Interview with vocalist Riley Gale
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: September 2, 2017
Power Trip are a hard working Thrash/Crossover band from Dallas, Texas. Since they formed in 2008, Power Trip have been known for their uncompromisingly heavy and chunky mix of NWOTM and Crossover, reminding all that there's no need for gimmicks or bullshit when you can pummel people like a herd of American bison.
Power Trip's two studio albums, Manifest Decimation (2013) and their most recent output, Nightmare Logic (2017), have received praise from metal crowds all around the world so there must be something special about their sound. The Metal Crypt asked what that was and the band's vocalist Riley Gale politely shared his answers to some questions that were thrown in his direction... Read on!
Luxi: First off, thanks for accepting my interview invitation Riley...
Luxi: Let's start with what you can tell us about your European tour with Napalm Death and Lock Up. Was it rough being on the road more than a month and do you believe the tour helped you to gain some new fans?
Riley: To be honest, we were pretty burnt out before the tour started. We did two months of NorthAmerican dates with about a week and a half of time off through the whole thing. We were home for, I think, four days when before we left for Europe. However that didn't stop us from having a good time and going from a van into our first tour bus was a pleasant experience. The tour definitely helped. We hadn't done a proper European tour with actual Metal acts and to be sandwiched between four other Grindcore bands did a lot to turn heads. We sold a lot of records and CDs, so I think that says good things about how the crowd received us.
Luxi: Did you face any major setbacks on this tour, like losing some of your gear, getting some broken bones, etc. (hope not though)?
Riley: I had my iPhone stolen in Moscow. It was the very last night of the tour, our own headliner. I mean, we could see the finish line right there - three months of touring and no major problems or setbacks, and then BAM - at some point during our set somebody walked into the backstage green room area and took my phone off the charger and left. I was more frustrated and inconvenienced than angry, I could always get a new phone, but that still sucked. Then, immediately after that, our flights got cancelled. That was when the systems for British Airways went down and we were flying BA home. When we got to the airport the people working for British Airways literally said, "go home, there's nothing we can do". We were trying to go home, of course. So we had this crazy ordeal where we scrambled to buy other flights on other airlines and we had to get from one airport in Moscow to another, which was an hour away. Our connection was at La Gusrdia, and we landed at JFK so that last day was just insane. If I hadn't kept my wits together and just pouted about my phone getting stolen, we would have been stuck in Moscow for three more days. Through some quick thinking and a little extra money, I got us home about four hours later than planned. So yeah, at the absolute end of a three-month tour cycle across three continents I had my iPhone stolen and we had a wild time getting back home and not getting stranded in Russia. Other than that, it was good.
Luxi: I noticed that you had a good selection of merchandise for sale on this tour (I saw your gig in Finland on May 25th) and of course, merchandise is always an important way to bring in extra income . Are you happy how many Power Trip items people bought at the shows?
Riley: We couldn't keep records or CDs in stock, which I think was a very good sign. We also kept our prices competitive. If fans only have $50 or something in their budgets and it costs $25-30 for the show, we wanted to make sure people could buy merchandise and some beers, too. We were happy with our sales overall.
Luxi: To me it's simply amazing to see people go just berserk when you play, with some intense stage diving activities, circle pits and such. I guess that's exactly how you want your audience to act, adding to the intense atmosphere of your gigs so that everyone knows what they paid for, right?
Riley: I think it is the ideal situation for any band to want the crowd to give back the same amount of energy, or more, than what you're giving up there. I think that's the dream, right there.
Luxi: How much do you personally enjoy being on the road for weeks at a time? Undoubtedly it demands a certain type of attitude and perseverance to be ready for all the challenges - even unexpected and not so positive ones that you may face when touring...
Riley: It has its ups and downs. It's definitely not glamorous or always fun. The longer we do this, the more responsibility is expected of us as we become more "professional" or rather, work with professionals. It feels more like a job, just a job we happen to enjoy a lot, most of the time.
Luxi: You did some shows in the States in June with Volbeat. How did you get this support slot? I imagine Power Trip was introduced to some new crowds as Volbeat draw all kinds of people to their shows. What did you personally expect from those shows?
Riley: We just did these shows and they were fun. Volbeat was on tour with Metallica and Metallica doesn't play every night, so Volbeat filled in the dates with their own headliners, and they kindly asked us to support. They have a really great team and are just awesome people. As for the crowd, people didn't know what to expect. I'm pretty sure some didn't realize there was an opener and thought we were Volbeat at first. I think we were actually "too heavy" for some of Volbeat's crowd. It's a very family-friendly event. It's a CONCERT, which is very different from us being used to playing SHOWS. In Biloxi, we played the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's venue which was just a very surreal thing. But I think a big portion of the crowd enjoyed us. We made sure to hang out by the merch table, and be accessible, and people said some really nice things to us after buying CDs or a shirt.
Luxi: Do you personally feel more comfortable playing at small clubs or bigger arena shows? Or does it really matter as long as the crowd is into it what you are doing on stage?
Riley: Doesn't matter as long as the crowd feels it.
Luxi: Now cowardly and ugly terrorist attacks have happened all over the world with terrorists killing people with home-made bombs. Are you more afraid of travelling now and playing shows, especially in those countries where these unfortunate attacks have happened before (France, Belgium, the UK, etc.)?
Riley: I'm not afraid at all. That means the terrorists win, that's their whole idea. I look up to Napalm Death for their commitment to playing. I mean, these guys, they've had actual bombings take place at venues because they were coming to town and they would still play. They've been through riots. I'm not saying that's what I want, but I won't ever fucking back down from playing a show because there's a possibility of a terrorist act. Now if somebody very specifically and seriously declares "I am coming to the show to shoot you and your fans", that is something to be alarmed about, but I am not scared of the lingering possibility of being picked at random.
Luxi: Would there be a dream-come-true tour for you guys that you'd like to do if an opportunity came in for it?
Riley: I don't know, I feel as though I've already achieved everything I wanted when the band started. All this extra attention and exposure, these grand opportunities to play with bands I love like Obituary and Napalm Death and Exodus; it's just the icing on the cake. The best fucking icing I've ever tasted. I am just happy to see where the universe guides us, no expectations, just being open to giving it the best effort we've got and see where it leads.
Luxi: Power Trip have released two albums that have both gone down well amongst fans. What's your ultimate recipe for your success?
Riley: No recipe. We just write songs we would want to listen to, and I try to write about things people should know about, or help myself work through a personal issue and hope maybe other listeners can relate. There is one special ingredient; our producer, sixth member, and one of my best friends, Arthur Rizk.
Luxi: Power Trip's Punk/Crossover roots come through clearly in your music. What are some of the Punk and/or Crossover bands that have always been there as a great influence on you guys?
Riley: There's too many to list. "The Big Four", mostly everything in the Bay Area and LA, lots of Scandinavian stuff, Razor, NYHC Crossover, Florida and Birmingham (UK) Death Metal/Thrash Metal. If it "ripped" hard enough, we've probably examined it enough to call it an influence.
Luxi: ...and how about some of those Thrash Metal names that you could say helped you to become a musician yourself?
Riley: I like the Cro-Mags and the Bad Brains.
Luxi: Have you already started writing material for album no. 3?
Riley: We've got some things up our sleeves but it's too soon to say anything yet.
Luxi: Are there some things that you try to avoid like the plague when in the midst of songwriting, like not repeating the same things over and over again or would you say there's nothing wrong with sticking to your guns so to speak as long as it sounds good to your ears?
Riley: We have two rules when it comes to songwriting; no clean singing and no double bass.
Luxi: Do you subscribe the phrase, "Do not sell your soul for commercial Rock 'n' Roll"? I mean, would Power Trip ever change band's musical style for a more commercial sound if someone offered enough money?
Riley: All I can say is we won't change our sound for anybody and the songwriters of the group ultimately decide what "is" or "isn't" Power Trip, but commerciality isn't Power Trip. We won't be doing ballads for anybody any time soon. But we've been told they play our songs sometimes at Anaheim Duck's games, a professional hockey team. If you want to use our music, we're OK with that. But our music will not be anything other than what we decide.
Luxi: Obviously you still have a deal with Southern Lord Recordings. How has being on their roster been? Have they done enough promotion for Power Trip?
Riley: Southern Lord is good to us. It's hard for labels to stay competitive, I mean it's really easy to put out a record yourself these days if you have some extra money or can take out a small loan. It's easy to distribute. But Southern Lord does have some connections that we otherwise wouldn't have without them.
Luxi: If Power Trip were able to change the world with one of your songs, which song would it be then and what would the change be?
Riley: I guess, "Waiting Around to Die". It's very acceptable in modern culture to be wholly apathetic and I'm guilty of this, too. I want more people to read. I want more people to get up and do things and take risks instead of watching on screens as other people do it for them. I want people to understand that our ability to learn, to solve problems, and not tear each other apart is what makes us human, the most superior species on the planet. We're taking the easy, violent, depraved way out. Who cares if there is or isn't a god listening, let's use our tools and our technology and our minds to build the greatest civilization this universe has ever fucking bore just because we can. We are an arrogant species that's got nothing to be arrogant about these days. I want people to change that.
Luxi: Thanks so much Riley for this opportunity to interview you and all the best with all of your future endeavors with Power Trip. And yes, those last words could belong to you, so by all means be my guest...
Riley: Thanks for the interview!
Copyright © 1999-2017, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.