The members of The Fall of Troy knew it was time for a break. As they reached the end of their touring cycle for 2007’s Manipulator album, the group was burned out on performing and still adjusting to the departure of bassist Tim Ward, who quit in November of that year due to stress. With a handful of rudimentary compositions already in the works for its next disc, the band spent about eight months removed from its music.
The hiatus did them good. Regrouping, they grew comfortable with new bass player Frank Ene (who replaced Ward mid-tour) and felt a reinvigorated desire to write more material. On Oct. 6, the band’s efforts culminated with the release of In the Unlikely Event, The Fall of Troy’s fourth album, and a new nationwide tour.
“I’m very excited to be doing this again,” says drummer Andrew Forsman. “Towards the end of our last run, it got kind of boring.”
In a departure from the band’s last two releases, Unlikely Event was neither a rushed product (like Manipulator) nor a grandiose concept disc (like 2008’s Phantom of the Horizon, an EP made up of songs written more than five years ago). Instead, the album’s tracks are loosely framed around an idea described by Forsman as “how relationships affect people — not necessarily romantic relationships but friendships and family relationships as well.”
“When we were young, we just (listened to other musicians and said), ‘Wow, those guys can really play!’ We focused not so much on writing great songs but on great parts,” Forsman says of the latest album. “We're trying to focus on the song as a whole rather than, ‘Let's put a crazy guitar part there for fun.’ We want to make sure that everything fits and flows.”
The trio wrote the album at a practice space in the band’s headquarters in Washington state. Thomas Erak, guitarist and Fall of Troy mastermind, mapped out each track’s architecture, bringing Forsman and Ene in once the primary portions were completed. While each song went through a few drafts, the group members didn’t spend too much time with any individual piece.
“We’re usually pretty confident that (the good) stuff’s good enough,” Forsman says.
For Manipulator, the group only had a small window of time to work with producer Matt Bayles, leaving the final product a rushed job. They rectified their error with Unlikely Event: The Fall of Troy spent two weeks playing and editing songs with noted hard rock producer Terry Date before recording began.
“When we got into the studio, we had a good idea of what we were going to try,” Forsman says. “This one turned out a lot better than Manipulator, sonically and song-wise.”
Situated in Studio Litho in Seattle, the band members and Date worked together to craft a smooth and effective recording. One trick the producer used was making Erak sing into a handheld microphone rather a stationary one, which improved the placement of vocals in the mix. In Forsman’s case, his set was surrounded by mics to comply with Date’s specific method of recording drums.
Additionally, this stint marked the first time the group utilized Quicktracks, an audio manipulation program able to speed up and slow down individual parts, to pinpoint the exact sounds they were after. By the time recording was complete, they’d grown deeply familiar with the fresh material.
“We spent a lot of time playing songs over and over in the studio until they were just perfect,” Forsman says.
The resulting album stretches a bevy of unusual muscles, demonstrating the group’s desire to use one genre as a vessel to move elsewhere. As with the rest of their discography, everything is rooted in the ambitious guitar acrobatics of Post Hardcore, but as Unlikely Event plays on, their sound transforms: “Battleship Graveyard” is an apocalyptic lightning storm dominated by scratchy caterwauls; “A Classic Case of Transference” turns from a metallic contusion into a merry-go-round swirl; “Nobody’s Perfect” wanders like early ‘90s Emo; and the Pop-Punk esque “Webs” could pass for a lighter-waving ballad (until the fuzz begins to collect). Calling The Fall of Troy high-minded would be inaccurate (they can be far too sullen and gruff), but they certainly aren’t afraid of taking stabs at new territory.
Looking past Unlikely, the group is uncertain of how its sound will evolve next. But Forsman is currently tinkering with one idea.
“It would be fun to play around with some electronic instruments but a) I don’t know if it would fit and b) we don’t plan what we are going to sound like in the future,” he says. “We just get together and write songs and it turns into what it is.”
THE FALL OF TROY plays The Mad Hatter Tuesday with Javelin Dance, The Paramedic, I Am The Messenger and Says The Suns. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.