Please tell us a few words about the new release, about the music on it as a whole or a few words on each track in part. How are you happy with the final release?
Trauma is a collection of three tracks that were originally recorded for my last album Unrelaxed which was produced by Bryan Ramage of progressive metal band Ramage Inc. I decided to take them off the album because I wanted the album to be shorter, the music is pretty challenging and I felt that an hour long was just too big an ask of the listener. So These three tracks were taken off, I didn't think that there was anything wrong with the tracks themselves, just couldn't get them to fit.
The first track is Diplodocus and is a mix of thrash and stoner and one of my more accessible songs that I have ever done, until the solo section which is a hectic mix of jazz fusion and grind-core. Lyrics were the last done in the Unrelaxed sessions. I was really lost for words at that point and looked to my past for influence. Over the years, the lyrics I have written that I have received the most response to has definitely been 'The Planets Suite' by Shitball. This album was all facts directly read out of Patrick Moores Atlas of the Solar Sytem, so we had lyrics 'Outermost of the giant planets, third most massive in the solar system NEPTUNE'. Pretty daft, but it struck a chord and so I thought maybe it was time for some more factual lyrics. So, I love dinosaurs, specifically the Diplodocus so I just listed a bunch a facts about the late Jurassic sauropod vegetarian.
Trauma is a mix of gothic, operatic and black metal and is probably the darkest sounding song recorded in the Unrelaxed sessions. Lyrically it goes into the times I worked with young kids who were trauma survivors. I saw a lot of traumatic things during those years including really extreme cases of self harm, I absorbed a lot of this and suffered quite significantly with something called vicarious trauma. I still get ptsd from those times, and this song is a personal exploration of those events. Some of those kids had been through hell and it was inevitable that the emotions would surface in my music. Out of respect and confidentiality I chose not to really get into it here, but I communicate the feelings mainly in the music as opposed to the words. It would love to explain in more detail the lyrics, but it would not be appropriate, because these stories are not mine to tell and I have hidden them deep in metaphor and rhyme... in this case, to explain deeper meanings would betray a sacred trust.
You've Not Lost If You Endured is almost definitely one of my more epic tracks. If you were to only have this song in your music library, you would still have a more varied selection of genres than most people. It's got hardcore, operatic, blues, surf, rock n roll and thrash in it and is pretty mental musically. Got two very long guitar solos in it that I am pretty chuffed with, in fact, if I wanted to show myself off as a lead guitarist I could do worse than pick this song as a showstopper. The lyrics go hand in hand with Trauma, but are not so steeped in mystery and secrecy. When working with the traumatised kids I was a pretty good de-escalator. This led onto a joke that if I wasn't called Tommy Concrete, D-Escalator would be a funny new stage name. Anyway, I got myself thinking about that and wrote a bunch of lyrics under the mindset of what I imagined D-Escalator would be like. The words are all based on actual stuff I said whilst managing many crises, except changed to rhyme and fit the melody. Pretty chuffed with how it turned out, the subject matter isn't funny, and the song isn't meant to be either, but writing this really helped me work a few things out, it was cathartic to be honest, and the best catharsis is humour, which was also my top de-escalation technique.
How would you describe/label the music on it? Does it sounds like anything we might have heard before?
It's pretty much progressive metal. I could go into it and get really specific and say it's avante-garde blackened psyche core, or symphonic thrash fusion blah blah blah but I reckon progressive metal pretty much covers it. I get compared to Devin Townsend a lot, which is cool, although he isn't a big influence to be honest. Another band I get compared to is Faith No More, which I am not so much into as I really hate them haha. I do however get the FNM comparison and take it as a compliment, when it's given. I do respect what FNM do, when I first heard Angel Dust, I thought it was cool that they had mixed a massive bunch of genres together in the way that they had. I remember thinking 'Wow imagine if someone did an album that mixed millions of genres together, but instead of shite genres the chose cool genres' so yeah, I think they influenced me conceptually. But as well, bands that mix genres across albums that actually have me awe inspired are Celtic Frost, Jinjer, Frank Marino, Ulver, Amorphis, Killing Joke and Arcturus.
Where was it recorded and how much time did it take you to record it? Any interesting stories from the recording/producing the material?
I recorded the songs that comprise Unrelaxed, Trauma and the forthcoming Unrelaxed 2 over a period of about three years. The guitars, keys and bass where done at home and then I took all of that into Ramages studio and we did vocals, orchestrations and drum programming. All in all, I reckon that if you added it all up it took about two months of studio time. It was a pretty straightforward affair to be honest, no mad stories, which is probably why the production sounds as good as it does. For the most part it was all done pretty much stone cold sober, apart from the bass and solos, which were all done in a two week period when I was off work with a ruptured disc. I did them in some sort of weird haze of prescription pain killers and alcohol, which certainly influences particular playing choices.
What can you tell us about the cover artwork? Is there a link between the artwork and the lyrics? What are the topics of your lyrics?
There is absolutely no connection with the artwork and lyrics. I was gifted the lyrics by Vic Victory who painted the covers for my albums The Wizards Bones, The Necromancer and Unrelaxed. Vic used to play in a legendary UK metal band Conquest of Steel and they commissioned the painting for one of their albums, but they never used it as they thought it was shit. Anyway, they joked that 'only Tommy Concrete would think it was good' and so I accepted the challenge and used it for the cover of Trauma. It is pretty rotten to be fair, but I think that it is so spectacular awful that it has a majesty unique only to itself. My mate Christian Sloan Hall who is a metal artist who has done amazing work for bands like Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir & Testament thinks it's amazing hahaha so I am cool with it on that recommendation alone.
What do you expect to gain through this release? What are the band's aims at the moment?
I don't expect anything to be honest, I just accept what happens. It's not a big official release, more of a stop gap thing for the fans. It's been really positively received by folk and had good reviews so I am happy. Mainly I am concentrating on getting Unrelaxed 2 ready for release at the end of the year, that's going to have a much bigger PR push and will hopefully get me significantly more gains than Trauma. It's just cool to get it out and have the opportunity to talk about it.
Is there a special format the material is released in? Or is it released in multiple formats? How many copies were pressed?
Trauma is digital only, I have no plans to make physical copies of it. Sure would be nice to have everything I do released physically, but I self release through my label Howling Invocations and my funds are limited.
Where and how will you promote this new release?
Nothing intense, just emailed a bunch of zines and websites and we will see who wants to review and help me promote it.
Where can we order it from?
You can download Trauma from Bandcamp here: https://tommyconcrete.bandcamp.com/album/trauma
And for those of you that do Spotify, you can stream it here: https://open.spotify.com/album/3XJMLlN0x4vM7UqfeKlJa8?si=KA6NvpE6Sj6KIrMLQ5Itgw
Cheers for giving me the opportunity to talk about Trauma.