In Studio Report: Trusted Few (April 2010)

author TL date 13/04/10

It is Monday, April 5th. PP, Jill and myself are cruising from Sjælland, past the boundaries of civilisation with only a short stop at McDonalds to stop us , before we pass into Jylland. Our mission: To visit our friends from Trusted Few, the Slagelse-born metal/post-hardcore four piece, who are recording their new album in CB Studios in Holsted. We arrive in the afternoon, being greeted by the band, who have just wrapped things up for the day, and they give us a tour of the studio. For sixteen days, the four guys are holed up here, working full days in the house that holds the studio, and spending what little time they have off in an adjacent building they have graciously been allowed to bunk in. During the night time, they play xbox and keep their facebook fan page updated with video blogs of their work. During the day, they spend their hours recording their first full length album, with studio owner Christian Bonde and his assistant on production duty. Presently, the boys have five days left to work with, and things are coming together, "staying almost on schedule" they say. They tell us how they started out having famous Danish producer Jacob Hansen over for a visit, and with his input added to that of Christian Bonde and themselves, they quickly found the sound they wanted for the record. Since then, they've been recording instruments under Bonde's direction in the newer of the two studios here, while they've been allowed to play around more freely in the other one, where vocals have been recorded.

The boys play us some bits and pieces that are nearing completion, and from the sound of it, suspicions of an impending evolution in the band are confirmed. The expression simply has more to offer, and is more nuanced in all departments, both heavy and soft, and Trusted Few are eager to tell us how they've deliberately gone for a sound that's more personal to them, even convincing guitarist Philip to record something on Fender guitars. Something he has otherwise never agreed to.

Still though, things aren't complete enough for us to really tell you exactly what TF are going to sound like on the new album. That's still for you to look forward to, as there's still work that obviously needs doing, before the recordings can be handed over to Jacob Hansen for mastering, a few days from now. So after seeing the sights and the equipment, and snapping some photos of the guys, we head to the house they live in at the moment. Their girlfriends, who have been visiting for a few days, are chilling out here, and they seem to be in a good mood, though the TF guys claim that none of them actually listen to the kind of music the band plays. Regardless, they leave to cook for everyone, as we get some personal time with the band in their makeshift living room, recording a lengthy interview about the upcoming album, and the future of the band. So read on, as we give you Johan Pedersen on lead vocals, Andreas Juliussen on bass and backing vocals, Philip Brage on guitar and Adam Hansen on drums - Or if you're of an impatient disposition, skip to the end of the article, to quickly learn the title, release horizon and track-list of the upcoming album: You're currently recording for the fourth time in CB Studios - Can you explain us why you decided to come back here and how the experience is now, compared to previous times?
Adam: Well we started in a place where we'd never even tried being in a studio, and we needed to find a place where we could work with someone. So we found CB Studios, the price seemed right and we had a good conversation with Christian (Ed: Bonde), who owns the studio and is our producer. Things clicked and we tried coming over here and it was just a good atmosphere and a good feel, rather than there being any pressure, which made us feel like coming back again. So we came back for our second EP, and.. All the time we've been working on finding out who we are as a band and what kind of music we want to write, and we appreciate that Christian has been part of that, because he doesn't just lean back and produce, he also contributes with suggestions to what the music could sound like. He gives a little bit of himself to the process.

Johan: Yeah and he's evolved too over the times we've been here, which also feels kind of cool because we're a part of that..

Andreas: We've also seen the studio evolve over the times we've come here, and we know him..

Adam: We feel that he's been along since the start of our band, and that we've been along since the beginning of his studio, when he was trying to figure out if there was even a market for him to be a producer in. So you knew always that you were coming back here to record the début album, or were the actually other options being considered?
Andreas: We've had a LOT of options on the table for this, but trying to deduct which would be best for our album, we kept coming back to this place in our minds because, it's just better to be safe than sorry right? We never really tried working with anyone else, so this felt safer. That also sounds reasonable because you guys are paying for the whole thing out of your pockets..

Johan: Yeah and we had the problem with many other producers, that they're used to a more typical sort of metal, and we never felt that they would quite get what direction we wanted to go in. And in relation to that, we're hoping that, by bringing Jacob Hansen in on this project as well, he can help us get sort of a bigger sound.

Adam: We like that Christian doesn't seem interested in making anything that sounds like everything else, and we're not interested in our music being that either. This is another reason we tried bring Jacob Hansen in, because normally, our impression is that if you work with him, you almost know what you're going to get before you even record with him..

Andreas: BUT, if you mix that with someone he's worked with before, like Bonde, who's worked with Hansen since the beginning - You see how those two work together and, coming in here they just helped everything fall into place for us, giving us a feeling of "uuhh, chills, let's go". It just sounded the way we wanted it. Okay, so that's cool to learn, because otherwise, bringing someone like Hansen in, who seems to be producing everybody and their mothers these days, that seems to the outsider like you're going in an opposite direction than this sort of voyage for identity that you're saying you want to do with Bonde?

Adam: And that's why we primarily have him doing the mastering, and then helping out a little bit with finding the sound, but it's not Jacob Hansen who's making this record with us, that's Christian, Hansen only gives things a twist, which nonetheless is exactly the twist we feel like we need right now.

Johan: Now obviously things aren't done yet, so we can't know for sure, but that's how we think it's going to end up at least

Adam: Yeah, like it was what we needed to take a step forward from where we already were. So talking about moving forward as a band with Christian, what I am the most interested in asking is probably what you envision this new album is going to do for your sound? What kind of changes can existing fans of your prior EP's expect?
Andreas: Well back then, we went in without a clue and told Christian "we want to make metal!", so he made us a metallic sound, and that's the sound you hear on both EP's. This time we hit the brakes, because we aren't making typical metal and hence we don't want to sound like typical metal. The bass drum doesn't need to be triggered and the snare drum doesn't need to sound like "PAAAANG!", rather we want things to sound a bit more earthbound.. a bit more like actual instruments.. and more dry.. definitely more dry. So also in the aspect of song writing though - because in spite of the metallic sound of the first two EP's, things seem considerably more catchy on them, and considerably less bound in the screamed verse/clean chorus format..

Adam: That's how we saw our band!

Andreas: Yeah because we told Christian, "We want a metal sound because we're metal!", and while he's probably thought to himself "no you're not.", he did it for us anyway, but now I think we have a somewhat bigger understanding of each other and our music.

Adam: We're only more confused about it now though, because we have some parts where we play something funky, then some that are groovy, some that are really heavy and some that are pretty and harmonic.. I think we just do whatever we feel like.

Johan: We're really looking forward to hear what people are going to say it sounds like, when it comes out.

Adam: Yeah maybe it's going to be confusing because we try out a lot of different stuff, but to us, it's just what we love doing, because none of us are 100% funky and none are 100% metal, it's just a mix of a lot of things, which we're trying to get right and right now, we feel like we're doing that. But guys, remembering your last show at Lades Kælder, where you aired new material - Normally, when you hear a band's début album, they refine what they're good at and do just that with small variations for twelve songs in a row - and that's not at all the feeling I got from the songs on that night..
Andreas: SCORE!!! Hahaha! ... sooo would you say that people who've listened to you in the past should prepare for things to go in very different directions depending on which song they're hearing?

Andreas: I just think the best thing is for people to drop their expectations, whatever the are, and not listen with the only reaction being "this doesn't sound like the old Trusted Few", or "Where did that part of their sound go!?" - Just remember that no matter what, this is still us playing the instruments, and I can tell you with 100% certainty, that no matter what we're doing, you'll always be able to recognise that it's us, because we've always been a little bit off, compared to what's typical.

Adam: We have the same core that we've always had, but we've added a lot of layers on the top. We're trying, sometimes on purpose, sometimes subconsciously, to create our own universe, though that's not meant to say "Wooh, we wear Converse and we're all special". We're just trying to do whatever we feel like, without having it be necessary that there's a heavy or quiet or a clean sung part in the same set places, if even in the mix, all the time. We don't even mind making a song that doesn't have a chorus. Sometimes we're fine just write a song with three verses and a C-part and then something else in there as well.

Andreas: We all bring our individual competences to the table, and use them more or less randomly. While obviously Philips controls a lot by coming up with the guitar parts, when we're rehearsing our songs, all four of us are equally involved in making it work.

Johan: I think that people who've heard us before will recognize us, because like we said, it's impossible not to, but they'll also get something new because we're widening what we're capable of. So a double sided answer then? Because on one hand you are trying out a lot of different things, but there's still a thread through it that's you, that people can pick up on?

Johan: There is because, in spite of having maybe tried to be like other bands in the past, we've still only been ourselves, and now we're done trying to be anyone but ourselves, and if people think we're suddenly too heavy or too quiet or we sing too much, then I guess they should stop listening to us. We're making what we want to make right now, and that's just the way it is.

Adam: Which has indeed given us a wide ensemble of songs, but all of them still carry the same nerve, the nerve that is us and is the thread you're talking about. Okay, so Johan says that in the past, you guys had a good idea about who you wanted to sound like, so do you want to tell us who that is?
Andreas: Well we can't even do that..

Adam: I'd like to sound like Necrophagist

Andreas: Yeah, that's what I mean, this guy brings in Anal Cunt and all sorts of stuff like that and I'm like "WHAT!?", because then I bring in some Kent or some José Gonzalés or something, and then somehow we just end up somewhere in between. Okay, but can you maybe at least, each of you, name one or two bands that inspire you right now maybe?

Adam: Well I think it's hard, because I think I become the most inspired by going out and playing with local bands, rather than sitting at home and listening to a big band from the states. I get super inspired by playing with bands like Vira for instance, because they inspire me to become better and to try more different things as a drummer.

Andreas: I have the same with another Danish band called Sjael, who do a fantastic job vocally, and that's something I personally listen for, because I see them play and I'm like "how the hell do they do that?", and that inspires me more than the stuff I actually listen to off albums. So actually, local bands that you play with are much more inspiring to you than bigger bands you might each go around listening to?

Andreas: It's always been like that.

Johan: Right now, all of us like to listen to a lot of Protest The Hero, Every Time I Die and August Burns Red, but on the other hand, we listen to retardedly much Tina Dickow, but it's hard to say that any of it directly influences our band. Okay, well the reason I'm asking is that I see you guys quite often at gigs around Copenhagen, and we talk about music, and over the past two years, those conversations have obviously changed, so I thought maybe the inspirations for the band would've changed like that as well...

Adam: I think for sure the conversations have changed, because when we go see bands we look at it from a much more technical perspective now. It's not longer as much the fascination with a cool band with good songs as it is like, "Wait, what was that sound there, or that tempo change there?!" or "how did they do this and that". We're looking at what the bands are actually doing, instead of just enjoying a band and thinking that we'd like to be where they are. Okay so about the local scene, we asked you what you felt about it when we last interviewed you ages ago (+2 years), and now we'd like to ask you again: How do you think it's going with it? Do you feel closely in touch with what's going on also with bands around you, or are you only really aware of how things are for your own band?
Johan: I think we feel in touch, but it's hard to say because we belong in both the camps of this country. On one hand we play with both rock bands and experimental bands like Siamese Fighting Fish, but on the other we also play with much harder bands, and no matter which ones fan-base we try to close in on, they always have one issue or other with our stuff.

Andreas: And then again, a lot of people actually listen and get surprised thinking "Hey, this is actually pretty cool", and that's one of the things that's the most cool to me. Converting one of the tr00 fans of a genre, haha!

Johan: I think that while we're used to getting complaints from the metal scene because we do sing alot, the new generation is indeed starting to change that, and I think that's really great. We've been playing with really hard bands like Scarred By Beauty and Vira for instance, and three years ago, bands like those wouldn't have wanted to play with a band like ours, but now they don't mind. So it's getting better for bands like yours? There are more open ears than there used to be?

Andreas: Without question. But the basis for it is of course also getting bigger, as our sound gets broader and starts appealing to more different people. So how about your fan base, can you feel that growing?
Adam: Well for the past six months, we've been pretty secluded, focusing on this whole dream of releasing an album, so it's hard to get a feel of that. Also because, one and a half years ago, we could be playing The Rock with a feeling of "how the fuck did we draw so many people? - how is the place full of people who like us?", and then the next time we play there are only twenty people there. Sometimes people show and sometimes they just don't, and we have a hard time figuring out why. Back in the day when I went to high school, we could play there and we'd draw a crowd from the school, but that doesn't apply as much any more obviously, though some of the same people have stuck with us.

Andreas: One thing that's changed is that, last time you interviewed us, we were playing shows where thirty percent of the crowd was moshing and getting engaged up front, and these days, we're starting to get another kind of crowd. The kind that steps back a little and crosses their arms, and I'm not saying that in any bad way, because that's just another way of listening to music, and that's also something we have to get used to, because these people haven't actually decided to like the show before they even came to it. So it's not like you're feeling your myspace or facebook pages explode with more views or messages or fans or anything?

Johan: No, I think it's actually really hard to be taken seriously until you have a full album out, so that's something we hope to accomplish with the one we're making. We want this to be what takes us one step further, instead of making more EP's and seeing the same faces still be the only people at the shows in a year.

Andreas: Yeah, so ask us again in six months!

Adam: One thing you can feel though, is the demand. There are a lot of people asking when the record's done, whether it be friends of ours, friends of friends or just people having randomly heard that we're making an album. That's been interesting, and while I'm not sure that it means we have more fans, it means that people are aware that we're putting an album out soon.

Andreas: I maintain that we don't have fans. We have people who like to listen to our stuff and people who like to dance to our stuff, but I've never felt that kind of dedication that a fan gives you. We get people who are interested, coming and telling us if a show was good or not, but that's the feedback I get, not any sort of star worship, even on a small scale. So about this demand, you're currently making video diaries from this studio to share with people, but would you like to give them even more previews of what you're doing, or are you actually quite comfortable hiding things more until they're done?
Johan: Well what that's all about is just generating activity, so that it isn't just the people who pay constant attention online that know we're making a record. We're also going to put out a song before the rest of the album, but on the other hand, we also don't want to do too much. We don't want people to be sick of us before the album is even released. What I'm playing at though, is what your stance is as a band between two extremes, one being the kind of band that puts out everything as soon as they have it, in form of this demo or this clip or whatever, and then the other kind who keep a close lid on things until the actual retail copy of the album comes out?

Adam: I think we're going for the middle ground there, as we want to keep things cooking, but we don't want to let the air out of the balloon.

Andreas: We'd like to show people we're climbing up the highest diving board, but we don't want to shout "LOOK AT US!" before we're actually up there.

Philip: That's what we did when we put "Parallel Of Gaia" up on our myspace this December.

Andreas: Yeah, because we'd had "Dance Dance" up there for a while, and we recognised that the new stuff was different, so we released that, both to make it seem like we were alive, but also to give people a hint that things were soon going to change somewhat. So about the album, what kind of plans do you have to ensure the success of it after it is released?
Johan: There are a LOT of plans.. Balls up in the air, people we know we have to talk to, but nothing set in stone right now.

Andreas: Also because normally, if you're not doing everything yourself, like we are, you'd have someone who had the network to facilitate such plans, but we're only in the process of getting in contact with such a network, and that's why you're getting kind of a vague answer right now. We have lots and lots of plans, but we can't tell you which are going to happen and which aren't right now. Well with the EP's, you've kicked it oldschool by playing a lot of shows and then selling or giving away records at the venue, and what I was curious about was whether you had any more elaborate plans than that this time, and also whether the record is only slated for a Danish release, or if you want to push it out beyond our borders as well?

Adam: No, we have contacts in Sweden and Germany whom we hope can set us up with some shows there.

Johan: But first I think we need to go out and attack Denmark again, to recreate the platform we once had, which we aren't so sure of right now, having worked exclusively on the album for six months. In that way, the plan is still the same, as we're going to play many many shows, and while there are a lot of details to be determined in the actual release of the record, the chief thing for us is to get back to playing. And we really want to get back out playing shows soon! Okay but also you see a lot of bands trying all sorts of weird gimmicks and competitions and what not, trying to promote their releases, and I was wondering if there were any plans of that kind?

Johan: There will be. As many as we can get off the ground, but at this moment, we just don't know which will happen and which won't and in what way those that happen will happen, so I would rather not promise anything just yet. The important thing is that we want to try to make it beyond having a hell of a lot of attention for a month, and then being forgotten immediately afterwards, because that's what we feel is unfortunately the case with a lot of other Danish bands.

Adam: But then, we are already starting now, getting press from and from various other sites, and showing our studio videos, just to get the first sparks flying. Okay, to ask something completely different, how's your situation when it comes to finding, or not finding, a record label?
Andreas: Well things have been happening, but what's been my impression so far, is that the instant communication was established, the first thing that was talked about was what needs changing in our band. So we've been very very cautious, because we're not interested in losing what we have right now.

Johan: Again, we hope that this record will help us change that situation. Also because a lot of bands do get a deal, and then that deal, for one reason or another, doesn't get them anywhere.

Andreas: We don't want to get signed just for the hell of it. Plenty of bands get signed, then they get their record out, for which they pay eighty percent themselves, and what does the last twenty percent actually buy them in terms of label help? Their record gets sent to forty different reviewers? I can do that in half an hour, so what's the point?

Adam: Hopefully, with the album out, we can start shopping for a better deal than that. So do you think that by not having a label involved, the first Trusted Few album is stronger than it would have been otherwise?
Adam: Well, at least it will be our own. We don't really know, because we've never been in that world at all, having done everything ourselves instead.

Andreas: The only thing the labels seem to could have contributed would've been the network we talked about earlier. Okay, so to close things off, I just have a few quick questions about the album. First off, do you know what it's going to be called?
Andreas: Yes. Can we hear it?

Andreas: "Before We Forget"

Adam: No dude, "And Then We Forgot" !!

** One loud burst of laughter later **

Adam: Yeah and it's going to be written like this; "And Then We Forgot∞"

Johan: And it relates to the lyrics of the songs

Andreas: Yeah, it has to do with a thought about how there's a cycle in everything.. That you can't avoid but make a cycle in whatever you do. How many songs on it?

Johan: Twelve. Titles for those settled?

Johan: Yes, we will send them to you in an email tomorrow! Cover art? Settled?

Andreas: Yes, people are working on it at the moment, and we are looking much forward to show it. Going to look like some of your previous stuff, or something completely different?

Andreas: Completely different.

Adam: The art is also related to the content of the songs.

Andreas: As opposed to the previous cover art, which we just picked because we thought it looked cool. Now we picked something that would make sense.

Johan: It will be made by Bianca Anhalt and Tim Gade. Bianca makes tattoos and a lot of other artistic stuff, and Tim does a lot of stuff with photos, and because Bianca is a tattoo artist it will be somewhat tattoo-styled. They're working together on that, and we're excited to see how it will turn out in the end. And when will it be out then?

Johan: No date, but this summer. June? July? August?

Andreas: July/August.

With this, the interview concludes, and we proceed to have an informal dinner with the guys before heading home. There's little more left to say, so instead, we'll round off this article by quickly listing the as of yet known facts about Trusted Few's upcoming début album:

Title: And Then We Forgot∞
Release: July/August 2010
Tracklist (not necessarily in the right order):

  • Dead Leaves
  • Rain Kills Machine
  • The Cold Sea Of Legacy
  • Just Another Trench War
  • Creating A False Image
  • Senile Tendencies
  • The Victor Is Always The Author
  • Its Funny How Blood Works
  • New
  • Normalized Perfection
  • Did it go well?
  • Parallel of Gaia

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