TRAP THEM: "Bleakness and Brutality"

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

Either consciously or subconsciously, people seem to realize that the end of an age is near. America seems to be going quietly insane as the likes of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin approach the Presidency. Everyone everywhere with the exception of a couple of hundred power brokers seems to be broke and nearing bankruptcy. Revolution is breaking out all least, for those who can be bothered to stop watching "American Idol" or "Pawn Stars".

Trap Them are the minstrels of these dark and dangerous times. Their violent music explodes with outrage and feelings of helpless anger. You don't need to understand what Ryan McKinney is screaming his lungs out can FEEL his fury. Trap Them is at the forefront of bands eschewing technicality and slickness to deal in soul-crushing devastation. One listen to their latest and most bone-grinding effort "Darker Handicraft" will prove that these guys are tuned into the Sturm und Drang of the Gotterdammerung.

I spoke with Ryan, the voice behind the Voice of rage, as it were, and got his feelings on his band, his music and his world...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! First, let me ask, what was the main goal you wanted to accomplish with “Darker Handicraft” and what separates this effort from past Trap Them works?

 RYAN MCKINNEY: I think we wanted to achieve what most every other band wants to achieve when writing, which is to feel we made progress and created something better than we had previously. The idea, for us at least, is to attempt to make something new to our sound without abandoning what we have made thus far.

WC: You guys are known for your brutality that gets right to the point. How far can this be taken before you start repeating yourself?

RM: I think we can take it as far as we want. It's not like anything has changed in our lives to curb the overall frustration of day to day living. Anger is not that hard to showcase as long as you're in touch with your emotions. Sometimes repetition is a good thing, especially in this case. It's a constant reminder of what you find wrong within your own world.

WC:  Is there a chance of longer, more epic tunes from Trap Them or will you keep the songs brief?

RM: We've done our best to find a common ground between our short bursts and our lengthier pieces. There's never been an intention to head towards one direction over another. The songs are written in any way it feels right, so my guess is as good as yours as to whether our work from now on will be longer as opposed to two minute blasts.

WC: Is there any room for hope in your music? It seems to be an unrelentingly bleak view of things?

 RM: There's room for it, but it will never be at the forefront of what's created. There's too many other themes to address that are met better with bitterness and desperation. We're not a negative band by attempt.....we're a negative band by design. There's no reason to try and display something that you don't feel is a majority of your daily life. Are the lyrics and music bleak? Of course, they are....this is something most of the world feels. But just as most of the world has a small level of hope hidden in them, there is no signs that point towards relaying it constantly.

 WC: This is likely something you’ve already been asked, but what is the meaning behind each song in “Darker Handicraft” being linked to a specific day?

 RM: Depression, desperation, blind rage and modern day struggle. The specific days are designed to connect everything involved therein. No song is it's own piece, but more a small part of an overall storyline.

 WC: Is this a concept album? If not, is that something you think you might tackle in the future?

RM: Definitely not a concept album. Though most thought the last LP was a concept, that wasn't either. I associate concept albums in a different light, and it's nothing I ever want to conquer with this band. All of the lyrics, despite how they may be presented or perceived, are simply an attempt at re-imagining the traditional hardcore punk approach.

WC: What was the major influence that got you into this vicious kind of music? Maybe a specific record that opened your eyes to the extreme?

RM: I was lucky enough to live in the northeast, where underground punk and hardcore was a vibrant scene throughout the 80s and 90s. My first show was in 91, and from then on, the idealism behind the music made was something that became important to me. I don't have a particular record that was the one that "clicked" for was more the live aspect that was the part of this music that grabbed me by the balls and never let go.

WC:  Is that “Swedish chainsaw” guitar sound a permanent part of your style or is it something that might change in the future?

 RM: That's something that I wouldn't be able to answer in good judgement. Brian is, has been, and always will be the music writer, and he worked extremely hard to find the sound that worked for him. I'm not sure why we'd change it at this point, but if there ever comes a time where Brian wants to try something different, I wouldn't question it in the least. He knows what he's doing and I would never doubt his vision of the music for this band.

WC:  Are there any films or books that influence the lyrics and outlook of Trap Them?

 RM:  Stephen King has had a major influence on how I write. I've said it a million times, but I love the guy. He tells a story like no one else can and it amazes me. Everything is so descriptive and visual. I think he's where my long-windedness comes from.  Other novelists that I admire and have influenced me in one way or another are many modern crime authors: Dennis Lehane, Chelsea Cain, Poppy Z. Brite, Clive Barker, the late Roberto Bolano (1666, specifically) and many more.

Film makers such as Dario Argento, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, David Cronenberg and Alex Cox have been great influences for many various reasons as well.

WC: Is digital technology like the Internet having a positive or negative influence on human behavior?

RM: I hate the internet. Hate hate hate it. However, I still use it. I really don't like having this social connection to the whole world. Nothing is able to be privatized anymore. If only things such as wikipedia existed, sites devoted to information and nothing else, I'd be a lot more positive. I don't have a facebook page or anything like that....i'm happy with just an email address. I don't have a fear of technology, I just consider the convenience of being connected to the entire world to be a major part of true human interaction, which is depressing.

WC:  What was it like working with Kurt Ballou on “Darker Handicraft” and will you be working with him in the future?

RM:  We'll go back to Kurt as long as he keeps doing a kick ass job. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. He was as focused as we were on this record and was able to help us achieve exactly what we wanted to. He's always understood what the band wants and has never questioned the music we make.

WC: How did your deal with Prosthetic Records come about and what has the label been like so far?

RM: There had been interest from them in the beginning of 09 and from that point we kept in contact. As time went on, we felt like it was a chance to trey something new, so we went for it. Prosthetic is an incredible label as far as promotion. We're doing our own brand of footwork as well. I think the record will definitely make it's rounds. Having a larger label backing us is important at this step in our history of a band. There will be a lot more merch we'll have for tours and available online. We have a ton of designs ready to be pressed and there will be even more as time goes on.

 WC: Are there any artists you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t had a chance to, yet?

 RM: None in particular....I mean, if the option came up, there are many artists I respect and I'd have no hesitance in contributing what I am capable of doing as long as I felt it wouldn't take away from their music.

 WC:  Are you involved in any projects outside of Trap Them ?

RM: None music related. There's really no spare time to focus on anything but this band.

WC: What’s the touring plans for the new album look like?

RM: We head to Europe in a few days for a tour with Rotten Sound, Gaza and Haust. After that, we have a few weeks off and do a two week run with Converge and Burning Love. There are a few more things that are being fleshed out at the moment, but it's safe to say we'll be busy for the rest of the year.

WC:  What was the last CD/album/release you got just because you wanted to hear the band?

RM: I can't think of the last release by a new band that I wanted to check out, but the last record I bought was the new Parts and Labor LP, "Constant Future", because I love the band. The record is incredible.

 WC: What was the last gig you attended just because you wanted to check the band out?

RM: I love seeing Great Falls play out here in Seattle. Ridiculously loud, heavy and noisy.....just the way it should be.

WC:  Any good “Spinal Tap” type stories of crazy things happening on the road that you could share with us?

RM: Unfortunately not too many. One of the most entertaining things I ever saw was watching Chris blow up a pineapple with an M-80 in Quebec City. I laughed for about an hour.

WC: Any final words for the Trap Them faithful out there?

 RM: More stagedives! Thanks very much for the interview.