When a group of university students decide to combine forces and make music, the move is quite often inspired by cheap booze and the need for an alternative to daytime television. Not so, it appears, in the case of Ayr’s Trapped In Kansas. Guitarist Gregor Fair explains that the quartet’s intricate, tuneful brand of indie rock was borne out of inter-band conversations on space, time travel, the Hadron Collider and other assorted quandaries of physics. “We genuinely have some intense scientific brain meltdowns whilst traversing the M8 in Chris [Ward]’s trusty Citroen Picasso.”
Ward, the band’s bass player and vocalist elaborates: “I would certainly say our biggest influence is science. We get into crazy chats about dark matter, parallel universes and Stephen Hawking.”
It’s a refreshing approach to songwriting, and one which has paid dividends this year. Though only formed in June 2008, Trapped in Kansas already have debut performances at RockNess and a headlining set in the T Break tent at T in the Park under their belt, having also featured in a filmed session for The Skinny and Off The Beaten Tracks at the latter.
Whilst Fair is loathe to define the band’s sound, he describes its intricacies as “thoughtful and sometimes challenging, without being complicated for the sake of it.” He is sure, however, that Trapped in Kansas have found a distinct identity. “I think we’re instantly recognisable against other Scottish bands. Finn [Le Marinel]’s vocals are very unique which helps us stand out. The rhythms and tempos are constantly shifting in our songs, which keeps people interested.”
It’s a reasonable summation, according to the few tracks the band have released. There’s a palpable element of math-rock, but the tracks are consistently melodic. Their palette owes much to the wildly varied tastes of the band’s members: drummer Iain Symes enjoys dubstep and drum & bass, whereas Le Marinel is, according to Fair, “a purveyor of anything devoid of time signatures.” Fair’s own background is playing in punk bands, whilst Ward mainly follows indie bands like Belle & Sebastian, Stapleton and The Smiths. Collectively, the band enjoy more than the mere mysteries of the universe, sharing a love of Frightened Rabbit and American Football.
Having just completed a tour of Scotland with Bronto Skylift and Lions.Chase.Tigers., Ward is confident that another EP release from the band is forthcoming in the near future, though the process of formalising an agreement with the right label hasn’t been without its complications. “We’ve had chats with some Scottish labels about doing a single deal, though thus far nothing has been right for us. But we’re excited about the EP, it will be like the end of our first chapter and we can move away from those tracks and onto new material.”
With another round of Scottish gigs scheduled between now and the festive season, the opportunities to catch the dextrously talented Trapped In Kansas are plentiful. Be sure and see them now before they turn the page.
Written for The Skinny