Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trapped Under Ice interview with guitarist: Sam Trapkin. January 13, 2012.

Vista:  Hey Sam. Tell us a little bit about the recording. Where was it recorded? Also, how long did the overall recording take? And as a guitarist, how long were you in the studio doing tracks?

Sam: Hey man. We recorded out in Southern California at Buzzbomb Studios with Paul Miner. It took roughly two and a half weeks to get everything down. I was basically in there the whole time, since we spread everything out as much as possible. I basically recorded a few tracks a day. 

Vista: How did it come about that Chad Gilbert {New Found Glory} produced the new album? What did he bring to the table {or mixing board} that was different than other produces you have dealt with in other recording situations?

Sam: We’d known and been friends with Chad for a few years before we recorded this record. He’s always been cool to us and supported us. He did a great job with the last Terror record and it kind of just happened. It was actually our first time working with an actual producer and he was great. It was great to have that outside opinion. There were songs we thought were completely done coming in to the studio, but chad brought some new idea or angle that we hadn’t thought of they made them even sronger.

Vista: "Big Kiss Goodnight". Is there some theme behind this title? Also, talk a little bit about the artwork for the new album. Who did the artwork & does it tie into the album and title at all?

Sam: Big Kiss Goodnight is all about living your life the way you want and doing what you want until the day that you die. That was kind of a binding theme for the whole record and artwork. Chad Soner made the painting with that theme in mind.

Vista: What can people expect from the new album? Is it a continuation of what the band has done in the past, or has the band taken some risks...As far as the music goes and vocally? When I say "risks", I mean are there any songs that are not in the style of what you guys have done in the past but wanted to expand sound-wise?

Sam: I think Big Kiss Goodnight is the most complete TUI record to date. We tried our best to make every song distinct as possible and have it’s own identity on the record. We definitely explored some new territory though. I’d say it’s the most “extreme” record we’ve done, as in having the most extremes. I think it’s the hardest TUI record, but is a lot more punk influenced. But it’s unmistakably a TUI record and was just a natural progression for us.

Vista: How did the band initially get hooked up with Reaper Records? You guys have put out a bunch of releases on this label. How many albums are you contracted to? Also, the new album is also gonna be released through Good Fight Entertainment. Are you guys now with this label or is it a distribution deal through Reaper Records?

Sam: I can’t remember exactly what our first contact was with Reaper, but we’ve been friends with Patrick Kitzel from Reaper for a long time. Almost as long as we’ve been in a band. But he approached us after we put out our demo about doing our next EP, which would become Stay Cold. So we’ve done a total of 3 releases on Reaper now. And as far as Good Fight goes, they’re great too, and are putting out the CD version of the album. Reaper is just doing the Vinyl.

Vista: When Trapped Under Ice began, what were some of the goals of the band? Maybe there weren't "goals" per-say...But was the idea to take this band bigger levels or was it to just play locally? You guys have obviously gone on to pretty extensive touring & recording. Did you ever expect to take it this far?

Sam: Honestly when we started, it was just with the intentions of writing music that we liked and playing some Baltimore shows. Maybe some shows around the East Coast if we could. I absolutely never expected to do any of the stuff we’ve been able to do. I remember when we first released our demo, I had no idea what people would think. We kind of just did our thing and hoped some people would like it. We didn’t have some big master plan or anything.

Vista: As a kid  growing up, what type of music were you into? Also, what was your first exposure tot he punk/hardcore scene? How old were you & what bands really grabbed your attention? First hardcore show you ever attended and what year was that?

Sam: The first bands I was ever really into were Green Day and Metallica, who are my 2 favorite bands to this day. But my first exposure to punk/hardcore came when I was around 13, when a friend from school invited me to this show at a youth center. I was getting really into skating around that same time and started hearing bands in skate videos that I liked. Bands like No Use For A Name, Descendents, All, and so on. Some of the first hardcore bands that grabbed my attention were bands like Darkest Hour, Converge, and an old Maryland metalcore band called Age of Ruin. I wasn’t really feeling the “screaming” at first, but I definitely loved the riffs and how heavy it was. Not sure what my actual first hardcore show was, but I started making regular trips up to Baltimore shows around 2002.

Vista: When did you first start playing guitar? How old were you and did you take formal lessons? Also, what was the very first song you learned on guitar?

Sam: I started playing when I was about 13. I started because I saw Metallica play “Creeping Death” on TV at Woodstock99. I couldn’t believe that. Not one bit. But I think the actual first “song” I learned was something my mom taught me when I told her I wanted to learn guitar. It was a portion of some song that she had retained from taking lessons when she was younger, but I can’t remember what it’s called right now. It was just a few open chords. I took formal lessons for a few months when I first started, but I was learning way faster on my own.

Vista: As far as songs for Trapped Under Ice...How do you guys go about with the writing process? Is there some type of set formula as far as writing? I mean, is it usually music first, then lyrics or vice-versa? Who are the main contributors to the writing process as far as music & lyrics go?

Sam: Generally speaking, Justice and I write most of everything. Usually I write most of the music, and he writes the lyrics. He plays guitar too and writes songs sometimes. Our drummer Brendan also played a big role on our newest record. He’s an insane drummer and writes with us too. Most of the time it starts with the music, then Justice will kind of take inspiration from that for the lyrics. Sometimes it can start with a simple phrase or vocal hook though. If you listen to “True Love” on our newest record, that song started with the chorus line. That’s something that Justice wrote and read to me one day while we were in our van. I thought it was really cool so I took it home and wrote a whole song around it.

Vista: Have you guys been in any previous bands prior to Trapped Under Ice? Also, do you guys have any side projects going on? I think I had heard {but might be wrong} that your singer was doing a side project with the drummer from Breakdown?

Sam: Yeah, we’re all involved in a lot of different bands. I’m in a band called Diamond, which is more of alternative/rock kind of band that I stay pretty busy with. Besides that, I’m in a band called S.O.S., which is comprised of Scott Vogel from Terror, Beattie from Hatebreed, Nick Jett from Terror, and Matt Henderson from Madball/AF. We did a record last winter that was released on Reaper Records. Justice is in a band called Sai Nam with Mike Dijan from Breakdown/Crown Of Thornz and Lou Medina from Breakdown. Jared also plays bass in Down To Nothing. Brendan sings in a hardcore band called Turnstile, and also plays drums in my band Diamond.

Vista: I was wondering about the video for the song, "Believe". Where were the live performance portion of the video taped? Also, where were the inserts of the city streets, etc. taped? Were you happy with the outcome of the video itself? Any plans on doing anymore videos in the future or any "official" Trapped Under Ice DVD?

Sam: That video was filmed in one of the rooms at Sonar in Baltimore. I’m not sure about all the street footage. But I am very happy with the video, I think it’s exactly what we wanted our first video to be like. We’re definitely gonna be doing some videos off our new record, still in the process of figuring out which ones.

Vista: While performing in a live setting...What gear are you using? Do you have a certain guitar you swear by & use? If so, what guitar are you most comfortable with & what amps/heads are you into? Also, do you use the same set-up while in the studio?

Sam: I’m not a big gear head or anything but generally speaking I use a 5150 on stage and whatever cab is available. My main guitar is a Washburn Idol. As far as studio goes, whatever sounds best man. I think we used triple-rec on lots of our new record. But I really don’t know much about gear. I stick to the basics.

Vista: Speaking of the studio setting. Which band member is the biggest pain in the ass while recording? Ha. There has to be that one band member who takes FOREVER to get their parts down {or right} and brings the recording process to a grinding halt?

Sam: Not really man. Definitely no grinding halts. No time for that!

Vista: Who are your direct influences as far as guitarists? Are there a couple of guitar players that inspired you to not only want to play but also as an influence on your style & approach?

Sam: James Hetfield, Dave Grohl, Kirk Hammett, Randy Rhoads, Matt Henderson, Greg from Take Offense. All great guitar players

Vista: I have always wondered since I heard the song "Believe"...Where did the sound-bite at the end of the song come from of the woman singing?

Sam: It’s a song from the movie “Hairspray”, which took place in Baltimore actually.

Vista: What is going on these days in Baltimore as far as places that are putting on shows? Are there a lot of places to play & are shows going on at clubs, legion halls, basements {and can you name some} & are there any local bands we should check out? Do you guys play a lot in your hometown or not really?

Sam: There’s this great space called the Charm City Art Space. It’s pretty small but 100% DIY and just a great space. We play there as much as we can, and it’s great when tours come through there. There’s some great bands from here to check out too. Check out Mindset, Give, and Sacred Love. All very cool Maryland/Baltimore/DC bands.

Vista: As far as touring goes, do you enjoy touring or recording in the studio more?

Sam: I love recording. Touring is fun for short runs but can get to be pretty exhausting after a certain amount. It can be great too. Just a lot of ups and downs. But I really like recording.

Vista: What three items do you HAVE to have before the start of a tour?

Sam: Sleeping bag, lots of underwear, and headphones!

Vista: Who does most of the driving while on tour? Is there the one band member that prefers driving {or just DOESN'T trust anyone else to do it} and which band member tries to get out of driving the most?

Sam: I’d say I drive a good amount. Our road crew Franz and Rashod drive a lot too. I don’t know its pretty even honestly. Some people thrive at different times in the day. No one tries backing out unless there’s a good reason.

Vista: Does Trapped Under Ice do any cover songs while performing live? If so, what songs have you guys done over the years?

Sam: We don’t very often, but have covered a few here and there. We’ve done “beat on the brat” by The Ramones, “street fight” by Breakdown,  “juggernaut” by Crown Of Thornz, and probably some others I’m forgetting.

Vista: It's Saturday and there is no band practice and no band stuff going on...What are you doing?

Sam: Maybe Skateboarding if it’s nice out. I work during the week and like to spend my weekends working on songs if I’m home. Maybe a little movie action. I go to chipotle a lot. Drink some coffee. I spend a lot of time alone when I’m home though. Sometimes I’ll spend a whole weekend without talking to anyone.

Vista: If the band were to come to an abrupt end tomorrow what would be some of your fondest memories of your time being in Trapped Under Ice? On the flip-side, any disappointments or failures?

Sam: The second time we went to Europe was with Terror. It was 2 months long and went all the way through the spring time. That was honestly the best summer of my life. Australia was really great too. Just so fun and beautiful. We’ve had some low points as a band, but mostly stuff outside of our control. No major setbacks.

Vista: Sam, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Is there anything you'd like to say?

Sam: Thanks for the interview man!!!

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