On Saturday at Riot Fest, I got to sit down and talk with Tom Rheault (vocals) and Jon Strader (rhythm guitar) of No Trigger! We talked about the making of Dr. Album, punk anthems, getting to work with Dan from 88 Fingers Louie, and more!
Noelle Matonis: How did you feel about your show today? How was playing at Riot Fest different than venues you’ve played at before?
Tom Rheault: Today’s show…10 out of 10. Easy. One of the best No Trigger shows I can remember because of everything. Sounded awesome, we were funny, I think. [both laugh] And the crowd was insane.
Jon Strader: We’ve been looking forward to this show for a while now and what a treat.
TR: And it’s different, because it’s not some sweaty, you know, piss-filled fuckin’ small venue. It’s big. It’s like the coolest outdoor fest i’ve ever been to. So that’s neat.
NM: I’ve heard you guys write your lyrics collaboratively, it’s not just one of you writing the lyrics. And I was wondering what are some of the challenges that come along with that?
TR: Well, it’s actually not that true. We write the songs collaboratively, but the lyrics, I’m kinda the guy.
JS: We have two songs out there that we recently recorded, one which is on [Dr. Album], one which is on Acid Lord EP, which our guitarist fully wrote top to bottom, which was a world that we just dipped into for this new record.
TR: I don’t know, usually for songs, it’s me. But for a couple of them it’s Mike. It’s weird because I feel like lyrics are a tough thing to collaborate on; music isn’t. Music is phenomenal to collaborate on. But vocals–it’s weird, you know? To me. So I kind of do it all.
NM: I was watching an interview with [Tom] and you mentioned that the first thing you ever recorded was in 2003 with Dan from 88 Fingers Louie
TR: Oh yeah!
NM: And you’ve also collaborated with Bill Stevenson from Black Flag and Descendents. So how was it working with those guys and how did that sort of come about?
TR: Well, honestly, if you book them and you can afford it, you can do it. But you know, someone like Bill, we were on a label way back when we paid for all of that. But before that, with Dan from 88 Fingers Louie, it was just us driving to Chicago, as like 20 year olds, and we were like, fuck it. I think this guy can do it, and we called him up and he did. He wanted to, so we just did it. And we did it in his mom’s basement. Like, 2003. It was crazy. His mom answered the door. And I was like, “Hey, we’re here to record!” She’s like, (in high pitched voice) “Oh, Danny’s downstairs, hold on!”
TR: It was funny; it was great.
NM: What first got you into music or playing music? Was music always something you wanted to do or growing up, did you have other things in mind that you wanted to do as a career?
TR: I don’t know, music’s such a weird thing, ‘cause A, it’s not our career, not at all. Like there’s not a chance it’s our career, ‘cause we just do it for fun. And it kinda chooses you. Music’s different. We couldn’t escape it.
JS: Personally, when I was younger, just watching local bands that were kind of coming up and playing like, behind my house, you’d hear the music real loud. You go over there as such a young kid and get mesmerized while listening to what’s happening. And my dad was a musician too. He taught me how to play guitar.
NM: What bands inspire you?
TR: Inspire at this point? I don’t know man. [laughs] I don’t even know!
JS: There was a long wave of bands that we kind of grew up listening to that’s kinda wild that we’re playing with now. I think heavily influenced–Descendents, No FX, Fat Records, Epitaph, we grew up on that stuff, we used to be doing the Warped Tour scene…
TR: And now, we listen to Grateful Dead. You know what I mean? So I’m over there now–me. I don’t know about [Jon].
NM: So it’s a lot of different influences.
JS: Of course!
TR: So it’s everything. Yeah. As long as it’s…to me, music is…you can tell if it’s pure. You can just tell if someone’s trying too hard, you can tell if it’s not sincere. But when it’s pure and… I don’t know…that’s what I like. Is that shit. So whatever it is, whatever genre it is, you can kinda cut through the bullshit and be like yeah! This is the shit.
NM: Right. And are there any bands that you like to listen to when you’re on the road touring?
JS: It’s always varying, it depends on who’s the DJ.
TR: Literally it depends on who’s got shuffle on Spotify.
JS: I mean, currently, we have a rental van and I won’t let the jazz channel be changed; I think it’s a vibe.[laughs]
NM:[laughs] I wouldn’t expect that.
JS: [laughs] Yeah, see?
NM: And speaking of things you wouldn’t expect, I feel like you guys transitioned from more hardcore to punk and some pop punk in your new record, Dr. Album. Can you talk about how you decided to change your sound a little bit?
JS: Yeah. It wasn’t really deciding to change our sound, we didn’t really sit down and be like, “We need to write these kinds of songs. What’s beautiful about [Dr. Abum] is that everyone in the band is very like honed in on putting the songs together. And Tom was more or less on a page of creating full songs from start to finish as well. So everyone’s creativity really shined on this record. And what you hear is like what you get; like that was everyone’s input on certain styles and
TR: Yeah. It was just like some of it’s poppy. And I wrote more like the weird ones. Like on the record, there’s a bunch of ones that are like…
NM: Like the Mountain Song? Was that you?
JS: Oh, the Foggy Mountain song? No, that just kinda developed from us just hanging out during the recording session in a corn field around a campfire. [laughs] and Nick, who produced the record, plays banjo. So that was real fun stuff during the recording.
TR: We’re just like, push the limit. Let’s break down every barrier, and let’s just write however we feel. And some of the songs are like Smashing Pumpkins-sounding. Other ones are like the fastest songs we’ve written. So it’s everything. It really is everything. And I think we somehow pulled it off where it’s cohesive. It’s not like just a jumbled mess. It works.
Yeah I can definitely hear a bunch of different influences on there, and it does all work together really well I think.
TR: Thank you!
NM: I don’t know if you guys are able to see other bands at Riot fest, like do you ever get some downtime or a chance to see other bands?
TR: Yeah! Yesterday, we saw Sincere Engineer, and Cliffdiver. They were both phenomenal. It was awesome.
JS: Wargasm was a treat too.: We’re the kind of band that kind of takes some time to peep some bands and stuff like that.
TR: Yeah! Who wouldn’t? And today is like the Menzingers and Bad Religion and shit…like get out of here! Of course we’re gonna watch them!
NM: Yeah definitely! I’m excited to see them too! And since Riot Fest as a lot of punk bands and a lot o emo stuff, I was wondering wha is your favorite punk or emo anthem?
JS: Broham! [laughs] I think that’s the punkest anthem of anthems.
TR: What even is a punk anthem? I mean, I’m not a huge My Chemical Romance guy, I used to be a big Blink-182 guy though. Like I really liked them when they came out with Dude Ranch and shit.
JS: We went a bunch of times…
TR: We went to two Dude Ranch shows with the old drummer too. Not Travis. Like, we’re old.
JS: I saw Blink-182 with Scott. I have.
TR: Yeah me too. That’s more of my like emo…like after that, we were like too hardcore to care about like My Chemical Romance or something, but before that, I had a definite phase. I don’t know, that’s a really weird question. I can’t pick a song right now, I can’t think of one.
JS: That’s why I said Broham. Because we played Europe a lot and people like soundcheck with that song and the whole crowd just goes insane.
TR: I think anthemically, like I keep thinking of Bouncing Souls songs, like True Believers, or like Lean on Sheena. These are the songs that are like anthemic, like the ones that pop into my head.
Yeah. And I think anthem is subjective like what whatever gets you pumped
JS: Of course.
NM: What has been your favorite venue to play so far or what is one you’d really like to play in the future? It can be big or small.
TR: I don’t know man.
NM: Do you prefer playing bigger venues?
JS: Yes! I personally prefer playing bigger festivals.
TR: Yes, this is amazing!
JS: I like being outside, I like being able to wear my sunglasses when play.
TR: Yeah! I wore my sunglasses for the first time ever!
JS: Yeah, festival stuff like this is great.
TR: Yeah, if you could just do this everyday, it would be fine, but we can’t.
JS: Yeah, this is our first time playing Riot Fest and this was the most comfortable I’ve ever been. The whole stage was carpeted, so I’m gonna go with Douglass Park Chicago.
TR: Yeah. It was comfy.
JS: Thank you, Riot Fest.
TR: Yeah, today. That was my favorite venue [laughs].
Listen to No Trigger’s Dr. Album out now: https://open.spotify.com/album/0kAFMQR8EUPi1RWxmM8yCs?si=faXW7wcPSuaSl5O7uxD2wA
Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast Intern