A couple of questions with Chris Trapper of The Push Stars
ALSO: The Push Stars were featured in our The Best Albums You've (Probably) Never Heard feature.
Bullz-Eye: For those just learning about Opening Time now, can you give a nutshell summary of your career prior to its release?
Chris Trapper: The Push Stars’ career, up until we recorded Opening Time, was kind of a whirlwind. We signed our first record deal 6 months after we formed in 1996, with a label called Imago Records. (It was a large indie.) We signed our second deal with Capitol Records in 1998; we were just beginning to learn the touring circuit, and we had a song in the film, "There's Something About Mary." By 2000, most of the people at Capitol that were involved in our career had either quit or were let go, and our management was trying desperately to bridge the gap between old staff and new staff. I turned in 40 demos / songs to Capitol, at which point it was recommended I either work with a co-writer or get dropped. I went to the band, and they said they'd quit if I wrote with anyone else, because they believed the new A&R guy (who had tried to sign us elsewhere in '98) hadn't even listened to the demos, and if he couldn't hear something in 40 songs, we were in trouble, anyhow. I guess mostly they believed in the material. At this point, we took it upon ourselves to bask in what would be our inevitable independence, and we barricaded ourselves in the studio, away from the business side of things. It was an attempt to salvage the joy of music, which was quickly evaporating for us in the shuffle of things. What we came up with is Opening Time, which is dysfunctional, diversified pop, I guess you could call it. I think the feeling was pretty incredible then, though: three guys defiantly saying we care more about our craft than possible fame or riches.
BE: Do you recall any anecdotes from the recording of the album?
CT: Not an anecdote, but a vision of us going from recording an album for $500,000 in California for Capitol, to us recording in a $100 a day studio in the winter in Boston, drinking burnt coffee, for ourselves…and loving it.
BE: Did you expect the record to have a better commercial reception than it did?
I think we had no expectations commercially. Up until that point, I was obsessed with tracking our record sales, markets, Pollstar, Soundscan, you name it. With Opening Time, there was far less of that, intentionally…although we did eventually form a coalition with a group of Boston artists – namely, The Sheila Divine – that became a small label vehicle for the album, called Co-Op Pop records.
BE: Are you pleased to find that it still maintains enough of a following to make its way into this piece?
CT: Absolutely! I'm pleased to know it's not strictly in bargain bins, which where my mother likes to tell me she finds it now and again, not understanding that that's not necessarily a good thing. Actually, I think we worked desperately to maintain a shelf life for our records, and not fall into timely production traps that may have been popular that year but sound dated the next. We also were careful to buy back all of the rights to our recordings, because we believed in their lasting value.
BE: What are you doing now?
CT: I just finished recording a solo CD called Hey, You. It features guest appearances by The Push Stars, Martin Sexton, Great Big Sea, and a Latin band called Sonando. It also has the theme song I wrote for Rebecca Romijn's sitcom, “Pepper Dennis.” I also contributed a song for a new Robin Williams movie called “August Rush,” which comes out fall 2007. We are still doing selected band shows, and we have a song in Meryl Streep's film "The Devil wears Prada.” Dan, our bass player, owns and operates his own successful recording studio, and Ryan is drumming with a project he spearheaded – called Redcar – and doing session work with groups like The Dixie Chicks.
Check out The Push Stars' official site for more info.