INTERVIEW: Jack Pallett (TRACES)
Tamworth rockers Traces have all the makings of an unstoppable sonic juggernaut - huge soundscapes, thrilling riffs and a firm grasp on their own creativity that has seen them catapult from their regional hometown and tour alongside the likes of Dream on Dreamer, In Hearts Wake, Polaris and more since their debut EP release in 2014.
But while this engaging trio bring a scintillating mix of jaunty heavy metal to the table, there's more than just thumping ear candy that makes Traces so particularly engaging; from their all-in DIY tendencies to their crusade to bring mental health front and centre, there's a flourish of authenticity to everything this lot touches, and their latest tune Can't Stop Me is another prime example of how they operate.
Combining their killer new track with a social media movement to break the never-ending cycle of negativity in this digital age, Can't Stop Me packs an extra powerful punch with the group passionately offering a platform to celebrate positivity and the beauty of being present. And in honour of this epic new tune, we grabbed vocalist Jack Pallett for an in-depth chat to talk early days, creativity and the unstoppable power of positivity. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi and thank you very much for chatting today, it’s no doubt been a busy time lately with the release of ‘Can’t Stop Me’ and some huge shows lately as well. Firstly, congrats on the track, it’s a total powerhouse – but it’s also seen you guys actively campaign to get people talking about mental health. How has the reaction been to the track so far?
JACK PALLETT: Thank you so much for the kind words about the song! That really means a lot to us! So far the reaction to the track has been really good, we’ve received a lot of positive comments and even the more negative ones have still been positive. We’ve had a lot of new people talk to us saying that the track is awesome, a lot of people at the release shows knew the lyrics and sang along with us and some of the bands we brought (Setmeonfire and Father Deer Hands) along were annoyed the riff was getting stuck in their heads which is pretty good in my opinion! Overall the track has gone down really well and we couldn’t be happier.
CAN'T STOP ME (TRACES)
TIANA: I believe ‘Can’t Stop Me’ began as a riff gone wrong, to put it one way…can you elaborate a bit on how the track actually came to life?
JACK: Yeah you could almost say that. It was a riff that just straight up wasn’t usable at the time that we all enjoyed which at the time sucked. The first time we played around with what eventually became the song was around 2016/2017. We had an idea of where we wanted the band to go sound wise and had a lot of ideas we played around with that fit that style, the first riff was one of them so we used to Jam out pretty much the first riff, the verse and then the first riff again as a chorus and used the riff to Soundcheck at shows. We never got to sit down and work on the song since it didn’t fit our style at the time. A few years later we had released some more music and the song made sense so we made a demo and finished the basic version of the track back in early 2018. We had some problems with our old drummer and I was going through some personal stuff that delayed recording the track and we ended up tracking it and putting together all the content around June 2018. We wanted to do this one right so we just took it slow and made sure no stone was left unturned with what we were trying to do.
TIANA: ‘Can’t Stop Me’ continues the Traces theme of DIY, with everything from mixing and mastering to the music video completely done in-house. Obviously there are pros and cons to each mode of operation in the music world, what is it about doing it all yourselves that keeps you in this vein of things? (And has there ever been a moment you’ve nearly thrown it in and outsourced to someone else?)
JACK: For us at this stage there are a few different reasons why DIY is the way to go. First of all it’s something we always wanted to do. We see things like recording, making the art and editing the videos the same as writing the songs, playing shows and all of that. We enjoy those parts of the process just as much and feel there is an element of creativity in them that if we gave it to someone else would make what we are putting out there less authentic at least at this stage. We want everything we do to be a clear representation of who we are as artists and what our skills are. That way our listeners are supporting 100% us, no smoke, no mirrors or anything. Just us three guys making the best art we can. Another major reason is we honestly feel like we don’t deserve to get anywhere in music if we haven’t put in the work for it. We feel like we need to get as far as we can on our own feet before we expect anyone to carry us, you know? As for the final reason, it has a lot to do with us previously outsourcing. When we started we didn’t know how to record, make art or do much at all, we were kids who just wanted to jam and play shows. We would outsource things like design work, recording and often got ripped off and everything rarely turned out how we wanted it. It felt like when we wanted to get something done, it was almost a roll of the dice on if it would turn out properly. We got into recording, design and all of that and started doing our own stuff, it took longer sometimes but things turned out how we wanted, so we started going fully DIY just so that everything actually got done properly. Mind you though we have outsourced in the past like with our first EP and outsourced things like live photography at the moment (kinda hard taking photos while performing) but we aren’t totally against it. Maybe one day when it becomes too hard to do things ourselves or we find the right people to work with we may outsource. We do enjoy doing things on our own though.
pic by Amy McIntosh
TIANA: Back to the topic of ‘Can’t Stop Me’, as touched on earlier it’s part of a movement to break through negativity online, while also being a kickass war-cry to fighting your own worst enemy: yourself. A universal theme no doubt, but how did the idea come to fruition to start this movement? And in your own words (rather than me rehash the description!) – what does this movement ultimately hope to achieve?
JACK: So the whole idea for the movement came from the same thing that inspired the lyrics. Last year I was in a really bad place mentally. The band seemed like it was going downhill with a heap of issues that arose because of our old drummer, a few things happened in my personal life, one of which was a pretty horrible series of events that lead to me bed ridden and extremely depressed. I had lost almost any hope I had for life and spent a month at home, in bed doing almost nothing. I had never felt so defeated. In that time, like a lot of people going through things I found it hard to talk to people so I ended up spending a lot of time on the internet reading stories of how people had gone through similar things and overcome them. It gave me a bit of hope for my own life and gave me the encouragement to actually make a change. That along with the support of my partner and close friends pulled me out of it and we decided to write a song about not letting your own thoughts pull you down. When brainstorming ideas on what to do with the song, the idea of a movement or doing something for charity came up and the Can’t Stop Me movement is what we ended up doing. Pretty much what we aim to achieve with this movement is to make social media a more honest place and a more encouraging place that promotes positivity. We hope that by people sharing their stories it encourages others not only to do the same, but to make a positive change in their life and be the best version of themselves. We’re just hoping to make the world a better place with our platform really, even if it's only a few people. That’s better than nothing.
TIANA: There seems to be a whole heap of Aussie bands cropping up in the heavy scene with a huge priority on positivity amongst all the killer riffs and beats. Do you feel that the Aussie music industry on a whole is one capable of sustaining this positivity, and does it feel like a place of support and opportunity from your perspective?
JACK: I think positivity in general is something that is needed in music which is why so many bands are pushing it. Heavy music often deals with a lot of the more negative aspects of life thematically and I think trying to counterbalance that with a positive message or attitude is something that kind of has to happen, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows but it sure isn’t all dark clouds and rain either. I think positivity in the industry is sustainable, all it takes is appreciation and being content with what you have. That’s a really tricky question though as I guess it depends, as a whole I don’t think I’ve experienced enough of it to be able to make a solid judgment on if Australia’s music industry a place of support and opportunity. At the level we are at though I do feel that there is opportunity and support for those with the right connections or those willing to work really hard.
TIANA: I believe Traces formed when you guys were in high school, which is awesome because the only skill I seem to have carried over from high school was talking too much. Back in the day, did you guys have a pretty solid idea of the band you wanted to be? Was there a clear musical identity you were aiming for, even in those early days?
JACK: Hahaha talking too much is a pretty good skill, better to have something to say than nothing. To be honest back when we were in high school, we knew we wanted to be in a band that toured, released music and did all the things most bands have on their bucket list but as for musical identity we had no idea beyond playing what we listened to. We started as 14 year olds playing metal songs at our local youth centre, eventually taking heavy influence from any decent band that played in our town and molding our sound around what we were surrounded by at the time. The only consistent thing which we grew to understand is our musical identity is we just make music that we enjoy at the time. Be it heavy metal all the way down to pop or even soundscape stuff. At 14 you don’t really know what you’re doing but looking back that seems to be clearly what we did.
TIANA: And fast-forward to the present and you’re touring the country, sitting on a heap of releases and with the promise of new music to come next year (dare we say – an album?!). Looking back, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer if you could to your younger self just starting out on this musical adventure?
JACK: That’s a tough question. I would probably say that you should know your worth, don’t be embarrassed to be yourself and trust yourself. There was a lot of times where I doubted a lot of what I was doing because of outside influences and pushed the band and what we did in a direction to please people that in the end of the day didn’t care about us as people (some being previous band members). We didn’t do things like tour our first release when we should have because of things like that so I would 100% say just trust yourself and do what you think is right, don’t worry about anyone else.
TIANA: And speaking of tours…you’ve played your fair share of shows, both at home and around the country. What’s been a particular standout live moment for you, whether it’s been memorably good, bad or hilarious?
JACK: That we have! Well let’s go all three, a good moment would be the other night in Tamworth where for our whole set people went crazy, sang along, crowdsurfed etc. It was that hectic the crowd was going mental even during build ups to the sections you’re meant to move in haha. Bad would probably be on our tour with Windwaker where we played Sydney and the venue decided to change the times on us pretty much cutting the show off before we could play even with the other bands cutting songs. We ended up playing one song that was a mess because we had none of our own gear and the venue was trying to kick us out while we played. Lastly the most hilarious memory was another Sydney show where Ryan who used to play bass did a spin and hit me in the side of the head, the guy hits the gym a lot so I don’t know how I survived, I shouldn’t have been knocked out. It was kinda funny.
pic by Amy McIntosh
TIANA: Now before I let you go, as someone who plays in a band who cleaves rock anthems with electro metal…what band or artist played a huge impact in who you are as a musician today? Was there someone who made you think when you were younger “..that’s it, I have to be a musician”?
JACK: For me personally it was my Dad, he played in a church band and I just wanted to be like him when I was a kid. I got older and got into bands like queen, AC/DC, Eskimo Joe, Wolfmother, Jet etc that made me want to be in a band but the one that really made me obsessed to the point of no return was Metallica. Just something about them really captivated me, I think just because of their story, their music and everything.
TIANA: And finally, in honour of your amazing new track ‘Can’t Stop Me’ – what is one thing that helps you to rise above the negativity and the self doubt. Is there a secret weapon you’re willing to share that helps you battle the blues, even if just a little bit?
JACK: Burritos… Hahaha actually in all honesty I would say surrounding yourself with people, situations and things that help you stay positive. We and our mindsets are a mirror of what is around us. Biggest thing you can do is probably identify what makes you happy and brings you joy and fill every moment of your life possible with it, be it people who make you happy, things like making music or art or just simply watching your favourite TV show. Surround yourself with positive influences, be appreciative of what you have and love the journey of chasing what you want and the journey of life itself. I can’t promise every day will be a good day, but without the rain we wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine you know!
THE BRAND NEW TUNE CAN'T STOP ME FROM TRACES IS OUT AND ABOUT NOW, PLUS YOU CAN KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE GUYS RIGHT HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER