Last updated: 04/21/2012 12:00:00 PM
Chris Brown: Voice and Guitar
Simon Ormandy: Lead Guitar
Peter Charell: Lead Bass
"Headstrong." It's the opening track, and debut single of Trapt, the major label debut album from the compulsively original young band of the same name.
"Headstrong." It's also an especially apt single-word description for the foursome's fearless approach to music - a stubborn, uncompromising dedication to doing it their own way, regardless of the consequences. Their all-or-nthing ethos has sustained this potent creative collective through more than the usual run of false starts, dashed hopes and hardcore dues paying. The result, as evidenced on the eleven tracks of Trapt, proves the point in no uncertain terms: if you want it done right, do it yourself.
And Trapt have been doing it themselves right from the start, a point of origin reaching back to the mid-90's in the sleepy suburban enclave of Los Gatos, California. It was there that founding members Chris Brown and Peter Charell, weaned on a diet of Korn, Soundgarden, Pink Floyd, 311 and Metallica, formed an impromptu group that played their first gig at a high school performance "The crowd was totally into it" remarks Chris.
By the next summer, the pair had recruited Simon Ormandy to the cause, practicing at the guitarist's guesthouse in a party atmosphere that fostered more good times than serious intent. It wasn't until late 1997 that the fledging group began to find their musical footing, recording a do-it-yourself CD of original songs featuring Chris's lyrics and the band's arrangements and selling them at local gigs. By early the following year they had landed a regular spot at The Cactus Club, a local venue that allowed them invaluable experience to develop their electrifying live act for a fast-growing audience of friends and fans.
That audience had grown considerably by the mid-1998 when the band, who by now were opening for such acts as Papa Roach, Dredg and Spike 1000, graduated from high school and faced the crucial decision of continuing their musical partnership or going their separate paths in pursuit of college and career.
For a while they tried to have it both ways. After recording a second independent CD, titled Amalgamation, consisting of various early demos and new material, they continued playing a string of local performances up and down the central coast, even as they laid plans to continue their education. By the fall of 1999, the band members found themselves diverging, with Chris and Simon enrolling UC Santa Barbara, Peter hundreds of miles away at UC Santa Cruz, and their original drummer relocating in-between at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
It was a scattering that might have spelled the end of Trapt, except for one crucial consideration: the group's fierce commitment to their music. "Pete would drive down for rehearsals and gigs," recounts Chris, "and pick up the drummer along the way. It was a bitch trying to keep ourselves together over all those miles, but we really believed in what we were doing. We were just hanging on, trying to make something happen."
It was an effort that would test the group's belief in themselves and their music to the limit. Over the next year, they knocked relentlessly on any door that might gain them access to a recording deal and the chance to keep their shared vision alive.
They posted songs for an Internet battle of the bands, recorded new material every chance they got, (including a third CD titled Glimpse that previewed "Enigma" and "Hollowman," two songs featured on their new album) and played live for beer-soaked bashes on the party-hardy campus of UCSB.
What looked like their big break arrived in late 2000 when, after appearing at L.A.'s legendary Troubadour, they were approached by Immortal Records. "We were stoked, for lack of a better word," Chris remarks with characteristic understatement.
Though the label quickly lost interest, what might have proved a fatal blow to a less determined band, only spurred Trapt to new levels.
Then we all dropped out of college and moved to L.A.," recounts Chris. "We'd come this far and it was like we all decided at the same time that music was what we were here to do. Nothing was going to stop us."
These were fateful words, considering the rocky road still ahead. After recording four additional tracks with Grammy-winning engineer Warren Riker, Trapt was offered a major label deal that dissolved eight weeks later due to creative differences. But Trapt's trials were only just beginning. In the summer of 2001, the band's long time drummer parted ways with the group. "We'd quit school, turned our back on a record deal and, to top it all off, lost our drummer," recounts Chris. "There was nothing left to do but keep going."
The band began searching for a replacement, quickly recruiting Monty, a Seattle native with wide musical sensibilities and an immediate affinity for the group's tightly integrated sound. Creatively reinvigorated, Trapt put together a showcase on September 11th of last year and was immediately offered an exclusive contract with Warner Bros. Records.
Their perseverance had paid off. Hanging on against all odds, the group was poised for the pay-off: a chance to make the music that mattered to them, and find the audience they knew all along was out there waiting. It was a chance they grabbed with both hands. Early this year, after writing a sheaf of new material, they began recording their Warner Bros. Records debut in Vancouver B.C. with producer Garth Richardson, renowned for his work with Rage Against The Machine.
The result is Trapt, featuring twelve original tracks ranging from the evocative "Echo" and the blistering "Still Frame," through the haunting "Enigma" to the band's signature "Headstrong."
Trapt , in short, is a band with an album that proves conclusively, that when it comes to making immediate, innovative and involving music, being headstrong is an indispensable ingredient.