Trapdoor Social is entering 2017 with a new sense of urgency. After reconstituting itself from a duo to a 5-piece, their eponymous debut album is a raucous, anthemic environmental call to action, erupting with signature blues rock and bass synth riffs. Titled Trapdoor Social, it’s the band’s first full-length album, and was the first TDS project that included the work of bassist and guitarist Patrick Griffen and Louie Gonzalez. The first single, Sunshine, had national success receiving airplay across the country and winning another ‘Hall of Fame’ Status for the band on Las Vegas’s X107.5 ‘The Beatdown’ as well as staying in the Top 5 of KROQ’s ‘Locals Only’ show for over a month. Disturbed by increasing carbon emissions and environmental degradation, the journey started after Trapdoor Social’s Merritt Graves and Skylar Funk met in an Environmental program at Pomona College and bonded over a shared concern for the future of the planet. The duo introduced themselves with the 2012 EP Death Of A Friend, a driving, emotive alt-rock experience.
In May 2014, Trapdoor Social released the Science of Love EP, which explored both sides of Skylar and Merritt’s influences as songwriters. As the boys started work on the EP, they decided to channel their music toward an environmental initiative in their community. They partnered with a few great non-profits and used their unreleased EP to raise $35k of solar roofing, which they are donating to Homeboy Industries. The 6.4 kW project represents 100% of the fundraiser’s earnings and will be installed soon.
In the summer of 2016, the band pioneered and performed at the first annual Sunstock Solar Festival, a 100% solar-powered music and art festival which hosted eight live bands and raised about $10K for the charity Kids Cancer Connection.
In the fall of 2016, along with new drummer Ben Ebert, TDS toured in their solar trailer, an equipment trailer with solar panels on top, putting on solar-powered shows at outdoor venues and universities across the country.
Now the band have just released their new music video for Never Stop Listening, filmed at the centre of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the video captures the struggle of the water protectors in the Oceti Sakowin camp. You can watch the video below!
We managed to catch up with the band as they talk about their latest single, upcoming debut album, fans and more!
How has the release of Never Stop Listening gone?
So far so good! We’ve definitely felt some organic pull… It’s encouraging to see we’re not the only ones passionate about this issue. We got a premiere on IndieWire, a bunch of cool blogs and shares, and a Sierra Club blog piece coming soon.
How meaningful is this release for you?
Very. The song is close to my heart, embodying the fight that is in me. The experience at Standing Rock was unforgettable, and the issue is so important. The intersection of the treatment of our indigenous peoples and the protection of our environment… I feel it’s crucial to support these people.
Can you tell us anything about your new album?
It’s our first full-length album, and it incorporates new members Louie Gonzalez and Patrick Griffen, documenting our evolution from a duo of writers to a more of a family of musicians. Full 14 tracks from 3 writers, with our producer Curt Schneider as the glue of consistency through everything we’ve recorded so far.
How has your tour been so far and what venue are you looking forward to playing?
We’re playing shows in a few towns we’ve never played before, and a few old favorites as well. Great ups and downs but the former definitely outweighs the latter. We’re really looking forward to the east coast! It’s been a while since we’ve played DC… It will be our first time in Maine! And solar shows in Florida… Lots to look forward to.
If you could work with any band on a new song, who would it be and why?
How wild would it be to throw a rap verse on the bridge of Never Stop Listening. Can we call Macklemore? That’s the dream right there.
What has been your funniest moment on tour?
I can’t think of anything more ludicrous than the time our former drummer tried to empty a cup by pouring coffee out the window… going 70 on the highway. Of course the wind detonated the drink all over the outside – and inside – of the van. I was sitting right behind him and was covered by the blast. Not funny at the time… but in retrospect, hilarious.
How much does your fans mean to you guys?
Sometimes it’s hard to feel like this career makes sense, or remember why we tour and spend days and days setting up shows, playing sometimes for nobody… but when someone tells you how much the music means to them, asks you to keep making music, shares with you their emotional reaction… that makes it all worth while. Art for art’s sake, or for my own therapy, is probably worth it… but when it finds home in a young heart, that gives me a real sense of purpose.
What’s it like listening to yourselves on the radio?
It can be really amazing. Especially when we don’t expect it. I remember the whole band freaked out and danced in the van when we heard Away on the radio station in Colorado Springs in 2013. I guess we freak out about it a little less these days – not that it happens so often – but it’s always a huge honor and so lucky to have.