We’ve been fans of Trail of Dead (TOD) since Source Tags and Codes came out in the early ‘00s. Shrouded in mystery at the time, our vision of a band of deep thinkers who engulf themselves in privacy to share some sort of Jim Morrison moment is shattered once we gain backstage access to them right after their set at Tokyo’s Hostess Club Weekender. A little bit drunk, the only thing engulfing the band were their iPads and the games on it. Nevertheless, JUICE seized the opportunity to catch the band off-guard (as if they cared) and bombarded them with pseudo-intellectual questions that we stole from Pitchfork…
“No fear. You don’t create with fear. You create with fearlessness.” – Conrad Keely
So it this what usually happens after shows?
Conrad Keely Usually drinking, but we’ve been told that we have to sign things.
Aww, we’re sorry to hear that. But just like your fans here in Japan, we have you guys close to our hearts too.
…We used to play a lot of punk rock in the office, a lot of Ramones, right until Source Tags & Codes came out, and when we heard that album, it actually changed our perception of rock music.
C Oh I love that ramones album (laughs). So do people hear about us in Kuala Lumpur?
Yeah, for sure!
C We should go play there.
We’ll be waiting for you guys. Looks like you’re all pretty into your iPads now.
Autry Fulbright II We’re the Ipad brothers.
C (Sings) We are the iPads, we are the iPads!
Urm… so, Trail of Dead, you guys started off as a duo with Jason, and expanded to a four piece, and then a six piece, and now, you’ve got different members from before. Why the ever changing line up?
C Well, hopefully it won’t change anymore, I’m sick of change, I hate change. I don’t know, all those other guys just had problems.
Jason Reece They were d!cks.
J They were weighing their options. Let’s just cut to the chase, they were all d!cks. I said it!
The name of your band has always been the subject of speculation since you guys started. So what’s with the super-long band name?
Conrad We can’t say that, that’s a secret. We want you to speculate. You know?
Autry It’s like do you ask people what 2 + 2 is?
Some people would say the answer is 5. Do you guys feel like the band that will never die?
C We will die. All things must pass, George Harrison said that.
A …and then he died.
C We will die too.
Do you feel apprehensive being classified as post punk or art rock?
C No. I mean, they can classify us however they want. We’re just rock n roll.
J I think people would always classify music, you know, you just have to sort of ignore, I mean, I don’t know… We’re Punk Floyd man.
A I think classifications are when people want to sell music or market it. We’re not marketing anything, we’re making our music.
C We’re not marketable (laughs).
J But I guess the art rock tagging, post punk, it’s an easier way for people to communicate those terms because it’s everything in a box.
Would you say you ever have that fear of being too grandiose?
C No fear. You don’t create with fear. You create with fearlessness. We’ve never been afraid of being “too” anything, we just do what we want to do. ‘Cause we make music for ourselves, we’re not really doing it for anyone other than ourselves, to please ourselves.
Conrad, you draw and illustrate as well. Have you ever wanted to work for Marvel in the past?
C When I was 12.
What do you think of all the Hollywood adaptations of comics?
C I liked Thor, Avengers was good.
A The Dark Knight.
C I did not like the new Spider-Man, I don’t know why they changed. Right? What was up with that?
A Watching it all over again.
C It’s so weird!
You’ve moved to Cambodia, Conrad. What brought that about?
C It’s just a great place to hang out. Things going on there, it’s an exciting place to be at right now… change and making a change, it’s a good place.
How do you guys still get together to practice? Do you fly back to the States?
C We practise anywhere, we practised here in Tokyo yesterday ‘cause we had to play these songs to fulfil an obligation.
You guys had a reputation for smashing up equipment in your earlier days. We think it was with Explosions in the Sky and another band at an Austin show, where you kicked the bass drum out of the tent, out of the venue or something like that?
C That was with Mogwai.
J They were in the audience. They were instigating some sort of riotist behaviour. Basically the story is that we were playing at this place, it’s a local venue, and we played there a month earlier and sold it out, and they didn’t pay us anything. They just thought we were, I don’t know, they were d!cks! It’s kind of a weird club, they didn’t understand where we were coming from. So, South X Southwest came by, and South X Southwest would put you in venues, you don’t really have a choice, didn’t matter as much. So we were there, they put us there. And we’re like, “We’re gonna f*ck this place up!” So that was the goal. It was a good show though, it was really fun. I got physically removed from the venue, physically thrown out.
Matt I thought you got emotionally removed?
J And I got emotionally removed too.
Anymore of those kind of incidents happening anymore?
J Not so much, I think when people book us as a band, they know what they’re getting. Whereas in the earlier days, they didn’t understand as much, they would be kind of “What is this crazy stuff?”
Anything else to add to this interview before we end it?
C We’re going to Malaysia!
J I think all the questions that people have, and some that they haven’t even thought of, would be fulfilled once we go to Malaysia. The best prove and the best statement is to see us play.
C And to eat Malaysian food! It’s got more sweet curries yeah? I was in the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian food there was pretty good. I bet Malaysian food is better in the city though?
What’s 2 + 2?
More TOD at andyouwillknowusbythetrailofdead.bandpage.com.