Trapt Is ‘Reborn’

Trapt frontman Chris Taylor Brown talks with Pollstar about the band’s newly established independence as it prepares to release “Reborn,” its first album outside the traditional label system.

However, Reborn, scheduled to be released Jan. 22, isn’t the only change in the Trapt universe. The band consisting of guitarist/singer Brown, lead guitarist Robb Torres and bassist Pete Charell recently welcomed new drummer Dylan Thomas Howard from Unwritten Law into the fold. The band also changed managers since releasing its fourth album, No Apologies.

Calling from his Southern California home, Brown described a band that follows its own path while making the music it wants to make. However, there were some speed bumps along the way as Brown mentioned past instances where label execs tried to tell the group what to do and how to sound.

While describing Trapt’s new independence, Brown also offered a bit of advice that could apply to life in general, something that you needn’t be a member of a group in order to appreciate. Here’s a hint – it has to do with your gut.

What can you tell us about the new album, Reborn?

The new album really shows a lot of different sides of what we’re able to do as a rock band and musicians. The lyrics are the deepest and [most] honest of what we’ve done so far. I think people are going to be surprised.

Is Reborn the album Trapt has always wanted to do?

We make whatever records we want to make. Whatever we feel at the time is what comes out. I guess you could say, “Right,” in a way that we didn’t have any interference from any label people or anybody. Trapt produced it. It really was whatever I and the band wanted to do, we were able to do it. There was no one telling us to do something this way … make a song for radio or do this … It didn’t matter.

After our last record with Eleven Seven, the label asked us to change our deal with them. We had a 50-50 digital deal and they said, “We want you to go 80-20 like all our other bands or we’re not going to push your singles.” They literally tried to change our deal, and they went back and did it anyway.

The last record we did for Eleven Seven, it was like they didn’t push it. I guess if you’re managed by them, you have to be, you know, a 360 deal, you have to give them a piece of everything you have. Also, make … deals in their favor or they just won’t work it.

We found that out on the second from last record, thankfully, and we just went on our own. Now we’re with EMI Label Services and the team over there is awesome. They’re really working hard. We have a great radio team, they’re working their asses off for us. We’re using a lot of people that we’ve actually worked with in the past through other labels. Now we’re working with them on a one-on-one basis. There’s no bureaucracy. The fifth record, in a way, is a record we’ve always wanted to make.

Being in charge as you described, did you and the band ever find yourselves second-guessing your own decisions?

You know what? You just got to go with your gut. You can’t second-guess yourself … You’re never going to get anywhere if you keep second-guessing yourself. You got to go with it and trust your gut.

What’s the creation process like? Does the band work something up in the studio or just jam at rehearsals?

I’ll be sitting there, watching TV, hanging out, smoking a bowl, or something like that. Just playing acoustic guitar, come up with the riffs and the melody right then and there … add everything I can add to it to make it a full song and then send it over to Dylan our drummer and he does his take on the rhythm that I was thinking in my head.

Dylan has been in Trapt for just over a year. Was it difficult bringing a new drummer into the band?

No. The first show we did it was like, “Wow! This is how it’s supposed to sound.”

The first record, we had Robin Diaz, the drummer for Daughtry. He was a great drummer. He had a band he was doing and he actually found Aaron (Montgomery) for us. It felt like we were writing the songs for the first record. I feel like that now. Everything is perfect.

What do you do to fill up the time between shows while touring?

I always say you get paid for the other 22 hours of the day when you sit around and do nothing for a while. You get really bored sometimes. You sit there and write songs. You’ve got to go out and explore whatever city you’re in and try everything the city has to offer you.

Do you have any favorite cities?

I love Las Vegas. I love playing all the West Coast shows, it’s close to home. New York … Chicago.

You mentioned some major cities, but what about when you’re playing Little Rock, Ark., which is coming up at the end of January?

We played there this year, I think it was May, and it was great. An awesome show, the crowd was incredible.

As the vocalist, do you have any pre-show routines to prepare your voice for the show?

I just try to warm up and make sure I’m ready to go. It’s just a series of weird sounding vocal things I do.

In your business – making records, touring, spending a lot of time away from home, living a life us mere mortals who buy your records probably could never comprehend – does it help to be a little crazy in order to survive?

I don’t think of it that way. I think of it as we’re all normal people. We’re not doctors, generals saving America from evil. We’re lucky enough to be four rock fans who get to play in a band and have people actually be fans of us. I don’t think we’re any better in any other way. I think we’re all mere mortals and we just kind of live every day to its fullest.

You’ve been doing this since high school. Was there ever a Plan B or any non-music career goal?

It’s always been a hobby, something we got together and did for fun. As the songs got better and [we] started recording them, the label people started hearing it and that started the process.

Those early days are 15 years behind you. Where do you see yourself 15 years from now?

I have no idea. I just know that for the next five to 10 years I want to make a lot of records and tour the world a few times.

Photo: Scott Legato /
Blue Ribbon Coliseum, Indianapolis, Ind.

Upcoming shows for Trapt include Seattle’s El Corazon Jan. 17; Boise, Idaho, at Knitting Factory Concert House Jan. 18; Spokane, Wash., at Knitting Factory Concert House Jan. 19; Denver’s Marquis Theater Jan. 21 and Salt Lake City at In The Venue Jan. 22. For more information, click here for Trapt’s homepage, here for the band’s Facebook HQ and here for the Twitter feed.