Trappist x Connoisseur: Cali Bands Team Up for Cross Faded Split LP (PREMIERE)

Trappist (Photo: Barry Weihenstephan)

In this exclusive No Echo feature, we're excited to share the news that Tankcrimes will be releasing a new title in their ongoing split series. Records in the series include Municipal Waste/Toxic Holocaust (2012), Exhumed/Iron Reagan (2014), and my personal favorite Direct Control/Strung Up (2006).

This latest installment, Cross Faded, features beer barons Trappist from Los Angeles and Oakland weed heads Connoisseur. Two heavy bands with a intoxicating themes. 

No Echo spoke with both bands and have an exclusive stream of 2 new tracks from Cross Faded below.

Where did the concept for “Cross Faded” the record come from?
Brother Harkins (drums, vocals, terpenoids): Beer and weed, a tale as old as time. 

Brother Dodge (bass, vocals, zymurgy): I’m pretty sure the Connoisseur dudes pointed out that "cross faded" is a term for mixing beer and weed. Couldn’t think of a more appropriate description of this release. This is the best of both worlds in musical form.
Do you remember the first beer you drank? What kind and did you like it?
Harkins: Genesee cream ale, I remember it fondly.

Brother Vera (guitars, vocals, endosperm): I don’t exactly remember, but my bet is on Coors.

Dodge: It was Olympia. My mom got remarried when I was 13, and all these firefighters at the reception kept handing me Olys. I wanted to fit in and tried to drink it, but it was so terrible, I kept putting down the cans and walking away. 
When did you realize you were a “beer guy”?
Harkins: When I had to stop drinking [laughs].

Vera: After that Coors.

Dodge: Two words: Dave Witte. He’s responsible for the gateway beer. About 20 years ago, he had me try a growler of something from Hair of the Dog brewery in Portland, and that was a game changer. I finally realized not all beer was horrible like Oly.

Trappist (Photo: Paul Lee) 

Have you ever gotten any pushback for being a beer band?
Harkins: No.

Vera: Not really.

Dodge: It’s just our angle, to focus on something a little different and crack up about it. I’m sure it’s seen as a gimmick. But how many grind albums are just songs about gore and nothing else? That’s a fucking gimmick, and no one says a peep about that. Those bands look up terminology in medical journals to use as lyrics, we look up brewing terminology. Same diff. Except we’re better.
On this record you guys call out some trends in beer you’re not a fan of. Are you gatekeeping or just having fun with it? Maybe a little of both?
Vera: Gatecreeping more like it.

Harkins: Gatecreeper is a great band, Phil, you’re right!

Dodge: Yeah, it’s all in good fun. It’s just fun to attack craft beer trends, because really, what else can you write an angry beer song about?
Have you guys thought about making your own beer?
Harkins: Done and done

Vera: We have and I know Dodge has, but it’s a pain in the ass. We actually helped brew a beer with Eagle Rock Brewery that is still fermenting, so that counts, right?

Dodge: Indeed, we not only thought about it, but did it. So far we’ve collaborated with Wayfinder Beer in Portland, Eagle Rock Brewery in LA, Thrash Zone in Yokohama, and Brouwerij T-Verzet in Belgium. 

Like Phil said, the Eagle Rock beer was a fun one because we brewed it with them. They split the batch and released one version in their tap room right away, and the second half has been fermenting in a wooden foeder for a couple years now. It should be nice and funky by the time they release it. Kind of like this record.


A post shared by Trappist (@trappist_la)

With a strong pedigree of bands in your personal history (Spazz, Despise You, Crom, Killed in Action) has there been pressure to live up to that, or carry a flag for power violence? Have you seen many old fans stick around for the ride?
Harkins: Our old fans are mostly doing bids currently, big ups to my guys in severe, they can’t keep ski mask locked down forever! Also, we are not a power violence band, sorry to bum everyone out… 

Vera: I don’t really feel we are a power violence band. There are elements of that, but I think it’s more hardcore/metal if anything.

Dodge: Yeah, it’s easy to want “more of the same." We’re not that band. Of course, there’s a few tunes that fall into that wheelhouse, but these days I prefer to write songs that I would want to hear while drinking beer—something with hooks, something at least a couple minutes long that I can bang my head to and shout along with.

I think a lot of older (in age) fans understand it, because they’ve got the same mindset.  Some kids who want more Spazz probably don’t get it, and that’s fine.  At least Tankcrimes has that catalog covered as well. But our musical influences are across the board & we borrow from everything—classic '80s hardcore, '70s boogie rock, '90s beatdown, crossover thrash, AmRep type noise, arena rock. But still with drunken gorilla vocals.

Trappist (Photo: Paul Lee)

Can you explain the song “I Don't need Sobriety?” I've heard a member of Trappist doesn’t drink at all?
Harkins: Yeah, that’s me. The whole vibe of that song is just a maniac who is just fed up with everyone telling em what to do and he’s just snapping! 

Dodge: Musically that track was always been an homage to D.R.I., so we had to take it a step further and add lyrics and vocals in the same vein, with an obvious nod to “I Don’t Need Society.” I wanted Brother Harkins to do vocals on this song and he looked at me and was like, “Nah, I can’t do this… I actually do need sobriety." He stopped drinking a couple years ago.
I feel like having “a thing” is a good way to get moving as a new band and capture some attention right off the bat, has there been a time where you guys think you have put yourself in a corner?
Dodge: Not at all. I love the challenge of only writing songs with a beer angle. And not just a “get drunk and party” angle, but from a perspective of being a beer snob who is insistent on using the proper glassware and serving at the correct temperature. And being pissed off about people who don’t adhere to that. I think it’s hilarious to approach this like we’re truly going to kick the shit out of someone who isn’t using a tulip glass to quaff their brews.
Seems weird to be concerned with the commercialization of beer since we all grew up with Bud Light ads all over the place, beer is a very American pastime. I understand you guys are speaking from both the underground of punk and the underground of beer. What are some breweries you feel are “doing it right” and can you specify what some of those “right ways” to do beer are?
Harkins: It seems weird to start a question off like that…

Dodge: Regarding the commercialization part, the thing that’s weird to me is punks who are not concerned. Big beer is full of genetically modified horseshit, and these companies do everything in their power to nudge the little guy off the shelves, yet the same punks who lose their minds about McDonald’s and Shell and corporate greed don’t think twice about cracking open a case of Budweiser every weekend.

“Right ways” to do beer are with non-GMO ingredients, and with sincerity and integrity. Basically, a brewery version of Tankcrimes. There’s so many incredible and credible breweries who fall into this category, in addition to the ones we already mentioned: Three Weavers, 3 Floyds, Sante Adarius, Jackie O’s, Real Ale Brewing, Wake Brewing, The Veil, Other Half, Trillium, Trve… I could go on forever.

The DIY Punk ethic can be applied anywhere. Do you see similarities in some of the beer companies you love and some record labels/bands you love?
Harkins: Yes, they all produce a quality product along with being quality people. And they work hard in providing a killer product. Tankcrimes all day, Eagle Rock Brewery all day.

Dodge: Exactly. Brewers we love are exactly like record labels and bands we love. Doing it for the love of the craft. Cooperation and not competition. All that cheezy “support the scene” shit is true and applicable to both the punk scene and the independent beer scene.  
Thank you so much, any beers or bands or friends you want to shoutout?
Vera: Thank you to Uncle Slam.
Harkins: Mindfunk and Infectious for keeping the scene alive! Also all the non-alcoholic beers in Japan and Europe, I love you, gea, dsc, 614 Dipset for life. Smoke weed every day.

Dodge: No Echo. Tankcrimes. Connoisseur. Grave New World-era Discharge.

Here's a chat with Connoisseur guitarist Dan "Hashtrash" Hague:

Where did the concept for Cross Faded the record come from?

The concept for Cross Faded, I believe, came from Chris Dodge, as an idea that our bands do a split release. When our vocalist, Carlos [Saldana], heard the idea, he immediately had the name "Cross-Faded" as a title, since it was a term he'd been using for a long time to describe his being drunk and stoned.  

Do you remember the first time you smoked weed? Did you like it?

I vividly remember my first time smoking weed, I was 16 and it was 1991. Some neighborhood friends and I smoked a joint on a garage rooftop and I didn't feel a damn thing. About a week later though I was off on some pineapple express style adventure getting weed in a dangerous for my naive ass neighborhood, smoking way more weed than anyone would ever need to smoke on the way there and back.  

The night ended with me in a pitch-black hallway trying to put my shoes on to go home, but instead I probably sat there for 45 minutes hallucinating that I was in outer space, until eventually someone else left and popped that bubble.  Yeah, I felt the weed that time!

Connoisseur (Photo: Michael Alvarez)

When did you realize that smoking weed was a lifestyle for you?

Smoking weed became a lifestyle via me being a depressed and lost youth, and pot just made me euphoric enough to not want to die yet, and I liked that it's something best shared.  Marijuana eased me through lots of social anxiety and shyness. Alcohol made me more open as well, and I did drink when I was younger, but I had way too many bad endings with alcohol dominated nights. I like pot. It makes things fun. It makes music fun. And the worst that might happen is I fall asleep early or I eat too many gummy bears.  

So smoking was a constant in my life. As alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, hallucinogens, etc., all became things I enjoyed in the past, marijuana is the one thing I haven't even considered quitting. My lifestyle is weed and coffee and I'm happy with that.

"I feel like having “a thing” is a good way to get moving as a new band and capture some attention right off the bat, has there been a time where you guys think you have put yourself in a corner?”

I'm not sure if having a concept for Connoisseur has helped us much, it's probably more limiting. Perhaps if the band started 10 years earlier, but now my freinds are too old for shit like this, and so we play to different people, new friends. Some people don't like weed or weed culture, and so they dismiss us right off the bat.

Sometimes the people that like the weed bands expect us to play groovier heavy "stoner" music, and are disappointed that our music tends to sound more like it was written by angry straightedge guys with zero attention span instead of the incredibly, disastrously stoned guys that we are. I just assume we will always let down anyone with any sort of expectations about us.  


A post shared by Connoisseur (@xconnoisseurx)

Have you ever gotten any pushback for being a weed band?

We've never got any pushback about our "theme," outside of reviewers trashing us simply because they don't like pot or find it funny in any way. I'm hopeful that our songs would be good enough to stand on their own musically even if someone didn't care for the subject, and we've certainly played shows where a lot of the people aren't entertained by the concept or by the humor. Even humor itself is hard.  

People go to shows for a lot of reasons, I know, but I feel like laughing at dumb jokes rates surprisingly low in that list. We might get more pushback for trying to bring humor to a show, than anything weed related.

And just in case anyone reading this is considering starting a "funny" band, add this to the list of things to be prepared for: If you do manage to crack the tough exterior of the average metal/hardcore audience, you will then be expected to be funny. All the time. All of it. Even if the whole band has food poisoning, broke down on the way to a Monday night show, pushed the van into a parking lot and hauled gear two blocks and across a busy street in the rain.

Even if all the opening bands were totally sick and brutal and on point, you all have to drag your soggy, nauseous bodies up on stage to not only play a bunch of aggressive music, you have to be funny while doing it, even if you just want to crawl in a hole and die. That was us in Boston in 2015, sorry Boston! I know we were not in great spirits that night, even though the show itself was rad as hell.  


A post shared by Connoisseur (@xconnoisseurx)

Since the last record, Over the Edge, you guys have added a bass player (Kunjan Joshii) and gotten a new drummer (Cris Rodriguez). Does it feel like a new band? How difficult is it to add/replace members in a band where heavy smoking is part of the deal?

After the release of Over the Edge, we wound up having a bit of lineup change. Kunjan joined us on bass, and Cris joined on drums. Together, they have kicked some new life into this band, filling out the sound, ramping up the momentum of the set, and lighting a fire under our own ass's creatively. This is our first release with this new lineup, that's pretty exciting to me.

Cris has played in some awesome San Jose bands such as Socioclast and Deadpressure. We don't probe into Kunjan's past though because he may or may not be a trained assassin and spy working for a shadowy government or organization hell bent on world domination.  

The DIY punk ethic can be applied anywhere. Do you see similarities in some of the cannabis companies you love and some record labels/bands you love?

There is definitely a DIY ethos applied to the weed scene in California, for me at least. However, I am glad that there are places just about anyone can go purchase marijuana. Not everyone knows a good, honest grower wiuth killer product. So it's a privilege for us to be able to bypass the clubs and keep it within the tighter community.

We are very fortunate and have even written songs about our favorite artist and provider, The Doctor. So, if you have that option, of supporting your local growers and providers, then by all means do it, keep it D.I.High!  

In a world where cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream is there still rebellion involved in smoking and does that matter?

We hope marijuana becomes mainstream everywhere, here in the US, and around the globe. It might not be so rebellious to us here in Oakland, or the West Coast in general, but there are plenty of other spots where it is severely illegal. So it all depends on where you are at, the state and local laws, what you job situation is, your family, etc. Even here in Cali, where it might not be a huge deal to smoke pot, there might be a kld with a very religious family that is hitting his first joint. That joint might not be a huge deal to me, but it's earth shattering to them. 

People sometimes wonder what our musical influences are, because we tend to be all over the place, and that's exactly by design. I never wanted Connoisseur to be limited by genres. We all like different things, and that all gets tossed into the blender. One of the major influences is the '90s West Coast power violence scene, which I would watch from afar over on the East Coast. This is why it's a trip for me to do the split with Trappist, because as much as I enjoy the band, I also enjoy the bands these folks have been in previously.  

Despise You is a huge influence, same as Spazz and Stikky in terms of song composition. Spazz and Stikky are also great for being bands with a sense of humor, something I also apply to Connoisseur. Growing up on the East Coast though meant being around a lot of straight edge hardcore, and so that is also a huge part of what goes in the blender.

But we also like hip-hop, early '90s alt rock, '90s emo, and so on  So I'll get inspiration from classic hardcore bands like Black Flag or Bad Brains, to more sxe bands like Earth Crisis or Judge, splash in some Nirvana or Sonic Youth, and then mix in bands like Noothgruish, Infest, Grief, His Hero is Gone, and then add newer sounds like Turnstile, Dry Cleaning, Fat Nick, or Gucci Mane. It all gets stirred into the pot. We want Connoisseur to be whatever we feel like playing. 

Thank you so much! Any weed strain or bands or friends you want to shoutout?

Thanks for the interview, I hope people enjoy the record. Shout out to our homies Ducat, Fedele, and Thompson! Shout out to Cole Gates! Shout out to Greg Wilkinson, aka Greg Winkleson, aka Grammy Greg! Thanks to Trappist and Scotty at Tankcrimes. Rest In Paradise, Hollise Murphy.  


Cross Faded split 12 inch pre-order just went live at the Tankcrimes store, so do not sleep! 


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Tagged: connoisseur, trappist