Before Canuck-Aussie band The Trip was a quirky alt-pop band creating viral videos involving Frisbees and Canadian wildlife, it was two guys in a bar in Sydney, Australia, who didn’t like each other very much.
“When we met we were working together in a bar, in Bondi, Sydney; and Chad was the bartender,” says guitarist and vocalist Marco Yellin, who’s from Australia. “I was the new guy, and he [Chad] and the other staff there, when I arrived, they said, ‘We’re gonna get rid of him; he’ll be out in a week.’”
Guitarist and co-vocalist Chad Kendrick agrees, saying, “We didn’t like him at first — at all. He was the new guy. So we had this whole crew of people that worked there. It was a wicked pub. It was just Party Central for us, and we were just getting on all the time, and bartending, you know. And we thought we were really cool. Then Marco came.”
“They weren’t very cool . . .” says Marco, cheekily. “The majority of these guys were Canadians working in an Australian bar. I was trying to break my way into their circle.”
But when they discovered they both played music, an interest was formed.
“Marco had been playing music overseas, he’d been in L.A. to do a record and stuff. And long story short, we sat around for the first couple nights after the bar closed, and there’d be one guitar and we’d kind of battle back and forth,” says Chad. “And then one day we finally had two guitars and we had this jam night, and it just sort of clicked for us. It was like, sh**, this is really good. Let’s do this. And then we’ve been playing music ever since.”
Fast forward six years and they are an official band (the line-up was solidified with the addition of drummer Wes Roy), have a viral music video for their single “On The First Time” — featuring competitive, street-style Frisbee — a MusicOz award for “Best Rock Artist” (under former band name of Mojada), and recording contracts with JDog Records in Australia, and Ok!Good Records in Canada and the U.S.
And this is just the beginning of the trip.
Through Cadence magazine, I had a chance to have a cross-continental chat with Chad and Marco — the latter is in Los Angeles, while Chad is based in Alberta — to talk about their music, rising success, and what exactly goes into the nutty videos they’re developing a penchant for creating.
Now, although the band officially became known as The Trip in 2010, they’d been an entity before that in one form or another, most recently as the band Mojada. Initially releasing an EP through JDog Records (under the name Mojada), their debut record, simply entitled The Trip, went through several incarnations before achieving its present form under a production team that included multiple-Grammy winner Thom Russo and Gavin MacKillop.
With the new record came a new name (officially, The Band The Trip) and in September 2011, they signed a license deal, which had them working with OK!Good Records for their North American distribution.
They released their debut album in 2012, but the majority of their exposure likely came from the quirky (and soon viral) video for “On the First Time,” in which Roy, Yellin, and Kendrick get decked out in sportswear and headbands to perform street Frisbee tricks in places as random as a skate park, a basketball court (where the Frisbee makes it into the hoop), a busy street, and a supermarket.
Best known for this Frisbee video, The Trip proved they aren’t quite done with producing weird and wonderful music videos with the recently released one for “Still Water.” This latest song is a hilarious (and potentially NSFW) music video featuring a naked Marco and a group of party-hard deer. Yes, deer. You read that right.
Shot on Kendrick’s Alberta ranch one day while the band awaited their US visas, the premise is simple: the guys are out for a relaxing cabin retreat when the wildlife decide to join in the fun. (Look out for the moose head . . . and I don’t mean the lager.)
“It was pretty funny, we were just sitting around waiting for our visas to come through for the US, so Marco’s down in Canada and hanging around the ranch. And it was just one of those things like, well, we’ve got a bit of time on our hands, let’s make a f*****g video,” says Chad.
“And we just started looking through things. We were like, ‘What about this?’ We looked at the pond outside — still water — we were like, ‘Still Water!’ Then we went to my Quonset, ’cause I’ve got this big Quonset with just piles of junk in there and all sorts of stuff. Then we saw the deer heads and were just like, ‘Oh, all right!’”
Around this point in the call, Marco announces that in the spirit of the music video, they’ve decided to do the phone interview in the buff. He’s joking . . . I think.
This kind of straight-faced humour is just what one can expect from the group, but wacky videos aside, the band says it hopes the quirky visuals will act as a gateway for new fans to find their music.
“Gone are the days when you have a record company just convince an audience how good a band was,” Marco notes wryly. “Nowadays people just discover you. . . . So we hope people take the time to have a laugh at our videos, and by doing that, find a link to our music and discover the music. Because as much as we enjoyed making the videos, as much as we loved making that video, we ultimately want people to discover our music and come to our shows and dance.”
They are no slouch in the online department either, with the band’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Youtube and MySpace.
“I think that’s definitely been our focus the last little while, especially since we’re about to launch in Canada and in the U.S.,” Chad says. “That’s where we have to market, those are the real fans, those are the real tastemakers. These are the people that like your music now. It’s not so much that you have the radio platforms, or that sort of thing; it’s online, and that’s where we’ve been focusing. Marco has always been really good on that end of things, and he’s been wise to it early on. And it’s done nothing, I think, but help us.”
Marco likens the Internet (in relation to music nowadays) to one big schoolyard where all the cool kids hang out, and anyone who isn’t seen there quickly becomes irrelevant.
“It’s very strange as a musician or an artist these days, because if you don’t hang out in that playground, then you’re not connecting with anyone,” he says. “And the whole rules have changed. Back in the day as a musician, you could just play music and that would be good enough. And I guess if you played in tune and wrote some songs that connected with people, you could pretty much guarantee yourself a career. And nowadays you can sing so far out of tune and have some really weird songs, but you can have tens of hundreds of millions of fans, almost what feels like overnight. So it’s strange; we’ve got to hang out there and at the same time. I guess the world’s changing, too, and you’ve got to figure out how to connect with that. I mean, who knows, in the next two years everyone might have a computer chip in their arm.”
As dystopian as that prediction sounds, Marco isn’t too concerned, as he has a plan should that ever occur.
“We can use it to our advantage,” he says. “Anyone with a chip, we could just digitally implant this video or our album into their arm, and they would have no choice but to play it nonstop!”
Bond villain, anyone?
Nevertheless, their live shows are where the fun is at, these guys say. Given that they’re widely known as “the guys with the Frisbees,” the question remains, can fans expect to see some at their live shows?
“They can always expect Frisbees at the show,” Chad says. “They should expect the unexpected. Frisbees work well as well, because people who aren’t in the front row, we can get them back to them, because it’s 40, 50 rows.”
“Yeah, if you try and sleep through our show, we’ll see you,” adds Marco. “We see everything from the stage. And those Frisbees, they might look like they don’t hurt . . .” He leaves the end hanging in an unspoken threat to non-attentive concertgoers.
You have been warned!