Hailing from Birmingham, The Traps are brothers Jamie Berry (vocals and guitar) and Nick Berry (bass and vocals), James Minhas (guitar), and Daniel Webb (drums). In a recent interview, we spoke with Jamie to discuss their latest release Calypso. Not only did he answer all of our questions about the record, for he also told us about the story behind their name, how Birmingham is a great city, and wanting to play the Super Bowl.
AMBY: Hello The Traps, welcome to AMBY! What’s the band been up to lately?
The Traps: Hello all at AMBY! Jamie here, hope you guys are good. We’ve had a very busy start to the year, prepping a recording our double A-side My Grip / Imposter single for Club Fandango and Fierce Panda. It’s a very exciting start to the year. We disappeared off to the very wonderful and remote Foel Studios in North Wales on January 2nd for 4 days to get the recording done and now we’re ready to unleash the mixed and mastered fruits of our labour on the world.
AMBY: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
The Traps: Always a tricky one this, as you end up so close to your own music it’s near impossible to see it from the perspective of someone hearing it for the first time. However, our aim is to write the most ambitious alt pop music we can. I say pop music because we like to try and write big anthemic sounding choruses and memorable hooks. This is what we love in the music we listen to, so we strive for it in our music too. We love to use layered harmonies also. The aim is always to create songs that have an ‘other worldliness’ to them. We never want them to sound indicative of the lives the four of us lead but bigger than that, if that makes sense. We often imagine the biggest stage for the music we’re making whilst writing and work towards it.
AMBY: Which three songs are the quintessential The Traps?
The Traps: I think ‘Calypso’ definitely. That was the first song we wrote for the first album and as soon as we’d written it, we knew we found our sound for the record. I think ‘My Grip’ and ‘Imposter’ are the perfect representation of our music too. ‘My Grip’ is the type of song we’ve always written and it felt so easy to write together, everyone really went for making the big sounding moments within it, as big sounding as possible. ‘Imposter’ is absolutely where we are as a band now. I think it takes what we did on ‘Calypso’ and pushes it on. It’s a great starting point for album 2, which we hope to start as soon as possible. I also think there’s a space in the music that shows a great lesson learnt from the making of ‘Calypso’.
AMBY: Your latest release Calypso is such a great alternative record. What was one of the highlights you had while creating it?
The Traps: Thank you very much, really pleased you enjoyed the record. I think the real highlight was working with our producer Rob Jones. He was fantastic to work with, incredibly talented and really understood what we wanted to achieve with the songs. We all loved the same music and formed a great friendship. He’s also produced our new single. His studio in Queen’s Park in North London was tiny and all 5 of couldn’t fit into the room at the same time. We were recording throughout a very hot August in London so the fact that none of us could get too settled in a very hot room that could barely hold us all seemed to focus us to work harder.
AMBY: What’s the story behind your new single Imposter (taken from Calypso)?
The Traps: ‘Imposter’ is a bit of a joining single. It’s not on ‘Calypso’ but will be on album 2 which we’ll be recording soon. The other side of the double A side, ‘My Grip’ is of course on ‘Calypso’. I had the line “An imposter keeps his hand quiet” going round my head for another piece of writing I was doing. When Jim had written the music for ‘Imposter’ and we were arranging the song together, the line kept popping back into my head as I wrote the melody. I gave in to it eventually and started imagining a character around the line and that character’ straits made up the subject of the song.
AMBY: Where did the name The Traps come from, and what other names had you considered for the band?
The Traps: It came from a lyric in one of our old unrecorded songs. We wanted something strong and immediate sounding so settled on that. Finding a band name everyone agrees on is really difficult. I think the most outlandish one we considered was ‘Gran Paradiso’. Could be a cool song name, but it wasn’t us. You have to try and see it in lights I think to know if it’ll work or not.
AMBY: Do the dynamics of having brothers in the band make working together easier, or do you butt heads more often because of it?
The Traps: Both really. We can argue with more intensity because of it, but we also have an unspoken understanding of each other that works in our favour. We’ve been working out vocal harmonies together since we were kids too, so our voices work well together now. All 4 of us are incredibly close as friends as well as band mates, so the unspoken understanding in our song writing has reached a really great point now.
AMBY: Does hailing from Birmingham have an influence on your sound? If so, how?
The Traps: Yes and no really. We’ve met some really amazing bands and musicians since we’ve been involved in the Birmingham scene that have really inspired us and pushed us to do bigger and better things. I think the influence ends there though. We’ve always thought beyond and outside our immediate surroundings when writing our music. As I mentioned earlier, we try and imagine the biggest stage each idea could be played on and write towards how we imagine that might feel. ‘Calypso’ was a concept album and I always try to find what feels to me like an ‘other worldly’ subject lyrically. Writing about our immediate surroundings or aspects of our everyday lives is not us. For me, that feels too limiting and it’s done so much already. Some bands are masters of it, but it’s never felt like something that appeals to me personally. Birmingham is a great city and it’s really nice to see bands and promoters from there do well. We’re not from there originally but the formative years of our band have been spent there.
AMBY: If you could trade places with another artist in the music industry for one day, who would it be?
The Traps: Prince when he was onstage playing the Super Bowl. I’m not really a Prince fan, but I love that he is such an icon that he almost doesn’t seem real. And the Super Bowl because, well, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.
AMBY: What has you most excited for this year?
The Traps: Releasing this single with Club Fandango and Fierce Panda is a dream come true as we have always had a huge respect for that label and have been fans of many bands on it for years. So releasing the single, recording album 2 and playing as many great shows as we can along the way.
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about The Traps that nobody knows yet?
The Traps: We share the same toothbrush, but require separate tour buses. That and we have over 20 song ideas for our next record already.
Thank you The Traps, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout