“I’ve come to a point where I’ve discovered the positives and negatives of pain,” says Trapt frontman, guitarist and principal songwriter Chris Taylor Brown. “I really believe that the bad times in life really help to contribute to the good times in life and these lyrics embrace that. I much prefer to allow myself to feel everything as it comes, as opposed to maybe numbing yourself so that you can avoid feeling anything.”
This dynamic of positive in the negative and vice-versa has never been echoed as much as it has before then on Trapt’s latest studio album, Only Through The Pain. Their third and most mature album to date finds the platinum rockers not only returning to form but shattered expectations of what a rock disc can be. The L.A. based group returned to Co-Producer Gggarth Richardson’s Vancouver studio to rekindle the magic that helped propel its 2002 eponymous debut past two million in sales. The comfort of reconvening with Richardson has allowed the men of Trapt to excel both creatively and spiritually on an album that is not only a staggering representation of the growth the band has made, but a kick-ass jolt of hard rock to boot. Aside from the comfort level of reconvening with Richardson, the members of Trapt wanted to work with someone who had a proven track record of getting the best from the band. “I like having someone like Gggarth because he’ll catch you doing something on a particular instrument that could have been a little better, or getting you to work a little harder on a vocal,” Chris admits. “With him we can trust that things can be as best as possible.”
“I love big choruses and well written songs,” Brown asserts. This statement is best exemplified in the band’s first single, “Who’s Going Home With You Tonight.” Informed by Brown’s past relationships, the emotionally-charged song chronicles how mistrust can ruin a relationship. Driven by an infectious chorus, a persevering guitar line and a crunching rhythm, most fans would agree when Chris says the song personifies what Trapt does best.
Be it the keyboard flourishes on the bridge of “Who’s Going Home With You Tonight” or the lush arrangement of “Ready When You Are”, the subtle elements — or what Brown calls “cool little bursts” — add a distinct element to the band’s sound. “That’s by design,” Chris explains. “Once the hard work is done, writing the music and making the lyrics the coolest they can be, the best part is when you can just relax and figure out the cool little things that you can add that will turn people on after they’ve heard it for the hundredth time. Music to me should last for our fans. As I like to say, there’s candy in it.”
This helps explain why the diverse presentation of songs on Only Through The Pain are still very much representative of Trapt. “We wanted to try new things and stretch ourselves creatively and approach things from a totally fresh perspective,” longtime drummer Aaron “Monty” Montgomery says. “We really had a mindset that anything goes. And if anybody has a good idea, let’s work with it and not be so narrow in the scope of what we’re trying to build. It’s going to sound like Trapt because we’re the guys in Trapt, so let’s do what Trapt does and try some new approaches.”
Continuing with the growth mentality, while remaining true to their roots, “Contagious” — a look at the positive side of life — asserts that notion with its big swooning chorus, crunching, undeniable guitars and, uh, downright contagious delivery. Elsewhere the alluring, melodic ballad “Black Rose” stems from hurt and loss while the pop-inflected “Ready When You Are” deserves to be a crossover smash.
That mindset carries over to the reggae-tinged “Forget About The Rain,” which Charell and Montgomery both cite as their favorite new Trapt tune. “Its way different from anything that we had ever done before,” Pete explains. “It’s a total change for us, but at the same time, there’s no mistaking it’s us.”
“I think the main thing we wanted to do with this record is grow artistically and defy what people have come to expect from Trapt while still remaining true to ourselves,” Charell explains. “We let things flow a lot more naturally and we didn’t just discard an idea because it wasn’t our sound. And I hope our fans look at it as a progression for us. We’re continuing to grow and change. We wanted to do things a little different, so we concentrated on the actual song before we worried about whether it would fit easily into a certain format.”
Aligned with Eleven Seven — overseen by company President/Mötley Crüe founder Nikki Sixx — the members of Trapt are excited to have the support of a record label that understands the group. That freedom has allowed the men of Trapt to excel both creatively and spiritually on Only Through The Pain. “Now that we’re on a great new label and there’s a lot less red tape than before, we can get our music to our fans without all of the inner politics coming between us and our audience,” Aaron says.
Drawing lyrically on the kind of personal experiences that earned the band modern and mainstream rock smashes like “Headstrong”, “Still Frame” and “Stand Up”, Only Through The Pain affirms Trapt — which also includes co-founding bassist Pete Charell and newly-minted guitarist Robb Torres — has turned out its strongest song-cycle yet. From the riff-roaring, high energy anthem “Wasteland” to the deeply moving finale “The Last Tear,” the eleven-song follow up to Trapt’s 2005’s gold-certified Someone In Control again finds frontman Chris Taylor Brown going deep.