When hard-rock band Trapt blasted onto the scene in the early 2000s, one thing that helped the group stand apart from most other hard rock/metal acts was the positive tone frontman Chris Taylor Brown brought to Trapt’s lyrics.
It was an age where most bands were full of angst and using lyrics to wallow in self-misery. Brown frequently wrote about problems, too, but he tried to confront and solve them within the songs.
A baker’s dozen years later, he feels that lyrical approach remains one of the elements that connects Trapt’s new album, “DNA,” to the group’s earliest music.
“I feel like a lot of the lyrics are about self-empowerment and sort of take a problem and try to make a positive out of it and become stronger and come out on the other side,” Brown said. “A lot of the lyrics on ‘DNA’ are definitely staying on that path.”
And in the years since Trapt’s previous studio album, the 2013 release “Reborn,” Brown and his bandmates had plenty of opportunities to face problems involving the group and find the will and perseverance to push forward.
The source of the problems that most affected Brown and Trapt was a lawsuit concerning payment of royalties by former guitarist Simon Ormandy.
The lawsuit and the threat of a bad outcome hung over Trapt for much of the period that followed the release of “Reborn,” and Brown was worried he could lose everything he had worked for since forming Trapt in 1995 in Las Gatos, California — his assets, the band’s instruments and equipment and even the rights to Trapt’s songs.
It wasn’t that Brown lacked confidence in the band’s position concerning the amount of royalties that were due to Ormandy, who was booted from Trapt in 2008. The worry was more about the resources Ormandy had at his disposal.
Brown said Ormandy’s parents owned a company they sold to Microsoft, netting seven figures in the deal. Some of that war chest was used by Ormandy to pursue his litigation against Trapt.
“We were up against big money on the other side,” Brown said.
The windfall from Microsoft, according to Brown, was a key factor in the split with Ormandy.
“He was like I don’t have to tour anymore, so I don’t need to be this way and that way,” Brown said of the former guitarists. “No one else (in the band) wanted that.”
In the end, Trapt was able to reach a settlement with Ormandy. Brown said the settlement was for the same amount of royalty money the group had offered when the guitarist first sought payment from the group – a major win for Trapt.
“He actually just walked out of the meeting (after he was dismissed from Trapt) and that was it,” Brown said. “And then came back almost six years later trying to ask for royalties. We said ‘Yeah, here you go. Here’s what the numbers say you’re owed.’ And then we ended up settling for the same amount a year and a half later.”
With that chapter closed, Brown feels what didn’t kill the band made it stronger.
“When you’re looking at staring into the abyss and you’re not really sure where you’re going, that’s when you find out who you really are,” Brown said. “And we really pushed through and became a stronger band. Now we have more hunger to go out there and give our best to our fans every day. So it was a great triumph. ”
The legal saga did affect Trapt’s musical path. Brown – who along with bassist Pete Charell, drummer Dylan Thomas Howard and guitarist Ty Fury make up the current lineup – was so distracted by the situation he wasn’t able to write much for the “DNA” album until the settlement was reached.
“When you have that much pressure on you and that much stress going on, you can’t really be an artist,” Brown said. “You look at Tool. They were in a six-year lawsuit with their insurance company, and they didn’t write anything for the entire time. That’s how it goes. If you’re an artist, having stuff like that doesn’t help you in any way.”
The lawsuit also forced Trapt to be resourceful. The band in 2014 released an album, “The Acoustic Collection,” which featured unplugged versions of favorite songs from the band’s catalog. That album was meant to generate revenue and goose ticket sales for an upcoming tour, two ways the band could raise funds for the lawsuit.
“Our fans definitely supported us and were a big help in getting through” the suit, Brown said.
Once the settlement with Ormandy was reached, work on “DNA” accelerated.
“We basically started writing it in 2014,” Brown said. “We had some good music and this and that, a few lyrical ideas. But really the bulk of the music was written in March and April of 2015 and then the lyrics poured out right around March, April, May, June. We started recording it in July (2015), and we were still recording new songs for it even earlier this year. ”
The album Trapt made in “DNA” is very much in character with the band’s earlier work. Songs like “Unforgiven,” “Changing Hands” and “It’s Over” strike a good balance between aggression and melody that has characterized the band’s five previous studio albums (not including a 1999 local release “Amalgamation”) and hit songs like “Headstrong” (from the 2002 self-titled album), “Stand Up” (from 2005’s “Someone in Control” and “Bring it” (from “Reborn”). The band puts a bit softer touch on a few tunes. “Human (Like The Rest Of Us)” mixes ambient bits and ample melody with big riffs, while “Not So Different” uses a Police-ish reggae-pop feel in the verses to go with a big and hooky chorus.
“It’s nice, big beefy guitars and huge drums and just sonically real big sounding,” Brown said. “It’s, I think, the way Trapt records should always sound. We were able to capture that energy and that boldness that we love about music.”
Trapt figures to include a few new songs this fall in its live shows, but Brown said the set won’t go overboard on songs from “DNA.”
“We’ll be playing all of the fan favorites, some of the songs, you know, we’ve had 12 songs in the top 20 of modern rock radio for the last 13 years or so and we’re going to be playing them all,” Brown said. “So fans can definitely expect to hear their favorites at the show.”
Trapt is coming to Scranton and will perform at The Leonard Theater on Sunday, Dec. 11. The show starts at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m.
IF YOU GO
Where: The Leonard Theater, 335 Adams Ave. Scranton
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Tickets: Available at the door or at www.eventbrite.com