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INTERVIEW: P.J. FARLEY of Trixter – June 2015

| 19 June 2015 | Reply

Trixter is one of those bands that seemed to hit hard and fast in 1990 and then seemingly disappeared for years.  Well, with a resurgence that began in 2012 with their first release on Frontiers Music, they have hit hard and fast again with their latest disc, Human Era, and we were able to track down bassist P.J. Farley to discuss the disc, touring, and how the business (and band) have changed since they first broke 25 years ago.


Toddstar: Let’s talk about what’s going on great in the world, man. Right now, the smart people are jamming out to Human Era from Trixter, which dropped last week.

P.J.: A week ago today.

Toddstar: What can you tell us about this disc that you might not get the first, second, or hundredth time through?

P.J.: I don’t know. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I think right from the jump, you’re going to get the overall feeling for the record, which is just a good time. A good feeling record. “Rockin’ to the Edge of the Night” kicks off the record. It pretty much says it all. We do get a little bit heavier than we’ve gotten in previous records, but for the most part it’s all just upbeat feel good record. A lot of good, solid rock riffage going on. A lot of playing, a little bit of showing off. Lots of hooks, lots of good songs, just a feel good record, man. It’s basically an extension of New Audio Machine, our previous record. It’s got a common thread of sound, but it’s got some growth. We’re totally stoked. This one has kind of a little bit more of a theme, as you would, with the whole Human Era concept and whatnot. It’s something a little bit different for us.

Toddstar: You mentioned New Audio Machine. I love that. I thought that was a great return to form for you guys.

P.J.: Thank you.

Toddstar: After you had, I don’t want to say disappeared, but you guys kind of took some time off. That was your first foray back into new music. What’s it like this time around recording and writing and everything? The music industry has changed so much since your debut release.

P.J.: Yeah, it’s a completely different world. For one, being that we record at Steve’s house and he produced our records. He does the production and stuff. It’s so much easier in the sense that we do it on our own time. You know? We can listen back and we can sit on things for a little bit if we don’t think it’s right. We can just go back in and make it better. The pressure’s off on that sense. You’re not spending $3,000 a day on a studio that you’ve only locked out for 45 days or whatever the case is. In that sense, it’s a lot different. The pressure’s off, but on the other side of the coin, the pressure’s on. Because of that fact, you have the time to really turn out your best stuff. You better, you know?

Toddstar: Sure. I mentioned your debut and the timing difference. Looking back, you guys dropped your first release 25 years ago. Did you guys think in a million years what that thing came out that it would have the staying power it does or that the band would?

P.J.: We didn’t think that far into it, man. We were just so psyched and happy to be in that moment. We tried keeping our heads on straight, but not to the point where we were thinking that we were going to be in 20 years. I think we all agreed that we’d like to be playing music in 20 years from that point, so that was in the back of our mind, but at that point, we were just so focused and in the zone and living in the moment, and enjoying it. Like I said, we did have the sense to keep our heads on straight and not get carried away and ridiculous.


Toddstar: It’s funny; you guys were one of those bands that came out of that whole glam, hair metal era, which you didn’t read about somebody winding up in rehab or in jail. You guys just all went out and did your own thing. You guys kept doing music, actually.

P.J.: Yeah, we just stayed busy. I think just because of where we grew up and whatnot, just helped us keep a level head, and regardless of what mayhem we were in, we were always able to kind of maintain control. A controlled mayhem, if you will. We sure liked to party. We did then and we do now, but we also like to keep our eye on the ball.

Toddstar: Right. Let’s get back to Human Era. Through the process, is there anything on the disc that fought you guys tooth and nail and just didn’t come out anything like it originated?

P.J.: Not necessarily. Everything fell together pretty nicely. Steve had a great batch of songs to start us off, then he had some ideas that he threw my way that we kind of worked on. Then the song “Human Era” actually was the last song we recorded. We needed another song and we didn’t have one. We had the title, we had the whole concept, and I had this kind of partial song at first. I had a chorus and then I had the verse part and I had the melodies and everything. Then I had the whole song. I just didn’t have the verse lyrics and I didn’t have a chunk of that. Being that Steve loved the title and everything already and we agreed on the concept and title of the record and everything, I said, “Here’s what I’m going for.” He goes, “I got it. Totally got it.” Basically gave him the blueprint and he finished that song, and it just came out perfectly. On the contrary, there was something that we thought we didn’t really have and then we got it, as opposed to thinking we had something and we didn’t.

Toddstar: Sure. Let’s look at you for a minute, P.J. I mean, 25 years on, you’ve been at this a long time. When you think about going out on the road now, what are those things that you think now, “I can’t leave home without this”?

P.J.: I travel so light. Really, as long as I got my phone and my bass, I’m good, man. Literally, I usually travel with a back pack and a bass whether I go away for a weekend or go away for ten days. I do some laundry, change my socks every day and I’m pretty self-sufficient. Like I said, as long as I have my phone and I can stay connected with my family, I’m good.

Toddstar: On that note, how different is it to tour now? I can hear the voices in the background [it was evident P.J. was spending some quality dad time between phone calls].

P.J.: Yeah.

Toddstar: How different a game is it to tour now than it was then?

P.J.: God, it’s so different. Back when we first started touring, getting on the tour bus, like, “Ah. I’ve got to call home. Pull the bus over.” You know? Just pulling the bus over just to make a phone call or something. The connection, for one, it makes such a big difference. Being away and being able to stay connected at all times, especially now that we all got kids and everything. I couldn’t imagine going on tour. I’ve got two young daughters. Going on tour right now, getting on a bus with nothing but payphones all along the highways… I was one of those guys who had a cell phone on a shoulder strap in 92. That’s a bigger difference. Just with the internet, it’s a lot more comfortable these days for those who do get on a bus and go out for a while and stuff like that. There’s no replacing actually being home, but it saves time, and Skype and all that stuff. It does make it a lot more tolerable.

Toddstar: I was one of the fans that were lucky enough to see you guys back in 92 on that KISS tour. It’s funny. I listen to the new stuff and I listen to the old stuff, and I’m getting into and enjoying the new stuff just as much, but you guys never really stopped doing what you’re doing. Is that something that you guys consciously sat down and said, “We need to make this sound like our old stuff with a little bit of growth and maturity” or is this just how you guys write now?

10660338_10152848829693519_4576081420623802914_nP.J.: No, it’s funny because the more interviews I’m doing, that question comes up a lot. It’s enlightening to me, because it’s so not that scenario at all. As I’ve been saying, I think we just kind of hit our second stride here. I think we just find our second kind of coming of the band. We’re still the same guys. We write the same way from the same place. It’s just now we have years of experience and maturity under our belts. Now this is what you’re getting. That’s why there’s a continuity between New Audio Machine and Human Era. There’s also growth.

Toddstar: I’d agree totally. What’s next for you guys? You have this great disc that just came out. You’re peppering the fans with a few dates here and there. We’d love to get you back here in Detroit. Have you made plans to really get this out there on a wide scale?

P.J.: There’s desire on our end. Whether there’s demand on everyone else’s end is always the struggle. We welcome the more dates that come in. Put them on the schedule, and we’ll be there. As you know, it’s tough for everybody, for any band on any level in any genre, no matter how many records you sold. It’s tough. It’s a little tougher for bands like us and in our genre. Even in our genre, we’re not a top seed in our genre. We didn’t sell 2, 3 million records. When the season is slow, we’re going to feel it probably the most. We definitely try and get out there as much as we can, especially with this new record we want to bring to everybody.

Toddstar: Sure. Looking back across the Trixter catalog, including the new disc, what are a couple songs that you think will always or should always be part of a Trixter show? From your perspective, not necessarily that of a fan.

P.J.: From my perspective, I think off the last record we played “Tattoos & Misery” and “Machine” off New Audio Machine. We were just talking about this last night. Those two songs fit into our set list so perfectly; it didn’t even feel like we were playing new music. It just felt like we were blazing through the set. It just felt right because those two songs we love to always get in. Off this record, obviously “Rockin’ to the Edge of the Night” is such an anthem in our eyes and its fun to play. It sets a great tone. We’d love to get a chance to maybe play a song like “For You” or “Crash That Party,” something that really kind of we can really play and kind of get our rocks off a little bit on those songs. Something like “Human Era” is something a little bit different for us. It means a lot to us, I think. It’s a little bit on the … not melodramatic, but it’s a softer kind of song. It’s not “Rockin’ to the Edge of the Night” or “Give it to Me Good” or an upbeat rocker, per se, but it’s a meaningful song. I think that to play it in the set would be something cool for the fans, especially considering the lyrical content and the meaning. Yeah, I think those songs are definitely something that we should always play if we have long enough set times. Especially on a lot of these festivals. We get 30 minutes and now we’ve got four full length albums.

Toddstar: Yeah. Listen man, I know you’re busy, so I’ve got one more for you before we cut you loose. With everything you’ve done professionally inside of Trixter, outside of Trixter, whatever you’ve done, what are the couple things you want to look back on or want to be remembered for that you’re just most proud of, P.J.?

P.J.: I’m just most proud of always being part of something that I truly believed meant something and was passionate about. I was always part of something that I was passionate about. Even if I was like a hired gun for something, I always tend to really invest to a fault. I get hired all the time for things, and I invest myself in it. I don’t have the mentality of, “Whatever, man. I’m getting paid.” Just being a part of something always that I can be passionate about.

Toddstar: Very cool. Well, P.J., thank you so much for taking time out for us.

P.J.: Thanks, man.

Toddstar: We’re going to make sure we point everybody we can to the new disc, Human Era from Trixter and the website to make sure they check out those tour dates and grab a show when it’s near them.

P.J.: Indeed. Hopefully we’ll see you in Detroit soon.

Toddstar: Sounds good, brother. We’ll talk to you soon, P.J.

P.J.: Thanks.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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