TRILLION RED – A Metal Odyssey Interview

TRILLION RED – It’s no secret that undergound music exists from the sprawling country sides of a Middle America to the back alleys, basements and lofts of rural cities worldwide. Underground Metal exists, has existed and shall never go extinct. Trillion Red is yet another example, as to why the underground scene is a music force that can never be underestimated. Trillion Red is a two-man band of (multi-instrumentalist & vocalist) Patrick Brown and Max Woodside on drums, evolving from San Francisco, California.

I have already labeled Trillion Red a Metal band, one that focuses on the ambient, progressive and extreme sides. The layers of instrumentation, diverse vocals and excellent musicianship has made me an admirer of the sound that Trillion Red has captured. The dark imagery that Trillion Red has me visualizing in my minds eye from their debut Two Tongues EP comes as an embraced bonus. Trillion Red is onto something and I’m on board for the ride.

Recently, Patrick and Max took the time to answer some questions that hopefully give their new fans an inside look into their music styles, tastes and influences. There is a complex process involved when a recording is being created, Patrick and Max touch on their thoughts and experiences of recording the Two Tongues EP as well. Here is what Patrick and Max had to say:

Stone: What’s the story behind the band being named “Trillion Red”?

Patrick: The usual. We go back and forth on what we like and dislike. There were a lot of disagreements and eventual realizations, that the last name we thought of was totally ridiculous or not as cool as we thought. This is one we just fell upon without any particular meaning or ideology and just instantly liked. It has a nice ring to it, sounds cool, isn’t affiliated with any particular genre, not cliché and symbolizes a mass scope of life, power, blood, and yes, death. To me it is more a visual existential feeling than an actual idea.

Max: Powerful name Trillion Red.  Vast numbers of intense Red. Besides, I felt close to all the great bands with color in their names. Evergrey, Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Shocking Blue, Frigid Pink, Cream, Savoy Brown, Deep Purple, Black Flag, Blue Oyster Cult, Yellowjackets, Maroon 5, Moody Blues, Whitesnake, etc..

Stone: If the opportunity ever came to pass, would you be interested in
creating a Horror movie soundtrack?

Patrick: Is our music that creepy? I never realized or even thought of our music as “dark” until I received feedback from listeners. The devil has got me all goosed up I suppose. But, to answer your question, yes, that would be a lot of fun.

Stone: What band or who is the musician you would say has had the most
influence on your music?

Patrick: Hmm….tough one.  I can be rather capricious with these kinds of questions. I tend to immensely like a certain genre or a few bands at one time, and after a while, my mood changes and I move on to something else.  So, depending on when you ask me, it would be a different musician. If had to pick a few musicians that have always been somewhere in my mind, it may be Allen Epley of Shiner and now, The Life and Times. He is a brilliant songwriter, guitarist and vocalist.  And Johan Edlund (vocalist/guitarist) of Tiamat (the old stuff mostly!)

Max: King Crimson, Rush, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Andromeda, Dark Moor, Chuck Brown, Terry Bozzio, Neil Peart, Mike Portnoy, Bill Bruford, Tommy Bolin, ELP, Yngwie Malmsteen. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Vandenplas, Therion, Nightwish, Chick Corea, Al De Meola, Billy Cobham, Jean-luc Ponty and Patrick Ohearn.

Stone: How did you decide on the style of Metal that you would create and

Patrick: When writing the Two Tongues material (and new stuff coming), I didn’t even consciously consider it was “Metal”, so to speak. What you hear on this EP and will hear in the future are simply songs that I would want to hear myself. I never stopped to think, “geez, what kind of Metal do I want to sound like?”. It just never occurred to me.  This style of Metal I suppose is a conglomeration of everything I like and enjoy I suppose.  If it sounds like hip-hop (which it never ever will), then so be it.

Stone: Do you agree that music truly is a universal language?

Patrick:  Yeah. I’ve lived in China and Japan for many years, and have always found commonalties and camaraderie with others into the same music that don’t speak English. Although, to be fair, I do speak fluent Mandarin Chinese and some Japanese. Good times those were…

Max: The most universal language perhaps but certainly not the most objective art.

Stone: Somewhere, someone is listening to Trillion Red right now. Does this
thought put what you create as a musician into perspective?

Patrick:  I don’t think so.  When I write, it is a selfish act and process, it’s a place where there are no concern of others. It is a pleasant thought that somebody is listening to (and hopefully enjoying) my passion, but it doesn’t change anything other than me feeling more rewarded for my efforts, i.e., a happier guy.

Max: Cool thought. But only a thought. It’s nice that someone should listen to our music because the music is very good.  But, if nobody listened, we would still have fun making it.

Stone: What trials and how much fun was involved in writing and recording
your debut “two tongues ep”?

Patrick: The writing was a lot of fun. It always is. Max and I are not recording engineers or mixologists, and had no prior experience recording this EP.  So we had a steep learning curve with respect to creating a good sound and production (but it all turned out sounding excellent). So one can imagine there was a lot of wondering and worrying. I did all the sound engineering, recording and initially mixed the entire EP myself. I had a hard time getting the right sounding mix with all the instruments and layering.  I kept beating my head to the wall trying to get everything well represented in the mix. Eventually I came to realize that I didn’t carve out frequencies very well, and subsequently, the drums and vocals were buried. At that point, I renounced my mixing moniker and had a professional do it for us, under my direction though.  I had a blast during production though! That was my highlight. I really think the next go-around will be very enjoyable, because we know our true strengths and limits.

Max:  Profound fun with Patrick!  He lets me be creative and experiment. I think I understand the way he thinks now and he indeed has a great vision. Pat let’s me contribute, without being a petty tyrant as other bandleaders I’ve known were.

Stone: Will there be a full-length eventually from Trillion Red? Are you
approaching the writing and recording process any differently compared to
the first time around?

Patrick: Yes, we have 8 new songs we are preparing for a full-length album. Various parts of these new songs were written prior to and during the construction of the Two Tongue’s EP. We have put beats to 5 of them, and as soon as we do so with the last 3, we will start recording. I suspect we will release an album in very early 2012.

The writing on this record will have more ambient (or isn’t psychedelic the new cool trendy term to use?) breathing room.  Yet, it will still maintain a very dark and heavy pounding mood. Writing for me is very much like writing a story; there is a beginning, middle, and end.  I love songs that emotionally pull you up, take you down, or drag you across a droning path, only to pull you up, down, side ways and bleed the mind. That is what I am trying to do with this album, all of the above.

We will indeed be recording differently. There will be a lot more attention paid to sound engineering (like microphone placement on the drums) and engineering a much better bass guitar sound.  I will also be doing some different recording techniques on the guitar and unifying my vocal style a bit. We’ll see how it turns out!

Stone: Have any record labels shown interest in Trillion Red thus far? I feel
there should be strong interest from labels in what you have created with
the “two tongues ep”.

Patrick: None so far.  I just started sending our EP to labels. I originally wanted to be independent. Since we currently aren’t playing live, I didn’t see what a label really could do for us. But after learning a bit more about the way things work in the world of underground Metal and the strain promotion takes on “time” in my life, it made more since to have a label as a supporter. Therefore, we have just recently shifted gears towards finding a lablel.

10 – If you could seek out one “well known” guest musician for your next
album, who would that be and why?

Patrick: Possibly Kristoffer Rygg of Ulver.  The guy is an amazing vocalist. Truly inspiring and very original! His unique take on vocal presentation and a pull away from traditional choruses and melodies would run beautifully with some of my material I think.

Stone: As a multi-instrumentalist, how important is it to focus on song
structure and balance?

Patrick: Song Structure and balance is extremely important. A song doesn’t necessarily require original riffs, melodies or hooks, it is how it is presented, structured, and layered, that will ultimately make or break it.  One of my biggest pet peeves with Metal bands (or most bands) is that they don’t know when to shut up, there is so much riffing/vocal masturbation, that bands lose sight of what it means to simply put a good well-rounded song together. Many just concentrate on perceived cool ideas (mostly redundant) and try to glue shit on shit with unnecessary bridges and breaks. I would suspect producers have a lot to blame for this phenomenon too. Originality is great, but if you can’t put the pieces together correctly, it loses its appeal very quickly.

Slayer’s Reign in Blood is an exemplar of structure and balance.  The freaking album is what, something like 30 minutes? Each song is tight, powerful and doesn’t linger one bit. It has zero filler! Its’ balance and structure is perfect. I strive for that kind of bluntness. However, as I like to structure songs as emotional stories that walk you to the side, up, down, and more to the side, I can’t afford to be as cut and dry. I also totally love style structures like Burzum’s Filosofem, an ambient antithesis of Reign in Blood being long, winded, spacey, rich… a beautiful record!  I guess you could say I am now trying to structure and balance my songs like Reign in Blood and Filosofem – to the point, not too much fluff, but some good fluff for sure, and then get on with it!

Stone: Where can fans buy your music?

Patrick: You can buy the Two Tongues CD on our website: . It is $5, including postage in the USA. Buyers outside the US will be quoted pending country/location. MP3s can be purchased via Amazon, iTunes, and a lot of other places too.

We are planning on doing some t-shirts and possibly releasing Two Tongues on 10” vinyl soon. It all depends on how the label thing shakes out. Thanks for the interview. Good questions.

Stone: Thank you Patrick and Max!

* For more info on TRILLION RED, click on the links below:

TRILLION RED – Official Website

TRILLION RED – myspace music

* To read my review on two tongues ep, (posted on Metal Odyssey April 21, 2011), click on the big header link below:

TRILLION RED – two tongues ep: Take A Dark Descent Into An Ambient Metal Abyss



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