About: After a decade together, which included their 2002 self-titled platinum debut and 2005’s gold Someone in Control, Trapt found itself at a crossroads.
Formed in 1997 in Los Gatos, CA, a suburb of Santa Barbara, by vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Chris Brown, guitarist Simon Ormandy and bassist Peter Charell, later adding Aaron Montgomery on drums, the band decided to leave their label, Warner Bros., and take things into their own hands. Live!, their debut for 10th Street Entertainment’s Eleven Seven Music, distributed by ADA, was recorded during a 2005 concert in Minneapolis, featuring two new tracks in “Stay Alive” and “Everything to Lose” and in-concert versions of their biggest Active Rock hits, including “Headstrong,” “Still Frame” and “Echo” from Trapt and “Stand Up,” “Waiting” and “Disconnected (Out of Touch),” from Someone in Control.
Live! is just a place-holder for the band’s third studio album, which they have just finished recording at The Warehouse in Vancouver, Canada, with Trapt producer GGGarth Richardson, but the two new songs give a hint as to future directions.
“The first album was about getting to a certain point in my life, figuring out who I am,” explains lead singer/songwriter Brown. “For the second album, I was in a relationship that wasn’t very positive, so it was a lot darker and heavier. These days, I find myself in more of a happier place. The new album feels like a fresh start for us… new label, more freedom to do what we want. It’s just the four of us now. No one around us yapping to do this or do that.”
Indeed, “Stay Alive” is a direct reaction to the band deciding to leave their major label home and take destiny into their own hands. There is a homemade video for the track now available on the band’s website and at YouTube.
“It was just time for some new blood,” says Brown about the move. “It wasn’t the same place anymore. The vibe wasn’t there. We didn’t want to make a record for a label that wasn’t passionate about it.”
“The executives at these major labels are just worried about their own jobs. They make suggestions, but no one is willing to fight for them because they don’t want to look bad if it turns out to be the wrong decision. I’d just as soon get rid of all that bureaucracy and bullshit. This is a way for us to become who we are as a band rather than what someone else thinks we should be. No matter what happens to you, nobody can take away your guitar, bass, drums or voice. As long as we have that, we will always make music… and it doesn’t matter who puts the record out or who’s funding it.”
That attitude has been prevalent in Trapt since their very first rock hit, “Headstrong,” a #1 hit at Modern and Mainstream Rock which climbed into the Top 20 on the pop chart. Included on Live!, it is a perfect example of the band’s musical method—building tension in rhythmic verses with a sometimes Police-like world beat and resolving it with a Nirvana-esque heavy, throbbing chorus.
“This live album is about hearing Trapt do what we love doing, which is playing live,” says Brown. “It’s a way to express the songs in a different way than they were recorded in the studio, letting people glimpse what our world is like, or reminding them of a show of ours they’d been to before.”
Songs like “Echo” show the devotion the Trapt audience has, capturing them singing along to lyrics like “Some things you can’t erase/No matter how hard you try,” which may as well apply to the band itself, as it takes one more look back before moving ahead.
“That’s what songwriting is all about, connecting with those fans,” agrees Brown. “Hearing them sing back to you those same words you’ve put your heart and soul in with that kind of intensity is a beautiful thing. It’s a connection few bands get to achieve. That’s something we want to build on.”
“Stand Up,” the first single from Someone In Control, which debuted in the Top 15 on the album charts in its first week of release, is yet another song in which the band talks of self-empowerment, both for themselves and their fans, while “Skin Deep,” from the same album, shows an inspired Middle-Eastern flavored verse from guitarist Simon Ormandy, “the guru of crazy sounds,” as Brown dubs him.
“We have been strengthened by going through this,” insists the singer/songwriter. “We’re making great music and we’re in a head space that’s very positive. If you stay open to outside influences, if you don’t close yourself off, musical ideas, lyrics and guitar parts will find their way to you.”
Live! shows a band at the peak of their powers, ready to tackle the next part of their career. Brown credits the rise of the Internet and the digital age with “taking over how records are being sold and listened to.” He hopes to use those tools to get Trapt music out to as many people as possible. To that end, he is offering fans a chance to sell “Stay Alive,” the first single from the album, on their websites, and keep some of the income.
“It’s not the money as much as it makes them feel like they’re part of the band,” explains Brown. “They’re invested in us.”
With total control of their art, Trapt is looking forward to a fruitful relationship with Allen Kovac’s Eleven Seven Music: “You can do pretty well on an indie label if you keep your live thing going,” says Brown. “And if you’re lucky enough to get a song on the radio, it’s gravy. But it’s not a necessity.”
From the sound of Live!, the only necessity for Trapt is making music. And they’re not about to stop now.
“I’ve learned what it takes to start and maintain successful relationships,” concludes Brown. “It’s about being honest with yourself. Only experiencing pain and hurt can you realize what’s important in life. The hard way is usually the best way to find things out. You have to choose not to close yourself off. The last couple of years have been a reality check for us. We’ve all done a lot of growing up.”
Live! charts that maturation process the only way Trapt know how: playing in the band.