In my experience, when stoner rock bands borrow influences from outside of the genre, they often pull from the doom or psych ones. You don’t usually hear a lot of punk influence in this style of music, which is what immediately drew me to London three-piece Trevor’s Head. The band has continually evolved since they formed in 2010. Initially starting as a blues act, their sound has gotten heavier with each subsequent release, and their last album Tricolossus saw them experiment with synths and flutes, as well as additions of punk and grunge elements.
Their latest effort is their most ambitious one yet. Not only is Soma Holiday aggressive and original, Trevor’s Head have crafted some seriously catchy tunes. When you throw in that all three members trade vocal duties, there’s never a dull moment.
Ahead of the album’s release on April 30th via APF Records, we caught up with the band to talk about their backgrounds, their writing process, and more. As an added bonus, we’re also premiering the track “Sleepstate.” Scroll down and give it a listen and then scroll further for our interview with the band.
Indy Metal Vault: Hey, thanks for agreeing to chat. From what I understand, you guys have been through several lineup changes as well as a shift in musical style. You started out as more of a blues rock band, but your sound has gotten noticeably heavier and more experimental since your initial release. To start off, can you walk us through how you got to your present lineup and how the lineup changes impacted your sound?
Roger Atkins: Right, so Matt and myself were playing in our first band together about 10 years ago. Matt wanted to be in Jethro Tull and I wanted to be in Metallica at the time. We had a bluesy guitarist, David Holdstock (now of 3times7) and a different bassist. We fucked about for a few years, played some gigs and made our first album. Eventually, Tom the bassist quit so we got Aaron in, and Dave left soon after we released the Otherside EP. By the time Aaron joined, the writing duties were starting to be evenly shared between Matt and me, and then he came in with these exotic scales and time signatures that no one has ever heard of. It really annoyed me at first cos I couldn’t fucking play any of it. But yeah, that kinda changed everything.
IMV: One of the things I immediately noticed about the new album Soma Holiday is that the songs have more of a punk feel to them and seem more experimental than your previous efforts. What do you attribute the evolution of your sound to, and is there a song that you feel best represents the band currently?
Roger: Yeah, I think overall this album is more ambitious in the songwriting. We’ve always liked to keep people on their toes and have weird ‘Trevs’ bits pop up half way through a song, and this is just an evolution of that. It’s fun trying to take people on a journey with each song – and the more we play together the better we gel and the more creative we can be with that. Being in this band is the greatest place to experiment musically.
Aaron Strachan: Although we all love a lot of the same music we also have individual tastes that come through. I don’t think were afraid to throw some different ideas out there and find out if we can make it work.
Matt Ainsworth: Off the new record, I’d say “Ghost” or “Sleepstate” represent us best. They’re very different songs, but they both contain the stoner, punk and prog elements along with some vocal harmonies and a touch of weirdness. Kind of a Trevor’s Head manifesto.
IMV: I was really stoked that we got the song “Sleepstate” to premiere, since it’s my favorite track off the album. It starts out heavy and in-your-face and then transitions into a really trippy interlude. It’s a great track. Can you tell us a bit about this song and how it came together?
Roger: Yeah, thanks man, it’s a solid favourite of ours too! That main verse riff just came out at one of the ‘bedroom jams’ where we’d just chill at mine and write in preparation for the new album. Aaron pulled that happy bass thing out at some point at the two sections just kinda grew from there. It was Tom Wild (producer)’s idea to use the fire extinguisher on the outro. The whole thing is just an account in the day of a normal bloke who goes out during the week and can’t get to sleep. That work/drink/work cycle.
IMV: I’m curious as to what your writing process is like. Is it methodical, or do you start with a riff and jam it out? Also, since all of you contribute vocals, how do you decide who sings what?
Roger: It depends on the song. Sometimes songs will just come out of a jam like with “Sleepstate,” but sometimes one of us will come in with a full song and we’ll all work to improve it based on their vision for it. “Departed” was a good example of that. The whole song was written on acoustic and sounded pretty sparse to start with. But when it came to recording we all kept adding different layers and textures until it felt like this big warm hug of a song. And they both came out great! All the vocals are assigned by these two questions: 1. whose voice suits this part most? 2. can you play and sing that at the same time?
Aaron: With a fair few of the vocals they were left until the song was complete, sometimes with lyrics in mind but we’d just sit there listening to a phone recording shooting ideas around until something clicks.
IMV: I don’t often come across drummers that can also play wind instruments. I’m curious as to how Matt got into playing the flute?
Matt: Rog mentioned Jethro Tull earlier – there’s your answer! I saw their performance on The Rolling Stones Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus movie when I was about 16, the music blew me away but I was fascinated by Ian Anderson’s stage persona and performance. So I bought a flute! To be honest, I haven’t mastered the instrument, but I can play it enough to add a certain flavour to a song in the studio.
IMV: Aaron is a remarkable bass player. I love the flourishes he adds to songs like the chords in Tricolossus’s “Blood Moon” or the added licks during the verses on Soma Holiday’s “Bomb.” What’s his musical background and who are some bass players that have influenced him?
Aaron: Thanks very much! I guess I wasn’t really a bass player until I joined TH. I was a guitarist foremost so I kind of treated it like a second guitar and sometimes bounce off of Roger rather than always following. I became obsessed with timings through bands like Textures, BTBAM and Tesseract and loved bands like Radiohead and Faith No More for their ability so seamlessly blend genres. I take influence from many genres and just love to experiment with that.
IMV: You guys are also on the lineup for Desertfest in London. There are some huge names on this massive fest’s eclectic lineup, including High on Fire and Napalm Death. That’s got to be pretty exciting for you guys. What bands are you most amped to check out?
Roger: Graveyard and Black Moth all the way for me. It’ll be awesome to play with our APF Records label mates Pist and Mastiff as well. Oh and the boys in Morass of Molasses!
Matt: Don’t forget Tuskar and Church Of Misery! As much as I’m looking forward to the bands, I’m looking forward to the community spirit that’s always present in the crowd at Desertfest.
Aaron: Looking forward to Warning. Didn’t know they were still going!
IMV: Are there plans to tour to support the album? Is there any chance of a U.S. tour?
Roger: There are definitely plans to tour. None in the US as of yet I’m afraid – but you guys keep shouting from across the pond so it’s only a matter of time! That would be amazing.
Aaron: If anyone reading wants to book us, we will come!
Matt: We’ll be heading out on the road in support of the album in July, trekking all across the UK.
IMV: Thanks again guys. I like to give the band the last word. Are there any final thoughts that you’d like to share?
Roger: We’re all going on a Soma Holiday…