WL//WH Exclusive TRAITS
Post-punk rising stars TRAITRS releases today, November 19 their new “Horses In The Abattoir” LP via Freakwave, a Berlin-based label that is part of the Schubert Music Europe group, distributed by The Orchard. Based in Toronto, TRAITRS was formed in 2015 by Sean-Patrick Nolan and Shawn Tucker. With a cinematic blend of post-punk, goth, alternative, and post-rock, their emotive melodies, propulsive rhythms, angular guitars, and dark cinematic electronics quickly led to the duo becoming one of the dark music scene’s fastest rising independent artists.
“Horses In The Abattoir” is not only a really great album but the record that I guess will put them to the pantheon post-punk of their generation along with other names from N.America that are pushing the genre forward towards the modernism of alternative music. The album will be everywhere so WL//WH is presenting another option; we reached them through Shameless PR to tell us a few things mostly about the first three leading tracks, all of them with official videos too, that have already impressed everybody in the genre. At the end of our chat with the band, you will also find some pretty interesting technical notes too, let’s go.
Nolan: “While on tour, I became obsessed with the minimalist composer Phillip Glass. His music completely changed the way I thought about melodies and composition, so ‘Oh, Ballerina’ began as this minimal and abstract piano piece with some atmospheric textures and very little else. I played it for Shawn and he liked it so we took it to rehearsal and recorded a 10-minute demo. I had insomnia a few nights later and decided to listen to the demo very late at night and mid-way through the improvised recording, it was like the song suddenly revealed itself to me. Like a crack in the sky, I suddenly heard the drums and bass in my head and realized that what we worked on was literally just the beginning. At 3 am, I grabbed my laptop, quickly programmed some drums and we finished scripting it all the next day. We opened all of our fall 2019 shows with ‘Oh, Ballerina’ just to study the audience’s reaction to see if it held up with the rest of our catalogue and it always did.”
Tucker: “I approached this song the way I imagined Placebo challenged songs like ‘Brick Shithouse’ or ‘The Bitter End’. Keeping it simple, minimal, but punchy and effective. That’s really what motivated the passion and drive in ‘Oh, Ballerina’. Lyrically the track focuses on obsession with someone else to the point of murder, based on a true story I had come across online. I felt the tone of the story perfectly mirrored what’s happening in the track instrumentally, dynamically and vocally. Keep running away now because you’re scared.”
Nolan: “Mouth Poisons” was initially supposed to be a fast, angular punk track and it remained in this form for several months until Shawn wrote the bass guitar part and completely changed the way I heard the song. His melodic bass line brought out a sadness and vulnerability in the track that I didn’t know was there. All of a sudden this frantic punk song sounded more like The Smiths or New Order, so I completely rewrote my synth part to tease out those elements even more. The break before the outro is one of my favourite parts on the album.”
Tucker: “The core sketch of this song was written late at night at a very good friend’s place in Frankfurt, Germany. ‘Mouth Poisons’ is an extremely personal song and lyrically I set myself up as the main target. It carries an air of ‘come see what’s going inside of me that wants to burn down everything in sight’. Definitely my favourite single we have ever released to date.”
“Ghost And The Storm”
Nolan: “This is actually one of the first songs we ever recorded with our producer Josh Korody, but we didn’t know what to do with it at the time so it remained forgotten and unheard for many years. When Freakwave Records wanted demos for singles, Shawn went through some of our old files and rediscovered this song. The chorus totally blew us away. ‘Ghost And The Storm’ was another track that we tested out live during our 2019 run and it always got a fantastic reaction live. We enjoy toying with our audience a bit, teasing, testing and hinting at things to come without them being aware of it. My favourite memory performing ‘Ghost And The Storm’ was at Return To The Batcave in Wroclaw, Poland. It was a very special night and performance and the song had a real extra bite to it that night and really connected with the audience.”
Tucker: “Ghost and the Storm” is exactly that, a ghost of a track. A forgotten spirit from our past. It was too ahead of its time for us to even know what to do with it at the time we wrote it, so it remained in anonymity for several years. The song is about having false beliefs, blind and empty faith, believing your entire life that when you die you’ll go somewhere better but the reality is you just return to nothing, nowhere. To sleep and never remember your dreams is equivalent to how we die.”
“Horses In The Abattoir” was recorded at Candle Recording in Toronto, Canada with producer and engineer Josh Korody. Because of the pandemic, recording sessions were spread out intermittently from March to October and we finished mixing the album on new year’s eve 2020. All songs are written and performed by TRAITRS. Vocals, guitar, bass guitar and lyrics are written and performed by Shawn Tucker. Synths, piano, sequencing and programming are written and performed by Sean-Patrick Nolan. Additional percussion by Josh Korody.
Candle Recording is tucked away in an industrial pocket of Bloordale Village in west-end Toronto. Josh Korody built his studio and reputation in Toronto over the last decade by recording a wide range of bands from guitar-driven indie pop, shoegaze, dream pop, punk, and hardcore bands, to most recently producing his very own dark techno records as Nailbiter on his own techno label Nodding Heads. Mastering was done by industry veteran Pete Maher who worked with a wide range of artists including U2, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, Linkin Park and Katy Perry to name a few. In addition to working with world-renowned pop artists, Pete Maher makes a point of also working with independent artists and younger bands in order to both benefit and help preserve the future of the music industry.
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Written by LoudCity Mike.