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Shred Your Face
Hi. My name is Josh. And I'm a metal head.
Of course, that means less to me these days then it did, in say, the mid '90s, before metal went and got crappy. I just never got into that Nü Metal-thing that took over the airwaves (umlauts be damned).
That's why listening to Trumpet Solo is so damn exciting.
The band — Reid May on baritone guitar and vocals, Pierce May on lead guitar and backups and Nick Napolentano on drums (and cowbell) — plays a sort of throwback metal that's heavy on guitar crunch and squeal and top-volume throaty vocals.
It's like listening to the Rollins Band station on Pandora.
Or being 17 again (in all the best possible ways).
Here, the band talks flying Vs, how to get that perfect guitar sound and the metal I should be listening to.
How did the band come about? Or, give us the history
Reid: I had a few song ideas and wanted to play them with a group. I thought, “who better to play these songs with than your brother and one of your best friends since elementary school?” The first time we played together in March it was better than I ever imagined it could be. And louder.
Pierce: Reid called me and told me about his plans to start up his own independent record label, as well as a new band as an outlet for some songs he had been writing. He explained the type of music he envisioned us playing, and said: “I want you to shred on it.” I said: “Well... Ok.” My arm still hurts after all that twisting he did!
Trumpet Solo sounds like an euphemism for some dirty sex thing. Am I wrong? Seriously, what's with the name? Also, does every show end with a real trumpet solo (not the dirty sex thing)?
Reid: Trumpet Solo was a failed recording project. One day I tried putting almost everything in my apartment in front of a microphone to make the recording I was working on sound good to me. As I was giving up on the attempt I remembered I had a trumpet. I saved the recording file on my computer as “Trumpet Solo,” so I could remember to try it out later. I never did.
Pierce: You know, when Reid told me that was going to be the name of the band, I was a little thrown off and skeptical; but it all makes perfect sense now. You have to be at our shows and wait patiently, because the trumpet can pop up unexpectedly.
Jefferson Beavers (a KFSR DJ who knows a thing or two about music) referred to you as “free-jazz Megadeth with better haircuts.” I get more of a Corrosion of Conformity vibe, but whatever. How much of the metal thing is shtick, and how much do you just love to turn it up and shred?
Pierce: Personally, as a big fan of Megadeth, who are one of my major influences, that is a very flattering compliment. I believe the reason he said that is because at our first show at Tokyo Garden, we decided to add the trumpet solo jam immediately after our song “My plants,” and so while Reid did his thing on the trumpet, Nick and I started jamming on a riff from their song “My last words.” It isn't one of their well known songs off the radio, but it's one of my favorites, and perhaps Jefferson is also familiar with the tune ... Like I said, Megadeth are one of my major influences, so it's hard for it not to show in our sound.
Reid: The music we play reflects who we are and what we like. We are three honest and hard working guys who have a lot of energy and something to say.
On that, the guitar work is monstrous. What makes the perfect guitar crunch and solo screech?
Pierce: Thank you. For me, I prefer a dry and cranked rhythm tone for my riffs, while I like to get crazy and experimental with chorus and “flerb” for clean tones. For solos, I usually like to throw in a little bit of delay for an epic feeling, and once in a while I'll step on the wah pedal, depending on what the song calls for. There's something about my Jackson going through my Marshall that you can't recreate with another guitar, as is the case with Reid's Heritage guitar going through an Ampeg guitar amp. Another thing to note is that we don't use any distortion pedals, which in my opinion is cheating ... it all comes from cranked tube amps, and heavy playing.
Also on that note, who/what are your musical influences?
Pierce: My personal influences include Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Sepultura, Testamen, Guns ‘N Roses, Led Zeppelin, among many others. Other people that have been major influences on my lead playing, especially recently, are Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, as well as my favorite Randy Rhoads.
What's with the E.P.? Should people buy it or what? Who should buy it?
Reid: The E.P. documents the plunge. What we recorded captured the reason why we are still playing. Everybody should have a copy, whether you buy it or steal it.
Does metal suck now or is it just me? If not, then who should I be listening to?
Reid: Modern metal isn't the same. Metal bands now are creating music based on what our idols did. However, most of us are also heavily influenced by other forms of media and culture. New metal cannot be the same as it was for bands like Megadeth or Iron Maiden because everything else in the world was different. Metal does not suck. It is evolving and great! Some new metal bands I would recommend to somebody who thinks metal sucks now are High on Fire and Goblin Cock. They both have a refreshing sound and display some classic influences.
Nick: Much of the music considered metal might suck as metal, but if called something else, it might be O.K. But when you have Deep Purple, Maiden, Pantera, and Slipknot covering the genre of Metal, you're not going to like the entire category. Also as time goes on, the definition changes. Most wouldn't (and don't) even consider Deep Purple metal anymore, and I'm sure the rest will follow suit.
Pierce: One band that I've been listening to lately that really catches my attention is an unsigned band from Berkeley called Wild Hunt. It's really cool and progressive, and I simply can't get enough! Another band I really dig is my other band, Azazel. I don't say that just because I'm in that band, but they have a sincere energy and musicianship that's hard to find elsewhere. Give Red Castle Army a listen as well, they're awesome.
I have a theory that inside every punk rocker there is a metal head waiting to get out. Can the same be said for indie rock?
Reid: I remember being a mellower song writer and performer. That dude is still there.
Better flying V: Randy Rhoads or Dimebag Darrell?
Pierce: Well, by default I will say Randy Rhoads, because Dimebag Darrell is better known for playing the Dean/Washburn ML-shaped axes, which are like Flying V's and Explorers in one.
Will you rewrite the Flowing with Famous theme?
Reid: Let's talk royalties ...