There’s a tremendous amount of activity in the Trigger camp at the moment, with the release of their first full-length album Cryogenesis, the Dead Sun music video debuting this week, and a big live schedule coming up; so now was an opportune time to sit down with guitarist Luke Ashley and vocalist Tim Leopold to discuss all things Trigger.
“Machina was written to be very guitar-driven,” Ashley tells me, as he explains the growth from the debut EP to the new album. “It was our first concerted effort to put a full release together as we weren’t sure of how to tell a narrative. With Cryogenesis instead of riffs it was very vocal-centric, making sure the lyrics came first and that the idea of the song was put forth before we actually sat down to write the songs.”
Leopold agrees. “Because I was the last to join before Machina, there was pretty much a pre-established base of what it was going to be. There were about nine tracks we were mucking around with at the time. Very heavily instrumental, and probably could have just been made that way, so pretty difficult from my standpoint. But moving into Cryogenesis, Luke and I had this really cool theme about these fictitious beings called the Nephilim who would fight with the other gods, and we just ran with that theme. So whenever a new riff came up Luke and I would converse about ideas of what we wanted the song and theme to be and work together with the riffs that he pre-established, but then change it and restructure to fit the riffs with what we were doing.”
Trigger’s lyrical content deals strongly with mythological content, and Leopold goes on to describe the storyline in more detail. “The idea of the Nephilim came from a book I read a long time ago which was based on an alien race, so it’s very sci-fi. They were a race of beings that used to muck around with cryogenic experiments and that’s where you get things like the minotaurs, Anubis, so they were half-human, half-beast because they were experiments. Then I came to Luke with the idea just in general conversation, and thought it would be a pretty cool idea if we started creating our own lore. Then we basically just expanded on this lore and kept coming up with these stories, and we started enjoying the process. And then we were like hey, you know what would be a good idea? Let’s see if we can get an album that would work with some of these theories that at the moment are just on paper.”
Ashley chimes in with enthusiasm, “The songs all through Cryogenesis are little snippets or insights into this alternate universe where the gods have been fighting over cultural control or dominance over humanity. Tethered to the Tide, for example, is looking at Jormungandr. We have Veins of Ambrosia which is largely based around ancient Egypt. Just seeing how these different mythological creatures control, puppet and fight over humanity in different ways.” Reflecting on the world they’ve created, Ashley goes on, “On a musical level, I found it really fun to pick a geographic area of the world, so to take ancient Egypt and use those more Eastern scales, and those more ambient sounds to really drive that Anubis feel home.”
When it comes to taking songs that have been established in the live setting for a while and recording them in the studio, Ashley describes the experience as “refreshing.”
“There were a few hurdles that we hadn’t considered in going in for recording,” Ashley explains. “For the most part, it was really streamlined. The most exciting part was finally being able to construct so many vocal harmonies.”
“It was really good. That’s thanks to Chris [Themelco],” Leopold adds. “From our last experience with Machina when we played with him, I found that Chris had some really cool ideas with harmonies, which allowed me to explore the more musical side, and really challenged me as a vocalist because I had a very basic understanding of how to write lyrics, and how to sing melodies to it. And when I met Chris it kind of expanded on that end. Then Luke and I really liked what happened on Machina with what was going on with the multi-layered harmonies, so going in we were a little bit more prepared. But Chris had a good talent for picking up better ways of doing what we had in mind, and also just amplifying what we had. So we were pretty happy with the overall process. But it was a bit of a challenge for me. I had to change and adapt to new style of writing to fit the themes as opposed to just singing from the heart, which was most of what Machina was. It was very political, it was very personal. This was more technical and we didn’t want to diverge too much from that.”
Trigger also worked with Owen Keswick (“Kes”) Gallagher on their new music video for Dead Sun. “That was fantastic,” Ashley says warmly. “Kes is always great to work with, it was great fun taking that on. We’ve attempted music videos in the past but didn’t feel they were up to calibre with the content, but we’re really happy with Kes’ end result.”
Leopold agrees, and we move on to discussing Trigger’s songwriting process. Leopold elaborates, “Luke is our maestro. So he’ll come in from 3 am writing sessions with himself, and then go ‘Hey, I’ve got these progressions that are semi-formed into a song.’ Then Sean [Solley] and I will come in and start getting some ideas. Then we start writing some lyrical content, and what we’ll probably find is that easily 80% of the song is usable as is. But then we might run into some brick walls where we might say, ‘Hey, let’s just extend one section a little bit longer to give the song a little bit more time to breathe,’ and this goes back to what we were talking about with writing the lyrics versus just writing without. It’s really hard to gauge how long a progression could go for so for the most part, Luke will come in with a clean sheet of riffs which are pretty much a song in itself, and then we either expand or shorten that depending on the feel of the song once we introduce it, and from there we just take it to the rest of the members and they add their own parts into it and inject themselves into the song, and then we have it. We’ve got a song.”
“There are a few tracks, such as Tethered and Veins, that were written with that narrative in mind,” Ashley points out. “So we went piece by piece and made sure the song didn’t follow such a standard structure, but instead we were able to convey each section of the story musically. That’s my favourite way of writing now and I’d like to do that a lot more going forward.”
“I think it does streamline the process a little bit more,” Leopold agrees. “It was a bit challenging at the start, but moving forward I wouldn’t do it any other way now.”
Trigger have recently signed to Hellfire Records, and have big plans ahead.
“We’ll be looking for international distribution through North America, Europe, potentially Japan and Australia-wide also. We’ll be doing an East-coast tour later in the year or early next year, which we’re currently organising, and we may well tour internationally also,” Leopold reveals. As for their upcoming album release performance at Metal United Down Under, Leopold teases, “We’ve got a very large surprise for everybody, and I don’t want to spoil too much at the moment. But it’s going to be one of the largest announcements in our history. Stay tuned! Within the next month there’s going to be some very big news coming out of our camp. Just keep tuned to the Facebook page and you’ll know it when you catch it.”
In closing, Leopold has a heartfelt message for the fans. “I’d just like to thank everyone who’s listened to our music and if you’ve enjoyed it, then a giant thank you. Just give it a listen, take the time out of your day, that’s an amazing thing. We appreciate it very much.”
Cryogenesis is out now via Hellfire Records Australia!
Get your copy HERE!
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