Robb Torres Of Trapt: 'Make Sure You Have A Metronome'

artist: trapt date: 01/13/2011 category: interviews
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Robb Torres Of Trapt: 'Make Sure You Have A Metronome'
For Trapt's fourth studio record No Apologies, the quartet has taken a noticeable turn toward a more aggressive, raw sound a creative move due in large part to the addition of new guitarist Robb Torres. With Simon Ormandy opting to leave the California-based band back in 2008, Torres stepped in to take over touring duties and the obvious musical chemistry lead to the guitarist becoming a full-fledged member not long afterward. No Apologies' first single Sound Off is indicative of the band's new musical transition, and you can find full tablature for that track on Ultimate-Guitar.com provided by Torres himself. While there is certainly a grittier aspect to No Apologies, Torres has always taken his inspiration from a wide array of musical genres. Having a background heavily rooted in jazz guitar and receiving in-depth training for musical theory, Torres could easily tackle any genre or style that might appeal to him in the future. For now, however, Torres' passion is his work with Trapt, which will continue to tour extensively in support of No Apologies throughout the rest of the year. Torres recently chatted with Ultimate-Guitar.com to discuss the new album, Trapt's current studio setup, and his continued work as a guitar instructor. UG: You joined Trapt fairly recently back in 2008 after guitarist Simon Ormandy left the band. How did that event come about? Robb: I had known the drummer Monty many years before he was in Trapt. We were in Miami and South Florida, and we had been in various bands. So we ended up playing in a band and we moved to LA. That whole thing kind of fell apart after eight months. He went on to join Trapt and I went on to some other endeavors. We managed to stay in touch and stuff like that. One day I guess their guitar player quit and they had a show booked, and he asked if I wanted to do it. He suggested that I would be good for the band. I did the one show, it went well, and I think they wanted to continue. I know that you weren't involved in songwriting for the last record Only Through The Pain, but at what point did you join the collaborative process for No Apologies? We all wrote it together. I came into the band after Only Through The Pain was released. I didn't play on Only Through The Pain, but I toured that record. While we were on the road we would start to jam and gather ideas and stuff like that. When we were done touring, we would get together and all jam and present ideas that we had. There's a lot of jamming going on! Is it safe to assume that the songs primarily come about through jamming? Have there been instances where you write the bulk of the song and bring it in? It's actually a combination. Me, Pete (Charell, bass), and Aaron (Montgomery, drums) spend a lot of time just jamming. We'll go to Pete's house and just jam for hours. We might come up with a song form and record it, and then we'll send it over to Chris (Taylor Brown, vocals) to work on. That was one way we did things. Another way would be that I would have an idea that I worked on, I'd bring in that riff, and then we'd develop the song structure. We'd record that and give it to Chris. The other way was Chris would come in with a somewhat finished idea with lyrics or riffs, and then we'd develop that. We did spend three weeks together in a room and we jammed the ideas we had.

"After so many years of writing songs, working with different producers and stuff, you just start to know what a good, solid track should be like."

How was it working with producer Johnny K? It was great. He knows how to get good sounds. He's very straightforward. He knows what to do to make the song good. Luckily we weren't really that far off, so it was an easy process. I think after so many years of writing songs, working with different producers and stuff, you just start to know what a good, solid track should be like as far as arrangements and things like that. I'd like to talk about the general studio setup. Are there a few certain guitars in particular that you always look to for recording? Lately I've been working on a Mac Book in Logic. That's just for demoing things, of course. Before that I was using Pro Tools. My go-to guitars for this band are Les Pauls. We've been using a lot of baritone guitars. PRS has been awesome with supplying us with a couple baritone guitars. That's pretty much it. How about your amplification and effects? I just recently did a deal with Framus Amps. So I'm using Dragon Tops. They sound really good. I just got them after the studio, so I really didn't get a chance to play with them in the studio. We did have them for a few overdubs. There were a variety of amps in the studio, and Johnny K had a bunch of amps lined up in the studio as well. There were Bogners, Marshalls, Mesas. We have a bunch of stuff at our house, too. Right now it's all about Framus. I'm rocking that vibe and it's sounding really good. I'm happy with them. Are there any pieces of equipment that you might consider a best-kept secret? Wow, that's a good question. I'm still trying to find that! I've tried different pedalboard setups that felt really good. I like a two-amp setup live. There's this company called Loop-Masters. They make these loop switchers and you can custom build loops and channels that you want. I can switch between one amp that's set on dirty and to another amp that's set on clean. At the same time, I have a loop switch that's right next to the A/B button. It allows me with one stomp to go from my clean amp with all my effects, then stomp the two switches at once and it'll shut the loop off and the dirty channel will come on. It's kind of like a poor man's MIDI switching system. I've been playing around with the Line 6 M9 multi-effects unit. It's more convenient than a lot of others. Talk a bit about your influences. Were there certain players that helped shape your style? And how would you describe your style? There were a lot of different influences from the early years like Angus Young and the Back in Black record. I would even consider Elton John an influence somehow even though I ended up playing guitar. His songs and stuff helped me get into music. Maybe it was just because it was around all the time with my older brother. Once I did start getting into playing guitar, it was all about Van Halen, AC/DC, and Def Leppard. Those were definitely the starting point. Led Zeppelin came later for me, but definitely Van Halen. Judas Priest was a big influence. I actually went to the University of Miami and studied jazz. That's how I met Aaron. He was going to FIU. He had a friend and our first jams were jamming to one song with extremely long solos. With my jazz background I'm into guitar players like Joe Pass. Charlie Parker and Miles Davis weren't guitar players, but they influenced me a lot as well. Do you ever notice your jazz background creeping into elements of Trapt? Not too much. There is one part of the set that we try to open up and we actually go into a jam where I'm soloing. We stretch this one song. I guess it comes in there. I think it's more of the improv background where it starts to come in. We just kind of improvise. I think that's really the only jazz background that would come in. When you're learning jazz, you're learning advanced theory and scales. You're being exposed to all these harmonies and theories. I think in that process you train your ear to hear different intervals and melodies and chords. What might sound dissident and ugly to an untrained ear actually sounds really nice to me. I think that allows me to hear different notes that an untrained person wouldn't hear. I read that you are a guitar instructor as well. Yes, I am. How long have you been doing that? About 15 years. It's something I've always done to provide. I've been getting a little more choosy with who I teach. I love to teach and I love to relate to people. I think it's kind of my job to carry on that torch. I want to find the ones that really want to do that. Then it pushes me as an instructor.

"I love to teach and I love to relate to people. I think it's kind of my job to carry on that torch."

Does that ever interfere with your touring schedule? Even when we're on tour I try to teach. I teach a lot online, but there are not always a lot of Internet connections. You obviously have a wide spectrum of musical knowledge under your belt. What few pieces of advice would you like to pass on to other guitarists? I would definitely tell them to make sure you have a metronome. You can be a great player and you can know all your scales and stuff, but if you can't play in time no one is going to want to play with you. If you know one scale or a couple of chords and you're timing is really good, people are going to want to play with you. When you play with people, it's not about how fast or how many scales or what advanced stuff you know. If your rhythm or timing is good, then you can make music. The little Korg metronomes are like $20 or $25, and basically you should sleep with it. Sleep with it while it's on! The other thing I would really say is just play every day. I try to get my practice every day. If you practice five hours one day but then go four days without playing at all, you've just wasted your time. If you can get a half-hour in, then you're building a practice schedule. Will you be touring for the rest of the year? Are you going overseas at all? I don't know about other countries yet. We'll head out again after Thanksgiving. Hopefully next year we'll go back out again. The new material sounds fantastic and you can certainly tell there's a turn toward a heavier sound. Yeah. I was definitely bringing in the rock stuff. What I really wanted to do was add more rock into there. I actually contributed a tab for Sound Off on Ultimate-Guitar. It's like a lot of work! The thing that I notice about the tabs posted there are that most of them do a good job, but a lot of them aren't right. I thought it would be a good idea to get in there and say, This is how it's really done. I think it's Sound Off Version 2. I left a little note there so they should know it's me! Interview by Amy Kelly Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2011
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