|The members of Trophy Scars recently answered some questions in the wake of the release of their new EP, Darkness, Oh Hell.|
First, can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do in the band?
Jerry: I'm Jerry. I sing and write lyrics.
John: John, guitar, vocals.
Andy: Hey, Iím Andy and I play bass.
Brian: My name is Brian Ferrara. I play the drums and do vocals on this record.
Your new EP, Darkness, Oh Hell, is out now. Tell us how it came to be.
Jerry: John started playing some really bluesy stuff and I started my foray into the television series Twin Peaks. I just got out of an extremely self-destructive relationship in June of 09. Obviously, this wasnít the first time something like that happened Ė in fact, it keeps happening again and again, and you get the point. In order to understand my cyclical behavior, I had to really investigate myself. It was a dark, trippy summer. And it rained a hell of a lot. I didnít see it while it was happening, but I was - pardon the cliche - opening a scary can of worms. Nothing in my life seemed to fit and I was tormented by sleep anxiety. I was prescribed the sleep/anti-depressant medication Trazodone, and then the nightmares started to occur. Although none of these things sound pleasant, it felt so good being so far gone. Nothing seemed to hurt me... but I was also completely isolated. John was going through some similar stuff and we sat down after we wrote "August, 1980" - based on Bram Stokerís Dracula - and we wanted to write something more than a love story, more than fiction. As John continued to write these creepy blues tunes, everyone else in the band eagerly jumped on board. I wanted to encapsulate that summer into one giant concept. Our producer and good friend, Chris Badami of Portrait Recording Studio, knew exactly how he wanted to treat the sessions. He made the record sound like it was on fire. Camille Olivier, who arranged all the instruments on Bad Luck, came in with some really strong ideas to make the dynamics really boom. We had some of the coolest players in New Jersey agree to contribute to this, and I canít really say enough wonderful things about them. There was so much talent in the studio; it was just as inspiring as the ferocious summer that passed us by.
Brian: We all had a bunch of ideas after writing Bad Luck. Some that never made it, which is why sometimes it has that dark soundscape. It was mainly a collective thing though. Someone had an idea for this and would speak up and usually the person would take the idea and do something ever better, still maintaining the focus of the idea that was originated.
The EP has an interesting lyrical concept going on. Could you expand on that?
Jerry: I mentioned that John and I were shooting for something more involved than fiction, so I developed a theme based on my summer but added fictitious elements to it. Darkness, Oh Hell is about the world burning up in flames, body possession, and the love your life loving someone that's not you. Youíre bewildered and astonished to see your world disappear, but you revel in the madness, you become a mean son of a gun, you feel like a million bucks. Then youíre sad. You deny that your lover is gone. You wonít accept that youíre alone. You start to remember what you were like before the "darkness." Maybe your lover wasnít so great after all. You shouldíve seen it all coming. Your family and friends, theyíve missed you for a long time now. How many meds have you been taking and for how long? If everyone dies alone, does that mean weíre all dying the same? And does that mean our common fate places us together? In the end, itís all a wash anyways. Youíre a prisoner of the hell you built for yourself - whether conscious or not.
You are releasing another EP, Never Born, Never Dead, soon. Where did the idea of doing two EPs instead of a full length come from?
Jerry: We weren't really planning on doing another EP. It was sort of an afterthought concocted by John. At first I wasn't crazy about the idea because I wanted so badly to bang out the new full length, but John sold me when he bought his first Fender. He played a couple of pretty little riffs and, well, I just said "Absolutely." I loved the contrast against Darkness, Oh Hell. It's very bright and very voluptuous.
Andy: The idea for the second EP was really an accident. We had finished Darkness and just kept writing. We had some free time and John had a new guitar, which resulted in the writing of new songs within weeks. We had no real intention of another EP, however the songs were too good to not record.
When will the second EP see the light of day?
Jerry: We hope by early Spring 2011.
Do you have plans for another full length release in the future?
Jerry: Almost immediately after Never Born, Never Dead is finished we will begin tying together the loose ideas we have for the full length. We really want that one to be a monster... like Trophy Scars goes Italian opera [laughs]. I joked with John that I want it to sound like us composing a score for a grimy Spaghetti-Western. I was only half-joking, really.
Andy: Yeah, we are not going to stop any time soon. We arenít even done with Never Born, Never Dead and Iím already thinking about the full length. Iím looking to make a culmination of Trophy Scars past, present, and future. If we canít tour as much, then we will make up for it with new music.
Brian: Yeah definitely, but we never rush things. We track and track and track demos until we're happy. But this EP has been in the works for a bit being that Darkness, Oh Hell has been done for quite some time now.
You mentioned doing an acoustic EP a while back. What is the fate of that?
Jerry: Yes, we are still doing that, but differently. On November 26th, we are playing a show in Union, NJ at Soundwaves Studio for a very exclusive DVD showcase. We will be rearranging songs from older records - including Darts to the Sea - and playing stuff we've never played live before. It will be like Trophy Scars "Unplugged" but not really acoustic. We will be playing with a lot of unique musicians from the talented pool of independent artists we grew up with. There will be seating, wine, cheese, and a general jazz club aesthetic. The show is limited to only 100 guests, however. We will be selling tickets to that starting Thursday, November 4th.
You've changed your sound a bit over the years. How do you feel about that old material looking back?
Jerry: You know, it's a lot like looking at pictures of yourself when you were younger; you might cringe and think "What was I wearing!?" but you can't help but smile and nod your head and appreciate your rebellious self. I'm the way I am now because of those recordings and I don't regret a second of it. Every album represents an era for me, for us as a band, and for the world that surrounded us. Each one is particularly special in its very own way.
John: I still love all of it. Each record has a special place in my heart.
Andy: I love it. Recently I have been going back and listening to the older material and being able to hear it in a different light. You could say I was doing research for newer songs. Without the past we couldnít do what we are doing now. Hopefully we will be adding a few more of the older songs back into the set list and even re-working a few.
Brian: I still look at the old material as something to be proud of. It was what we were doing then and it was what we wanted to be doing then. But I think we've grown out of the heavier stuff to an extent, making what would be heavier more intense as opposed to just making it heavy just to do it. There are some songs I look back on and wish I did something different on the drums, but at the same time I look back and think to myself, "Well, people liked it like this." It's just that every one is their own worst critic.
What inspired the change in sound? Was it a conscious decision or something that happened naturally?
Jerry: It happened naturally. It wasn't like we all of a sudden had a pow-wow and decided we wanted to be "this sort of band" or "that sort of band." We naturally grew up. There was a three year gap between Alphabets and Bad Luck; those three years were definitive years of maturation.
John: Weíve all gotten older and started listening to more and more different kinds of music. With that, the music we were writing started to change as well. We always just write what comes to us and never try to force anything.
Do you have any interest in returning to the sound of your past material?
Jerry: Well, certainly specific aspects of our older sound. We will never write another Alphabets or Hospital Music, because we can't. Our fans are too smart for that. Trying to replicate something once it's already behind you is extremely difficult to make genuine. It would take an awful lot of tricks and inside winks to pull the wool over the audience's eyes just so they can believe they are listening to Alphabets Part 2. We couldn't do that to them, and we couldn't do that to ourselves. We're not trying to capitalize on nostalgia here. We are real artists who believe in the integrity of each individual piece we exhibit. Our philosophy will never change on that. Of course, we will have other projects that might exploit some of our older tendencies. For example, I just wrapped up recording vocals for Eli Litwin's Intensus project. Intensus is serious, straight-up avant-garde, grindy, jazz metal with no fucking around. Jace from Number 12 [Looks Like You], Bob Meadows from A Life Once Lost, Tommy Rogers from Between the Buried and Me, and a whole lot of other hardcore/metal singers are on there, so I recorded in a similar fashion to the older, screamy Trophy Scars stuff, maybe with more emphasis on screamy. Look for that coming out sometime next year on Metal Blade.
Andy: We like to keep things new and interesting, and ultimately I can never really say what new material will be like till it happens. As I started getting into before, I would like to revisit some of our older sound on the full length, make it more of a culmination of the band so far. It has been almost 9 years since the band began, and I think that may weigh in on my thought process of the new material. We are also now writing as a four-piece band, which opens a new frontier so who knows what will happen.
The band has not done much touring as of late. Are they any plans to rectify that?
Jerry: I hope so! We are broke which makes it very hard to tour anywhere. We all have full-time jobs, car payments, insurance, student loans, etc. which also makes it difficult to tour when you're not making any money doing it. I'm sure we will be doing some mini-tours in the near future, but it's really up in the air if we'll ever get to be full-time again. I do want to get out to the west coast. It's been at least three years since we were over there.
John: Hopefully. Itís hard to do as you get older. We all work full time and got bills to pay and all that jazz. We would love to get back out and stay on the road for a bit, and when the opportunity comes, we will surely make good use of it.
Andy: It is hard at this point for us to tour. I would love to get back on the road as much as possible. Iím currently back in school and everyone else has full time jobs. It seems that it is one or the other. Our money and free time goes into creating new music. We have been talking about trying to do as many dates as we can and smaller tours like this past summer.
Did the support from your fans in light of the Bad Luck Foundation change your outlook on the industry or affect how you operate as a band?
Jerry: It didn't really change our outlook on the industry, but the fans and people outside of the industry. It rejuvenated our faith in what we were trying to accomplish. It showed us that people do still cheer for the underdog and believe in altruism. Our fans generously devoted time to build the Foundation, collect, and donate all proceeds just so we could continue making art. If that doesn't affect you, then you need to go to a doctor. Altruism seems to be escaping the vast world of music. People steal everything now! Artists make little to no money at all, and when something as special as what our fans did for us happens... well, it makes me want to cry. They changed our world, and without them and without you, we wouldn't be having this interview right now. It is a wonderful feeling and we will forever be grateful. Thank you.
John: It was very overwhelming. I thought we were really at the end of the road as a band, and the support from our fans was amazing. I was so inspired from it. It really kept us going and gave new life to us.
Andy: It made me love our fans more than ever and realize that we are here for them, and I thank everyone who helped out. I donít know if we would be here if not for them. It changed my outlook on writing, shows, and contact with fans. I want to be as much a part of their lives as our music is in theirs.
A few of our readers were wondering if the band would be releasing anything more on vinyl.
Jerry: Yes! Hopefully soon. Things have been really hectic doing it all DIY right now, but yes. We do plan on releasing some vinyl in the foreseeable future.
What else is in store for the band?
Jerry: John has been producing and engineering a number of projects, notably Nigel Silverthorn's new record, The Tip of the Tongue, The Teeth, And The Lips. It came out fantastic. I am currently producing a record for this wonderful female singer/songwriter, Trickster Fox. She is featured on our new EP in "Sauvez-moi De L'enfer" and "Darkness." She'll also be in the video that's coming out soon for the song "Darkness." She writes some haunting, beautiful stuff. Both the Nigel Silverthorn and Trickster Fox records will be released on behalf of a new artist promotions and marketing company, The Same Ghost Collective, that a few savvy individuals and I started. Intensus is going to blow your minds, so also be on the lookout for that.
Andy: Trying to put out the best music we can and as much of it as possible. We are filming a live DVD on November 26th.
Do you have any closing remarks?
Jerry: Thank you AbsolutePunk for the years of support. We truly appreciate you and all who positively contribute to this site. Thank you to all of our families, friends, and fans. 2011 will be a big year for us with our upcoming release schedule. We hope you enjoy the new albums. Stay tuned for more information about The Same Ghost Collective. We will bringing you lots of quality music, graphic art, clothing, surfing, and even food from 5-star chefs.
09:58 AM on 11/05/10
|Do you have any interest in returning to the sound of your past material?|
Jerry: Well, certainly specific aspects of our older sound. We will never write another Alphabets or Hospital Music, because we can't. Our fans are too smart for that. Trying to replicate something once it's already behind you is extremely difficult to make genuine. It would take an awful lot of tricks and inside winks to pull the wool over the audience's eyes just so they can believe they are listening to Alphabets Part 2. We couldn't do that to them, and we couldn't do that to ourselves. We're not trying to capitalize on nostalgia here. We are real artists who believe in the integrity of each individual piece we exhibit.
Read this please, Dance Gavin Dance...
10:59 AM on 11/05/10
All I think about is floating away
Amazing interview! I always like hearing what these guys have to say.
Pretty sure I submitted this question:
Did the support from your fans in light of the Bad Luck Foundation change your outlook on the industry or affect how you operate as a band?|
I just hope they somehow find their way into Canada again someday. I've been really lucky to have seen these guys about 4 times when usually bands just pass through here and there, once in awhile sort of thing.
Anyways, great dudes. I'm happy they are putting new stuff out.
11:41 AM on 11/05/10
Great read, really hope Trophy Scars can keep putting out records even if they don't get to tour often.
03:12 PM on 11/05/10
excellent interview, alex!
04:21 PM on 11/05/10
such a good interview! I'm not on AbsolutePunk often but stuff like this makes me think I should be.
favorite part (beside the promises of small tours and Never Born, Never Dead
, of course):
|Jerry: If everyone dies alone, does that mean we’re all dying the same? And does that mean our common fate places us together? In the end, it’s all a wash anyways. You’re a prisoner of the hell you built for yourself - whether conscious or not. |
don't get me wrong, I love Trophy Scars as a whole... but more specifically I love existentialist/absurdist Jerry.
07:01 PM on 11/05/10
i am orange and i can grow wings
08:55 PM on 11/05/10
Great interview. And I'm excited for the new Nigel and Trickster Fox stuff.
Trophy Scars is slowly but surely moving their way up to my favorite band..hell, they might be already and I just feel bad about replacing the former #1.
08:13 AM on 11/06/10
This is some of the best news, hearing about their upcoming releases, and their reverence for their own past material. This is a very exciting time.
The last time I made it out to see them last year at Valentine's in Albany, half the people left after the Viking, and there were 12 people left there to see them. Twelve. Disheartening in a way, but when they busted out "Assistants." and the place came down, it was an incredible sight.
These guys are the best of the best of the best, sir. With honors.
08:49 AM on 11/06/10
Great interview---can't wait to see the expansion of, ".....food from 5-star chefs".
But seriously, I used to blaze down back roads blaring Hospital Music , then Alphabets,then Bad Luck screaming every word. Rest assured, I made more than a thorough attempt to recruit fans in Texas. It's unreal and mind blowing that now, you guys are guiding me through my record! Thanks for your music that has been a source of my dark, demented encouragement since summer '04
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