A New Sense: An Interview with Dan Trapp of Senses Fail on the Band’s New Sound

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For the past few years, Sense Fail has been making a slow metamorphism from the sounds of Let It Enfold You to the powerful and high-energy articulation of the band’s newest full length, Renacer.  This evolution from the public perception of their role as a ‘pop-punk/emo-core’ band to the honest reestablished direction that they have taken to show the force they possess today. This is Senses Fail’s biggest step forward along with it being well perceived by fans. When the band took the stage on October 22 at Long Island’s The Emporium, fans screamed along to old tunes while new songs from Renacer were yelled back. Cliché’s Heather Glock was able to chat with drummer Dan Trapp about the new album as well as the hard work that was put into the redefinition of the name Senses Fail.
Cliché: Throughout the years, Senses Fail has seen many changes in the member lineup almost like childhood friends growing into adulthood. Would you say that the experiences with past members have made you the musician you had always set out to be?
Dan Trapp: Yeah, I think so. I think it’s rare that bands are able to last for a long time with the same exact people. It is like being married to a ton of people and the likelihood of that working out is rare. You know, people have different personalities, different playing styles, different mind sets, different goals and objectives, and things like that. I think that over time you kind of end up finding people that you agree with on all those fronts and I think that with everyone and anybody that has come and gone and any new additions that had been made has been a positive thing in terms of bringing everything in line with what the overall objective of the band. We are in a good spot right now with everybody that we have. I think that you the more people you play with, the more situations you are in musically, then the better you become. Ultimately it is like anything else when you become too comfortable or used to something. You have to mix things up and challenge yourself with different experiences to become better at what it is you love to do.

DT2

Rumors speculate that there may be a ten year anniversary tour of Let It Enfold You. Should fans be ready to celebrate the anniversary with a live show commemorating the album or is this just preemptive excitement from fans?
It has been something we have been talking about for a long time. Nothing is set in stone. I think that the goal has been always to try to commemorate or celebrate that. A lot of people are doing the whole ten year thing; it means a lot to the fans and it would be a cool thing to do. It is also a big deal for us, not just be a band for that long, but to have a record that old. We will see. Nothing is set in stone, but there are ideas and talks of things swirling around.  Soon enough we will know what will come of it all.

Buddy Neilsen posted on the Senses Fail website that you and him wanted to do something different for the new record. This entailed a new studio location, producer, and the introduction of new guitarist, Matt Smith. That is quite a lot of change all at once. Was it difficult or did you find the transition to be smooth with the guidance of new producer Shaun Lopez?
Oh, it was great! Shaun is awesome. We hadn’t known him prior, so we developed a personal and a working relationship all at once, which was great. He has done a lot of stuff that we are all big fans of and that is also influential to us. It was cool to do something different. We just thought it was time to make a change up and back to that whole comfort thing. You really just have to force yourself to do something different and to challenge yourself and by doing that I think that we ended developing a great relationship with him. It was really fun to do something different and to say “fuck it” and just do something different for the first time in a while.

One can say that Senses Fail completely transformed their pop punk sound into something more in the heart of post hardcore. However, the lyrics are incredibly uplifting and insist fans keep a positive attitude and to conduct some soul-searching. What was the inspiration behind the change in lyrical content?
Well, I can only say so much on that. Buddy is the one who does all the lyrical writing. I think it is all about coming full circle and getting to a better place as a band and as individuals, as well as just growing up a little bit and being in a better place in your life. It was time to stop bitching about all the little things in life and celebrating the things you have to be happy about. I think a lot of people have it worse than any of us do and a lot of situations are a lot worse than any of the shit that we have to deal with, and just being conscious of that and acknowledging the good stuff that you have and the things that you have been able to accomplish [is important]. I think all of that comes into writing more positive songs and to have a more positive attitude in general.  

DT3With such a drastic change in genre, has writing and performing the drums become more challenging?
No, it’s fun! I don’t think about it really. Whatever works for the music, for me, is what I try to do. That’s how I try to approach playing! You know, working on my parts for the songs is to have my voice be what the music calls for. It’s important to not try to show off and be like, “Oh look at me!” It’s more important to serve the song and what’s going on at the time. That’s all part of bringing out the best in a song.

In light of the time away from touring, you all sat down and crafted your new record Renacer. This Spanish word translates to the phrase to be reborn. Populating the music scene with your redefinition of the band’s name, the album has received glowing reviews from critics, but Senses Fail has always been a band motivated by its fans. Have you found the fans response to be correlating with those critics?
Good. It’s been cool. It is a lot different so there are always people who are going to be freaked out by the change. I feel like we have had an overwhelming amount of people who have been on board with it. At the end of the day, you have to remember that, without the fans, we wouldn’t be still making records ten or how many years later, but at the same time we have to make a record that we wanted and that we were happy with, and the fact that we did that and people have been on board with us has been really cool. Some of those songs we have played live have gone over really well and people seem to be into them. It’s a really nice feeling to go out on a limb and try something different and people respond well to it.

It’s funny because I remember going onto the band’s Facebook page to check out the new album and I remember listening to the new songs and going… am I on a different Senses Fail’s page?
[Laughs] Yeah, it is different! I think it was headed in the direction all along, but I feel like there was a jump between the last record and this one. It was going this way, but we kinda hit the gas a little bit in between. It was fun to try something different.

Renacer is released through Staple Records, yet while doing some research, one has not found any news of the band departing from Vagrant Records after you’re close to your ten year run. Is the band still affiliated with Vagrant Records or was this a silent departure?
Staple is a new imprint label through Vagrant Records. We are still technically under the umbrella if you will; it is its own entity. Our manger is still the label manager at Vagrant and has been the entire time we were under Vagrant. Vagrant has turned a bit into an indie label and so we don’t really fit a lot with those bands on Vagrant anymore. What he did was start this whole separate thing. Thrice is on it… well I guess they don’t play anymore, but still, it is its own label. It isn’t Vagrant, but it is service through Vagrant. We didn’t leave–it was kind of like branching out.

With the revision of Senses Fail, what can we expect from the band in 2014?
Hopefully some more songs and some more touring. We will see what happens with any ten year stuff. I am sure we will work something out. Nothing is set in stone–no definite plans just yet, but we always try to keep busy and try to do whatever we can whenever we can. Definitely more playing in some capacity!