When Trapt blasted onto the scene in the early 2000s, one thing that helped the group stand apart from most other hard-rock/metal acts was the positive tone that frontman Chris Taylor Brown brought to Trapt’s lyrics.
In that age, most bands were full of angst and using lyrics to wallow in misery. Brown frequently wrote about problems, too, but he was trying to confront and solve them within the songs.
A baker’s dozen years later, he feels that lyrical approach connects Trapt’s new album, “DNA,” to the group’s earliest music.
“I feel like a lot of the lyrics are about self-empowerment and sort of take a problem and try to make a positive out of it and become stronger and come out on the other side,” Brown said in a late-July phone interview.
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And in the years since the 2013 release “Reborn,” Brown and his bandmates had plenty of opportunities to face problems involving the group and find the will and perseverance to push forward. The source of the problems that most affected Brown and Trapt was a lawsuit concerning payment of royalties by former guitarist Simon Ormandy, which hung over the band for much of the period that followed the release of “Reborn.” Brown was worried he could lose everything he had worked for since forming Trapt in 1995 in Las Gatos – his assets, the band’s instruments and equipment, and even the rights to Trapt’s songs.
It wasn’t that Brown lacked confidence in the band’s position concerning the amount of royalties that were due Ormandy, who was booted from Trapt in 2008. The worry was more about the war chest available to Ormandy, whose parents, according to Brown, had netted seven figures when they sold a company to Microsoft.
“We were up against big money on the other side,” Brown said.
Trapt reached a settlement with Ormandy, paying the same amount of royalty money the group had offered when the guitarist first sought payment from the group – a major win for Trapt.
With that chapter of Trapt’s history closed, Brown feels what didn’t kill the band made it stronger.
“When you’re … staring into the abyss and you’re not really sure where you’re going, that’s when you find out who you really are,” Brown said. “And we really pushed through and became a stronger band. Now we have more hunger to go out there and give our best to our fans every day. So it was a great triumph.”
The legal saga, though, did distract him and slow work on the new album for Brown, who is joined by bassist Pete Charell, drummer Dylan Thomas Howard and guitarist Ty Fury in the current Trapt lineup.
“We basically started writing it in 2014,” Brown said. “We had some good music and this and that, a few lyrical ideas. But really the bulk of the music was written in March and April of 2015 and then the lyrics poured out right around March, April, May, June. We started recording it in July (2015), and we were still recording new songs for it even earlier this year.”
The album Trapt made in “DNA” is very much in character with the band’s earlier work. Songs such as “Unforgiven,” “Changing Hands” and “It’s Over” strike a good balance between aggression and melody that has characterized the band’s five previous studio albums (not including a 1999 local release “Amalgamation”) and hit songs like “Headstrong” (from the 2002 self-titled album), “Stand Up” (from 2005’s “Someone in Control” and “Bring it” (from “Reborn”).
The band puts a bit softer touch on a few tunes. “Human (Like the Rest of Us)” mixes ambient bits and ample melody with big riffs, while “Not So Different” uses a Police-ish reggae-pop feel in the verses to go with a big and hooky chorus.
Trapt includes a few new songs in its live autumn shows, but Brown said the set won’t go overboard on songs from “DNA.”
“We’ll be playing all of the fan favorites, some of the songs, you know, we’ve had 12 songs in the top 20 of modern rock radio for the last 13 years or so, and we’re going to be playing them all,” Brown said. “So fans can definitely expect to hear their favorites at the show.”
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4
Where: The Boardwalk, 9426 Greenback Lane, Orangevale