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Ryan Lee: “When you live in a trailer, you feel like you’re a part of the scenery and atmosphere a lot more than if you’re in a house. Waking up every day and being greeted by cows and a sunrise over the fields definitely affected me as a songwriter. ”

Crypt Trip is een band die complexe levensvragen op een makkelijke manier en met een heerlijke soundtrack weet te beantwoorden. Hun nieuwe album ‘Haze County’, waarvan je de betekenis in dit interview kunt lezen, bevat heerlijk psychedelische proto metal. We praten met zanger en gitarist Ryan Lee onder andere over de bijzondere invloed van de staat Texas en de prachtige grens waarop het leven balanceert.

Door: Bart Meijer – 20 april 2019

Congratulations on your new record! It feels as though congratulating is not the proper thing, because it makes it sound like something really good accidentally happened. But great albums like ‘Haze County’ don’t just happen like that, do they?
We appreciate the gesture. We’ve been excited about this release for quite some time now. The writing process for ‘Haze County’ began in 2016 so we had plenty of time to refine the songs and focus on the production of the album. It was a much different process than our previous album and we’re very happy with the final product.

When I looked up Haze County, all I really found was an IPA beer. I thought this was probably not what you were referring too, although when I saw it is from Austin, Texas, like you, I was in doubt. Also because haze county sounds like one of the many interesting names of marihuana. Please enlighten us and tell us what you mean with ‘Haze County’?
Hops and Grain Brewery, a local brewery, got the idea from the same place we did. The album title is a play on words. We live in San Marcos, Texas (30 minutes south of Austin). The county that the town is located in is called “Hays County”. Since we tend to be a little psychedelic-minded, we thought it would be cool to change the spelling to “Haze County”. The environment  in which we wrote and developed the album really had a huge impact on us so we chose the title as a testament to San Marcos and the surrounding area.

Speaking of marihuana, do you have any experiences with it, and if so, please tell us about some of the more interesting ones.
The plant is definitely not a stranger to us.

One of the things on this album that is different than on previous albums is that you added Geoff Queen as a special guest. What made you decide to do this, and what does his sound add to yours?
Country music is something we all grew up with and pedal steel is one of those essential elements of the classic country sound. Over the past few years we’ve been listening to a lot of psychedelic country-rock like The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, and Doug Sahm. I don’t think a lot of people realize how psychedelic and dreamy sounding a pedal steel can be. (Even Pink Floyd uses one). We thought the choice to feature it on this album just made sense, and Geoff Queen is an outstanding player.

I noticed that in the biography that accompanied the download I was sent of your album the name Texas pops up quite a lot. This is obvious, because you are from there, but it made me wonder how important this background is to you and if living there influences your music a lot?
Like I said earlier, the environment that we wrote the album in had a big influence over the music but also on us as people. Sam, the bassist, and I both have been living in camper trailers on cow farms for a couple years. When you live in a trailer, you feel like you’re a part of the scenery and atmosphere a lot more than if you’re in a house. Waking up every day and being greeted by cows and a sunrise over the fields definitely affected me as a songwriter. In addition, Texas has a very rich music history from rock to country and rhythm and blues. A lot of the musicians from here sing about their home. People from Texas tend to be a little proud, it’s something that is well known and that the other states poke fun at sometimes.

Overall, ‘Haze County’ has a very relaxed and mellow feel to it, and it seems that you are spreading a message that gives very easy solutions to problems that people think are very big. Is this a correct observation?
One of the reasons that I am so excited about this record is that the lyrics are very meaningful to me. The songs deal with personal situations and big-picture problems that I’ve been thinking through over the past couple of years. Side A is kind of an introspective look inside myself. You are correct in saying that I have thought through some problems and provided solutions that work for me.

If I were to say that the vibe you are sending out with this record reminds me a lot of Canned Heat’s vibe, what would you think of that? (The music sounds quite different though.)
We definitely take inspiration from the late 60’s California scene. Canned Heat fits right in with that. It’s a good blues-based sound with a little bit of psychedelia and some country thrown in. If I could use one album as a soundtrack to my life it would be the ‘Easy Rider’ soundtrack.

As someone who embraces controversy, especially as a way to motivate people to think for themselves and not follow a general, soothing idea, I find it comforting to hear a sentence like “Every man needs a woman’s love to be whole”, in your song ‘To Be Whole’. I do not mean to imply anything, I am only saying that in this day and age where people are careful in how they formulate anything they want to say, something like this sounds fresh.
The point I am trying to get across in this song is that life is full of hard times. Although there is a lot of good times to come, the dark clouds are waiting. Everyone needs the love of someone else to lift them up through the times of impending suffering in adulthood. Since this is coming from the perspective of a man, I am singing about the love of a woman. Life is a balance of light and dark; of sun and storm; of masculine and feminine.

I know some of the magic of music is that every listener can give each song the meaning she/he thinks it needs. Despite this, and even though the song ‘Free Rain’ sounds very straightforward, I am really very curious what it is about. Who is “the Man”?
The lyrics in this song were mostly written and sung by Cameron, the drummer. I wrote and sang the middle section of the song, where I am talking about rain creating plants, that we all know and love, that happen to be illegal in some places. In Richard Linklater’s film ‘School of Rock’, Jack Black gives an in-depth description of who “The Man” is.

You will be going on a European tour very shortly; if I gathered correctly this will be your first endeavor this side of the Atlantic Ocean and you will be visiting some of Europe’s finest countries. What are some of the things you are looking forward to?
Man, we’re so excited to finally be making the trip to Europe. Our music means so much to us and the fact that we can travel around to different countries and share that experience with people is really amazing. I think I’m most excited about talking with people after the shows (and seeing the countryside of course).

You will also be performing at Roadburn this year. I am very much looking forward to seeing you there. Tell us, how did that go?
I remember the moment when Gabriele from our label, Heavy Psych Sounds, eagerly announced that we were chosen to be a part of Roadburn 2019. I couldn’t believe it. It’s such a great opportunity to get in front of people that want to discover something new. We’re very grateful.

Have any of you ever been to Roadburn as guests, and (whether yes or no) what is your impression of this festival?
None of us have been. My impression is that it is a special place for underground music and for fans to discover new bands. It sounds amazing. I have been to the Netherlands once before when I was playing bass for Wo Fat. The country was beautiful, the people were kind, and I can’t wait to be back.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions of this interview. If there is anything else you feel like sharing with our readers, please do so!
Absolutely! It was a pleasure answering them. To any of your European readers, we can’t wait to see you this Spring!

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