Troller’s excellent debut was originally released last year on cassette – but it’s just had a reissue on Vinyl via Holodeck and Light Lodge Records. The Texas group swamp their sound with darkened 80s synth-built pop and an irresistible dream-like ambience – once you enter their world it’s hard to find your way home. We caught up with Adam – the man behind the synths – to talk about their atmospheric debut, hanging with Pure X and girls with axes.
Bowlegs: What was the common musical ground that brought you guys together to make music? Any particular records that you’d probably all agree were an influence or inspiration?
Adam: Amber and I used to be in a band called Silver Pines together. It included members who would go on to form Sleep∞Over, Pure X, S U R V I V E, and Thousand Foot Whale Claw. It was kind of the genesis of our whole collective “scene” of bands here in Austin. Silver Pines broke up in 2010, but Amber and I decided to start our own band afterward. I was still pretty new with synth gear and making beats, and Amber had just started playing bass, but we both felt a need to prove ourselves.
I don’t think any of us know exactly why we sound like we do. We all like dance/pop a lot, but we also dig slow psych music, especially stoner metal. All of the early Black Sabbath albums are a big influence for us. YMO, Space Art, and Kraftwerk are very inspirational to me as a synth player, and Amber’s vocal roots come from artists like Kylie Minogue, Prince and Selena.
Bowlegs: Your self-titled debut was released initially back in April 2012 – and now it’s getting a re-release on vinyl. What’s been happening over the last 12 months for the band – guessing you’ve got new material ready to go too?
Adam: The last 12 months have been good! We’ve been touring when we can, but so far it’s just been three small tours to California and New York. New album is in the works. We have been writing new songs and hitting the studio for a while now. We are taking our time on this one to make it perfect. The new record will be a lot better than the last one; the songs are more complex and catchy, and it’s being produced and recorded at a much higher quality studio.
Bowlegs: Your music seems to exist somewhere between 80s pop and electronic ambience – you can get lost in this record for hours such is its affecting atmosphere. What’s the process in terms of starting a new track – is there a method that you’ve got down pretty tight?
Adam: We start each song by writing the bass guitar and drums, and then build the rest up from there. There is a definite method to our writing process, but we are not too strict. Sometimes the songs go through many stages before they are done. We have a real solid workflow, which makes the whole development period of a song is fun. I like to see how a song matures in its own unique way.
Bowlegs: I adore the track Best – it’s beautiful. Are there stories behind these songs – if so what’s this one about?
Adam: Best is based around a synth line that our third member Rosemary wrote one day at practice. The song has a very calming groove to me; I think we were triplets together in the same mental womb for this one. I feel very comfortable when we play that song. The lyrics are kind of personal, and they were not meant to be totally distinguishable or understood. There is unfortunately not that good of a story behind this one.
Bowlegs: You open the record with your darkest track – Milk. Why such an ominous introduction? (I love this track by the way)
Adam: Milk makes a great opener because it sets the tone of the album right away. It has a slow, creepy start and a long intro, kind of like being snuck up on by a troll. I also didn’t want to give the listener a catchy song like Tiger or Winter right away, because I wanted the first impression of the album to project a sense of depth. People are less likely to listen to the whole side of the LP if it starts with a single.
Bowlegs: OK gotta ask – that album cover – what the fuck! I can’t decide if I love it or hate it – guessing that’s the point right?
Adam: Both the front and back pictures of the LP are taken from an old magazine from the 70’s that has been out print for a long time. Our friend Chris King (from This Will Destroy You) has a great eye for this kind of thing, and he unearthed these little gems from a section of the magazine where guys send in erotic photos of their girlfriends. Yes, the person on the cover is a girl, and she is trying to look sexy. Her name is Angel.
As soon as I saw this photo I knew it was iconic, and we all agreed that it would be the image to represent the album. It’s a really interesting photo because of the androgyny of the girl and the axe. If you don’t know the context of where it came from, then it is very unclear whether it’s a she or a he, or if it supposed to look evil or erotic.
Bowlegs: What recent albums, for you, have been pushing the boundaries and changing the game?
Adam: I would highly recommend Pure X’s new album Crawling up the Stairs. They are good buddies of ours, and their new album goes above and beyond. It’s a very well crafted and polished release, and I personally saw how much they slaved over that record and put everything they had into it. It’s blowing up too, bound to be a classic.
My favourite album right now is the debut by the artist Symbol, which is the solo project of Chris King of This Will Destroy You. It’s beautiful ambient music made on euro-rack synth gear, and it’s amazing! It’s not out yet, and the only reason I’ve heard it is because I’m a friend of his. It’s several levels ahead of every other ambient/electronic release I’ve heard lately, and I listen to a lot of synth music.
Bowlegs: Is the music blog universe a positive thing for bands like Troller – do you benefit, are you a fan?
Adam: Yes, it is a positive thing for bands like Troller and every other band everywhere. I am a fan, and I definitely benefit from the blogosphere completely. It is absolutely the lifeblood of bands trying to make it today in music.
Bowlegs: If you could tell me now the perfect location to sit back and listen to your record where would that be?
Adam: I would like to sneak into some kind of industrial factory and listen to the record with the sounds of the machines grinding away in the background. It would be rundown and hot with a lot of steam and rust everywhere. OR at the Chaindrive, which is an awesome dungeon themed bear bar in Austin.
Bowlegs: What’s the plan for the rest of 2013 – do you have it all mapped out? Do you have other projects, day jobs to contend with? Is the future bright for Troller?
Adam: For the rest of 2013, we are going to work hard on finishing our new album and maybe go on tour again in the fall. We will definitely tour extensively in the US, Canada and hopefully Europe when the new album comes out.
We all have full-time jobs and/or school. I also play in a few other bands (Thousand Foot Whale Claw, S U R V I V E, Lumens, and Amasa•Gana), and run the record label Holodeck. Sometimes it’s hard to make enough time in our schedules, but we always figure it out.
The future is very bright for Troller.
-Interview by Marnie Reed-