Back in 2020 – which somehow seems like an eternity ago – I was discussing some of my favorite albums of the year with EIN’s PR Director Toni, and he said that he was holding an album very close to the vest because he didn’t wish to say too much about it and spoilt the surprise for an upcoming The Noise Of… article. I continued to pry because I am, a) nosy and b) furiously curious. Maybe those are the same thing. Anyway, after a little more prying and plying I got the confession from him that this album was Silent Intercom by Trophy Hunt. I of course immediately put it on and was instantly curious and impressed. What I was hearing was a tenacious mix of punk rock DIY aesthetic mixed on an album that employed the sounds of hardcore, grindcore, and yes some post-rock along with it. You might be thinking that you’ve heard this before. I can’t say that you haven’t, but there’s no one like Trophy Hunt, so you’ve not heard it exactly like this.
As time passed I took pride in taking the same approach that Toni took with the album. I was proud to listen to it and while I shared the album with those who I think would love and appreciate it, I still treasured it like a family heirloom or a keepsake that had some sentimental attachment. With their unique approach, fully formed atmosphere, and the genuine power that can be felt in their music, I felt like I got in on the ground floor of a secret that would get out and while that may be the most hipster thing I’ve ever confessed, I just knew it was going to be a lot of fun to watch Trophy Hunt grow and getting the opportunity to help them do that.
In 2021, they released their follow-up to Silent Intercom, an EP called Katabasis which veered slightly out of their grind roots and into black metal. While I was shocked that this was a direction that they were headed – at least for now – I was thrilled that they even though they managed to wear another genre so well, they kept their hardscrabble production and attitude present in the music. After absorbing this three-song EP I was starting to realize that this band could really do anything that they wanted in the heavy music space.
I’ve been wanting to get Trophy Hunt covered on our site for quite a while and after the release of their new LP, The Branches On Either Side was released I knew the time was now. This was their third release and again, they managed to pour lots of influences into their cauldron of aggression and the resulting stew is a stellar mix of everything that has come before while still pushing into new territory with their atmospheric moments and grander song compositions. This is one of the finest records released this year I am happy to get to remind you to check it out.
I reached out to Trophy Hunt and they were ecstatic that I was looking into them for this feature aside from confirming that they are great human beings, I was able to more insight into what makes them tick and their sense of who they are now and where they see themselves going.
I personally think that geography plays an incredibly interesting role in the formation of bands and in the case of Trophy Hunt, hailing from New York City, the possibilities are pretty endless when it comes to a band meeting and forming in such a metropolis. Also, band shirts play a huge role as vocalist Ashe points out in her recollection of the band’s formation:
‘We all were living in the big apple and I was working at a coffee shop that Kai and Nicole would go to. Obvi I kept track of any regulars with good band tees, and that got us talking. They had been doing Trophy Hunt for a year already, and I was drumming in a different band at the time but really wanted to go back to doing vocals, so when I heard they needed someone I was like pick me! It felt really comfy really quick.’
So not only do band tees lead to something great like forming awesome bands, just know that your baristas are taking note, so wear those shirts proudly when you caffeinate at your favorite coffee spots. Of course, the band’s assembly may be more of a by-product of their location in The Big Apple and less to do with wearing band shirts into coffee shops, but let’s not put the kibosh on that theory just yet and let me keep wearing my Fossilization T’s to my roadside Starbucks. With Kai recently relocating to Rhode Island, the dynamic changed a bit but the overall impact seems to have been a positive one:
‘I think that after a long time trying to balance working enough to pay rent in Brooklyn and putting the time and energy I wanted into the band it’s nice to be in a place that’s a little more relaxed. I feel like I’m still working at a New York pace but in a place where I’ve got way more free time to do it. We all lived together during the pandemic and I think that was pretty special in terms of being able to just knock on each other’s doors when we had ideas.’
The pandemic, while a literal pox upon our global society, was a really interesting time creatively for people. Artist touring ceased immediately and everyone was holed up wherever they could stay safe, my personal opinion is that this was a time of incredibly interesting creativity. One aspect of creativity is bringing more than one approach to bear on your musical project and this is one of the things that I love the most about Trophy Hunt. There are no bounds for where they will reach for inspiration and incorporation. With the acknowledgment that there have been some missteps when it comes to mixing certain styles, the desire to mix and match remains:
‘We like lots of different styles, but conceptually it feels pretty seamless to integrate them. Like shoegaze sounds cool when it bleeds into black metal, grindcore sounds cool when it leads into mosh zone, it’s all just heavy music. When I was younger it felt important to be a genre band, but now I’m so DJ/playlist-pilled I don’t think I have the attention for playing a single style.
‘We are all interested in each other’s respective histories, like I know Kai grew up around metalcore so I’m always asking her to chugalug. I also produce hardcore techno, and integrating that felt a little harder in tracks like “Branch”. There is an endless sea of cringey missteps in the combination of extreme metal and electronics, but it’s also really powerful when it works right.’
When I asked what they would like to explore next, in terms of genre, the answer that I got was surprising, even to me:
‘I’d love to write more pop songs. Stuff that is super bubblegum, really slick production, like the song “Gate” but dipped in Sourpatch energy drink. We’re messing with more noise elements, and I’d love to bring a synth or two for our next tour to improvise on. I love country music, I’d love to see that show in our sound. I also would love to have some banjo. I think the world is our oyster and we will get to try so many things in the coming years.’
As a fellow fan of country music, I wholly endorse the use of the banjo in a Trophy Hunt song or album. Let’s make that happen. While there are plenty of places for this act to go in terms of genre and creative structure, one thing I don’t think will be going anywhere is their sense of ownership and community around their music and the way that they create and assemble it. One of the very first things that I connected with when I heard Silent Intercom for the first time was the DIY ethic that seemed to be infused in every aspect of the songwriting as well as the production and the packaging. While Trophy Hunt aren’t opposed to selling out stadiums, they still very much want to make sure their music isn’t in the hands of people that don’t share their passion for it:
‘I mean if we can become a stadium metal band and cash out obviously we will do it, but I think our sound will keep us safely diy for years to come. We def like working with friends. If we’re not doing something it’s usually someone we know personally doing the art/engineering/etc. It would feel kinda odd having a random do this stuff like we are into what our friends do and want to engage with and support it. Til they have grindcore tape drop shipping we will continue to write cute notes and doodles when we ship our merch.’
I can confirm their handmade doodles and notes are some of the coolest things in my collection and I love those personal touches from bands like that. While I do hope that they can tour larger venues and sell out Madison Square Garden one of these days, I still hope to get hand-dyed lyric sheets when I order one of their lathe-cut 7” records. In wrapping up, I wanted to know what Trophy Hunt would be up to in the near future, especially given their current trend of one release per year since 2020:
‘Once a year sounds pretty good. Some of it will probably be splits and shorter records than Branches and Silent Intercom. But we’ve got lots of music in the chamber, I can’t wait for people to hear it.
‘The Branches On Either Side LP will be out on vinyl soon, and we’ll probs tour later this year, also Eliza is drumming with us now, that’s heavy-style. Trophy Hunt coming right at your fucking head, bonk bonk!’
Bonk bonk indeed. Trophy Hunt is good for the children, so get to listening to this tenacious act. Also, be sure to give them likes and follows on Facebook and Instagram. You should also buy their music on Bandcamp and keep your eyes peeled on those social spaces to seen if they are gigging near you and when the new music escapes the chamber!
Trophy Hunt is:
Ashe – Vocals
Kai – Guitars
Nicole – Bass