With Choirs, Copyright Violations And Attitude, Trail Of Dead Shoot For The Top

Against all odds, band releases its fourth LP — just a year behind schedule.

It's not like Austin, Texas' ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have been going out of their way to avoid the spotlight, but they've been doing a pretty good job of it lately.

Consider the following: First, there's the fact that their just-released fourth album, Worlds Apart, sat on the shelf for more than a year (see "Trail Of Dead's Plan To Save Rock And Roll Postponed Until January"). There's also the fact that Worlds is one of the most epic and ambitious albums to hit shelves in recent memory (check the choir, the timpani and the Old-World violin instrumentals), which usually spells Billboard bust. And now, there's the matter of the video for "The Rest Will Follow," the first single from the album.

"We're really picky. We want to do a video that's going to be different and challenging," drummer/singer Jason Reece said. "[Actor/comedian] David Cross wrote a treatment, but it was too controversial. There was just too much death and suicide in it."

"It was going to be this little girl who was walking down the street, and she was going to be talking to people, and after she would talk to them, they would go off and kill themselves," singer Conrad Keely explained. "They were going to blow their heads off or poison themselves."

There's also the issue of Worlds Apart's cover art, a giant painted mural featuring Roman centurions, knights on horseback, warrior gorillas and white wizards all locked in mortal combat. "The theme is 'The History of Conflict,' " Keely said, and he should know, because he designed it. But once again, the band's ambition got them into trouble when legal issues forced them to scrap the original cover in favor of the slightly modified version that now graces the album.

"[Our label] was like, 'Oh, you're going to have to clear all these images on here,' " Keely laughed, referring to copyrighted material he'd used in the artwork. "And I was like, 'Um, I don't know if I can.' So we had to change it up a bit, which just led to more delays.

"Now that the album is finally in stores, Trail of Dead can focus on making that video and hitting a road for a full U.S. tour, which is scheduled to kick off some time in March (they've been playing a smattering of dates in small venues for the past few months). And there's no doubt that they'll hit the road with the same mixture of aplomb and cockiness that has already caused so many delays and reworkings.

"With this album, we figured we'd leave all our peers behind, because this album sounds like nothing in rock music today," Reece said. "We weren't afraid to make music like that, because we're peerless."

And the fact that Reece doesn't even crack a smile while he's saying this makes it hard to tell if he's joking or not. But it's probably a safe bet that he's not. After all, that kind of attitude will get you nowhere. And everywhere.