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Comrade Aleks heard rumours that the band were preparing some new tracks, so he went in search of Trouble's post-Wagner vocalist, Kyle Thomas, to find out what that meant.

Interview with Trouble.
"Everyone knows Trouble - and everyone who knows Trouble also knows that, since 2012, the bandís vocalist has been Kyle Thomas (who had previously replaced Eric Wagner for a few shows in the late Ď90s). Kyle has been into the heavy scene since 1985, when he started to sing in thrash band Exhorder, but since we focus on things slow and low here, I ought to mention that he was also part of stoner acts like Alabama Thunderpussy and Floodgate. Well, he took part in the recording sessions for Troubleís latest release, 'The Distortion Field', and a few months ago I read in an interview provided by one of his colleagues that the band were writing new songs. I got in touch with Kyle to clarify this information about Troubleís new material."

Today's interviewee: Kyle Thomas.

Hello Kyle! Thank you very much for the time and energy you found for this interview. I canít avoid this question, and itís pretty straightÖ There was a hint on Troubleís Facebook, that "the band is currently writing material for a new album intended for a 2016 release and has plans to hit the road". What is your progress?

Slower than it should be, haha! We are working on it, but I donít know if itís just the fact that we are older or just simply very busy that it is taking so long. Currently we have about six songs either finished or halfway there.

So I read that the band had about ten new songs for the forthcoming album, and also a few extras. Can you reveal more details now?

Maybe Rick and Bruce have a couple of songs that I havenít heard yet, but I have about half of that so far to work on.

Did you take into account your experiences of working on 'The Distortion Field' during this record session? How much of that will be in the next full-length album?

No, this album process is way different than ďThe Distortion FieldĒ. All of those songs were recorded before I wrote vocals and lyrics. The newer songs are being written with me in mind from square one. We understand each other a lot, and it should make for a very interesting session.

Trouble - contemporary line-up: Rick Wartell (guitar), Kyle Thomas (vocals), Bruce Franklin (guitar), Marko Lira (drums) and Rob Hultz (bass).

You were a part of the band for brief period from 1997 to 2000, how did you feel back then and how do you feel now, as a constant member for almost 5 years?

I never was an official member the first time around. We did a handful of shows and wrote no music together. Now it is just another day at the office, because we are not only in better understanding of each other, but we are all actually friends. It makes for a much more pleasant experience.

Troubleís latest album 'The Distortion Field' showed that the band is able to change their sound, but it remains the same band, with the same core. So how would you summarise - what are the constant elements of Trouble's sound?

I would say the guitar tones and harmonies are the signature feature for Trouble above all. Next would be the grooves, and also dark, mysterious topics for the lyrics.

Trouble Ė 'The Broken Has Spoken':

Kyle, your first band was Thrash/Groove outfit Exhorder: was it difficult to switch to a doomy style of singing as you did with Floodgate in the early '90s and then in Trouble?

No, actually I had to learn punk/hardcore style singing in order to play in Exhorder. I grew up listening to bands like KISS, Queen, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. When I started what became Floodgate with my brother, we just went back to what we grew up on.

'The Distortion Field' is an important album: it was the first record for Trouble without Wagner, but it seems that the fans got it and liked it. And the overall feeling of this recordÖit is something renewed and powerful. You have enough experience of working in studios, how did it differ that time?

It was the first time I recorded an entire album separately from the band. I didnít even meet Marko until we were rehearsing to play our first shows. The album was finished and released, and I had never even met the drummer! Iím really proud of the album, but as always there are things that Iíd like to fix or change. Iím really eager to put the next one out. It will be even more mature from a songwriting standpoint. The fact that this lineup makes Rick and Bruce so happy brings me great satisfaction.

Did the guys give you any instructions when you joined Trouble in 2012? I mean the lyrics you wrote, the approach in the studio Ė how did you work together?

Not a whole lot, because they knew me well and trusted me. Rick had a few ideas for his songs but mostly went with what I had in place. Bruce worked a lot more hands on with me. He wrote most of the vocals and lyrics to ďSuckerĒ, and not only did he write all of the vocals and lyrics to ďOne LifeĒ, but he recorded the pre choruses. The ďDrifting through lifeÖĒ part. It was very interesting, because he came to New Orleans for a few days to help me tweak a few things that I should have actually noticed that needed fixing. He has an amazing ear for pitch and nuances that others might not notice so easily. The funny thing was that when we went to track his vocal parts, it was then my turn to be the one with seasoned experience to guide him into delivering his best possible vocal performance. I think he was outside of his comfort zone by singing in the studio without a guitar in his hands. He was an excellent student in that regard, though, and I think his vocal parts sound amazing on that song. He also sang some backups in ďYour ReflectionĒ.

Kyle, Trouble's latest albums are pretty big - you know 10-13 songs are a lot more than we used to get from Saint Vitus, for example. And, besides that, 'The Distortion Field' is the band's longest album! Do you feel it's a challenge to grab the listener's attention and not let it wander from the first to the last song?

In hindsight, we feel that we had at least one song too many. I think we just all had a lot to say. This next album will be shorter.

Some old bands have a lot of followers today that copy their sound and concept, but prefer dark topics for their lyrics, with texts on the occult, drug abuse or pop-lore like horror movies. I guess that it is right to say that the lyrics in Trouble usually tell about a person having hard times with inner struggles and some spiritual growth. Why do you think itís difficult to find such messages in modern doom metal, as it seems a natural topic for this music?

I donít know. To be honest, I donít listen to a lot of doom, so Iím not much of an expert. Most of what I listen to isnít even metal, really. For the last few years I havenít even been listening to much music at all. What I write about varies from real life experiences to wild imagination. I wear a lot of my life on my sleeve through my writing. It leaves me a bit exposed, but I think people like that. To see that artists are real people with as many pains as they experience makes for a good relationship with the music and the listener. I try to be a good man, but I struggle along the way. Most people probably arenít very different.

By the way, amongst others, there was the album 'Slaughter in the Vatican' in Exhorderís discography: pretty anti-Christian stuff. How does it feel now to sing old Troubleís songs, which are filled with some Christian symbolism?

When I wrote that with my former band mates, we were all really young and angry. I was 15 years old when I wrote the lyrics to ďLegions of DeathĒ. Iím now 31 years older with a lot less angst in my life. Iím not ashamed of what we did, though it was pretty hardcore. Music is timeless, and there will always be a new generation of Exhorder fans. This is the truth, because they write to me a lot. I grew up in Catholic schooling, so my experiences are honest. Throughout the years, I have had a lot of inner conflict with my faith. When we did Exhorder, I was done with it to the point of rebellion through blasphemy. It was the only way at that time that I could get my point across, and loud and clear we sent that message. Now that I am a grown man with a life full of living, my view is much different. I do believe in God, but I have a very different view on what God is than most Christians do. To me it is a very personal relationship that no one can mandate. Iím not a fan of organized religion because of the hypocrisies. My anger at the time with God really was misdirected. I should have placed it more on the hierarchy that I was so disgusted with. There have been some amazing experiences for me in later years that solidified my belief in God, but again, itís not God as most people imagine- an old guy in the sky with a robe and beard. Itís far beyond anything we can truly comprehend. I donít have any problems with singing the Trouble lyrics that are laced with Biblical references, nor would I refrain from singing the awful lyrical subject matter of Exhorder. Music is art. People forget that sometimes. I donít give a damn what any of my favorite musicians believe in politically or socially. Thatís their business. Just play your music and Iíll play mine so that people can escape the rigors of the daily grind.

Trouble Ė 'Apple From The Snake':

What kind of lyrics are Trouble preparing for the next album? Will it be the same ďwhite metalĒ material, as some critics (or label?) tagged it in the '80s?

ďWhite MetalĒ. A label placed on Trouble that they hate to this day. The only reason they were called that was because nobody knew what to do with them next to bands like Slayer and Venom. To be honest, the sentiment in the Trouble camp is that they never liked that title. There are a lot of spiritual and Biblical references in the early lyrics especially, but these guys arenít any different from anyone else Iíve known or worked with. When they were young, they were wild and fun too. Itís sad that you sing songs about Satan and everyone thinks itís cool, but you sing one thing about God in a positive light and everyone gets uncomfortable. I donít get that. Read the lyrics to Revelation (Life or Death) and tell me thatís not some scary shit. Heavy as all hell, too. Most people that dismiss Trouble as a Christian band most likely have never attended a Trouble show. Thereís so much more to Trouble than that.

Most of Trouble's latest records were released by High Roller Records: do you already have a label for the next release?

Not at this time. We are just writing at the moment and will cross the bridges as they come.

I guess that it was Rick who said that Trouble don't aim to play big tours any more, does the band's position remain the same? Or do you already have a gig schedule for 2017?

Most of us still have kids at home, mortgages, car notes, etc. Those things donít go away when you leave for tour. We do not have anything currently booked, but I donít see anything more than a few weeks at a time for Trouble on the road. Iím more concerned with a new album, anyway. It will be worth the wait!

Photo credits: Silvy Maatman

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Visit the Trouble bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-01-14 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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