Arguably the hardest working band in South Wales at the moment, putting bands half their age to shame, Newport threesome Deathtraps are just polishing off the “difficult second album.” Having known two of the Von Trapps intimately, Mass Movement’s very own Nick Owen (AKA Ginge Knievil) picked on the other one – Fraser Von Trapp. Rev them garage rock engines and enjoy!
Interview by Ginge Knievil.
Photo by Matt Jarrett.
MM: Hey, Fraser. How are you doing in this ridiculous heat?
FVT: I think “getting moist” just about covers it.
MM: You’ve been a stalwart of the Newport music scene from the 90s onwards. Can you remind us of your vast band history?
FVT: I started off with with Flyscreen around 1993 with Paul, my mate from school. Everything was happening around then, capped off with Andy Barding’s I Was a Teenage Gwent Boy album and the Newport Wave photo. I guess that was the defining point for the “New Seattle.” History has been re-written many times since then and a legend born.
After that I was in Choketeens who did a single for TJ’s Records and then on to JetHeavy. Then around 2000 I simply stopped… until now anyway.
MM: For the uninitiated, how would describe Deathtraps’ sound to the man on the punk rock street?
FVT: We’re a garage rock ‘n’ roll band, a product of older boys’ record collections. I got into bands like Ramones and Alice Cooper by convincing school friends to nick their older brother’s records and trawling Roxene’s cheap racks.
Classic Rock Magazine said,“These guys might be actual maniacs. Most of their songs are about killing people and they sound fairly committed to the concept. But all the gore and guns and bloody spittle is wrapped around tight, buzzy, high-velocity junk-rock that sounds sorta like the scariest dudes in town jamming on Chuck Berry tunes, so fuck it, let the murder and mayhem ensue.”
I think that sums us up pretty well.
I’d like to think we fit right in there with The Peepshows, The Chuck Norris Experiment, The Hip Priests, Electric Frankenstein and Turbonegro.
MM: You’re at the arse end of making Deathtraps’ second album. When’s it scheduled for release and would you say it differs at all to Justice for the Risca One?
FVT: Every bunch of tunes you record is like a snap shot of who and where you were at that moment in time.
Justice… was the sound of a band trying to find their feet, but the new one is going to be a monster. I heard a rough mix for the first time yesterday and was really shocked how great it sounded; clearly I’m as modest as Lee Love [The Hip Priests’ songwriter and bassist]. We still have all the lead guitar lines to add and are still working on the vocal parts but it’s getting there.
MM: Will the album be attached to any label this time or will you continue with the D.I.Y. route? It seems to have served you well so far.
FVT: At the moment I think we’ll put it out on CD and a download ourselves. On the one hand, if somebody approaches us to put it out on record then we’ll talk about it; on the other if you do it yourself you have full control. We’ve promised to play it to a few people before we finalise our plans. We’ll go with what feels like the best thing to do at the time.
MM: And is it true that album number three is already in the bag?
FVT: Not quite in the bag but there’s the bare bones of 10 new songs floating about. They may be the basis for a third album but I’d really like to look out doing a few split singles and maybe a split album next but who knows?
MM: You’ve done a bunch of shows with The Hip Priests and I see a tour is scheduled for September. Can you tell us a bit about it and have you packed your lube ready for the road with those dirty bastards? [laughs]
FVT: We’ve got one with The Hip Priests in July and another three booked for September. The September dates will also feature the rather fantastic Bitch Queens along with a few other great bands like Rotten Foxes.
Lee, Oz, Cruz, Mike and Bomber from The Priests are a great bunch. They do it like it should be done, a proper rock ‘n’ roll band… even though our new album will be better than theirs!!!
MM: Deathtraps have recently started Turbojugend Newport (a chapter of the Turbonegro fan club). The Jugend are an awesome bunch of human beings. Have your denim jackets arrived yet? I can wait to see you boys in them!
FYT: We’ve come late to the party but we made it in the end and that’s what counts. At the moment TJ Newport is only a quartet but we’re happy take any new recruits as long as they like rock ‘n’ roll and aren’t racist bellends.
We’re not kutted-up yet, though they were ordered about four or so months ago. I guess we could all squeeze into my Deathpunk jacket on special occasions. Talking of special occasions, TJ Bristol & Wiscombe are hosting a party at The Exchange in Bristol in 15 September with us, The Hip Priests, Bitch Queens and a ton more great bands.
MM: As a new music nut, what have been your top five releases thus far in 2018?
FYT: There’s been some great albums out so far this year and there’s also been a few great bands that have released real stinkers.
My top five of 2018 so far are Rocknroll Machine by Turbonegro, Misanthropical House by The Good, the Bad and the Zugly, Hellbender by Zeke, Take Back The Night by The Dwarves and Brown Sauce by Flash House. Tenplusone have just released their debut CD but I haven’t got my paws on it yet.
There’s also been a great live album from Imperial State Electric, a compilation from Chuck Norris Experiment, a mini album from Motherfuckin’ Motherfuckers and a ton of singles from The Hip Priests.
Also on the horizon there’s a new album from Backyard Babies (which could go either way based on the new single), and the debut from Scumbag Millionaire too.
MM: You love your headwear. What’s your top three styles of hat? [laughs]
FVT: Captain Sensible’s beret, Pol Pot Pamparius’ helmet and Freddie Mercury’s crown!
MM: Thank you for chatting, Fraser. It’s really appreciated. As with all my interviews, I leave the final words with the bands themselves. GO!
FVT: Listen to our stuff, give us a gig and if you’re feeling really saucy buy one of our shirts. It all helps to keep the rock ‘n’ roll wheels turning.