Angel Du$t Blaze A Ferocious Trail
Since the early days of Trapped Under Ice, Justice Tripp has had his sights set on what’s coming next. Every release in his catalog spanning nearly two decades has pushed the limits of what each project could be and Brand New Soul, the new album by Angel Du$t, is no different. Produced by Justice himself, the album’s 11 tracks capture the band’s one-of-a-kind blend of pop, hardcore ferocity, and punk experimentalism. Justice was kind enough to sit down with Matty Morand of PONY to talk about the process of making the new album, his artistic vision, and the future of Baltimore’s Angel Du$t.
Northern Transmissions: Hey Justice, you have a new record that just came out, Brand New Soul.
Justice Tripp: Yeah, I guess three weeks ago specifically. We’re going on a month as of this.
I know for a long time it was a thing where something would come out and then you would have a period of mixed response and then people come around on it after. It retroactively becomes a classic kind of thing. Do you think that’s like done for you now? Your people are just into it?
I don’t know, I think part of that comes with like, you have to tour, you have to put a record out and just play on it. Which I’ve done in the past, but at least so far, we’ve only played the UK on this record, but they were really receptive to it. Hopefully people are down. That kind of the intention of having the record release on November 3rd, so people could get almost two full months to get down with the record before the record release show, you know? There’s always a period of people figuring out what the new thing is and how to respond to it.
Yeah, totally. To me, this record feels kind of like a culmination of all the stuff you’ve done in the past in a way. It’s blending all of the AD universes. you got the vulnerability of Pretty Buff, you got the production from YAK, you got the energy from Rock The Fuck On Forever. Was that an intentional choice that you made or is that just the way it came together
Yeah, I think everything that’s happening on this record was kind of a part of the early vision of what we wanted the band to be. But so much of what we wanted the band to be was production based. It wasn’t always easy to articulate what we wanted to get out of it. I just learned so much about production. I think some people act like it’s a crazy thing that the record is so dynamic in context to a lot of things. The record is pretty extreme in different directions. That’s just how rock music has always been until the last like 10 or 15 years where everything became so genre specific. It’s really interesting how genre evolves. If you have a melody in your music at all, the average person doesn’t know anything outside of indie or pop punk. It’s like you could be doing completely programmed music, no guitars, synths, and if a vocal melody happens? The average consumer is like, “oh, it’s pop punk.” This is not what pop punk is, you know?
I think the real definitive thing of our lifetimes to use as a marker for the progress of guitar music is Nirvana, you know? Nirvana set the tone for a lot of what is still happening today 30 years ago. I think when you look at Nirvana records they have that quiet, acoustic song, melodies, big, crazy noisy songs. It’s very influenced by Nirvana in that fact. Having a record that’s just whatever you want it to be. I think that can work. I think that’s cool.
Yeah, and [Kurt Cobain] is somebody who had quite diverse influences and was not afraid of showing them. There were all the covers on Unplugged and the love he showed to bands he liked. I always thought that was cool.
Yeah, when I was a child I signed up for rock and roll music and as I’ve gotten older it’s just turned into all forms of music that is authentic and has intention. But at the end of the day my area of expertise is rock and roll music. It’s what I’m most passionate about but I never signed up for just doing this or just doing that. Never at any point, not with Trapped Under Ice even. I think Trapped Under Ice is very definitive hardcore for a lot of people but it was defined by being influenced by a lot of stuff outside of hardcore. I think I’m more open about this now than I was at the time but Prince was always a big thing with Trapped Under Ice. It was like more of a structural thing, like little low key hooks within the song. I don’t think that very many hardcore bands are referencing that. I’ve never been looking for a box to get in, that’s not exciting to me.
Is this the first Angel Du$t record that you are producing?
What made you decide that this was the one that you were going to take over?
I’ve always had a strong vision of what I would like to happen on record and I love every record we’ve made. Never was it very close to what I wanted it to sound like. I think with Rob Schnapf doing YAK, I learned so much in that process because beyond being the process of making a record that I love, it was a learning process. Rob was really into teaching, maybe not teaching as much as me learning, where he would point me in a direction. If I would start asking questions, he’d be like, “all right, let’s go do it. You’ll learn it.” you know? So I just kept making things. Specifically Cold Mega. I made a Cold Mega record and that was a lot of me just doing it and learning. It wasn’t really meant to be a record. It’s kind of meant to be an exercise that I could share with Rob to be like, “What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong?” You know? And then I just liked it so I put it out. I was able to go into the Angel Du$t record with more intention and a clearer vision and a way to communicate that vision to an engineer, or the mixing engineers. Rob actually mixed some of it, and then Steve Wright mixed half of it.
That’s something that I actually really love about making a record. When you’re in the studio, there’s so much that you can learn and just by observing, paying attention and asking questions. It’s such a gratifying process that has obviously paid off for you.
Yeah, thank you, man. I think it’s cool. If you record enough with certain individuals, people you play in a band with, you watch them grow in the studio and hopefully you’re growing outside the studio too. I always use Daniel Fang as an example. Every studio experience for him is half recording a record, half an opportunity to learn new things about the studio, but also just playing drums. I referenced it before, but recording Rock the Fuck On Forever with Will Yip and the way he was pushing Daniel playing drums and how serious Dan took it. When Will would leave the studio, Dan would say “Is it cool if I stay here for a couple hours and play?” I would sit with Dan throughout the night. He would sometimes not sleep, just play drums all night and I was just watching rapid growth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any recording scenario or any tour, any moment where somebody leaves just that much better at what they do. It was incredible. It was like watching a rebirth, you know? That was really inspiring to me to be like, “Well, damn, I’m not getting enough out of the studio. What do I need to do?”
So the next record we did with Will Yip, I was really locked in to what he was doing to record guitars. The purpose of different guitars. For me, it’s always been like, “I love acoustic guitar. How do I make it work on a record?” So I learned a lot about that during that session. Then started playing on Logic a lot more and different DAWs so by the time we recorded with Rob Schnaf, I was really interested in the full on production side of it. Everything you can do in the box, on the computer, different tools, interfaces, different microphones. I observed what he had going on, he is my favorite producer. He is a person who really inspired me to do that, the opportunity to work with him was huge. Again, the fact that he was so open with information and willing to share it with me, it will have changed my life. Whether it’s the freedom to do Angel Du$t or to make some weird songs by myself. I want to work on records with other people. That would be the coolest. I want to produce a lot. That would be really cool.
It’s cool that you mentioned Rock the Fuck On Forever because when I heard that record, it was the drums that I was like, “Whoa,” they’re so refined and sharp. It’s perfect. The drums are another hook in the song. You can really tell that he was grinding with that.
You know what’s crazy? And this was genuine, I watched it happen.I know people say this, but it’s probably not true 99% of the time. It was completely all live drums. There’s no take that got punched, no combining this take with that take. That’s just Daniel playing those drums. It was kind of sickening to watch. It made me sick. I always compare it to [the movie] Whiplash. He would play the whole song all the way through and Will, who is a sick person in the best way, would be like, “Hey man, that last bar, the second snare hit was a little quiet.” We listened back and I could not hear it. My ear could not hear it. And Daniel would just do it again and again and again so that every single hit was perfect. We spent most of that session just recording drums. When it was said and done, I remember Will being like, “Hey man, you have to clean the drums”. In my head, I was like, “That’s so weird, did Daniel sweat all over it?” I went to look and there was blood all over all the drums. We were coming with Lysol to disinfect all the drums because his hands were like, open. Bleeding everywhere. And I was thinking of Whiplash. That movie gives me trauma.
He’s got blood and sweat on the record.
But it’s cool. It’s a time and a moment in my life with people that I love, and it’s a unique sound. It’s cool now that I understand a little more about production and getting certain sounds, looking back at that record. It’s not as simple as my brain thought it was. I was like, “Oh, it’s just fuzz pedals and good drumming,” but there’s a lot that I don’t understand how it happened. I’d love to relive that.
What is your song writing process like? Are you sitting down with a specific project in mind or are you just always writing, always demoing, and then compiling to curate the vibe?
I’m always riffing and writing and making sounds.I have millions of voice notes. I’ve had to take all my voice notes from this year and put them on a hard drive so I have room. It’s disgusting how many voice notes I have. More recently I got into recording videos of songs because the sound quality is a little better on the video on iPhone. You can kind of pick up a little more of the sonic information.
I have so many little references and then they go into logic and I start making songs out of them. For every record we’ve made with Angel Du$t, I think Rock the Fuck On was 50 demos. Pretty Buff is like 75. Keep in mind all this isn’t like, done songs. It’s just like a drum beat to it to see how it feels, or little vocal melodies. But it’s funny, I save all the files as whatever defines the era, so for Yak that’s what I was calling all my songs. I have a file that’s YAK-205. That’s just ideas and me having fun as they start to take shape, you know what I mean? In the context of Angel Du$t I always take it to the team and then the team kind of curates my ideas. It will be like, “All right, these are the moments we like the best and this is what we could do differently with this song.”
I will say that with this record, the process was having the team kind of weed through it and put more of their information on it. It was my first time making a record with every individual on Brand New Soul. I’ve never made a record with anybody on this team. It was kind of a learning process of how we’re going to work together, but it was really exciting because those guys had a lot of feedback. I thought the record was defined before we got into it. That’s always the goal before you get in the studio, you want to know what the record is gonna be. Bang it out. But every song these four just kept giving me new information and as the producer it’s a different role. So I’m like, “How can I get this song to the finish line with all this new information?” Daniel has new guitar leads. Tommy had a lot of cool percussion ideas. Steve, it’s like the guitar sound is always changing from what you thought it was. Steve’s really into guitar sounds and tones and vocal harmonies, it’s just so much information. I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this.” There was a moment of me being like, “I’m not a producer, I can’t do this!” Really, really exciting team to work with creatively. I want this record to live and breathe. We have so much touring on it but I’m also just really excited to make new music with them. We’ve written some music to have a couple little rough ideas for whatever we do next. I’m trying to kind of change the process a little bit to work around this team a little more to where it’s like, these guys all have a lot of input and I would love to have more of that where we’re just in a space, just riffing off each other and jamming, you know? A more organic jamming rock and roll scenario.
That’s so fun. When you have the right people, it feels so good. That’s a great crew too.
At some point it’s like, my brain, there’s certain things that I just do. If I’m making a record, if I’m driving the ship all the time, you’re gonna hear a lot of the same concepts, music, and songwriting style.
Everybody has their little tricks.
Yeah. That’s not to say that the early Angel Du$t team didn’t have their thing, but also it’s like, those guys have another band that plays shows a little bit, so they didn’t have the time to invest. That’s something exciting now, having a team that’s committed to this full time.
Yeah, that’s exciting. When you’re writing, how do you make the distinction between what becomes an Angel Du$t song and what’s a Cold Mega song?
It’s always changing, but an Angel Du$t song has more of a live energy, you know? Demands a full band, very guitar focused. Cold Mega is, not even intentionally, it’s just always evolving. I can see Cold Mega is moving toward being less guitar driven, playing with other instrumentation and getting a little more experimental with production. Maybe I’m wrong, who’s to say what people want and what’s digestible, but I guess with Cold Mega, I’m a little more open and willing to make something that’s not digestible, something sonically offensive.
What artists do you look at that share the dedication that you have to always changing and always progressing?
Oh man, I’m inspired by so many artists. A local thing for Toronto, Matt with Friction and 9Million and stuff. He’s always pushing himself with guitar music, production, even functions that he throws. He seems to be just such a cultivator. He’s been really inspiring to me. But you know, I take inspiration from everything, things that are sonically very far removed from what I’m doing. At this point in my life, I haven’t been really making any really aggressive music, you know, like any violently aggressive music. But last night I saw Extinguish, Big Boy, and two local bands here that I like a lot. Erode. It was the most inspiring heavy music show I’ve seen in a long time. Every band just doing something different and pushing themselves in a genre of music that I love a lot.
So that’s going to inspire me when I make some weird little acoustic song in my basement later, you know? Man, they were doing cool A/B, left-right guitar work. It’s got my brain thinking of how to play with the speakers left and right in the context of recording or in a live environment. It might sound obvious to just pick people that I’m associated with, but that’s why I’m associated with them. Mary Jane Dunphe I think is somebody who just continues to grow and push herself. Not only her output, but her ability to perform by herself. She just keeps learning more of the trade and becoming more self-sufficient and pushing the boundaries of the music. It’s really inspiring. Not that I want to be just alone and doing stuff, but I really value the ability to just make music in my room by myself, you know? Whether people ever hear it or not, it’s just a rewarding thing to do. I think everybody should make a song and record it on their voice notes or something.
You’ve been known for trying something new in music, but another place that I see you always pushing is your style. Where do you take your inspiration from? Because you’ve kind of defined a certain thing in hardcore and in punk music a few times over now. You can see your influence whether it’s the jean shorts, the track suits, the stuff you’re doing now. Where is that coming from for you?
I appreciate that. I’ve never thought consciously and been like, “Oh, I’m interested in fashion.” Actually, I did see a review that pissed me off, where somebody was talking about how I was more concerned with fashion than anything else. It’s like, I just don’t know about fashion. I don’t care about fashion. I’m just inspired by people around me and what’s accessible. I think in art, there’s people who are trying to do something. When you make music, there’s people who are like, “I want to imitate this thing,” instead of just doing you. When I make music, I’m doing me. These are the things that are accessible, hardcore is accessible to me, it’s everywhere. So it’s just my life, it’s who I am, so it’s going to be in the music that I make.
I’m also a big fan of the kind of experimental punk rock music and rock and roll music, and I like pop music. So all that shit, it’s who I am, I’m not trying to be anything. When it comes to what I’m wearing, it’s what’s around me at the time, you know? When it was Trapped Under Ice, the things that were accessible were literally the Dickies jean shorts that were $10 at Walmart. That’s what was there, you know? I owned, throughout the 14 to 15 year period of Trapped Under Ice touring, four pairs of shoes total. I was so poor. There’s no fashion. It’s funny to say this, no joking, but it’s like swag over fashion.
I think when you’re talking about it being used pejoratively like that it’s about the distinction between fashion and style or fashion and swag or whatever.
It’s like anything you do, just put it on, look in the mirror, and tell me if you look like a dumbass or not. If you look like a dumbass, go change. If you look like everybody else, that’s looking like a dumbass. Go switch it up, do something. Smoke pot and cut your hair however you feel like it. That’s accessible to me. I cut my hair with the same scissors we use in the kitchen to cut a chicken with or whatever. Wash them first. I think what me and my peers have offered is being unapologetically ourselves.
The way my “fashion” quote-unquote changes is based more on what’s accessible to me. I was living in Europe on and off for a couple of years and I’m like “What are my Polish friends wearing?” You know, I grew up in a neighbourhood that’s pretty Polish. I had tracksuits on and I just liked that. I was seeing more of it at the time when I was living in Europe, I guess. I was spending a lot of time wearing tracksuits. I thought it looked cool and you put your own twist on it. Whatever you do to make it yours.
I guess now I like bodybuilding stuff. You know, I’ve always liked the gym and bodybuilding clothes. We met somebody who has graced me with a lot of things and I just like what they make. That’s why I wear it. That’s why I’ve been rocking with it real heavily. The brand’s called Yeah I Workout. It’s just so authentic. It’s just a dude who’s good at marketing and branding and stuff. He has a team, so not to take away from his team, but he has a love for classic bodybuilding stuff and I’ve always loved that stuff. He’s making things that are relevant to that. And again, it’s what’s accessible to me because he knows I love it and I support him so he supports us. I think people are like, “Oh, he’s trying something with that,” it’s like, no. That’s what I like. It’s in my world. I’m not trying anything. It’s being me, that’s what’s accessible to me. At this point of my life, I have a little bit more money than I did when I was doing Trapped Under Ice so I can afford, when we’re in England, I can buy like C.P. Company and other European and British things that I think look cool, you know? I mean, it’s very cool and humbling to feel like I stand out and I appreciate it. I don’t want you to think that I’m above the compliment.
I really do appreciate the compliment. But also, I don’t care what people think at the end of the day. It’s like, just to be transparent, I’m not fashion conscious or anything like that. I wouldn’t say it’s a priority to me, but looking good and feeling good is the priority. That’s the only one.
I think that in subculture world, there’s a contingent of people who will want to be like, “I don’t care about how I dress,” but fashion has been distinctly a part of punk and hardcore forever.
It’s always been like that. It’s not wearing what’s coming off the mannequin at the mall or whatever. It’s like finding the stuff that represents you and makes you feel good.
There’s a whole industry, it’s like music. There’s a whole industry about music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m involved in the music industry, you know, but I’m less interested in the music industry. The fashion industry, it’s like for me when you’re a kid and you’re in the music. You’re a fan of it and you start making music and just expressing yourself and it’s all fun before you have to learn about what dude in what band sucks and who to avoid so you don’t get ripped off, you know? The games, the hoops you gotta jump through. So for things that I enjoy, clothes, for example, or like self-expression through your personal style, I try to avoid getting too deep into the fashion industry.
For sure, yeah.
It’s kind of scary to me. But maybe it’s not. It shouldn’t be. It’s like one of those things I avoid. It’s like metal. I love metal, but I don’t allow myself to get too deep into it because I don’t want to lose… It’s like I grew up loving certain hardcore bands and I met them and I’m like, “oh man, you’re ruining this for me.” I’ll put on the Behemoth track when I want to hear something really crazy, but don’t talk to me about Behemoth, I don’t care, I don’t wanna know.
You don’t wanna know about it.
Nope. There’s an other band, they have a crazy name, I really like them, what the fuck are they called? It’s on my Spotify, I be bumping it all the time. I’m not gonna find it right now. But that’s what I like. When it comes to metal, I wanna hardly know your band’s weird name.
Some name that you’ve read a million times, but you never had to say it out loud and then the time comes and you’re like, “Oh no, I don’t know how to say Deicide.”
What’s the band that got the record a couple years ago that went crazy, and just put out a new record? It was like an alien on the cover. You know where I’m going with this.
Is it Blood Incantation?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
What an extreme band. I have this idea for a shirt I’m gonna make. You can put this out there because if somebody steals my idea, it’s beef.
I have my idea first, it’s in right now. I just want people to know that I fuck with Blood Incantation so I always want to just print like just clear english Blood Incantation. I want to make that shit. You know? Their logo is one of those logos that I’m like, “I’m not reading that shit.”
Yeah, I can’t read that. I’m not fluent in that.
If I wasn’t a poser, I would see it and be like, “oh, that’s their logo.” I know it. But I’m a poser. It’s okay. I don’t care. What I do, it affords me the room to be a poser in every other way, you know? My band can cover Bad Seed or my band can cover Coneheads and it’s authentic. That’s what I’ve thrown myself into, but I’m so inauthentic in metal that I don’t know the name. I don’t know Blood Incantation’s name.
We have to figure it out on Zoom. What do you see as the future for Angel Du$t? What’s next?
The future for AD is looking active. We’re going to play some places in the world where most of us have never been. We have some cool things confirmed for next year. When we’re home we will continue writing more aggressive and unique tracks. Thanks Matty!
Angel Du$t Upcoming Shows:
09/08 Torquay, UK @ Burn It Down Fest * 09/09 Brighton, UK @ Patterns *
09/10 Bedford, UK @ Esquires *
09/12 Huddersfield, UK @ The Parish + * 09/13 Manchester, UK @ Canvas + * 09/14 Glasgow, UK @ Slay + *
09/15 Blackpool, UK @ Bootleg Social + *
09/16 Newcastle, UK @ World Headquarters + *
09/17 Liverpool, UK @ District + *
09/19 Sheffield, UK @ Leadmill + *
09/20 London, UK @ New Cross Inn *
09/21 Tunbridge Wells, UK @ The Forum *
09/22 Norwich, UK @ Waterfront *
09/23 Birmingham, UK @ Asylum *
10/11 Brisbane, AU @ Black Bear Lodge
10/12 Gold Coast, AU @ Vinnie’s Dive
10/13 Newcastle, AU @ Newcastle Hotel
10/14 Sydney, AU @ The Chippo
10/15 Wollongong, AU @ Yours & Owls Fest
10/18 Melbourne, AU @ Stay Gold
10/20 Jakarta, ID @ Toba Dream
10/21 Singapore @ GR.iD Lvl 5
10/22 Bangkok, TH @ Holding On HQ
10/23 Manila, PH @ Eastside By Sandugo
10/24 Korea @ Club Sharp
10/26 Tokyo, JP @ Anti-Knock
10/27 Nagoya, JP @ Club Zion
10/28 Kyoto, JP @ Octave
10/29 Tokyo, JP @ ACB Hall
11/03 Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage ^ ~ =
11/04 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Downstairs ^ ~ = 11/05 Montréal, QC @ Le Foufounes Électriques ^ ~ $ 11/07 Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace ^ ~ $
11/08 Detroit, MI @ Edgemen Printing ^ ~ $
11/09 Chicago, IL @ Metro ^ # $
11/10 Minneapolis, MN @ Underground Music Venue ^ # $ 11/11 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room ^ # $
11/13 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre ^ # !
11/14 Salt Lake City, UT @ Beehive ^ !
11/15 Boise, ID @ Shrine Ballroom ^ !
11/16 Seattle, WA @ Neumos ^ ! %
11/17 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre ^ ! %
11/19 Reno, NV @ Holland Project ^ !
11/20 Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone ^ & !
11/21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex ^ !
11/22 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction ^ !
11/24 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom ^ &
11/25 Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad ^ &
11/27 San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger ^ & < 11/28 Austin, TX @ The Mohawk ^ & < 11/29 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live Studio ^ & < 11/30 Fort Worth, TX @ Tulips ^ & >
12/01 Oklahoma City, OK @ Resonant Head ^ & > 12/02 Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck ^ ~ > 12/03 St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway ^ ~ >
12/05 Columbus, OH @ Skully’s ^ ~ >
12/06 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom ^ ~ > 12/07 Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant Street ^ ~ > 12/08 Richmond, VA @ The Warehouse ^ ~
12/09 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts ^ – = 12/10 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Hall ^ – =
* w/ Powerplant
+ w/ TS Warpaint
^ w/ Candy
= w/ Loosey
~ w/ Dazy
$ w/ 9 Million
# w/ Bib
! w/ Mary Jane Dunphe % w/ TV Star
& w/ Restraining Order < w/ On Being An Angel > w/ Steve Marino
– w/ Missing Link
Order Brand New Soul HERE.
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