Label: Relapse Records Band: Trappist Origin: United States
Trappist is maybe one of the coolest bands to come out of the woodwork in recent times with their beer-inspired thrash-core-metal. The group has embraced the moniker (pun intended) of the famous brewing monks you mostly find in Belgium, and plays fast and loud on their debut album ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’.
Having earned their name and fame in Spazz, Infest, Despise You, Crom, Killed in Action and probably tons more, its a group of musicians who work on auto-pilot and I guess also on beer. The guys also had a joined podcast, named ‘Hour of the Barbarian’, which sparked their collaboration for this project of beer-infused thrashing, which is actually pretty damn good when you check it out and get into it.
Much of the tunes are fast-paced, straight-ahead thrashy d-beaty metalpunk, with a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek and energy. ‘No Soldier Left Behind’ is instant screaming mayhem, with a fast pace and some intense guitar torturing. Meaty riffs, chunky drums and a burly, brawling set of vocals combine for an excellent, fun-packed pile of beer-soaked songs. Titles like ‘This means Wort’ or ‘Giving the Boot To Rheinheitsgebot’ are simply hilarious. The last is actually a strangely mellow song, allowing you to just roar along while raising a pint.
There’s something profoundly visceral about the music, much like a night of intense beer drinking it leaves you wondering what’s what with the almost uncontrolled ramblings on ‘Frank The Tank’. Then it launches into some classic metal riffing, deliciously! Following is the new anthem for hardcore craft beer drinkers ‘No Corporate Beer’, a tune for the masses. Yet, lets not forget ’99 Problems (But a Beer Ain’t One)’, as the perennial classic or ‘Wolves in the Taproom’, an obvious reference to Wolves in the Throne Room.
Sometimes a band just finds that golden ticket, combining topics that were not before really connected. Metal and punk have a long history with beer. Good beer, bad beer, truly bad beer and so forth, but everyone has an appraisal for the glorious taste of Trappist. Naming your band after the brewing monks concoction only seems natural when you really look at it.
Trappist combine thrashing metal, d-beat punk and tongue-in-cheek humor to create a tasty bit of music to be savored with high-pace and sturdy drinks. The band consists out of Chris Dodge (Spazz, ex-DespiseYou, ex-Infest, etc.), Phil Vera (Crom, DespiseYou, ex-(16)-) and Ryan Harkins (co-owner of popular heavy metal-themed burger joint Grill Em’ All), I’m excited to have found the gents willing to answer some questions for Stranger Aeons. So here it goes!
Brew’m all: Trappist
Can you tell me how Trappist got started? And what role does Hour of the Barbarian play in it?
Ryan and Chris were fucking off doing some songs together and we’re going to just release a 7”. They asked me to join and we started writing all kinds of songs and realized we could do a whole record. Hour of the Barbarian is our time to get drunk and bullshit and talk about the crap we’ve been doing and also go on extra long tangents and interrupt Ryan whenever we get the chance.
You’ve all been in other bands, what is different about this project?
All the bands I’ve either played in or still play in have been different that’s for sure. It helps to actually be playing in a trio though. Less fucking people to deal with to get stuff done. That’s a major difference.
Do you guys also actually brew beer? I have the feeling you do.
Dodge has brewed beer with a couple guys from Eagle Rock Brewery, but I can’t remember what they brewed?
Can you tell me about the process of creating ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’? Over what period did it happen and how did it go down?
We originally did a 10 song demo that we were going to try to put out ourselves, but Relapse was interested so we used some of the demo songs and wrote a bunch more for the record. From the beginning of the recording to the actual release date it took about a year. That includes getting the artwork together, consuming beverages, etc.
You are all in prolific bands, so how did you find time for this record?
We all got our stuff going on, but we make time for this since it’s a blast to do. We also do the podcast (Hour Of The Barbarian) here and there so it breaks up the whole practice and writing songs monotony so we can just sit around and bullshit.
How did you compose the beer list to accompany the album? How much sampling and testing went with compiling it?
Dodge did the whole composing and compiling of the beer list. He did very extensive research for this (have you seen his Big Year in Beer blog?). (Ed. Now I did, so check it out here).
What would you rather do: brew your own Trappist or tour the Trappist locations in Belgium (and sample their brews)?
Hmmm, that’s a tough call. I don’t think we would be welcome in the actual Trappist locations so I would be down to just brew our own Trappist beer.
If you had to pick one Trappist beer that sums up your band, which would it be and why?
I’m not the biggest beer nerd in the band (I mostly just drink them), but I would have to say the Westvleteren 12. Goddamn, it’s delicious and bold and I wish I had another one right now.
What future plans do you guys have with the band?
We’ll be heading to the east coast in November for a few shows. Trying to get over to Europe as well as Japan next year. Already writing new stuff so we’re not going away anytime soon.
A little while ago I got in touch with a great little band from London, named Possessor. They’re basically horror film freaks who love to play crazy rock’n’roll, but they do it so well. Hearing that their new album was available, I was obviously more than interested (read the old chat here).
Graham Bywater and Matthew ‘Bean’ Radford have been working on this project for a while now. With their brand new album ‘The Ripper’, the third full length is available and it’s quite some piece of work. Time to check up with them again. Both gents where kind enough to answer some questions.
Possessor says be excellent!
So, how has Possessor been doing lately?
Graham – Hi. Good thanks. Bean – Hey, not bad at all, we’ve had some pretty good things going on. Graham – We have been super busy making this new album and getting it all ready for release. We’re also having a bit of a line-up change in the new year as we’ve never had a permanent bass player. We are also looking into getting a fourth band member to help me out on guitar while I’m doing the occasional frenzied solo. In 2018 we will be back with a new live line up that will hopefully flatten the universe.
You’ve been releasing some EP’s, can you shed some light on those? Bean – The ep’s are really just a way of keeping our name out there and hopefully keeping people interested in what we are doing… The Revenge track was originally intended to be included on Dead by Dawn but when it came to putting it all together, the flow of the album worked better without it. Interestingly, it was actually completely reworked in the time between initial tracking and it’s Halloween release. In the end only the drum track remained from the original session. Graham reworked the riffs and vocals and they are actually completely different to what I was playing along to when we recorded it. The B-Side, The Foreboding, was essentially an improvised piece and makes up a trilogy of songs which were all approached in the same “made-up on the spot” way… The first of these was The Creeps on DbD and the third is Notting Hell on The Ripper.
The live eps are just for fun really. The Ghouls Out (Live in Soho) ep holds a particular significance to me because it was recorded on my 40th birthday with a few good friends in attendance.
Graham -There aren’t a great deal of live albums being made these days and I’m a bit fond of the classic live metal albums of yesteryear. I thought it would be a good way to bridge the gap between albums and put out a few free, and deliberately very rough bootleg style live Eps. It’s a fun way of keeping people interested, but we wanted to make sure they cost nothing and almost purposely sound like shit.
You’ve just released ‘The Ripper’, which is a more noisy, raucous and angry record than the previous ‘Dead By Dawn’. What can you tell us about its conception?
Graham – It was conceived after too many beers and some soft jazz. Bean – Haha! here was never really a conscious discussion about how it was intended to turn out. We just wanted to make a great heavy metal album, influenced by all the things that excite us about that style; volume, weight, riffs, breakdowns… All the stuff that makes a person bang their head. We wanted it to be a progression from DbD and I think we achieved that by going backwards to a time when metal was a much blunter tool than it is now. Between DbD and the Ripper we were listening to a lot of early IronMaiden, Saxon, Black Sabbath (always) and NWOBHM. The aesthetic was denim, leather, bricks and booze. Think Derek Riggs. All of that seeped into this record.
What was the writing and recording process like? How do you gents go about these things? Bean – The lion’s share of the writing is Graham’s work. He will turn his ideas into demos which he passes over to me. I’ll listen to them on repeat and give my thoughts. Any edits or changes are minimal. My role is to put a thrust behind them all with the drums. I just try and hit them hard and give the songs a kick. I want people to FEEL these songs and experience them in the same way they would if we were playing them live. Having said that, The Ripper is also the first time I’ve contributed guitar parts to a Possessor album. Lava is a riff collaboration between Graham and I.
Graham – For money reasons and sheer want of control I used to record everything we did albiet in a rather primitive and lo-fi way. This album was recorded with a reputable metal producer, Lord Sam Thredder of Slabdragger fame. He helped us get a really tight and hefty vibe that didn’t take too much away from our previous recordings but with his input, we really turned it up to eleven. Also, Sam is way better at recording drums than me.
We hammered this record out in two days, the second of which was super tough but extremely productive, and we are really happy with the results which have captured a fresh and invigorating twist on the Possessor legacy, whilst maintaining the grubby and homespun sludgy vibe of previous albums. It’s definitely more focused on our roots (Bloody Roots).
You all hail from London, where life must have been a little turbulent the past year. Has any of that seeped into the album you think? Graham – Absolutely, I get really upset and angered by any form of terrorism or small minded and senseless crime. The London Bridge knife attack in June hit really close to home as I had literally jumped on a train home from there just an hour earlier. That evening was a nightmare and worst of all, thanks to social media, it was only minutes before the world was watching actual CCTV footage from the discomfort of their own homes. The amount of lifelong misery that one delusional and impressionable asshole can inflict on another human being is haunting and deeply affecting. I just want folk to shake hands, get along and have a good time.
There were actually a fair amount more aggressive lyrics on this album that dealt with the issues above and venomously tore into that fruit loop who’s currently in charge of America but I changed a lot of it at the last minute to lighten the mood. But just a tiny bit.
Bean – Speaking personally, Possessor is an escape. London can be a turbulent place, as much as any city really. Politically and socially there is a lot to get upset or angry about. There is the threat of terrorism hanging in the air, people are losing their homes and the media continues to try and destabilize communities and pit us against our neighbors. It’s a dark situation. My day job is in social care so every day I see the impact this can have on vulnerable people and it does make me hit the drums a bit harder! In some ways, being in a band, being creative and having the opportunity to share that with other people is a type of therapy. On that level, I think it does influence the album in so far as the passion we put into something that is completely about having a good time. It gives me a chance to step away from the horror of real life (which is far more frightening than the fantasy horror we put into our songs) and do something completely positive.
So, what movies did you guys find inspiration in for this album (although I suppose the Jack the Ripper reference can hardly go unnoticed)? Graham – Braindead. Because it’s absolutely brilliant, ages incredibly and is just so much fun. I recently re-watched Ms.45 and it kinda stuck in my craw and added a bit of a revenge and vigilante vibe to the riffs. The track ‘Hacksaw’ was intended as an imaginary, cheap and nasty slasher like Nailgun Massacre or The Mutilator. Maybe one day we can make that film. It’s would be trash with some thrash and I think we should have a small role as ‘The Possessors’, a college party band that gets interrupted by a figure in the shadow killing off the teens at our show. Ha! This thing writes itself! Maybe John Carpenter is reading this.
The Elm Street and Evil Dead films ( minus Army of Darkness,) are always a very big reference point for us too, as are the good time flicks like Spinal Tap, Fast Times, Bill and Ted and more recently Deathgasm. The good stuff!
Bean – We’ve always had an affinity with big, silly, over-the-top horror films like Dracula, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, Troll Hunter and The Lost Boys. There are references to all of those films in the lyrics and in some of the samples we use. I’ve said it often that Possessor are a band to be enjoyed in the same way as all of the above… With your friends, at volume, in the dark and with a beer.
What song (or songs) would you highlight as exemplary for this new record and why so?
Graham – I think ‘Conjure and Possess’ is my favorite, perhaps because it was only completed a few days before hitting the studio and I think to an extent we winged it. I simply used early Iron Maiden as a major stepping stone and planned it all out in my head every night before I went to sleep for a week. I set out to write a killer opener that explodes from your speakers. I also really have a soft spot for ‘Lava’ as Bean wrote that COC style riff towards the end. And it has such a swing, preceded by a sinister quote from Charles Manson.
Bean – I’m proud of all of the songs on this album. The writing of Conjure and Possess was preceeded by a text from Graham that read, “Can you do the Clive Burr ‘stomp?!!’” Haha! Have a listen and make of that what you will!.. That aside, if I had to pick one tune to showcase The Ripper, I would choose Whitechapel Murders. It’s the centrepiece of the album and I think it captures the vibe of old school heavy metal perfectly. It’s a proper horns up, headbanger of a tune.
So last time we were in contact, ‘Dead By Dawn’ had just come out. You were about to get it out on Graven Earth and Anvileater Records, on tape and cd. What’s the status now label-wise? Was it more comfortable to already have a release deal in place for you guys? Graham – We are still very much with GravenEarth as Rachel just does not mess about or waste any time. It’s a pleasure to work with her again. The CD has just come out on my little label, WickedLesterRecords, a project I started this year to help spread the word on bands I discovered on Bandcamp that I loved but in some cases didn’t appear to have the audience I personally thought they deserved.
What is up next for Possessor in the near future? Any tours coming up?
Bean – First thing is to get The Ripper out on all formats. There’s a cassette release imminent and we have plans for a vinyl release in the new year.
There are no live plans in the calendar. As Graham mentioned, we are actually in need of a stable live line up, which is something we are working on right now. Once that is in place we plan to hit some venues, louder and heavier than ever.
I have to ask, when are you guys going to tour the continent? Graham – We need to get on that. It would be a pleasure. Bean – All offers are considered!
Last time, I asked you guys what sort of food Possessor might be. One of the answers was beer. I thought it’d be fun if you could link each of your albums to a beer and explain why. Graham – Ha, this is a dream question!
Electric Hell is a like Yakima Red. It’s crisp, dark and dangerous.
Dead by Dawn is cheap lager like San Miguel or Kronenberg because it’s pretty scrappy and you’ll more than likely wake up asleep on the floor the morning after.
The Ripper is London Beer Factory’s Chelsea Blonde. A current fave of mine.
Bean – Hmmmm, I’d say Electric Hell would be a Polish lager. Cheap but very strong. It’ll mess you up but you’ll have a good time getting there.
Dead by Dawn would be a bit more bespoke. A limited run craft ale… Sold in a small can with a swampish illustration on it… but with a ridiculous alcohol percentage.
The Ripper would be Newcastle Brown Ale. Hands down. No messing about.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Graham – Thanks for having us! Go blast The Ripper immediately and be excellent to each other.
Apart from a specific enthousiasm about music, I’ve been a beer enthousiast for a long time. I’d like to share a bit about one of my favorite beers, namely Põhjala from Estonia. A wonderful little brewery.
It says a lot if a small brewery is willing to drop by in Eindhoven twice to give people a taste of their brilliant products. Põhjala dropped by the first time in Van Moll, the local brewpub where you could enjoy a wide range of beers from the Estonians. Lately they returned to hang out with beer lovers in the cosy beer shop DeBierbrigadier. These are also two spots that I really recommend if you drop by in my city and wish to try some beers.
Estonian Craft Beer
I’ve been to Estonia twice, to visit the capital Tallinn and Tartu. What was immediately noticable was the lack of traditional brews and the more flavorous products. What you’d find was pretty much the big brews like Saku, Alexander and the weirdly named A. Le Coq. There was also a beer named ROCK, but it didn’t really rock.
That is indeed the case, according to marketeer Peeter Keek, who dropped by in Eindhoven on the next tour of the young brand. It just wasn’t there: “When we started making beer with Põhjala, we really were the first. No one else was making craft beer in Estonia. Since, it really has exploded in our country.” It’s true, Estonia has really seen a brewvolution in the last years with with tons of brewers popping up and as a cherry on the cake there’s even the Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend (organised by Põhjala apparently). According to Peeter, the weekend is well worth the trip with a lot of beers to taste. The price is well worth it.
The secret ingrediënt of Põhjala brews is a very specific one. He’s called Chris Pilkington and he used to brew beers for no other than Brewdog, the pinnacle of craft breweries for many beer geeks. Where Brewdog is pushing out a stable series of high class beers, Põhjala started pushing the envelope on flavor with interesting, refreshing brews. The brewery was started by four entrepeneurs and a master brewer and clearly has their eyes set on the top, nothing less.
There’s a lot of experiment going on in their brewing, but also a lot of tweaking. What they don’t do is try to make crazy beers, they’re aiming for good stuff. I highly doubt that anyone will reinvent the drink in a radical manner, we already know what is good and so do these gentlemen.
Peeter informed the visitors at great length about the special flavors and unique beers the brewery is producing: “We are as a brewer focussing on the heavy, black beers. It’s our specialty, which you can also see in our range.” As he hols up a bottle of the brilliant Öö and the Must Kuld. The first is a imperial Baltic porter, offering the unique flavors of a Baltic porter with the dark nights and the unruly nature of these regions. The Must Kuld is more temperate, but a great porter that is the basis for various other great products, like a Kenya coffee porter and a cherry porter.
I have to mention one other variation of the Öö, named the Valge Öö, which is a white stout. Did you read that? A white stout! It’s a smooth flavoured, but potent drink that will set you back for a moment. The flavor is that of a stout, but the eye tells you differently. I can go on about their favulous beers, but I think this’ll do for now. Go try them yourself!
Ok, there’s this magic double IPA with ever changing hops, which makes the beer so surprisingly different. The edition I had to try was almost like liquorice hints in the beer, curious what you’ll get.
Põhjala doesn’t feel old fashioned like a folk band, it’s a bit like punkrock in my opinion. Going against the grain, but in their own respectful way. It’s not bottled violence, but it certainly is a beer that you won’t buy in a six pack and it will surely rise above others in the years to come. Starting a craft brewery in a country that has none is kind of saying: We’ll start our own scene, we’ll just do it ourselves. Which is… the punkrock ethos in brewing.
It has its very own scene, exploring new areas with familiar ingredients, trying to perfect their craft and beers along. They are in complete control of their very own product and I hope to get to try a lot of them. There’s a risky flavor to the beer, something edgy and it really speaks to me as a brewer I dig and a beer to enjoy in winter and summer alike.
(there’s an unnecessary amount of references in the last bit to punkrock)
I have been ill for more than a month. I have not been to the gym, didn’t follow my diet and probably gained some weight. I’m not much for the idealistic new years resolutions, but I’ve decided that I need to restart my routine and go a bit further in following up my own goals. So here goes, my new years resolution. Believe me when I say this is the firs time I actually decide to have those.
1. Clean Eating 2.0
I started eating paleo in januari 2013. One day I just started doing it and I decided that this was something I could believe in and follow up. I’ve written about this before, but here is the Nerd Fitness guide that inspired me to pick up this diet. What it essentially means is that I stop eating everything that is delivered to my door, that is pre-made and what contains potatoes, grains and legumes. Also you need to avoid anything that is high in sugars, which you don’t need. Well, sugar in itself is something to avoid. This doesn’t mean you can’t have good food though. Also, I used to have one cheat day a week, that will be reduced to ‘one meal’. That will be pretty hard, butI’ve noticed that complete avoidance is pretty much impossible + when you suddenly can’t avoid it your body respons very badly to it. So having a minimal intake gives the body the right kinda shock.
Yes, I’ve read all the ‘debunking the paleo diet’ things too, and I think its sad. Obviously a diet alone is not enough, paleo alone does not make you a model, nor will it work for everyone. It does for me though, I have less stomach issues and drowsy headaches. Always keep your values in check though and don’t hesitate to drop some vitamines.
2. Gym 2.0
I’ve been going to the gym for years, but only last year I started noticing change. I felt much better, fitter and healthier due to my more intense schedules and determination in the activity. Due to illness and exhaustion, I did not do that much in the past month and I feel it in every fibre of my body. My goal is to increase muscle tissue this year and be able to lift, press, deadlift and squat certain weights. It’s all around 50.. I don’t need to get bulky, I just want to be strong and fit and that seems like a great goal for 2015.
Today I went to the gym for the first time in a long while again and it felt great. I feel motivated and just good about having gone there.
3. Synergy in the Relationship
I hope to reach a new level in the way my relationship works. We work well together, but I want to achieve what I considere synergie. Work together and support eachother on our life goals and understand and feel what matters to eachother. No matter how you translate synergie, it requires commitment that I am willing to put into it. I hope to find ways to improve it even further this year.
I’ve learned in the past year that relationships usually give you back what you put in to them. If you want to work on it, go for it and do your best first, rewards will come laterin the form of returned favours. If you don’t want to make the effort, neither will your partner.
I love travelling and seeing new places and this year I hope to add some countries to my list. One is already planned, which is a visit to Greece. If summer holidays fall through for some reason, then I hope to visit Malta too. In that case I also hope to make plans for the future and see some other locations . The Balkan is currently a destination that is much favored,but so is Iceland, Norway (Scandinavia) and Portugal. I’m a firm believer that travel is something that improves you and allows you to grow as a person. If not that, then travelling with only your minimum stuff takes away so much of the normal stress, its amazing. Travel is difficult sometimes, but doing it always feels super rewarding.
5. Write more and try some more beers
As you might know, I’m quite excited about my blog, but I have been struggling to find a routine to it and a way to write that speaks to everyone. I hope to write more and better stuff this year and make you keep on coming back. Thanks for checking it out anyways.
I also hope to keep on keeping track of the beers I’ve tried on Untapped and never drink the same beer twice. That’s a serious commitment, since I hope to find more remarkable tastes. Yes, it is not quite in line with my previous resolutions. Still, one needs to relax now and then, so why not combine that with discovery?
If you want to help me, that’d be most welcome. How? Simply let me know where you are going and if you want to take something home for me. I’ll just pay you back.
So there goes, my resolutions. They’re more targets I guess, goals and things I want to do and focus on. I also want to read much more books. Let’s make this a good year with lots of progress! What will you try to achieve this year?