Exclusive: Billboard Premieres Trapt's New Album 'DNA'
Like many other bands that have had to adapt to new ways of doing business, California-based Trapt went the crowdfunding route to secure backing for its sixth album, DNA. The Indigogo campaign for the group — best known for the platinum-selling 2003 megahit “Headstrong,” which reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 — exceeded its goal of $50,000 with the aid of 579 backers. DNA will be released Aug. 19 through Crash Collide Records/The End Records/Alternative Distribution Alliance.
In a gesture of fan appreciation, Trapt has autographed 5,000 copies (yes, 5,000) of DNA that will be exclusively available nationwide in Best Buy stores and contain two bonus tracks. "I think it took three days or so. Probably like 10 Sharpies," says singer Chris Taylor Brown of the marathon autographing session.
Trapt solicited its audience for capital "to give our fans a way to be more connected with the album and more a part of it," explains Brown. "We just wanted to make an album where they’re as close to the band and the making of the album as we could give them." One got especially close: In exchange for a $5,000 pledge, the fan got to record backing vocals in the studio with the quartet; the performance was captured for DNA’s first single, "Human (Like the Rest of Us).”
Billboard is premiering DNA today. Listen to the album below:
Brown describes the self-produced DNA as being "about human interaction and how we either unite or divide, depending on your ideals." Human interaction very much fueled the album’s creation: For inspiration, he solicited fans’ opinions on his personal Facebook page about topics like relationships, prejudice and revenge, and, in turn, channeled that feedback into DNA’s lyrics. He asked questions like “Was having a debate with some friends and we came to this conclusion, ‘Land is not yours unless you can defend it.’ Anyone agree with this?” and “Is there a double standard that gets in the way of trying to treat both men and women equally? Should men and women receive the same punishments for domestic violence? What about the saying ‘women and children first’ when people need to be rescued? Should we be cutting the ‘women’ part out?”
"You definitely see that there’s two ways to go about anything," says Brown of the responses that he received. "You can really see the dichotomy in our country in how people perceive a problem or an issue. Kind of like the ‘something must be done’ kind of approach or the ‘to each his own’ kind of approach."
Brown admits that in an age where online commentary can spark an uproar, he felt some trepidation posing such debates — Trapt has had its own cyber spats, such as when it engaged with Twitter followers after defending Lexi Kozhevsky, a nursing student who stood as a “human shield” before police in Ferguson, Mo., during demonstrations marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
"You don’t really know what’s going to happen unless you try. That’s really where it can go wrong and were it can go right," he says of using social media to encourage dialogue. "People have to be more tolerant of other people’s views. The more that I think people have the courage to say what they need to say on Facebook and not worry about what their friends [say] or how they’re going to judge them, that’s got to be better: using the platform in a way that educates yourself and others [about] how you feel and [figuring] out how other people [feel] about different things instead of being closed off and afraid to open their mouth. So I was willing to take that chance."
The risk yielded songs about “unity and not pushing people away just because we perceive that they’re different,” observes Brown. Such tracks as “Getting Even” and “Unforgiven” explore being able to rise above an enemy and holding a grudge, respectively. The propulsive “It’s Over” wrestles with “at what point do you find that the pain that you’re going through is more extensive than the love you share” in a relationship, while “Anchor” is an appreciation for that “someone who can [support you] in a crazy world.” The songs are trademark Trapt: hook-driven rock that balances its aggro flexing with a pop spirit, which has enabled the band to sell 2.4 million albums to date, according to Nielsen Music.
“I think any art should have a purpose, and I think this definitely is the journey that human beings go on,” says Brown of DNA. “The whole point of life is finding your place and finding someone to love that will [ground] you and make sure you’re being treated right by your government or your friends or your loved ones. I think that’s what we’re all looking for in our lives.”
Trapt is headlining the Make America Rock Again! tour with Saliva andSaving Abel. The multi-act lineup also includes Alien Ant Farm, Crazytown, 12 Stones and Tantric. Drowning Pool, P.O.D. and Puddle of Mudd will join for select dates. The outing launched Aug. 17 in Arlington Heights, Il., and runs through Oct. 9, wrapping in Mitchell, Neb. For more tour info, go here.