Sitting with the boys from Traps out the back of an increasingly gentrified pub in an increasingly gentrified Newtown, our conversation rolls round to the recording of their first EP. From guitarist Ben: “We already had the idea of what we wanted to do from doing the demo, which was done with a mate. We really liked what he’d done so we went in with a good idea of what we wanted to do rather than, ‘let’s go in and record and see what happens’. So we knew what we wanted and we got what we wanted.”
And it’s that level of determination and sense of worth that defines Traps. Before going into anything, they decide exactly what they want and exactly what the outcome will be. It’s testament to any band in that playpen of irresponsible excess and uproarious behaviour – known to many as Rock Music – to be so collectively committed to their goal. But Traps know what they’re in it for. And I can think of very few bands who have achieved what they have in such a short time.
They’re four good looking, purposely unkempt lads, tonight clad in colours ranging mostly between grey and black. They’re an affable bunch, serious about what they’re doing as band but happy to explain it as unseriously as you’d like.
We’ve got Kieran on main vocals and guitar, Mal on drums, Ben on guitar and more vocals, and Matt on bass. The boys have been together as a band for barely a year, all had played in bands previous, but felt surer about taking on something more serious this time around.
They all openly admit to growing up as grunge tragics, finding their love of guitar music through the albums of those halcyon days in the early 90’s. As always though, as Mal intones, “All the different influences that we take and put into the band can only help.” Kieran is still a huge Radiohead fan, but the sound they’ve come up with has been informed by that fierce, insistent guitar strike of the last six or seven years.
They’ve been through the good and the bad shows, like the night they supported Pivot in Brisbane and created an unwanted wall of sound. But their killer performance last week at Spectrum to launch the Common Errors EP was surely their finest moment to date. The band had geared themselves well with the previous weekend’s shows in Melbourne and with all the press leading up to the event, they made sure they were tight on the night.
But Traps can see that their prospects don’t lie solely in Australia. They have been throwing the idea around — almost since their inception — of trying their hand at taking what they’ve put together overseas. “There was a definite intent, when we were about six months into it, going, ‘yeah, we’ll go overseas in like six months time,’ says Kieran. “Then we realised that that would be a little silly, that we should really ground ourselves in Australia first. We’ve been talking about going over to Japan early next year, then touring more here and then heading over to England for a while.”
Ben states the reason behind such an international outlook: “I think that here in Australia it’s such a small market. Like what we’ve learned from our previous bands, from working so hard here, it can seem like there’s limited opportunities.”
The history of local bands seeking further success overseas is a long tale told with equal parts of frustration and jubilation. The Easybeats spazzing out all over the world after ‘Friday On Mind’ exploded. The Saints sailing over to Europe to get loaded after the NME claimed them and ‘I’m Stranded’ as godsends. The seldom told tale of the Birthday Party and the Go-Betweens sharing rooms and needles in dreary early 80’s London. All bands seeking fame and success in an altogether strange and alluring part of the music world. And all done with label backing which, these days, is no longer what’s needed to get your arse overseas. Witness Batrider and Snowman’s recent departure for the UK, surely decided on and financed by the bands themselves. A fact Traps are well aware of.
“I mean – take some of the artists that have shot over there with very little funds, to either the UK or America, and done really well. Not to say that it’ll definitely be the case for us. We’re of the mind that you should take the plunge while you can.”
And that’s not to say they’re not going to do all that they can here first. Says Ben, “That’s why the initial idea has been postponed, because we still want to use the opportunities we have here to at least develop something. You can’t just be waiting around to go overseas, wasting time. Like, if your live show sucks, you’re not gonna get too far anywhere. It’s all about getting things right here first.”