Another Tragic Story of an Unappreciated Rock and Roll Band
In 2005, Trail of Dead released the epic ‘Worlds Apart’. It was meant to make a huge wave in the indie/alternative kiddie pool. If you own it you know that it has all the old fashioned Trail of Dead trademarks and then some. Worlds Apart combines Conrad Keely’s knack for writing profound words and hiding them ever so slightly behind the bands talented musicians, Kevin Allen and Jason Reece who, when their mighty powers combine, transform from regular everyday Joes into the magic that is the Trail of Dead. Sadly, it only sold about 50,000 copies. The story holds true for most Trail of Dead albums. Though it is considered their best album, the 2002 release ‘Source Tags and Codes’ ran into the same commercial failures that ‘Worlds Apart’ did. It did, however, have one single getting radio play, but it fizzled away too quickly for anyone to notice.
Luckily it’s not their album sales that are keeping them alive. The heavy sound that pushes through the speakers with such intensity is even more tremendous in concert. Their live performances are known for being out of control and typically end with broken instruments. Getting your band’s name out of Austin, Texas is easy to do when you trash your stage after every show like you’re Kurt Cobain.
Does this sound like the ideal making of a great rock band? It certainly does. Nevertheless, the band is still making (commercially) unsuccessful album after another, still touring in rinky-dink venues, playing for the same crowd that has seen them time and time again trying to support their favorite band. Where did it go wrong? It must have gone wrong somewhere right? Nothing has gone wrong. It’s just another disappointing story of a hard working band not getting the credit they deserve.
Putting that all into perspective is something I should have done long before I put the new album in. This drastic adjustment was bound to happen. Truthfully, I don’t know why it didn’t happen earlier. The worst part about it is Conrad spells it out for us in every song. All you have to do is listen to the lyrics. From the first track he speaks his point of view. “I had a band/had a song/I had a vision/where’s my vision gone”. Nearly each song on ‘To Divided’ talks about being misplaced, confused, or having no identity. It’s this earnestness and sincerity I thought the album was lacking. I just wasn’t looking close enough. The muscle may not be the same, but the passion still thrives in every song. Although it’s different, ‘To Departed’ is still the Trail of Dead.
It’s sad to think that this band has probably already past the high point in their career. At least they aren’t lying down and letting their commercial defeat take them out. As long as that one person is out there buying it, Trail of Dead will keep putting everything they’ve got into their music. That’s more than I can say about most bands out there.