An Interview with Power Trip
Dallas’ crossover phenomenon Power Trip recently embarked on their national tour in support of Nightmare Logic, their latest album that released February 24. Based on their album, it’s apparent that the band has stuck to their craft while kicking up the melodic and rhythmic skills. As one of the craziest live shows around, it’s apparent why the group have selected Iron Reagan to give direct support: a match made in the mosh pit. Other groups performing include Skourge, Omertà and Sexpill. Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale spoke to Free Press Houston about their latest release, his craziest memories on stage, and who really runs Dallas.
Free Press Houston: Can you talk a bit about the the time spent recording Nightmare Logic? Also, was it recorded solely in Dallas?
Riley Gale: It was, uh, tedious and slow, but it was good. I had a really good time. It was two years of writing and getting together between tours when we could. We finally got together and began to pound it out during the recording sessions. It was a lot easier this time than the last one, for sure, because I think we knew what we were doing in the studio.
And no, some of it was recorded in Denton, and some was recorded in Philadelphia. It was basically split between the two.
FPH: What is going to be the biggest surprise for fans on this record, if any?
Gale: I guess it would be the traction that we’ve picked up over the last couple of years. I did not expect the band to be this successful ever, really, or as big as we are and as fast as we did.
FPH: You are playing with Iron Reagan, another obviously energetic group; how did you get in touch with them?
Gale: Oh, they’re just good friends of ours. Tony [Foresta] was a big fan of Power Trip from early on, and he started to hit me up and was like, “Oh, I’m doing this crossover band, Iron Reagan.” I decided that if they were able to get their shit together, we would be there to help out. They’ve done a lot on their own, but they’ve been, like, a brother band to us, I guess because we’re both crossover bands. But our members get along really well, we’re all good friends, not just tour-mates. It was a no brainer: they had a record out, we had a record coming out, so it seemed like the obvious move rather than compete for crown of our music, you know?
FPH: I know you and other members met at various hardcore shows around town, but when it was time to start Power Trip, was there ever any thought about going either metal or punk, and not going in between?
Gale: I have a desire to start these bands that were, sort of, influenced by these hardcore bands that were influenced by other metal bands. But as we got out chops up and got more talented as a band it made sense to bring more metal into the fold, you know?
FPH: What was the importance of the DIY culture to you and for the creation of the band?
Gale: It was pretty important. When you say do-it-yourself, it’s more of a team effort. We wanted to have control over what we do as a band, artistically and all, and you don’t put that stuff in the hands of people you don’t trust. We have a tight-knit group. We have a producer, a permanent road-guy, and his job is to build the brand, so to speak. That’s sort of the way it is with bands these days: a lot of it feels like you are a traveling T-shirt salesman. You go up there and your 30 minutes on stage is your pitch to get people to buy merch. People have gotten better about buying records, which is great. I love that people are starting to support in actual, physical formats again. It’s not like it used to be, obviously. If someone wants to steal a record [online] they’re going to steal a record; if they want to collect music and buy it, they’re going to buy it. We saw that our record was leaked two weeks earlier before it’s release date, but we didn’t care. It busts that hype bubble, which kind of sucks, but it is what it is. We’re just happy that we’re able to get to get the record out there. I think it helped sales, though: if anyone was skeptical, they could check it out. It seems like this album has already shit up a lot of the critics that weren’t big fans of the first record. We had a lot people who liked it, and we were very receptive to it, but there are people who are going to say “we didn’t like the first one, but I already bought this, downloaded that.” It goes back to the DIY thing, where we are in control of trying to create a product that appeals to anyone. We have control over what people see and hear. It’s a good thing that we have that control, so to speak.
FPH: What were you listening to growing up? Was there any particular label that you were drawn to?
Gale: When I was first getting into punk it was just anything and everything. I’d say, when I was really young and getting into punk at 13 or 14, Epitaph and Fat Wreck were the big ones, and that was cool because they actually put out hardcore records, too. They had a broad mix of sound. For a long time, I thought bands like Sick Of It All or Madball on Epitaph were just another punk band, you know? It was the same with bands like Bad Brains, I just thought that they were another punk band. There hasn’t been a specific label, I’d say, that has anchored what I’m into. If I discovered a new label, I’d look up a lot of their releases. But you had labels like Dischord and Jade Tree that were really important for a while. In their heyday, Bridge Nine was putting out some good hardcore records that I liked. But you also have the metal labels like Nuclear Blast and stuff like that. Nuclear Blast put out the really legendary thrash records. Combat Records was another good one. I didn’t worship a label, but labels were very big in helping me find other bands, for sure. I hate to admit it, but Victory Records — I loved stuff like Earth Crisis — showed me bands that blended hardcore with punk and other stylings.
FPH: As you got older, did you delve into their weird stuff, like Amphetamine Reptile?
Gale: I got into AmpRep around the time I got into that sound, so I would put it around 18-20 years old, when I was getting into bands like Kyuss, Fudge Tunnel, and the Melvins, obviously. Some of their connections to the punk world were cool. But yeah, the label put out some great stuff.
FPH: My first time seeing the group was at Fun Fun Fun back in 2016, and I was blown away by the high energy. In fact, the energy was so intense that I imagine venues are even more so. Do you ever get worried that something can go terribly wrong on stage, or perhaps did when you were starting?
Gale: Eh, I wouldn’t say nervous. I was nervous at Hellfest in France, because of the sheer size of the crowd. I was like, “if they don’t like us, I don’t know if our ego could handle 20,000 people booing us off,” you know? A lot of the earlier shows with Lamb of God were the same, I was just a bit nervous about the reaction. But I’ve never been scared for anyone at a show. I mean, some people have gotten hurt, but we’re really good about making sure they’re OK. I’m not up there singing “kill your fellow neighbor” or anything like that. This whole culture of mock-violence — we have to understand and draw a line that there is a pace to take out your aggression. If you want to punch a guy who is participating in the same thing, then cool. There are obviously people who come to just watch the band, though. I do feel bad sometimes, when we’re playing a show and the kids get going — if a fight breaks out, we’re going to stop and say something. I’ll tell them to knock that shit out, or if they want to fight, come on stage and fight us, you macho-man kid. I don’t promote actual violence or anything like that.
FPH: What’s been the craziest show moment from recent memory?
Gale: Oh, man, we have we so many of those! There’s a lot. Sometimes, people like to go crazy. Two shows that always stand out would be Moscow and St. Petersburg, when we first went to Russia, because they were well-attended shows, and the number of people participating and moshing was crazy. To see people go that crazy over a band that — we didn’t know anything about Russia or what to expect. It was just a cool moment.
We’ve had shows with fireworks, people setting stuff on fire, etc. There was a SXSW show that was another favorite of mine. We played a venue called Barbarella’s — it’s usually a dance club — that had a nice patio setup. This guy set up the showcase and it was Power Trip, a few others, and Cro-Mag’s. During our set, people were throwing anything that wasn’t attached to the group: trashcans, etc. Some guy threw out a fake wad of money, which led my friend to throw out a real wad of money, so there was actual money flying around. The bouncers were trying to get between the stage and the fans, and they were just beating up the security. It got so hectic, that [the venue] just pulled the power to the stage, because it almost looked like a riot. I was trying to tell the staff to get out of the fucking way, like don’t do it and you won’t get hurt. The owner comes on stage with the promoter of the show comes on stage and is like “What the fuck is going on? What do we do?” All of the kids are chanting our name, so I told the venue that they had two options: let us play our final songs with security out of the way and I’ll tell them to watch out for the monitors. I don’t want people to show up to a show and disrespect the venue, I’m not that kind of person. Of course I incite a lot of excitement, but I don’t want people tearing apart a venue. The other option was I turn to these kids and yell “Riot!” I asked which one they wanted to do, so we went to finish. It was a lot of fun. Some kid kept flipping me off right to my face and spat on me, so I punched him in the face and broke his nose. But our set was so crazy, that when Cro-Mag’s went on, the venue had to take on more security. It wasn’t as exciting. They’re a great band, but it didn’t feel the same.
FPH: Finally, does Power Trip actually mean more to Dallas than the Cowboy’s?
Gale: I mean, if you don’t give a shit about football, maybe. There’s no way that the whole metroplex actually cares. I would never say that. [The Noisey write-up] was just my friend giving us a nice little nod of hyperbole, so I’ll take it, sure. But no, I don’t think we will actually mean more to Dallas than the Cowboy’s. I doubt we’ll mean more than Pantera. If we’re lucky, we’ll mean more than Drowning Pool. I’ll take that as a goal.