interview with Trapjaw

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What´s the name of your band? It’s ‘Trapjaw’

What made you call the band "Trapjaw"? It is the name of one of my favourite Villains in ‘Masters of the Universe’- Toy Series from the 80ies. Besides it sounds cool and we think the image of an iron Jaw which bites you matches appropriately to a metal Band.

How was the band formed? First Line-up/s was/were formed somewhen around the millenium but to a time when the Band’s name wasn’t 100 % set yet. A real starting point is hard to find, because especially in the beginning there was a lot more talking about music and less rehearsal , trying some experiments in different line-up constellations and so on. It took over a year until a first constant line-up released a first demo in September 2001. I’m the only member who was there since the beginning. So to me it began to feel seriously when my current bandmates Kozzy and Maxx joined the band in 2002 and 2003. Since this time it really feels like a band with common interests, a solid line-up and a message you can take seriously.

Can you tell about your band? Generally our music is inspired and sometimes a homage to our influences from the first extreme Metal Styles, basically Death, Thrash and Black Metal. It’s a mix, which can vary somewhere between these genres and here and there some more exotic experiments like Riffs or Rhythms in the style of Machine Head or Tool. Main influences are maybe Morbid Angel, Emperor and sometimes Sepultura, Slayer, Kreator or Machine Head. But especially Morbid Angel, because this band inspired us to compose a lot of songs with 7 string- guitars.

Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band? We are all from the same area in Bielefeld. The Line-up is: (me) Marek - all Guitars and Vocals; Kozzy - Bass Guitar and backing Vocals ; Maxx - Drums

What was the ambitions of the band when you started? Meanwhile I don’t mention the ambitions and intentions from the early years and the other band members at this point of time anymore because I am the only one member since the beginning and so my ambitions shape the band’s music since then. Kozzy and Maxx have become constant members because they share my ambitions, intentions and visions. Basically we wish to perform brutal and dark -but also artistic- extreme Metal Music, far beyond all ‘blood&gore’ or ‘satanical’ stereotypes, usually old school-based but sometimes enriched with some unconventional ideas.

Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you? Epic and extreme, brutal, dark, intense, sometimes with a sub tone of desperation ringing within some songs.

Where was your first gig? The first Gig under the Name ‘Trapjaw’ was on a friday 13th in October 2000 on Rocktober Festival in Krefeld. First common gig of this line-up was on Halloween 2004.

Where was the latest gig? Last year, end of september. We were headliner and it was really a great fun and a funny party after the concert.

Who writes your songs?/ who writes the music who writes lyrics? Nearly everything is composed/ written by me. The lyrics are completely ‘committed’ by me and most of the Riffs and Arrangements too. Even most ideas for Bass and Drum Patterns are composed by me, but Kozzy and Maxx always enrich them with their own ideas, which is important because they are the experts of their instruments. Kozzy is also a kind of Rehearsal Room/ Studio Engineer and our logistic planner.

Who has the best since of humor in the band? Hmm...I would say Kozzy has both: best and worse sense of humor in a way. Not because his jokes ain’t funny, but they are cuckold, you can even say ancient in some cases :D But his real life- stories, especially from his job sometimes make us cry of laughing.

What's good/bad with the band? The most suboptimal things are a lot of stuff in case of our recording- equipment. We were never able to record an album with an upper-class sound because our resources always had limits and we have never been supported with an endorsement deal for example. But we’re convinced always made the best of what we have on disposal. Another problem for all bands is that really SERIOUS offers for live gigs become more and more rare. And we can’t cause or can’t expect a lot of interest or attention from the metal scene for us anymore but meanwhile we’re cool about this. If we’re really honest none of us is in the other way interested in the scene so I think this is a kind of fair relation ;) Good thing for example is our solid line-up since over 10 years meanwhile. We can really count on each other. Everyone has worked hard the last years to become nearly an expert for his part and everyone works hard to become better and better.

Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about? It doesn’t really feel as if I would ‘pick’ this style. There ‘re just a lot of riffs and ideas coming out of me when I play for myself and sometimes some weird melody can be interesting or the atmosphere which it causes, sometimes a couple of Riffs make sense when they are played in a certain order. From this point it is still a long way to a full song, because we tend to make epic songs with a lot of tempi-changes, many many Riffs, a lot of playing around with dynamics and various drum patterns to keep it excited for the listener and we always perform and practise accurately to a metronome/clique- track. Usually our songs are performed between 200 and 250 bpm. Our songs can deal about several things. I may work in SAP - Business meanwhile but I studied philosophy and sociology once and I’m still inspired by a lot of stuff written by Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer or David Hume. Our Song ‘Relativity of the I’ is a good example for this. Different things inspire me. Sometimes I have just to watch the News or some kind of documentary- stuff on TV; Graphic Novels from Alan Moore or Garth Ennis can inspire me and sometimes it can be self- experienced stuff which just have to come out of me. Those who are really interested about the lyrics of our last Album should check this very artistically enhanced booklet as pdf-file: http://www.trapped-in-jaws.de/Crawling%20through%20Thorns.pdf

Do you write your own material or mainly covers? We perform basically own material. We did a lil’ bit more covers in the past like ‘Maze of torment’ from Morbid Angel or ‘War ensemble’ from Slayer but meanwhile we reduced this. A kind of gag we allow to ourselves is ‘quoting’ a part of a well-known song and integrate it in our own songs when we play live. For example we play the introducing Riff from Mayhem’s ‘Freezing Moon’ and the middle part of Metallica’s ‘Creeping Death’ during our own Song Swarm. This allows the audience to join us even on stage, haha

Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?

First official Album was ‘Virushuman’ in 2005, second (and until today last one) was ‘Terror Divine’ in 2009. All other Releases are demos, promo- CDs and so on, so more semi-official stuff.

Do you have any clips on YouTube? No official stuff. But there’s a nice promo/lyric- Video to our song ‘Culture of plastic Souls’ on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkYLxFD0DfA

How old are you?/What got you started in music? We are from different generations, I am 33, Maxx is 25 and Kozzy is...well the very oldest one, but he’s still young at heart, haha. I play guitars since almost 20 years meanwhile. The album which drove me to make music was Morbid Angel’s glorious debut ‘Altars of madness’

At what age did you start playing? Hard to say. I am from a very creative family, so there were always possibilities to draw, paint or perform music. I made first tries on acoustic guitars for example when I was a kid. I think when I got my first e-guitar it began to become seriously. I must have been somewhere between 15 and 16 if I remember correctly.

How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? First common gig was 2004 as I already said, but of course every one of us made gig- experiences before, except Maxx I think. For him it was the first gig at all and he was… I think 17 or so…(?). I stood on stage first time at the age of 19 and performed bass guitar in a school band.

Best/worst gig you've played? Impossible to answer appropriately. First gigs of this line-up were all something special, because we really felt the magic of our songs when we play together in this constellation. It felt amazing how perfectly and tight it sounded. I would say the gigs in smaller clubs always feel better than playing in halls which weren’t sold out and in small clubs you are closer to the audience

What places will you be playing in in the imidate future? Next shows will be in south Germany (Meßstetten) on March 8th and in our home area (Bielefeld) on May 10th this year. Further infos we will post online these days.

Where have you played from then till now? Unfortunately only within Germany until now.

Witch band is the best you´ve seen? It would be unfair to mention only one. I like it when Bands attempt to make a good live-show, play accurately and make up their mind to enable a good live-sound. I like Nile and Vader for example, but their live-sound often sucks. Marduk and Krisiun are maybe the bands I’ve seen mostly live and they always made a good job. Also Behemoth did so, but I’ ve seen them only one time until now. A Band from our home area which I can personally advise is Vyre! From the bands we met I remember Lost World Order, Arcane Empire, Embedded and surprisingly Deadly Sin very well, because of the effort of their Vocalist Ross Thompson who became a fan of our music but also a common friend. Meanwhile he has a lot of success with Van Canto, which we really grant him because he truly deserves it.

Is it always the same songs live? Almost, yes. There are a lot of common favorites and some songs which can variate

Have you had any bigger tours from start to now? No, there were only 2 small tours in April 2006 and September 2007, both in Germany.

How big crowds do you usually play for? Until now we know nearly all kind of crowds between 5 and 450 guests. Usually we are used to an audience between 50 and 100 guests. We’re not very popular. We perform very extreme Death / Thrash Metal, which already doesn’t attract so many people, but even within the scene which can warm up for this style it is hard for many listeners to get used to our music, because we don’t play conventional 3 ½ minutes- songs based on easy listening- structures.  We play in Germany and many people there percept our style as ‘technical’, which I don’t understand. Yes, our songs are a lil’ bit more complex, but we’re still miles away from bands like Cryptopsy or Necrophagist, which you can really describe as technical bands.

What are the plans for the rest of the year? First the both gigs I mentioned already. There is a young guitarist, who is interested playing second guitar at Trapjaw, but I must acknowledge him and his skills better before I can suggest if he is good and experienced enough for the job. I want to update and enable a mobile Version of our homepage during the next months. There are plenty of ideas for new songs I’m working on, but I realize it is getting harder to really feel satisfied when it comes to new stuff.

What are your goals with your music? Meanwhile the most important is to rehearsal together, enjoy the violence and the intensity of our music, screaming out what’s inside us and make this all feel like a rush when we perform our Songs. So you can say music as self-therapy is a constant motivation and goal. Everything else is a bonus. The only real Wish that is still left undone yet is to play at least one time on a big extreme Metal festival like Party-San for example. But I have doubts this will ever come true...

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? What are your sources of inspiration?

I’m not used to get inspiration from metal bands only. Sometimes a classical composition or a movie theme or some kind of unconventional jazz rhythm can be inspiring as well. In case of metal bands I use to get inspiration from musicians whose skills surpass my ones. For example Ihsahn, Chuck Schuldiner, Karl Sanders, Trey Azagtoth or Dimebag Darrell. I’m not naive enough to believe being ever as good as anyone of them, but studying their work is always an ass-kick for me ;)

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? I am a ‘dinosaur’. I still buy albums. Usually CDs, sometimes Vinyl. But I understand if someone likes only one or only a few songs from a band and he downloads this specific songs only, because CD-prices are unnecessary high.

What would be your dreams for the band? More attention, more sincere respect from the scene. Not being perceived as just one among million other bands. A lot of friends from our band are convinced Trapjaw are one of the most underrated and underestimated extreme Metal Bands in Germany.

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? I like progressive Rock like Tool or King Crimson, some compositions of the classical maestros like Grieg, Beethoven, Brahms or Chopin and a few jazz songs like ‘Round Midnight’, there is a very cool version of this song performed by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Some ideas from Dave Brubeck are very cool as well. I also listen to a lot of Black Metal Stuff, for example Marduk, Bathory and Emperor, but for some reason I feel bored when I integrate too much typical Black Metal – Riffs in our Songs. So listening and performing are two different things.

When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? hmm...exploding amps, stage breaking apart? Something like this I guess. But I don’t tend to think about things like that.

What do you work with outside of the band and the music? We have very different Jobs. Kozzy is working as roofer, Maxx works in social service and I work as IT- Project Manager in SAP Development for a very well-known german company, which you can really describe as global Player in confectionary industry.

What would you do if there was no music? Probably dying of boredom, haha. Or looking for other possibilities for creative unfolding

What's the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you? Well, we had 2 gigs in the living-rooms of friends. Both were really cool

Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment?

A very new one entitled ‘Of pain and wisdom’, which haven’t been recorded yet is my current fave. So you have to come to our shows to enjoy this one. If I have to advise 2 Songs, which you can download at our soundcloud-account or our webpage www.trapped-in-jaws.de I would mention ‘Tschandala’ and ‘Awake’.

What drives a band that isn't all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing?

I would say what drives us is the love for our music itself. Against all obstacles and despite all our obligations in private life we still have the hunger to create epic extreme Metal Music and perform it together, enjoying the process how an abstract idea becomes more and more a concrete Song, a story that is told with extreme Metal music as language to communicate our message. I am convinced this is the honest and most sincere motivation for making music which is possible.

Do you have any webpages? On www.trapped-in-jaws.de you find links to our webpage and all our social network accounts.

Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there?

I wish to quote one essential message from an own lyric:

‘Perceive pain as a form of energy, we are unavoidably confronted with in life.

Who only endures it, is just a victim, who strikes it back is just an avenger,

But who learns how to use and transform it into something constructive is wise’

Describe your show, visually and musically Three men in the prime of their lifes perform sinister and brutal Metal Music, doing their very best and scream, pound or shred out everything their dark souls have inside to turn from a bunch of individuals into a three- headed blackened Death / Thrash Metal Monster

How do you view the musicindurty of today?

A machine which creates illusions, which I do not need. I was never interested into music industry at all. For some years I perceived a part of the metal scene, which contains bands, labels, fans and the media as an alternative to the mainstream music industry but especially in Germany the metal scene appears to me more and more as kind of theatre. A lot of so called ‘fans’ use to wear shirts or patches of bands with a brutal or evil image because it’s cool, but they’re not really interested in studying the songs or reading the lyrics profoundly. They dress like fans of Krisiun, Behemoth, Slayer, Gorgoroth or Cannibal Corpse but they listen and bang their heads to Bands like AC/DC or manowar. Easy-listening stuff, which we use to describe as ‘Schlager’ Music with distorted guitars.

I also always laugh what methods the music-selling industry creates to sell their stuff. All this lies about so called ‘new’ styles like Metalcore or Nu Metal years ago for example. A couple of years ago they claimed metal songs with melodic refrains are something new or a crossover of metal and hip hop would be something new. Bullshit!!! Body Count, Biohazard or Madball were already doing this, decades before limp bizkit or other bullshit came up. Why don’t the big zines unmask this behavior? Instead they are joining the lie, because the lie is hype and hype brings profit. And now it happens again, ‘Deathcore’, ‘ To us this is just ridiculous and pathetic, an industry of whores which we can’t take seriously.

What advice would you like to give other bands? Don’t spend your limited time too much with dreaming. Don’t live a life based on illusions. Scrutinize everything and everyone, even yourself until you really and doubtlessly know what you really want to do and what is really important for you.

What are the biggest obstacles for a band? The band itself, in cases of unrealistic self-perception or unmotivated members for example. If nothing can stop the band’s motivation, the hunger and the will of their members the chances are good to stand above every less important obstacle, like a more and more ignorant and jaded scene or a hypocritical industry which only wants to deprave you.

Tell us about upcomming gigs and why we should be at them? Well I described our behavior already and so you know what you can expect. But I won’t convince anyone to come to our shows or support us in any other way. Check out our sound, there are plenty of downloads and streams available online. If you love it you’re welcome, if not, no problem for us.

What was one of the most quarrelsome times for you in the band? Well, before he left we had plenty of discussions with our previous drummer. There were so many musical basics he wasn’t able to or didn’t want to learn. Well, one day he left and made room for Maxx and so it finally began to become more professional.

Whats your Pre-show ritual? Pulling our hands out of our trousers pockets.

Do you have anything to add?Thanks for your interest and attention

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