Canadian quartet TROPE are an innovative rock outfit formed in 2016 when guitarist / producer Dave Thompson showed vocalist Diana Studenberg the first draft of what would become their first song together, titled Lambs. The duo spent the following two years writing material while searching for bandmates who could keep up with the constant changes in style and feel of the music.
After filming a short video for Lambs, they gained the attention of the music industry, including Mike Fraser (AC / DC, Metallica) who agreed to engineer their first album with Thompson producing, and David Bottrill (Tool, Peter Gabriel), who agreed to creatively consult and mix the album. Their sound has been compared to A Perfect Circle and Tool with female vocals, and falls within the genre of alternative rock.
RAW RAMP had an opportunity to talk with the band:
RAW RAMP: The band’s debut single is a glorious, haunting track, with story-like lyricism throughout. Is there a main songwriter or do you all contribute?
“ First of all, thank you for such kind words regarding Lambs. Diana and myself are the songwriters of Trope, as we started this project when it was just the two of us. I write all the instrumental parts and Diana writes the melodies and lyrics. In the future, with new members becoming permanent fixtures, that will naturally morph into a true collaborative process. ”
“ But right now, I come up with the foundation for a Trope song and then massage it into something I like: Then I hand it over to Diana so she can live with it. Di then does her lyrical and melodic magic and Trope babies pop out.”
RAW RAMP: Lambs is an original stab of alternative rock. What was the process like when creating it?
“ The first part of Lambs was written a year before the second part. I came up with the loop like bass line on guitar, and the demo version of Lambs has guitar doing that part. For live it just made sense to have the bass do it, and for me it made it a bit more progressive. I demoed up the first part of lambs and then Diana came up with the brilliant melody and lyrics. Then I had another idea that Diana came up with some melody ideas for, and was trying to find a home for it. It just made sense to fuse these 2 parts together to create Lambs. It was the first song we worked on together and was the foundation for us starting Trope.”
RAW RAMP: Is there any future tours in the pipeline as Lambs would sound epic live?
“ We love to play live. A tour is actually in process right now, as we are a band that loves to play and tour. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me, playing this stuff on a stage.”
RAW RAMP: What bands and songs influence Trope? Are there a particular set of acts which you adore?
“ The 90’s alt thing for me is a huge influence on Trope. Both myself and Diana adore the bands from that era, and for Diana bands such as Garbage and No Doubt played a big role in that. Bands including QOTSA, Foo Fighters, Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, just huge sounding bands with great songwriting and riffs, and not a mysogynist lyric amongst them. Songwriters I love are Nick Drake, Rodriguez and Jeff Buckley. Damian Rice is fantastic also. There’s so many bands and sounds that have influenced me personally, like even Deep Purple’s ‘Come Taste The Band’ record was funky as hell and MSG’s Feel’s Like A Good Thing is just riff rock gold…”
RAW RAMP: You’re releasing your debut album ‘Eleutheromania’ soon. With Lambs being such a rousing song, can we expect more like it when the record drops?
“ Lambs is a very progressive tune, being in 15/8 and with that tempo change from 138 to 160 halfway through. The album has some straight up riff rockers and slightly epic choruses, except for Planes, which is more of a humble offering to the ears after the onslaught of odd time signatures and crushing guitars. A little ode to Incubus, another band which I consider absolutely genius and brilliant. The record runs the gamut of half progressive and half 90’s influenced alt rock. There is a cover on the album as well, Tears For Fears’ Shout, which is just a great song and very timely. Every album will have at least one cover song, a homage to a song I wish I’d written.”
RAW RAMP: You guys made a video with revered cinematographer Stewart Whelan. How surreal was it to work with someone who has worked on Metallica’s blockbuster movie Some Kind Of Monster?
“ Stewart is incredible, in the sense of how he comes up with ideas and then executes them. He thinks big and grand, and then goes to work. He works quickly and it’s fantastic working with someone who you can trust to exceed your expectations. That’s what it’s like working with Stewart. He’s also just a huge fan of music and art in general, and wants to create artistic and meaningful things.”
RAW RAMP: The originality shown by the band is astonishing. It’s clear that you guys work hard, is there any chance of downtime or are you constantly working?
“ Thanks for noticing that, both myself and Diana live and breathe Trope, and I love being involved in a lot of aspects of its creative maintenance also. While both myself and Diana micro manage the act creatively, we have an incredible manager Paul Spriggs, who has such a rich background as a tour manager for acts including Diana Ross, INXS, Rob Zombie, Slayer, Joss Stone, Train and managed Jurassic 5, George Lynch and Prong. Trope is incredibly looked after infrastructure wise. Paul is brilliant and passionate about the band, which makes us very proud to work with him and have him represent us. It also makes us work extremely hard, to deserve him as a manager. He’s a pro, he works with pros and that’s all he knows. For me personally, t’s inspiring to work with someone like him, it kicks my ass daily and that keeps me very busy.”
RAW RAMP: You have been likened to bands such A Perfect Circle and Tool. It must be great to be compared to such creative acts?
“ Well, when I hear those comparisons I blush a little, and then realize how can you possibly be compared to one of the greatest acts of all time, Tool. They are in a league of their own. I think when people hear the word ‘sounds like Tool’ their eyes roll a little, and rightfully so. Huge sonics to emulate. ”
“ The thing we have in common is polyrhythms in all instruments including the vocals. Everyone is doing something different and it fuses together in some sort of demented musical clockwork. We have heavy elements that are in minor keys, that are rhythmic. I don’t listen to Tool regularly, I don’t go to their concerts and I don’t think about them the way kids think about ice cream, but I would definitely say they have influenced me in my approach to writing Trope songs. ”
“With A Perfect Circle, Judith is one of my absolute favourite songs of all time, and the drumming of Josh Freese on that track just gets me every time. THAT has been a huge influence on how I will approach a time drumming wise, and talking with Aleks, our drummer, about the best way to share the drum ideas. Both Aleks and myself are huge Freese fans, I usually approach a song with WWJD.”
RAW RAMP: The instrumentals on Lambs are truly remarkable. How long did it take to write the instrumental parts for such grandiose track? And What does the medium of music mean to you guys?
“ Lambs took over a year to write. It took a while to create, as I got stuck with where to go with it. then we basically glued two songs together, and it worked. Music for me is a chance to stop time, to be so engaged that i cease to exist and the music is the only thing that matters. It is the best way to get away from myself without the use of narcotics or alcohol, and it mitigates all anxiety and stress. It’s the only place of true freedom for me, which is why we named the album Eleutheromania. I love music so much, it has given me so many amazing experiences and introduced me to so many amazing people also. Music allows connection, and it also is great truth serum. I know if I’m not being truthful by how I approach a song or instrument, and I can check myself against that process and readjust. Music is a luxury and an honor and it’s just a ton of fun, also. Great thing about music is the better you get at it, the more you can express truth clearly. And the best thing, music connects us all so we’re just a little bit less alone in the world.”
Mark McConville 2018 © was talking to Dave Thompson, Trope