Levi Macallister interviewed Jimmy Ryan of Trenches for the full-length feature in HM’s November/December issue (#134). As we love to do whenever possible, we saved the original, uncut Q&A for your reading pleasure (kind of like bonus material on a DVD, ya know?).
Alright, man. So, um, the first question I’ve got for you is, um… How’s being up at Tooth and Nail? And I was wondering if you’ve going to pull a little Jon Dunn goodness and still do, uh, Tooth & Nail and Trenches… you know, what’re you plans for that?
Ha. Um, well, right now I’m just working as normal. We’re just kind of seeing what’s going to happen, you know what I mean?
Yeah for sure.
Um, we don’t, uh… we… all of us have good full time jobs, and, uh, some of us have families. And we’re just kind of making music to make music and if something else happens that’s great. If not, that’s okay, too.
Awesome man. Awesome. What’s it like having a family in the midst of all this, like, music business craziness?
Oh, it’s fine… like, band stuff?
Yeah, or just, like, A&R… or now that you’re with Trenches and everything…?
Yeah. Uh, I mean, it’s… it’s great man. Like, I have a super cool wife that… actually, we’re pregnant with our first baby right now.
Man! Congratulations! That’s awesome!
Yeah, yeah, thanks, we’re excited. You know? And, she’s always been super supportive… um, really, of anything I want to do. She… a lot of people think that like, she is the reason why I quit Haste the Day – which is not the case at all. She actually, um, didn’t want me to quit Haste the Day. She grew up with the guys in Haste the Day since she was ten years old. And, uh, she was not the reason I quite. Um, the reason… the reason I left Haste the Day was because I like… for at least the first year of marriage I just want to be at home and concentrate on my marriage, so that we’d have a solid foundation. Um, I never said that I was never going to be in a band again. All said was that I’m going to not be in the Haste the Day anymore. Um, but she’s always be super supportive of everything that I’ve decided to do. She’s a wonderful wife. I love her.
That’s awesome man… that’s cool. Well, what was it like you getting back up on stage the first time with Trenches after taking that time off?
Ha ha! I was so nervous to get up on stage! I remember the first show with Trenches… I literally, um, had butterflies and I almost peed my pants… I was so nervous man, that like, that… we playing in Noblesville, Indiana and the kids there that came out to the show were just so great and they, uh, they were very forgiving of any mistakes that we made or anything. They were really cool. So they made it easy for me once we started playing.
That’s cool, man.
For sure. Um, I know, like, man there are so many different words for genres and stuff you know… out there… like, categorizations and stuff like that. What would you describe the knew Trenches stuff as, and are there any particular influences or bands that have sparked ideas for or stick out in your album?
Yeah! Yeah, I would say, as far as, like, genre… I mean, you’re right, there’s a million different genres, but I guess for Trenches I would just say “experimental hardcore”. Um, we, uh… we just kinda… we didn’t set out saying “We want to be a metalcore band” or “We want to be an experimental hardcore band” or we want to do this or that. We just got together and started writing music, and, um… this is what came out. And we’re all really please with it. I think that, as far as bands that influence us go, I mean… one of the obvious one would be, um… Cult of Luna. Um, another band would be… um, Isis. Um, another band would be, um… Led Zeppelin believe is or not. We really… we really pulled a lot of, um, guitar stuff and whatnot from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd… um, there’s another band called Elliot that we really love a lot. And those are the bands that we really, I think, pulled from the most. And obviously, I mean, you can tell… on some of the record, that we’re all Deftones fans as well. So, there’s a wide variety from nu metal to classic rock that we kind of pulled from.
For sure. That’s cool. How about the name? Does that come… “Trenches”, is that a… I know Haste the Day had, you know, quite a good, like, story behind it. How about Trenches, you got any, uh…?
To be honest there’s no story.
You can print that!
I mean, uh, we… honestly it was just kind of the age old dilemma of: there’s so many band names that are cool, that are used… what are we gonna use? And I think it was actually my friend Jordan that works at Tooth & Nail that said, “Man, I like the name Trenches.” And I was like, “[I’m] using it.” So it was just… it was just kind of random that that’s how it came across. There’s nothing spiritual behind it, there’s… I could make up a long story, but…
For sure, for sure.
But the truth is we just thought it sounded cool.
That’s cool man. I’m, like, a huge lyrics person. I only have streaming copies of it that I’ve been able to listen to through some of the HM stuff, but what kind of a… what kind of… like, lyrically… things are you tackling with it?
Well, um, you know… to be honest with you, there’s no lyrics in the booklet.
Um, there’s not lyrics anywhere. And, there’s… I feel like sometimes people hide lyrics because they feel like there’s questionable stuff or stuff that’s not, like, good… There’s really nothing on the record that I feel is questionable. We just kind of chose to go the route of not publishing any of the lyrics, or putting out any lyrics. And there’s no, like, reason. There’s no, like, well we want kids to guess. Or this or that. We just decided to go that route.
Um, everything… Not everyone in the band is a Christian. Um, we… everything that I do in my life, hopefully, in one way or another, reflects the character of Jesus Christ. So, the lyrics, there are lyrics on the record that are spiritual. Um, the band has never set out to be an evangelistic band. Um, I never want kids to feel like, um… I’m… how do I say this? The lyrics on the record… I wrote some – I wrote most of them – and my guitar player, Joel, wrote some as well. And um, a lot of them are just personal stories, but there is a spiritual undertone to everything on the record. Does that make sense?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
That’s cool, man. So… so taking that, you know, like, when a lot of people say, you know that “music should be ministry” or “music should just be art” – like, how do you guys approach that? I mean, in that aspect you’re definitely not approaching it as a music as ministry type of thing?
Right. Trenches… Trenches really started, for me, as a hobby. Um, I missed making music when I left Haste the Day. We never set out to get signed or… we didn’t even know if we’d be making a CD. We… it was just me and a group of friends that I knew from Indianapolis that were just setting out to make music. I missed the creativity of being able to do that. Does that make sense?
Um, we never set out to be a ministry band. We never set out to do anything, to be honest. It just kind of all fell together to where Solid State decided to put it out. But, um, by no means do I think that making music for art or ministry is better. I just think that we were just getting together because I missed being creative. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Yeah that’s cool. Well I know people are stoked. I mean, you search Trenches on the internet and you get, like, the first search page I pulled up was some chat, with some kid going, “God, it’s good to hear that scream again!”
Stuff like that you know? Like, it’s definitely going to be good man, for sure.
That’s cool. Cool.
I was talking to Robert from Jonezetta last week and he was just talking about, you know, how there’s more bands than ever filling up, like, “in-between” stages of garage band to indie label to, like, big leagues, and how the market’s just saturate with, you know… “This all sounds the same” type of bands. Do you think it’s hard to bring creativity to the table when you do, you know, like, when you make your art?
Um. You know, I think that like… I think that people are always going to be able to compare any band to someone. Um… I mean somebody could do something completely off the wall and someone on some internet site would be able to say, “Well, they’re ripping off so and so.” Um, I feel like people take music in this scene way to seriously, and people just need to relax and have fun with music, and stop judging everybody and just be creative, you know?
Yeah for sure. Do you have any advice as an artist or an A&R for bands that are looking to move forward with their projects?
Um. I think that if you’re in a band and you’re wanting to, like, make it your job, you need to make sure it’s really what you feel like you’re supposed to do because touring full time and being in a band is a hard thing. It’s a very hard thing. And I just think that, like, if that’s what you really feel like you’re supposed to do, then do it, but if you’re questioning it, go to college.
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
I’m serious. I really am.
Ya, ya. that’s cool. That’s cool. Yeah, I know that… I mean, that’s cool to hear people say. Especially, like, people that kids respect you know? Because so many kids have this mindset of “Oh man, I’m going to be in a band and everything’s going to be glamorous” and that’s not necessarily the way it is, you know?
Oh yeah. Yeah. Totally. It’s, uh, it’s definitely… it’s definitely kind of a hard life and a hard job to live in a van 300 days a year with four other dudes, you know what I mean?
I mean… I remember people coming up to me and saying, “Dude, what’s it like now that you’ve made it?” And I would say to them, “Well man, now that I’ve made it, I eat Ramen noodles every day. I live in a van, and I never get to see my wife.” At that time it was my girlfriend. So that’s how I answered. That’s what making it’s like.
Yeah. For sure. That’s crazy. Oh man. You have any last words for anybody?
How about this. What’s next on, uh, Trenches agenda? Whenever the CD comes out, ya’ll going crazy with touring or anything like that?
No, I mean… I really, really like being at home. Ha! I like being at home with my wife. I’m almost thirty years old and I don’t know if I could take being in a van full time ever again. I, uh, I think right now… like, the next step for us is… we’re just… like I said earlier, this is really just a way for us to be creative as musicians. And, um, we’re just kind of seeing what happens as it happens, you know? There’s no rush, so…
That’s cool man, it sounds good. Sounds exciting. Are you excited about it?
I really am. I really am. I think it’s going to be fun man, I really do.
…I kept on sending you emails. And I was like, crap man, Jimmy’s gonna be like, dude I wish this kid would just stop emailing me!
No, no, no, no. Not at all dude. Like, I appreciate the persistence because we never would have gotten it done otherwise.
For sure. Cool. When thanks Jimmy, and good luck with everything man, and working in some time with me.
Sure. I’ll talk to you soon brother.
Alright. God bless.
God bless you too, man. Bye, bye.