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Interview: Trophy Scars

Trophy Scars

Long-time Jersey hardcore outfit Trophy Scars are set to release their beloved album, Alphabet. Alphabets., on vinyl and will celebrate by performing the record in it's entirety at Maxwell's. While their performance on Saturday, March 10th is sold out, there are some tickets available for their Sunday, March 11th gig. The band took some time from their busy schedule to talk about the record and their upcoming Maxwell's gigs.


1) The band is set to perform Alphabet. Alphabets. from start to finish. What was it like recording that album?

JERRY JONES (singer): It was a lot of fun. The process was a little chaotic because I was living in the Bronx while John and Brian were living down in Georgia. John would send some rough demos up to me, I'd check them out and start writing some lyrics. I would send John some tracks that I had been listening a lot to at the time (I remember some Elvis Costello, Fleetwood Mac, and Young Jeezy being tossed around). Andy, AJ (no longer in the band) , and I would road trip down and record a few demos. After two big demo sessions we recorded all the music down in GA and finished all the vocals, strings, and horns up at Portrait Studios in NJ. It was the first record the majority of the band was able to drink out at a bar legally, so we had a blast recording and then going out to discuss the day and gather a plan for the next day.

JOHN FERRARA (guitar): It was the first record that I ever engineered and produced for the band, so it will always be very special to me. It was a tremendous learning experience on so many different levels for all of us. Everything from growing as a band to growing as people and everything in-between.

BRIAN FERRARA (drums): It was a bit of a different experience since we did the record in our own studio down in Georgia which we don't have anymore.  I'm glad we were able to record some stuff there because the room sounded great.

ANDY FARRELL (bass): The recording process for Alphabets was my first. I had been to a few studios before and recorded some projects for fun and school but never anything that I was playing on or apart of like this. To be honest for years I had no clue how things actually worked because of this. We did the record in John’s basement and I just remember smoking butts in the live room and tracking the bass with John, which I will say is where I learned to really play and write with the band. Since we did the tracking ourselves I was also able to sit in and watch everyone else track. It was one of the first times I remember saying "I'm doing this forever." I did nothing those whole few weeks but record music and practice bass; what more could you want?

2) Looking back, is there anything that you'd like to change about the album?

JERRY: I mean, the old cliche - "hindsight is 20/20" comes to mind. Obviously we are much older now and we are predominantly a blues band so to say there are things I would like to change stylistically would be pretty obvious. It does stand up as a true testament to where we were at when we were that age. I think we were pushing the envelope for genre identification back then, a trend that would define the rest of our career.

JOHN: I feel like looking back there's always something that we would do different. We were so much younger then, so of course now if we could go back in time I'm sure some things would be a little different. That's what making records is all about though. We always just have to give our best and live in that moment and then move on to the next thing.

BRIAN: I don't think there is anything I would change specifically, but I do feel there are songs that are more so on the brink of our sound now as opposed to what we were doing when we started until Alphabets.

3) Did you expect Alphabet. Alphabets. to strike a chord with so many people?

JERRY: As with every record, we're never sure how people are going to identify with it. We write these things because it's how we're feeling and what we know. We are always looking to challenge ourselves. With that being said, I am aware that there are extremely personal songs on that album (e.g "Alligators") and I know some of our earlier fans were craving that aspect of our writing.

JOHN: Personally I never know what to expect. We've always just tried to make sure we were having fun and hope that people enjoyed what we were doing. I feel so fortunate that it means that much to people. It's still overwhelming to this day. We're so lucky to have the fans that we do and I can only hope that we continue to make them as happy as they've made us.

BRIAN: I expected it to catch people off guard who already listened to us, and I expected it to get some new listeners.  However, I didn't expect it to have such an impact on people.

ANDY: I thought people liked it. I liked it, but I was so new to the game, too involved in what was happening. Even on subsequent tours I just thought that’s what touring was like. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much that record means to people.

4) How has it been practicing some of the songs that you haven't played in a long time?

JERRY: Actually it's been super smooth. I expected it to be way tougher to remember the album. We toured on Alphabets for nearly three years so a lot of the tunes have been built into muscle memory.

JOHN: Not bad at all really. I was a bit nervous at first, but once we got going it was like we never stopped playing them. Some of these songs we haven't played in a few years, so i was personally a bit skeptical about the whole thing. I really feel great about everything now though, I think it's going to be a lot of fun for us and our fans.

BRIAN: Sometimes it's difficult, but it just takes going back and listening to the album if it is something we haven't played in a long time. For the most part we try to stay fresh, as well as experimenting with newer instruments, etc in the songs.

ANDY: Its actually been really fun. I have been trying to jam to the songs as much as I can. I have a whole new understanding of the songs now. Before things were way more of a challenge. I had only switched to playing bass maybe 6 months before now... 6 years later, it’s a dream. We are also so tight as a four piece so it makes the songs a bit bigger and heavier than they were.

5) Can we expect any surprises at the show?

JERRY: I think the encore will be a very pleasant and welcomed surprise. The merch designs will make people happy. Maybe some bigger surprises as well. 

6) You're recording the new album in March. What direction do you plan to go with it?

JERRY: It's going to shake things up a bit. It's extremely dynamic... it's really heavy, but not in the "hardcore" sense. It might be the heaviest record we've done. It's like Black Sabbath did a record with Phil Spector. There will be a full girl choir again and lots of new techniques implemented on the keys. Lyrically it concentrates on renegade lovers killing angels. It's called "Holy Vacants" and the title is heavily influenced by HBO's The Wire. People who know the series will get the Chris Partlow/Snoop nod.

JOHN: It's tough to say an exact direction right now. A huge part of how we make records is just being in the studio and seeing what develops. It's going to be something new. I'm sure we'll try out some new things in the studio like we always do. Some of it will be intense, some parts will be relaxed. I do feel like this is one of the heaviest records we've ever done though.

ANDY: From the get go, I wanted something that would have bits and pieces of everything we've done and I think we did that. It's got super heavy parts, it's got chill jams, and everything in between. In all honesty, I really had no clue what was gonna happen when we started writing. The record just kinda happened like the others have. 

7) Trophy Scars haven't tour in a while. Would you ever consider getting back on the road?

JERRY: I think we all would like to get back on the road. It's just tough when you get older and have more real life responsibilities.

JOHN: It gets harder as you get older. I would love to go back out on the road at some point. We have to wait for the right time to do it though. It's hard because we all miss it so much, but we have bills to pay and have jobs and all that other stuff that comes along with being an adult. Sooner or later we will definitely get back out there though because we'll go crazy if we don't.

BRIAN: I would love to go back on tour, and I itch for it when we aren't.  I think it's a matter of getting everyone on the same page with timing and also having someone to go out with us that would be beneficial to both acts.

ANDY: I think about it almost every day. I would love to be able to tour again even if it isn’t full time. I think I was meant to travel and this staying-in-one-place thing ain’t working for me. Hopefully we can pull something out this summer.

8) The band started their own label. What can we expect from the label?

JERRY: Trickster Fox releases her debut EP on vinyl, March 16. Nigel Silverthorn will be coming out with a new record later this year. There will also be a couple of new signings and announcements coming soon. We were going to have our own showcase at SXSW this year but we ended up booking time to record our new record during the exact same time. Expect some big things soon though!

ANDY: Tons of new music of all kinds. All the projects on there so far have been basically the band in different formats. Even my side project Sea of Glass is still basically TS and I love that. Its an outlet for us to try new things and experiment. A lot of times those other records get me to play differently and then when we come back to TS its like a whole new band.