TRAPPED UNDER ICE’S JUSTICE TRIPP: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW
Without question, Trapped Under Ice is one of the biggest bands in hardcore today, an impressive coup given their relative newcomer status compared with established scene leaders like Hatebreed, Madball, and Terror. Through hard work, hard touring, and undeniable talent, the Baltimore band have somehow managed to fight their way to the top riding the wave of their 2009 game-changing LP Secrets Of The World. Their forthcoming follow-up, the ominously titled Big Kiss Goodnight, has already garnered considerable excitement among hardcore fans. A few days prior to this past weekend’s This Is Hardcore festival (review here), I seized the opportunity to speak in depth with TUI frontman Justice Tripp about the new album. That interview is available for your enjoyment below the cut.
Gary Suarez: Why aren’t you guys on This is Hardcore this year?
Justice Tripp: We played This is Hardcore for the last 3 years in a row. We just wanted to switch it up… We’ll probably play next year. It’s predictable. We just don’t want to burn people out on seeing Trapped Under Ice at This is Hardcore.
Pretty much anytime you’ve played NYC or Long Island in the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been there. You’re playing to bigger audiences now. What’s this experience been like?
It’s obviously what you want. You want to play to bigger and bigger audiences. After the record comes out, we’re going to do our first US headlining tour. We’re going to do a record release in New York, Baltimore and one in Virginia Beach. We’ll see how that goes. We’ll have some pretty cool lineups on that. Then we’ll do a full headlining US tour.
We’ve supported other bands on much bigger tours. When you do a tour like that, you wonder how much of that crowd is your crowd. We got really good reactions and stuff. It feels good expanding the band and playing in front of new people. I always wanted to be in a band that appeals not just to hardcore, a band that could draw kids that maybe are into metal or punk into the hardcore scene.
You guys definitely crossover between those scenes. There’s no question there.
I don’t want there to be any question: Trapped Under Ice is a hardcore band. It’s not a metal band or a rock band or anything like that. Terror is a band that draws a lot of people from the metal world and the hardcore world. Hatebreed is a band that does that. Vision of Disorder was a band that, when I was young, got me into a lot of hardcore bands.
What can your fans expect from the new record Big Kiss Goodnight?
It’s different. It’s definitely Trapped Under Ice, but it’s definitely different. I think people who appreciate our earlier material will definitely have elements for them in this record. In Secrets of the World we were feeling the idea of groovy – like making grooving music. In the earlier music, it’s kind of driving so that when you have a more grooving part with an edge part, I guess. They impact more. There was so much grooving that it kind of got lost. I love Secrets of the World for what it is, but I feel people like the more straightforward sound of our earlier material will like this more.
There’s also new elements in structure; we tried to do new things. I’ve always wanted to write a song that has a real catchy chorus that repeats and reoccurs in the song three times like more punk – the Ramones wrote a lot of songs like that. There’s a more punk influence structurally. It’s kind of what I’ve been trying to write. The old material was like: build up, climax, fast part or whatever it was.
Is that part of the function of who you chose to produce the record? [BKG Producer] Chad Gilbert has that background with Shai Hulud and New Found Glory. Is it his influence?
Yeah, at some level. We’ve known Chad for a long time. He’s always had a good idea of what our band was and what we want to be. We decided to do the record with him and discussed ideas about what we wanted to do structurally and stuff. The overall feel of the record is a lot of us on that. It’s exactly what he wanted to do and exactly what we wanted to do. The final product everyone is 100% happy with – everybody who is involved working on the record. Beyond that aspect of it, we worked with Chad for a lot of reasons. He’s really good at what he does.
You’re saying that the sound is different and that you’re trying different things. What about lyrically? Are you dealing with different themes on the new record than you were on Secrets of the World and Stay Cold?
That’s for sure. People grow and change. Not that I’m a completely different person, but I’m older. I’ve matured a lot since then. I feel like Secrets of the World – the whole theme of that record was kind of being ignorant a little bit. I was complaining. I was venting my feelings and everything, saying that I don’t have the answers. That was the theme. There are problems in the world and I feel like the new record offers a little bit of a solution and not complaining about the things that are bothering me. I’m offering solutions like a more positive outlook, more of a hopeful lyrical direction.
That’s definitely a change from the stuff on the last record. Are you getting influenced by some of the other groups? Are you listening to other things or is it just an overall exposure to maturing?
I guess maturing. My grandmother passed away. A lot of things made me think about death. That’s why the record is called Big Kiss Goodnight. It sounds negative at first glance but the idea of it is to take advantage of every opportunity you have and doing everything you can with your life. Thinking about death could be a negative thing, but if you think about life and do everything you want to do and not care what everyone thinks. If people like it or don’t like it, I’m going to do whatever I want with my life and get everything I can out of it. We only have a short period of time and I want to be doing as many cool things as possible.
This is really more of a personal record then.
Yeah, it’s very personal. I don’t think I write anything that’s not personal. I wouldn’t want to rehash something that somebody else said that I didn’t feel 100%.
I wanted to ask about how this was getting released. All your prior records have been through Reaper and now this new one is both through Reaper on vinyl and then Good Fight for the CD. How did that all come about?
Since the beginning of our relationship with Reaper, Patrick [Kitzel] said to us “there may come a time where I feel you guys will need something different, where I feel that I’ve done all that I could do for you and you need to take a new step.” While doing this record that was maybe the idea. We talked to a bunch of labels and there were some that offered us money, but I feel like their heart wasn’t in it. There were labels who really couldn’t do much for us outside of what Reaper could. Good Fight is the one label that we talked to that I feel like from the beginning they felt really interested in what we were doing and what we wanted to do. It just so happened to work out between the people of Good Fight and the people of Reaper worked out a deal to where we could actually work with both labels. That’s huge for us because Reaper has always been a part of our band. If we went to another label, Reaper would still have an influence on Trapped Under Ice. Patrick has been a big part of our band whether it is managing us or helping us out in whatever way, Reaper is always a part of Trapped Under Ice.
I really liked the attitude and everybody is cool at Good Fight. I didn’t know what we were getting into; I was a little nervous. It’s a big step to start working with a new label like that. Every step of the way, they are a part of it and they really believe in all my ideas and stuff. It’s really cool. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Also working on the record is I Scream; they’re going to be in on the European side of it and Bowl Head (based out of Japan) – we worked with them on the last record. I feel like it’s a team of awesome record labels. I couldn’t be happier with the way it worked out.
It sounds like you guys are going to have a really good reach with this getting to a lot of places. That’s fantastic. You have been playing so many shows these past few years. You’re always on tour here or in Europe. Are there groups that you’ve been playing with that you see as up and coming hardcore bands that people need to know about, get behind or look out for?
There are so many. I could go on for days. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a lot of room for improvement, but we just did the Sound and Fury Fest. I couldn’t believe how many great bands that were there that I wasn’t familiar with and not where they should have been. There are a lot of cool bands popping up in California. There’s a band called Soul Search. They’re very cool, and they blew away Sound and Fury. Rotting Out is cool. They’re from the L.A. area.
I love that Rotting Out record.
Yeah, they’re doing something that nobody’s really doing. A couple of years ago fast hardcore was really in and it’s died out the last couple of years. They’re doing their thing but at the same time the influences you hear are Pennywise and Bad Religion but with more of a fast hardcore band. They really stand out. I appreciate that more than anything when a band stands out and have their own thing. When you hear the band and you say “okay, this is Rotting Out, and I know it”. You don’t have to second guess it.
Soul Search are a heavy hardcore band and you can hear that they have the same influences as Trapped Under Ice. When you hear them, you know it’s Soul Search. They have elements that give them a very defined sound.
I wanted to ask you about another project that you’re working with: Sai Nam. I heard that track “Comeback” on the Facebook page. It’s fucking sick. Tell me more about this project. What are you guys doing? Are you guys going to record? Are you going to play some shows?
Mike Dijan is my favorite guitar player of all time, period. Lou [Medina] is one of my favorite drummers of all time. I’ve always joked with my friends that I wanted to start a band with Mike and Lou. That would be my dream band. We recorded with Dean Baltulonis on Secrets of the World. He called me on the phone and said, “Hey, I’m jamming with Lou and we want to get you into the studio and see how it goes.” It was real cool working with them in the studio. To be honest, I never actually met Lou before. When I got to the studio, he was already done. We’ve been talking online, and he seems cool. It was awesome working with Mike. He has a real cool way about him in the studio. He likes everybody to be involved and wanted to get my opinions, Lou’s opinions, and he wanted to put his opinions in on what I was doing. I liked that. I want everyone in the band to be happy. It’s cool because he had different ideas than I would have, he has a lot of influences I don’t have. It’s weird because I’m influenced by things he has made, and he’s influenced by other things. It’s cool to see how he writes and how he works. The idea is they’re putting music together, and I’m going to go up there in a week or two and chip in a little bit. We’re going to keep writing songs and eventually put out something soon and get the ball rolling. It’s cool now that the Trapped Under Ice record is done and I get to focus on that more than I was. So hopefully sooner than later.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Anything else you want to say?
Thank you for taking the time to ask me some questions. Thanks to your readers for checking it out. We’ll be on tour in lat October/November. We’ll be on tour with Take Offense, Betrayal, Backtrack, and Hundredth. It’ll be a full US tour and maybe we’ll come into Canada. We have release shows coming out in early October. We’ll be with Wisdom in Chains, Cruel Hand, Build & Destroy and Turnstile.
That’s a really good lineup both for the release party shows as well as the tour. I’m really glad that you guys are going to tour with Take Offense. I saw them at the Black N Blue Bowl this year, and they blew me away.
That show was crazy.
It was a great show, and they were on early. Man, they were worth being there early for.
Yeah, you could tell there were a lot of people who never saw Take Offense before. They played to a lot of new people. I saw, looking around the room, a lot of people’s jaws hitting the floor. They were amazed. You could tell everyone was blown away.
I was one of those people.
[Laughs] Hopefully you’ll get blown away by them again in October.