If there’s one thing people know the Fall of Troy for it would be guitarist/vocalist Thomas Erak’s potentially finger-breaking fretwork. If there were two things this band would be known for, the second would be always finding a way to progress and change up their game.
Erak, drummer Andrew Forsman and bassist Frank Ene have once again tweaked their own wheel for In the Unlikely Event. The album contains 12 tracks that travel along some of the same paths as their previous full-length Manipulator, but with a stronger desire for vocal melodies and more cohesive songwriting. However, as the story goes, these boys know what they want in their music and do it without worrying about the consequences.
We catch up with Erak and company as they drive through the Midwest touring as support for the Common Existence Tour – which is rightfully headlined by Thursday and features a slew of other bands including Young Widows, the Dear Hunter, La Dispute and Touche Amore. The guys in the Fall of Troy have already been pumping out songs from their newest album, which at the time of this interview did not hit stores for another week or so. Yet, being able to purchase the record at shows and the inevitable leak of the record online, fans both new and old are already weighing in on the newest chapter in the band’s sound. So much so that Erak posted a couple MySpace blogs leading up to the album’s release to fire back at what some people were already saying about the record – including the vocals and production of the album.
“That’s all I have to say to that,” Erak laughs and continues in response to being told people are complaining about the production of the album in comments on MySpace blogs. “Terry [Date] is one of the most experienced rock producers in the fucking game. If they don’t think his production sounds good, they need a new pair of fucking ears. Sonically, he is amazing.”
Strangely though, this record won’t be the first time the band has done something totally different and experienced a bit of backlash from fans. In 2007, the band released the polarizing Manipulator, which dropped a heavy dose of pop sensibility into the trio’s jagged sound. Without that record though, Erak feels much of what the band does on this new album would not have been possible.
“It’s probably not as jarring as it was on Manipulator,” says Erak. “That was a necessary step that we had to take to write a song like ‘Webs’.”
The biggest change this time around though is in a new found desire from Erak to put vocal melodies into the band’s fare, instead of relying mostly on screaming. However, he is quick to point out that the band is not completely leaving out screaming or putting that part of the band into hiding for now on.
“I think it’s just the progression of becoming a better singer,” explains Erak. “I am capable of doing stuff now that I wasn’t when I was 19. If we want to play those [older] songs, we will go back and play those songs. We’re not turning our back on that part of our band or anything like that. If I could have done those things then I would, but would I go back and change those songs? No, because they are good for what they are,”
He was also adamant on the band’s MySpace that there will still be screaming and even questioned critics of the vocals saying, “Have you even listened to our new record? C ause the screaming that is on it, is fucking tits, sorry but it's true.”
Then again, this could be just another round of fans who can not accept change from the band, even though this change is a lot less of a surprise than the sound difference between Manipulator and the band’s breakthrough Doppelganger.
“Haters, haters, haters,” says Erak. “That’s what happens when you try to be yourself. When you get some success, people always try to bring you down. The people that understand what we’re doing, it keeps them interested. There is always something new, but that old crazy side of us is always going to be there. People who have grown with us understand how we are growing musically and as people. It’s maturity.”
In the Unlikely Event marks the first batch of original material to feature new bassist Ene, who took over for founding bassist Tim Ward sometime late in 2007. Erak points out the difference in writing with Ene, saying “Tim didn’t really have any input whatsoever. [It’s] good to have someone that is involved with writing the music as well.”
Erak also set out to challenge himself on this record with difficult arrangements, including more “free-form guitar solos”, which he says he enjoys performing because of their challenging elements. The band started writing for this album around the time they finally released the finished versions of the Ghostship demos in the form of Phantom on the Horizon, an EP Erak is pleased will get to see the light of day.
“I’m just stoked that it’s released,” says Erak. “It’s not just fragmented and shit. It was the way it was always supposed to be.”
Now that the U.S. leg of the tour has wrapped and the guys can get past the trailer problems that almost kept them from playing one of the shows on the tour, the trio looks to head across the pond for some shows in Europe. After that, the only solid thing on the horizon is the fact that In the Unlikely Event marks the last album on the band’s contract with Equal Vision.
“We’re up for renegotiations,” explains Erak. “We like Equal Vision – they treat us good and there is a good working relationship.”Before losing the call to the inevitable dead spots plaguing cell phone coverage in parts of the Midwest, Erak gives a few words to the people who might be put off by the band’s everchanging ways with a final, “Don’t be afraid of change and that we’re gonna not remain true to the music that we like. We have a lot of passion about it. We hope everyone appreciates that and gets into that.”