When Denver-based band Motion Trap drops their first fulllength album, palebluedot, on May 5, the release party the following week at Lost Lake will be, in some ways, a celebration 10 years in the making.
“Ten years ago, we tried recording home versions of music inside of a dorm room — and we still have those recordings, but it’s come a long way since then,” says guitarist and singer Nathan Rogers. “The new album is [comprised of ] lots of different music that we’ve created over the last 10 years. … Some songs are newer, some songs are older, but at the end of the day they are all still describing, in a relevant way, the message we are trying to send.”
A message, Rogers says, that’s simple enough: Life is wonderful.
Their music, as bassist/beat maker Kyle Williams says, may come across “a little genre agnostic,” with each of the four members bringing different musical proclivities to the stage: electronica, hip hop, indie rock and jam band stylings. They call it psychedelic dance rock.
The result is anything but unsure. Motion Trap blends digital dance floor grooves with layers of lush guitar, bass and live drums to create tunes that are more than just danceable — songs require multiple listens to peel back the layers of sound and explore the microcosms they’ve created. While about half of the tracks on palebluedot are instrumental, meaningful yet accessible lyrics add yet another layer to some songs.
It takes more than just talent to marry eclectic tastes — it requires powerful friendship. Three of the gentlemen of Motion Trap’s foursome — Rogers, Williams and guitarist Anthony Chelewski — met as students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. In a video Skype chat with Boulder Weekly, Rogers, Williams and Chelewski reminisce about the start of Motion Trap, beers in hand, finishing each other’s thoughts and playfully teasing one another like best friends do.
“The very first time I met Kyle, we had moved into the same dorms,” Rogers says. “I had played guitar for about seven or 10 years [by that point] and I heard somebody playing Lynyrd Skynyrd [on the guitar] down the hall from me and I’m like, ‘I’m going to go down there and show that kid how to play that song.’”
By semester’s end, the two were recording songs in the dorm rooms, calling themselves Lost Words.
“First we were Lost Words, then we went to Oh So Evident… you know, back in the day when you had three words for a band name,” Rogers says.
“It actually ended up being called horrible, horrible music,” Williams cracks.
Chelewski walks into the room at this point.
“Did you tell about the time I tried out for bass… and failed… miserably?” he asks as he takes a seat between Williams and Rogers.
“We were actually going to kick him out of the band,” Rogers says. “He didn’t make the cut. Worst bass player ever.”
Despite such ribbing, they’ve continued to make music together over a decade, even when life took them in vastly different directions — after college, Williams moved to Denver, Rogers moved to Japan and Chelewski moved to Lincoln, Neb.
“I remember Kyle Skyped me one day [while I was in] Japan and started sending me video from [music creation software] Ableton and I had no idea what he was talking about, no idea what it was,” Rogers says of Williams’ experimentations with the audio workstation. “He was really excited. When I came back [to the States], I had no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to land, but I came out and lived on his couch for about two months, which is, you know, about seven weeks too long.”
They started sending their recordings — Williams on bass and creating loops with Ableton, Rogers on guitar — to Chelewski in Nebraska, who would send songs back with added guitar parts, the results becoming more and more cohesive.
It took some convincing, but Chelewski finally moved to the Mile High City about two years ago, and the boys have been dedicated to Motion Trap ever since.
Drummer Sean Conlin rounds the band out. Williams says Conlin has taken the band’s music to greater heights with his multifaceted, often jam-band inspired percussion.
Motion Trap’s forthcoming debut album, palebluedot, is a meditation on life, an homage to the late Carl Sagan’s ability to put life’s tribulations into perspective by looking at the bigger picture — namely, Earth’s infinitesimal place in the ever-expanding cosmos and the wonder by which we all came to exist.
This idea of perspective, to cherish every moment and be kinder to one another, is what palebluedot is all about.
“[During college, Kyle and I] had plenty of drives from Lincoln to Omaha just talking about life,” Rogers says. “You only live once, but every day we get caught up a little too much in insignificant bullshit. Sometimes we need to take a step back and have more perspective because life is wonderful. And while you’re here, enjoy it the best you can.”
ON THE BILL: Motion Trap will release their debut album palebluedot on May 5, available on iTunes, Google Music, Bandcamp, Spotify and the band’s website, www.motiontrap.com.