Trouble

The Chicago doom metal or else white metal legends are back after 6 years of absence! With a new singer & drummer on board one can definitely say they delivered the goods with their newest release “The Distortion Field”. The band’s guitarist and founding member Bruce Franklin talked to Grande Rock about the new members, the band’s sound and many other interesting things. Do check for more below…
Trouble band

Hi Bruce, it’s great to have you back after almost 6 years. How do you feel about “The Distortion Field”? I believe it’s a remarkable album indeed!
 
B: I feel very good about it. It sounds like a re-energized band when you hear it. Sounds like Trouble definitely, but with a little jump in its step that hasn’t been there for quite a while.
 
 
The new album marks a new era for the band, as it is the first album without the Trouble voice Mr. Eric Wagner ever. Was it hard to take that decision? Have you thought about your fans reaction or what?
 
B: Of course we thought about fans reaction, but sometimes life just moves on in different ways. There was never a doubt in our mind that this record wouldn’t sound like Trouble. We created this sound. This music. You listen to Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell” record and of course the voice is different, but it still sounded like Sabbath and a re-energized Sabbath. Same thing here. Of course it’s a very different voice, but it’s a kick-ass voice put to that familiar Trouble sound.
 
 
What were the criteria in order to recruit the new vocalist, Kyle Thomas? I do know he toured with the band at the end of 90s for a couple of years, but I think there’s more than that, huh?
 
B: Well, first off, he is a huge Trouble fan.Which means that he respects and loves singing with this band. Secondly, he is an formally trained singer that can do most anything that you ask of him. Lastly, but just as important, he is cool, humble and easy to get along with. Many times during the recording for this record we would ask him to do various things with the vocals.  He would always say, "I will do whatever is right for this record”.
 
 
You also have a new drummer, Mark Lira and you’re looking out for a new bassist, if you haven’t found one as we speak. By the way, who recorded the bass on the album? (i.n.: The interview was taken before Rob Hultz was officially announced as the band’s bassist)
 
B: Yes, Mark did a fine job on the record. He learned most of what he knows on drums from our former drummer, Barry Stern (R.I.P.), who was maybe the best drummer that I have ever played with. I recorded most of the bass on the album. Rick recorded one song and also a friend of mine recorded one song where we needed a 5 string bass.
 
 
What is the “The Distortion Field” and what does it declare?
 
B: The best thing about a title is that you can use your imagination to come to your own conclusion. There are the obvious parallels with the guitar sound, but you can use your mind to examine the human condition too.
 
 
Please tell us a few things about each song…
 
B: “When the Sky Comes Down”: Musically a classic Trouble up-tempo crunch. Lyrics examine the horrors of war that some people face in this day and age. At anytime many of us could be facing this as a reality.
 
“Paranoid Conspiracy”: Heavy doom groove that I wrote before the last album. I thought it was good then and I think it’s even better now with the vocals Kyle put on.
 
“The Broken Has Spoken”: Another song that I wrote the music for a number of years ago, but never showed anyone until the recording of this record. A highpoint for Kyle on this album vocally.
 
“Sink or Swim”: One of Rick’s best songs on the album. Great lyrics by Kyle about what a struggle life can be and how you learn to be strong enough to survive.
 
“One Life”: Kind of a personal song for me. I wrote music and lyrics. Even get in a little singing on this one.
 
“Have I Told You”: Rick wrote this music and Kyle wrote some very personal lyrics and consequently gave a pretty heartfelt vocals.
 
“Hunters of Doom”: Pure crunch metal. Probably will hear this one in our live shows.
 
“Glass of Lies”: Kind of a 70s blues groove, but still with that Trouble heavy guitar flavor. Just to throw in a surprise, it ends with a doom riff getting slower and slower until...
 
“Butterflies”: A real personal lyric that Kyle wrote about his son. But it’s not a ballad. Some really strong vocals in the chorus.
 
“Sucker”: Pure kickass up-tempo hard rock with another really strong vocal that you can just hear the attitude coming through.
 
“The Greying Chill of Autumn”: A very unique song that Rick wrote. I contributed the more psychedelic wah wah guitars and overdubs which made it feel a lot different than a metal song. Pretty dark lyrics of someone separated from God after death.
 
“Bleeding Alone”: Ever been severely depressed and alone? This is the soundtrack.
 
“Your Reflection”: Low tuned grooving doom riff. I indulged in an extended guitar solo on this one. Ends with a pretty heavy doom riff eventually fading out for a fitting end to the album.
 
 
Some say that the album contains too many tracks. Do you feel that you could have made it shorter at some point but you just couldn’t decide which songs to leave out?
 
B: Actually, I did want it it to have less songs. The record company wanted a certain number of minutes though. “Bleeding Alone” could have been left off, but it’s a piece of short music that helped bring variety, light and shade to the album. If you listen to this as an album all the way through you will realize that it has a very good flow. It doesn’t get monotonous because we planned it out. The songs don’t all sound the same, they aren’t all in the same key of music and there is a mixture of classic Trouble groove, up-tempo crunchers and Trouble’s brand of doom.
 
 
How did it come and you cooperated after many years with Bill Metoyer again? Did he help you “approach” the “classic Trouble sound” in a way?
 
B: He came to see us when we played in L.A. in 2008. We told him that we were recording an album relatively soon and he expressed interest in working on it. He helped us get the classic Trouble sound because he’s also a fan of the band. He wanted to work in conjunction with us to get the sounds that we were looking for. Some guys that are hired to mix a record want very little or no input from the band. Bill did his best to achieve what we wanted while lending his expertise to the mixing of the record.
 
 
What are the tour plans of the band so far?
 
B: We are doing a very few dates in Europe in early October. Then a couple of shows in Japan later this year. The bulk of our touring will be in 2014. We are looking to play a lot of festivals in the Spring and Summer. (i.n.: Hope to see you in Greece one day as well…)
 
 
How did the cooperation with FRW records occur? Did any of the “major labels” approach you? What happened exactly?
 
B: Major labels? There are only a few of them left and they weren’t calling to offer us a bunch of money. We knew that we had to record this record and then let people hear it to get the interest. We had confidence that the music we recorded would do all the talking that was needed to get a decent record deal. FRW was interested along with a couple of other labels. A couple of the guys that are with FRW were in Escapi Music who released our last album. So, there was kind of a working relationship there. Fortunately, this record and the people working it are making it totally eclipse anything that the last record did. A lot of good things are happening and sales are going well as some of the music charts will attest.
 
Trouble guitarists pic

In a time period where clone bands seem to get the big piece of the pie, what can Trouble bring to the table so as to give the new fans the chance to deal with the real thing…?
 
B: Well, people can usually tell the real thing when they hear it. The key is hearing it. Also, Trouble has always been a good live band musically. Kyle has such a strong voice and wide range that it will just add to that dimension.
 
 
Time for our weird questions!!! How did you come up with the name Trouble back in the day?
 
B: Rick had the name for the heavy rock cover band that Eric and I auditioned for back in the late 70s. We kind of fit the concept to the name once we started writing original songs.
 
 
A couple of months ago Tony Martin told me that all this thing with the clone bands pisses him off… what are those things that piss you off in music industry today?
 
B: That people who don’t even play musical instruments or sing make millions of dollars sampling beats, keyboard sounds and reciting a bunch of bullshit gibberish. (i.n.: Sad but true!)
 
 
You used to be one the Godfathers of “white metal”, a genre that has become more known as Christian metal. What happened and White turned in Christian and how do you see this kind of music today?
 
B: Well the term “white metal” was created by a record company trying to market us. A lot of Eric’s earlier lyrics were taken directly from the bible and our slant was always to the good. We were young men exploring musically, lyrically and kind of taking a cue from Black Sabbath. They had songs like “After Forever”, “Tomorrow’s Dream”, “Lord of This World”. Even “War Pigs” talks of God’s judgement in the end. We never were what has become known as a Christian band. Christian bands evangelize, that is supposed to be the whole point of their existence. Trouble was exploring themes that interested us and that we wanted to identify with, but we were not out there preaching the gospel. Even if we had wanted to, we weren’t qualified to do that. Like we used to say back then, “We are just a bunch of hippies writing and playing music”. (i.n.: Finally after many years things became clear about that issue…)
 
 
Which is the record you wish you had written and why??
 
B: The perfect Trouble album because it hasn’t been written yet.
 
 
Name 3 top doom metal releases that influenced the whole genre…
 
B: 1. Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”
2. Judas Priest – “Sad Wings of Destiny”
3. Black Sabbath – “Master of Reality”

 
This is what influenced me. I’m sure younger people might list Trouble, St.Vitus, Pentagram & Witchfinder General.
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music evolution, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
B: Led Zeppelin “IV”. Probably the most universally appreciated album by generations of people and it still holds up today and doesn’t sound dated.
 
 
It’s kinda different to have a music file on your pc desktop rather than a CD with a booklet or a vinyl in your hands. Are those things bygones? How do you see the future of music generally?
 
B: I really don’t know because I have seen the whole musical experience getting worse and worse. Starting with vinyl, you had a warm sound with a whole artwork and graphic experience to look at and stimulate your imagination while you listened. Then you had CDs which had a colder more brittle sound and there still was artwork and grahics, but you needed a magnifying glass to see it all, since it was so small. Now there are downloads and you don’t have any artwork or graphics and you listen on IPods with shitty little earbuds or computers with shitty little speakers. It is nothing like the experience of hearing a record on a really good turntable with a powerfull amplifier powering kickass speakers. Fuck earbuds! Listen to music in a room filled with music blasting from some awesome speakers and other people experiencing it with you. (i.n.: It doesn’t get straighter than this, guys!)
 
 
Do you believe that Youtbe, iTunes, Spotify etc. can help metal music reach new fans or bands are losing money and time due to the free-downloading thing as well? Is there something that must be done and if so, what is it? Will the music quality of an album be second rate someday?
 
B: Youtube, Itunes, etc... does help metal music reach new fans and bands also are definitely losing lots of money to free downloading. If I had the answer to this problem, someone would definitely be paying me a lot of money for my brilliant idea. What will happen is that there will be no more Rolling Stones, Black Sabbaths, Metallicas, Iron Maidens because no bands will be able to afford to mass market, tour endlessly or survive on their money when they aren’t always working. Subsequently, there will be no more huge iconic bands that last 30 years or more. You wanted free music? You got it, but there will be a price to pay. The state of music is already worse in just a few years of this happening. (i.n.: Damn, you’re so right Bruce!)
 
 
How do you imagine that music would be, one thousand years from now? Why?
 
B: I don’t know that people will still even be here in one thousand years.
 
 
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
 
B: If I had a girlfriend/wife that did that, she probably would then be my ex-girlfriend/wife.
 
 
All the best for the new album Bruce! Thx very much for your time… Close this interview your way… take care!
 
B: Thanks very much for your interest and support. I always want to thank the loyal Trouble fans who have supported us through many years. Cheers!

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