ‘An Audio Guide to Everyday Atrocity’ in 1998, the record was distributed by Mayhem Records and featured the singles ‘Breathe Out’ and ‘Sick’. To promote it, Nothingface toured the US with Stuck Mojo, Helmet and industrial powerhouses Ministry.

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Finally earning some recognition, the band were to enter their most successful period at the turn of the new millennium when they joined TVT Records and unleashed their third album ‘Violence’. It still featured the customary brash alternative metal, however melodic influences began to creep in, and the lead single ‘Bleeder’ made it to 32 on the Mainstream Rock Charts. Often considered Nothingface’s most successful record; ‘Violence’ even made VH1’s ’12 Most Underrated Nu Metal Albums’ list.

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Becoming more diverse possibly with mainstream exposure in mind; ‘Skeletons’ emerged in 2003. Led by the tender and tough ‘Ether’ as well as the fan favourite ‘Murder Is Masturbation’- the record earned Nothingface a spot on Ozzfest, however it was a tour that would ultimately lead to the bands downfall.

In early 2004, Nothingface announced they were disbanding, partly blaming their record label for lack of support. It reportedly stemmed from an incident during Ozzfest when the band needed money for gas to get to the next city, and TVT refused to pay. Calling out the label during a live show on said tour, Holt stated that TVT would later give them the cash to finish the stint, however the band would take the money and go home with it.

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A reformation took place in late 2005, and Nothingface supported Disturbed for a one-off show in 2006, debuting the new line-up of Holt, Maxwell, Jerry Montano on bass and Tommy Sickles on drums.

Two new songs were then released online before the band went on a small US club tour, and soon after, Gaal and Houck returned to the band to re-complete Nothingface’s original line-up. Teasers began to be uploaded showing the members recording in the studio, however in 2009; Nothingface called it quits once again.

Maxwell helped form the heavy metal supergroup Hellyeah with Mudvayne’s Chad Gray, and he remains in the band today, and in April 2017, Holt sadly passed away after suffering from an undisclosed degenerative illness. 

Killer Cuts- ‘Bleeder’, ‘Ether’, ‘Murder Is Masturbation’

*This biography is taken from Matt Karpe’s book ‘Nu Metal: Resurgence’, which is available now on Amazon.

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