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Interview: Power Trip’s Riley Gale

power trip

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Power Trip are a Texas-based crossover thrash band who just released their sophomore album Nightmare Logic on Southern Lord. After a successful run opening a tour that featured Deafheaven, Anthrax and Lamb of God as well as This Is Hardcore; Power Trip find themselves headlining a tour that features crossover mainstays, Iron Reagan among others. The Marlin Room at Webster Hall is the middle floor of the venue, so Riley Gale and I ventured to the vacant mainstage to conduct our interview.

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How is everything on tour with Iron Reagan these days?

It has been fucking wonderful honestly, not a single bad show. Most of the shows have been sold out or oversold.

So you guys have been doing a show every night? Where were you last night?

We were in Baltimore at the Soundstage. We played there once before at an A389 Recordings show with Integrity and All Out War and another time on the Napalm Death, Black Dahlia Murder tour.

So I loved Manifest Decimation and I think that Nightmare Logic just kicks it up to another level, especially in this political climate that we now live in. I know you wrote the album before the election, but with the album’s polarizing nature, how well do you feel it captures the state of the Trump administration currently?

I guess the way that I see it in broad terms; and I allow myself to understand the complexities of many different topics, but the way I see it is that we have this 1%, the billionaires in power. We can all agree that the ultra rich control what happens to the rest of us. But the way I see it there are 99 times more of us than there are of them. If we’re the minority we should be able to figure out the fundamental changes in terms of race, sex, class and things like that. So we can start to revolt against these people, almost like a pirate mutiny. I love how these town hall meetings have been shaping up, people are being brutal to these politicians and they fucking deserve it. People are getting their voices heard and with this global news culture, we can find a way to empower ourselves to overcome this nightmare.

Nightmare Logic is about dealing with this waking nightmare, things seem so surreal that they’re unbelievable. When we were writing lyrics the Orlando shooting happened and the Paris shooting happened before we went to Europe and my mom was freaking out. So it is sort of like trying to find optimism and a motivating force and realizing that the 99% of us have more in common than we think. They want us to bicker over small things. If we can end world hunger and create jobs doing it, then that’s just one example.

Fundamentally if we were on the same page to preserve the human race… if god came down to earth in some manner with direct instructions as to what to do, people would drop what they are doing and form a sense of community to make it happen. It’s kind of like that comic ‘Watchmen’, where Ozymandias believes that the only way to achieve world peace is to find an external force for people to direct their hatred towards. That’s why he transports Dr. Manhattan into this outside villain that we can move our aggression towards. Look at our country and how we banded together during WWII and granted that was an outside enemy, but we live in a globalized world, we need to realize that we are all one species on the same rock, that we aren’t leaving anytime soon. We could look back to losing technology, to the dark ages to becoming near or possibly totally extinct.

It’s a fair point, it feels like it couldn’t be more divided. That’s the big problem.

I agree. Some people are starting to snap to. It’s funny because my dad likes to lump me in with as a typical democratic liberal. Although we have very good conversations, my dad is an intelligent man and he is economically conservative; he doesn’t really give a shit about what happens behind closed doors or the color people’s skin. He understands that there is a more moderate side to Islam and a more extreme side of Islam. But we have some really some intense debates, we learn a lot from each other. But it is starting to get to the point where people are starting to have more common ground. Tom Cotton in Arkansas came out for his town hall meeting with what you would think was full of the more red-blooded Republicans and they were tearing into him about things like, pro-life, gun ownership, & building the wall. Whatever happened with the election Donald Trump got nominated, I don’t know how, well, I kind of do, but it is weird. It seems like he doesn’t represent the people he said that he would. Look at how many people that didn’t know the ACA (Affordable Care Act) was Obamacare. Some of these Republicans are starting to wake up to that shit.

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Well who knew it could be that complicated?

I still have this argument with my dad, Obamacare was not the document he wanted pushed through. This thing got beaten up and torn down and revised so many times and this is what was left of it. This was something that Obama wanted to get done during his entire presidency but it was blocked almost the entire way. It was just so brutal, no wonder we have a flawed system and it just needs to be tweaked. I really hope that whoever is advising Donald Trump is finally for fucks sake going to do something good for the American people. Everyone deserves to be insured. We walk through life everyday and we all face different hazards everywhere. Think about driving and how close to death you come every time you get behind the wheel. It only takes one little mistake — and you’re telling me that people shouldn’t be insured for that?

We’re talking about affordability. Bernie said it best, “I have access to a Rolls Royce, but that doesn’t mean I can afford it.” Is it really a fundamental right? Or is it just access? Access is essentially nothing.

You’re right. I also believe there is such a thing as having too much money. There is a point where having too much money is just a sickness; a point where you don’t need more.

Like the Kochs? The Waltons?

Look at any billionaire. I think if you have billions of dollars you have a sick obsession with money and power and you don’t need that. We can figure out a way to become a completely self-sustaining society. Solar panels, batteries that charge when you shake them, some larger versions could be placed into the ocean to keep generating power. Pretty wild stuff. It goes into what Power Trip is all about, thinking of these things and being open minded and having perspective.

It’s about having a discussion and a conversation and a lot of people don’t want to have that conversation. Because it makes people uncomfortable.

That’s what “Soul Sacrifice” is about actually.

Yes. You have to go and put yourself out there.

That song is about opening your mouth to defend your beliefs when you aren’t prepared to do so and having a bit of yourself rocked. Unless they are too consumed with their blind faith, I feel like I can dismantle any Christian and their thought process.

You talk about the music in this political climate, it really feels like a second coming of the Reagan-era. Lots of hardcore and crossover bands, and honestly it is a lot like what is happening now. However historically it seems like Reagan was generally revered. At least that was what I was brought up to believe. I didn’t think anything otherwise.

I don’t see how anybody is anything but pissed. It gives people an opportunity to give a shit about history and politics. Politics is the greatest drama in the world. It deals in people’s lives. I know that makes it seem like a shallow form of entertainment, which it is very much not, but that’s the way a lot of these people act. How often do you think, when Donald Trump has a press conference, afterwards he goes into a closed door meeting, what changes about his demeanor? Probably a lot. Obama was probably like that too, or any other politician.

The first time I saw you guys on a very interesting tour, you guys opening for Lamb of God last year in Sayreville NJ at the Starland Ballroom. My brother who used to be a bit of a hasher and his buddy who used to wear a leather jacket and have hair down to the crack of his ass, they loved you guys. It was crazy because you were touring with two legends (Lamb of God and Anthrax) as well as Deafheaven it was just an eclectic tour. You blew the lid off the place and then those bands have to follow you.

It was the ideal big tour for us to do. I had been saying since around 2012, if you put us in a room with people like aggressive music, they will leave liking our band. Or at least leave saying that we don’t suck.

I can certainly attest to that fact.

When we got this Lamb of God tour we said this is going to be the biggest tour we have played, period; besides This Is Hardcore. This is a big deal so why don’t we play like we’re the headliner, don’t hold anything back. We did what we did and just gave it to the crowd and they loved it, proving my point.

I agree. It was like people leaving the show not knowing who you guys were going “who the fuck was that?”

This is great. We would walk around the show me and drummer Chris and mingle with the crowd and we would hear guys be like [in southern accent] “Let’s just get these two faggot opening bands out of the way.” Then we’d be like “Haha, ok.” Then we’d go up there and play, come down to mingle again and the same guy would be at the merch table buying a shirt and a CD. Saying “you guys were the best opening band I have ever fucking seen in my whole life.”

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