When singer Chris Brown and bassist Peter Charell were in high school in Northern California, they'd get together and obsessively jam. By junior year, they had gotten pretty good, so they decided to form a band.
There was just one major problem — they needed a name. After bouncing around various ideas, they chose Trapt because it captured the frustration and tension they felt in a world that didn't understand their metal ways.
"I used to get in trouble for stupid things," Brown said. "Being a naive high school kid, I felt like the world and the PTA moms and the cops were against me and were trying to hold me down."
Today, Brown admits the moniker was chosen for a childish reason, but as Trapt (Brown, Charell, guitarist Simon Ormandy and drummer Aaron Montgomery) developed and began playing shows and recording their own independent CDs, the name seemed more appropriate. Not only were they writing aggressive songs about the struggles of young adulthood, they were being met with rejection from the music industry, they were broke and getting broker, and their parents were no help at all.
"They thought we were crazy," Brown recalled. "They were like, 'Well, if you're determined to do this, you're not gonna get any money from us. You're gonna have to find your own way around.' "
Eventually the band's energetic performances started attracting attention, and after a particularly good gig in 2000 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, they were signed to Immortal. Shortly after, however, the label lost interest, as did the next major that courted the band. It wasn't until 2002 that Trapt landed a record contract that stuck.
The eponymous album that surfaced from the deal is energized and radio-friendly, packed with driving guitars and lighter, more reflective moments, and filled with the kind of Incubus-meets-Nickelback melodies that are winning them new fans.
The first single, "Headstrong," is about the forces of adversity that threatened Trapt at every turn and the stubborn determination they exhibited in the face of such pressure.
"People were trying to mold us and push us a certain way as a band, and the song was pretty much our backlash against that," said Brown, adding that the urgent lines for the chorus were improvised in the studio. "When we were working on the song, [I was so angry] I just started singing, 'Back off, I'll take you on/ Headstrong to take on anyone.' Everyone struggles to get where they want to be. They key is to be headstrong and keep pushing forward and not let anyone push you off your path."
The next single, "Still Frame," expresses even more emotional turmoil. The track was written shortly after the band moved to Los Angeles in quest of a record deal, and while the lyrics were penned in 15 minutes, the music was agonized over in an environment that resembled a war zone.
"We had all dropped out of school and didn't know what was going to happen," Brown said. "A lot of people were saying [complimentary] things to us and then not meaning them, and we felt lost. We couldn't go forward or backwards. We were stuck in the same place and we got really insecure and took our anger out on each other. We worked all night going back and forth on the riffs and yelling at each other."
With a record on the shelves, a strong radio hit under their belts and tours lined up through the summer, Trapt aren't going to have to worry about landing day jobs any time soon. However, they don't measure success in terms of gold records and sold-out tours.
"This is all pretty new for us, so we just want to keep playing shows and meeting all our fans," Brown said.
"I think we'd feel pretty successful if we could get our lighting guy to take a shower once a week," drummer Aaron Montgomery quipped. "That would be great."