folio music

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

Appalachian Death Trap snares with sci-fi and self-help

Posted

#FindYourFolio Happy Hour is always a good time to meet Northeast Florida’s movers and shakers. Case in point: Last week, four hirsute musicians dropped by and introduced themselves. They were Bradley Alcorn, Erik Heran, Sean Morrison and Gary Vernon—collectively known as Appalachian Death Trap. They’re a hard-rock group, and they’re gearing up to hit the road for an East Coast tour with a brand-new EP.

The six-track set, Move a Stone, follows ADT’s self-titled 2015 debut album. Why did the sequel take so long? “Work, life, money,” they sigh in unison. One suspects, however, that these fellows are in no particular hurry. They’re on Appalachian time. I just made that up, but let it mean henceforth that these Jacksonville lads have been jamming for geologic ages. Drummer Morrison and bassist Vernon have been honing their rhythm section since 1992. (“We’re old,” Vernon groans.) They collaborated in rock bands like Jug-or-Not and Cant Get Right, which is how they met vocalist and guitarist Erik Heran.

“I went to see Cant Get Right all the time,” Heran says. “I must’ve seen almost all their shows. Then, a decade later, I ended up in Gary’s garage writing songs with him.”

ADT coalesced in 2011, when Morrison and Vernon reached out to their longtime friend and fan with an eye toward launching a new project. “I think Gary invited me,” Heran recalls. “As soon as the three of us started jamming, we thought, ‘Right, we’ve got a thing!’”

They had a thing, yes, but no name. And sometimes that’s the hardest thing.

“When you’re in a band and don’t have a name,” Heran observes, “you’re always listening for something that makes sense. So one day I was talking to some friends and the phrase ‘Himalayan death trap’ came to me. Then I thought, ‘No, that’s too cold. Appalachian death trap.’ I texted Gary and Sean immediately. We all have a hiking background, so it all sort of clicked. We’ve been leaning into the imagery ever since.”

When your band is named Appalachian Death Trap, you’re leaning into some fairly surreal imagery. So Move a Stone opens with “The Lysine Contingency,” an ode of sorts to Jurassic Park.

“The basic storyline,” Heran says, “is someone summons the spirit of Osiris into the body of a velociraptor.” Hilarity ensues!

It’s not all demons and dinosaurs, though. “We go from that to ‘Sharks,’ which is deeply personal,” adds guitarist Alcorn, who joined the band in 2016. “So it’s a mix of sci-fi nerdiness and serious subjects.”

The title of the EP is borrowed from the chorus of “Push to Close”: “Just know you’re not alone/If you can’t move a mountain, move a stone.”

“It’s probably the most uplifting song I’ve ever written,” says Heran.

But to return to the surreal stuff, there’s more! ADT went viral earlier this year when Alcorn’s tongue-in-cheek band bio—borrowed verbatim from a description of the 1980s television sitcom, The Golden Girls—was copied and pasted by VisitStAugustine.com in the run-up to a show at Shanghai Nobby’s. The incident was picked up by genre sites like metalsucks.net and metalinjection.net. In the aftermath, ADT cut a rock-‘n’-roll cover version of the series’ cheesy theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend,” and offered it online as a wry amuse-gueule while audiences waited for the plat principal, Move a Stone.

The band recorded the new EP with Stan Martell at his studio in Kingsland, Georgia. “He’s about making everything sound huge,” Heran explains. The vibe is heavy but not oppressive. Its classic metal riffs are served with a contemporary metalcore sheen There’s even a bit of funk metal à la Living Colour. The sleeve features original work by Jacksonville pulp artist Jason Wright.

ADT has invited The Snacks Blues Band to open the big EP release shindig this weekend. The two groups gig together frequently, and SBB will join ADT on-stage for a special collaboration. After the show, ADT embarks on a five-date run to New York City and Philadelphia. From there, the sky’s the limit. They may be on Appalachian time, but the four friends are enjoying their current pace.

“It’s easier working with these guys than with anyone else,” Heran says. “It’s not a chore. It’s something everyone’s happy to be part of.”

Alcorn concurs: “We’re longtime friends. It makes being in a band easier than it ever was in my 20s. It’s something that comes with getting older, getting more comfortable.”

Perhaps sensing the descent into sincerity, Vernon jumps in with a quip: “Yeah, we rip on each other all the time!”

No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment
Array ( [image] => https://cdn2.creativecirclemedia.com/folioweekly/original/20191127-131258-SLJ_Wallpaper.jpg [url] => http://folioweekly.com/supportlocaljournalism/ )