By Poppy Tohill
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around. After four studio albums together and the non-stop touring that followed, the trio’s fifth album, COLOSSUS, due for release on August 25, presented a time for change, that drummer, Mario Goossens and vocalist / guitarist, Ruben Block were kind enough to recently chat with us about.
How are you feeling with the release of COLOSSUS just a few weeks away and what can you share with us about what we might be able to expect from it?
Mario: We're really looking forward to the release. It has been and still is an exciting time. Making the record was already a different process to previous times as we didn't limit ourself. Everything we thought of, we tried. Working with Mitchell Froom was new to us and he made us feel very comfortable with trying new things. Also having signed with our new label Mascot, it was very exciting. They’re great on every level which has allowed us to reach a new level too.
Your sound has definitely evolved over the years.. After four studio albums together, how do you approach and keep that creative process fresh, without falling into the pattern of everything sounding the same?
Mario: When we started with this album, Ruben (singer/songwriter/guitarist) felt that we needed less restrictions. Previously, we would rehearse everything really well, then go into the studio, record it as a trio and maybe add very little overdubs, but it needed to be recorded on tape. For this record we wanted to stay as close to Reuben’s demo’s and leave everything very openbecause the atmosphere was already there. By having our own studio we were able to record our demo's in very good quality so we could use everything what was on the demo.
What was it like working with Mitchell Froom and what sort of experience did he bring to the table?
Mario: Mitchell was a perfect match for us because be somehow managed to pushed us in different directions, making us try different sounds than what we would normally chose, while making us feel unbelievably comfortable at the same time. He’s an incredible musician who has this great feeling of how a song needs to be, so the arrangements he worked on fit perfectly together rather than getting in the way of each other.
Another great thing about Mitchell is that he doesn't take himself too seriously. If we played him an idea, he would tell us if it was good or if it was the worst thing he’d ever heard, which as musician, it’s great to work with somebody so open and comfortable.
How different was the recording process this time around, working in your own home-built studio?
Mario: By making demo's at home it made everything a lot easier and comfortable for us.
Sometimes when you record stuff while you're making a song, it captures the real vibe and atmosphere straight away, whereas re-recording tracks over and over again can make you lose that vibe.
What were the benefits of recording it in your own studio and do you think this had any impact on the sound of the record?
Mario: The main benefit was that we kept the majority of what we had recorded for the demos, for the final tracks, so we didn’t have to re-record many elements. It definitely had an impact on the sound. As I said, David recorded it in such a way that there was no way back, which is the direction Mitchell also pushed us in. Sometimes I would be unhappy with my drum sound, but their response was that it adds more character this way, as opposed to re-recording it a hundred times and making it sound perfect.
We’re aware there are a few collaborations on this record ~ Who did you work with and what was that experience like?
Mario:For this record we worked with Mitchell Froom [producer], David Boucher [engineer] and Tchad Blake who mixed the whole album. Tchad and Mitchell have worked on multiple albums together, from Elvis Costello to Randy Newman and Soul coughing, so working with them together on our album resulted in a lot of happiness for us as we’re huge fans of their work!
You’ve got a pretty enormous tour coming up [50 dates, 14 countries, 4 months] How do you prepare for something like that and do you have any secrets you can share with us about how you stay sane on the road for such a long time?
Mario: We’ve been doing this for a long time and there’s really no special ways you can prepare for that, I think. We like playing, so we always look forward to it. We try to keep an eye on what we eat and how much we party, because at the end of the day we’ve still got work to do, so it makes you realise that you have to be careful.
We really enjoyed the video for Flesh Tight. Can you tell us a little bit about the lyrical inspiration behind this song and how the concept for the video came about?
Ruben Block: Usually lyrics aren't written pre-meditated.The music willsuggest amood or atmosphere. A lot of the time I start with a word or two that sound good and fit in the headspace, then I go to work and start looking for other images that relate to the original idea, or just follow the flow of words. Flesh Tight had a certain strutting rhythm going. I could picture someone walking through town, steady on the beat, going through his or her mind. I like it if people can make up their own mindwhat the lyrics are about. I liked to use the words "Flesh Tight" because in thiscase it means pretty much the same as skin tight but it sounds slightly different. The flesh will make it sound more.. Fleshy.. And flesh goes deeper than skin. I liked the sound of that.
How creatively involved are you with the initial ideas & planning for your videos through to the execution?
Ruben: Some of the videos we’ve actually recorded by ourselves, but it’s also cool to work with other people, especially those that are very good at what they do. It’s always very interesting to see that their take on the song is and how they interpret the lyrics. Sometimes we might send them some images we like as a starting point, but usually we look forward to them taking it to another place entirely.
Speaking of songwriting, how does that process work within the band - Is it very collaborative between the three of you?
Ruben: Most of the time I write the songs, but Mario will also bring some ideas to the table.
On ourprevious album By Absence Of The Sun, hecame up with the initial idea, chords and groove for Halfway There and we finished it together, but this album ended up being most of my writing. On previous albums we worked out all of thesong arrangements together and rehearsed them veryintensely, so the basics for the songs were recorded mainly as a live performance. Whereas this time, the demo’s already carried a lot of those interesting elements. When we went to Santa Monica the plan was to start recording every song again, together, from a live situation,but in the mean timekeep our options open totake elements from the demos if they worked better or interacted in a cool way with what we recorded there. That processseemed towork really well in the end and resulted in some cool, sonical interactions.
Bring Me Back A Live Wild One is another fantastic song ~ Can you tell us a little bit about that one?
Ruben: That was one of the first songs I wrote for Colossus.. I think the lyric almost came together with the chords for the verses. I was playing around, mumbling sounds andwords and I think at one point I might have wondered: what would Iggy sing on this track? A few words droppedmymouth and I continued stammering, writing, mumbling, erasing etc.. until I had the whole song.
The idea for saxes on the chorus also cameearly on, while I was writing and it was cool to hear that Mitchell (Froom) actually had the same idea for the song. We were very happy hesuggested Steve Berlin to perform the ripping Baritone parts, because it fit like a glove!
What do you hope fans take away from listening to this record?
Ruben: I hope they enjoy listening to the songs. I have no message to project on them at all, only the songs the way we played and sang them and how they sound.I think it's cool if peoplecan make up there own story with the words, no matter what was lying at the base or what triggered me to write those lyrics. Sometimesa song might have different layers. ‘Colossus’is used here as a metaphor, the words are presenting a certain atmosphere and headspace, but where that headspace takes the listener, is entirely up to them.
Having been together as a band for almost 20 years, what advice can you give to other young bands or musicians on how to successfully survive in this industry?
Mario: Do what you want to do as an artist / band and work hard to get better, every day.
Lastly, technology has changed so much over those years, even just with the way music is now listened to ~ What are your thoughts on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube?
Mario: I think it's all good, although I think what would make it even better is if those services
paid the artists the right amount of money that they deserve. Normally, if you got played on radio, you would get your rights, but now all of a sudden through streaming artists get paid less and that’s not right.