Trap Them Discuss Touring Plans, Stephen King, Black Sabbath Conspiracies + More
At the 2013 New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, we had a chance to catch up with hardcore punk staples Trap Them. Speaking with vocalist Ryan McKenney, guitarist Brian Izzi and drummer Chris Maggio, we covered a great deal of topics, both serious and comedy-minded with the trio.
The three current official members of Trap Them spoke with us about recording nearly their entire discography with Converge‘s Kurt Ballou at the board, plans for an upcoming headlining tour, lyrical themes, the reunion of Black Sabbath + much more.
Basically all your material has been produced by Kurt Ballou of Converge. Is there any other producer you’d let touch your music in the studio?
Brian Izzi: Nope!
Chris Maggio: Nope! Kurt’s the best.
Ryan McKenney: There would be absolutely, 100-percent no point. Kurt ‘gets it’ and he’s basically part of the band. It would be like kicking out a band member — it really would. It would defeat itself to try and do something else, because we’re never going to be a band trying to reinvent ourselves. So why reinvent ourselves with someone else?
Maggio: When you get together with your best friends to make a record, you’ve got to get your best friends together to make a record.
When are we going to get some new material from you guys?
Izzi: We’re working stuff out. Sooner than later; I can say that.
McKenney: It’s sort of like Marge Simpson with the go-kart — slow and steady wins the race.
How about touring plans?
Izzi: We have to approach things a different way. We’ll save the long story, but we are booking shows for the summer that we will be announcing soon. These are going to be Trap Them shows, because we haven’t played in a while. We’ve gotten to play on some great tours with some great bands, but this time, we just want to be able to play as much as we want. People have been waiting for that and we’ve been wanting to do that. There will be some cool bands, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a package tour. I think each show, you’ll see some cool bands.
McKenney: Some bands try and strip down their sound, but we’re trying to strip down our approach to touring. Some bands still have that idea that they need to keep touring to gain momentum and get huge, whatever ‘huge’ may be, but we have realistic expectations, and for us, that means if fewer shows means that everything works out better, then there’s no point in touring for the sake of touring. Especially when you’re in your 30s and you realize you’ve been doing this for more than half your life. There’s literally some point where you decide to be a train-hopper or you decide to have some sort of idea of a regular life and still being able to do this. I think that’s what we’re trying to do at this point, kind of learn how to balance the two.
Do you guys tend to feel burnt out after touring so much? Is that a part of the reasoning?
Izzi: There’s a list of little reasons. We’re all different guys, but as a blanket statement, if you’re gone on tour for five months I think anybody would say, ‘Yeah, burnout.’
McKenney: It’s no different than work. You get burnt out at work. We we tour, we drive eight hours a day — it’s the same type of thing. The only difference is there isn’t a time clock.
Izzi: Maybe it’s not even burnout, maybe it’s like, when the excitement dies out — that’s a scary thing.
In your song ‘the Facts,’ the chorus, “I am that g–damn son of a b-tch,” must be a Misfits tribute.
McKenney: It’s the anti-Misfits tribute — that’s kind of how I looked at it. It’s kind of the way I like to associate our stuff. It’s funny, because punks were the first ones to point the finger, but they didn’t realize that I was trying to do the exact opposite of what Danzig said. He didn’t want to be “that goddamn son of a b-tch” and I embrace the fact that I’m “that goddamn son of a b-tch.” That’s what I was trying to say, and that’s why I don’t really have any punk heroes. We do what we want, and I’m not going to look up to someone else as my inspiration.
Have you received any negative backlash from the song?
McKenney: No, it’s more just the way that kids immediately are like, “I know that! Oh, dude!” It’s like, “Yeah, I get. You went on the internet and you know the lyrics.”
Besides the chronological aspect, is there any significance to the ‘days’ which you give your song titles?
McKenney: Yeah, it’s an ongoing story. You can kind of look at it as one big song of lyrics. It’s all about the same thing, which is desperation and anger and frustration over everyday life. So it’s just an ongoing story about a lot of people in a s–tty town, which we can all associate with. I think a lot of people can. It’s not about f—ing dragons and swords…
Izzi: Dragons and swords are cool too, sometimes.
McKenney: There’s no grand, out-there thing. I’m not a f—ing teacher, I’m not trying to write things about wisdom or trying to make people aware of anything. It’s more that people know no one is alone — everybody is f—ed.
I read in another interview that Steven King is an influence for your songwriting. Do you ever try to implement the feel of his books or his writing style into your own work?
McKenney: Lyric-wise, yeah. To me, he’s always someone who has captured, more than anyone else, human nature in its most stripped-down form. He’s all about primal urges and emotion, and the way he’s able to depict people and make them real-life characters so you can associate and understand who they really are, is kind of the way I try to approach lyric writing. Everything can be associated and there is nothing confusing. Same thing; everybody is f—ed and you want to know different ways that people are f—ed.
Right now we’re asking a bunch of bands about the new Black Sabbath album and the new song ‘God is Dead?’ Are you guys excited about the new material at all?
Izzi: I think it sucks that they picked the guy from Rage Against the Machine. That’s all I have to say about it. I think it’s corny as f—, and you can quote me on that. It think it would have been cool if they kept the actual member of the band [Bill Ward]. I just think they could have picked somebody cooler. Not to say the guy [Brad Wilk] is a bad drummer, but it seems very ‘Sharon Osbourne desperate’ to get someone from a very popular band.
Maggio: Yeah, what’s wrong with the original drummer? Did he die?
Izzi: I just always hop to the worst thing. I always just go to the conspiracy. But you know what, man? I really hope the new album is good, because if it is, we’re going to play it at our shop all day long, but if it’s bad we probably will too. [Laughs]
Maggio: He brings up a good point, though. Is it Black Sabbath putting out a new record or is is just some kind of business move? I don’t want to hear anybody’s business move, I just want to hear a record.
Is there any other drummer you guys would suggest for Black Sabbath?
McKenney: Well, we’re not doing a lot… [Laughs]
Izzi: How about Bill Ward? [Laughs] Ever heard of him?
McKenney: I’ll go with Animal from the Muppets.
Maggio: Bill Bruford from Yes. [Laughs]
Izzi: I think Derek Roddy (Hate Eternal / Nile / Malevolent Creation) should play for them. It would be all blast beats. Keep the riffs the same, blast beat it up and trigger the s–t out of it. I’d listen to that.
Trap Them, ‘the Facts’