Trash Talk: Living Hardcore at Breakneck Speed

Trash Talk: Trash TalkTrash Talk: Trash Talk (Trash Talk Collective, 9/2/08)

Trash Talk: “Dig”

[audio:|titles=Trash Talk: “Dig”]

“I’m the new guy in the band,” says Rashod Jackson, drummer for Sacramento’s Trash Talk. Though he has been in the band for less than a year, it’s been a particularly busy time for the thrash-spiked hardcore four-piece, which also includes guitarist Garret Stevenson, vocalist Lee Roy Spielman, and bassist Spencer Pollard. After releasing its Plagues… EP on Malfunction Records in January 2008, the group wrote and recorded its second release of the year, a self-titled album that also served as the debut record on its newly established Trash Talk Collective label.

For many rising bands wishing to leave their day jobs behind forever and support themselves purely off of their music, breaking away from a label could appear counterintuitive. Jackson agrees: “It was a bold thing to do, but sometimes you have to take risks.”

Pollard explains that the motivation for starting the label was to have complete control over the group’s creative vision. The process of cutting ties with the group’s former label was stressful, but Jackson says that things have been great lately, and he wants to make it clear. “No matter what you hear about Trash Talk and record labels,” he says, “we don’t have beef with anyone.”

Since forming in 2005, Trash Talk has chosen a lifestyle that has found its members practically living on the road. In fact, Jackson estimates that he’s only been home for a total of six weeks since joining the band. Though they uniformly enjoy the whirlwind pace, it did add some particular complications to the process of releasing an album on their own. Jackson credits Stevenson for dealing with the band’s business operations while on tour.

“There were days when he was super stressed out, and he couldn’t really talk to anyone,” Jackson says. “He was literally doing band business all day and all night. We’d wake up at nine in the morning after getting back late from a show the night before, and he’s still awake trying to get things done so the record could come out. He is the mastermind behind it all. I don’t know where the record would be without him.”

The results proved to be worth the struggle. Pollard says, “Luckily, we were able to lasso distribution through Revelation Records, gaining us equal distribution to that of our former label. So in the end, our efforts paid off, and we didn’t have to compromise anything in the process.” For now, Trash Talk Collective will focus exclusively on Trash Talk music, but Pollard says that the idea of releasing other projects in the future has come up.

“There’s no such thing as peace anymore. It’s not even just about the government. People in general are at war with themselves. This is pretty much saying there is no peace anywhere.”

Business aside, a listen to Trash Talk indicates that the split was the best decision for the group’s creative side. The band spent two days at Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago with recording engineer Steve Albini, who proved to be a great match for Trash Talk’s extreme, grinding sounds. Recorded straight to tape, Trash Talk captures all the grittiness of the band’s chaotic live show. With 12 songs clocking in at just over 14 minutes, like a car crash, it’s over in the blink of an eye but leaves a glut of destruction in its wake.

Trash Talk’s newfound aesthetic was further signified beyond its DIY mindset — and beyond creating its most brutal record to date — by the artwork that was chosen for the self-titled album’s cover. That art is based around the upside-down peace sign that the band adopted long ago, Pollard says, as a way of creating “an iconic image that our fans would be able to associate with us.” Jackson explains that for the band, the image is a way of expressing that “there’s no such thing as peace anymore. It’s not even just about the government. People in general are at war with themselves. This is pretty much saying there is no peace anywhere.”

At times, though, the band’s use of the emblem has been misconstrued. “The first time we were in Europe, people were saying it was some kind of racial imagery. Then they see three black dudes get on stage and they think, ‘Wait, this doesn’t make any sense!’” Jackson says. “We got asked about it numerous times. It means what it means to us, and as long as people know that, that’s what matters to us.”

Trash Talk

The cover art, designed by Sammy Winston and Alex Capasso, takes this idea of independence one step further. Featuring a chalkboard-black background with a white upside-down peace sign scrawled in its center, the lines making up the “tree” formation bust through the circle like the “A” in an anarchy symbol. Trash Talk, it wordlessly says, will resist any boundary or limitation placed in front of it.

Upon its release, Trash Talk elicited a mixed reaction from some longtime fans, largely due to its grimy, cutthroat sound as opposed to the relatively cleaner Plagues… (bringing to mind another Albini client, Nirvana, whose earlier Nevermind album sounds like a delicate flower next to the rawness of Albini-engineered In Utero). Nevertheless, Jackson contends, “We don’t care who likes it or who hates it. We love it.”

But along the stops of their never-ending tour, the members of Trash Talk have learned that they’re not the only ones. “The first time we went to Europe, we played our first show at a festival and kids knew the words and were going apeshit. We were looking at each other, saying, ‘Wow, is this for real?’ Punk and hardcore, no matter what anyone says, is alive and well all over the world.”

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