Hardcore juggernauts is a band known for their intimate performances and strong DIY sense. The band is set to release their first of two EPs, Darkness Oh Hell, next week. Vocalist Jerry Jones spoke about the new release and what's to come with the second EP.
1) The band is set to release the first of two EPs, Darkness Oh Hell, this month. What was the reason behind releasing two EPs back to back?
It was actually an afterthought. We didn’t have any intentions of releasing a “sequel” EP until we completed the recording forDarkness. We were going to release an acoustic EP of sorts and then write a full-length, but then John Ferrara (guitarist) bought his first Strat and starting writing all these happy little songs that really contrasted Darkness. After a month or so, we had six songs pretty much ready to go. We started recording demos immediately. We thought the collection of songs was a nice counter piece to Darkness.
2) What was the recording process for the EP?
Recording Darkness was way less stressful then Bad Luck and even Alphabets. This time around we didn’t do any other usual recording legwork we’ve done in the past. We let Chris Badami, our George Martin (and in my opinion, NJ’s finest producer), handle ALL of the engineering, mixing, and production at Portrait Studios. Bad Luckwas extremely arduous as John engineered the sessions for three grueling summer months and acted as producer. Alphabetswe did the same but we recorded all the vocals with Chris at his old studio. Chris mixed both Bad Luck and Alphabets (which is really half the nightmare) – but on Darkness we were able to completely relax. At this point, Chris has been involved with five out of our six major releases. This is the first time, however, since our Hospital Music EP where we let Chris completely take control.
3) The band recently posted the song "Nausea" on youtube. What's the meaning behind that song?
Haha, actually WE did not post “Nausea” on YouTube. It was leaked (insert sadface emoticon – wah wah wah). The song has a lot going on lyrically… First off, the name is taken from a play written by renowned French existentialist and author, Jean-Paul Sartre. It is the plot follow up to “Sauvez-moi De L’enfer” (hence the French). The song is about this semi-fictional character who is happy to witness natural disasters consume the Earth. The character is tragically flawed as he admits that he used to be fun and in control but his self-loathing has gutted him out. He feels totally alienated from humanity. He has forsaken God in all its forms in spirituality and religion. He takes one last drive into barren landscape to watch the world erupt into flames. When he parks his car he fiddles with the radio to find a single broadcast playing Don McLean’s song, “American Pie”. He cries when he realizes the importance of humanity but the insignificance of our existence, and how he can’t be the only one alone before he dies (which, in essence, makes him not alone). He muses about Buddy Holly and the Kennedy assassination and what they mean; what it did to the world, and if it mattered. It is the clearest moment of his life when nostalgia hits him as he remembers his mom used to sing “American Pie” to him to put him to bed. Here it is as the last song he’ll ever hear ; his final memory before he burns with everyone else. “American Pie” appropriately ends with the famous lyric “The day the music died,” referring to Buddy Holly; but of course, in this instance, it is the moment when we cease to exist all together at once. I wanted a metaphor to describe where I was when I was penning the lyrics for Darkness. “Nausea” seemed to be the perfect fit to get the ball rolling on an album filled with terror and sadness.
4) How will this differ from the band's previous material?
The record is a lot more stripped down, opposed to the aural density of Bad Luck. We really wanted to dig into the blues and revamp the idea of a folky-ballad. We separated ourselves from our usual detail-oriented blueprinting before we recorded this one and just stuck to our raw intuitions of making this a rock ‘n roll record. We wanted every instrument to speak for itself; from the French horn to the vibraslap. We needed to clear a lot of space to rev up the dynamic so we dropped out a lot of guitar to let the record breathe. We also gaveDarkness a lot of bombast to emphasize the twists and turns as it progresses. Camille Olivier returned, once again, as the string arranger and really did a fantastic job with keeping the dramatic parts dramatic and the fluid parts fluid. The guest musicians were all fabulous players and it was a sincere pleasure to work with them. The lyrics are way more personal than they were on Bad Luck. Although a lot of the thematic elements are fictional and influenced greatly by the television series and film, Twin Peaks, I put a lot of myself into the plot lines. The last song is completely autobiographical and the female antagonist (and sometimes victim) throughout the fictional elements is based on a real person. The song “Trazodone” contains bits and pieces of real dreams I had while I was prescribed trazodone. Even the song, “Darkness”, which is based on body possession, contains some loose autobiographical information. What also sets this recording apart is the usage of voice samples. While we’ve experimented with this before – we truly wanted to boost the playfulness and personality of the songs themselves by giving them a little extra charisma. For example, the intro track, “Sauvez-moi De L’enfer” contains a sample of a live exorcism to build tension between the sad and the scary.
5) Can you tell us a little bit about the second EP?
It’s titled Never Born, Never Dead… And, well, it’s hard to say what it truly is going to sound like since we’ve only recorded the bare skeletons so far, but it’s probably going to be the happiest material we’ve ever released. It’s more “pop” oriented but it’s also obviously demented like the rest of our catalog. It’s another concept record – this time based on past lives and reincarnation. Lyrically, it will be more spiritual than other releases but more likeBad Luck in the aspect of interwoven storytelling. I want to take it from the perspective of two old-souls in love, inhabiting different bodies over many centuries. If Darkness was a metaphor for where I was at in 2009, this will certainly be a metaphor for where I’m at in 2010.
6) When will the second EP be released?
We’re keeping our fingers crossed for early 2011. Maybe early March? It feels like a spring time record.
7) Will there be any touring involved the promote the new material?
Here and there… hopefully we can make something happen. We can’t afford to pay our “real life” bills when we go on tour. We all have to work full time and the band itself doesn’t make any real money. Music piracy has had a horrifying impact on bands without advertising budgets or mainstream distribution. We appreciate the promotion the new age of piracy has brought in… but the hard facts are that kids don’t really buy music anymore – not even from small, DIY bands like us who work impeccably hard to afford to put out new music. It truly puts us in a hard spot. Kids will read this and justify stealing our music somehow but they will never see what it’s like on our side… it’s extremely bleak and most of the time terrifying. We’re very grateful for our die-hard fans that support us by buying our records or a piece of merch.
8) Will there be another full length in the works?
Yes. We’re very excited to begin work on the full length. We already have some material planned for it. Anything else I tell you would be a lie. We are so busy with so many other upcoming projects, it’s crazy.
Trophy Scars will have their record release show this Friday at the School of Rock. Purchase tickets for that show at Ticketweb.