10 Questions with ... Chris Taylor Brown
June 23, 2015
1) What was your first band and what were some of your early musical influences?
TRAPT and early influences were Metallica, Pearl Jam, Tool, Korn, Deftones, Incubus, Papa Roach, Dredg and Tribal Disco Noise. The latter three were playing clubs when we were 15-year-old fans and we wanted to be up there with them.
2) When did you know that you wanted to play music for a living?
After singing "What I Got" from Sublime for a high school talent show. I think I was a sophomore and it was my first time in front of an audience.
3) When did you form Trapt and what's the story behind the band's name?
When I was a kid, I felt that I should have the same rights as anyone. I quickly found out that I could believe whatever I wanted, but doing whatever I wanted was probably not the way I should go about things. It took me a bit to realize that we live in a system with laws for a reason. The court system helped me figure that out before I turned 18. Although, everything I got nailed for as a kid, I can now legally do. Needless to say, my junior year in high school was spent on probation and I had a curfew of 7p, so that is probably why the band is called TRAPT. If anyone is wondering why we spell it that way ... It just looks better. Once the band really started getting going though, I feel the name has evolved into pointing out the parts of yourself that hold you back from being happy and fulfilled (two different feelings, but equally as important).
4) The band had a huge hit with "Headstrong" from the first Trapt album back in 2002, and that song is still a staple on Rock radio today. That had to be gratifying for such success out-of-the-box.
Well, it didn't really hit until mid-2003, as the time it took to hit #1 was one of the longest in Billboard history, so it felt like we were working that song forever. It was an amazing feeling when all the hard work started to pay off. It was a double-edged sword, though, as most can probably see. Instead of letting it spread on its own and moving onto new songs, our label at the time just kept selling "Headstrong" to people, when the people were already in. That was so frustrating. TRAPT has so many other good songs, but when one of them had millions more spent on promoting it than any other song, it is probably going to be the only song most people hear. It's all proportional.
I guess when you are only invested in record sales, there isn't much else to do than sell as many albums as you can in as short of a period as you can. Now, I feel that bands are actually in a better situation if they have a label who's invested in everything that band does. That is actually the only way it can work now, for the band and label. It's kind of an all-or-nothing thing. At the end of the day, though, a team of people broke one of our songs wide open and we'll always be grateful to Tom Biery, Mike Rittberg, Rob Goldklang, Heather Luke and the radio team that they led when we were at Warner Bros.
5) Your new single "Passenger" is getting some good love at Active Rock wadio. What is that song is about?
At some point in our lives, we have to stop expecting so much out of other people and start expecting more from ourselves. A lot of what I went through over the last few years is in this song. I am basically speaking to myself. No one was going to help TRAPT and in a way, that was the best thing for the band. We had to take our own risk and the last few years have been the best years for TRAPT over the last nine years or so.
6) Your new album "DNA" is set for an October release. Give us a preview of what we're going to hear on this new record.
This album is shaping up to be better than anything we have done before. For the first single, we wanted to go with a song that made people think. A lot of times, people don't like to be challenged to think during a song, but my favorite music makes me think about my own life and I have always applied the lessons I've learned after connecting to a great song. We also have some songs that will just rattle your speakers. Thick and heavy tones on the guitar, punchy and tight drums, and the space to create dynamic ups and downs are the themes as far as how the sound of the record is going. We feel it's better to leave space in a song then to fill it with another kick drum hit.
The lyrics are some of the best that I have done, as I have been through a lot these past two years and while it has been very tough, it has fueled a fire that is still going as I type this. I'm basically between the last two songs we will be recording for the record, lyric wise, typing the answers to this interview.
This album really has an "all or nothing" theme to it. We named this album when only a few songs were ready to go, but I felt that a title that was about what it is to be human would be appropriate. We would not be here as a species, if it was anything less than "all or nothing." In the beginning of anything special, people have to put in the work. I feel we have reached a time in history where there are too many people who don't know where to even start. We have every tool imaginable at our fingertips, yet the majority of people in the industrialized world don't feel connected to anything they feel really matters, just existing is enough for some it seems.
Fortunately, we all have family and friends to exist with, but most of us want to achieve something bigger even if it's as one cog in a wheel and if day after day comes without any personal achievement, we lose a little bit more of ourselves every day, until we just do what we're told. If I can have even a small part in reversing this trend toward total complacency, I will consider all the hard work that TRAPT has done over the last few years, well worth it.
7) Your band has toured extensively over the years and is getting set for another tour this summer. Tell us your tour plans for the rest of this year.
We have the "Life In Your Own Hands" Tour starting July 15th and ending August 15th. There will also be a late Aug./Sep. leg of the tour as well. We will be offering our fans a way to get to the show in style, as part of our TRAPT "Passenger" Pick-Up promotion, where we will be picking up some lucky winners in a limo and taking them to the show. Who knows if we will even make it to the show? We also will be booking a big tour for the fall and want to make it a big package of great bands and fan experience.
8) Can you share any memorable stories from the road?
I always go back to Tommy Lee's "Undressing" Room when we played Crue Fest. I don't think anyone is going to top that, so I gave up trying after spending some time in that dressing room. What a fun life that guy lives. Other than that, the most memorable experiences are the exchanges between the band members of the different bands on tour. You get to know a whole bunch of new people or hang with old friends. It's always a good time, and always something that I look forward to.
9) If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why?
I would love to write a song with Phil Collins. He is my favorite lyric writer, as there is no beating around the bush, you know what he's talking about and he is not afraid of anyone judging him for being honest, even when he has to do it with simple lyrics. I hear too many songs on the radio these days and I have no idea where the singer is coming from because the lyrics are too vague trying to be as "poetic" as possible. Just say what you are trying to say.
10) Finally, you obviously travel a lot and probably get to listen to lots of Rock Radio. What's your take on the music being played on Rock radio today?
I see that people are trying to change the formula that Rock radio has been for a while, basically heavy rock/metal sub-genres that are some of the most-well-produced songs (new school production) I have heard, with throwback retro songs from the '70s sprinkled in, also with good old-school production. Maybe this is okay, as it defines Rock radio right now, which is good for a particular listener's taste. But, radio is about changing tastes, where did I hear my favorite bands first? The radio. Did I like that kind of music before I heard that first band who did it? No. I'm not saying Rock radio should play anything other than what we all can consider some form of rock/metal. I'm saying that Rock radio should have slots for different kinds of songs. As many different types of songs as possible. A really heavy song, a ballad, another song that is a little more progressive than the rest (actually maybe a few more of those), and songs that utilize all of what you can do dynamically as a rock band.