CVLT Nation Interviews: Ryan McKenney of TRAP THEM
What’s up Trap Them, how are things in your world?
Ryan McKenney: Our world is moderately adequate. Well, that’s a lie…..Unfortunately, the guy answering this lives on the other side of the country from the other three guys, so I actually have no clue how their world is. That would involve me keeping in contact with anyone, which I don’t do, because that would involve me remembering to keep in contact with anyone, which I don’t do. You know what? I’m just going to go ahead and assume they’re all doing very well. They’re good guys….their world should reflect that.
If you had to describe ‘Crown Feral’ as a killing machine, what would you name it, and who or what would be your main target?
Name: CastleRock van Hairburn. Main target: People that walk down the middle of the world’s sidewalk instead of choosing a side.
What do you tap into within yourselves that allows you to create music that fucking drips with anger, pain, sleaze and despair?
I think all four of us immerse ourselves in our own separate worlds, so it’d be hard for me to answer this question for them. Everyone has their own reasons for being attracted to, or making, this type of music. It doesn’t necessarily boil down to influences, experiences or inspiration from outside sources. That being said, I don’t think anyone in Trap Them has to search deep within themselves to do what we do. It’s there, close to the surface and there’s no point in ignoring it. The dark and bleak nature of our music has no easily digestible answer, for us or anyone else.
If you had to pick one emotion that inspired this LP, what would it be and why?
For me, the record is pure, honest violence and defeat. There’s not an iota of hope or desperation or depression needed. It’s the first record we’ve done where, on my end, I wanted to acknowledge what everyone around me already knew, which was that I’m not very concerned with the repercussions of anything I do. I live by impulse, so I’m no longer surprised when I get fucked. I’m okay with that, so I’m going to do what I want. Sometimes, I want violence.
I’ve got to say Ryan, you are a fucking intense frontman– what place mentally do you go while you are performing?
I know the stock answer is to say that when you get on stage, you get to be your true self for forty five minutes. I know that’s how I’m supposed to answer this, to say that this is a release from everyday struggle where I can let go of my frustration and rage. I don’t feel like saying that, because I think I’d be full of shit if I did. When we play this music in a live setting, I’m not myself at all. I’m creating art. I don’t care if that sounds weird, because it’s true. I’m a simple man and an extreme introvert. I like being off the grid and somewhat invisible. But, I’ve always wanted the art that I make to be violent, damaged and void of design. When we play a set, the only place I go to, mentally or physically, is the stage. I flush out my better judgment and let whatever happens happen.
And talk to us about your writing process – do you need the track first or do you write without the music?
For the most part, I’ve done lyrics ahead of the music. I send Brian the lyrics for the next record, so he can have them all at once. Sometimes seeing what I’ve written provides him a little bit of additional direction while he’s writing the music. Once he starts sending me new material, I begin the process of connecting words to music. I treat the written lyrics completely separate from the ones I’ll use with the music. Written words and written music are two completely different mediums, so when you combine the two, there’s a need for redesign and a restructured approach.
As a band, what kind of sonic statement did you want to make with ‘Crown Feral,’ and where did you want to take the listener with this record?
We just wanted to make a vicious record, which we were successful in doing. We never talk ahead of time about what our intentions are when we make new music. We keep our constant base: heavy, dark, bleak, intense. From there, we just add variables, whatever we think the songs need. There’s never any attempt to experiment, because that means you’re trying to see if something works or not. We know what works for us and there’s no reason to stray from that. We’d rather build upon what we do, which our listeners understand and, hopefully, continue to appreciate.
While driving across the states on tour, what kind of music gets played the most?
We do a lot of scores and soundtracks….it’s easier to engage in conversation when a speaker isn’t yelling at you. Overall, I think the four of us just want to try to make each drive as easy as possible. Whatever music can be enjoyed by all of us, that’s what we’ll listen to.
Who in the band is a master chef, and what’s their favorite thing to cook?
I used to be a prep cook for a Tex-Mex bar/restaurant here in Seattle, so I had a lot of ingredients at my disposal. My favorite thing to do was get drunk by 2pm on Saturdays and make off-menu vegan stuff from scratch for the employees. It was bar-type food, but I had fun creating the recipes. Buffalo or barbecue chicken strips, roasted garlic and habanero naan bread, Brussels sprouts salsa. It didn’t really matter what I made, I just thoroughly enjoy the art of cooking.
Outside of of music, what are some of your biggest passions as individuals?
Hot sauce, pro wrestling, novels where people die, found footage movies, dogs and writing stuff that I’ll never do anything with.