UK fans of Trophy Scars have had to wait a long time to see the band live. Many came close in 2008, but an unfortunate turn of events prevented the shows from happening. The tour, in support of UK band Raging Speedhorn, was cancelled just days before the band were due to fly out; an event that ultimately changed their future. Six years on and with the band safely on UK soil in support of ’68, FDRMX took the opportunity to catch up with frontman Jerry Jones. “Our manager at the time booked our tickets non-refundable and we’d spent money on new merchandise,” Jones explained. “Then the headlining band broke up two days before we were going to head out, all the promoters started backing out of the gig and we lost a lot of money on the overhead of everything.”
The incident was so severe financially, the band was forced to make the difficult decision to go into hiatus. “We couldn’t afford it, we were stalemated. We were actually bankrupted personally and at this point we didn’t have jobs because we were touring full time. We were isolated at our parent’s houses with no gas money to even drive to practice let alone record the album we’d been writing for the last three years.” The album was to be Trophy Scars’ third full-length release and for fans, the prospect of never hearing the record was unbearable. Fans offered donations through PayPal in a movement that became known as the Bad Luck Foundation, in honour of the album’s title, appropriately called Bad Luck. “The fans pulled together and made this Bad Luck Foundation and because of that we were able to go and do the record. We were independent at the time so we didn’t have any debt, so we were able to sustain ourselves from that album and since then it’s been great. We wouldn’t be the band we are today if that hadn’t happened.”
In April 2014, Trophy Scars released Holy Vacants, the band’s eighth release and fourth full-length album. It was released by London-based label Monotreme Records, an arrangement that enabled Holy Vacants to achieve wider international coverage. “It was definitely different, way more thorough and we have distribution which is great. The label has been awesome. Usually they’re a bank and then you’re in debt, but in this case Kim [Harrison-Lavoie, Monotreme Records Director] has been up front about everything and has helped us with pressing Bad Luck, which really affords this tour.”
The vinyl edition of Bad Luck is out now through Monotreme records and is the first time the album has been released in this format. In today’s market, physical music can be an expensive overhead and an increasing number of bands now opt to release their music in digital form only. For Jones, physical music still has its place in an increasingly digital marketplace. “I think it’s important when you’re writing conceptually. It’s not just singles, this is an album that needs to be consumed as a whole and that includes the physicality of how it’s presented to you. It’s got to be special.”
In the case of Holy Vacants, the presentation was conceptualised by Chris King of the band This Will Destroy You, who designed the artwork for the album. “He did such a great job because unlike our other albums that have a literal interpretation – they’re a little abstract but they have things that in the real world make sense – this was really abstract, interesting and scary looking. Chris said, ‘this is what I felt when I heard the record’ and he nailed it.”
The process of producing the last two studio albums has been less than smooth. Bad Luck was plagued by financial difficulties and Holy Vacants took almost two years to be released to the public after it was written. These struggles haven’t dulled the motivation of the band, who are already planning their next release. “We’re going to be hitting the studio in March. We want to hopefully have it out if not late 2015, in early 2016. It depends on how that goes with budgets and time. There’s definitely so much to be inspired by and the motivation is there to write the best possible album that we can make. “
Since the release of Alphabet. Alphabets. in 2006, each subsequent release has become more intricate both musically and lyrically. Holy Vacants is perhaps the most ambitious of all, with Jones originally having written the concept as a screenplay for a film before it became woven into the band’s music. Jones is as yet undecided on where the lyrical direction of the band’s next album might head. “If it’s going to be a concept then it’ll be a little more loose and abstract I think. Holy Vacants took a really long time to co-ordinate the story with the moving parts of the album. This time we’re really trying to strip everything away to the four core members and concentrate on what we can do in the studio with a lot of space and dynamics. It’s going to be a little more casual and sexy, not as ferocious. Big emphasis on sexy!”
Although the Holy Vacants screenplay was transformed into a musical concept album, Jones maintains a desire to write a screenplay that makes it to film. “I would love to make a film, it’s just having a budget – it would have to be a blockbuster! Guns, car crashes and things that are expensive to do. I would really love to be involved in the industry and I’ve been so overwhelmed with music I haven’t really given it a thought to change careers just yet but one day I’m going to submit a screenplay. I hope so anyway.” In the meantime, Jones will be heading back into the studio with Trophy Scars in March to record their fifth full-length album.