Bringing their unique brand of rock music to the masses for well over a decade, Trapt has weathered many storms on the turbulent seas of a constantly changing music industry. Along the way they have amassed a dedicated fanbase who help fuel their creative fire. The band released their fifth studio album, “Reborn,” in early 2013 to critical acclaim. ‘Reborn’ contains some of the best songs the band has written and also carries these dedicated musicians in a new musical direction. In frontman Chris Taylor Brown’s own words, “This record is really a new sound for Trapt, I’ve gotten to this point where I feel like rock music today needs to experiment and push new boundaries more than ever before. With ‘Reborn’ we really wanted to use new sounds and textures electronically and organically using delays, reverbs, synths and a bunch of other techniques we have learned over the years or have heard in our influences. Lyrically, this album is as deep and thoughtful as any album that Trapt has done in the past.” Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Trapt frontman Christ Taylor Brown to discuss the creation of their dynamic new studio album, the longevity of the band and lessons learned along the way!
We always like to start at the beginning, what are your earliest memories of music in your life?
When I was a kid, it was all about The Police, Sting, U2, Kate Bush and a bunch of stuff like that. Then I started getting into things like Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool. I discovered I really wanted to get on stage and make people happy and get the crowd riled up! When I was fifteen, we did a little talent competition in high school. We played “What I Got” by Sublime. That was the first time we played in front of an audience and got people poppin’ and riled up! That was right when we started the band and I haven’t looked back since!
Trapt has been around for many years now and has experienced many changes. To what do you attribute the longevity of the band?
We owe everything to our fans. The fans are there to support us and keep us going. We owe everything to them. At the same time, you always have to try and make music that is better than your last album. You have to keep pushing, growing as an artist and a lyricist. You have to keep looking for the best guitar hooks, vocal hooks and chord progression.
That brings me to your latest album, “Reborn.” Did you have any particular goals or expectations for this album?
We just wanted to make another Trapt record and get more music out there to the fans. We wanted to play it live and, like I said, keep progressing. We have had five albums that have been released nationally and worldwide. Making music is something we are going to continue to do for years to come!
Did you approach “Reborn” differently than you did with previous records?
Yeah, we did! We would write a couple of songs, get them recorded and go write more and then do it all again. Every time we would go back into the studio to record, we would tweak those earlier songs. Most of the time, you will get 12 or 13 good songs demo’d and then do six to eight weeks in the studio to knock it out and see how much of the record you can get done in that time period. Sometimes you look back and think “I wish I could have done this or I was we could have changed that!” This time we were fortunate to be able to go back and look at some of those earlier songs, change things here or there, add new parts and all that kind of stuff. It was really good to be able to take that time with the songs and make this record!
What can you tell us about your typical songwriting process and how you start to bring a song to life?
Usually it starts with a riff or a set of chords on acoustic guitar. Lyrics are written on top of that. There are many ways to do it but that is the typical start. There is also the times when the band gets together and jams to come up with something completely from scratch. There are so different many ways of doing it. Like I said, a lot of times a song will start acoustically and you will figure out the vocals. Then you present it to the band and they add their part to it. It is a terrific combination and that is what Trapt is, ya know?
Absolutely! You did “Reborn” as an independent release. Did you have any reservations about going that route?
We used the same marketing people and strategies we did with the bigger labels. We had people who we hired and worked with the same people who worked our record at radio on all the previous records. It was pretty comfortable having that backbone. I think we go the same push and marketing that we would have had with any label. When you are doing it independently, you get to call the shots and don’t have to wait for some other bands to go out before you or something like that or wait for someone to tell you to put a video out. You hold the reigns. We have been working with a lot of the same people for ten years, so we have a lot of help getting the word out for sure!
Did the title of the album, ‘Reborn,’ hold any special significance to you personally?
Basically, we just approached the music differently and felt there was a different sound on this album. ‘Reborn’ seemed like a fitting title to address the change.
Where is Trapt in regard to new music? I assume you a definitely looking to the future!
Yeah, man! We are always writing songs and lyrics! Any time we have enough material for a new record, we plan on heading back to the studio to make a new record! We want to get as much new material as possible for a return to the studio and we hope to do so within the next six months.
What do you feel has been the biggest evolution for you as a musician over the years?
I think making the lyrics as personal, honest and challenging is the biggest evolution. Trying to come up with lyrics that are as clever, witty and entertaining to the listener is always a challenge. That is probably the thing I care about most when I write lyrics. I want to make the listener “Oh, that is a cool line?” or “That is a very cool statement.” It is all about making the best lyrics you can make and coming up with great music to compliment those lyrics.
Looking back on the band’ history, what do you consider the biggest high and low you have encountered along the way?
That is a good question. “Headstrong” was an amazing moment. The first album did so well because of it. I wouldn’t say it is a low but having to go from a major label to an independent label like Eleven Seven and then to our own thing and to where we are now, has also required some adjustment. I can’t really say there is a low point. I am doing what I love to do and I am thankful every day for it!
What is one of the most memorable moments for you and your time touring with Trapt?
The first thing that springs to mind is also probably the coolest thing that happened. We were playing a huge show in Miami for a radio station there. There were a bunch of great bands on the bill like Disturbed, Saliva and others. We went on and did half our set and were getting the crowd fired up. I said “Do whatever you want to do! If you want to throw bottles in the air, do it! I want to see it raining plastic bottles!” It didn’t take long and halfway to the steel frame there was a sea of bottles raining to the ground. People were just throwing them up in the air over and over. It was the coolest looking thing I have ever seen! That was an awesome moment. Music Midtown was another amazing moment. Getting to perform in front of 60,000 people was amazing! People were going crazy! It reminded me of being in high school and watching Woodstock ’99 and the craziness that ensued. There were definitely a lot of moments like that over the years. We still do shows like that where there are 20,000 people in the crowd going crazy but we still love the up close and personal show we do as well!
I am sure a lot of young musicians look to you for inspiration. What is the biggest lesson that can be learned from your life in music?
I think a big lesson is to find the right people to work with who can really get stuff done for you and will go that extra mile for you. Try not to do everything yourself because it is a lot of work and you might get in over your head. You want to make sure you are working with people outside your band who are looking out for you best interests. Also, and it seems simple, make sure your songs are as good as they can be.
What are some of the things you are still hoping to accomplish in your career?
I just want to be able to keep doing what we are doing. I want to get another monster hit song on the radio. That is always a fun thing but, at the same time, we have released so many albums and have so many songs that may not be on the radio but are loved by our fans. That is a really cool feeling when you know a lot of your fans like a particular song from an album that wasn’t a radio hit, like “Black Rose” or “End of My Rope.” Another example from ‘Reborn’ is “Living In The Eye of The Storm” and “Experience.” We have been playing those songs a lot live. “Bring It” and “Love Hate Relationship” were the radio songs from this album but it is really cool to see fans really get into the songs that weren’t on the radio. That is what is great about the situation we are in now; we have a fanbase that really cares about the music we make and they seek it out on their own. It is really cool.
Is there anything you want to say to your fans directly before I let you go?
I just want to say they are the best fans a band could hope for. It is important for them to know we are going to continue to make music to get them through the day and what they need to get through. That is what Trapt is all about; self-empowerment and living life the way you want to live it. That is what we do and we know our fans do as well. We love them for that!
Thank you for your time today! I am glad to help spread the word on ‘Reborn’ and I am definitely looking forward to everything else you have in store for us in the future.
Right on! Thanks for spreading the word and I definitely appreciate it! Talk to you soon!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.