At first blush, it seems like one of the many ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining lies …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead have told over their 17 years as a band, right up their with meeting as choirboys in church, their name being a Mayan reference, or the band hailing from Plano, TX. But it’s no joke, no lie. In fact, ToD singer/guitarist Conrad Keely doesn’t seem to do much joking anymore, so disgusted he is with the state of things. So when he says he lives in Cambodia now, and that the band’s new sprawling, gorgeous, and powerful album Lost Songs, their eighth, (stream it here) was written and recorded in three weeks? Well, OK then.
Trail of Dead bring their blistering live show to Irving Plaza tonight
“We’ve found, over the years, that writing albums comes much easier,” says Conrad from the road. “We write much more quickly because we communicate much more effectively after all these years. We can change parts, tempos, and everything just with a look, a feeling.” So album 15 should take, what, a long weekend to write? “I’m thinking we could knock it out in an afternoon,” Keely jokes.
Lost Songs is dedicated to Pussy Riot, and what Keely and the band see as the raging apathy that’s dug its talons into Indie rock these last 15 years. “It’s insane. When we came up we listened to bands like Public Enemy, Fugazi, Bikini Kill. These were groups unafraid to take a political stance. They lead with politics. Indie bands today won’t touch on real world problems or issues. It’s insane that Madonna is being more politically active and aware in her music than the underground.”
Lost Sounds is packed full of politics, and songs like “Catatonic” and “Awestruck” take direct aim at a lethargic youth who are paralyzed in the faces of their smart phones. “It’s pretty sad how unengaged and boring young people have become,” says Keely, who remains steadfast in a belief that music could and should use its power to effect political change. “There’s just so much information thrown at young people, and so much access to it now, that I think they just don’t know what to do or where to start.”