I am new to the awesomeness that is The New Trust. I was exposed to the band from a post on the band Junius’ Facebook page and upon watching TNT’s video for “Compromise” I was hooked. They are the perfect combination of post-hardcore, heavy indie rock, mixed with earnest / clean vocals. One of the first things I noticed in the video was the band’s drummer Julia Lancer. I love a highly skilled, hard-hitting drummer, and when said drummer is female as well it makes it even more hardcore and badass. After seeing this video, I had to have more, so I contacted the band and they were nice enough to send an advanced copy of their solid and powerful new release Keep Dreaming, which was produced by the legendary Steve Albini. After hearing the eight tracks of perfection contained on band’s fifth LP. I had to know all there was to know about the magic of The New Trust and lead singer / bassist Josh Staples was cool enough to answer all my questions.
Keep Dreaming comes out May 14th (tomorrow) which you can purchase here.
How did The New Trust come about? Can you give me a brief history about the band?
I started writing songs for what would become The New Trust in around 1998 or so, making some demos and playing the songs with friends from the North Bay. I was playing bass in bands that were busy recording and touring at the time, so it took a while to get motivated and to put together any band of my own. In 2000, Sara and I got married after years of living together. We decided that The New Trust was a band that we could do as a team and began writing and arranging a handful of songs. Around that same time, The Velvet Teen – with whom I play bass – started recording and touring regularly, with only a break in 2003 during the extensive process of recording Elysium. Sara and I jumped on that (then) rare lull in activity to ask our friend Michael from Benton Falls and 19-year old Julia Lancer to start playing with us, and within a few months, The New Trust had a recording done and some shows booked.
What’s it like being in a band with your wife? Does it make it harder when the band disagree’s with each other? Is it difficult to separate the band from your personal relationship?
There are pros and cons with being in a band with your significant other – as there are with anyone, I guess – but it’s definitely different. If it’s harder on anyone, I think it’s the other members of the band who have to endure the behaviors of the married couple. Things like snarky comments, occasional fights, etc. Non-married bandmates can be more civil in a lot of ways for conventional societal reasons, where if you hang out with married couples, you occasionally hear them say some pretty brutal shit to one another. Married people are gonna show their emotional involvement more, where a bunch of dudes in a van usually aren’t. Also, feeling ganged-up on by a married team who can’t help but prioritize each other, surely must be problematic for the other members of a band with the same configuration as ours. After ten years as a band, however, Sara and I are practically as close with Julia as we are with each other, and try hard not to make her feel like a third wheel. Admittedly, we have chased a couple guitarists away though…
I think a lot of band dudes will think of time with their band as a vacation from their girlfriends or boyfriends, and that’s okay. Personally though, I consider time touring with The New Trust to be more like vacation with my family. We bring our dogs with us on tour and try to see as many friends along the way as possible. We’ve been doing it long enough and frequently enough to (mostly) keep the debauchery to a minimum, and to know what works for us without stepping on each others feelings.
One of the things that initially grabbed me when I first heard the band was Julia’s drumming. I feel like she’s the female version of John Bonham. What’s her relationship like with the band after all these years?
We get that a lot. Julia is an outstanding drummer, for sure. I can’t speak for what she thinks, but from my perspective, she is an absolute cornerstone of the band. Our sound has changed over the years to accommodate her style, and she just keeps getting better. The fact that when we started the band, she was a teenager, and that she’ll be 30 in a couple months? That speaks well of our relationship, I hope. We’ve truly watched her grow up – through serious relationships, huge life changes, big moves, into the great friend and wholly solid person she is now. It’s really been amazing. I’m ten years older than she is, so when the band started, I was her age now – which is crazy. All three of us have grown really close…
For Keep Dreaming, we put together 8 songs that we felt were varied enough, but have a very similar feel. Like our last album, Get Vulnerable, all of the songs are a bit dark. This time the subject matter is mostly dreams and loss – death in particular. Real fun, right?! Anyway we had these songs mostly done when we left for tour in October and our goal was to play them every night for 20 days on our way to Chicago. We pretty much played six of them every night, and two fell out of practice. We got to Chicago, met Steve Albini (an absolute gentleman and consummate professional) and started setting our stuff up. Overall, I think that this records sounds truer to what we actually sound like than anything else we’ve done. It’s raw and unpolished, with only a very few overdubs. We’re very glad to have worked in such a classic recording environment, and we had our run of the studio to stay up real late, getting those last two songs ready. When I play or hear either of those 2 songs, all I can picture is the three of us playing those songs in the studio at 3 in the morning. Steve had plenty of helpful suggestions and we’re totally happy with how it turned out. After 5 days in Chicago, we left with the finished record in hand, which is rare in this day and age.
That is impressive to have the album completely done in five days. Can you elaborate more on what it was like recording with Albini? Did you constantly ask him questions about Nirvana’s In Utero? Haha. Because that’s probably what I would have done.
We did our best to keep our cool in regards to questions. We’ve collectively read more than a few Albini interviews, so many of our questions have been answered. Steve did volunteer quite a few great stories about many bands, some about crank calls he made while recording Nirvana, and he is a veritable encyclopedia of the dirty joke, past and present. He was very helpful with getting good takes out of us and if we had a problem, he was always encouraging. Once, Sara wasn’t happy with a guitar take, and wanted to do her tracks over. Steve said (and I paraphrase), “Well, if you consider a band to be individual instruments, then that would make sense. But if you, like me, consider a band to be one instrument, with three people playing it, then you should all do the song again.” We did, and I’m sure that the recording was much better for it. With Steve, the simplest solution is usually the best. If you want to cut two halves of a song together, literally cut the tape and splice it together. I nearly shit when I first saw him do that. If you’re not happy with a take, do it over. There’s no fixing or hiding things in post production, and the only computer in the room is the laptop steve checks during breaks. Throughout the session, we had a lot of nice talks about food, travel and bands we like, and Steve was engaging and a lot of fun to be around. He was good with our dogs, too.
It’s the best! It really has made tour even more fun, if you can believe it. We get to see dog parks in each city, some of which are amazing. The off-leash park in Minnetonka, Minnesota is grandiose. During the show, the dogs will usually just chill out in the van. It’s just a big crate on wheels. We’ve had no trouble finding places to stay, we just have to find people with dogs (or at least people that don’t mind em) to stay with, or if we have to stay in a hotel, we go to La Quinta. They’re dog-friendly and have no extra fees or limit to the quantity or size of dogs that stay. If no houses or La Quintas are available, we have a pretty sweet van-sleeping system, as well. As the tallest, I’ll take the back bench, Jules takes the middle bench and Sara sleeps under the seats, down the center of the van with her head between the driver & passenger seats. The dogs each sleep on the front seats. We’ve also done a lot of camping on tour since we’ve been a three piece. It keeps our spirits up and the dogs have a great time. None of us want to be apart from each other, so touring with them is better than the alternative. Murray & Stella have seen more of the country than a lot of our friends!
Those are some well traveled dogs. That’s really cool. Any memorable tours, shows, or crazy events that stick out in your mind from the years out on the road?
Too many to count. Our first big tour was The Jealous Sound’s 2003 tour for Kill Them With Kindness. We toured the U.S. with Minus The Bear & These Arms Are Snakes in 2005, and every night was crazy with those guys. We went to Tijuana with Ampere. In Taiwan, we took a child-size train up a mountain and a gondola over a waterfall into a magical village full of koi ponds, a haunted house, an ostrich farm, archery range, and a beer garden. We’ve been to nearly every US State, all over Europe, and Japan and have played shows with so many great bands: Cursive, Sebadoh, Engine Down, American Steel. We’ve made a ton of friends while in this band, and watched kids grow up into parents. Our favorite tour so far was last year, though. We booked much of it on our own and played with different great bands practically every night. Des Ark – our favorite band, and some of our favorite people – played the east coast dates with us. It’s often times hard to talk about singular crazy events that stick out, but there have been plenty. For me to tell the stories without firstly getting some people in trouble, and also without Sara and Jules corroborating would only lessen their impact. I think the stories are better if we all tell them together, so anyone who wants juicy details will have to come talk to us at a show…
You mentioned Des Ark as a favorite band. Are there any other acts, past or present that you are really into? Any that the band can all agree on?
There are plenty of bands that we collectively love and listen to in the van. There are the bigger ones: Engine Down, Cursive, Shellac, Mew, Radiohead & PJ Harvey’s first two albums. There are some lesser known bands that are our favorite, but aren’t around anymore, like Party Of Helicopters, Colossal, Malady, Push To Talk, and Meneguar. We also listen to our friends’ bands a lot: Not To Reason Why, Starskate, Themes, and more. We are constantly playing music in the van and learning about different music from each other.
Keep Dreaming, the album we recorded back in November comes out in a couple days (May 14), so our goal is to tour as much as possible. As of now, we are playing all over the West Coast through July. We have a few new songs in the works and a few that were written for Keep Dreaming, but didn’t make it onto the album. I’d like to get those songs out there. I’m always making grand plans that may or may not come together, but I think I wanna do a few 7-inches next. Maybe some splits with bands we love, that kind of thing. Just keep on keepin’ on!
Purchase Keep Dreaming