Seattle grinders Trap Them just released their latest album Crown Feral. Frontman Ryan McKenney gets us up to speed on the new record and other topics.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything different about the songwriting process for Crown Feral compared to your earlier albums?
Ryan McKenney: This was the first time we’ve done a record with the same lineup as the previous one. It has been Brian, Brad, Galen and I for a little over three years now, which may not seem like a long time to many, but for a band like us, that is something untouched. Crown Feral’s writing and recording process came out exactly how we had intended.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
It was a fluid, well oiled machine of a session. This band turned into motherfucking Voltron. Everyone was comfortable in what they brought and that level of comfort and focus was contagious, allowing all four of us to somewhat feed off of each other. For a band rooted in, and fueled by, extensive levels of negativity, it was very bizarre to be a part of such an uplifting, positive experience.
You worked with Kurt Ballou again. What does his presence and participation add?
There’s not much I can say about working with Kurt that I haven’t already said many times. Everything this band has recorded has been with him and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we continue to go to GodCity. He’s a part of the band. I mean, what other way to look at it can there be? He’s enthusiastic about what we do and understands our approach.
Does the positive reception to Blissfucker increase your expectations for Crown Feral?
I have no expectations. It’s not something I can associate with making music like this or creating art of any kind. Is it nice to know that people appreciate what this band does? Absolutely, but it doesn’t create a standard of anticipation for what a reaction may be on the next release. Positive receptions are always appreciated and satisfying, but I can’t say I’m dependent on them.
You’re kicking off the tour cycle for this album in Europe. What’s the band’s level of awareness/popularity/venue size over there compared to North America?
I suppose that I’ll have a better answer for that once we are over there. I haven’t really looked at the routing, venue types, etc. We’ve always had a great time in Europe and have had a very positive and enthusiastic reception, so it would be rewarding to have that trend continue on the upcoming tour.
When your schedule allows, do you like to venture away from the venue and see the sights in a new city or country?
I try, but I have a hard time focusing long enough to remember to do anything I may have originally wanted to do. I tend to enjoy getting to the venue, finding a place to get coffee and sitting down to read a book for a while. There’s a lot of wear and tear on this body, especially when we’re on the road, so I’ll take all the chances I can get to stay off my feet.
Do you have any border crossing horror stories?
We’re not that type of band. We rarely do much of anything sketchy and there’s always been an understanding that we have to be fully prepared at the borders: passports and paperwork ready, everyone awake and alert and ready for the border patrol to give us the “touring band treatment.” If it’s after a show, I try not to be the one driving because sometimes my face or arms end up looking like fresh meat.
What kind of toll has the intensity of your live performances taken on your health over the years?
There’s a laundry list of problems, so there’s no reason to go into great detail on every one of them. I’ve taken a few too many hits to the head and body while we play.
What are some of your non-musical interests/hobbies?
I love pro wrestling and I try to read a book every day or two. I’m a simple man at this point in my life.
What’s your take on this year’s U.S. presidential race?
I have no specific opinion on any of this. I hate everything about politics. I’m not saying that in an “up the punx” type of way. I’m saying that because I wake up every day in an insurmountable debt with continuous setbacks and frustration. I’m too distracted by these elements in my small surroundings to have a moment to set them aside to form an all encompassing view of the entire world around me, about presidential races, about anything to do with everything wrong.
(interview published September 27, 2016)