Interview – TrojanHorse (2012)

Shamelessly stolen from Trojanhorse’s Facebook page.

#IFOWONPRO. That’s the only thing you need to think when you listen to Trojanhorse. Well, you could also think about socialism, space fights in ships resembling F-14 Tomcats (with T. Rex’s in the pilot seat, of course) or what would happen if you do an impromptu interview with a super friendly singer/guitarist with a penchant for prog loveliness, a voice like Simon Pegg in Spaced and an army of well armed finches in his beard.

So, yeah, Nicholas Wyatt Duke from Trojanhorse, a man wanted in 4 boroughs for baptising sweet lyrics and bootlegging overdubs, is sitting across me in Nexus Café, in Manchester. The coffee is excellent and the music is just the right shade of suave, so I ask him a few question while the finches steal my eccles cake. Selah. 

The history of Trojan Horse, again, for the ones who missed it the first time?

The band as it is now, we’ve been together for 2 and a half years. Myself and Lawrence, the bass player are still from the original line-up, that’s been going since 2007 as a unit! The band now includes Eden, my brother, who plays keyboards and Guy, who plays drums. That’s about it. We just play music and been going around for a while.

You released your self titled album last year. I liked it quite a lot.

Thanks very much!

Almost a year has passed, how do you feel the reception in general has been for your album and how do you feel about the album as a product a year afterwards?

Oh, it’s difficult! It took so long to make. We were wary and precious about it so we were happy about so many nice things being said about it. It’s been really overwhelming! We were actually protective about the album and it got to a point when I just said “ah, fuck it!” and just put it out there. I was sick of it just sitting on my hard drive!

The last year has been brilliant, just realised it’s been just a year since we released it! Officially! We’ve played with amazing bands and in different cities and what have you, we’ve built upon what we had and now we have something tangible. It was nice to play for people and offering the album so they could have something instead of just playing 20-30 minutes and then just the memory of the gig.

What have the audiences been like? Do they get in the groove or do you get befuddled looks?

It used to happen! We are now oblivious to this, just expect everyone to just walk away, more in the sense that it’s not their thing, not in the way that we are bad, because I know we are not bad! I’ve been in enough bad bands to know it’s not a bad band nor bad music! I know it’s not for everyone’s tastes. We do notice some people cocking their heads to the side, wondering “what the heck are you doing?” but then you get the other side, the people that are awestruck due to the songs being so layered. The reception has been humbling.

If you play to 40 or 50 people who don’t know who you are nor your songs but they enjoy it, it’s some sort of buzzing feeling that’s very nice.

So they are very receptive of what you play?

Yeah. Haven’t had anyone coming up and say we are shit!

A year after since the release, so, any particular track you feel the fondest about?

I couldn’t say…I’m really into the new stuff we’ve got. We want to showcase what we are capable to do now, instead of what we could do. I think ‘Disciplining the reserve army’ or ‘Mr. Engels says’ are the type of songs that go down really well, even if they are the oldest ones we’ve got, they are the funniest ones to play and jam to, we can mess around with them as we know them back and front. If I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t play them, so…they are all good!

You’ve got a new recording coming up, right?

Yes, an EP. It’s called Fire and the title track, we’ve had it for a while, since the last album sessions ended. It’s been sitting around for a while, tweaked it a lot, we’ve got a cover in there too, you’ll find out what it is. Last year we also did an acoustic version of ‘Disciplining the reserve army’ for Manchester Scene Wipe (video).

We’ve re-recorded the song as we played it in that video, as we liked where we could take the song. We also did 2 remixes of the title track and a remix of a new track. One remix is from The kites of San Quentin. We have an overarching theme in this EP and it’s a bridge between albums. It’s an add-on to our album, if you will.

A complement?

Yes, a timeline! We just want to keep people’s interest and have something for them to listen to while the album is still being made. People have been so receptive with kind words, so we put out so they don’t keep waiting. It also hurries us up!

You don’t want to pull a Tool and make people wait 6 or 7 years for an album!

Or a Guns n Roses! It takes a while to write, record and arrange. The new album recordings have taken a year to do 5 tracks, because our process is very perfectionist and we want it to sound as best as it can.

Lots of layers and overdubs, then?

Yes! The running total in one of the new tracks is 120 separate audio tracks. Something like that. We were having a sort of an unofficial competition with Cyrill Snear and they had 121 tracks or so, so we had to step up and be the most prog band in Manchester! It does getting into that level of ridiculousness, that’s how we get the sound, very dense.

What do you plan for this release? Electronic? Physical?

CD digipack, it’s got some nice artwork. It has a widescreen image and it fits with the musical themes. There will be digital, but there won’t be the same feel, so I encourage everyone to buy a physical copy!

We do endorse it too!

The physical copy… you can always rip it into your PC!

Do you plan to do any touring this year?

Tour the UK with the EP, we’re trying to book right now. Hopefully an European tour later this year or early next one. We all have work outside of the band so life gets in the way sometimes.

You recently were part of the compilation “Off the wolves”, so what can you tell us about this and Baptists and Bootleggers?

I was part of a band called Go Lebanon, which is a collective of musicians. I was asked to play with them a couple of years ago. The band was recently featured in this release by Baptists and Bootleggers called Off the wolves, a phenomenal product with a free vinyl, artwork, writings and a free cd (review). It’s a collector’s wet dream, basically. You get a super limited edition and there’s so few of them. The package is incredible, lots of detail into it. I was blown when I got my copy, and I was involved with it! I’m not playing with Go Lebanon any more in order to focus for Trojanhorse.

You’ve mentioned before your love for Sci Fi stuff.

Yes, it’s a well documented fact!

Should we go for some off kilter questions. First one is: Picard or Kirk?

Oh God! That’s the hardest question ever! I love Kirk but it’s gotta be Picard, he’s got class. Kirk‘s a brawler, Picard would beat you down to words first and if it comes down to, fistycuffs. I love Shatner but it’s all about J.L.P.

You were reading Phillip K. Dick book, Man on the high castle?

Yeah, I read that and A Scanner Darkly. Really getting into his stuff. The films based on his stuff are some of my favourite films too. A few years ago, I read Do androids dream of electric sheep? and saw the film version of A Scanner Darkly and I was kicking myself for not getting into his stuff earlier.

My dad got me into Sci Fi, Phillip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein.

Haven’t read him.

He wrote Starship Troopers. The book’s quite good and if you see the film and get how it’s a pisstake of fascism it works.

Right, right!

What did you think of the film A Scanner Darkly?

Watching the film first and then reading the book, well, the book goes more into detail and if you go back to the book, it gives you more of an appreciation and understanding of what they were trying to do. The whole cell shading thing, rotoscoping, it was brilliant, a stroke of genius, conveying the effects of the drugs on their minds. The book gave me more of an appreciation of the film and vice versa. It translated to the screen quite well.

Now that you mention Blade Runner, which edition do you prefer?

The director’s one, as it was how it was intended to go. A few Christmases ago, I got the whole boxset, I watched it extensively. I was blown away with the whole world they’ve created. The soundtrack by Vangelis is amazing, it conveys the film perfectly. The ending is so poignant, saying so much with little words. Rutger Hauer‘s speech amazing…

And then Harrison Ford just picks up that origami unicorn at the end and smirks and they go into the lift and it all goes black. I love that ending.

It’s just that and the speech, just beautiful. The book is not like that, it’s about environmental damage and I love how they took that world and told this story. Just look how I, Robot got slated but I quite liked how it wasn’t just a translation of the book, they just took the idea and ran with it. It’s not the best film in the world but I enjoyed it.

It wasn’t that bad.

At all. What people’s expectations were due to the books probably was different to what was shown.

It’s a problem with some books, taking some elements and adapting them. I have never completely liked any adaptation of Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. The one with Vincent Price, then one with Charlton Heston and then the one with Will Smith. They have their good and bad points, but none satisfy me. I love Matheson, but adapting something from him is hard. However, I loved the film version of Stir of Echoes, even if it got a raw deal being released after The Sixth Sense. Sorry, I’m rambling.

That’s alright!

Ok…Let’s say there’s an alien invasion and they will obliterate Earth unless every single musician on Earth gives up a pedal forever. Which effects pedal do you give up forever? It has to be one you use extensively, all schematics and copies will disappear from Earth and it won’t be available for you or anyone.

That sounds like a nightmarish dystopian future!


That’s alright, I’ll have a good ponder about… God, I don’t know. It’s only over the last few years that I’ve gone into effects. I only used at the start of my career, inverted commas, only distortion and the amp, it’s only over the last 5 years that I’ve realised that delay and reverb are really cool, and you just need a few things to do a lot of noise.

What would I give up? My wah? I love my wah! It’s rubbish and it’s knackered and it’s…it’s mine! It makes lots of squeaky, horrible noises but I don’t care, I love it. Definitely not my reverb and definitely not my delay. Maybe my distortion? I could drive my amp really high and distort it that way. So, yeah, distortion. People would have to put up with being more deaf. That’s their problem, not mine.

Good choice.

No, wait, my tuner! I don’t care about being in tune!

Fine choice! Thank you!

Thanks very much!

We thank again Nicholas for his time. Check this brand new track by Trojanhorse: 

PS: You can download the album for GRATIS (that’s free, angloparlantes!) from their Bandcamp. GO GO GO.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

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