TRAPPIST – Power Violence Vets Serve Up Suds-Drenched New Band
September 4, 2018, 9 months ago
It’s a talking point that may reach peak interest soon enough, but it still bears repeating out of the gates here: Trappist love their craft beer. The Los Angeles punk/power violence/hardcore band love it so much that their debut album, the excellent Ancient Brewing Tactics, comes with a list of beer pairings for each song. Talk about going the extra mile, band and Relapse Records conspiring to make this the ultimate package for fans of craft beer and extreme music.
“We just thought it was kind of funny,” says bassist/vocalist Chris Dodge (who you know from Spazz, Despise You, and Infest). “Obviously, we’re trying to write every song either about beer or to have a beer reference. We were thinking of every possible angle. You start out and make it really one-dimensional, and write a bunch of lyrics like, ‘I like beer/beer is good/let’s get drunk,’ or you could try to be clever and come up with a lot more angles. So every idea we’d come up with, I’d write down and have this running list of song ideas and titles, things like that. Just from that, we were just kicking around ideas and that came up. It’s so common to have a food and beverage pairing. We were talking about tasting notes, but we thought instead of that let’s just pair a beer with every song.”
Of course, many of the songs race past at around a minute or so, so don’t try slamming an entire beer for each song. Surprisingly, drinking beers, at any speed, is something that drummer/vocalist Ryan Harkins doesn’t do these days: Harkins, even though he plays in a beer-centric band, has been sober for two and a half years.
“Prior to that, he was really into beer,” explains Dodge. “He runs that restaurant Grill ’Em All, and they carry a lot of beer there. The funny thing is even though he doesn’t drink, he still appreciates craft beer in that when [guitarist/vocalist] Phil [Vera, you know him from Crom, Despise You, 16] and I are having something he always wants to smell it. He’s not like this crazy, raving drunk that when he gets a smell he’s going to grab it and start gulping it down and fall off the wagon. He’s completely in control. Just the fact that he runs a restaurant and is a chef and a great cook and understands great flavours and aromas, that’s how he approaches it. He kinda lives vicariously through us by just smelling everything (laughs).”
But two-thirds of Trappist still love to consume booze; Dodge says that the whole theme of the band sort of started off like a joke but turned into something more serious when it became obvious they were working hard on the songs and writing lyrics that were actually a bit more clever than the usual beer-happy fare. Still, Dodge says it’s inevitable that some people will write Trappist off as a joke band.
“I figure it’s inevitable, the fact that we do have that angle,” he says. “Obviously, there’s a sense of humour in the band, but we’re not coming out all wacky, with a goofy giant beer mascot, we’re not in costumes. We don’t treat it like a novelty; I can see how people would see that, of course. Probably just because it’s different; there’s not a whole lot of bands who have this kind of approach. But I’m not too worried about it. A parallel I came up with recently was gore-grind bands. There are bands where the entire album is just songs about gore, which is not even a real subject (laughs); it’s just lists of things that are really gross. There are tens of thousands of albums like that; why doesn’t anyone see that as a novelty or just a gag?”