Robert Rich has terrible taste.
Trapt is a great workout band. They’re cool enough to forgo an “ed” in favor of a “t,” and that alone lets you know they’re the perfect choice for those times you wanna feel like a bro and check yourself out in the mirror while you’re pumping iron. You undoubtedly know them by their first[ref]And pretty much only[/ref] hit “Headstrong,” but did you know the chorus to that tune actually is “Fuck off, I’ll take you on,” and not “Back off,” as the radio would have you believe? These dudes just keep getting cooler and cooler.
Trapt hit the scene with the release of their self-titled debut in 2002, and save for the select few who continued to follow the band after “Headstrong” slid off the charts, most people assumed they disappeared into obscurity. But the group continued recording and, including Reborn, released earlier this year, Trapt has five albums under its studded belt. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Trapt is at once both the quintessential modern rock band and the stark contrast of one. They fit the genre to a T when it comes to song structure,[ref]Three-to-four minutes in length, intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, interlude, chorus[/ref] and the combination of riff-centric melodies and soaring hooks is nothing new to anyone familiar with the genre. Furthermore, lead singer Chris Taylor Brown is the perfect vocalist for a modern rock band, as he has a slight ability to scream/sing, but mostly he sticks with a higher pitched, nasally approach fit for a “One Tree Hill” basketball montage. Here he is showcasing both sides of that coin.
What makes the group different than most radio rock outfits is their desire to leave the anger of their genre behind them. They aren’t saints by any stretch of the imagination, and lyrical topics still traverse the well-worn tropes of toxic relationships, rebellion, and independence, but whereas groups like Staind continue to be super mad about the situations in their songs, Trapt tries to see the good. They’ve become a band that exemplifies what I call “motivational angst.” The anger is still there, the stories of nobody believing in them and girlfriends using them, but whereas Aaron Lewis would whine about how bad his life is,[ref]Although he deserves a terrible life solely because of his godawful attempts at being a country artist[/ref], Trapt wants to rise above. Just take a look at this smattering of lyrics from Reborn.
“A dream is only a dream until you make it real.”
“Experience, experience it all. I found a risk worth taking.”
“We got strength in numbers. The game is ours to change, if we don’t like the way it’s played.”
Quick, somebody book this dude at a high school commencement. I’m only half kidding there, because when I saw the band earlier this year, Brown took the opportunity between practically every song to share inspirational nuggets about following your dreams, standing up to bullies, and generally being proud of who you are. They were good messages, and not the type you’d expect from a modern rock band.
Of course, the first single off the new record, “Bring It,” was obviously written for the sole purpose of being used at a sporting or sports entertainment[ref]Professional wrestling, in case you’re not familiar[/ref] event. In fact, the video is even based around MMA. With lyrics like “Bring it, I’m still right here undefeated . . . There is nothing you got, that will ever get to me,” it’s not hard to imagine the song playing in the background while Jim Ross welcomes you to Wrestlemania.
If your reason for not listening to hard rock and nu-metal revolves around the fact that you’ve “grown up” and are too happy with your life to listen to such angry music, it’s time to change that tune, fool. This is abrasive catharsis–a hard rock drill sergeant backed up crunchy riffs. If that doesn’t grab you, let me go back to the February concert.
Chris Taylor Brown is fully covered in man jewelry–at least three necklaces and six bracelets. He jumps around to the tune of the songs, often standing on top of his monitor and performing faux-karate chops with the downbeats. He smiles, A LOT, and kind of looks like Russell Brand. It’s disconcerting, but altogether mesmerizing. Guitarist Travis Miguel, on the other hand, looks bored out of his mind–mindlessly strumming his six-string, smirking ever so slightly when someone in the crowd points at him. The crowd’s reaction is solid, nothing out of the ordinary, nostalgic folks are happy to be there. And then, after four hours and some truly horrendous openers, the band launches into “Headstrong” to predictably close the set. For one blissful moment, everybody sings, nobody judges, and those dreams that Brown talked about so much during the set start to come true.